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G.R. No.

L-69803 October 8, 1985

CYNTHIA D. NOLASCO, MILA AGUILAR-ROQUE and WILLIE C. TOLENTINO, petitioners,


vs.
HON. ERNANI CRUZ PAÑO, Executive Judge, Regional Trial Court of Quezon City; HON. ANTONIO P. SANTOS, Presiding Judge,
Branch XLII, Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City: HON. SERGIO F. APOSTOL, City Fiscal, Quezon City; HON. JUAN PONCE
ENRILE, LT. GEN. FIDEL RAMOS and COL. JESUS ALTUNA, respondents.

Jose W .Diokno, Joker P. Arroyo, Rene A. V. Sarmiento, Dan Malabonga and Cesar Maravilla for petitioners.

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:

The facts before the Court in these Certiorari, Prohibition, and mandamus proceedings will be briefly stated. The three
petitioners will be referred to through their surnames of NOLASCO, AGUILAR-ROQUE and TOLENTINO.

1. Prior to August 6, 1984 (hereinafter to be referred to without the year), AGUILAR-ROQUE was one of the accused of
Rebellion in Criminal Case No.
MC-25-113 of Military Commission No. 25, both cases being entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Jose Ma. Sison, et al." She
was then still at large.

2. At 11:30 A.M. on August 6th, AGUILAR-ROQUE and NOLASCO were arrested by a Constabulary Security Group (CSG) at the
intersection of Mayon Street and P. Margall Street, Quezon City. The stated time is an allegation of petitioners, not denied by
respondents. The record does not disclose that a warrant of arrest had previously beeen issued against NOLASCO.

3. At 12:00 N. on August 6th, elements of the CSG searched the premises at 239-B Mayon Street, Quezon City. The stated time
is an allegation of petitioners, not specifically denied by respondents. In their COMMENT, however, respondents have alleged
that the search was conducted "late on the same day"; that is late on august 6th.

4. On August 6th, at around 9:00 A.M., Lt. Col. Virgilio G. Saldajeno of the CSG, applied for a Search Warrant from respondent
Hon. Ernani Cruz Paño, Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court in Quezon City, to be served at No. 239-B Mayon Street,
Quezon City, determined tyo be the leased residence of AGUILAR-ROQUE, after almost a month of "round the clock
surveillance" of the premises as a "suspected underground house of the CPP/NPA." AGUILAR-ROQUE has been long wanted by
the military for being a high ranking officer of the Communist Party of the Philippines, particularly connected with the MV
Karagatan/Doña Andrea cases.

In connection with the Search Warrant issued, the following may be stated:

(a) The Search Warrant was issued in proceedings entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Mila Aguilar-Roque, Accused, Search
Warrant No. 80- 84 for rebellion" (the SEARCH WARRANT CASE). Judge Panos Court was Branch 88.

(b) It does not appear from the records before us that an application in writing was submitted by Lt. Col. Saldajeno to Judge
Paño.

(c) According to the record, Lt. Col. Saldajeno and his witness S/A Dionicio A. Lapus, were examined under oath by Judge Paño
but only the deposition of S/A Lapus has been submitted to us. The latter deposed that to his personal knowledge, there were
kept in the premises to be searched records, documents and other papers of the CPP/NPA and the National Democratic Front,
including support money from foreign and local sources intended to be used for rebellion. 1

5. In connection with the search made at 12:00 N. of August 6th the following may be stated:

(a) TOLENTINO was a person then in charge of the premises. He was arrested by the searching party presumably without a
warrant of arrest.

(b) The searching party seized 428 documents and written materials, 2 and additionally a portable typewriter, and 2 wooden
boxes, making 431 items in all. 3

(c) According to the Return, submitted in the SEARCH WARRANT CASE on August 10th, 4 the search was made in the presence
of Dra. Marciana Galang, owner of the premises, and of two (2) Barangay Tanods. No mention was made that TOLENTINO was
present. The list of the 428 articles and documents attached to the Return was signed by the two Barangay Tanods, but not by
Dra. Galang.
6. (a) On August 10th, the three petitioners, AGUILAR-ROQUE, NOLASCO and TOLENTINO, were charged before the Quezon City
Fiscal's Office (the CITY FISCAL, for short) upon complaint filed by the CSG against petitioners for "Subversion/Rebellion and/or
Conspiracy to Commit Rebellion/Subversion."

(b) On August 13th, the CITY FISCAL filed an Information for Violation of Presidential Decree No. 33 (Illegal Possession of
Subversive Documents) against petitioners before Branch 42 of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City (the SUBVERSIVE
DOCUMENTS CASE), respondent Judge Antonio P. Santos, presiding.

(c) On August 16th, CSG filed a Motion for Reconsideration with the CITY FISCAL, praying that AGUILAR-ROQUE and NOLASCO
be charged with Subversion. The Motion was denied on November 16th.

7. (a) On September 10th, the CSG submitted an Amended Return in the SEARCH WARRANT CASE praying, inter alia, that the
CSG be allowed to retain the seized 431 documents and articles, in connection with cases that are presently pending against
Mila Aguilar Roque before the Quezon City Fiscal's Office and the court. 5

(b) On September 28th, petitioners were required by Judge Pano to comment on the Amended Return, which AGUILAR-ROQUE
did on October 18th, raising the issue of the inadmissibility of any evidence obtained pursuant to the Search Warrant.

(c) On December 13, 1984, Judge Paño admitted the Amended Return and ruled that the seized documents "shall be subject to
disposition of the tribunal trying the case against respondent."

8. (a) On December 12th, petitioners filed a Motion to Suppress in the SUBVERSIVE DOCUMENTS CASE, praying that such of the
431 items belonging to them be returned to them. It was claimed that the proceedings under the Search Warrant were
unlawful. Judge Santos denied the Motion on January 7, 1985 on the ground that the validity of the Search Warrant has to be
litigated in the SEARCH WARRANT CASE. He was apparently not aware of the Order of Judge Paño of December 13th issued in
the SEARCH WARRANT CASE.

Hence, this Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and mandamus to annul and set aside the (1) Search Warrant issued by
respondent RTC Judge Paño; (2) his Order admitting the Amended Return and granting the Motion to Retain Seized Items; and
(3) Order of respondent MTC Judge Santos denying petitioners' Motion to Suppress.

This Court, on February 12, 1985, issued a Temporary Restraining Order enjoining the respondents or their duly authorized
representatives from introducing evidence obtained under the Search Warrant.

The PETITIONERS principally assert that the Search Warrant is void because it is a general warrant since it does not sufficiently
describe with particularity the things subject of the search and seizure, and that probable cause has not been properly
established for lack of searching questions propounded to the applicant's witness. The respondents, represented by the
Solicitor General, contend otherwise, adding that the questions raised cannot be entertained in this present petition without
petitioners first moving for the quashal of the disputed Search Warrant with the issuing Judge.

We find merit in the Petition.

Section 3, Article IV of the Constitution, guarantees the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and
effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose. It also specifically provides that no
Search Warrant shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined by the Judge or such other responsible officer as may
be authorized by law, after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and
particularly describing the place to be searched and the things to be seized.

The disputed Search Warrant (No. 80-84) describes the personalities to be seized as follows:

Documents, papers and other records of the Communist Party of the Phihppines/New Peoples Army and/or the National
Democratic Front, such as Minutes of the Party Meetings, Plans of these groups, Programs, List of possible supporters,
subversive books and instructions, manuals not otherwise available to the public, and support money from foreign or local
sources.

It is at once evident that the foregoing Search Warrant authorizes the seizure of personal properties vaguely described and not
particularized. It is an all- embracing description which includes everything conceivable regarding the Communist Party of the
Philippines and the National Democratic Front. It does not specify what the subversive books and instructions are; what the
manuals not otherwise available to the public contain to make them subversive or to enable them to be used for the crime of
rebellion. There is absent a definite guideline to the searching team as to what items might be lawfully seized thus giving the
officers of the law discretion regarding what articles they should seize as, in fact, taken also were a portable typewriter and 2
wooden boxes. It is thus in the nature of a general warrant and infringes on the constitutional mandate requiring particular
description of the things to be seized. In the recent rulings of this Court, search warrants of similar description were considered
null and void for being too general. Thus:

Subversive documents, pamphlets, leaflets, books, and other publications to promote the objectives and purposes of the
subversive organizations known as Movement for Free Philippines. Light-a-Fire Movement and April 6 Movement. 6

The things to be seized under the warrant issued by respondent judge were described as 'subversive documents, propaganda
materials, FAs, printing paraphernalia and all other subversive materials Such description hardly provided a definite guideline to
the search team as to what articles might be lawfully seized thereunder. Said description is no different from if not worse than,
the description found in the search warrants in "Burgos, et al. v. the Chief of Staff"which this Court declared null and void for
being too general. 7

In the case at bar, the search warrant issued by respondent judge allowed the seizure of printed copies of the Philippine Times,
manuscripts/drafts of articles for publication, newspaper dummies subversive documents, articles, etc., and even typewriters,
duplicating machines, mimeographing and tape recording machines. Thus, the language used is so all embracing as to include
all conceivable records and equipment of petitioner regardless of whether they are legal or illegal. The search warrant under
consideration was in the nature of a general warrant which is constitutionally objectionable. 8

The lack of particularization is also evident in the examination of the witness presented by the applicant for Search Warrant.

Q Mr. Dionicio Lapus, there is an application for search warrant filed by Lt. Col. Virgilio Saldajeno and the Court would like to
know if you affirm the truth of your answer in this deposition?

(The deposition instead)—

A Yes, sir,

Q How long did it take you for the surveillance?

A Almost a month, sir.

Q Are you a lawyer, Mr. Lapus?

A No, Your Honor, but I was a student of law.

Q So, you are more or less familiar with the requisites of the application for search warrant?

A Yes, Your Honor.

Q How did you come to know of the person of Mila Aguilar-Roque?

A Because of our day and night surveillance, Your Honor, there were so many suspicious persons with documents.

Q What kind of documents do you refer to?

A Documents related to the Communist Party of Philippines and New People's Army.

Q What else?

A Conferences of the top ranking officials from the National Democratic Front, Organization of the Communist Party of the
Philippines ...

Q And may include what else?

A Other papers and documents like Minutes of the Party Meetings, Plans of these groups, Programs, List of possible supporters,
subversive books and instructions, manuals not otherwise available to the public and support money from foreign and local
sources. 9
The foregoing questions propounded by respondent Executive Judge to the applicant's witness are not sufficiently searching to
establish probable cause. The "probable cause" required to justify the issuance of a search warrant comprehends such facts and
circumstances as will induce a cautious man to rely upon them and act in pursuant thereof. 10 Of the 8 questions asked, the 1st,
2nd and 4th pertain to Identity. The 3rd and 5th are leading not searching questions. The 6th, 7th and 8th refer to the
description of the personalities to be seized, which is Identical to that in the Search Warrant and suffers from the same lack of
particularity. The examination conducted was general in nature and merely repetitious of the deposition of said witness. Mere
generalization will not suffice and does not satisfy the requirements of probable cause upon which a warrant may issue. 11

Respondents claim, however, that the proper forum for questioning the illegality of a Search Warrant is with the Court that
issued it instead of this original, independent action to quash. The records show, however, that petitioners did raise that issue
in the SEARCH WARRANT CASE in their Comment, dated October 18, 1984. In fact, they already questioned the admissibility of
the evidence obtained under the Search Warrant, even during the inquest investigation on August 10, 1984. And in the
SUBVERSIVE DOCUMENTS CASE, they filed a Motion to Suppress on December 12, 1984 claiming that the proceedings under
the Search Warrant were unlawful. Substantially, therefore, while not denominated as a motion to quash, petitioners had
questioned the legality of the Search Warrant.

Parenthetically, it strikes the Court that the pendency of the SEARCH WARRANT CASE and of the SUBVERSIVE DOCUMENTS
CASE before two different Courts is not conducive to an orderly administration of justice. It should be advisable that, whenever
a Search Warrant has been issued by one Court, or Branch, and a criminal prosecution is initiated in another Court, or Branch,
as a result of the service of the Search Warrant, the SEARCH WARRANT CASE should be consolidated with the criminal case for
orderly procedure. The later criminal case is more substantial than the Search Warrant proceeding, and the Presiding Judge in
the criminal case should have the right to act on petitions to exclude evidence unlawfully obtained.

Notwithstanding the irregular issuance of the Search Warrant and although, ordinarily, the articles seized under an invalid
search warrant should be returned, they cannot be ordered returned in the case at bar to AGUILAR-ROQUE. Some searches
may be made without a warrant. Thus, Section 12, Rule 126, Rules of Court, explicitly provides:

Section 12. Search without warrant of person arrested.—A person charged with an offense may be searched for dangerous
weapons or anything which may be used as proof of the commission of the offense.

The provision is declaratory in the sense that it is confined to the search, without a search warrant, of a person who had been
arrested. It is also a general rule that, as an incident of an arrest, the place or premises where the arrest was made can also be
search without a search warrant. In this latter case, "the extent and reasonableness of the search must be decided on its own
facts and circumstances, and it has been stated that, in the application of general rules, there is some confusion in the decisions
as to what constitutes the extent of the place or premises which may be searched. 12 "What must be considered is the
balancing of the individual's right to privacy and the public's interest in the prevention of crime and the apprehension of
criminals." 13

Considering that AGUILAR-ROQUE has been charged with Rebellion, which is a crime against public order; that the warrant for
her arrest has not been served for a considerable period of time; that she was arrested within the general vicinity of her
dwelling; and that the search of her dwelling was made within a half hour of her arrest, we are of the opinion that in her
respect, the search at No. 239-B Mayon Street, Quezon City, did not need a search warrant; this, for possible effective results in
the interest of public order.

Such being the case, the personalities seized may be retained. by CSG, for possible introduction as evidence in the Rebellion
Case, leaving it to AGUILAR-ROQUE to object to their relevance and to ask Special Military Commission No.1 to return to her
any and all irrelevant documents and articles.

WHEREFORE, while Search Warrant No. 80-84 issued on August 6, 1984 by respondent Executive Judge Ernani Cruz Paño is
hereby annulled and set aside, and the Temporary Restraining Order enjoining respondent from introducing evidence obtained
pursuant to the Search Warrant in the Subversive Documents case hereby made permanent, the, personalities seized may be
retained by the Constabulary Security Group for possible introduction as evidence in Criminal Case No. SMC-1-1, pending
before Special Military commission No. 1, without prejudice to petitioner Mila Aguilar-Roque objecting to their relevance and
asking said Commission to return to her any and all irrelevant documents and articles.

SO ORDERED.

Plana, Escolin Relova, Gutierrez, Jr., De la Fuente, Alampay and Patajo concur.
Makasiar, C.J., concurs in the result.

Aquino, J.; took no part.

Concepcion Jr., J., reserves his vote.

Separate Opinions

TEEHANKEE, J., concurring and dissenting:

I concur with the concurring and dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Vicente Abad Santos. The questioned search warrant has
correctly been declared null and void in the Court's decision as a general warrant issued in gross violation of the constitutional
mandate that "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches
and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall not be violated" (Bill of Rights, sec. 3). The Bill of Rights orders the
absolute exclusion of all illegally obtained evidence: "Any evidence obtained in violation of this . . . section shall be inadmissible
for any purpose in any proceeding" (Sec. 4[2]). This constitutional mandate expressly adopting the exclusionary rule has proved
by historical experience to be the only practical means of enforcing the constitutional injunction against unreasonable searches
and seizures by outlawing all evidence illegally seized and thereby removing the incentive on the part of state and police
officers to disregard such basic rights. What the plain language of the Constitution mandates is beyond the power of the courts
to change or modify.

All the articles thus seized fall under the exclusionary rule totally and unqualifiedly and cannot be used against any of the three
petitioners, as held by the majority in the recent case of Galman vs. Pamaran (G.R. Nos. 71208-09, August 30, 1985). The Court
has held that "in issuing a search warrant the judge must strictly comply with the requirements of the Constitution and the
statutory provisions. A liberal construction should be given in favor of the individual to prevent stealthy encroachment upon, or
gradual depreciation of the rights secured by the Constitution. No presumptions of regularity are to be invoked in aid of the
process when an officer undertakes to justify it." (Mata vs. Bayona, 128 SCRA 388, 393-394)

The majority pronouncement that "as an incident to (petitioner Mila Aguilar- Roque's) arrest, her dwelling at No. 239-B Mayon
Street, Quezon City could have been searched, even without a warrant, for evidence of rebellion" is patently against the
constitutional proscription and settled law and jurisprudence. Mr. Justice Cuevas amply discusses this in the dissenting portion
of his separate opinion. Suffice it to add and stress that the arresting CSG Group themselves knew that they needed a search
warrant and obtained the void warrant in question. The exception of Rule 126, sec. 12 which allows a warrantless search of a
person who is lawfully arrested is absolutely limited to his person, at the time of and incident to his arrest and to dangerous
weapons or anything which may be used as proof of the commission of the offense." Such warrantless search obviously cannot
be made in a place other than the place of arrest. In this case, petitioner Aguilar-Roque was arrested at 11:30 a.m. on board a
public vehicle on the road (at Mayon and P. Margall Streets). To hold that her dwelling could "later on the same day" be
searched without warrant is to sanction an untenable violation, if not nullification, of the cited basic constitutional rights
against unreasonable searches and seizures.

I vote to grant the petition in toto.

ABAD SANTOS, J., concurring and dissenting:

I concur in the judgment insofar as it annuls and sets aside Search Warrant No. 80-84 issued by Executive Judge Ernani Cruz
Paño for the reasons adduced by Justice Melencio Herrera. In addition I wish to state the judge either did not fully know the
legal and constitutional requirements for the issuance of a search warrant or he allowed himself to be used by the military. In
either case his action can only be described as deplorable.

I do not agree with the ponencia when it says that personalities seized may be retained by the Constabulary Security Group for
possible introduction as evidence in Criminal Case No. SMC-1-1 pending before Special Military Commission No. 1. I agree with
Justice Cuevas. for the reasons stated by him, that their retention cannot be justified by the provisions of Sec. 12, Rule 126 of
the Rules of Court. But then again I cannot agree with Justice Cuevas, statement that not all the things seized can be ordered
returned to their owners. He refers to "the subversive materials seized by the government agents." What are subversive
materials? Whether a material is subversive or not is a conclusion of law, not of fact. Who will make the determination?
Certainly not the military for it is not competent to do so aside from the fact that it has its own peculiar views on the matter.
thus copies of Playboy magazines were seized from a labor leader now deceased and medicines were also seized from a
physician who was suspected of being a subversive. I say return everything to the petitioners.

CUEVAS, J., concurring and dissenting


I fully agree with the pronouncement in the majority opinion nullifying Search warrant No. 80-84 issued by the Hon. Ernani Cruz
Paño Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City which was served at 239B Mayon St., Quezon City It does not
specify with requisite particularity the things, objects or properties that may be seized hereunder. Being in the nature of a
general warrant, it violates the constitutional mandate that the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized,
'must be particularly described. (Art. IV, Sec. 3, 1973 Constitution)

I, however, regret being unable to concur with the dictum justifying the said search on the basis of Sec. 12, Rule 126 of the
Rules of Court which provides:

SEC. 12. Search without warrant of person arrested.—A person charged with an offense may be searched for dangerous
weapons or anything which may be used as proof of the commission of the offense.

The lawful arrest being the sole justification for the validity of the warrantless search under the aforequoted provision (Sec. 12,
Rule 126) the same must be limited to and circumscribed by, the subject, time, and place of said arrest. As to subject, the
warrantless search is sanctioned only with respect to the person of the suspect, and things that may be seized from him are
limited to "dangerous weapons" or "anything which may be used as proof of the commission of the offense." Hence—

An officer making an arrest may take from the person arrested any money or property found upon his person which was used
in the commission of the crime or might furnish the prisoner with the means of committing violence or escaping or which may
be used as evidence in the trial of the cause ... (In Re Moreno vs. Ago Chi, 12 Phil. 439: People vs. Veloso, 48 Phil. 169)

With respect to the time and place of the warrantless search allowed by law, it must be contemporaneous with the lawful
arrest. Stated otherwise, to be valid, the search must have been conducted at about the time of the arrest or immediately
thereafter and only at the place where the suspect was arrested,

The right without a search warrant contemporaneously to search a person lawfully arrested while committing a crime and to
search the place where the arrest is made in order to find and seize things connected with the crime as its fruits or as the
means by which it was committed, as well as weapons or other things to effect an escape from custody is not to be
doubted. CAROLL vs. US 267 US 122. 158. ... But the right does not extend to other places. Frank Agnello's house was several
blocks distant from Alba's house where the arrest was made. When it was entered and searched, the conspiracy was ended and
the defendants were under arrest and in custody elsewhere. That search cannot be sustained as an incident of the
arrests. MARSON vs. US, 275 US 192, 199. (Emphasis supplied) (Agnello vs. U.S., 269 U.S. 20,30)

The second element which must exist in order to bring the case within the exception to the general rule is that, in addition to a
lawful arrest, the search must be incident to the arrest.

The search must be made at the place of the arrest, otherwise, it is not incident to the arrest. AGNELLO vs. U.S. supra. In this
latter case, 269 U.S. 20 at 30, it is said that the officers have a right to make a search contemporaneously with the arrest. And if
the purpose of the officers in making their entry is not to make an arrest, but to make a search to obtain evidence for some
future arrest, then search is not incidental to arrest. BYARS vs. U.S. 273 U.S., 28 ET AL. (Papani vs, U. S. 84 F 2d 160, 163)

In the instant case, petitioners were arrested at the intersection of Mayon St. and P. Margall St. at 11:30 A.M. of August 6.
1976. The search, on the other hand, was conducted after the arrest, that was at around 12:00 noon of the same day or "late
that same day (as respondents claim in their "COMMENT") at the residence of petitioner AGUILAR-ROQUE in 239B May•n St.,
Quezon City. How far or how many kilometers is that place from the place where petitioner was arrested do not appear shown
by the record. But what appears undisputed is that the search was made in a place other than the place of arrest and, not on
the occasion of nor immediately after the arrest. It cannot be said, therefore, that such a search was incidental to the arrest of
the petitioners. Not being an incident of a lawful arrest, the search of the premises at 239B Mayon St., Quezon City WITHOUT A
VALID SEARCH WARRANT is ILLEGAL and violative of the constitutional rights of the respondent. The things and properties
seized on the occasion of said illegal search are therefore INADMISSIBLE in evidence under the exclusionary rule. However, not
all the things so seized can be ordered returned to their owners. Objects and properties the possession of which is prohibited
by law, cannot be returned to their owners notwithstanding the illegality of their seizure. (Mata vs. Bayona, 128 SCRA 388, 1984
citing Castro vs. Pabalan, 70 SCRA 478). Thus, the subversive materials seized by the government agents which cannot be legally
possessed by anyone under the law can and must be retained by the government.

Separate Opinions
TEEHANKEE, J., concurring and dissenting.

I concur with the concurring and dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Vicente Abad Santos. The questioned search warrant has
correctly been declared null and void in the Court's decision as a general warrant issued in gross violation of the constitutional
mandate that "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches
and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall not be violated" (Bill of Rights, sec. 3). The Bill of Rights orders the
absolute exclusion of all illegally obtained evidence: "Any evidence obtained in violation of this . . . section shall be inadmissible
for any purpose in any proceeding" (Sec. 4[2]). This constitutional mandate expressly adopting the exclusionary rule has proved
by historical experience to be the only practical means of enforcing the constitutional injunction against unreasonable searches
and seizures by outlawing all evidence illegally seized and thereby removing the incentive on the part of state and police
officers to disregard such basic rights. What the plain language of the Constitution mandates is beyond the power of the courts
to change or modify.

All the articles thus seized fall under the exclusionary rule totally and unqualifiedly and cannot be used against any of the three
petitioners, as held by the majority in the recent case of Galman vs. Pamaran (G.R. Nos. 71208-09, August 30, 1985). The Court
has held that "in issuing a search warrant the judge must strictly comply with the requirements of the Constitution and the
statutory provisions. A liberal construction should be given in favor of the individual to prevent stealthy encroachment upon, or
gradual depreciation of the rights secured by the Constitution. No presumptions of regularity are to be invoked in aid of the
process when an officer undertakes to justify it." (Mata vs. Bayona, 128 SCRA 388, 393-394)

The majority pronouncement that "as an incident to (petitioner Mila Aguilar- Roque's) arrest, her dwelling at No. 239-B Mayon
Street, Quezon City could have been searched, even without a warrant, for evidence of rebellion" is patently against the
constitutional proscription and settled law and jurisprudence. Mr. Justice Cuevas amply discusses this in the dissenting portion
of his separate opinion. Suffice it to add and stress that the arresting CSG Group themselves knew that they needed a search
warrant and obtained the void warrant in question. The exception of Rule 126, sec. 12 which allows a warrantless search of a
person who is lawfully arrested is absolutely limited to his person, at the time of and incident to his arrest and to dangerous
weapons or anything which may be used as proof of the commission of the offense." Such warrantless search obviously cannot
be made in a place other than the place of arrest. In this case, petitioner Aguilar-Roque was arrested at 11:30 a.m. on board a
public vehicle on the road (at Mayon and P. Margall Streets). To hold that her dwelling could "later on the same day" be
searched without warrant is to sanction an untenable violation, if not nullification, of the cited basic constitutional rights
against unreasonable searches and seizures.

I vote to grant the petition in toto.

ABAD SANTOS, J., concurring and dissenting:

I concur in the judgment insofar as it annuls and sets aside Search Warrant
No. 80-84 issued by Executive Judge Ernani Cruz Paño for the reasons adduced by Justice Melencio Herrera. In addition I wish to
state the judge either did not fully know the legal and constitutional requirements for the issuance of a search warrant or he
allowed himself to be used by the military. In either case his action can only be described as deplorable.

I do not agree with the ponencia when it says that personalities seized may be retained by the Constabulary Security Group for
possible introduction as evidence in Criminal Case No. SMC-1-1 pending before Special Military Commission No. 1. I agree with
Justice Cuevas. for the reasons stated by him, that their retention cannot be justified by the provisions of Sec. 12, Rule 126 of
the Rules of Court. But then again I cannot agree with Justice Cuevas, statement that not all the things seized can be ordered
returned to their owners. He refers to "the subversive materials seized by the government agents." What are subversive
materials? Whether a material is subversive or not is a conclusion of law, not of fact. Who will make the determination?
Certainly not the military for it is not competent to do so aside from the fact that it has its own peculiar views on the matter.
thus copies of Playboy magazines were seized from a labor leader now deceased and medicines were also seized from a
physician who was suspected of being a subversive. I say return everything to the petitioners.

CUEVAS, J., concurring and dissenting:

I fully agree with the pronouncement in the majority opinion nullifying Search warrant No. 80-84 issued by the Hon. Ernani Cruz
Paño Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City which was served at 239B Mayon St., Quezon City It does not
specify with requisite particularity the things, objects or properties that may be seized hereunder. Being in the nature of a
general warrant, it violates the constitutional mandate that the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized,
'must be particularly described. (Art. IV, Sec. 3, 1973 Constitution)
I, however, regret being unable to concur with the dictum justifying the said search on the basis of Sec. 12, Rule 126 of the
Rules of Court which provides:

SEC. 12. Search without warrant of person arrested.—A person charged with an offense may be searched for dangerous
weapons or anything which may be used as proof of the commission of the offense.

The lawful arrest being the sole justification for the validity of the warrantless search under the aforequoted provision (Sec. 12,
Rule 126) the same must be limited to and circumscribed by, the subject, time, and place of said arrest. As to subject, the
warrantless search is sanctioned only with respect to the person of the suspect, and things that may be seized from him are
limited to "dangerous weapons" or "anything which may be used as proof of the commission of the offense." Hence—

An officer making an arrest may take from the person arrested any money or property found upon his person which was used
in the commission of the crime or might furnish the prisoner with the means of committing violence or escaping or which may
be used as evidence in the trial of the cause ... (In Re Moreno vs. Ago Chi, 12 Phil. 439: People vs. Veloso, 48 Phil. 169)

With respect to the time and place of the warrantless search allowed by law, it must be contemporaneous with the lawful
arrest. Stated otherwise, to be valid, the search must have been conducted at about the time of the arrest or immediately
thereafter and only at the place where the suspect was arrested,

The right without a search warrant contemporaneously to search a person lawfully arrested while committing a crime and to
search the place where the arrest is made in order to find and seize things connected with the crime as its fruits or as the
means by which it was committed, as well as weapons or other things to effect an escape from custody is not to be
doubted. CAROLL vs. US 267 US 122. 158. ... But the right does not extend to other places. Frank Agnello's house was several
blocks distant from Alba's house where the arrest was made. When it was entered and searched, the conspiracy was ended and
the defendants were under arrest and in custody elsewhere. That search cannot be sustained as an incident of the
arrests. MARSON vs. US, 275 US 192, 199. (Emphasis supplied) (Agnello vs. U.S., 269 U.S. 20,30)

The second element which must exist in order to bring the case within the exception to the general rule is that, in addition to a
lawful arrest, the search must be incident to the arrest.

The search must be made at the place of the arrest, otherwise, it is not incident to the arrest. AGNELLO vs. U.S. supra. In this
latter case, 269 U.S. 20 at 30, it is said that the officers have a right to make a search contemporaneously with the arrest. And if
the purpose of the officers in making their entry is not to make an arrest, but to make a search to obtain evidence for some
future arrest, then search is not incidental to arrest. BYARS vs. U.S. 273 U.S., 28 ET AL. (Papani vs, U. S. 84 F 2d 160, 163)

In the instant case, petitioners were arrested at the intersection of Mayon St. and P. Margall St. at 11:30 A.M. of August 6.
1976. The search, on the other hand, was conducted after the arrest, that was at around 12:00 noon of the same day or "late
that same day (as respondents claim in their "COMMENT") at the residence of petitioner AGUILAR-ROQUE in 239B Mayon St.,
Quezon City. How far or how many kilometers is that place from the place where petitioner was arrested do not appear shown
by the record. But what appears undisputed is that the search was made in a place other than the place of arrest and, not on
the occasion of nor immediately after the arrest. It cannot be said, therefore, that such a search was incidental to the arrest of
the petitioners. Not being an incident of a lawful arrest, the search of the premises at 239B Mayon St., Quezon City WITHOUT A
VALID SEARCH WARRANT is ILLEGAL and violative of the constitutional rights of the respondent. The things and properties
seized on the occasion of said illegal search are therefore INADMISSIBLE in evidence under the exclusionary rule. However, not
all the things so seized can be ordered returned to their owners. Objects and properties the possession of which is prohibited
by law, cannot be returned to their owners notwithstanding the illegality of their seizure. (Mata vs. Bayona, 128 SCRA 388, 1984
citing Castro vs. Pabalan, 70 SCRA 478). Thus, the subversive materials seized by the government agents which cannot be legally
possessed by anyone under the law can and must be retained by the government.

G.R. No. 96177 January 27, 1993

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
MARI MUSA y HANTATALU, accused-appellant.

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

Pablo L. Murillo for accused-appellant.

ROMERO, J.:
The appellant, Mari Musa, seeks, in this appeal, the reversal of the decision, dated August 31, 1990,1 of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Zamboanga City, Branch XII, finding him guilty of selling marijuana in violation of Article II, Section 4 of Republic Act No.
6425, as amended, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972.

The information filed on December 15, 1989 against the appellant reads:

That on or about December 14, 1989, in the City of Zamboanga, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the
above-named accused, not being authorized by law, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously sell to one SGT.
AMADO ANI, two (2) wrappers containing dried marijuana leaves, knowing the same to be a prohibited drug.

CONTRARY TO LAW.2

Upon his arraignment on January 11, 1990, the appellant pleaded not guilty.3

At the trial, the prosecution presented three (3) witnesses, namely: (1) Sgt. Amado Ani, Jr. of the 9th Narcotics Command
(NARCOM) of Zamboanga City, who acted as poseur-buyer in the buy-bust operation made against the appellant; (2) T/Sgt.
Jesus Belarga, also of the 9th Narcotics Command of Zamboanga City, who was the NARCOM team leader of the buy-bust
operation; and (3) Athena Elisa P. Anderson, the Document Examiner and Forensic Chemist of PC-INP Crime Laboratory of
Regional Command (RECOM) 9. The evidence of the prosecution was summarized by the trial court as follows:

Prosecution evidence shows that in the morning of December 13, 1989, T/Sgt. Jesus Belarga, leader of a NARCOTICS
COMMAND (NARCOM) team based at Calarian, Zamboanga City, instructed Sgt. Amado Ani to conduct surveillance and test buy
on a certain Mari Musa of Suterville, Zamboanga City. Information received from civilian informer was that this Mari Musa was
engaged in selling marijuana in said place. So Sgt. Amado Ani, another NARCOM agent, proceeded to Suterville, in company
with a NARCOM civilian informer, to the house of Mari Musa to which house the civilian informer had guided him. The same
civilian informer had also described to him the appearance of Mari Musa. Amado Ani was able to buy one newspaper-wrapped
dried marijuana (Exh. "E") for P10.00. Sgt. Ani returned to the NARCOM office and turned over the newspaper-wrapped
marijuana to T/Sgt. Jesus Belarga. Sgt. Belarga inspected the stuff turned over to him and found it to be marijuana.

The next day, December 14, 1989, about 1:30 P.M., a buy-bust was planned. Sgt. Amado Ani was assigned as the poseur buyer
for which purpose he was given P20.00 (with SN GA955883) by Belarga. The
buy-bust money had been taken by T/Sgt. Jesus Belarga from M/Sgt. Noh Sali Mihasun, Chief of Investigation Section, and for
which Belarga signed a receipt (Exh. "L" & "L-l" ) The team under Sgt. Foncargas was assigned as back-up security. A pre-
arranged signal was arranged consisting of Sgt. Ani's raising his right hand, after he had succeeded to buy the marijuana. The
two NARCOM teams proceeded to the target site in two civilian vehicles. Belarga's team was composed of Sgt. Belarga, team
leader, Sgt. Amado Ani, poseur buyer, Sgt. Lego and Sgt. Biong.

Arriving at the target site, Sgt. Ani proceeded to the house of Mari Musa, while the rest of the NARCOM group positioned
themselves at strategic places about 90 to 100 meters from Mari Musa's house. T/Sgt. Belarga could see what went on between
Ani and suspect Mari Musa from where he was. Ani approached Mari Musa, who came out of his house, and asked Ani what he
wanted. Ani said he wanted some more stuff. Ani gave Mari Musa the P20.00 marked money. After receiving the money, Mari
Musa went back to his house and came back and gave Amado Ani two newspaper wrappers containing dried marijuana. Ani
opened the two wrappers and inspected the contents. Convinced that the contents were marijuana, Ani walked back towards
his companions and raised his right hand. The two NARCOM teams, riding the two civilian vehicles, sped towards Sgt. Ani. Ani
joined Belarga's team and returned to the house.

At the time Sgt. Ani first approached Mari Musa, there were four persons inside his house: Mari Musa, another boy, and two
women, one of whom Ani and Belarga later came to know to be Mari Musa's wife. The second time, Ani with the NARCOM
team returned to Mari Musa's house, the woman, who was later known as Mari Musa's wife, slipped away from the house. Sgt.
Belarga frisked Mari Musa but could not find the P20.00 marked money with him. Mari Musa was then asked where the P20.00
was and he told the NARCOM team he has given the money to his wife (who had slipped away). Sgt. Belarga also found a plastic
bag containing dried marijuana inside it somewhere in the kitchen. Mari Musa was then placed under arrest and brought to the
NARCOM office. At Suterville, Sgt. Ani turned over to Sgt. Belarga the two newspaper-wrapped marijuana he had earlier bought
from Mari Musa (Exhs. "C" & "D").

In the NARCOM office, Mari Musa first gave his name as Hussin Musa. Later on, Mari Musa gave his true name — Mari Musa.
T/Sgt. Jesus Belarga turned over the two newspaper-wrapped marijuana (bought at the buy-bust), the one newspaper-wrapped
marijuana (bought at the test-buy) and the plastic bag containing more marijuana (which had been taken by Sgt. Lego inside the
kitchen of Mari Musa) to the PC Crime Laboratory, Zamboanga City, for laboratory examination. The turnover of the marijuana
specimen to the PC Crime Laboratory was by way of a letter-request, dated December 14, 1989 (Exh. "B"), which was stamped
"RECEIVED" by the PC Crime Laboratory (Exh. "B-1") on the same day.

Mrs. Athena Elisa P. Anderson, the Forensic Chemist of the PC Crime Laboratory, examined the marijuana specimens subjecting
the same to her three tests. All submitted specimens she examined gave positive results for the presence of marijuana. Mrs.
Anderson reported the results of her examination in her Chemistry Report D-100-89, dated December 14, 1989, (Exh. "J", "J-1",
"J-2", "J-3", "J-4" and "J-5"). Mrs. Anderson identified in court the two newspaper wrapped marijuana bought at the
buy-bust on December 14, 1989, through her initial and the weight of each specimen written with red ink on each wrapper
(Exhs. "C-1" and "D-1"). She also identified the one newspaper-wrapped marijuana bought at the test-buy on December 13,
1989, through her markings (Exh. "E-1"). Mrs. Anderson also identified her Chemistry Report (Exh. "J" & sub-markings.)

T. Sgt. Belarga identified the two buy-bust newspaper wrapped marijuana through his initial, the words "buy-bust" and the
words "December 14, 1989, 2:45 P.M." (written on Exhs. "C" and "D"). Belarga also identified the receipt of the P20 marked
money (with SN GA955883) (Exh. "L"), dated December 14, 1989, and his signature thereon (Exh.
"L-1"). He also identified the letter-request, dated December 14, 1989, addressed to the PC Crime Laboratory (Exh. "B") and his
signature thereon (Exh. "B-2") and the stamp of the PC Crime Laboratory marked "RECEIVED" (Exh. "B-1").4

For the defense, the following testified as witnesses: (1) the accused-appellant Mari H. Musa; and (2) Ahara R. Musa, his wife.
The trial court summarized the version of the defense, thus:

[O]n December 14, 1989, at about 1:30 in the afternoon, Mari Musa was in his house at Suterville, Zamboanga City. With him
were his wife, Ahara Musa, known as Ara, his one-year old child, a woman manicurist, and a male cousin named Abdul Musa.
About 1:30 that afternoon, while he was being manicured at one hand, his wife was inside the one room of their house, putting
their child to sleep. Three NARCOM agents, who introduced themselves as NARCOM agents, dressed in civilian clothes, got
inside Mari Musa's house whose door was open. The NARCOM agents did not ask permission to enter the house but simply
announced that they were NARCOM agents. The NARCOM agents searched Mari Musa's house and Mari Musa asked them if
they had a search warrant. The NARCOM agents were just silent. The NARCOM agents found a red plastic bag whose contents,
Mari Musa said, he did not know. He also did not know if the plastic bag belonged to his brother, Faisal, who was living with
him, or his father, who was living in another house about ten arms-length away. Mari Musa, then, was handcuffed and when
Mari Musa asked why, the NARCOM agents told him for clarification.

Mari Musa was brought in a pick-up, his wife joining him to the NARCOM Office at Calarian, Zamboanga City. Inside the
NARCOM Office, Mari Musa was investigated by one NARCOM agent which investigation was reduced into writing. The writing
or document was interpreted to Mari Musa in Tagalog. The document stated that the marijuana belonged to Mari Musa and
Mari Musa was asked to sign it. But Mari Musa refused to sign because the marijuana did not belong to him. Mari Musa said he
was not told that he was entitled to the assistance of counsel, although he himself told the NARCOM agents he wanted to be
assisted by counsel.

Mari Musa said four bullets were then placed between the fingers of his right hand and his fingers were pressed which felt very
painful. The NARCOM agents boxed him and Mari Musa lost consciousness. While Mari Musa was maltreated, he said his wife
was outside the NARCOM building. The very day he was arrested (on cross-examination Mari Musa said it was on the next day),
Mari Musa was brought to the Fiscal's Office by three NARCOM agents. The fiscal asked him if the marijuana was owned by him
and he said "not." After that single question, Mari Musa was brought to the City Jail. Mari Musa said he did not tell the fiscal
that he had been maltreated by the NARCOM agents because he was afraid he might be maltreated in the fiscal's office.

Mari Musa denied the NARCOM agents' charge that he had sold two wrappers of marijuana to them; that he had received from
them a P20.00 bill which he had given to his wife. He did not sell marijuana because he was afraid that was against the law and
that the person selling marijuana was caught by the authorities; and he had a wife and a very small child to support. Mari Musa
said he had not been arrested for selling marijuana before.5

After trial, the trial court rendered the assailed decision with the following disposition:

WHEREFORE, finding accused Mari Musa y Hantatalu guilty beyond reasonable doubt of selling marijuana and pursuant to Sec.
4, Art II of Rep. Act No. 6425, he is sentenced to life imprisonment and to pay the fine of P20,000.00, the latter imposed
without subsidiary imprisonment.6

In this appeal, the appellant contends that his guilt was not proved beyond reasonable doubt and impugns the credibility of the
prosecution witnesses.
The appellant claims that the testimony of Sgt. Ani, the poseur-buyer, is not credible because: (1) prior to the buy-bust
operation, neither Sgt. Ani nor the other NARCOM agents were personally known by the appellant or vice-versa; and (2) there
was no witness to the alleged giving of the two wrappers of marijuana by the appellant to Sgt. Ani.

Sgt. Ani testified that on December 13, 1989, upon instruction by T/Sgt. Jesus Belarga, he conducted a test-buy operation on
the appellant whereby he bought one wrapper of marijuana for P15.00 from the latter.7 He reported the successful operation
to T/Sgt. Belarga on the same day.8 Whereupon, T/Sgt. Belarga conducted a conference to organize a buy-bust operation for
the following day.9

On December 14, 1989, at 1:30 p.m., two NARCOM teams in separate vehicles headed by T/Sgt. Belarga and a certain Sgt.
Foncardas went to the place of operation, which was the appellant's house located in Laquian Compound, Suterville,
Zamboanga City. Sgt. Ani was with the team of T/Sgt. Belarga, whose other members were Sgts. Lego and Biong. 10 Sgt. Ani was
given a marked P20.00 bill by T/Sgt. Belarga, which was to be used in the operation.

Upon reaching the place, the NARCOM agents positioned themselves at strategic places.11 Sgt. Ani approached the house.
Outside the house, the appellant asked Sgt. Ani what he wanted. Sgt. Ani asked him for some more marijuana. 12 Sgt. Ani gave
him the marked P20.00 bill and the appellant went inside the house and brought back two paper wrappers containing
marijuana which he handed to Sgt. Ani.13 From his position, Sgt. Ani could see that there were other people in the house.14

After the exchange, Sgt. Ani approached the other NARCOM agents and made the pre-arranged signal of raising his right
hand.15 The NARCOM agents, accompanied by Sgt. Ani, went inside the house and made the arrest. The agents searched the
appellant and unable to find the marked money, they asked him where it was. The appellant said that he gave it to his wife. 16

The Court, after a careful reading of the record, finds the testimony of Sgt. Ani regarding the buy-bust operation, which resulted
in the apprehension, prosecution and subsequent conviction of the appellant, to be direct, lucid and forthright. Being totally
untainted by contradictions in any of the material points, it deserves credence.

The contention that the appellant could not have transacted with Sgt. Ani because they do not know each other is without
merit. The day before the
buy-bust operation, Sgt. Ani conducted a test-buy and he successfully bought a wrapper of marijuana from the appellant.
Through this previous transaction, Sgt. Ani was able to gain the appellant's confidence for the latter to sell more marijuana to
Sgt. Ani the following day, during the buy-bust operation. Moreover, the Court has held that what matters is not an existing
familiarity between the buyer and the seller, for quite often, the parties to the transaction may be strangers, but their
agreement and the acts constituting the sale and delivery of the marijuana.17

The appellant, again to cast doubt on the credibility of Sgt. Ani, argues that it was impossible for the appellant to sell marijuana
while his wife, cousin and manicurist were present. But the place of the commission of the crime of selling prohibited drugs has
been held to be not crucial18 and the presence of other people apart from the buyer and seller will not necessarily prevent the
consummation of the illegal sale. As the Court observed in People v. Paco,19 these factors may sometimes camouflage the
commission of the crime. In the instant case, the fact that the other people inside the appellant's house are known to the
appellant may have given him some assurance that these people will not report him to the authorities.

The appellant, besides assailing Sgt. Ani's credibility, also questions the credibility of T/Sgt. Belarga. The appellant submits that
since T/Sgt. Belarga admitted that he was about 90 meters away from Sgt. Ani and the appellant, he could not have possibly
witnessed the sale. The appellant invokes People v.
Ale20 where the Court observed that from a distance of 10-15 meters, a policeman cannot distinguish between marijuana
cigarette from ordinary ones by the type of rolling done on the cigarette sticks. And since T/Sgt. Belarga allegedly did not see
the sale, the appellant contends that the uncorroborated testimony of Sgt. Ani can not stand as basis for his conviction.

People v. Ale does not apply here because the policeman in that case testified that he and his companion were certain that the
appellant therein handed marijuana cigarettes to the poseur-buyer based on the appearance of the cigarette sticks. The Court
rejected this claim, stating that:

This Court cannot give full credit to the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses marked as they are with contradictions and
tainted with inaccuracies.

Biñan testified that they were able to tell that the four cigarettes were marijuana cigarettes because according to him, the
rolling of ordinary cigarettes are different from those of marijuana cigarettes. (tsn, November 13, 1984, p. 10).
It is however, incredible to believe that they could discern the type of rolling done on those cigarettes from the distance where
they were observing the alleged sale of more or less 10 to 15 meters.21

In the case at bar, however, T/Sgt. Belarga did not positively claim that he saw the appellant hand over marijuana to Sgt. Ani.
What he said was that there was an exchange of certain articles between the two. The relevant portion of T/Sgt. Belarga's
testimony reads:22

Q Now, do you remember whether Sgt. Ani was able to reach the house of Mari Musa?

A Yes, ma'am.

Q After reaching Mari Musa, did you see what happened (sic)?

A Yes, ma'am.

Q Could you please tell us?

A From our vehicle the stainless owner type jeep where Sgt. Lego, Sgt. Biong were boarded, I saw that Sgt. Ani proceeded to the
house near the road and he was met by one person and later known as Mari Musa who was at the time wearing short pants
and later on I saw that Sgt. Ani handed something to him, thereafter received by Mari Musa and went inside the house and
came back later and handed something to Sgt. Ani.

Contrary to the contention of the appellant, it was not impossible for T/Sgt. Belarga to have seen, from a distance of 90-100
meters, Sgt. Ani hand to the appellant "something" and for the latter to give to the former "something."

Notwithstanding the fact that T/Sgt. Belarga could not have been certain that what Sgt. Ani received from the appellant was
marijuana because of the distance, his testimony, nevertheless, corroborated the direct evidence, which the Court earlier ruled
to be convincing, presented by Sgt. Ani on the following material points: (1) T/Sgt. Belarga instructed Sgt. Ani to conduct a
surveillance and test-buy operation on the appellant at Suterville, Zamboanga City on December 13, 1989; 23 (2) later that same
day, Sgt. Ani went back to their office and reported a successful operation and turned over to T/Sgt. Belarga one wrapper of
marijuana; 24 (3) T/Sgt. Belarga then organized a team to conduct a buy-bust operation the following day; 25 (4) on December
14, 1989, T/Sgt. Belarga led a team of NARCOM agents who went to Suterville, Zamboanga City; 26 (5) T/Sgt. Belarga gave a
P20.00 marked bill to Sgt. Ani which was to be used in the buy-bust operation; 27 (6) upon the arrival of the NARCOM agents in
Suterville, Zamboanga City, Sgt. Ani proceeded to the house of the appellant while some agents stayed in the vehicles and
others positioned themselves in strategic places;28 the appellant met Sgt. Ani and an exchange of articles took place.29

The corroborative testimony of T/Sgt. Belarga strengthens the direct evidence given by Sgt. Ani. Additionally, the Court has
ruled that the fact that the police officers who accompanied the poseur-buyer were unable to see exactly what the appellant
gave the poseur-buyer because of their distance or position will not be fatal to the prosecution's case30 provided there exists
other evidence, direct or circumstantial, e.g., the testimony of the poseur-buyer, which is sufficient to prove the consummation
of the sale of the prohibited drug

The appellant next assails the seizure and admission as evidence of a plastic bag containing marijuana which the NARCOM
agents found in the appellant's kitchen. It appears that after Sgt. Ani gave the pre-arranged signal to the other NARCOM agents,
the latter moved in and arrested the appellant inside the house. They searched him to retrieve the marked money but didn't
find it. Upon being questioned, the appellant said that he gave the marked money to his wife.31 Thereafter, T/Sgt. Belarga and
Sgt. Lego went to the kitchen and noticed what T/Sgt. Belarga described as a "cellophane colored white and stripe hanging at
the corner of the kitchen."32 They asked the appellant about its contents but failing to get a response, they opened it and found
dried marijuana leaves. At the trial, the appellant questioned the admissibility of the plastic bag and the marijuana it contains
but the trial court issued an Order ruling that these are admissible in evidence.33

Built into the Constitution are guarantees on the freedom of every individual against unreasonable searches and seizures by
providing in Article III, Section 2, the following:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of
whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon
probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and
the witness he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
Furthermore, the Constitution, in conformity with the doctrine laid down in Stonehill v. Diokno, 34 declares inadmissible, any
evidence obtained in violation of the freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.35

While a valid search warrant is generally necessary before a search and seizure may be effected, exceptions to this rule are
recognized. Thus, in Alvero v. Dizon,36 the Court stated that. "[t]he most important exception to the necessity for a search
warrant is the right of search and seizure as an incident to a lawful arrest."37

Rule 126, Section 12 of the Rules of Court expressly authorizes a warrantless search and seizure incident to a lawful arrest, thus:

Sec. 12. Search incident to lawful arrest. — A person lawfully arrested may be searched for dangerous weapons or anything
which may be used as proof of the commission of an offense, without a search warrant.

There is no doubt that the warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest authorizes the arresting officer to make a search
upon the person of the person arrested. As early as 1909, the Court has ruled that "[a]n officer making an arrest may take from
the person arrested any money or property found upon his person which was used in the commission of the crime or was the
fruit of the crime or which might furnish the prisoner with the means of committing
violence or of escaping, or which may be used as evidence in the trial of the cause . . . "38 Hence, in a buy-bust operation
conducted to entrap a drug-pusher, the law enforcement agents may seize the marked money found on the person
of the pusher immediately after the arrest even without arrest and search warrants.39

In the case at bar, the NARCOM agents searched the person of the appellant after arresting him in his house but found nothing.
They then searched the entire house and, in the kitchen, found and seized a plastic bag hanging in a corner.

The warrantless search and seizure, as an incident to a suspect's lawful arrest, may extend beyond the person of the one
arrested to include the premises or surroundings under his immediate control.40 Objects in the "plain view" of an officer who
has the right to be in the position to have that view are subject to seizure and may be presented as evidence. 41

In Ker v. California42 police officers, without securing a search warrant but having information that the defendant husband was
selling marijuana from his apartment, obtained from the building manager a passkey to defendants' apartment, and entered it.
There they found the defendant husband in the living room. The defendant wife emerged from the kitchen, and one of the
officers, after identifying himself, observed through the open doorway of the kitchen, a small scale atop the kitchen sink, upon
which lay a brick-shaped package containing green leafy substance which he recognized as marijuana. The package of
marijuana was used as evidence in prosecuting defendants for violation of the Narcotic Law. The admissibility of the package
was challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court, which held, after observing that it was not unreasonable for the officer to walk
to the doorway of the adjacent kitchen on seeing the defendant wife emerge therefrom, that "the discovery of the brick of
marijuana did not constitute a search, since the officer merely saw what was placed before him in full view.43 The U.S. Supreme
Court ruled that the warrantless seizure of the marijuana was legal on the basis of the "plain view" doctrine and upheld the
admissibility of the seized drugs as part of the prosecution's evidence. 44

The "plain view" doctrine may not, however, be used to launch unbridled searches and indiscriminate seizures nor to extend a
general exploratory search made solely to find evidence of defendant's guilt. The "plain view" doctrine is usually applied where
a police officer is not searching for evidence against the accused, but nonetheless inadvertently comes across an incriminating
object.45 Furthermore, the U.S. Supreme Court stated the following limitations on the application of the doctrine:

What the "plain view" cases have in common is that the police officer in each of them had a prior justification for an intrusion in
the course of which he came inadvertently across a piece of evidence incriminating the accused. The doctrine serves to
supplement the prior justification — whether it be a warrant for another object, hot pursuit, search incident to lawful arrest, or
some other legitimate reason for being present unconnected with a search directed against the accused — and permits the
warrantless seizure. Of course, the extension of the original justification is legitimate only where it is immediately apparent to
the police that they have evidence before them; the "plain view" doctrine may not be used to extend a general exploratory
search from one object to another until something incriminating at last emerges.46

It has also been suggested that even if an object is observed in "plain view," the "plain view" doctrine will not justify the seizure
of the object where the incriminating nature of the object is not apparent from the "plain view" of the object.47 Stated
differently, it must be immediately apparent to the police that the items that they observe may be evidence of a crime,
contraband, or otherwise subject to seizure.

In the instant case, the appellant was arrested and his person searched in the living room. Failing to retrieve the marked money
which they hoped to find, the NARCOM agents searched the whole house and found the plastic bag in the kitchen. The plastic
bag was, therefore, not within their "plain view" when they arrested the appellant as to justify its seizure. The NARCOM agents
had to move from one portion of the house to another before they sighted the plastic bag. Unlike Ker vs. California, where the
police officer had reason to walk to the doorway of the adjacent kitchen and from which position he saw the marijuana, the
NARCOM agents in this case went from room to room with the obvious intention of fishing for more evidence.

Moreover, when the NARCOM agents saw the plastic bag hanging in one corner of the kitchen, they had no clue as to its
contents. They had to ask the appellant what the bag contained. When the appellant refused to respond, they opened it and
found the marijuana. Unlike Ker v. California, where the marijuana was visible to the police officer's eyes, the NARCOM agents
in this case could not have discovered the inculpatory nature of the contents of the bag had they not forcibly opened it. Even
assuming then, that the NARCOM agents inadvertently came across the plastic bag because it was within their "plain view,"
what may be said to be the object in their "plain view" was just the plastic bag and not the marijuana. The incriminating nature
of the contents of the plastic bag was not immediately apparent from the "plain view" of said object. It cannot be claimed that
the plastic bag clearly betrayed its contents, whether by its distinctive configuration, its transprarency, or otherwise, that its
contents are obvious to an observer.48

We, therefore, hold that under the circumstances of the case, the "plain view" doctrine does not apply and the marijuana
contained in the plastic bag was seized illegally and cannot be presented in evidence pursuant to Article III, Section 3(2) of the
Constitution.

The exclusion of this particular evidence does not, however, diminish, in any way, the damaging effect of the other pieces of
evidence presented by the prosecution to prove that the appellant sold marijuana, in violation of Article II, Section 4 of the
Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972. We hold that by virtue of the testimonies of Sgt. Ani and T/Sgt. Belarga and the two wrappings of
marijuana sold by the appellant to Sgt. Ani, among other pieces of evidence, the guilt of the appellant of the crime charged has
been proved beyond reasonable doubt.

WHEREFORE, the appeal is DISMISSED and the judgment of the Regional Trial Court AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.
[G.R. Nos. 130568-69. March 21, 2000]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. CHE CHUN TING alias "DICK," accused-appellant.

DECISION

BELLOSILLO, J.: Missc

CHE CHUN TING alias "DICK," a Hong Kong national, was found guilty by the trial court on 22 August 1997 of delivering,
distributing and dispatching in transit 999.43 grams of shabu;[1] and, having in his custody, possession and control 5,578.68
grams of the same regulated drug.[2] He was meted two (2) death sentences, one for violation of Sec. 15 and the other for
violation of Sec. 16, both of Art. III, of RA 6425 (The Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended).[3] He was likewise ordered to
pay a fine of P1,000,000.00 in the first case, and P12,000,000.00 in the second.[4] He is now before us on automatic review.

The antecedent facts: Following a series of buy-bust operations, the elements of the Special Operation Unit, Narcotics
Command, apprehended a suspected drug courier, Mabel Cheung Mei Po, after she delivered a transparent plastic bag
containing a white crystalline substance to an informant, in full view of NARCOM agents. When questioned, Mabel Cheung Mei
Po cooperated with the government agents and revealed the name of accused Che Chun Ting as the source of the
drugs. Misspped

On 27 June 1996 the Narcotics Command deployed a team of agents for the entrapment and arrest of Che Chun Ting. The team
was composed of Major Marcelo Garbo, a certain Captain Campos, [5] P/Insp. Raymond Santiago, SPO3 Renato Campanilla, and a
civilian interpreter. The members of the NARCOM team were in two (2) vehicles: a Nissan Sentra Super Saloon driven by Mabel
with P/Insp. Santiago and SPO3 Campanilla as passengers; and the other vehicle, with Major Garbo, Captain Campos and the
civilian interpreter on board. At around 7 oclock in the morning they proceeded to the Roxas Seafront Garden in Pasay City
where Che Chun Ting was and had the place under surveillance. Later, they moved to the McDonalds parking lot where the
civilian interpreter transferred to the Nissan car. Mabel then called Che Chun Ting through her cellular phone and spoke to him
in Chinese. According to the interpreter, who translated to the NARCOM agents the conversation between Mabel and Che Chun
Ting, Mabel ordered one (1) kilo of shabu.

At around 10:30 oclock in the morning of the same day, Mabel received a call from the accused that he was ready to deliver the
stuff. She immediately relayed the message to the NARCOM agents. After receiving the go-signal from Major Garbo, P/Insp.
Santiago, SPO3 Campanilla and Mabel proceeded to the Roxas Seafront Garden. The other vehicle followed but trailed behind
within reasonable distance to serve as a blocking force.

Upon arriving at the Roxas Seafront Garden, Mabel honked twice and went to Unit 122. The two (2) NARCOM agents, who
waited inside the car parked two (2) meters away, saw the door of the unit open as a man went out to hand Mabel a
transparent plastic bag containing a white crystalline substance. The NARCOM agents immediately alighted and arrested the
surprised man who was positively identified by Mabel as Che Chun Ting. Then the agents radioed their superiors in the other
car and coordinated with the security guard on duty at the Roxas Seafront Garden to make a search of Unit 122. During the
search SPO3 Campanilla seized a black bag with several plastic bags containing a white crystalline substance in an open cabinet
at the second floor. The bag was examined in the presence of Major Garbo, the accused himself, and his girlfriend Nimfa Ortiz.
The accused together with the evidence was then brought to Camp Crame where Forensic Chemist P/Sr. Inspector Julita T. de
Villa after conducting laboratory tests found the white crystalline substance to be positive for methylamphetamine
hydrochloride or shabu.[6] Spped

The defense has a different version. Nimfa Ortiz narrated that she sent her brother Noli Ortiz to meet Mabel Cheung Mei Po in
front of the Allied Bank at the EDSA Extension to help the latter find a lawyer and at the same time get the laser disc she lent to
Mabel. Noli testified that when he got inside the car of Mabel a policeman sitting at the back of the car suddenly hit him on the
head. The car then proceeded to McDonalds at Roxas Boulevard near the Roxas Seafront Garden where he was moved to
another car, a green Nissan Sentra, with Major Garbo, Captain Lukban and a certain Palma (perceived to be the civilian
interpreter) on board. Mabel stayed behind at McDonalds until she was brought back to Camp Crame.

Noli Ortiz, Major Garbo, Captain Lukban and Palma went to the Roxas Seafront Garden where they parked the car five (5) to
seven (7) meters away from Unit 122. Noli rang the doorbell of the unit. When Nimfa opened the door, two (2) NARCOM
officers suddenly forced their way inside and searched the premises. Noli denied having seen any black bag seized by SPO3
Campanilla; instead, what he saw was his sister's video camera being carted away by the NARCOM agents. He further testified
that when his sister was made to sign a certification on the conduct of the search on Unit 122 she was frightened and crying. He
claimed that accused Che Chun Ting was then asleep at the second floor of the unit.
The defense presented documents showing that the owner of Unit 122 was Nimfa Ortiz and not accused Che Chun Ting who
lived at 1001 Domingo Poblete St., BF Homes, Paranaque.[7] This information, according to the defense, was vital for purposes
of ascertaining the legality of the search on Unit 122 as well as the seizure therein of a black bag containing several plastic bags
of shabu. Finally, the defense assailed the lower court for relying on the testimony of Mabel who turned hostile witness in the
course of the trial.[8]

Accused Che Chun Ting now contends that the trial court erred: (a) in convicting him on the basis of the shabu seized inside
Unit 122, which was constitutionally inadmissible as evidence since it was seized without a search warrant; (b) in failing to
recognize that the testimony of Mabel Cheung Mei Po, who turned hostile witness in the course of the trial, has discredited the
prosecution case and cast doubt on the testimonies of P/Insp. Santiago and SPO3 Campanilla; and, (c) in assuming that the
entire white crystalline substance seized is positive for methylamphetamine hydrochloride. Jospped

We resolve. The 1987 Constitution ordains that no arrest, search or seizure can be made without a valid warrant issued by a
competent judicial authority. Thus -

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of
whatever nature and for any purpose, shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon
probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and
the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized. [9]

It further mandates that any evidence obtained in violation thereof shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding. [10]

The right is not absolute and admits of certain well-recognized exceptions. For instance, a person lawfully arrested may be
searched for dangerous weapons or anything which may be used as proof of the commission of the offense, without a search
warrant.[11] The search may extend beyond the person of the one arrested to include the permissible area or surroundings
within his immediate control.[12]

The issue is whether this case falls within the exception.

The accused was admittedly outside unit 22 and in the act of delivering to Mabel Cheung Mei Po a bag of shabu when he was
arrested by the NARCOM operatives. Moreover, it is borne by the records that Unit 122 was not even his residence but that of
his girlfriend Nimfa Ortiz, and that he was merely a sojourner therein. Hence, it can hardly be said that the inner portion of the
house constituted a permissible area within his reach or immediate control,[13] to justify a warrantless search therein. Sppedjo

The lawful arrest being the sole justification for the validity of the warrantless search under the exception, the same must be
limited to and circumscribed by the subject, time and place of the arrest. As to subject, the warrantless search is sanctioned
only with respect to the person of the suspect, and things that may be seized from him are limited to "dangerous weapons" or
"anything which may be used as proof of the commission of the offense." With respect to the time and place of the warrantless
search, it must be contemporaneous with the lawful arrest. Stated otherwise, to be valid, the search must have been conducted
at about the time of the arrest or immediately thereafter and only at the place where the suspect was arrested, [14] or the
premises or surroundings under his immediate control.

It must be stressed that the purposes of the exception are only to protect the arresting officer against physical harm from the
person being arrested who might be armed with a concealed weapon, and also to prevent the person arrested from destroying
the evidence within his reach.[15] The exception therefore should not be strained beyond what is needed in order to serve its
purposes, as what the Solicitor General would want us to do.

We therefore hold that the search in Unit 122 and the seizure therein of some 5,578.68 grams of shabu do not fall within the
exception, hence, were illegal for being violative of ones basic constitutional right and guarantee against unreasonable searches
and seizures.

As a consequence of the illegal search, the things seized on the occasion thereof are inadmissible in evidence under the
exclusionary rule. They are regarded as having been obtained from a polluted source, the "fruit of a poisonous tree." However,
objects and properties the possession of which is prohibited by law cannot be returned to their owners notwithstanding the
illegality of their seizure. Thus, the shabu seized by the NARCOM operatives which cannot legally be possessed by the accused
under the law, can and must be retained by the government to be disposed of in accordance with law.

Be that as it may, the inadmissibility of the 5,578.68 grams of shabu in evidence does not totally exonerate the accused. The
illegal search in Unit 122 was preceded by a valid arrest. The accused was caught in flagrante delicto as a result of an
entrapment conducted by NARCOM operatives on the basis of the information provided by Mabel Cheung Mei Po regarding the
accused's illegal trade. NARCOM agents P/Insp. Santiago and SPO3 Campanilla saw him handing over a bag of white crystalline
substance to Mabel Cheung Mei Po. His arrest was lawful and the seized bag of shabu weighing 999.43 grams was admissible in
evidence, being the fruit of the crime. Miso

The second assigned error hinges on the credibility of witnesses. As we have consistently stressed in the majority of appeals in
criminal cases, appellate courts give weight, and at times even finality, to the findings of the trial judge who is in a better
position to determine the credibility of witnesses, as he can observe firsthand their demeanor and deportment while testifying.
Appellate courts have none of the judges advantageous position; they rely merely on the cold records of the case and on the
judges discretion.

As mentioned earlier, Mabel Cheung Mei Po turned hostile witness in the course of the trial. The defense capitalized on such
fact and hammered the prosecution on this point, arguing that Mabels testimony during her cross-examination virtually belied
the prosecutions factual theory of the case and cast doubt on the testimony of the NARCOM agents.

But we are not persuaded. Mabel Cheung Mei Po turned hostile witness understandably because of her adverse interest in the
case. She was separately charged for violation of Sec. 15, Art. III, RA 6425,[16] although she was subsequently acquitted by the
trial court on reasonable doubt.[17] It is therefore to be expected that she would be extremely cautious in giving her testimony
as it might incriminate her. At any rate, the testimony of the police informant in an illegal drug case is not essential for the
conviction of the accused since that testimony would merely be corroborative and cumulative.[18] Hence, even if we concede
that Mabel Cheung Mei Pos testimony was discredited on account of the dismissal of the criminal case against her, the
prosecution could still rely on the testimonies of the arresting officers and secure a conviction on the basis thereof.

Further, the attempt of the accused to downgrade the testimonies of the NARCOM agents is bereft of substantial basis since it
has not been shown that they had an improper motive for testifying as they did. It would not be amiss to point out that
NARCOM agents are not just ordinary witnesses but are law enforcers. As compared to the baseless disclaimers of the
witnesses for the defense, the narration of the incident of the police officers is far more worthy of belief coming as it does from
law enforcers who are presumed to have regularly performed their duty in the absence of proof to the contrary.[19] From the
evidence at hand, we find no reason to denigrate their declarations.

Indeed, there is no doubt from the records that the accused was caught in flagrante delicto, i.e., in the act of delivering shabu.
The evidence for the prosecution is both substantial and convincing. At its core is the testimony of P/Insp. Santiago and SPO3
Campanilla who categorically pointed to the accused as the person who handed to Mabel a plastic bag of white crystalline
substance which, upon forensic examination, was found positive for methylamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu. As can be
gleaned from the assailed decision of the trial court, the narration of events by the police officers is positive, credible and
entirely in accord with human experience. It bears all the earmarks of truth that it is extremely difficult for a rational mind not
to give credence to it. They testified in a clear, precise and straightforward manner, and even the rigid cross-examination by the
defense could not dent the essence of their testimonies. Nexold

As regards the third assigned error, the accused questions the accuracy of the laboratory tests conducted by the forensic
chemist on the seized articles. He contends that the PNP Crime Laboratory should have subjected the entire 999.43 grams and
5,578.66 grams of white crystalline substance taken from him, to laboratory examination and not merely representative
samples thereof in milligrams.

The argument is untenable. Primarily, there is no law or rule of evidence requiring the forensic chemist to test the entire
quantity of seized drugs to determine whether the whole lot is really prohibited or regulated drugs as suspected. On the
contrary, it has always been the standard procedure in the PNP Crime Laboratory to test only samples of the drugs submitted
for laboratory examination. A sample taken from a package may be logically presumed to be representative of the whole
contents of the package.[20]

Moreover, we held in one case that chemical analysis is not an indispensable prerequisite to establish whether a certain
substance offered in evidence is a prohibited drug. The ability to recognize these drugs can be acquired without any knowledge
of chemistry to such an extent that the testimony of a witness on the point may be entitled to great weight. Such technical
knowledge is not required, and the degree of familiarity of a witness with such drugs only affects the weight and not the
competency of his testimony.[21]Manikx

At any rate, it was up to the defense to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the findings of the forensic chemist were
erroneous. In the absence of such evidence, the positive results of the tests conducted by the chemist should be accepted as
conclusive. After all, she has in her favor the presumption that she regularly performed her official duty, which was to carry out
those tests in accordance with the accepted standard procedure. [22]
All told, this Court is satisfied that the prosecution has established the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt in Crim.
Case No. 96-8932. Accordingly, he must suffer for his serious crime of poisoning the health and future of this nation. However,
we refrain from imposing the capital punishment. As amended by RA 7659, Sec. 20, Art. IV of TheDangerous Drugs Act now
provides in part that the penalty in Sec. 15, Art. III, shall be applied if the dangerous drug involved is, in the case
of shabu or methylampethamine hydrochloride 200 grams or more and the delivery or distribution of regulated drugs without
proper authority is penalized with reclusion perpetua to death and a fine ranging from P500,000.00 to P10,000,000.00. Thus the
law prescribes two (2) indivisible penalties, reclusion perpetua and death. Pursuant to Art. 63 of The Revised Penal Code, since
there were neither mitigating nor aggravating circumstances attending accused's violation of the law, the lesser penalty
of reclusion perpetua is the proper imposable penalty.

The legislature never intended that where the quantity of the dangerous drugs involved exceeds those stated in Sec. 20, the
maximum penalty of death shall automatically be imposed. Nowhere in the amendatory law is there a provision from which
such a conclusion may be drawn. On the contrary, this Court has already concluded in People v. Gatward[23] that RA 7659 did
not amend Art. 63 of The Revised Penal Code, and the rules therein were observed although the cocaine subject of that case
was also in excess of the quantity provided in Sec. 20.[24] Maniksx

With respect to Crim. Case No. 96-8933, since the constitutional right of the accused against unreasonable searches and
seizures was violated, which rendered the evidence against him inadmissible, he is acquitted of the offense charged.

Finally, we take this opportunity to remonstrate the law enforcement agencies regarding respect for the constitutional rights of
persons suspected of committing crimes. As the phalanx of our united efforts to stem the surging tide of drug-trafficking in this
country, the police force is not only expected to be well-trained and well-equipped in the detection and apprehension of drug
pushers, but more importantly, it must also be aware that arrests, searches and seizures should at all times and in all instances
be done within the context of the Constitution. While we encourage an active and vigorous law enforcement, we nevertheless
defer to and uphold the sacredness of constitutional rights. In the instant case, while the penalty of reclusion perpetua imposed
by this Court on the accused may be sufficient to put him away for good, it is nonetheless lamentable that he will walk away
unpunished in the other case of possession of more than 5,000 grams of illegal narcotics on account of a blunder which could
have easily been avoided had the NARCOM officers faithfully adhered to the requirements of the Constitution.

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the trial court in Crim. Case No. 96-8932 convicting accused CHE CHUN TING alias "DICK" for
violation of Sec. 15, Art. III, of RA 6425 (The Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended) is AFFIRMED, subject to the
modification that the penalty imposed by the trial court is reduced to reclusion perpetua. The accused is ordered to pay a fine in
the increased amount of P2,000,000.00, and the costs.

In Crim. Case No. 96-8933, accused CHE CHUN TING alias "DICK" is ACQUITTED for failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt
beyond reasonable doubt the evidence against him being inadmissible.

The 999.43 grams and 5,578.68 grams of shabu, subject of Crim. Case Nos. 96-8932 and 96-8933 are FORFEITED in favor of the
government to be turned over immediately to the Dangerous Drugs Board and the National Bureau of Investigation for proper
disposition.

SO ORDERED. Manikanx
[G.R. Nos. 114224-25. April 26, 1996]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ROLANDO LUA Y NERI, accused-appellant.

SYLLABUS

1. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; FINDINGS OF FACT OF THE TRIAL COURT ON THE CREDIBILITY OF WITNESSES; ACCORDED GREAT
WEIGHT AND RESPECT ON APPEAL. - The thrust of this appeal is laid on the credibility of the witnesses. Time and again this
court has ruled that the findings of the lower court respecting the credibility of witnesses are accorded great weight and
respect since it had the opportunity to observe the demeanor of the witnesses as they testified before the court.Unless
substantial facts and circumstances have been overlooked or misunderstood by the latter which if considered would materially
affect the result of the case, this court will undauntedly sustain the findings of the lower court.

2. ID.; ID.; PRESUMPTION OF REGULARITY IN THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL DUTIES; APPLICABLE IN CASE AT BAR. - We find
no compelling reason to overturn the decision of the lower court. The appellant asseverates that the police arrested him at all
cost to save face and to project that OPLAN SATURN was successfully carried out. Such allegation is a mere conjecture bereft of
factual basis. In drug related cases, the accused would most often raise the defense of being framed up. However, for that
defense to prosper, the evidence adduced must be clear and convincing. Like alibi, it is a weak defense that is easy to concoct
but difficult to prove. In the absence of proof, the presumption is that the police officers regularly performed their official
duties.

3. ID.; ID.; CREDIBILITY OF WITNESSES; TESTIMONIES; STANDS IN THE ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE TO INDICATE THAT THE PRINCIPAL
PROSECUTION WITNESS WAS ACTUATED BY IMPROPER MOTIVE TO FALSELY TESTIFY AGAINST THE ACCUSED. - The appellant
failed to convincingly show any ill motive on the part of prosecution witnesses to testify falsely and to impute to him such grave
offenses. It is settled that where there is no evidence to indicate that a principal prosecution witness was actuated by improper
motive, the presumption is that he was not so actuated. He would not prevaricate and cause damnation to one who brought
him no harm or injury.

4. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; NOT AFFECTED BY INCONSISTENCIES ON MINOR MATTERS. - The imputed inconsistencies regarding the time
when the arresting officers arrived at the appellants residence and the date when the markings on the recovered gun were
placed do not affect the credibility of the prosecution witnesses. This Court finds the same too minor to matter, the same
having been satisfactorily explained by the prosecution witnesses. Thus, in People v. Gonzales (G.R. No. 106098, 7 December
1993, 228 SCRA 293) we held that testimonial discrepancies could be caused by the natural fickleness of memory which tend to
strengthen rather than weaken credibility as they erase any suspicion of rehearsed testimony.

5. ID.; ID.; ADMISSIBILITY; ARTICLES SEIZED AS A CONSEQUENCE OF A VALID SEARCH INCIDENTAL TO A LAWFUL ARREST;
ADMISSIBLE IN EVIDENCE. - Having settled the issues raised by appellant, the equally important matter as regards admissibility
of the evidence should likewise be passed upon. The buy-bust operation conducted by the police operatives is a form of
entrapment allowed by law. The arrest of the appellant was lawful having been caught in flagrante delicto. Consequently, there
is no need for a warrant for the seizure of the 3 tea bags of marijuana (5.3934 grams) the same being the fruit of the
crime. With respect to the body search made by Puno, the same was valid being incidental to a lawful arrest. Therefore, the .38
cal. paltik and the two (2) live bullets and the empty shell found in the cylinder are admissible in evidence.

6. ID.; ID.; ID.; SEARCH INCIDENTAL TO A LAWFUL ARREST; LIMITED TO BODY SEARCH AND TO THAT POINT WITHIN THE REACH
OR CONTROL OF THE PERSON ARRESTED OR THAT WHICH MAY FURNISH HIM WITH THE MEANS OF COMMITTING VIOLENCE OR
OF ESCAPING. - As regards the brick of marijuana found inside the appellants house, the trial court correctly ignored it
apparently in view of its inadmissibility. While initially the arrest as well as the body search was lawful, the warrantless search
made inside appellants house became unlawful since the police operatives were not armed with a search warrant. Such search
cannot fall under search made incidental to a lawful arrest, the same being limited to body search and to that point within
reach or control of the person arrested, or that which may furnish him with the means of committing violence or of escaping. In
the case at bar, appellant was admittedly outside his house when he was arrested. Hence, it can hardly be said that the inner
portion of his house was within his reach or control.

7. CRIMINAL LAW; DANGEROUS DRUGS ACT; PENALTY TO BE IMPOSED FOR THE VIOLATION OF SECTION 4, ARTICLE II THEREOF;
DEPENDS ON THE QUANTITY OF DRUGS INVOLVED. - This Court finds accused-appellant Rolando Lua guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of violating Sec. 4, Art. II, of R.A. 6425, as amended, under which the penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine
ranging from twenty thousand to thirty thousand pesos shall be imposed. However, with the passage of R.A. 7659, which took
effect on 31 December 1993, amending certain sections of The Dangerous Drugs Act, the imposable penalty for the sale or
delivery of prohibited drug is prision correccional to reclusion temporal if the quantity involved is less than 750 grams of
marijuana. Taking into account that appellant is not shown to be a habitual delinquent and the said amendatory provision being
favorable to him, the quantity of marijuana involved being only 5.3934 grams or less than 750 grams, the aforestated penalty
imposed under R.A. 7659 should be applied. There being no mitigating nor aggravating circumstances, and following People v.
Simon, the imposable penalty shall be prision correccional in its medium period. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the
maximum penalty shall be taken from the medium period of prision correccional, which is two (2) years, four (4) months and
one (1) day to four (4) years and two (2) months, while the minimum shall be taken from the penalty next lower in degree,
which is one (1) month and one (day) to six (6) months of arresto mayor.

8. ID.; P.D. 1866; ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF FIREARMS; ESTABLISHED IN CASE AT BAR. - On the charge of illegal possession of
firearms, we sustain the finding and conclusion of the trial court. The prosecution has indubitably established the existence of
the .38 cal. paltik and the two (2) live bullets, and the fact that appellant did not have the necessary license or permit to possess
the same. Accordingly, under Sec. 1 of P.D. No. 1866, the penalty of reclusion temporal in its maximum period to reclusion
perpetua shall be imposed, the range of which is seventeen (17) years four (4) months and one (1) day to reclusion
perpetua. Considering the pertinent provisions of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the maximum of the penalty to be imposed
shall not exceed the maximum fixed by law, while the minimum shall not be lower than the minimum likewise fixed by law.

APPEARANCES OF COUNSEL

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

Ross Bautista Law Firm for accused-appellant.

DECISION

BELLOSILLO, J.:

This is an appeal from the decision[1] of the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City finding accused-appellant Rolando Lua y Neri
guilty of violating Sec. 4, Art. II, of R.A. No. 6425[2] as amended, and of P.D. No. 1866.[3]

Pursuant to OPLAN SATURN, a program addressing the growing drug problem in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City, a buy-bust
operation was conducted by police operatives for the entrapment of Rolando Lua.

At 12 oclock noon of 30 March 1991, Lt. Norberto Surara, Commander of Bagong Silang Police Sub-station, Caloocan City, and
his men discussed plans to serve a search warrant on alleged drug pusher Hilario Talavera and to conduct a buy-bust operation
against accused-appellant Rolando Lua alias Chekwa. To verify the report on the illegal drug activities of appellant, Ulysses
Orlino, a police informer, was dispatched to the vicin of Lua. A few moments later, Orlino returned confirming the report on
appellants illegal operations near his residence at Bo. Sto. Nio, Tala, Caloocan City. Two teams were formed, one to conduct the
buy-bust operation, and the other, to serve the search warrant on Hilario Talavera. Police Officers Constantino Guerrero,
Marino Puno, Jose Marte and Alfredo Antonio formed the buy-bust team. Guerrero was designated as poseur-buyer. Before
leaving the station Guerrero, in the presence of SPO3 Perfecto Sobejana and other police officers, marked with X and his initials
C.G. 3 P10-bills to be used in the entrapment of appellant.

Guerrero and his buy-bust team arrived at Bo. Sto. Nio at 4 oclock in the afternoon together with their informant Ulyssess
Orlino. Orlino pointed to Guerrero the appellant who was then outside the door of his house. The team strategically positioned
themselves near a neighboring house while Guerrero approached accused-appellant Lua and said, Chekwa, pa score nga, and
simultaneously handed him the 3 marked P1O-bills. Appellant took the money and went inside his house. Shortly after, he
returned with 3 small tea bags of marijuana which he gave to Police Officer Guerrero. At this juncture, Guerrero signaled to his
companions to close in. He then grabbed appellant by the hand after introducing himself as a police officer and arrested
him. Guerrero recovered the marked money from the other hand of appellant.

When the rest of the team approached Guerrero and appellant Lua, PO Marino Puno noticed something bulging from the
waistline of appellant so he immediately frisked him. Puno lifted Luas shirt and found a .38 cal. paltik in the latters
possession. Guerrero who was standing beside the accused grabbed the handgun which had two (2) live bullets and an empty
shell in the cylinder. When Lua was asked where he kept the rest of the marijuana he unhesitatingly replied that they were
inside his house. Accompanied by the police operatives, appellant went inside his house and in the presence of his wife pointed
to the police officers a soapbox containing a brick of dried marijuana. Puno showed the marijuana brick to those around him
including appellants household.

After the operation, appellant together with the pieces of evidence against him, namely, 3 marked P10-bills with serial numbers
RB886096, PF245345, QF260152; 3 tea bags of marijuana (5.3934 grams); marijuana brick inside a soapbox (209.00 grams); and,
a .38 cal. paltik with two (2) live bullets and an empty shell, were surrendered to the team leader, SPO3 Perfecto Sobejana, and
Lt. Surara who were both waiting at the barangay hall. SPO3 Sobejana and Patrolmen Guerrero, Puno, Antonio and Marte
jointly executed a sworn statement on their operation.

At six oclock in the evening appellant Rolando Lua as well as the pieces of evidence found in his possession were referred to
PO3 Gilbert Dioso for investigation.

On 1 April 1991 PO3 Dioso prepared a referral letter to the National Bureau of Investigation for laboratory examination and
chemical analysis of the 3 tea bags and the brick of marijuana wrapped in a newsprint and placed inside a plastic bag. The
following day, 2 April 1991, Dioso also prepared a referral letter to the Inquest Fiscal of Caloocan City for proper evaluation and
disposition of the cases against appellant.

On the same day the National Bureau of Investigation Forensic Chemist Alicia Liberato submitted her Reports Nos. DDM-91-249
and DDM-91-250 finding the specimens positive for marijuana.

Parenthetically, on 6 July 1992, PNP Senior Superintendent Antonio T. Sierra, Chief of the Firearms and Explosive Office, issued
a certification that accused-appellant Rolando Lua was not a licensed nor a registered firearm holder of any kind and caliber
after verifying the computerized master list of all licensed firearm holders.

Separate informations for violation of Sec. 4, Art. II, of R.A. 6425, as amended, and for violation of P.D. 1866 were filed against
Rolando Lua.

The appellant has a different account of the events. He says that at around 4 oclock in the afternoon of 30 March 1991 while
sleeping in his house with his 3-year old daughter he was awakened from his sleep when a certain Resty, a security guard of the
Tala Leprosarium, handcuffed him. He asked Resty why, but he received no answer.According to appellant Resty was with three
(3) other companions - Rodel Ginco who was also a security guard at the Tala Leprosarium, Boy Mano who was a civilian, and
Police Officer Guerrero. Then he was boarded in an owner-type jeep and brought to the other barangay in front of Hilario
Talavera s house. He also claims he was transferred to a parked mobile car where he saw Edgardo Calanday inside the car also
handcuffed. From where he was sitting he could see the police operatives walking to and fro inside Talaveras house. Then they
were brought to the administration site outside the Tala Leprosarium where they stayed for an hour, after which they were
brought to the Bagong Silang Detachment where they were detained for three (3) days.

Appellants neighbor, Catalino Hidacan, corroborated the testimony of appellant. Hidacan testified that after the arrest the
persons who nabbed the appellant returned and entered the latters house. However, when they went out, they were already
carrying with them something wrapped in a newspaper while one of them was holding a gun.

Appellant assigns the following errors to the trial court: (a) in sustaining the prosecution and disregarding completely the
testimony of defense witness Catalino Hidacan; (b) in according probative weight to the testimonies of the police officers on
the disputable presumption that they regularly performed their duties thus disregarding the right of the accused to be
presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt; and, (c) in not taking judicial notice of his physical condition
when his hands were closed and clinched because of Hansens disease or leprosy so that it is highly improbable to possess a
firearm and violate P.D. 1866.

The thrust of this appeal is laid on the credibility of the witnesses. Time and again this court has ruled that the findings of the
lower court respecting the credibility of witnesses are accorded great weight and respect since it had the opportunity to
observe the demeanor of the witnesses as they testified before the court. Unless substantial facts and circumstances have been
overlooked or misunderstood by the latter which if considered would materially affect the result of the case, this court will
undauntedly sustain the findings of the lower court.

We find no compelling reason to overturn the decision of the lower court. The appellant asseverates that the police arrested
him at all cost to save face and to project that OPLAN SATURN was successfully carried out. Such allegation is a mere conjecture
bereft of factual basis. In drug related cases, the accused would most often raise the defense of being framed up. However, for
that defense to prosper, the evidence adduced must be clear and convincing. Like alibi, it is a weak defense that is easy to
concoct but difficult to prove. In the absence of proof, the presumption is that the police officers regularly performed their
official duties. Moreover, the appellant failed to convincingly show any ill motive on the part of prosecution witnesses to testify
falsely and to impute to him such grave offenses. It is settled that where there is no evidence to indicate that a principal
prosecution witness was actuated by improper motive, the presumption is that he was not so actuated. He would not
prevaricate and cause damnation to one who brought him no harm or injury.[4]
Appellant would persuade us that the police narration of facts could not be freed from material inconsistencies, thus the
disputable presumption that the police officers acted regularly in pursuance of their official duties must be rendered
subordinate to the constitutional right of the accused to be presumed innocent until proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

We are not convinced. The imputed inconsistencies regarding the time when the arresting officers arrived at the appellants
residence and the date when the markings on the recovered gun were placed do not affect the credibility of the prosecution
witnesses. This court finds the same too minor to matter, the same having been satisfactorily explained by the prosecution
witnesses. Thus, in People v. Gonzales[5] we held that testimonial discrepancies could be caused by the natural fickleness of
memory which tend to strengthen rather than weaken credibility as they erase any suspicion of rehearsed testimony. Contrary
to appellants claim, the guilt of the accused has been established beyond reasonable doubt. The testimony of PO Guerrero was
sufficient to show that indeed appellant committed the offenses with which he was charged. It was established that appellant
sold and delivered prohibited drug to PO Guerrero who acted as poseur-buyer knowing fully well that what he sold and
delivered was a prohibited drug.

As regards the third assigned error, we do not find the same compelling enough to exculpate the appellant. Leprosy or Hansens
disease is a chronic granulomatous infection of humans which attacks superficial tissues, especially the skin and peripheral
nerves.[6] The infection normally results in the loss of touch but the patient does not really lose his motor functions. Only in
severe cases do trauma and secondary chronic infections lead to loss of digits or distal extremities. [7] In the case at bar, the
appellant failed to show that he can no longer make use of his hands, thus rendering him incapable of committing the offenses
with which he is being charged. The disease does not deter him from possessing nor of using a firearm in violation of P.D. No.
1866.

Having settled the issues raised by appellant, the equally important matter as regards admissibility of the evidence should
likewise be passed upon. The buy-bust operation conducted by the police operatives is a form of entrapment allowed
by law. The arrest of the appellant was lawful having been caught in flagrante delicto. Consequently, there is no need for a
warrant for the seizure of the 3 tea bags of marijuana (5.3934 grams) the same being the fruit of the crime. With respect to the
body search made by Puno, the same was valid being incidental to a lawful arrest. Therefore, the .38 cal. paltik and the two (2)
live bullets and the empty shell found in the cylinder are admissible in evidence.

As regards the brick of marijuana found inside the appellants house, the trial court correctly ignored it apparently in view of its
inadmissibility. While initially the arrest as well as the body search was lawful, the warrantless search made inside appellants
house became unlawful since the police operatives were not armed with a search warrant. Such search cannot fall under search
made incidental to a lawful arrest, the same being limited to body search and to that point within reach or control of the person
arrested, or that which may furnish him with the means of committing violence or of escaping. In the case at bar, appellant was
admittedly outside his house when he was arrested. Hence, it can hardly be said that the inner portion of his house was within
his reach or control.

In sum, this court finds accused-appellant Rolando Lua guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Sec. 4, Art. II, of R.A. 6425,
as amended, under which the penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from twenty thousand to thirty thousand
pesos shall be imposed. However, with the passage of R.A. 7659, which took effect on 31 December 1993, amending certain
sections of The Dangerous Drugs Act, the imposable penalty for the sale or delivery of prohibited drug is prision
correccional to reclusion temporal[8] if the quantity involved is less than 750 grams of marijuana. Taking into account that
appellant is not shown to be a habitual delinquent and the said amendatory provision being favorable to him, the quantity of
marijuana involved being only 5.3934 grams or less than 750 grams, the aforestated penalty imposed under R.A. 7659 should
be applied. There being no mitigating nor aggravating circumstances, and following People v. Simon,[9] the imposable penalty
shall be prision correccional in its medium period.Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the maximum penalty shall be
taken from the medium period of prision correccional, which is two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day to four (4) years
and two (2) months, while the minimum shall be taken from the penalty next lower in degree, which is one (1) month and one
(1) day to six (6) months of arresto mayor.

On the charge of illegal possession of firearms, we sustain the finding and conclusion of the trial court. The prosecution has
indubitably established the existence of the .38 cal. paltik and the two (2) live bullets, and the fact that appellant did not have
the necessary license or permit to possess the same. Accordingly, under Sec. 1 of P.D. No. 1866, the penalty of reclusion
temporal in its maximum period to reclusion perpetua shall be imposed, the range of which is seventeen (17) years, four (4)
months and one (1) day to reclusion perpetua. Considering the pertinent provisions of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the
maximum of the penalty to be imposed shall not exceed the maximum fixed by law, while the minimum shall not be lower than
the minimum likewise fixed by law.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the court a quo is MODIFIED. For violating P.D. 1866, accused-appellant ROLANDO LUA y NERI is
sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of seventeen (17) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of reclusion
temporal maximum as minimum, to eighteen (18) years, eight (8) months and 20 days likewise of reclusion temporal maximum
as maximum; and, for violating Sec. 4, Art. II, of R.A. 6425, as amended, the indeterminate penalty of six (6) months and twenty
(20) days of prision correccional minimum as minimum, to two (2) years, six (6) months and ten (10) days of prision
correccional medium as maximum, to be served successively in accordance with Art. 70 of the Revised Penal Code.

Appellant should be credited with the full time of his preventive imprisonment upon a showing that he agreed to abide by the
same disciplinary rules imposed upon convicted prisoners, otherwise, he shall be credited with four-fifths (4/5) of the time of
such preventive imprisonment.

Costs against accused-appellant.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 120431. April 1, 1998]

RODOLFO ESPANO, accused-petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

DECISION

ROMERO, J.:

This is a petition for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 13976 dated January 16, 1995,[1] which
affirmed in toto the judgment of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 1, convicting petitioner Rodolfo Espano for violation
of Article II, Section 8 of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act.

Petitioner was charged under the following information:

That on or about July 14, 1991, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, not being authorized by law to possess or
use any prohibited drug, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and knowingly have in his possession and under his custody and
control twelve (12) plastic cellophane (bags) containing crushed flowering tops, marijuana weighing 5.5 grams which is a
prohibited drug.

Contrary to law.[2]

The evidence for the prosecution, based on the testimony of Pat. Romeo Pagilagan, shows that on July 14, 1991, at about 12:30
a.m., he and other police officers, namely, Pat. Wilfredo Aquino, Simplicio Rivera, and Erlindo Lumboy of the Western Police
District (WPD), Narcotics Division went to Zamora and Pandacan Streets, Manila to confirm reports of drug pushing in the
area. They saw petitioner selling something to another person. After the alleged buyer left, they approached petitioner,
identified themselves as policemen, and frisked him. The search yielded two plastic cellophane tea bags of marijuana. When
asked if he had more marijuana, he replied that there was more in his house. The policemen went to his residence where they
found ten more cellophane tea bags of marijuana. Petitioner was brought to the police headquarters where he was charged
with possession of prohibited drugs. On July 24, 1991, petitioner posted bail[3] and the trial court issued his order of release on
July 29, 1991.[4]

Annabelle Alip, forensic chemist of the WPD Criminal Investigation Laboratory Section, testified that the articles sent to her by
Pat. Wilfredo Aquino regarding the apprehension of a certain Rodolfo Espano for examination tested positive for marijuana,
with a total weight of 5.5 grams.

By way of defense, petitioner testified that on said evening, he was sleeping in his house and was awakened only when the
policemen handcuffed him. He alleged that the policemen were looking for his brother-in-law Lauro, and when they could not
find the latter, he was instead brought to the police station for investigation and later indicted for possession of prohibited
drugs. His wife Myrna corroborated his story.

The trial court rejected petitioners defense as a mere afterthought and found the version of the prosecution more credible and
trustworthy.

Thus, on August 14, 1992, the trial court rendered a decision, convicting petitioner of the crime charged, the dispositive portion
of which reads:

WHEREFORE there being proof beyond reasonable doubt, the court finds the accused Rodolfo Espano y Valeria guilty of the
crime of violation of Section 8, Article II, in relation to Section 2 (e-L) (I) of Republic Act No. 6425 as amended by Batas
Pambansa Blg. 179, and pursuant to law hereby sentences him to suffer imprisonment of six (6) years and one (1) day to twelve
(12) years and to pay a fine of P6,000.00 with subsidiary imprisonment in case of default plus costs.

The marijuana is declared forfeited in favor of government and shall be turned over to the Dangerous Drugs Board without
delay.

SO ORDERED.[5]

Petitioner appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals. The appellate court, however, affirmed the decision of the trial
court in toto.

Hence, this petition.


Petitioner contends that the trial and appellate courts erred in convicting him on the basis of the following: (a) the pieces of
evidence seized were inadmissible; (b) the superiority of his constitutional right to be presumed innocent over the doctrine of
presumption of regularity; (c) he was denied the constitutional right of confrontation and to compulsory process; and (d) his
conviction was based on evidence which was irrelevant and not properly identified.

After a careful examination of the records of the case, this Court finds no compelling reason sufficient to reverse the decisions
of the trial and appellate courts.

First, it is a well settled doctrine that findings of trial courts on the credibility of witnesses deserve a high degree of respect.
Having observed the deportment of witnesses during the trial, the trial judge is in a better position to determine the issue of
credibility and, thus, his findings will not be disturbed during appeal in the absence of any clear showing that he had
overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight and substance which could have altered the
conviction of the appellants.[6]

In this case, the findings of the trial court that the prosecution witnesses were more credible than those of the defense must
stand. Petitioner failed to show that Pat. Pagilagan, in testifying against him, was motivated by reasons other than his duty to
curb drug abuse and had any intent to falsely impute to him such a serious crime as possession of prohibited drugs. In the
absence of such ill motive, the presumption of regularity in the performance of his official duty must prevail.

In People v. Velasco,[7] this Court reiterated the doctrine of presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty which
provides:

x x x. Appellant failed to establish that Pat. Godoy and the other members of the buy-bust team are policemen engaged in
mulcting or other unscrupulous activities who were motivated either by the desire to extort money or exact personal
vengeance, or by sheer whim and caprice, when they entrapped her. And in the absence of proof of any intent on the part of
the police authorities to falsely impute such a serious crime against appellant, as in this case, the presumption of regularity in
the performance of official duty, . . ., must prevail over the self-serving and uncorroborated claim of appellant that she had
been framed.[8]

Furthermore, the defense set up by petitioner does not deserve any consideration. He simply contended that he was in his
house sleeping at the time of the incident. This Court has consistently held that alibi is the weakest of all defenses; and for it to
prosper, the accused has the burden of proving that he was not at the scene of the crime at the time of its commission and that
it was physically impossible for him to be there. Moreover, the claim of a frame-up, like alibi, is a defense that has been
invariably viewed by the Court with disfavor for it can just as easily be concocted but difficult to prove, and is a common and
standard line of defense in most prosecutions arising from violations of the Dangerous Drugs Act.[9] No clear and convincing
evidence was presented by petitioner to prove his defense of alibi.

Second, petitioner contends that the prosecutions failure to present the alleged informant in court cast a reasonable doubt
which warrants his acquittal. This is again without merit, since failure of the prosecution to produce the informant in court is of
no moment especially when he is not even the best witness to establish the fact that a buy-bust operation had indeed been
conducted. In this case, Pat. Pagilagan, one of the policemen who apprehended petitioner, testified on the actual incident of
July 14, 1991, and identified him as the one they caught in possession of prohibited drugs. Thus,

We find that the prosecution had satisfactorily proved its case against appellants. There is no compelling reason for us to
overturn the finding of the trial court that the testimony of Sgt. Gamboa, the lone witness for the prosecution, was
straightforward, spontaneous and convincing. The testimony of a sole witness, if credible and positive and satisfies the court
beyond reasonable doubt, is sufficient to convict.[10]

Thus on the basis of Pat. Pagilagans testimony, the prosecution was able to prove that petitioner indeed committed the crime
charged; consequently, the finding of conviction was proper.

Lastly, the issue on the admissibility of the marijuana seized should likewise be ruled upon. Rule 113 Section 5(a) of the Rules of
Court provides:

A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:

a. when, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an
offense;

x x x x x x x x x.
Petitioners arrest falls squarely under the aforecited rule. He was caught in flagranti as a result of a buy-bust operation
conducted by police officers on the basis of information received regarding the illegal trade of drugs within the area of Zamora
and Pandacan Streets, Manila. The police officer saw petitioner handing over something to an alleged buyer. After the buyer
left, they searched him and discovered two cellophanes of marijuana. His arrest was, therefore, lawful and the two cellophane
bags of marijuana seized were admissible in evidence, being the fruits of the crime.

As for the ten cellophane bags of marijuana found at petitioners residence, however, the same are inadmissible in evidence.

The 1987 Constitution guarantees freedom against unreasonable searches and seizures under Article III, Section 2 which
provides:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of
whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon
probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and
the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

An exception to the said rule is a warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest for dangerous weapons or anything which may
be used as proof of the commission of an offense.[11] It may extend beyond the person of the one arrested to include the
premises or surroundings under his immediate control. In this case, the ten cellophane bags of marijuana seized at petitioners
house after his arrest at Pandacan and Zamora Streets do not fall under the said exceptions.

In the case of People v. Lua,[12] this Court held:

As regards the brick of marijuana found inside the appellants house, the trial court correctly ignored it apparently in view of its
inadmissibility. While initially the arrest as well as the body search was lawful, the warrantless search made inside the
appellants house became unlawful since the police operatives were not armed with a search warrant. Such search cannot fall
under search made incidental to a lawful arrest, the same being limited to body search and to that point within reach or control
of the person arrested, or that which may furnish him with the means of committing violence or of escaping. In the case at bar,
appellant was admittedly outside his house when he was arrested. Hence, it can hardly be said that the inner portion of his
house was within his reach or control.

The articles seized from petitioner during his arrest were valid under the doctrine of search made incidental to a lawful
arrest. The warrantless search made in his house, however, which yielded ten cellophane bags of marijuana became unlawful
since the police officers were not armed with a search warrant at the time. Moreover, it was beyond the reach and control
of petitioner.

In sum, this Court finds petitioner Rodolfo Espano guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Article II, Section 8, in relation to
Section 2 (e-L) (I) of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended. Under the said provision, the penalty imposed is six years and one day
to twelve years and a fine ranging from six thousand to twelve thousand pesos. With the passage of Republic Act No. 7659,
which took effect on December 31, 1993, the imposable penalty shall now depend on the quantity of drugs recovered. Under
the provisions of Republic Act No. 7629, Section 20, and as interpreted in People v. Simon[13] and People v. Lara,[14] if the
quantity of marijuana involved is less than 750 grams, the imposable penalty ranges from prision correccional to reclusion
temporal. Taking into consideration that petitioner is not a habitual delinquent, the amendatory provision is favorable to him
and the quantity of marijuana involved is less than 750 grams, the penalty imposed under Republic Act No. 7659 should be
applied. There being no mitigating nor aggravating circumstances, the imposable penalty shall be prision correccional in its
medium period. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the maximum penalty shall be taken from the medium period
of prision correccional, which is two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day to four (4) years and two (2) months, while the
minimum shall be taken from the penalty next lower in degree, which is one (1) month and one (1) day to six (6) months
of arresto mayor.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DENIED. The decision of the Court of Appeals in C.A.-G.R. CR No. 13976 dated
January 16, 1995 is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that petitioner Rodolfo Espano is sentenced to suffer an indeterminate
penalty of TWO (2) months and ONE (1) day of arresto mayor, as minimum to TWO (2) years, FOUR (4) months and ONE (1) day
of prision correccional, as maximum.

SO ORDERED.
[G.R. No. 133917. February 19, 2001]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. NASARIO MOLINA y MANAMAT @ BOBONG and GREGORIO MULA y
MALAGURA @ BOBOY, accused-appellants.

DECISION

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

To sanction disrespect and disregard for the Constitution in the name of protecting the society from lawbreakers is to make the
government itself lawless and to subvert those values upon which our ultimate freedom and liberty depend. [1]

For automatic review is the Decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City, Branch 17, in Criminal Case No. 37,264-96,
finding accused-appellants Nasario Molina y Manamat aliasBobong and Gregorio Mula y Malagura alias Boboy, guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of violation of Section 8,[3] of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972 (Republic Act No. 6425), as amended by
Republic Act No. 7659,[4] and sentencing them to suffer the supreme penalty of death.

The information against accused-appellants reads:

That on or about August 8, 1996, in the City of Davao, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused, in conspiracy with each other, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously was found in their
possession 946.9 grams of dried marijuana which are prohibited.

CONTRARY TO LAW.[5]

Upon arraignment on September 4, 1996, accused-appellants pleaded not guilty to the accusation against them.[6] Trial ensued,
wherein the prosecution presented Police Superintendent Eriel Mallorca, SPO1 Leonardo Y. Pamplona, Jr., and SPO1 Marino S.
Paguidopon, Jr. as witnesses.

The antecedent facts are as follows:

Sometime in June 1996, SPO1 Marino Paguidopon, then a member of the Philippine National Police detailed at Precinct No. 3,
Matina, Davao City, received an information regarding the presence of an alleged marijuana pusher in Davao City.[7] The first
time he came to see the said marijuana pusher in person was during the first week of July 1996. SPO1 Paguidopon was then
with his informer when a motorcycle passed by. His informer pointed to the motorcycle driver, accused-appellant Mula, as the
pusher. As to accused-appellant Molina, SPO1 Paguidopon had no occasion to see him before the arrest. Moreover, the names
and addresses of the accused-appellants came to the knowledge of SPO1 Paguidopon only after they were arrested. [8]

At about 7:30 in the morning of August 8, 1996, SPO1 Paguidopon received an information that the alleged pusher will be
passing at NHA, Ma-a, Davao City any time that morning.[9]Consequently, at around 8:00 A.M. of the same day, he called for
assistance at the PNP, Precinct No. 3, Matina, Davao City, which immediately dispatched the team of SPO4 Dionisio Cloribel
(team leader), SPO2 Paguidopon (brother of SPO1 Marino Paguidopon), and SPO1 Pamplona, to proceed to the house of SPO1
Marino Paguidopon where they would wait for the alleged pusher to pass by.[10]

At around 9:30 in the morning of August 8, 1996, while the team were positioned in the house of SPO1 Paguidopon, a trisikad
carrying the accused-appellants passed by. At that instance, SPO1 Paguidopon pointed to the accused-appellants as the
pushers. Thereupon, the team boarded their vehicle and overtook the trisikad.[11] SPO1 Paguidopon was left in his house, thirty
meters from where the accused-appellants were accosted.[12]

The police officers then ordered the trisikad to stop. At that point, accused-appellant Mula who was holding a black bag handed
the same to accused-appellant Molina. Subsequently, SPO1 Pamplona introduced himself as a police officer and asked accused-
appellant Molina to open the bag.[13] Molina replied, Boss, if possible we will settle this.[14] SPO1 Pamplona insisted on opening
the bag, which revealed dried marijuana leaves inside. Thereafter, accused-appellants Mula and Molina were handcuffed by the
police officers.[15]

On December 6, 1996, accused-appellants, through counsel, jointly filed a Demurrer to Evidence, contending that the marijuana
allegedly seized from them is inadmissible as evidence for having been obtained in violation of their constitutional right against
unreasonable searches and seizures.[16] The demurrer was denied by the trial court.[17] A motion for reconsideration was filed
by accused-appellants, but this was likewise denied. Accused-appellants waived presentation of evidence and opted to file a
joint memorandum.
On April 25, 1997, the trial court rendered the assailed decision,[18] the decretal portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, finding the evidence of the prosecution alone without any evidence from both accused who waived presentation
of their own evidence through their counsels, more than sufficient to prove the guilt of both accused of the offense charged
beyond reasonable doubt, pursuant to Sec. 20, sub. par. 5 of Republic Act 7659, accused NASARIO MOLINA and GREGORIO
MULA, are sentenced to suffer a SUPREME PENALTY OF DEATH through lethal injection under Republic Act 8176, to be effected
and implemented as therein provided for by law, in relation to Sec. 24 of Rep. Act 7659.

The Branch Clerk of Court of this court, is ordered to immediately elevate the entire records of this case with the Clerk of Court
of the Supreme Court, Manila, for the automatic review of their case by the Supreme Court and its appropriate action as the
case may be.

SO ORDERED.[19]

Pursuant to Article 47 of the Revised Penal Code and Rule 122, Section 10 of the Rules of Court, the case was elevated to this
Court on automatic review. Accused-appellants contend:

I.

THAT THE MARIJUANA IS INADMISSIBLE IN EVIDENCE FOR HAVING BEEN SEIZED IN VIOLATION OF APPELLANTS
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AGAINST UNREASONABLE SEARCHES AND SEIZURES;

II.

THAT ASSUMING IT IS ADMISSIBLE IN EVIDENCE, THE GOVERNMENT HAS NOT OTHERWISE PROVED THEIR GUILT BEYOND
REASONABLE DOUBT; AND

III.

THAT, FINALLY, ASSUMING THEIR GUILT HAS BEEN PROVED BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT, THE IMPOSABLE PENALTY FOR
VIOLATION OF SEC. 8 OF RA No. 7659 (sic), IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCE, IS LIFE IMPRISONMENT,
NOT DEATH.[20]

The Solicitor General filed a Manifestation and Motion (In Lieu of Brief), wherein he prayed for the acquittal of both accused-
appellants.

The fundamental law of the land mandates that searches and seizures be carried out in a reasonable fashion, that is, by virtue
or on the strength of a search warrant predicated upon the existence of a probable cause. The pertinent provision of the
Constitution provides:

SEC. 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and
seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue
except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the
complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things
to be seized.[21]

Complementary to the foregoing provision is the exclusionary rule enshrined under Article III, Section 3, paragraph 2, which
bolsters and solidifies the protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.[22] Thus:

Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.

Without this rule, the right to privacy would be a form of words, valueless and undeserving of mention in a perpetual charter of
inestimable human liberties; so too, without this rule, the freedom from state invasions of privacy would be so ephemeral and
so neatly severed from its conceptual nexus with the freedom from all brutish means of coercing evidence as not to merit this
Courts high regard as a freedom implicit in the concept of ordered liberty. [23]

The foregoing constitutional proscription, however, is not without exceptions. Search and seizure may be made without a
warrant and the evidence obtained therefrom may be admissible in the following instances: (1) search incident to a lawful
arrest; (2) search of a moving motor vehicle; (3) search in violation of customs laws; (4) seizure of evidence in plain view; (5)
when the accused himself waives his right against unreasonable searches and seizures;[24] and (6) stop and frisk situations
(Terry search).[25]

The first exception (search incidental to a lawful arrest) includes a valid warrantless search and seizure pursuant to an equally
valid warrantless arrest which must precede the search. In this instance, the law requires that there be first a lawful arrest
before a search can be made --- the process cannot be reversed.[26] As a rule, an arrest is considered legitimate if effected with
a valid warrant of arrest. The Rules of Court, however, recognizes permissible warrantless arrests. Thus, a peace officer or a
private person may, without warrant, arrest a person: (a) when, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is
actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense (arrest in flagrante delicto); (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 be
arrested has committed it (arrest effected in hot pursuit); and (c) when the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped
from a 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 (arrest of escaped prisoners).[27]

In the case at bar, the court a quo anchored its judgment of conviction on a finding that the warrantless arrest of accused-
appellants, and the subsequent search conducted by the peace officers, are valid because accused-appellants were caught in
flagrante delicto in possession of prohibited drugs.[28] This brings us to the issue of whether or not the warrantless arrest,
search and seizure in the present case fall within the recognized exceptions to the warrant requirement.

In People v. Chua Ho San,[29] the Court held that in cases of in flagrante delicto arrests, 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. The arresting officer, therefore, must have personal knowledge of such fact or, as recent case
law adverts to, personal knowledge of facts or circumstances convincingly indicative or constitutive of probable cause. As
discussed in People v. Doria,[30] probable cause means an actual belief or reasonable grounds of suspicion. The grounds of
suspicion are reasonable when, in the absence of actual belief of the arresting officers, the suspicion that the person to be
arrested is probably guilty of committing the offense, is based on actual facts, i.e., supported by circumstances sufficiently
strong in themselves to create the probable cause of guilt of the person to be arrested. A reasonable suspicion therefore must
be founded on probable cause, coupled with good faith on the part of the peace officers making the arrest.

As applied to in flagrante delicto arrests, it is settled that reliable information alone, absent any overt act indicative of a
felonious enterprise in the presence and within the view of the arresting officers, are not sufficient to constitute probable cause
that would justify an in flagrante delicto arrest. Thus, in People v. Aminnudin,[31] it was held that the accused-appellant was not,
at the moment of his arrest, committing a crime nor was it shown that he was about to do so or that he had just done so. What
he was doing was descending the gangplank of the M/V Wilcon 9 and there was no outward indication that called for his
arrest. To all appearances, he was like any of the other passengers innocently disembarking from the vessel. It was only when
the informer pointed to him as the carrier of the marijuana that he suddenly became suspect and so subject to apprehension.

Likewise, in People v. Mengote,[32] the Court did not consider eyes... darting from side to side ... [while] holding ... [ones]
abdomen, in a crowded street at 11:30 in the morning, as overt acts and circumstances sufficient to arouse suspicion and
indicative of probable cause. According to the Court, [b]y no stretch of the imagination could it have been inferred from these
acts that an offense had just been committed, or was actually being committed, or was at least being attempted in [the
arresting officers] presence. So also, in People v. Encinada,[33] the Court ruled that no probable cause is gleanable from the act
of riding a motorela while holding two plastic baby chairs.

Then, too, in Malacat v. Court of Appeals,[34] the trial court concluded that petitioner was attempting to commit a crime as he
was standing at the corner of Plaza Miranda and Quezon Boulevard with his eyes moving very fast and looking at every person
that come (sic) nearer (sic) to them.[35] In declaring the warrantless arrest therein illegal, the Court said:

Here, there could have been no valid in flagrante delicto ... arrest preceding the search in light of the lack of personal
knowledge on the part of Yu, the arresting officer, or an overt physical act, on the part of petitioner, indicating that a crime had
just been committed, was being committed or was going to be committed.[36]

It went on to state that -

Second, there was nothing in petitioners behavior or conduct which could have reasonably elicited even mere suspicion other
than that his eyes were moving very fast - an observation which leaves us incredulous since Yu and his teammates were
nowhere near petitioner and it was already 6:30 p.m., thus presumably dusk. Petitioner and his companions were merely
standing at the corner and were not creating any commotion or trouble...
Third, there was at all no ground, probable or otherwise, to believe that petitioner was armed with a deadly weapon. None was
visible to Yu, for as he admitted, the alleged grenade was discovered inside the front waistline of petitioner, and from all
indications as to the distance between Yu and petitioner, any telltale bulge, assuming that petitioner was indeed hiding a
grenade, could not have been visible to Yu.[37]

Clearly, to constitute a valid in flagrante delicto arrest, two requisites must concur: (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; and (2) such
overt act is done in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer.[38]

In the case at bar, accused-appellants manifested no outward indication that would justify their arrest. In holding a bag on
board a trisikad, accused-appellants could not be said to be committing, attempting to commit or have committed a crime. It
matters not that accused-appellant Molina responded Boss, if possible we will settle this to the request of SPO1 Pamplona to
open the bag. Such response which allegedly reinforced the suspicion of the arresting officers that accused-appellants were
committing a crime, is an equivocal statement which standing alone will not constitute probable cause to effect an inflagrante
delicto arrest. Note that were it not for SPO1 Marino Paguidopon (who did not participate in the arrest but merely pointed
accused-appellants to the arresting officers), accused-appellants could not be the subject of any suspicion, reasonable or
otherwise.

While SPO1 Paguidopon claimed that he and his informer conducted a surveillance of accused-appellant Mula, SPO1
Paguidopon, however, admitted that he only learned Mulas name and address after the arrest. What is more, it is doubtful if
SPO1 Paguidopon indeed recognized accused-appellant Mula. It is worthy to note that, before the arrest, he was able to see
Mula in person only once, pinpointed to him by his informer while they were on the side of the road. These circumstances
could not have afforded SPO1 Paguidopon a closer look at accused-appellant Mula, considering that the latter was then driving
a motorcycle when SPO1 Paguidopon caught a glimpse of him. With respect to accused-appellant Molina, SPO1 Paguidopon
admitted that he had never seen him before the arrest.

This belies the claim of SPO1 Pamplona that he knew the name of accused-appellants even before the arrest, to wit -

Q- When you said that certain Mula handed a black bag to another person and how did you know that it was Mula who handed
the black bag to another person?

A- Because I have already information from Paguidopon, regarding Mula and Molina, when they pass by through the street near
the residence of Paguidopon. He told that the one who is big one that is Gregorio Mula and the thin one is Nazario Molina[39]

The aforecited testimony of SPO1 Pamplona, therefore, is entirely baseless. SPO1 Pamplona could not have learned the name
of accused-appellants from SPO1 Paguipodon because Paguipodon himself, who allegedly conducted the surveillance, was not
even aware of accused-appellants name and address prior to the arrest.

Evidently, SPO1 Paguidopon, who acted as informer of the arresting officers, more so the arresting officers themselves, could
not have been certain of accused-appellants identity, and were, from all indications, merely fishing for evidence at the time of
the arrest.

Compared to People v. Encinada, the arresting officer in the said case knew appellant Encinada even before the arrest because
of the latters illegal gambling activities, thus, lending at least a semblance of validity on the arrest effected by the peace
officers. Nevertheless, the Court declared in said case that the warrantless arrest and the consequent search were illegal,
holding that [t]he prosecutions evidence did not show any suspicious behavior when the appellant disembarked from the ship
or while he rode the motorela. No act or fact demonstrating a felonious enterprise could be ascribed to appellant under such
bare circumstances.[40]

Moreover, it could not be said that accused-appellants waived their right against unreasonable searches and seizure. Implied
acquiescence to the search, if there was any, could not have been more than mere passive conformity given under intimidating
or coercive circumstances and is thus considered no consent at all within the purview of the constitutional guarantee.[41]

Withal, the Court holds that the arrest of accused-appellants does not fall under the exceptions allowed by the rules. Hence,
the search conducted on their person was likewise illegal.Consequently, the marijuana seized by the peace officers could not be
admitted as evidence against accused-appellants, and the Court is thus, left with no choice but to find in favor of accused-
appellants.

While the Court strongly supports the campaign of the government against drug addiction and commends the efforts of our
law-enforcement officers towards this drive, all efforts for the achievement of a drug-free society must not encroach on the
fundamental rights and liberties of individuals as guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, which protection extends even to the basest
of criminals.

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City, Branch 17, in Criminal Case No. 37, 264-96, is REVERSED
and SET ASIDE. For lack of evidence to establish their guilt beyond reasonable doubt, accused-appellants Nasario Molina y
Manamat alias Bobong and Gregorio Mula y Malagura alias Boboy, are ACQUITTED and ordered RELEASED from confinement
unless they are validly detained for other offenses. No costs.

SO ORDERED.
[G.R. No. 149878. July 1, 2003]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiffappellee, vs. TIU WON CHUA a.k.a. Timothy Tiu and QUI YALING y CHUA a.k.a. Sun Tee Sy y
Chua, accusedappellant.

DECISION

PUNO, J.:

This is an appeal from the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 27, convicting appellants Tiu Won Chua
a.k.a. Timothy Tiu (Tiu Won) and Qui Yaling y Chua a.k.a. Sun Tee Sy y Chua (Qui Yaling) for violation of Section 16, Article III of
Republic Act No. 6425, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659.

Appellants were charged with the crime of illegal possession of a regulated drug, i.e., methamphetamine hydrochloride,
otherwise known as shabu, in an information which reads:

The undersigned accuses TIU WON CHUA aka Timothy Tiu and QUI YALING Y CHUA aka Sun Tee Sy Y Chua of violation of Section
16, Article III in relation to Section 2 (e-2), Article I of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended by Batas Pambansa Blg. 179 and as
further amended by Republic Act No. 7659, committed as follows:

That on or about the 3rd day of October 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 wilfully, unlawfully, knowingly and jointly have in their possession
and under their custody and control the following, to wit:

A sealed plastic bag containing two three four point five (234.5) grams of white crystalline substance;

Four (4) separate sealed plastic bags containing six point two two four three (6.2243) grams of white crystalline substance;

Sixteen (16) separate sealed plastic bags containing twenty point three six seven three (20.3673) grams of white crystalline
substance; or a total of 261.0916 grams, and;

An improvised tooter with traces of crystalline substance

known as SHABU containing methamphetamine hydrochloride, a regulated drug, without the corresponding license or
prescription thereof.

Contrary to law.[1]

During arraignment, a plea of not guilty was entered. Appellants, with the assistance of counsel, and the prosecution stipulated
on the following facts:

1. The authenticity of the following documents:

a. The letter of Police Senior Inspector Angelo Martin of WPD, District Intelligence Division, United Nations Avenue, Ermita,
Manila, dated October 12, 1998, to the Director of the NBI requesting the latter to conduct a laboratory examination of the
specimen mentioned therein;

b. The Certification issued by Forensic Chemist Loreto Bravo of the NBI, dated October 13, 1998, to the effect that the specimen
mentioned and enumerated therein gave positive results for methamphetamine hydrochloride, Exhibit B; and

c. Dangerous Drug Report No. 98-1200 issued by Forensic Chemist Bravo, dated October 13, 1998, to the effect that the
specimen mentioned therein gave positive results for methamphetamine hydrochloride;

2. The existence of one plastic bag containing 234.5 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride, Exhibit D; four (4) plastic
sachets also containing methamphetamine hydrochloride with a total net weight of 6.2243 grams, Exhibits E, E-1, E-2 and E-3;
additional 16 plastic sachets containing methamphetamine hydrochloride with a total net weight of 20.3673 grams, Exhibits F,
F-1 to F-15, and one improvised tooter with a length of 8 inches more or less and with a red plastic band, Exhibit G;

3. Forensic Chemist Loreto Bravo has no personal knowledge as to the source of the regulated drug in question; and
4. Tiu Won Chua and Qui Yaling y Chua as stated in the information are the true and correct names of the two accused. [2]

The witnesses presented by the prosecution were SPO1 Anthony de Leon, PO2 Artemio Santillan and PO3 Albert Amurao. Their
testimonies show that the police authorities, acting on an information that drug-related activities were going on at the HCL
Building, 1025 Masangkay St., Binondo, Manila, surveyed the place on October 2, 3, 4 and 5, 1998. At about 10 p.m. of October
6, they conducted a test-buy operation, together with a Chinese-speaking asset. They were able to buy P2,000.00 worth of
substance from appellants, which, upon examination by the PNP crime laboratory, proved positive for methamphetamine
hydrochloride.[3] Nonetheless, they did not immediately arrest the suspects but applied for a warrant to search Unit 4-B of HCL
Building, 1025 Masangkay St., Binondo, Manila. Their application to search the unit supposedly owned by Timothy Tiu was
granted by Judge Ramon Makasiar of Branch 35 of the RTC of Manila on October 9.[4] Armed with the warrant, they proceeded
to the place and learned that Tiu Won was not inside the building. They waited outside but Tiu Won did not come. After several
stakeouts, they were able to implement the warrant on October 12. Failing to get the cooperation of the barangay officials,
they requested the presence of the building coordinator, Noel Olarte, and his wife, Joji, who acted as witnesses.

During the enforcement of the warrant, there were three (3) persons inside the apartment, namely, appellants Tiu Won and
Qui Yaling, and a housemaid. The search was conducted on the sala and in the three (3) bedrooms of Unit 4-B. On top of a table
inside the masters bedroom, one (1) big pack, containing 234.5 grams of shabu, was found inside a black leather mans handbag
supposedly owned by Tiu Won, while sixteen (16) small packs of shabu weighing 20.3673 grams were found inside a ladys
handbag allegedly owned by Qui Yaling. Also contained in the inventory were the following items: an improvised tooter, a
weighing scale, an improvised burner and one rolled tissue paper.[5] The authorities also searched a Honda Civic car bearing
Plate No. WCP 157, parked along Masangkay Street, registered in the name of the wife of Tiu Won and found four (4) plastic
bags containing 6.2243 grams of shabu, which were likewise confiscated. A gun in the possession of Tiu Won was also seized
and made subject of a separate criminal case.

The defense presented appellants Tiu Won and Qui Yaling. They denied that Timothy Tiu and Tiu Won Chua are one and the
same person. They presented papers and documents to prove that appellant is Tiu Won Chua and not Timothy Tiu, as stated in
the search warrant. Tiu Won also claimed that he does not live in the apartment subject of the search warrant, alleging that he
is married to a certain Emily Tan and is a resident of No. 864 Alvarado St., Binondo, Manila. Nonetheless, he admitted that his
co-appellant, Qui Yaling, is his mistress with whom he has two children. Qui Yaling admitted being the occupant of the
apartment, but alleged that she only occupied one room, while two other persons, a certain Lim and a certain Uy, occupied the
other rooms. Both appellants denied that they were engaged in the sale or possession of shabu. They asserted that they are in
the jewelry business and that at the time the search and arrest were made, the third person, whom the prosecution identified
as a housemaid, was actually a certain Chin, who was there to look at some of the pieces of jewelry sold by Tiu Won. They also
denied that a gun was found in the possession of Tiu Won.

Qui Yaling recalled that upon asking who was it knocking at the door of her apartment on October 12, the police authorities
represented that they were electric bill collectors. She let them in. She was surprised when upon opening the door, around ten
(10) policemen barged inside her unit. She, together with Tiu Won and Chin, was asked to remain seated in the sofa while the
men searched each room. Tiu Won alleged that after a fruitless search, some of the policemen went out, but came back a few
minutes later with another person. Afterwards, he was made to sign a piece of paper. Appellants also claimed that the
policemen took their bags which contained money, the pieces of jewelry they were selling and even Qui Yalings cell phone.
They both denied that shabu was discovered in the apartment during the search. Appellants were arrested and brought to the
police station.

In a decision, dated August 15, 2001, the RTC found proof beyond reasonable doubt of the guilt of the appellants and
sentenced them to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and a fine of P500,000.00 each.[6]

Thus, appellants interpose this appeal raising the following assignment of errors:

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DISREGARDING THE LEGAL DEFECTS OF THE SEARCH WARRANT USED BY THE POLICE OPERATIVES
AGAINST BOTH ACCUSED.

II

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION EVIDENCES (sic) WHICH SHOULD HAVE BEEN EXCLUDED AND
DISREGARDED WHICH RESULTED IN THE ERRONEOUS CONVICTION OF BOTH ACCUSED.
III

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING BOTH ACCUSED DESPITE THE ABSENCE OF PROOF BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.

IV

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DISREGARDING THE FACT THAT THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF BOTH ACCUSED WERE SERIOUSLY
VIOLATED BY THE POLICE OPERATIVES.[7]

These issues can be trimmed down to two i.e., the legality of the search warrant and the search and arrest conducted pursuant
thereto, and the correctness of the judgment of conviction imposed by the RTC.

As regards the propriety of the search warrant issued in the name of Timothy Tiu, which did not include appellant Qui Yaling,
appellants contend that because of this defect, the search conducted and consequently, the arrest, are illegal. Being fruits of an
illegal search, the evidence presented cannot serve as basis for their conviction.

We beg to disagree. There are only four requisites for a valid warrant, i.e,: (1) it must be issued upon probable cause; (2)
probable cause must be determined personally by the judge; (3) such judge must examine under oath or affirmation the
complainant and the witnesses he may produce; and (4) the warrant must particularly describe the place to be searched and
the persons or things to be seized.[8] As correctly argued by the Solicitor General, a mistake in the name of the person to be
searched does not invalidate the warrant,[9] especially since in this case, the authorities had personal knowledge of the drug-
related activities of the accused. In fact, a John Doe warrant satisfies the requirements so long as it contains a descriptio
personae such as will enable the officer to identify the accused.[10] We have also held that a mistake in the identification of the
owner of the place does not invalidate the warrant provided the place to be searched is properly described. [11]

Thus, even if the search warrant used by the police authorities did not contain the correct name of Tiu Won or the name of Qui
Yaling, that defect did not invalidate it because the place to be searched was described properly. Besides, the authorities
conducted surveillance and a test-buy operation before obtaining the search warrant and subsequently implementing it. They
can therefore be presumed to have personal knowledge of the identity of the persons and the place to be searched although
they may not have specifically known the names of the accused. Armed with the warrant, a valid search of Unit 4-B was
conducted.

We affirm, however, the illegality of the search conducted on the car, on the ground that it was not part of the description of
the place to be searched mentioned in the warrant. It is mandatory that for the search to be valid, it must be directed at the
place particularly described in the warrant.[12] Moreover, the search of the car was not incidental to a lawful arrest. To be valid,
such warrantless search must be limited to that point within the reach or control of the person arrested, or that which may
furnish him with the means of committing violence or of escaping.[13] In this case, appellants were arrested inside the
apartment, whereas the car was parked a few meters away from the building.

In a prosecution for illegal possession of a dangerous drug, it must be shown that (1) appellants were in possession of an item
or an object identified to be a prohibited or regulated drug, (2) such possession is not authorized by law, and (3) the appellants
were freely and consciously aware of being in possession of the drug.[14] We also note that the crime under consideration
is malum prohibitum, hence, lack of criminal intent or good faith does not exempt appellants from criminal liability. Mere
possession of a regulated drug without legal authority is punishable under the Dangerous Drugs Act.[15]

In the case at bar, the prosecution has sufficiently proved that the packs of shabu were found inside Unit 4-B, HCL Building,
1025 Masangkay St., Binondo, Manila. Surveillance was previously conducted. Though no arrest was made after the successful
test-buy operation, this does not destroy the fact that in a subsequent search, appellants were found in possession of shabu.
The testimonies of the prosecution witnesses are consistent in that after the test-buy operation, they obtained a search
warrant from Judge Makasiar, pursuant to which, they were able to confiscate, among others, several packs of shabu from a
mans handbag and a ladies handbag inside a room in the unit subject of the warrant. Furthermore, the seizure of the regulated
drug from Unit 4-B is proven by the Receipt for Property Seized[16] signed by SPO1 de Leon, the seizing officer, Noel, the building
administrator, and Joji Olarte, his wife, who were also present. De Leon attested to the truth and genuineness of the receipt
which was not contradicted by the defense.

Be that as it may, we cannot sustain the trial courts decision attributing to both appellants the illegal possession of the same
amount of shabu. We note that nowhere in the information is conspiracy alleged. Neither had it been proven during the trial.
As such, we need to look at the individual amounts possessed by each appellant.

In his testimony, Tiu Won admitted ownership of the mans handbag where 234.5 grams of shabu were found, viz:
Q: During those ten to 20 minutes, what were those policemen doing inside that unit?

A: They went inside the rooms and started ransacking the drawers and everything. As a matter of fact, even handbags were
searched by them.

Q: Whose handbags were searched?

A: My bag, the one I was carrying that day, with jewelry and checks and others were taken by them. [17] (emphasis supplied)

Qui Yaling, in her appellants brief, denied owning the handbag where 20.3673 grams of shabu were discovered. However,
during her testimony, she admitted its ownership, viz:

Q: Now, the police testified before this court that you has (sic) a bag and when they searched this bag, it yielded some sachets
of shabu(.) (W)hat can you say about that?

A: That is an absolute lie, sir. What they saw in my bag were my cosmetics.[18] (emphasis supplied)

An admission is an act or declaration of a party as to the existence of a relevant fact which may be used in evidence against
him.[19] These admissions, provided they are voluntary, can be used against appellants because it is fair to presume that they
correspond with the truth, and it is their fault if they do not.[20]

Qui Yaling likewise argues that the lower court erred in attributing ownership of the handbag to her considering that there was
another girl present at the apartment during the search. She contends that since the prosecution was not able to establish the
ownership of the bag, then such could have also been owned by Chin.

We do not subscribe to this argument. The defense failed to bring Chin to court, although during the course of the presentation
of their evidence, they manifested their intention to present her testimony. Furthermore, a visitor does not normally leave her
bag lying anywhere, much more in the masters bedroom. Being the occupant of the apartment, it is more logical to presume
that the handbag belongs to Qui Yaling. The failure of the prosecution to present the bags and proofs that the bags belong to
the appellants is immaterial because the bags, the license of Tiu Won found inside the mans handbag and the passport of Qui
Yaling found inside the ladies handbag are not illegal. Having no relation to the use or possession of shabu, the authorities could
not confiscate them for they did not have the authority to do so since the warrant authorized them to seize only articles in
relation to the illegal possession of shabu.[21] Not within their control, they could not have been presented in court.

We now come to the penalties of the appellants. R. A. No. 6425, as amended by R. A. No. 7659, applies. Thus, since 234.5 grams
of shabu were found inside the mans handbag, deemed to be owned by Tiu Won, he is guilty of violating Section 16, Article III
of R.A. No. 6425, while Qui Yaling, whose handbag contained only 20.3673 grams of shabu is guilty of violating Section 20
thereof. Section 16, in connection with Section 20 (1st paragraph), provides the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death and a
fine ranging from five hundred thousand pesos to ten million pesos where the amount of shabu involved is 200 grams or more.
Where the amount is less than 200 grams, Section 20 punishes the offender with the penalty ranging from prision
correccional to reclusion perpetua.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the decision of RTC Br. 27, Manila as to the penalty of appellant Tiu Won is affirmed, while that of appellant
Qui Yaling is modified. Tiu Won Chua is sentenced to a penalty of reclusion perpetua, and a fine of five hundred thousand pesos
(P500,000.00) in accordance with Section 16 and Section 20 (1st paragraph) of R.A. No. 6425, as amended by R.A. No. 7659. Qui
Yaling y Chua is sentenced to an indeterminate sentence of prision correccional as minimum to prision mayor as maximum,
there being no mitigating or aggravating circumstances.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 132165. March 26, 2003]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. MELLY SARAP y ARCANGELES and ROGER AMAR y MATEO, accused.

MELLY SARAP y ARCANGELES, accused-appellant.

DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

This is an appeal from the decision[1] of the Regional Trial Court of Kalibo, Aklan, Branch 7, finding accused-appellant Melly
Sarap y Arcangeles guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 4 of Republic Act No. 6425, otherwise known as the
Dangerous Drugs Act, as amended, and sentencing her to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay a fine of
P500,000.00 without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.

The Information charged accused-appellant of sale of prohibited drugs, committed as follows:

That on or about the 4th day of March, 1996, in the afternoon, in Barangay Poblacion, Municipality of Banga, Province of Aklan,
Republic of the Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring,
confederating and helping each other, without authority of law, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously sell,
deliver, distribute and transport prohibited drugs consisting of nine hundred (900) grams of Marijuana leaves, otherwise known
as Indian Hemp to the intended buyers Joysie R. Duran, Jonalyn R. Duran and Pepe Casabuena, who were apprehended two (2)
days ago by the police authorities, said prohibited drugs were confiscated from the possession and control of the accused. [2]

Upon arraignment on March 25, 1996, accused-appellant pleaded not guilty.[3] Trial on the merits thereafter ensued.

The prosecution presented six (6) witnesses. Their testimonies can be synthesized into the following narration of events:

Armed with a search warrant,[4] SPO4 Gelacio R. Guarino, Chief of Police of Banga, Aklan together with PO2 Jhanny Navida,
raided the house of Conrado Ricaforte at Rizal Street, Poblacion, Banga, Aklan on March 2, 1996, relative to the reported sale of
marijuana by its occupants, Jonalyn Duran, Joysie Duran and Pepe Casabuena. The three were apprehended for illegal
possession of marijuana and were detained at the Banga Police Station.[5] In the course of their investigation, the police learned
that a certain Mellyfrom Capiz and one Roger were the suppliers of marijuana and that they will be back on March 4, 1996.

On March 4, 1996, Janet Iguiz,[6] caretaker of the house of Conrado Ricaforte informed Guarino that there were two strangers
looking for the Duran sisters.

Accordingly, Guarino and Navida recorded the report in the police blotter[7] and proceeded to the house of Conrado Ricaforte,
which is more or less three hundred meters away from the police station. When they arrived there, Guarino saw a woman, who
turned out to be accused-appellant Melly Sarap, walking in the alley near the house. Accused-appellant saw Guarino and
Navida in police uniform and immediately threw away her black canvass bag, which her companion Roger Amar picked up.
Guarino blocked Saraps path and grabbed from her the green plastic bag she was holding. Upon inspection, the plastic bag was
found to contain two blocks of marijuana fruiting tops.[8]

In the meantime, Navida pursued Amar and arrested him.[9]

The marijuana confiscated from Sarap was brought to the Iloilo Headquarters for laboratory examination. [10] The chemical
analysis conducted by forensic chemist Angela Baldevieso revealed that the substance was indeed marijuana or Indian hemp
and weighed approximately 900 grams as per Physical Science Report No. D-01296.[11]Consequently, the above-quoted
information was filed against Sarap and Amar.

Accused-appellant, on the other hand, denied the accusation against her. She narrated that she delivered dried fish to her
sister, Susanne Ricablanca, after which she went to the comfort room of the dress shop fronting Banga Public Market to relieve
herself. On her way to the dress shop, she met Amar and entrusted to him her black bag. Thereafter, a woman approached and
told her that there were policemen waiting for her outside. The policemen forced her to board a jeep and brought her to the
office of Chief of Police Guarino at the municipal hall. Guarino poked a gun at her and pulled her hair. He also asked her to
remove her pants and shirt. A certain PO3 Pedro Jerry Icay asked her to remove her bra and when she refused, he pulled her
bra because he was looking for marijuana on accused-appellants person. Sarap asserted that the policemen did not get any
marijuana from her.

Accused-appellants testimony was corroborated by her co-accused Roger Amar, her sister Susanne Ricablanca and Leandro
Braca, a pedicab driver.

On October 2, 1997, the trial court rendered the appealed decision. The dispositive portion of which states:

WHEREFORE, under the foregoing premises, accused Roger Amar is hereby ACQUITTED. The Court finds accused Melly
Sarap GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of Violation of Article II, Section 4 of Republic Act 6425, as amended and hereby
sentences her to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to a fine of P500,000.00 without subsidiary imprisonment in case
of insolvency. Considering that accused Melly Sarap is a detention prisoner, she shall be credited of her sentence with the full
time during which she has undergone preventive imprisonment having agreed in writing to abide by the same disciplinary rules
imposed upon convicted prisoners.

The two (2) blocks of dried marijuana fruiting tops are hereby confiscated in favor of the government. The Court orders the
immediate release of Roger Amar from detention unless there are other lawful reasons for his continued confinement.

SO ORDERED.[12]

Hence, this appeal with the accused-appellant raising the following assignment of errors:

I. THAT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THE WARRANTLESS SEARCH AND ARREST ILLEGAL;

II. THAT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT CONSIDERING FAVORABLY THE DEFENSE OF ALIBI AS A GROUND FOR THE ACQUITTAL
OF THE HEREIN ACCUSED-APPELLANT INSPITE OF THE WEAKNESS OF THE PROSECUTION EVIDENCE WHICH IS INSUFFICIENT TO
OVERCOME THE PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE IN HER FAVOR;

III. THAT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT APPRECIATING AS A GROUND FOR THE ACQUITTAL OF THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT,
HER DEFENSE THAT THE TRANSPARENT PLASTIC BAGS WAS NOT POSSESSED NOR OWNED BY HER, DESPITE POSITIVE AND
CONVINCING PROOF ADJ[U]CED IN SUPPORT THEREOF;

IV. THAT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT ACQUITTING THE HEREIN ACCUSED-APPELLANT ON THE GROUND OF REASONABLE
DOUBT.[13]

A search may be conducted by law enforcers only on the strength of a warrant validly issued by a judge as provided in Article III,
Section 2 of the Constitution.[14] Articles which are the product of unreasonable searches and seizures are inadmissible as
evidence, pursuant to Article III, Section 3 (2) of the Constitution.[15] Warrantless searches and seizures may be made without a
warrant in the following instances: (1) search incident to a lawful arrest, (2) search of a moving motor vehicle, (3) search in
violation of custom laws, (4) seizure of the evidence in plain view, (5) when the accused himself waives his right against
unreasonable searches and seizures,[16] (6) stop and frisk[17] and (7) exigent and emergency circumstances.[18] These instances,
however do not dispense with the requisite of probable cause before a warrantless search and seizure can be lawfully
conducted. In warrantless search cases, probable cause must only be based on reasonable ground of suspicion or belief that a
crime has been committed or is about to be committed.[19]

In convicting accused-appellant, the trial court held that: (1) the police officers are presumed to have regularly performed their
duties, in the absence of proof of ill or improper motive on their part to falsely impute a serious crime against Sarap; and (2) the
positive testimonies of the prosecution witnesses have more weight compared to Saraps negative testimony. It also relied
heavily on the testimonies of Chief of Police Guarino that in view of the urgency of the case, they proceeded immediately to the
house of Conrado Ricaforte to pursue Sarap and Amar. It concluded that the warrantless arrest was lawful considering that
Sarap had committed or was actually committing a crime when arrested. It ruled that the search incident to the said arrest is
sanctioned under the Rules[20] and evidence obtained therefrom is admissible.

We are not convinced. The Banga Police Officers were admittedly not armed with a warrant of arrest. Rule 113, Section 5 of the
Rules of Criminal Procedure states:

Arrest without warrant; when lawful. A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person: (a) When, in
his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense; (b) When
an offense has in fact just been committed, and he has personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested
has committed it. xxx

In the instant case, Sarap cannot be said to be committing a crime. Neither was she about to commit one nor had she just
committed a crime. She was merely walking in the alley near the house of Conrado Ricaforte. It was only when Janet Iguiz led
Sarap downstairs and identified her as Melly that she was singled out as the suspect. Guarino would not have apprehended
Sarap were it not for Janet Iguizs identification. Moreover, the evidence on record clearly illustrated that it was only after Janet
Iguiz pointed to Sarap as Melly that Guarino suspected that the bag she was holding contained marijuana.

The Banga Police could have secured a search warrant when Jonalyn Duran disclosed during the investigation that a
certain Melly of Capiz and one Roger would be back on March 4, 1996. The persons intended to be searched had been
particularized and the thing to be seized specified. The time was also sufficiently ascertained to be March 4, 1996, although it
was uncertain whether Melly would arrive. Melly turned out to be accused-appellant[21] and the thing to be seized was
marijuana. The above particulars would have provided sufficient grounds to secure a search warrant, instead, the police only
acted when the caretaker of the house of Conrado Ricaforte informed them that there were strangers looking for Jonalyn and
Joysie Duran. Hence, they cannot now dispense with the requirement of a search warrant on the basis of urgency in effecting it,
considering that they had twenty-four hours to do so. The apprehending officers had prior knowledge of Saraps alleged
activities. Verily, there was no excuse for the Banga Police not to secure a search warrant.

Hence, the Banga Police could not effect a warrantless search and seizure since there was no probable cause and Sarap was not
lawfully arrested. The law requires that the search must be incidental to a lawful arrest in order that the search itself may
likewise be considered legal.

It is true that we adhere to the time honored-doctrine that the trial courts assessment of credibility of witnesses and their
testimonies is accorded great weight and may even be deemed conclusive and binding on the appellate court. [22] In
innumerable instances, however, we interfered with the judgment of the trial court when there appeared facts or
circumstances of weight and influence which the trial court may have overlooked and, if taken into consideration, could have a
significant effect on the outcome of the case.[23]

Contrary to the finding of the trial court, the instant case did not come within the purview of the plain view doctrine. In order
for the doctrine to apply, the following conditions must be present: (a) a prior valid intrusion based on the valid warrantless
arrest in which the police are legally present in the pursuit of their official duties; (b) the evidence was inadvertently discovered
by the police who had the right to be where they are; (c) the evidence must be immediately apparent; and (d) plain view
justified mere seizure of evidence without further search.[24]

In the absence of probable cause to effect a valid warrantless arrest, the search of Saraps bag was also not justified as seizure of
evidence in plain view under the fourth exception. The marijuana fruiting tops contained in the green plastic bag carried by
Sarap were not clearly visible. Chief of Police Guarino, testified, thus:

Q So that when you saw Melly Sarap, she was just doing nothing in the alley?

A She was walking, about to approach me.

Q So that, when you saw her approaching you, you grabbed her bag?

A Yes, sir.

Q Why did you do that?

A Because I suspected that transparent plastic bag has a marijuana.

Q You were not certain that the woman you were able to apprehend was Melly Sarap?

A I did not know that it was she.

Q And you are not certain that the content of the bag was marijuana?

A I suspected that there was marijuana and shabu inside the bag, I found out that there was tawas and other personal
belongings.

Q So your answer to my question is no. You are not certain?

A I am not certain.[25]

The above testimony negates the conclusion of the trial court that the marijuana fruiting tops were inadvertently discovered.
More importantly, the marijuana fruiting tops were also not apparent and in plain view as shown by the fact that Chief of Police
Guarino still had to grab Saraps bag to ascertain its contents.

Without the illegally seized prohibited drug, the appellants conviction cannot stand. There is simply no sufficient evidence to
convict her. That the search disclosed marijuana fruiting tops in appellants possession, and thus confirmed the police officers
initial information and suspicion, did not cure its patent illegality. An illegal search cannot be undertaken and then an arrest
effected on the strength of the evidence yielded by the search for being a fruit of a poisonous tree.
All told, the guilt of the accused-appellant was not proven beyond reasonable doubt measured by the required moral certainty
of conviction. The evidence presented by the prosecution was not enough to overcome the presumption of innocence as
constitutionally ordained. Indeed, it would be better to set free ten men who might be probably guilty of the crime charged
than to convict one innocent man for a crime he did not commit.[26] Moreover, as Justice Holmes declared: I think it is a less evil
that some criminals should escape than that the government should play an ignoble part. [27]

WHEREFORE, based on the foregoing, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Kalibo, Aklan, Branch 7, finding accused-
appellant Melly Sarap y Arcangeles guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of violation of Section 4 of Republic Act No.
6425, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accused-appellant Melly Sarap y Arcangeles is ACQUITTED of the crime charged on the
ground of reasonable doubt. The Superintendent of the Correctional Institution for Women is directed to cause the immediate
release of accused-appellant unless lawfully held for another cause, and to inform this Court of the date of her release, or the
ground for her continued confinement, within ten days from notice.

SO ORDERED.

[G.R. Nos. 138539-40. January 21, 2003]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. ANTONIO C. ESTELLA, appellant.

DECISION

PANGANIBAN, J.:

The Constitution bars the admission of evidence gathered in violation of the right against unreasonable search and seizure. In
the present case, the illegal drug was searched for and found in a hut that has not been proven to be owned, controlled, or
used by appellant for residential or any other purpose. Hence, he cannot be held guilty of illegal possession of the illegal drug
found therein.

The Case

Antonio C. Estella appeals the August 25, 1998 Decision[1] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Iba, Zambales (Branch 69) in
Criminal Case No. RTC 2143-I. The trial court found him guilty of violating Section 8, Article II of RA 6425, as amended by RA
7659, and sentenced him to reclusion perpetua as follows:

WHEREFORE, foregoing considered, in Criminal Case No. RTC 2143-I, accused Antonio C. Estella is found GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt for Violation of Section 8, Article II of R.A. 6425 as amended by R.A. 7659 and is sentenced to suffer the
penalty of reclusion perpetua.

The 8.320 kilograms of dried marijuana is ordered confiscated in favor of the government. The Sheriff is directed to deliver the
subject marijuana to the Dangerous Drugs Board for its proper disposition.

In Criminal Case No. RTC 2144-I, accused Antonio C. Estella is ACQUITTED and the Information dated 07 January 1997 filed
against him for violation of P.D. 1866 is dismissed with costs de oficio.

The .38 caliber revolver without serial number and four (4) live ammunitions, subject of the offense, are ordered delivered to
any authorized representative of the Philippine National Police, Firearms and Explosives Division, Camp Crame, Quezon City. [2]

The Information dated January 7, 1997, charged appellant thus:

That on or about the 20th day of November, 1996 at about 11:15 oclock in the morning, at Purok Yakal, Barangay Baloganon, in
the Municipality of Masinloc, Province of Zambales, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, said
accused, did then and there, wil[l]fully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his possession, custody and control, [o]ne (1) tin can
labeled CLASSIC containing twenty (20) small bricks of dried marijuana fruiting tops having a total weight of 589.270 grams each
wrapped with a piece of reading material; [o]ne (1) tin can labeled CLASSIC containing dried marijuana fruiting tops weighing
41.126 grams; [t]wo (2) white sando plastic bag each containing one (1) [brick] of dried marijuana fruiting tops having a total
weight of 1.710 kilograms each wrapped with a piece of newspaper; [o]ne (1) white sando plastic bag containing two (2) bricks
of dried marijuana fruiting tops having a total weight of 1.820 kilograms each wrapped with a piece of newspaper, all in the
total of 8.320 kilograms of dried marijuana, without any authority to possess the same. [3]
After the Information had been read to him in Filipino, a language he fully understood,[4] appellant, assisted by his counsel de
parte,[5] pleaded not guilty when arraigned on March 11, 1997. After due trial, the RTC convicted appellant of illegal possession
of dangerous drugs (marijuana), but acquitted him of illegal possession of firearms. On November 4, 1998, his counsel filed a
Notice of Appeal.[6]

The Facts

Version of the Prosecution

In its Brief,[7] the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) presents the prosecutions version of the facts as follows:

Prior to November 20, 1996, Executive Judge Romulo Estrada of the Regional Trial Court of Zambales issued a warrant for the
conduct of a search and seizure in the residence of appellant at Purok Yakal, Barangay Baloganon, Masinloc, Zambales.

In the morning of November 20, 1996, Senior Police Officer 1 (SPO1) Antonio Bulor[o]n, then Intelligence and Investigation
Officer, together with SPO1 Jose Arca and several other members of the Provincial Special Operation Group based in Burgos,
San Marcelino, Zambales proceeded to Masinloc. They coordinated with the members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in
Masinloc and sought the assistance of Barangay Captain Rey Barnachea of Baloganon, Masinloc for the enforcement of the
search warrant. Barangay Captain Barnaceha accompanied the police officers to Purok Yakal, Barangay Baloganon, Masinloc,
the place mentioned in the search warrant.

On their way to Purok Yakal, SPO1 Buloron saw appellant sitting on a rocking chair located about two (2) meters away from a
hut owned by Narding Estella, brother of appellant, and being rented by appellants live-in partner, named Eva. They
approached appellant and introduced themselves as police officers. They showed appellant the search warrant and explained
the contents to him. SPO1 Buloron asked appellant if indeed he had in his possession prohibited drug and if so, to surrender the
same so he would deserve a lesser penalty.

While inside the hut, appellant surrendered to the team two cans containing dried marijuana fruiting tops. One can contained
twenty (20) bricks of fruiting tops. The team searched the hut in the presence of appellant and his live-in partner. They found a
plastic container under the kitchen table, which contained four (4) big bricks of dried marijuana leaves and a .38 caliber revolver
with four live ammunitions. The team seized the prohibited drug, the revolver and ammunitions. The team seized and signed a
receipt for the seized items. Barangay Captain Barnachea and SPO1 Edgar Bermudez of the Masinloc Police Station also signed
the receipt as witnesses. SPO1 Buloron and his companions arrested appellant and brought him to San Marcelino, Zambales.

At their office in San Marcelino, Zambales, SPO1 Buloron and SPO1 Arca placed their markings on the seized items for purposes
of identification. SPO1 Arca kept the seized items under his custody. The next day, SPO1 Buloron and SPO1 Arca brought the
seized items to San Antonio, Zambales, where Police Senior Inspector Florencio Sahagun examined the suspected marijuana
dried leaves. Inspector Sahagun prepared a certification of field test.

On November 29, 1996, the suspected marijuana dried leaves were delivered to the PNP Crime Laboratory at Camp Olivas for
further examination. Senior Inspector Daisy Babor, a forensic chemist, examined the suspected marijuana dried leaves and
issued Chemistry Report No. D-768-96 stating that the specimens are positive for marijuana, a prohibited drug. Specimen A
weighed 1.710 kilograms, while Specimen D weighed 1.820 kilograms.[8] (Citations omitted)

Version of the Defense

For his version of the facts, appellant merely reproduced the narration in the assailed RTC Decision as follows:

Accused Antonio C. Estella [I]s married to Gloria Atrero Estella. They have three (3) children, namely: Carmen Estella (8 years
old), Antonio Estella, Jr. (5 years old) and Roen Estella (3 years old). Since 1982, Antonio Estella has been [a] resident of
Barangay Baloganon, Masinloc, Zambales.

On 20 November 1996 between 10:30 oclock and 11:00 oclock in the morning, while accused was talking with his friends Rael
Tapado and Victor de Leon at a vacant lot just outside the house of Camillo Torres and about 70 meters away from his house, a
group of men approached them. The group introduced themselves as policemen and told them that they were looking for
Antonio Estella because they have a search warrant issued against him. Accused identified himself to them. The policemen
inquired from the accused as to where his house is located and accused told them that his house is located across the road. The
police did not believe him and insisted that accuseds house (according to their asset) is that house located about 5-8 meters
away from them.Accused told the policemen to inquire from the Barangay Captain Barnachea as to where his house is and
heard the latter telling the policemen that his house is located near the Abokabar junk shop. After about half an hour, the
policemen went inside the house nearby and when they came out, they had with them a bulk of plastic and had it shown to the
accused. They photographed the accused and brought him to their office at San Marcelino, Zambales. Accused Antonio Estella
was investigated a[t] San Marcelino, Zambales where he informed the police officers of the fact that the house they searched
was occupied by Spouses Vicente and Fely Bakdangan.

Accused denied having surrendered to policeman Buloron tin cans containing marijuana and likewise having any firearm.

Miguel Buccat, who personally knew the accused for about ten (10) years, identified the house depicted on a photograph as
that house belonging to the accused.[9] (Citations omitted)

Ruling of the Trial Court

In finding appellant guilty of violating the Dangerous Drugs Act, the court a quo relied heavily on the testimony of the
prosecutions principal witness, Intelligence and Investigation Officer SPO1 Antonio Buloron. He was among the members of the
police team that searched appellants alleged house. Since the defense failed to present proof of any intent on the part of SPO1
Buloron to falsely impute to appellant such a serious crime, the trial court accorded full faith and credence to the police officers
testimony.

Moreover, the RTC held that no less than the barangay captain of the place named in the search warrant led the police to the
house. Thus, appellant could not deny that he owned it.

As to the charge of illegal possession of firearms, the lower court ruled that the search warrant did not cover the seized firearm,
making it inadmissible against appellant. He was thus acquitted of the charge.

Hence, this recourse.[10]

The Issues

In his appeal, appellant assigns the following alleged errors for our consideration:

A. The trial court erred in convicting the accused based on the conjectural and conflicting testimonies of the prosecution
witnesses;

B. The trial court gravely failed to consider the serious contradictions in the facts and evidences adduced by the prosecution;

C. The trial court gravely erred in finding that the guilt of the accused-appellant for the crime charged has been prove[n]
beyond reasonable doubt, instead of judgment of acquittal demanded by the constitutional presumption of innocence[.][11]

Though not clearly articulated by appellant, the pivotal issue here is the legality of the police search undertaken in the hut
where the subject marijuana was seized.

The Courts Ruling

The appeal is meritorious.

Main Issue:

Legality of the Search Undertaken

Once again, this Court is confronted with a situation that involves a well-enshrined dogma in our Constitution: the inviolable
right of the people to be secure in their persons and properties against unreasonable searches and seizures. [12] The exclusionary
rule prescribed by Section 3(2), Article III of the Constitution, bars the admission of evidence obtained in violation of this
right.[13]

The conviction or the acquittal of appellant hinges primarily on the validity of the police officers search and seizure, as well as
the admissibility of the evidence obtained by virtue thereof. Without that evidence, the prosecution would not be able to prove
his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Ownership of the Subject House


Appellant claims that the hut,[14] which was searched by the police and where the subject marijuana was recovered, does not
belong to him. He points to another house[15]as his real residence. To support his claim, he presents a document[16] that shows
that the subject hut was sold to his brother Leonardo C. Estella by one Odilon Eclarinal. The OSG, on the other hand, argues that
just because appellant has another house in a place away from the hut that was searched does not necessarily mean that the
hut is not occupied by him or under his full control.[17] The prosecution cites the testimony of Rey Barnachea, the barangay
captain of that place, to show that the hut in question belongs to appellant.

The only link that can be made between appellant and the subject hut is that it was bought by his brother Leonardo a.k.a.
Narding Estella.[18] We cannot sustain the OSGs supposition that since it was being rented by the alleged live-in partner of
appellant, it follows that he was also occupying it or was in full control of it. In the first place, other than SPO1 Bulorons
uncorroborated testimony, no other evidence was presented by the prosecution to prove that the person renting the hut was
indeed the live-in partner of appellant -- if he indeed had any. Moreover, the testimony of Barnachea serves to undermine, not
advance, the position of the prosecution. We quote from his testimony:

Q Do you know who is the owner of that house?

A What I know is that Narding Estella bought that house, sir.

Q Who is that Narding Estella?

A The brother of Tony Estella, sir.

Q And you know that that has been rent[ed] to people?

A Yes, sir.

Q Now, so far how many people [rented] that place or that house?

A I do not have any information about that[,] sir.

Q Why did you know that that place was rented?

A Because when I asked Eva she replied that they [were] only renting that house, sir.

Q How long has Eva been renting that house?

A I do not have any information about that[,] sir.

Q Do you know who was living with Eva?

A No, sir.

Q So, what you know is that Eva lives alone in that house?

A Yes, sir.

Q And you do not know anybody who is renting that house?

A I have no information, sir.

Q And you do not know if the accused was renting [it] or not?

A I dont have any information, sir.[19]

At most, the testimony shows that the subject hut was bought by Narding Estella and rented by someone named Eva. The
attempt to make it appear that appellant occupied it, or that it was under his full control, is merely conjectural and
speculative. We have often ruled that courts do not rely on evidence that arouses mere suspicion or conjecture. [20] To lead to
conviction, evidence must do more than raise the mere possibility or even probability of guilt.[21] It must engender moral
certainty.
Neither do we find merit in the OSGs argument that appellant cannot deny ownership or control of the hut, since he was found
in front of it, sitting on a rocking chair and drinking coffee.[22] Indeed, to uphold this proposition would be to stretch our
imagination to the extreme.

The OSG maintains that when appellant was shown the search warrant and asked about the existence of prohibited drug in his
possession, appellant went inside the hut, took his stock of marijuana and turned it [over] to the police officers. [23] This,
according to the prosecution, clearly showed that he was not only occupying the hut, but was in fact using it to store the
prohibited drug.[24]

It is well-settled that this Court is not precluded from assessing the probative value of witnesses testimonies on the basis of the
transcript of stenographic notes (TSNs).[25]

In the case at bar, we believe that the trial court erred in adopting the prosecutions dubious story. It failed to see patent inconsistencies in the
prosecution witnesses testimonies about the search undertaken.

A review of the TSNs shows that SPO1 Buloron, the prosecution's principal witness, testified that appellant had allegedly gone
inside the hut; and that the latter had done so to get his stock of illegal drugs, which he turned over to the police. Ironically,
Captain Barnachea, who was purposely presented by the prosecution to corroborate SPO1 Buloron's story, belied it when he
testified thus:

PROS. QUINTILLAN:

Q When the police officer showed that search warrant what did Antonio Estella said, if any, if you hear[d]?

A What I saw is that Tony Estella is sitting in the rocking chair outside the house drinking coffee, sir.

Q And you saw him and then the search warrant was presented, isnt it?

A Yes, sir.

Q And when it was presented what did Tony Estella do?

A What they did they show to Tony the search warrant and I also read the contents of the search warrant, sir.

Q And when Tony was shown that search warrant what did he do immediately after being shown that search warrant?

A He just [sat] and then he stood up, sir.

Q And when he stood up what else did he do?

A Nothing, sir. The NARCOM g[o]t inside the house, sir.

Q And where did Antonio Estella go when the police entered the house?

A He was just outside the house, sir.

Q And how far is that house from Antonio Estella?

INTERPRETER:

Witness estimating the distance of about five (5) meters.

COURT:

Do the prosecution and defense agree to 5 meters?

BOTH COUNSEL:

Yes, Your Honor.

PROS. QUINTILLAN:
Q And when the police entered the house did not Tony go with them?

A I did not notice, sir.[26]

It is undisputed that even before arriving at the hut, the police officers were already being assisted by Barangay Captain
Barnachea. Thus, it was highly improbable for him not to see personally appellants alleged voluntary surrender of the
prohibited drug to the authorities. And yet, his testimony completely contradicted the policemens version of the events. He
testified that appellant, after being served the search warrant, remained outside the hut and did nothing. In fact, the former
categorically stated that when the police officers had gone inside the hut to conduct the search, appellant remained seated on
a rocking chair outside.[27] Barnacheas statements sow doubts as to the veracity of SPO1 Bulorons claim that, after being
apprised of the contents of the search warrant, appellant voluntarily surrendered the prohibited drug to the police.[28]

Apart from the testimony of Barnachea -- which contradicted rather than validated the story of SPO1 Buloron -- no other evidence was
presented to corroborate the latters narration of the events. Without any independent or corroborative proof, it has little or no
probative value at all.

In a criminal prosecution, the court is always guided by evidence that is tangible, verifiable, and in harmony with the usual
course of human experience -- not by mere conjecture or speculation.[29] While the guilty should not escape, the innocent
should not suffer.[30]

Search Incident to Lawful Arrest

The OSG argues that [e]ven assuming that appellant was not the occupant of the hut, the fact remains that he voluntarily
surrendered the marijuana to the police officers.After appellant had surrendered the prohibited stuff, the police had a right to
arrest him even without a warrant and to conduct a search of the immediate vicinity of the arrestee for weapons and other
unlawful objects as an incident to the lawful arrest.[31]

The above argument assumes that the prosecution was able to prove that appellant had voluntarily surrendered the marijuana
to the police officers. As earlier adverted to, there is no convincing proof that he indeed surrendered the prohibited drug,
whether voluntarily or otherwise. In fact, the testimony of Prosecution Witness Barnachea clouds rather than clarifies the
prosecutions story.

Given this backdrop, the police authorities cannot claim that the search was incident to a lawful arrest. Such a search
presupposes a lawful or valid arrest and can only be invoked through Section 5, Rule 113 of the Revised Rules on Criminal
Procedure, which we quote:

SEC. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful - A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:

(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an
offense;

(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 be arrested has committed it; and

(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal 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 one confinement to
another.

In cases falling under paragraphs (a) and (b) above, the person arrested without a warrant shall be forthwith delivered to the
nearest police station or jail and shall be proceeded against in accordance with Section 7 Rule 112.

Never was it proven that appellant, who was the person to be arrested, was in possession of the subject prohibited drug during
the search. It follows, therefore, that there was no way of knowing if he had committed or was actually committing an offense
in the presence of the arresting officers. Without that knowledge, there could have been no search incident to a lawful arrest.

Assuming arguendo that appellant was indeed committing an offense in the presence of the arresting officers, and that the
arrest without a warrant was lawful, it still cannot be said that the search conducted was within the confines of the
law. Searches and seizures incident to lawful arrests are governed by Section 12, Rule 126 of the Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure, which reads:
Section 12. Search incident to lawful arrest. A person lawfully arrested may be searched for dangerous weapons or
anything which may have been used or constitute proof in the commission of an offense without a search warrant.

However, the scope of the search should be limited to the area within which the person to be arrested can reach for a weapon
or for evidence that he or she can destroy.[32]The prevailing rule is that the arresting officer may take from the arrested
individual any money or property found upon the latters person -- that which was used in the commission of the crime or was
the fruit of the crime, or which may provide the prisoner with the means of committing violence or escaping, or which may be
used in evidence in the trial of the case.[33]

In the leading case Chimel v. California,[34] the Supreme Court of the United States of America laid down this rule:

When an arrest is made, it is reasonable for the arresting officer to search the person arrested in order to remove any weapons
that the latter might seek to use in order to resist arrest or effect his escape. Otherwise, the officers safety might well be
endangered, and the arrest itself frustrated. In addition, it is entirely reasonable for the arresting officer to search for and seize
any evidence on the arrestees person in order to prevent its concealment or destruction. And the area into which an arrestee
might reach in order to grab a weapon or evidentiary items must, of course, be governed by a like rule. A gun on a table or in a
drawer in front of one who is arrested can be as dangerous to the arresting officer as one concealed in the clothing of the
person arrested. There is ample justification, therefore, for a search of the arrestees person and the area within his immediate
control construing that phrase to mean the area from within which he might gain possession of a weapon or destructible
evidence.

There is no comparable justification, however, for routinely searching any room other than that in which an arrest occurs or, for
that matter, for searching through all the desk drawers or other closed or concealed areas in that room itself. [35]

The purpose of the exception is to protect the arresting officer from being harmed by the person being arrested, who might be
armed with a concealed weapon, and to prevent the latter from destroying evidence within reach. The exception, therefore,
should not be strained beyond what is needed to serve its purpose.[36]

In the case before us, searched was the entire hut, which cannot be said to have been within appellants immediate
control. Thus, the search exceeded the bounds of that which may be considered to be incident to a lawful arrest.

The Presence of the Accused or the

Witnesses During the Search

Having ruled that the prosecution failed to prove appellants ownership, control of or residence in the subject hut, we hold that
the presence of appellant or of witnesses during the search now becomes moot and academic.

Obviously, appellant need not have been present during the search if he was neither the owner nor the lawful occupant of the
premises in question. Besides, as we have noted, the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses regarding these crucial
circumstances were contradictory. They erode SPO1 Bulorons credibility as a prosecution witness and raise serious doubts
concerning the prosecutions evidence. This Court is thus constrained to view his testimony with caution and care.

With the failure of the prosecution to establish the propriety of the search undertaken -- during which the incriminating
evidence was allegedly recovered -- we hold that the search was illegal. Without the badge of legality, any evidence obtained
therein becomes ipso facto inadmissible.

Objections to the

Legality of the Search

Finally, the OSG argues that appellant is deemed to have waived his right to object to the legality of the search and the
admissibility of the evidence seized through that search because, during the trial, he did not raise these issues.

On the contrary, during the trial, appellant constantly questioned the legality of the search. In fact, when SPO1 Buloron was
presented as a prosecution witness, the formers counsel objected to the offer of the latters testimony on items allegedly
confiscated during the search. Appellants counsel argued that these items, which consisted of the marijuana and the firearm,
had been seized illegally and were therefore inadmissible.[37]
Further, in his Comments and Objections to Formal Offer of Exhibits,[38] appellant once again questioned the legality of the
search conducted by the police, a search that had yielded the evidence being used against him.

Finally, on October 21, 1997, he filed a Demurrer to Evidence[39] reiterating his objection to the search and to the eventual use
against him of the evidence procured therefrom.

All told, without sufficient admissible evidence against appellant, the prosecution failed to establish his guilt with moral
certainty.[40] Not only did its evidence fall short of the quantum of proof required for a conviction, it has also failed to present
any evidence at all. Under our Bill of Rights, among the fundamental rights of the accused is to be presumed innocent until the
contrary is proved.[41] To overcome such presumption, the prosecution must establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Our
criminal justice system dictates that if the prosecution fails to do so, it becomes not only the right of the accused to be set free,
but also the constitutional duty of the court to set them free. [42] This principle leaves this Court no option but to acquit
Appellant Antonio C. Estella for insufficiency of evidence.

WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is SET ASIDE. Antonio C. Estella is ACQUITTED and ordered immediately RELEASED from
custody, unless he is being held for some other lawful cause.

The director of the Bureau of Corrections is ORDERED to implement this Decision forthwith and to INFORM this Court, within
five (5) days from receipt hereof, of the date appellant was actually released from confinement. Costs de oficio.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 128587 March 16, 2007

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,


vs.
HON. PERFECTO A.S. LAGUIO, JR., in his capacity as Presiding Judge, Branch 18, RTC, Manila, and LAWRENCE WANG Y
CHEN, Respondents.

DECISION

GARCIA, J.:

On pure questions of law, petitioner People of the Philippines has directly come to this Court via this petition for review on
certiorari to nullify and set aside the Resolution1 dated 13 March 1997 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 18, in
Criminal Case Nos. 96-149990 to 96-149992, entitled People of the Philippines v. Lawrence Wang y Chen, granting private
respondent Lawrence C. Wang’s Demurrer to Evidence and acquitting him of the three (3) charges filed against him, namely: (1)
Criminal Case No. 96-149990 for Violation of Section 16, Article III in relation to Section 2(e)(2), Article I of Republic Act (R.A.)
No. 6425 (Dangerous Drugs Act); (2) Criminal Case No. 96-149991 for Violation of Presidential Decree No. 1866 (Illegal
Possession of Firearms); and (3) Criminal Case No. 96-149992 for Violation of Comelec Resolution No. 2828 in relation to R.A.
No. 7166 (COMELEC Gun Ban).

The three (3) separate Informations filed against Lawrence C. Wang in the court of origin respectively read:

Criminal Case No. 96-149990 (Violation of Dangerous Drugs Act):

That on or about the 17th day of May 1996, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and knowingly have in his possession and under his custody and control a bulk of white and yellowish crystalline
substance known as SHABU contained in thirty-two (32) transparent plastic bags weighing approximately 29.2941 kilograms,
containing methamphetamine hydrochloride, a regulated drug, without the corresponding license or prescription therefor.

Contrary to law.2

Criminal Case No. 96-149991 (Illegal Possession of Firearms):

That on or about the 17th day of May 1996, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and knowingly have in his possession and under his custody and control one (1) DAEWOO Cal. 9mm, automatic pistol
with one loaded magazine and one AMT Cal. .380 9mm automatic backup pistol with magazine loaded with ammunitions
without first having secured the necessary license or permit therefor from the proper authorities.
Contrary to law. 3

Criminal Case No. 96-149992 (Violation of Comelec Gun Ban):

That on or about the 17th day of May 1996, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and knowingly have in his possession and under his custody and control one (1) DAEWOO Cal. 9mm automatic pistol
with one loaded magazine and one (1) AMT Cal. 380 9mm automatic backup pistol with magazine loaded with ammunitions,
carrying the same along Maria Orosa St., Ermita, Manila, which is a public place, on the date which is covered by an election
period, without first securing the written permission or authority from the Commission on Elections, as provided by the
COMELEC Resolution 2828 in relation to Republic Act 7166.

Contrary to law. 4

During his arraignment, accused Wang refused to enter a plea to all the Informations and instead interposed a continuing
objection to the admissibility of the evidence obtained by the police operatives. Thus, the trial court ordered that a plea of "Not
Guilty" be entered for him.5 Thereafter, joint trial of the three (3) consolidated cases followed.

The pertinent facts are as follows:

On 16 May 1996, at about 7:00 p.m., police operatives of the Public Assistance and Reaction Against Crime of the Department
of Interior and Local Government, namely, Captain Margallo, Police Inspector Cielito Coronel and SPO3 Reynaldo Cristobal,
arrested SPO2 Vergel de Dios, Rogelio Anoble and a certain Arellano, for unlawful possession of methamphetamine
hydrochloride, a regulated drug popularly known as shabu. In the course of the investigation of the three arrested persons,
Redentor Teck, alias Frank, and Joseph Junio were identified as the source of the drug. An entrapment operation was then set
after the three were prevailed upon to call their source and pretend to order another supply of shabu.

At around 11:00 p.m. that same date, Redentor Teck and Joseph Junio were arrested while they were about to hand over
another bag of shabu to SPO2 De Dios and company. Questioned, Redentor Teck and Joseph Junio informed the police
operatives that they were working as talent manager and gymnast instructor, respectively, of Glamour Modeling Agency owned
by Lawrence Wang. Redentor Teck and Joseph Junio did not disclose their source of shabu but admitted that they were working
for Wang.6 They also disclosed that they knew of a scheduled delivery of shabu early the following morning of 17 May 1996,
and that their employer (Wang) could be found at the Maria Orosa Apartment in Malate, Manila. The police operatives decided
to look for Wang to shed light on the illegal drug activities of Redentor Teck and Joseph Junio. Police Inspector Cielito Coronel
and his men then proceeded to Maria Orosa Apartment and placed the same under surveillance.

Prosecution witness Police Inspector Cielito Coronel testified that at about 2:10 a.m. of 17 May 1996, Wang, who was described
to the operatives by Teck, came out of the apartment and walked towards a parked BMW car. On nearing the car, he (witness)
together with Captain Margallo and two other police officers approached Wang, introduced themselves to him as police
officers, asked his name and, upon hearing that he was Lawrence Wang, immediately frisked him and asked him to open the
back compartment of the BMW car.7 When frisked, there was found inside the front right pocket of Wang and confiscated from
him an unlicensed AMT Cal. 380 9mm automatic Back-up Pistol loaded with ammunitions. At the same time, the other
members of the operatives searched the BMW car and found inside it were the following items: (a) 32 transparent plastic bags
containing white crystalline substance with a total weight of 29.2941 kilograms, which substance was later analyzed as positive
for methamphetamine hydrochloride, a regulated drug locally known as shabu; (b) cash in the amount of ₱650,000.00; (c) one
electronic and one mechanical scales; and (d) an unlicensed Daewoo 9mm Pistol with magazine. Then and there, Wang resisted
the warrantless arrest and search.8

On 6 December 1996, the prosecution rested its case and upon motion, accused Wang was granted 25 days from said date
within which to file his intended Demurrer to Evidence.9 On 19 December 1996, the prosecution filed a Manifestation10 to the
effect that it had rested its case only in so far as the charge for Violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act in Criminal Case No. 96-
149990 is concerned, and not as regards the two cases for Illegal Possession of Firearms (Crim. Case No. 96-149991) and
Violation of the Comelec Gun Ban (Crim. Case No. 96-149992). Accordingly, trial continued.

On 9 January 1997, Wang filed his undated Demurrer to Evidence,11 praying for his acquittal and the dismissal of the three (3)
cases against him for lack of a valid arrest and search warrants and the inadmissibility of the prosecution’s evidence against
him. Considering that the prosecution has not yet filed its Opposition to the demurrer, Wang filed an Amplification12 to his
Demurrer of Evidence on 20 January 1997. On 12 February 1997, the prosecution filed its Opposition13 alleging that the
warrantless search was legal as an incident to the lawful arrest and that it has proven its case, so it is now time for the defense
to present its evidence.
On 13 March 1997, the respondent judge, the Hon. Perfecto A.S. Laguio, Jr., issued the herein assailed Resolution14 granting
Wang’s Demurrer to Evidence and acquitting him of all charges for lack of evidence, thus:

WHEREFORE, the accused's undated Demurrer to Evidence is hereby granted; the accused is acquitted of the charges against
him for the crimes of Violation of Section 16, Article III of the Dangerous Drugs Act, Illegal Possession of Firearms, and Violation
of Comelec Gun Ban, for lack of evidence; the 32 bags of shabu with a total weight of 29.2941 kilograms and the two unlicensed
pistols, one AMT Cal. .380 9mm and one Daewoo Cal. 9mm. are ordered confiscated in favor of the government and the branch
clerk is directed to turn over the 32 bags of shabu to the Dangerous Drugs Board in Intramuros, Manila, and the two firearms to
the Firearms and Explosive Units, PNP, Camp Crame, Quezon City, for proper disposition, and the officer-in-charge of PARAC,
Department of Interior and Local Government, is ordered to return the confiscated amount of P650,000.00 to the accused, and
the confiscated BMW car to its registered owner, David Lee. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Hence, this petition15 for review on certiorari by the People, submitting that the trial court erred -

XXX IN HOLDING THAT THE UNDISPUTED FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES DID NOT CONSTITUTE PROBABLE CAUSE WITHIN THE
CONTEMPLATION OF SECTION 2, ARTICLE III OF THE CONSTITUTION, AND IN HOLDING THAT SUCH FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES
NEITHER JUSTIFIED THE WARRANTLESS SEARCH OF ACCUSED'S VEHICLE AND THE SEIZURE OF THE CONTRABAND THEREIN.

ll

XXX IN HOLDING, IN EFFECT, THAT A WARRANTLESS SEARCH IS CONSTITUTIONALLY ALLOWABLE AND CAN ONLY BE VALID AS
AN INCIDENT TO A LAWFUL ARREST.

lII

XXX IN DECLARING THE WARRANTLESS ARREST OF THE ACCUSED AND THE SEARCH AND SEIZURE OF HIS HANDGUNS
UNLAWFUL.

IV

XXX IN NOT DECLARING THE ACCUSED AS HAVING WAIVED, AS A RESULT OF HIS SUBMISSION AND FAILURE TO PROTEST THE
SEARCH AND HIS ARREST, HIS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT AGAINST UNREASONABLE SEARCH AND SEIZURE AND HIS OBJECTION TO
THE ADMISSION OF THE EVIDENCE SEIZED.

XXX IN NOT ADMITTING IN EVIDENCE THE EVIDENCE SEIZED AND OFFERED BY THE PROSECUTION AND IN NOT DENYING
ACCUSED'S DEMURRER TO EVIDENCE.

In its Resolution16 of 9 July 1997, the Court, without giving due course to the petition, required the public and private
respondents to comment thereon within ten days from notice. Private respondent Wang filed his comment 17on 18 August
1997.

On 10 September 1997, the Court required the People to file a reply,18 which the Office of the Solicitor General did on 5
December 1997, after several extensions.19

On 20 October 2004, the Court resolved to give due course to the petition and required the parties to submit their respective
memoranda,20 which they did.

The case presents two main issues: (a) whether the prosecution may appeal the trial court’s resolution granting Wang’s
demurrer to evidence and acquitting him of all the charges against him without violating the constitutional proscription against
double jeopardy; and (b) whether there was lawful arrest, search and seizure by the police operatives in this case despite the
absence of a warrant of arrest and/or a search warrant.

First off, it must be emphasized that the present case is an appeal filed directly with this Court via a petition for review on
certiorari under Rule 45 in relation to Rule 41, Section 2, paragraph (c) of the Rules of Court raising only pure questions of law,
ordinary appeal by mere filing of a notice of appeal not being allowed as a mode of appeal directly to this Court. Then, too, it
bears stressing that the right to appeal is neither a natural right nor a part of due process, it being merely a statutory privilege
which may be exercised only in the manner provided for by law (Velasco v. Court of Appeals21). Although Section 2, Rule 122 of
the Rules on Criminal Procedure states that any party may appeal, the right of the People to appeal is, in the very same
provision, expressly made subject to the prohibition against putting the accused in double jeopardy. It also basic that appeal in
criminal cases throws the whole records of the case wide open for review by the appellate court, that is why any appeal from a
judgment of acquittal necessarily puts the accused in double jeopardy. In effect, the very same Section 2 of Rule 122 of the
Rules on Criminal Procedure, disallows appeal by the People from judgments of acquittal.

An order granting an accused’s demurrer to evidence is a resolution of the case on the merits, and it amounts to an acquittal.
Generally, any further prosecution of the accused after an acquittal would violate the constitutional proscription on double
jeopardy. To this general rule, however, the Court has previously made some exceptions.

The celebrated case of Galman v. Sandiganbayan22 presents one exception to the rule on double jeopardy, which is, when the
prosecution is denied due process of law:

No court whose Presiding Justice has received "orders or suggestions" from the very President who by an amendatory decree
(disclosed only at the hearing of oral arguments on November 8, 1984 on a petition challenging the referral of the Aquino-
Galman murder cases to the Tanodbayan and Sandiganbayan instead of to a court martial, as mandatorily required by the
known P.D. 1850 at the time providing for exclusive jurisdiction of courts martial over criminal offenses committed by military
men) made it possible to refer the cases to the Sandiganbayan, can be an impartial court, which is the very essence of due
process of law. As the writer then wrote, "jurisdiction over cases should be determined by law, and not by preselection of the
Executive, which could be much too easily transformed into a means of predetermining the outcome of individual cases." This
criminal collusion as to the handling and treatment of the cases by public respondents at the secret Malacañang conference
(and revealed only after fifteen months by Justice Manuel Herrera) completely disqualified respondent Sandiganbayan and
voided ab initio its verdict. This renders moot and irrelevant for now the extensive arguments of respondents accused,
particularly Generals Ver and Olivas and those categorized as accessories, that there has been no evidence or witness
suppressed against them, that the erroneous conclusions of Olivas as police investigator do not make him an accessory of the
crimes he investigated and the appraisal and evaluation of the testimonies of the witnesses presented and suppressed. There
will be time and opportunity to present all these arguments and considerations at the remand and retrial of the cases herein
ordered before a neutral and impartial court.

The Supreme Court cannot permit such a sham trial and verdict and travesty of justice to stand unrectified. The courts of the
land under its aegis are courts of law and justice and equity. They would have no reason to exist if they were allowed to be used
as mere tools of injustice, deception and duplicity to subvert and suppress the truth, instead of repositories of judicial power
whose judges are sworn and committed to render impartial justice to all alike who seek the enforcement or protection of a
right or the prevention or redress of a wrong, without fear or favor and removed from the pressures of politics and prejudice.
More so, in the case at bar where the people and the world are entitled to know the truth, and the integrity of our judicial
system is at stake. In life, as an accused before the military tribunal Ninoy had pleaded in vain that as a civilian he was entitled
to due process of law and trial in the regular civil courts before an impartial court with an unbiased prosecutor. In death, Ninoy,
as the victim of the "treacherous and vicious assassination" and the relatives and sovereign people as the aggrieved parties
plead once more for due process of law and a retrial before an impartial court with an unbiased prosecutor. The Court is
constrained to declare the sham trial a mock trial — the non-trial of the century — and that the predetermined judgment of
acquittal was unlawful and void ab initio.

1. No double jeopardy. — It is settled doctrine that double jeopardy cannot be invoked against this Court's setting aside of the
trial courts' judgment of dismissal or acquittal where the prosecution which represents the sovereign people in criminal cases is
denied due process. As the Court stressed in the 1985 case of People vs. Bocar,

Where the prosecution is deprived of a fair opportunity to prosecute and prove its case, its right to due process is thereby
violated.

The cardinal precept is that where there is a violation of basic constitutional rights, courts are ousted of their jurisdiction. Thus,
the violation of the State's right to due process raises a serious jurisdictional issue (Gumabon vs. Director of the Bureau of
Prisons, L-30026, 37 SCRA 420 [Jan. 30, 1971]) which cannot be glossed over or disregarded at will. Where the denial of the
fundamental right of due process is apparent, a decision rendered in disregard of that right is void for lack of jurisdiction
(Aducayen vs. Flores, L-30370 [May 25, 19731, 51 SCRA 78; Shell Co. vs. Enage, L-30111-12, 49 SCRA 416 Feb. 27, 1973]). Any
judgment or decision rendered notwithstanding such violation may be regarded as a "lawless thing, which can be treated as an
outlaw and slain at sight, or ignored wherever it exhibits its head" (Aducayen vs. Flores, supra).
Respondent Judge's dismissal order dated July 7, 1967 being null and void for lack of jurisdiction, the same does not constitute
a proper basis for a claim of double jeopardy (Serino vs. Zosa, supra).

xxx xxx xxx

Legal jeopardy attaches only (a) upon a valid indictment, (b) before a competent court, (c) after arraignment, (d) a valid plea
having been entered; and (e) the case was dismissed or otherwise terminated without the express consent of the accused
(People vs. Ylagan, 58 Phil. 851). The lower court was not competent as it was ousted of its jurisdiction when it violated the
right of the prosecution to due process.

In effect, the first jeopardy was never terminated, and the remand of the criminal case for further hearing and/or trial before
the lower courts amounts merely to a continuation of the first jeopardy, and does not expose the accused to a second jeopardy.

Another exception is when the trial court commits grave abuse of discretion in dismissing a criminal case by granting the
accused’s demurrer to evidence. In point is the fairly recent case of People v. Uy,23 which involved the trial court’s decision
which granted the two separate demurrers to evidence filed by the two accused therein, both with leave of court, resulting in
their acquittal of their respective charges of murder due to insufficiency of evidence. In resolving the petition for certiorari filed
directly with this Court, we had the occasion to explain:

The general rule in this jurisdiction is that a judgment of acquittal is final and unappealable. People v. Court of Appeals explains
the rationale of this rule:

In our jurisdiction, the finality-of-acquittal doctrine as a safeguard against double jeopardy faithfully adheres to the principle
first enunciated in Kepner v. United States. In this case, verdicts of acquittal are to be regarded as absolutely final and
irreviewable. The cases of United States v. Yam Tung Way, People v. Bringas, Gandicela v. Lutero, People v. Cabarles, People v.
Bao, to name a few, are illustrative cases. The fundamental philosophy behind the constitutional proscription against double
jeopardy is to afford the defendant, who has been acquitted, final repose and safeguard him from government oppression
through the abuse of criminal processes. As succinctly observed in Green v. United States "(t)he underlying idea, one that is
deeply ingrained in at least the Anglo-American system of jurisprudence, is that the State with all its resources and power
should not be allowed to make repeated attempts to convict an individual for an alleged offense, thereby subjecting him to
embarrassment, expense and ordeal and compelling him to live in a continuing state of anxiety and insecurity, as well as
enhancing the possibility that even though innocent, he may be found guilty." (Underscoring supplied)

The same rule applies in criminal cases where a demurrer to evidence is granted. As held in the case of People v.
Sandiganbayan:

The demurrer to evidence in criminal cases, such as the one at bar, is "filed after the prosecution had rested its case," and when
the same is granted, it calls "for an appreciation of the evidence adduced by the prosecution and its sufficiency to warrant
conviction beyond reasonable doubt, resulting in a dismissal of the case on the merits, tantamount to an acquittal of the
accused." Such dismissal of a criminal case by the grant of demurrer to evidence may not be appealed, for to do so would be to
place the accused in double-jeopardy. The verdict being one of acquittal, the case ends there. (Italics in the original)

Like any other rule, however, the above-said rule is not absolute. By way of exception, a judgment of acquittal in a criminal case
may be assailed in a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court upon a clear showing by the petitioner that the
lower court, in acquitting the accused, committed not merely reversible errors of judgment but also grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction or a denial of due process, thus rendering the assailed judgment void.
(Emphasis supplied.)

In Sanvicente v. People,24 the Court allowed the review of a decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) which reversed the accused’s
acquittal upon demurrer to evidence filed by the accused with leave of court, the CA ruling that the trial court committed grave
abuse of discretion in preventing the prosecution from establishing the due execution and authenticity of certain letter marked
therein as Exhibit "LL," which supposedly "positively identified therein petitioner as the perpetrator of the crime charged." The
Court, in a petition for certiorari, sustained the CA’s power to review the order granting the demurrer to evidence, explaining
thus:

Under Rule 119, Section 23 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, as amended, the trial court may dismiss the action on
the ground of insufficiency of evidence upon a demurrer to evidence filed by the accused with or without leave of court. In
resolving accused’s demurrer to evidence, the court is merely required to ascertain whether there is competent or sufficient
evidence to sustain the indictment or support a verdict of guilt.
The grant or denial of a demurrer to evidence is left to the sound discretion of the trial court and its ruling on the matter shall
not be disturbed in the absence of a grave abuse of discretion. Significantly, once the court grants the demurrer, such order
amounts to an acquittal and any further prosecution of the accused would violate the constitutional proscription on double
jeopardy. This constitutes an exception to the rule that the dismissal of a criminal case made with the express consent of the
accused or upon his own motion bars a plea of double jeopardy. The finality-of-acquittal rule was stressed thus in People v.
Velasco:

The fundamental philosophy highlighting the finality of an acquittal by the trial court cuts deep into the "humanity of the laws
and in jealous watchfulness over the rights of the citizens, when brought in unequal contest with the State xxx. Thus Green
expressed the concern that "(t)he underlying idea, one that is deeply ingrained in at least the Anglo-American system of
jurisprudence, is that the State with all its resources and power should not be allowed to make repeated attempts to convict an
individual for an alleged offense thereby subjecting him to embarrassment, expense and ordeal and compelling him to live in a
continuing state of anxiety and insecurity, as well as enhancing the possibility that even though innocent, he may be found
guilty."

It is axiomatic that on the basis of humanity, fairness and justice, an acquitted defendant is entitled to the right of repose as a
direct consequence of the finality of his acquittal. The philosophy underlying this rule establishing the absolute nature of
acquittals is "part of the paramount importance criminal justice system attaches to the protection of the innocent against
wrongful conviction." The interest in the finality-of-acquittal rule, confined exclusively to verdicts of not guilty, is easy to
understand: it is a need for "repose", a desire to know the exact extent of one’s liability. With this right of repose, the criminal
justice system has built in a protection to insure that the innocent, even those whose innocence rests upon a jury’s leniency,
will not be found guilty in a subsequent proceeding.

Given the far-reaching scope of an accused’s right against double jeopardy, even an appeal based on an alleged misappreciation
of evidence will not lie. The only instance when double jeopardy will not attach is when the trial court acted with grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, such as where the prosecution was denied the opportunity to present its
case or where the trial was a sham. However, while certiorari may be availed of to correct an erroneous acquittal, the
petitioner in such an extraordinary proceeding must clearly demonstrate that the trial court blatantly abused its authority to a
point so grave as to deprive it of its very power to dispense justice. (Emphasis supplied.)

By this time, it is settled that the appellate court may review dismissal orders of trial courts granting an accused’s demurrer to
evidence. This may be done via the special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65 based on the ground of grave abuse of
discretion, amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Such dismissal order, being considered void judgment, does not result in
jeopardy. Thus, when the order of dismissal is annulled or set aside by an appellate court in an original special civil action via
certiorari, the right of the accused against double jeopardy is not violated.

Unfortunately, what petitioner People of the Philippines, through then Secretary of Justice Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. and then
Solicitor General Silvestre H. Bello, III, filed with the Court in the present case is an appeal by way of a petition for review on
certiorari under Rule 45 raising a pure question of law, which is different from a petition for certiorari under Rule 65.

In Madrigal Transport Inc. v. Lapanday Holdings Corporation,25 we have enumerated the distinction between the two
remedies/actions, to wit:

Appeal and Certiorari Distinguished

Between an appeal and a petition for certiorari, there are substantial distinctions which shall be explained below.

As to the Purpose. Certiorari is a remedy designed for the correction of errors of jurisdiction, not errors of judgment. In Pure
Foods Corporation v. NLRC, we explained the simple reason for the rule in this light:

"When a court exercises its jurisdiction, an error committed while so engaged does not deprive it of the jurisdiction being
exercised when the error is committed. If it did, every error committed by a court would deprive it of its jurisdiction and every
erroneous judgment would be a void judgment. This cannot be allowed. The administration of justice would not survive such a
rule. Consequently, an error of judgment that the court may commit in the exercise of its jurisdiction is not correct[a]ble
through the original civil action of certiorari."

The supervisory jurisdiction of a court over the issuance of a writ of certiorari cannot be exercised for the purpose of reviewing
the intrinsic correctness of a judgment of the lower court -- on the basis either of the law or the facts of the case, or of the
wisdom or legal soundness of the decision. Even if the findings of the court are incorrect, as long as it has jurisdiction over the
case, such correction is normally beyond the province of certiorari. Where the error is not one of jurisdiction, but of an error of
law or fact -- a mistake of judgment -- appeal is the remedy.

As to the Manner of Filing. Over an appeal, the CA exercises its appellate jurisdiction and power of review. Over a certiorari, the
higher court uses its original jurisdiction in accordance with its power of control and supervision over the proceedings of lower
courts. An appeal is thus a continuation of the original suit, while a petition for certiorari is an original and independent action
that was not part of the trial that had resulted in the rendition of the judgment or order complained of. The parties to an appeal
are the original parties to the action. In contrast, the parties to a petition for certiorari are the aggrieved party (who thereby
becomes the petitioner) against the lower court or quasi-judicial agency, and the prevailing parties (the public and the private
respondents, respectively).

As to the Subject Matter. Only judgments or final orders and those that the Rules of Court so declared are appealable. Since the
issue is jurisdiction, an original action for certiorari may be directed against an interlocutory order of the lower court prior to an
appeal from the judgment; or where there is no appeal or any plain, speedy or adequate remedy.

As to the Period of Filing. Ordinary appeals should be filed within fifteen days from the notice of judgment or final order
appealed from. Where a record on appeal is required, the appellant must file a notice of appeal and a record on appeal within
thirty days from the said notice of judgment or final order. A petition for review should be filed and served within fifteen days
from the notice of denial of the decision, or of the petitioner’s timely filed motion for new trial or motion for reconsideration. In
an appeal by certiorari, the petition should be filed also within fifteen days from the notice of judgment or final order, or of the
denial of the petitioner’s motion for new trial or motion for reconsideration.

On the other hand, a petition for certiorari should be filed not later than sixty days from the notice of judgment, order, or
resolution. If a motion for new trial or motion for reconsideration was timely filed, the period shall be counted from the denial
of the motion.

As to the Need for a Motion for Reconsideration. A motion for reconsideration is generally required prior to the filing of a
petition for certiorari, in order to afford the tribunal an opportunity to correct the alleged errors. Note also that this motion is a
plain and adequate remedy expressly available under the law. Such motion is not required before appealing a judgment or final
order.

Also in Madrigal, we stressed that the special civil action of certiorari and appeal are two different remedies mutually exclusive;
they are neither alternative nor successive. Where appeal is available, certiorari will not prosper. In the dismissal of a criminal
case upon demurrer to evidence, appeal is not available as such an appeal will put the accused in double jeopardy. Certiorari,
however, is allowed.

For being the wrong remedy taken by petitioner People of the Philippines in this case, this petition is outrightly dismissible. The
Court cannot reverse the assailed dismissal order of the trial court by appeal without violating private respondent’s right
against double jeopardy.

Even assuming that the Court may treat an "appeal" as a special civil action of certiorari, which definitely this Court has the
power to do, when there is a clear showing of grave abuse of discretion committed by the lower court, the instant petition will
nevertheless fail on the merits as the succeeding discussion will show.

There are actually two (2) acts involved in this case, namely, the warrantless arrest and the warrantless search. There is no
question that warrantless search may be conducted as an incident to a valid warrantless arrest. The law requires that there be
first a lawful arrest before a search can be made; the process cannot be reversed.26 However, if there are valid reasons to
conduct lawful search and seizure which thereafter shows that the accused is currently committing a crime, the accused may be
lawfully arrested in flagrante delicto27 without need for a warrant of arrest.

Finding that the warrantless arrest preceded the warrantless search in the case at bar, the trial court granted private
respondent's demurrer to evidence and acquitted him of all the three charges for lack of evidence, because the unlawful arrest
resulted in the inadmissibility of the evidence gathered from an invalid warrantless search. The trial court’s ratiocination is
quoted as follows:

The threshold issue raised by the accused in his Demurrer to Evidence is whether his warrantless arrest and search were lawful
as argued by the prosecution, or unlawful as asserted by the defense.

Under Section 5, Rule 113 of the New Rules of Court, a peace officer may arrest a person without a warrant: (a) when in his
presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense; (b) when an
offense has in fact just been committed, and he has personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested has
committed it, and (c) when the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where
he is serving final judgment or temporarily confined while being transferred from one confinement to another. None of these
circumstances were present when the accused was arrested. The accused was merely walking from the Maria Orosa Apartment
and was about to enter the parked BMW car when the police officers arrested and frisked him and searched his car. The
accused was not committing any visible offense at the time of his arrest. Neither was there an indication that he was about to
commit a crime or that he had just committed an offense. The unlicensed AMT Cal.380 9mm Automatic Back-up Pistol that the
accused had in his possession was concealed inside the right front pocket of his pants. And the handgun was bantam and slim in
size that it would not give an outward indication of a concealed gun if placed inside the pant's side pocket as was done by the
accused. The arresting officers had no information and knowledge that the accused was carrying an unlicensed handgun, nor
did they see him in possession thereof immediately prior to his arrest.

Ditto on the 32 bags of shabu and the other unlicensed Daewoo Cal. 9mm Pistol with magazine that were found and seized
from the car. The contraband items in the car were not in plain view. The 32 bags of shabu were in the trunk compartment, and
the Daewoo handgun was underneath the driver’s seat of the car. The police officers had no information, or knowledge that the
banned articles were inside the car, or that the accused had placed them there. The police officers searched the car on mere
suspicion that there was shabu therein.

On this matter, pertinent portions of the testimonies of Police Inspector Cielito Coronel and SP03 Reynaldo are hereunder
quoted:

POLICE INSPECTOR CIELITO CORONEL’S TESTIMONY

"PROSECUTOR TO WITNESS: Direct-Examination

Q. Mr. Witness, what was your role or participation in this case?

A. I am one of those responsible for the arrest of the accused.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. Where did you make that arrest, Mr. Witness?

A. The apprehension was made in front of an apartment along Maria Orosa Street, Ermita, Manila.

Q. What date was that when you arrested the accused?

A. It was on May 17, 1996, at about 2:10 a.m.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. What was the reason why you together with other policemen effected the arrest of the accused?

A. We arrested him because of the information relayed to us by one of those whom we have previously apprehended in
connection with the delivery of shabu somewhere also in Ermita, Manila.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. When you established that he was somewhere at Maria Orosa, what did you do?

A. We waited for him.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. You yourself, Mr. Witness, where did you position yourself during that time?

A. I was inside a vehicle waiting for the accused to appear.

Q. What about your other companions where were they?


A. They were position in strategic places within the area.

Q. What happened when you and your companions were positioned in that place?

A. That was when the accused arrived.

Q. How many of your approached him.

A. Inspector Margallo, myself and two other operatives.

Q. What happened when you approached the accused, Mr. Witness?

A. We introduced ourselves as police officers and we frisked him and we asked him to open the back compartment of his car.

Q. You said you frisked him, what was the result of that?

A. He was found in possession of one back-up pistol with one loaded magazine and likewise when the compartment was
opened several plastic bags containing white crystalline substance suspected to be shabu (were found).

Q. What did you do when you found out Mr. Witness?

A. When the car was further search we later found another firearm, a Daewoo Pistol at the place under the seat of the driver.

Q. Then what happened?

A. He was brought to our headquarters at Mandaluyong for further investigation.

Q. What about the suspected shabu that you recovered, what did you do with that?

A. The suspected shabu that we recovered were forwarded to the NBI for laboratory examination.

Q. Did you come to know the results?

A. It was found positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride. (TSN, pp. 3-8, November 15, 1996).

ATTY. LOZANO TO WITNESS: CROSS

Q. You arrested Joseph Junio and Redentor Teck for alleged transporting of shabu on May 16, 1996, at 11:00 p.m., is it not?

A. Yes, Sir.

Q. You asked Redentor Teck where he is employed, is it not?

A. Yes, Sir.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. Redentor Teck told you that he is a talent manager at the Glenmore Modeling Agency, is it not?

A. Yes, Sir.

.Q. The Glenmore Modeling Agency is owned by Lawrence Wang, is it not?

A. I supposed, Sir.

Q. And that is why immediately after Redentor Teck told you that he is an employee of the Glenmore Modeling Agency owned
by Lawrence Wang, naturally, you and your companions look for Lawrence Wang to shed light on the transporting of shabu by
Redentor Teck and Joseph Junio, is it not?

A. Yes, Sir.
Q. Thereafter, you spotted a person previously described by Redentor Teck as Lawrence Wang, is it not?

A. Yes, Sir.

Q. While you were arresting Lawrence Wang, your companions at the same time searched the BMW car described in your
affidavit of arrest, is it not?

A. Yes, Sir.

Q. Lawrence Wang was not inside the BMW car while the same was searched, is it not?

A. He was outside, Sir.

Q. The driver of the car was inside the car when the arrest and search were made, is it not?

A. He was likewise outside, Sir.

Q. Lawrence Wang did resist arrest and search is it not?

A. Yes, Sir.

Q. When you effected the arrest, there was no warrant of arrest, is it not?

A. Yes, Sir.

Q. When the search was made on the BMW car, there was no search warrant, is it not?

A. Yes, none, Sir. (TSN, pp. 3-12, November 15, 1996)

SPO3 REYNALDO CRISTOBAL’S TESTIMONY

PROSECUTOR TO WITNESS: DIRECT EXAMINATION

Q. What is you role or participation in this case?

A. I was one of the arresting officers and investigator, Sir.

Q. What kind of specific offense did the accused allegedly do so that you arrested him, Mr. Witness?

A. He was arrested on the basis of the recovered drugs in his possession placed inside his car.

Q. Mr. witness, you said that you recovered drug from the car of the accused, please tell us the antecedent circumstances
which led you to recover or confiscate these items?

A. Earlier in the evening about 11:00 p.m. of May 16, we arrested one Redentor Teck and Joseph Junio.

COURT: Where did you arrest these people?

A They were arrested in Metro Manila also.

COURT: The same date?

A. May 16, about 11:00 p.m. They were arrested and when they were investigated, Teck mentioned the name of Lawrence
Wang as his employer.

COURT: Why were these people, arrested?

A. For violation of R.A. 6425.

COURT: How were they arrested?


A. They were arrested while in the act of transporting shabu or handling shabu to another previously arrested person. It was a
series of arrest.

COURT: So, this involved a series of operation?

A. Yes, Your Honor. About 11:00 p.m. of May 16, we arrested three (3) persons, SPO2 Vergel de Dios, a certain Arellano and a
certain Rogelio Noble. When they were arrested they divulged the name of the source.

COURT: They were arrested for what, for possession?

A. Yes, Your Honor. For unlawful possession of shabu . Then they divulged to us the name of the person from whom they get
shabu.

COURT: Whose name did they mention:

A. One Alias Frank, who turned out to be Redentor Teck and Joseph Junio. We let them call Redentor Teck and Joseph Junio
thru the cellphone and pretend and to order another supply of shabu.

COURT: So there was an entrapment?

A. Yes, Your Honor.

COURT: So, these two (2) were arrested?

A. While they were about to hand over another bag of shabu to Noble and company.

COURT: And these two reveals (revealed) some information to you as to the source of the shabu?

A. Yes, Your Honor.

COURT: What was the information?

A. Teck told us that he is an employee of Lawrence Wang.

COURT: What did you do when you were told about that?

A. They also told us that there was an ongoing delivery of shabu on that morning.

COURT: When?

A. Of that date early morning of May 17, 1996.

COURT: At what place?

A. We asked them where we could find Lawrence Wang and Teck lead us to Maria Orosa Apartment where we conducted a
stake out which lasted up to 2:00 a.m.

xxx xxx xxx

COURT: What happened during the stake out?

A. When the person of the accused was identified to us, we saw him opening his car together with his driver.

COURT: So, he was about to leave when you saw him?

A. Probably, Sir.

COURT: What did you do?

A. We saw him opened his car and we have a suspicion that there was a shabu inside the compartment of the car.
COURT: All right, when you saw the accused opened his car, what did you do?

A. We approached him.

COURT: What happened when you approached him?

A. We suspected the shabu inside the compartment of his car.

COURT: And this shabu that you saw inside the compartment of the car, what did you do with that?

A. Well, he was first arrested by Captain Margallo and Lt. Coronel while I was the one who inspected and opened the
compartment of the car and saw the shabu. (TSN, pp. 15-24, December 16, 1996).

CLARIFICATORY QUESTIONING OF SPO3 CRISTOBAL BY THE COURT

COURT: From your testimony and that of Police Inspector Cielito Coronel, this Court has gathered that prior to the arrest of the
accused there were three (3) men that your team arrested. One of whom is a police officer.

A: Yes, Sir.

xxx xxx xxx

COURT: And on the occasion of the arrest of these three men shabu were confiscated from them?

A: Yes, Sir.

Q: And in the course of the investigation of these three men, you were able to discover that Redentor Teck and Joseph Junio
were the source of the regulated drug that were confiscated from the three men that you have arrested?

A: Yes, Sir.

Q: Now, thru entrapment base[d] on your testimony you were able to apprehend also these two men, Redentor Teck and
Joseph Junio?

A: Yes, Sir.

xxx xxx xxx

Q: These two men, Redentor Teck and Joseph Junio they were also investigated by your team?

A: Yes, Sir.

Q: You were present while they were investigated?

A: I was the one whom investigated them.

xxx xxx xxx

Q: Did you ask Redentor and Joseph the source of shabu that you confiscated from them at the time of the (their) arrest?

A: Yes, Sir. They refuse to say the source, however, they told me that they were working for the accused.

Q: You also testified that Redentor informed you that there was another delivery of shabu scheduled that morning of (stop) was
it May 16 or 17? The other delivery that is scheduled on?

A: On the 17th.

xxx xxx xxx

Q: Did he tell you who was to make the delivery?


A: No, Sir.

Q: At that time when you decided to look for the accused to ask him to shed light on the matter concerning the arrest of these
two employees in possession of shabu. Did you and did your team suspect the accused as being involved in the transaction that
lead (led) to the arrest of Redentor and Joseph?

A: Yes, Sir. We suspected that he was the source of the shabu.

Q: When you saw the accused walking towards his car, did you know whether he was carrying a gun?

A: No, Sir. It cannot be seen.

Q: It was concealed?

A: Yes, Sir.

Q: So, the only time that you and your team learned that he was in possession of the gun is when he was bodily search?

A: Yes, Sir. That is the only time that I came to know about when Capt. Margallo handed to me the gun.

Q: Other than walking towards his car, the accused was not doing anything else?

A: None, Sir.

Q: That would invite your suspicion or give indication that he was intending to do something unlawful or illegal?

A: No, Sir.

Q: When you searched the car, did the accused protest or try to prevent your team from searching his car?

A: No, Sir." (TSN pp. 3-16, Feb. 26, 1997)

Clearly therefore, the warrantless arrest of the accused and the search of his person and the car were without probable cause
and could not be licit. The arrest of the accused did not fall under any of the exception to the requirements of warrantless
arrests, (Sec. 5, Rule 113, Rules of Court) and is therefore, unlawful and derogatory of his constitutional right of liberty. x x x

The trial court resolved the case on the basis of its findings that the arrest preceded the search, and finding no basis to rule in
favor of a lawful arrest, it ruled that the incidental search is likewise unlawful. Any and all pieces of evidence acquired as a
consequence thereof are inadmissible in evidence. Thus, the trial court dismissed the case for lack of evidence.

Contrary to its position at the trial court, the People, however, now posits that "inasmuch as it has been shown in the present
case that the seizure without warrant of the regulated drugs and unlicensed firearms in the accused’s possession had been
validly made upon probable cause and under exigent circumstances, then the warrantless arrest of the accused must
necessarily have to be regarded as having been made on the occasion of the commission of the crime in flagrante delicto, and
therefore constitutionally and statutorily permissible and lawful."28In effect, the People now contends that the warrantless
search preceded the warrantless arrest. Since the case falls under an exception to the general rule requiring search warrant
prior to a valid search and seizure, the police officers were justified in requiring the private respondent to open his BMW car’s
trunk to see if he was carrying illegal drugs.

The conflicting versions as to whether the arrest preceded the search or vice versa, is a matter of credibility of evidence. It
entails appreciation of evidence, which may be done in an appeal of a criminal case because the entire case is thrown open for
review, but not in the case of a petition for certiorari where the factual findings of the trial court are binding upon the Court.
Since a dismissal order consequent to a demurrer to evidence is not subject to appeal and reviewable only by certiorari, the
factual finding that the arrest preceded the search is conclusive upon this Court. The only legal basis for this Court to possibly
reverse and set aside the dismissal order of the trial court upon demurrer to evidence would be if the trial court committed
grave abuse of discretion in excess of jurisdiction when it ruled that there was no legal basis to lawfully effect a warrantless
arrest.

The pertinent provisions of Rule 113 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure on warrantless arrest provide:
Sec. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. - A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:

a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an
offense;

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 be arrested has committed it; and

c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal 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 one confinement to
another.

Section 5, above, provides three (3) instances when warrantless arrest may 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 suspect was the author of a crime which had just been committed; (c) arrest of a prisoner who has escaped from
custody serving final judgment or temporarily confined while his case is pending.

For a warrantless arrest of an accused caught in flagrante delicto under paragraph (a) of Section 5 to be valid, two requisites
must concur: (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; and (2) such overt act is done in the presence or within the view of the
arresting officer.

The facts and circumstances surrounding the present case did not manifest any suspicious behavior on the part of private
respondent Lawrence Wang that would reasonably invite the attention of the police. He was merely walking from the Maria
Orosa Apartment and was about to enter the parked BMW car when the police operatives arrested him, frisked and searched
his person and commanded him to open the compartment of the car, which was later on found to be owned by his friend,
David Lee. He was not committing any visible offense then. Therefore, there can be no valid warrantless arrest in flagrante
delicto under paragraph (a) of Section 5. It is settled that "reliable information" alone, absent any overt act indicative of a
felonious enterprise in the presence and within the view of the arresting officers, is not sufficient to constitute probable cause
that would justify an in flagrante delicto arrest.30

Neither may the warrantless arrest be justified under paragraph (b) of Section 5. What is clearly established from the
testimonies of the arresting officers is that Wang was arrested mainly on the information that he was the employer of Redentor
Teck and Joseph Junio who were previously arrested and charged for illegal transport of shabu. Teck and Junio did not even
categorically identify Wang to be their source of the shabu they were caught with in flagrante delicto. Upon the duo’s
declaration that there will be a delivery of shabu on the early morning of the following day, May 17, which is only a few hours
thereafter, and that Wang may be found in Maria Orosa Apartment along Maria Orosa Street, the arresting officers conducted
"surveillance" operation in front of said apartment, hoping to find a person which will match the description of one Lawrence
Wang, the employer of Teck and Junio. These circumstances do not sufficiently establish the existence of probable cause based
on personal knowledge as required in paragraph (b) of Section 5.

And doubtless, the warrantless arrest does not fall under paragraph (c) of Section 5.

The inevitable conclusion, as correctly made by the trial court, is that the warrantless arrest was illegal. Ipso jure, the
warrantless search incidental to the illegal arrest is likewise unlawful.

In People v. Aminnudin,31 the Court declared as inadmissible in evidence the marijuana found in appellant’s possession during a
search without a warrant, because it had been illegally seized, in disregard of the Bill of Rights:

In the case at bar, the accused-appellant was not, at the moment of his arrest, committing a crime nor was it shown that he was
about to do so or that he had just done so. What he was doing was descending the gangplank of the M/V Wilcon 9 and there
was no outward indication that called for his arrest. To all appearances, he was like any of the other passengers innocently
disembarking from the vessel. It was only when the informer pointed to him as the carrier of the marijuana that he suddenly
became a suspect and so subject to apprehension. It was the fugitive finger that triggered his arrest. The identification of the
informer was the probable cause as determined by the officer (and not a judge) that authorized them to pounce upon
Aminnudin and immediately arrest him.

The People’s contention that Wang waived his right against unreasonable search and seizure has no factual basis. While we
agree in principle that consent will validate an otherwise illegal search, however, based on the evidence on record, Wang
resisted his arrest and the search on his person and belongings.32 The implied acquiescence to the search, if there was any,
could not have been more than mere passive conformity given under intimidating or coercive circumstances and is thus
considered no consent at all within the purview of the constitutional guarantee.33Moreover, the continuing objection to the
validity of the warrantless arrest made of record during the arraignment bolsters Wang’s claim that he resisted the warrantless
arrest and search.

We cannot close this ponencia without a word of caution: those who are supposed to enforce the law are not justified in
disregarding the rights of the individual in the name of order. Order is too high a price for the loss of liberty. As Justice Holmes
once said, "I think it is less evil that some criminals should escape than that the government should play an ignoble part." It is
simply not allowed in free society to violate a law to enforce another, especially if the law violated is the Constitution itself.34

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED.

SO ORDERED.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 178198

Appellee,

Present:

- versus -

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,

EVELYN BOHOL y TALAOGAN a.k.a. EVELYN BOHOL, a.k.a. EVELYN Chairperson,


BOHOL DAVIS, a.k.a. DIANITA BOHOL DAVIS,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
Appellant.
CHICO-NAZARIO,

NACHURA, and

REYES, JJ.

Promulgated:

December 10, 2008

x------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

NACHURA, J.:
This is an appeal interposed by appellant Evelyn Bohol seeking the reversal of the Court of Appeals (CA)
Decision[1] dated December 28, 2006 which in turn affirmed with modification the Regional Trial Court[2] (RTC)
Decision[3] dated November 25, 2004.

The facts of the case follow:

The victim, Steven Alston Davis (Steven), a 31-year old British national, was the Chief Technology Officer of JC Software, a local
subsidiary of Hong Kongbased corporation JADECOOL Entertainment. Together with his business associate and long-time friend
Michael Thomas Dunn (Michael), a Canadian citizen, Steven resided at a two-storey apartment unit at No. 5958 Firmina
Street, Barangay Poblacion, Makati City.[4]

Steven married appellant Evelyn Bohol in Hong Kong sometime in March 1997, when the latter was only 17 years old. Together
with their two minor children, Steven and the appellant shared a house at No. 1823 Fifth Street, Villasol Subdivision
in Angeles City, Pampanga. Steven spent his weekdays in the Makati apartment, and stayed with his family
in Angeles City during weekends.[5]

On July 17, 2002, Steven and Michael worked until around ten oclock in the evening at the principal office of JC Software
in Makati. At about 10:45 p.m., they headed to their rented apartment. Steven proceeded to his room, did some computer
work, then went to sleep. At about 11:30 p.m., Michael went to the airport to fetch his girlfriend Jennifer Castillo (Jennifer),
who was then arriving from Hong Kong. Michael and Jennifer returned to the apartment at one oclock in the morning of July 18,
2002. They went to bed a short moment thereafter.[6]

At around two oclock in the morning, Jennifer told Michael that a person seemed to be moving and flashing a light outside
their room. Suspecting that the person outside the room was Steven, and that the latter was just trying to play a practical joke
on them, Michael inquired What are you doing tonight? Instead of Steven answering back, three men with drawn handguns
suddenly entered their room. These three individuals were later positively identified during the trial to be Arnold Adoray
(Arnold), Alexander Dagami (Alexander), and accused-turned-state-witness Robin Butas (Robin). Arnold, whose gun was aimed
at Michael, asked, Ito ba? Ito ba? Alexander thereafter grabbed Jennifer by the hand and locked her inside Michaels
bathroom. After taking Michaels keys, wallet, and cellular phone, the three men proceeded to Stevens room. [7] Upon seeing the
then sleeping Steven, Arnold fired four consecutive shots upon the former, hitting the latter at the back.The three men then
hurriedly left the house.[8] After he was sure that Arnold, Alexander and Robin were no longer inside the apartment, Michael
immediately went to Stevens room. There, Michael saw the lifeless body of Steven. After checking Stevens pulse, Michael
administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on the formers chest but he no longer made any response.[9] Thereafter,
Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel arrived at the scene of the crime; then an ambulance took Stevens body to
the Makati Medical Center where he was pronounced dead on arrival.[10]

Michael made numerous attempts to reach the appellant by phone immediately after the incident, but his efforts were all in
vain. Finally, he was able to contact her through her mobile phone at around six oclock in the morning; the former immediately
informed the latter of the killing of her husband. When Michael met Evelyn at ten oclock in the morning, he readily observed
that appellant showed no signs of sadness or mourning despite the violent death of her husband.[11]

After the autopsy of the cadaver in the afternoon of July 18, 2002, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Medico-Legal
officer found that Steven sustained four gunshot wounds at the upper left portion of his back, including four bullet holes at the
back of his upper left arm, just below the shoulder.[12]

Arnold and Alexander were thus charged with murder on August 16, 2002.[13] Trial thereafter ensued. The information was
later amended[14] charging the appellant, together with Robin, with the crime of murder, in conspiracy with Arnold and
Alexander. The accusatory portion of the information reads:

That on or about the 18th day of July, 2002, in the City of Makati, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, armed with an automatic pistol and revolver, conspiring and confederating together, and all
of them mutually helping and aiding one another, with intent to kill, and by means of treachery and evident premeditation, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault, and shot one STEVEN ALSTON DAVIS, on the different parts
of his body, thereby inflicting upon the latter serious and mortal gunshot wound which directly caused his death.

CONTRARY TO LAW.[15]

Considering that at the time the appellant was arrested, the trial of the case, in which Arnold and Alexander were eventually
convicted,[16] was almost complete, a separate trial for the appellant was held. Upon arraignment, the appellant pleaded Not
guilty.[17] To ensure impartiality, the presiding judge inhibited himself, and the case of the appellant was re-raffled to Branch
141.

It appears that Robin was discharged as a state witness.[18] Robin contended that the appellant was responsible for
inducing/persuading him, Arnold, and Alexander to perpetrate the killing of Steven. He further stated that the appellant and
Arnold (as in fact admitted to him by the appellant) were having a love affair, as he would oftentimes see them caress and kiss
each other in the living room of their house in Angeles City. Robin also testified that, at about eleven oclock in the evening
of July 17, 2002, appellant roused him from sleep and required him to join them.[19] Robin then rode a white car together with
Arnold, Alexander and the appellant, who acted as the guide in proceeding towards Stevens apartment. Upon reaching Stevens
place, appellant gave Arnold the keys of the house, and forthwith ordered the group to alight from the car. Upon gaining entry,
the three performed all the acts of execution. Riding the same car, Arnold, Alexander, Robin and Evelyn returned
to Angeles City. Even as they were traveling, Evelyn warned them never to tell anybody about the incident. Robin, however,
divulged the violent incident to his wife Gina Bohol Butas (Gina), Evelyns sister. In essence, the material points of Robins
testimony were wholly corroborated by Gina. According to Gina, the appellant admitted that she was in love with Arnold. She
added that the appellant confided to her the plan to kill Steven in order for the appellant and Arnold to freely stay together.[20]

By way of defense, appellant theorized that it was physically impossible for her to have a direct and material participation in
the killing of Steven as she was absent from the scene of the crime, and she lacked the ill motive to orchestrate the murder of
her husband. She also contended that she was at home with her children at the time of the commission of the felony.[21]

On November 25, 2004, the RTC rendered a Decision[22] finding the appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of murder,
qualified by treachery, and sentenced her to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. The court also made her liable to pay civil
indemnity in the amount of P50,000.00.

The court found sufficient evidence to establish conspiracy to kill Steven. It likewise held that treachery was adequately
proven, thus, establishing the crime of murder. It, however, refused to recognize the aggravating circumstance of evident
premeditation because of insufficiency of evidence. It is undisputed that the appellant was married to Steven; however, the
trial court concluded that she could not be held liable for parricide in view of the nullity of their marriage, for having been
contracted at the time when appellant was only 17 years old.[23]

This decision was affirmed by the CA in its Decision dated December 28, 2006, with an added award of P50,000.00
representing moral damages due the heirs of Steven.[24]

In her final attempt to seek the reversal of her conviction, appellant comes before this Court, raising the following as lone
error:

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT DESPITE THE FACT THAT HER GUILT FOR THE CRIME OF
MURDER WAS NOT PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.[25]

Appellant bewails the fact that the trial and the appellate courts accorded great weight to the testimony of Robin. She posits
that having turned state witness, Robin was motivated to testify solely by his desire to be exculpated from liability. [26] Appellant
adds that her motive to kill Steven was not established at all.[27] She further avers that her conviction should not have been
based on Robins testimony, or on the weakness of the evidence for the defense.[28] Lastly, appellant insists that in no way could
she be convicted of murder for lack of sufficient evidence to prove the qualifying circumstance of treachery. [29]

After a careful review of the records and evidence presented, we find no cogent reason to reverse the decision of the RTC, as
affirmed by the CA. Nevertheless, we deem it proper to discuss the issues raised by the appellant.

First, whether Robins testimony is credible. As this Court has consistently said, where the culpability or innocence of an accused
would hinge on the issue of the credibility of witnesses, the findings of fact of the CA affirming those of the trial court, duly
supported by sufficient and convincing evidence, must be accorded the highest respect, even finality, by this Court, and are not
to be disturbed on appeal.[30] The only exception is when certain facts of substance and value have been overlooked which, if
considered, might affect the result of the case.[31]

Moreover, as enunciated in People v. Bocalan,[32] the simple fact that Robin was originally charged with the appellant as a co-
conspirator but was later discharged as a state witness and was no longer prosecuted for the crime charged does not render his
testimony incredible or lessen its probative weight. Otherwise stated, the barefaced fact that Robin was charged as a co-
conspirator in the commission of the crime before he was discharged as a state witness does not disqualify him as a witness or
discredit his testimony.[33] While his testimony should be taken with caution, there is no reason why it cannot be given redence,
it appearing that the same was corroborated by the testimony of his wife who happens to be appellants sister. Besides,
appellant offered no evidence to show that Robin was actuated by an ill or devious motive to testify against her.

Appellants claim that Robin testified against her only because he was motivated by his desire to be exculpated from his liability
as a co-conspirator is likewise bereft of merit. Considering his close relationship with the appellant, the latter being his sister-in-
law, there was no other reason for Robin to have testified against the appellant except his desire to tell the truth. This was
bolstered by the fact that appellants own sister corroborated Robins testimony. More importantly, Robins testimony was
corroborated by physical evidence, namely, the autopsy report that Steven sustained four gunshot wounds at the upper left
portion of his back, including four bullet holes at the back of his upper left arm, just below the shoulder, [34] which was thus
consistent with his testimony that upon seeing Steven who was then asleep, Arnold fired four consecutive shots upon the
former, hitting him at the back.[35]

Second, whether appellant was correctly convicted of murder. Murder is committed by any person who, not falling within the
provisions of Article 246[36] of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), kills another, if the killing is committed with treachery.[37] There is
treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against persons, employing means, methods or forms which tend
directly and specially to ensure its execution, without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party might
make.[38] Hence, for treachery to be appreciated, two conditions must be met, to wit: (1) the employment of means, methods
or manner of execution that would ensure the offenders safety from any defense or retaliatory act on the part of the offended
party; and (2) the offenders deliberate or conscious choice of means, method or manner of execution.[39]

The essence of treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack by an aggressor on an unsuspecting victim, depriving the latter
of any real chance to defend himself and thereby ensuring its commission without risk to himself.[40]

The circumstances obtaining in the instant case show that treachery attended the killing of the victim. It is undisputed that the
killing occurred at around two oclock in the morning, an hour when generally people are asleep. The witnesses are also one in
saying that upon entering Stevens room, the assailants immediately shot the former and caused the latters death. Both the
testimonial and the physical sets of evidence also show that Steven was shot from behind. Evidently, the victim was caught
unaware, totally defenseless against the armed invaders.[41]

While it is true that appellant did not directly participate in shooting Steven, nevertheless, evidence clearly shows that she was
part of the conspiracy to commit the crime. There is conspiracy when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning
the commission of a felony and decide to commit it.[42] It must be proved with the same quantum of evidence as the crime
itself. However, direct proof is not required, as conspiracy may be proved by circumstantial evidence. It may be established
through the collective acts of the accused before, during and after the commission of a felony that all the accused aimed at the
same object, one performing one part and the other performing another for the attainment of the same objective; and that
their acts, though apparently independent, were in fact concerted and cooperative, indicating closeness of personal
association, concerted action and concurrence of sentiments.[43]

In the present case, the CA correctly outlined the circumstances showing the appellants participation, viz.:

First, Evelyn [appellant herein] provided for the effective and compelling inducement for Arnold to carry into effect the killing
of Steven. Second, Evelyn personally summoned and recruited Robin to come along with them for possible backup or perhaps
as additional ammunition in case of resistance or retaliation on the part of their target. Third, it is apparent that the three men
were not aware of Stevens location, and thus Evelyn acted as the guide who directed the group towards the residence of
Steven at Makati. And fourth, Evelyn provided the group with the keys in order for them to enter the apartment with ease and
unnoticed.[44]

Indubitably, conspiracy was established.

Appellant seeks refuge in the defense of alibi which we have consistently regarded as the much abused sanctuary of felons and
which is considered as an argument with a bad reputation. It is, to say the least, the weakest defense which must be taken with
caution being easily fabricated.[45] Such defense cannot prevail over the positive identification of appellant as one of the
conspirators in killing Steven. Though she did not participate in the actual shooting of Steven, it was sufficiently established that
she traveled from Angeles City to Makati City, together with the assailants; she waited for the assailants inside the car; and she
traveled back to Angeles City, again with her co-conspirators, after the commission of the felony. Furthermore, appellant failed
to establish that it was physically impossible for her to have been at the scene of the crime at the time of its
commission. Angeles City is only a few kilometers away from Makati and only a few hours of travel by land.This is coupled by
the fact that when Michael was trying to reach her through her mobile and residence phones, she was not available until six
oclock in the morning, which was only about four hours after the incident. Clearly, it was possible for her to be at the place
where the felony was committed. Besides, as earlier discussed, considering the appellants participation as a co-conspirator, her
absence from the place of commission does not negate her culpability.

We would like to clarify at this point that although admittedly, appellant was the wife of the victim, she could not be convicted
of parricide as provided in Article 246 of the RPC. Records show that appellants relationship with the victim was not alleged in
the information.[46] Hence, she can be convicted only of murder.

Under Article 248 of the RPC, the penalty imposed for the crime of murder is reclusion perpetua to death. There being no
aggravating or mitigating circumstance, the penalty imposed on appellant is reclusion perpetua. The prison term imposed by
the trial court and as affirmed by the CA is, therefore, correct.

Lastly, whether the damages awarded to the heirs of Steven are proper. We affirm the award of civil indemnity and moral
damages but we deem it proper to order the payment of an additional amount of P25,000.00 as exemplary damages.

Civil indemnity is mandatory and granted to the heirs of the victim even without need of proof other than the commission of
the crime. The amount of P50,000.00 awarded by the trial and appellate courts is in line with prevailing jurisprudence. [47]

As to moral damages, the same is mandatory in cases of murder and homicide, without need of allegation and proof other than
the death of the victim.[48] The amount of P50,000.00 was, therefore, correctly awarded.

In addition, exemplary damages should be awarded to the heirs of the victim, since the qualifying circumstance of treachery
was proven by the prosecution.[49] When a crime is committed with an aggravating circumstance, either qualifying or generic,
an award of P25,000.00 as exemplary damages is justified under Article 2230 of the New Civil Code. This kind of damage is
intended to serve as a deterrent to serious wrongdoings, and as a vindication of undue sufferings and wanton invasion of the
rights of an injured or a punishment for those guilty of outrageous conduct.[50]

WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM the December 28, 2006 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 00551 finding
appellant Evelyn Bohol y Talaogan guilty beyond reasonable doubt of murder, with the MODIFICATION that the victims heirs
are also entitled to the award of exemplary damages of P25,000.00.

SO ORDERED.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 173483

Appellee,

Present:

QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,CARPIO MORALES,

- versus - TINGA,

VELASCO, JR., and

BRION, JJ.

MERLIE* DUMANGAY y SALE, Promulgated:

Appellant.

September 23, 2008

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:

For review is the Decision[1] dated April 28, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01700. The appellate court
affirmed the Decision[2] dated October 29, 2003 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 135 in Criminal Case Nos. 02-
3568 and 02-3569. The trial court had convicted appellant MerlieDumangay y Sale of violation of Sections 5 and 11 of Article II
of Republic Act No. 9165[3] and sentenced her to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and pay the fine of P500,000 in
Criminal Case No. 02-3568, and imprisonment of twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years and to pay the fine
of P300,000 in Criminal Case No. 02-3569; and pay the cost of suit.

The Informations[4] both dated December 2, 2002 that led to Merlies convictions are as follows:

Criminal Case No. 02-3568

That on or about the 29th day of November 2002, in the City of Makati Philippines and a place within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously without being authorized
by law, sell, distribute and transport zero point zero one (0.01) gram of [Methamphetamine] hydrochloride (shabu) which is a
dangerous drug in consideration of two hundred (Php 200.00) pesos.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

Criminal Case No. 02-3569

That on or about the 29th day of November 2002, in the City of Makati Philippines and a place within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, not being lawfully authorized to possess any dangerous drug and without the
corresponding license or prescription, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in [her] possession zero
point zero two (0.02) gram of [Methamphetamine] hydrochloride of a dangerous drug.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

Upon arraignment on February 21, 2003, appellant pleaded not guilty. Thereafter, trial ensued.

The prosecution presented only one witness, a member of the Makati Anti-Drug Abuse Council (MADAC), Francisco Barbosa. He
testified as follows:

At 7 oclock in the evening of November 29, 2002, an informant reported to the office of MADAC Cluster 3 that a certain Merlie, later
identified as appellant, was engaged in selling shabu at the corner of Don Pedro and Enriquez Sts., Barangay Poblacion, Makati City. Acting
on the report, MADAC Cluster Head, Barangay Chairman Vic Del Prado, formed a team to conduct a buy-bust operation with Barbosa as
the poseur-buyer. Del Prado also coordinated with the Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) of the Makati City Police Station.[5]

Thereafter, Del Prado, DEU operative PO1 Jaime Laura, and other MADAC members proceeded to the place where Merlie was
reportedly selling shabu. They found Merlie in front of her house at 5649 Don Pedro corner Enriquez
St., Barangay Poblacion, Makati City; and with the informant, Barbosa approached Merlie. The informant introduced Barbosa as a
buyer of shabu, while the other members of the team watched from strategic positions. Merlie then asked Barbosa how much he
would buy. Barbosa said, dalawang daang piso lang, then handed Merlie the two 100-peso marked money. In exchange, Merlie
gave him a small plastic sachet of a white crystalline substance. After Barbosa pretended to examine it, he gave the pre-arranged
signal to the other members of the team and they arrested Merlie. Barbosa found the marked money and two more plastic sachets
containing white crystalline substance in Merlies possession and informed Merlie the cause of her arrest and apprised her of her
constitutional rights.[6]

Thereafter, Merlie was brought to the DEU of the Makati City Police Station. The three plastic sachets were sent to the
Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory for examination. The laboratory report confirmed that the sachets contained
methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu. Each sachet weighed 0.01 gram.[7]

The testimony of the Forensic Chemist who examined the substance and prepared the report was dispensed with, considering
the parties had stipulated that the report was duly accomplished after the substance examined by the crime laboratory
yielded positive of methamphetamine hydrochloride.[8]

The defense presented Merlie as its sole witness. Merlie denied the allegations of the prosecution. She testified that at the time
of the alleged buy-bust operation, she was already sleeping at home with her daughter when a man awakened her. She said
that there were two men who searched the house. According to her, although no illegal item was found, she was still forced to
board a vehicle and was taken to the Sta. Cruz Barangay Hall. There, a certain Minyang had taken her to a comfort room and
told her to strip, but nothing illegal was found on her person. She also said that no uniformed policemen accompanied the
arresting team and that Barbosa was not among the men who arrested her. She did not file any complaint against the people
who arrested her because she had no relative to help her.[9]

On October 29, 2003, the trial court found the evidence of the prosecution sufficient to prove Merlies guilt beyond reasonable doubt and
rendered a decision of conviction in Criminal Case Nos. 02-3568 and 02-3569.

The dispositive portion of the trial courts decision reads:

WHEREFORE, it appearing that the guilt of the accused MERL[I]E DUMANGAY y SALE was proven beyond reasonable doubt for
violation of Sections 5 and 11, Article II of R.A. 9165, as principal, with no mitigating or aggravating circumstances, accused is
hereby sentenced:

1. In Criminal Case No. 02-3568, to suffer life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P500,000.00;

2. In Criminal Case No. 02-3569, to suffer imprisonment for a term of twelve [12] years and one [1] day to twenty [20] years
and to pay a fine of P300,000.00; and

3. To pay the costs.

Let the three [3] plastic sachets each containing zero point zero one [0.01] gram of [Methamphetamine] Hydrochloride be
turned over to the PDEA for proper disposition.

SO ORDERED.[10]

Merlie appealed. In view of our ruling in People v. Mateo,[11] this case was referred to the Court of Appeals.[12]

Upon review, the Court of Appeals concluded in the Decision dated April 28, 2006 that the trial court did not err in finding
Merlie guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

The appellant and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) opted not to file their supplemental briefs. But, we find on record
their briefs filed with this Court before the case was transferred to the Court of Appeals. Appellant raised in her brief a single
issue:

THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED FOR VIOLATION OF SECTIONS 5 AND 11, ARTICLE II OF RA
9165 DESPITE THE PROSECUTIONS FAILURE TO PROVE HER GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT. [13]

Simply stated, the issue in this case is whether appellant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Rep. Act No. 9165.

Appellant challenges the testimony of Barbosa and claims that it was incredible and inconsistent in regard to her identity. She avers
that since there was no surveillance conducted before the buy-bust operation and the informant was not present at the time, there
was no certainty as to the Merlie who was selling the prohibited drugs, named by the informant.[14] According to appellant, although
the testimony of Barbosa presented the elements of the crime that would convince the trial court, it should be taken with caution,
since, Barbosa, as a MADAC agent, could make it appear that there was entrapment when there was none.[15] She further argues that
the reason for her conviction shall not be the weakness of her defense but the strength of the evidence of the prosecution.[16]

For the State, the OSG maintains that the prosecution had proved the elements of the crime charged: (1) the presence of the
appellant at the scene of the crime; (2) the act of selling one plastic sachet of shabu; and (3) the recovery of two plastic sachets
of shabu at the time of the entrapment. It also argues that the credibility of Barbosa, whose testimony established the elements of
the crime, was never impeached by the defense.[17] The OSG avers that Barbosa positively identified appellant as the seller
of shabu, and such positive identification prevails over her feeble defense that she was sleeping at their house when the
entrapment took place.[18] Moreover, the OSG maintains that the trial court imposed the proper penalty for the crime charged.[19]

The pertinent provisions of Article II of Rep. Act No. 9165 provide:

SEC. 5. Sale, Trading, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Distribution and Transportation of Dangerous Drugs and/or
Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals.The penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from Five hundred
thousand pesos (P500,000.00) to Ten million pesos (P10,000,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person, who, unless authorized
by law, shall sell, trade, administer, dispense, deliver, give away to another, distribute, dispatch in transit or transport any
dangerous drug, including any and all species of opium poppy regardless of the quantity and purity involved, or shall act as a
broker in any of such transactions.

SEC. 11. Possession of Dangerous Drugs.The penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from Five hundred
thousand pesos (P500,000.00) to Ten million pesos (P10,000,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person, who, unless authorized
by law, shall possess any dangerous drug in the following quantities, regardless of the degree of purity thereof:

(5) 50 grams or more of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu;

Otherwise, if the quantity involved is less than the foregoing quantities, the penalties shall be graduated as follows:

(3) Imprisonment of twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years and a fine ranging from Three hundred thousand
pesos (P300,000.00) to Four hundred thousand pesos (P400,000.00), if the quantities of dangerous drugs are less than five (5)
grams of . methamphetamine hydrochloride.

We are convinced that appellant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

The elements of illegal sale of shabu are: (1) the identity of the buyer and the seller, the object and the consideration; and (2)
the delivery of the thing sold and the payment therefor. What is material is the proof that the transaction or sale transpired,
coupled with the presentation in court of the corpus delicti. Corpus delicti is the body or substance of the crime, and establishes
the fact that a crime has been actually committed. It has two elements, namely: (1) proof of the occurrence of a certain event;
and (2) some persons criminal responsibility for the act.[20]

The straightforward testimony of Barbosa, the poseur-buyer, clearly established that an illegal sale of shabu actually took place
and that appellant was the seller, thus:

FISCAL MORENO:

Q: Mr. Witness, how did you come to know the accused in this particular case, Merlie Dumangay?

A: Through our informant.

Q: And when did that informant go to your office?

A: November 29, 2002 at 7:00 p.m.

Q: [A]nd what was the information given to your office by the informant?

A: That [a] certain Merlie was engaged in selling prohibited drugs.

Q: And after receiving such information Mr. Witness, do you recall if your office did [anything] to the information?

A: Yes sir.

Q: What Mr. Witness?

A: Our office called up the DEU, Makati police.

Q: Do you know the reason Mr. [W]itness why your office has to call up the DEU office?

A: [Y]es sir.

Q: For what particular purpose Mr. Witness? Why is there a need to call DEU Mr. Witness?

A: [S]o that we can participate in our operation sir.

Q: And what participation did the [DEU] office make in connection with the buy bust operation?

A: He [led] our operation sir.

Q: After the coordination has been made with the [DEU], what happened next?
A: We conducted a briefing sir.

Q: After the briefing was conducted Mr. Witness do you recall if ever a buy bust operation was conducted?

A: There was sir.

Q: Against whom was the buy bust operation Mr. Witness?

A: I could not recall sir.

Q: Do you know if [a] buy bust operation was in fact conducted on November 29, 2002?

A: Yes sir, there was.

Q: Do you recall if somebody was arrested as a result of the buy bust operation Mr. Witness?

A: Yes sir.

Q: Who is that particular person?

A: Merlie Dumangay sir.

Q: Where is that Merlie Dumangay now? Will you kindly point her out?

INTERPRETER:

Witness pointing to a woman inside the courtroom [who], when asked, identified herself as Merlie Dumangay.

FISCAL MORENO:

Q: In connection with the arrest, which you have conducted against the person of Merlie Dumangay, do you recall if you ever
executed a Pinagsanib na Salaysay ng Pag-aresto?

A: Yes sir.

Q: If that Pinagsanib na Salaysay ng Pag-aresto will be shown to you, will you be able to identify the same?

A: Yes sir.

Q: I am showing to you Mr. Witness this Pinagsanib na Salaysay ng pag-aresto consisting of two pages. Will you kindly go over
this document and tell us if that is the same Pinagsanib na Salaysay ng Pag-aresto which you said you executed?

A: Yes sir.

FISCAL MORENO:

Q: Have you read the contents of this Pinagsanib na Salaysay ng Pag-aresto written in Tagalog?

A: Yes sir.

Q: [D]o you affirm and confirm as to the truthfulness of the allegations contained in this Pinagsanib na Salaysay ng Pag-aresto?

A: Yes sir.

FISCAL MORENO:

For purposes of expediency your Honor and to save the material time of the Honorable Court, we would like to stipulate with
the defense that the allegations contained in this Pinagsanib na Salaysay ng Pag-aresto will form part of his direct testimony
your Honor.

ATTY. QUIAMBAO:
We agree your Honor.[21] (Emphasis supplied.)

Barbosa, PO1 Jaime Laura, MADAC members Romeo Lazaro and Marvin Cruz, in the sworn Pinagsanib na Salaysay ng Pag-
aresto,[22] recounted the details of the buy-bust operation. They stated therein that acting on confidential information, a team
composed of MADAC and DEU agents proceeded to the place where Merlie was allegedly selling shabu. The informant made
the introductions and the transaction took place. Barbosa handed the marked money to Merlie while the latter handed him one
plastic sachet of shabu. Thereafter, Merlie was immediately arrested and upon her arrest, Barbosa found two plastic sachets in
her right hand.

The laboratory examination of the crystalline substance confiscated from Merlie and forwarded to the Philippine National
Police Crime Laboratory yielded positive of methamphetamine hydrochloride.

In short, the prosecution clearly and positively established that Merlie agreed to sell shabu to the poseur-buyer and that the
sale was consummated. Moreover, Barbosaidentified the three plastic sachets of shabu and the marked money in court.[23]

We disagree with appellants contention that inconsistencies in Barbosas testimony are adequate to demolish the credibility
of Barbosa. The inconsistencies alluded to by the appellant in the testimony of Barbosa are inconsequential and minor to adversely
affect his credibility.[24] The inconsistencies do not detract from the fact that Barbosa positively identified her in open
court.[25] What is essential is that the prosecution witness positively identified the appellant as the one who sold the shabu to the
poseur-buyer. There is also nothing on record that sufficiently casts doubt on the credibility of the prosecution witness.[26] More so,
the lack of prior surveillance does not cast doubt on Barbosas credibility. We have held that a prior surveillance is not necessary
especially where the police operatives are accompanied by their informant during entrapment, as in this case.[27] Contrary to
appellants contention, the informant was present during the entrapment.[28]

Note that a buy-bust operation is a form of entrapment legally employed by peace officers as an effective way of apprehending
drug dealers in the act of committing an offense. Such police operation has judicial sanction as long as it is carried out with due
regard to constitutional and legal safeguards.[29] The delivery of the contraband to the poseur-buyer and the receipt by the seller of
the marked money successfully consummate the buy-bust transaction between the entrapping officers and the accused. Unless
there is clear and convincing evidence that the members of the buy-bust team were inspired by any improper motive or were not
properly performing their duty, their testimony on the operation deserves faith and credit.[30]

In light of the clear and convincing evidence of the prosecution, we find no reason to deviate from the findings of the trial court
and the appellate court. More so, appellant failed to present evidence that Barbosa and the other members of the team had
any ill motive to falsely accuse her of a serious crime. Absent any proof of such motive, the presumption of regularity in the
performance of official duty as well as the findings of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses shall prevail over appellants
self-serving and uncorroborated defenses.[31]

Lastly, considering that the buy-bust operation in this case is legitimate, the subsequent warrantless arrest and
the warrantless search and seizure are equally valid.In People v. Julian-Fernandez,[32] we held that the interdiction
against warrantless searches and seizures is not absolute and such warrantless searches and seizures have long been deemed
permissible by jurisprudence in instances such as the search incidental to a lawful arrest. This 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 an
arrest in flagrante delicto as a permissible warrantless arrest.[33] In this case, we find that the appellant, having failed to controvert
the evidence that the other two plastic sachets of shabu were found in her possession, is also guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
illegal possession of shabu.

In sum, we find no reversible error in the decisions of the trial court and the appellate court in holding appellant guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the offenses charged.

WHEREFORE, the Decision dated April 28, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01700 finding
appellant Merlie Dumangay y Sale guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes charged in Criminal Case Nos. 02-3568 and 02-
3569 for violation of Sections 5 and 11 of Rep. Act No. 9165 is AFFIRMED.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G . R . No . 1 8 1 7 4 7


Plaintiff-appellee,

Present:

TINGA,*

CHICO-NAZARIO,

- versus - Acting Chairperson,

VELASCO,*

REYES and

BRION,** JJ.

NARCISO AGULAY y LOPEZ, Promulgated:

Accused-Appellant.

September 26, 2008

x---------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

For Review under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court is the Decision[1] dated 31 August 2007 of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. CR No. 01994 entitled, People of the Philippines v. Narciso Agulay y Lopez, affirming the Decision[2] rendered by the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 103, in Criminal Case No. Q-02-111597, finding accused-appellant Narciso
Agulay y Lopez guilty of illegal sale and illegal possession of methamphetamine hydrochloride more popularly known as shabu.

On 26 August 2002, accused-appellant was charged in an Information before the RTC of Quezon City with violation of Section 5,
Article II of Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. The Information
reads:

That on or about the 24th day of August, 2002 in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused, not being authorized by law to sell,
dispense, deliver, transport or distribute any dangerous drug, did, then and there, willfully, and unlawfully sell, dispense,
deliver, transport, distribute or act as broker in the said transaction, zero point twenty five (0.25) gram of methylamphetamine
hydrochloride a dangerous drug.[3]

When arraigned on 23 September 2002, accused-appellant pleaded not guilty.[4] Thereafter, trial ensued.

During the trial, the prosecution presented the testimonies of Police Officer (PO) 2 Raul Herrera, the poseur-buyer, PO2 Reyno
Riparip (member of the buy-bust team), and Forensic Analyst Leonard M. Jabonillo.

The prosecutions version of the events are narrated as follows:


On 24 August 2002, at around 6:30 in the evening, an informant arrived at Police Station 5 and reported to the Chief of the
Station Drug Enforcement Unit (SDEU) that a certain Sing had been selling shabu at Brgy. Sta. Lucia, in Novaliches, Quezon City.

A police entrapment team was formed. PO2 Herrera was assigned as poseur-buyer and was given a P100.00 bill, which he
marked RH, his initials. A pre-operation report bearing control No. 24-SDEU-02 was made and signed by Police Inspector
(P/Insp.) Palaleo Adag dated 24 August 2002.

The buy-bust team rode in two vehicles, a Space Wagon and a Besta van, with a group of police officers inside. They stopped
along J.P. Rizal St., Sta. Lucia, Novaliches, Quezon City.

PO2 Herrera and his informant stepped down from their vehicle and walked. The informant pointed the target pusher to PO2
Herrera. They approached and after being introduced to Sing, PO2 Herrera bought shabu using the marked P100.00 bill. Sing
gave a small plastic sachet to PO2 Herrera who, thereafter, scratched his head as a signal. The other police companions of PO2
Herrera, who were deployed nearby, then rushed to the crime scene. PO2 Herrera grabbed Sing and then frisked him. PO2
Herrera recovered two (2) plastic sachets from Sings pocket. He also got the marked money from Sing.

The following specimens were submitted to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory of the Central Police District
in Quezon City for chemical analysis:

Three (3) heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets each containing white crystalline substance having the following markings
and recorded net weights:

(A) (RH1-RG1) = 0.07 gm

(B) (RH2-RG2) = 0.09 gm

(C) (RH3-RG3) = 0.09 gm[5]

Chemistry Report No. D-1020-2002 dated 25 August 2002 and prepared and presented in court by Forensic Analyst Leonard M.
Jabonillo (of the PNP Crime Laboratory of the Central Police District of Quezon City) yielded the following results

FINDINGS:

Qualitative examination conducted on the above-stated specimens gave POSITIVE result to the test for Methylamphetamine
Hydrochloride, a regulated drug. x x x.

CONCLUSION:

Specimen A, B and C contain Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride, a regulated drug.[6]

The defense, on the other hand, had an entirely different version of what transpired that night. It presented three witnesses:
accused-appellant Narciso Agulay, Benjamin Agulay (brother of Narciso), and Bayani de Leon.

Accused-appellant Narciso Agulay narrated that at around 8:30 to 9:00 oclock in the evening of 24 August 2002, he was
manning his store when a car stopped in front of it. The passengers of said vehicle opened its window and poked a gun at
him. The passengers alighted from the car, approached him and put handcuffs on him. Accused-appellant asked what violation
he had committed or if they had a search warrant with them, but the arresting team just told him to go with them. Accused-
appellant requested that he be brought to the barangay hall first, but this request was left unheeded. Instead, he was
immediately brought to the police station. Upon reaching the police station, PO2 Herrera handed something to PO1
Riparip. Thereafter, PO2 Herrera and PO1 Riparip approached and punched him on the chest. They removed his shorts and
showed him a plastic sachet. Later that night, the arresting officers placed him inside the detention cell. After about 30 minutes,
PO1 Riparip and PO2 Herrera approached him. PO2 Herrera told him that if he would not be able to give them P50,000.00, they
would file a case against him, to which he answered, I could not do anything because I do not have money. [7]

Benjamin Agulay, brother of accused-appellant, testified that at around 8:30 to 9:00 oclock in the evening of 24 August 2002,
while he was smoking in their compound, a group of armed men in civilian clothes entered the place and arrested his brother,
who was then manning a store. He tried asking the arresting officers what the violation of accused-appellant was but he was
ignored. They then took accused-appellant to the police station.
On the other hand, the testimony of Bayani de Leon (a police asset of SPO1 Valdez of the buy-bust team) narrated that he,
together with P/Insp. Suha, PO1 Herrera, PO2 Riparip, PO2 Gulferic and an arrested individual were on board a car while
conducting a follow-up operation regarding a hold-up incident. When the car they were riding reached No. 51 J.P. Rizal Street,
their team alighted and entered a compound. They saw accused-appellant and arrested him as he was allegedly involved in a
hold-up incident, not with drug pushing. Accused-appellant was taken to Police Station 5.

On 17 February 2006, the RTC found accused-appellant guilty of the offense charged, and meted out to him the penalty of Life
Imprisonment. The dispositive portion of the RTC Decision is as follows:

Accordingly, judgment is rendered finding the accused NARCISO AGULAY Y LOPEZ GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of violation of Section 5 of R.A. 9165 as charged (for drug pushing) and he is hereby sentenced to suffer a jail term of LIFE
IMPRISONMENT and to pay a fine of P500,000.00.

The methylamphetamine hydrochloride (in 3 sachets) involved in this case is ordered transmitted to the PDEA thru DDB for
proper disposition.[8]

Accused-appellant filed his Notice of Appeal with Motion to Litigate as Pauper Litigant on 7 March 2006.

Accused-appellant filed his appellants brief[9] with the Court of Appeals on 22 September 2006.

On 31 August 2007, the Court of Appeals issued its Decision denying accused-appellants appeal as follows:

WHEREFORE, finding no reversible error in the Decision appealed from, the appeal is DENIED. The Decision of the RTC
dated February 17, 2006 is AFFIRMED.[10]

Petitioner elevated the case to this Court via Notice of Appeal[11] dated 21 September 2007. In its Resolution dated 2 April
2008, this Court resolved to:

(3) Notify the parties that they may file their respective supplemental briefs, if they so desire, within thirty (30) days from
notice.

To avoid a repetition of the arguments, accused-appellant opted to adopt his appellants brief dated 22 September 2006 while
plaintiff-appellee adopted its appellees brief dated 22 January 2007, instead of filing their respective supplemental briefs.

The issues raised are the following:

I. THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT WAS ILLEGALLY ARRESTED
AND AS SUCH, THE SACHETS OF SHABU ALLEGEDLY RECOVERED FROM HIM ARE INADMISSIBLE IN EVIDENCE.

II. THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF
THE CRIME CHARGED.

III. ACCUSED-APPELLANT CANNOT BE HELD LIABLE FOR THE CONSUMMATED CRIME OF


ILLEGAL SALE OF SHABU BECAUSE OF THE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO ESTABLISH ALL OF ITS ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS.

Accused-appellant maintains that his arrest was illegal, and that the subsequent seizure of shabu allegedly taken from him is
inadmissible as evidence against him. He also claims that the prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt,
since the prosecution failed to show all the essential elements of an illegal sale of shabu.

From the foregoing issues raised by accused-appellant, the basic issue to be resolved hinges on whether accused-appellant was
arrested in a legitimate buy-bust operation.

The law presumes that an accused in a criminal prosecution is innocent until the contrary is proved. The presumption of
innocence of an accused in a criminal case is a basic constitutional principle, fleshed out by procedural rules which place on the
prosecution the burden of proving that an accused is guilty of the offense charged by proof beyond reasonable doubt. Whether
the degree of proof has been met is largely left for the trial courts to determine. Consistent with the rulings of this Court, it is a
fundamental and settled rule that factual findings of the trial court and its calibration of the testimonies of the witnesses and its
conclusions anchored on its findings are accorded by the appellate court high respect, if not conclusive effect, more so when
affirmed by the Court of Appeals, as in this case. The exception is when it is established that the trial court ignored, overlooked,
misconstrued or misinterpreted cogent facts and circumstances which, if considered, will change the outcome of the
case. Considering that what is at stake here is the liberty of accused-appellant, we have carefully reviewed and evaluated the
records of the RTC and the Court of Appeals. On evaluation of the records, this Court finds no justification to deviate from the
lower courts findings and conclusion that accused-appellant was arrested in flagrante delicto selling shabu.

In order to successfully prosecute an accused for illegal sale of drugs, the prosecution must be able to prove the following
elements:

(1) identities of the buyer and seller, the object, and the consideration; and

(2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment therefor.[12]

The testimonies of the prosecution witnesses proved that all the elements of the crime have been established: that the buy-
bust operation took place, and that the shabu subject of the sale was brought to and identified in court. Moreover, PO2
Herrera, the poseur-buyer, positively identified accused-appellant as the person who sold to him the sachet containing the
crystalline substance which was confirmed to be shabu.[13] He narrated the events which took place the night accused-appellant
was apprehended:

FIS. JURADO:

You said that you are stationed at Police Station 5, what were your duties there?

WITNESS:

As an operative sir.

FIS. JURADO:

What was your tour of duty on August 24, 2002?

WITNESS:

Broken hour sir.

FIS. JURADO:

But at around 6:30 in the evening, you are on duty?

WITNESS:

Yes, sir.

FIS. JURADO:

While you are on duty at that time and place, will you please inform this Honorable Court if there was an operation?

WITNESS:

Yes, sir.

FIS JURADO:

What is that operation all about?

WITNESS:

Buy bust operation sir.

FIS. JURADO:

Regarding what?
WITNESS:

Narcotic sir.

FIS. JURADO:

What is this all about?

WITNESS:

Alias Sing at Sta. Lucia sir.

FIS. JURADO:

How did you prepare for that buy-bust operation?

WITNESS:

An informant arrived and we reported to our Chief of SDEU and the Chief gave us P100.00 and I acted as poseur-buyer sir.

FIS. MJURADO:

Aside from that what else?

WITNESS:

I put my markings sir.

FIS. JURADO:

What is that markings (sic)?

WITNESS:

R.H. sir.

FIS. JURADO:

What is the significance of this R.H.?

WITNESS:

That mean(sic) Raul Herrera sir.

FIS. JURADO:

Do you have said money with you?

WITNESS:

Yes sir.

FIS. JURADO:

Will you please show that to this Honorable Court?

WITNESS:

Here sir.

FIS. JURADO:
After you prepared the buy bust money, what else did you do?

WITNESS:

We proceeded to the target location, sir.

FIS. JURADO:

You said we who were with you?

WITNESS:

P/Insp. Addag, Rosario, SPO1 El Valdez, SPO2 Rey Valdez, Nogoy, Riparip and the confidential informant sir.

FIS. JURADO:

How did you proceed to the place of Sta. Lucia?

WITNESS:

We rode in a tinted vehicles (sic) one space wagon and Besta van, sir.

FIS. JURADO:

When you arrived in that place, what happened there?

WITNESS:

We asked our confidential informant to look for Sing, sir.

FIS. JURADO:

Did the confidential informant locate the said Sing?

WITNESS:

Yes sir along the street sir.

FIS. JURADO:

Where?

WITNESS:

J.P. Rizal St., Sta. Lucia, Novaliches, Quezon City, sir.

FIS. JURADO:

After your confidential informant found this Sing, what happened next?

WITNESS:

Our confidential informant asked me to go with him to see Sing to buy drug(s) sir.

FIS. JURADO:

Where is (sic) the transaction took (sic) place?

WITNESS:
Along the street sir.

FIS. JURADO:

What happened there?

WITNESS:

I was introduced by the confidential informant to Sing as buyer sir.

FIS. JURADO:

What happened next?

WITNESS:

I bought from him worth one hundred peso (sic) of shabu, sir.

FIS. JURADO:

What (sic) Sing do, if any?

WITNESS:

Sing gave me one small plastic sachet sir.

FIS JURADO:

After that what did you do next?

WITNESS:

I executed our pre-arranged signal sir.

FIS. JURADO:

For whom you executed this pre-arranged signal?

WITNESS:

To my companions sir.

FIS. JURADO:

Where are (sic) your companions at that time?

WITNESS:

On board at (sic) Besta and Space Wagon sir.

FIS. JURADO:

What was the pre-arranged signal?

WITNESS:

I scratched my head sir.

FIS. JURADO:

After scratching your head, what happened next?


WITNESS:

My back-up rushed to our place, sir.

FIS. JURADO:

After that what did you do next?

WITNESS:

I grabbed Sing and arrested him sir.

FIS. JURADO:

How about the money?

WITNESS:

I recovered the buy bust money from Sing, sir.

FIS. JURADO:

You mentioned plastic sachet, I am showing to you three (3) plastic sachets, which of these three was taken or sold to you?

WITNESS:

This one sir.

FIS. JURADO:

How did you come to know that this is the one?

WITNESS:

I have my initial(sic) R.H. sir.

FIS. JURADO:

Aside from that, what happened next?

WITNESS:

When I frisked Sing, I was able to recover from him two (2) more plastic sachets sir.

FIS. JURADO:

Where did you get that plastic sachet?

WITNESS:

Right side pocket sir.

FIS. JURADO:

Short or pant?

WITNESS:

Short sir.

FIS. JURADO:
Where are these two plastic sachets that you are mentioning?

WITNESS:

Here sir.

FIS. JURADO:

How did you come to know that these are the two plastic sachets?

WITNESS:

I put my markings sir RH.

COURT:

After that what happened next?

WITNESS:

We brought him to our Police Station, sir.

FIS. JURADO:

You mentioned Sing if this Sing is inside this courtroom, will you be able to identify him?

WITNESS:

Yes sir that man.

INTERPRETER:

Witness pointing to a man who identified himself as Narciso Agulay and his nickname is Sing. [14]

His testimony was corroborated on material points by PO1 Riparip, one of the back-up operatives in the buy-bust operation
that night, to wit:

FIS. JURADO:

You said that you are a police officer, where were you assigned on August 24, 2002?

WITNESS:

I was assigned at Police Station 5 for drug(sic) sir.

FIS. JURADO:

What was your tour of duty at that time?

WITNESS:

Broken hour sir.

FIS. JURADO:

You were on duty on August 24, 2002 at 6:30 in the evening?

WITNESS:

Yes sir.
FIS. JURADO:

What was your functions(sic) as such?

WITNESS:

To conduct follow up operation on drugs and other crimes sir.

FIS. JURADO:

Did you conduct operation on that day?

WITNESS:

Yes sir we conducted Narcotic operation sir.

FIS. JURADO:

You said you conducted narcotic operation, where?

WITNESS:

Sta. Lucia, particularly at J.P. Rizal St., Novaliches, Quezon City, sir.

FIS. JURADO:

To whom this Narcotic operation conducted?

WITNESS:

To certain Alias Sing, sir.

FIS. JURADO:

Who were with you at that time?

WITNESS:

Valdez, Rosario, Herrera, Addag and other(sic) sir.

FIS. JURADO:

What was your participation in the said operation?

WITNESS:

I acted as back up sir.

FIS. JURADO:

As back up, what did you do?

WITNESS:

We position ourselves to a certain distance and where we can see the poseur-buyer sir.

FIS. JURADO:

Who was the poseur-buyer?


WITNESS:

Herrera sir.

FIS. JURADO:

What did you see?

WITNESS:

The poseur buyer executed the pre-arranged signal and we rushed to his position and arrested the target person Sing sir.

FIS. JURADO:

When we (sic) rushed to the target place what happened next?

WITNESS:

Herrera frisked Sing and we brought him to the police station sir.[15]

Accused-appellant contends his arrest was illegal, making the sachets of shabu allegedly recovered from him inadmissible in
evidence. Accused-appellants claim is devoid of merit for it is a well-established rule that an arrest made after
an entrapment operation does not require a warrant inasmuch as it is considered a valid warrantless arrest, in line with the
provisions of Rule 113, Section 5(a) of the Revised Rules of Court, to wit:

Section 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:

(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an
offense.

A buy-bust operation is a form of entrapment which in recent years has been accepted as a valid and effective mode of
apprehending drug pushers. In a buy-bust operation, the idea to commit a crime originates from the offender, without anybody
inducing or prodding him to commit the offense.[16] If carried out with due regard for constitutional and legal safeguards, a buy-
bust operation deserves judicial sanction.[17]

There are eight (8) instances when a warrantless search and seizure is valid, to wit:

(1) consented searches; (2) as an incident to a lawful arrest; (3) searches of vessels and aircraft for violation of immigration,
customs, and drug laws; (4) searches of moving vehicles; (5) searches of automobiles at borders or constructive borders; (6)
where the prohibited articles are in plain view; (7) searches of buildings and premises to enforce fire, sanitary, and building
regulations; and (8) stop and frisk operations.

Considering that the legitimacy of the buy-bust operation is beyond question, the subsequent warrantless arrest and
warrantless search and seizure, were permissible. The search, clearly being incident to a lawful arrest, needed no warrant for its
validity. Thus, contrary to accused-appellant's contention, the contraband seized from him, having been obtained as a result of
the buy-bust operation to which the defense failed to impute any irregularity, was correctly admitted in evidence.Noteworthy is
the fact that prior to the dispatch of the entrapment team, a pre-operation report[18] was made bearing Control No. 24-SDEU-02
dated 24 August 2005. The pre-operation report stated that an Anti-Narcotic Operation was to be conducted at Barangay Sta.
Lucia in Novaliches, Quezon City, and indicated the police officers involved, including the vehicles to be used. This only bolsters
the testimony of PO2 Herrera and PO1 Riparip as to the legitimacy of the buy-bust operation.

The defense contends there is a clear doubt on whether the specimens examined by the chemist and eventually presented in
court were the same specimens recovered from accused-appellant. The prosecutions failure to submit in evidence the required
physical inventory and photograph of the evidence confiscated pursuant to Section 21,[19] Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 will
not discharge accused-appellant from his crime. Non-compliance with said section is not fatal and will not render an accuseds
arrest illegal or the items seized/confiscated from him inadmissible. In People v. Del Monte,[20] this Court held that what is of
utmost importance is the preservation of the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items, as the same would be
utilized in the determination of the guilt or innocence of the accused. In the instant case, we find the integrity of the drugs
seized intact, and there is no doubt that the three sachets of drugs seized from accused-appellant were the same ones
examined for chemical analysis, and that the crystalline substance contained therein was later on determined to be positive for
methylamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu).

The defense, in fact, admitted the existence and authenticity of the request for chemical analysis and the subsequent result
thereof:

FIS. JURADO:

Chemist Engr. Jabonillo is present your honor.

COURT:

Any proposal for stipulation?

FIS. JURADO:

That there is letter request for examination of white crystalline substance marked as follows: A (pH1); B (pH2) and C (pH3)?

ATTY. QUILAS:

Admitted your honor.

FIS. JURADO:

As a result of the said qualitative examination chemist issued a chemistry report No. D-1020-2002?

ATTY. QUILAS:

Admitted your honor.

FIS. JURADO:

In view of the admission your honor, may we request that Letter request dated August 25, 2002 be marked as Exhibit D and
Chemistry Report No. D-1020-2002 as Exhibit E your honor.

COURT:

Mark it.

In view of the presence of the Chemist, Engr. Jabonillo, He is being called to the witness stand for cross examination of the
defense counsel.[21]

On cross-examination by the defense, Forensic Analyst Jabonillo stated that the drugs presented in court were the same drugs
examined by him and submitted to him on 25 August 2002:

ATTY. QUILAS:

In this particular case, you received three plastic sachets?

WITNESS:

Yes sir.

ATTY. QUILAS:

When you receive these three plastic sachets were these already segregated or in one plastic container?

WITNESS:

I received it as is sir.
ATTY. QUILAS:

How sure you were (sic) that three plastic sachet (sic) containing methylamphetamine hydrochloride were the same drug (sic)
submitted to you on August 25, 2002.

WITNESS:

I personally place (sic) my marking sir.

ATTY. QUILAS:

You want to impress before this Honorable Court these were the same items that you received on August 25, 2002?

WITNESS:

Yes sir.[22]

On cross-examination by the defense, the same witness testified, to wit:

ATTY. DE GUZMAN:

I understand you are Chemical Engineer, am I correct?

WITNESS:

Yes, sir.

ATTY. DE GUZMAN:

And that you have been (sic) worked as a Chemist in the PNP for several years?

WITNESS:

Since March, 200 (sic), sir.

ATTY. DE GUZMAN:

What would be your practice when specimen submitted for you to examine, was it already pre-marked by the person who
submit for examination?

WITNESS:

Normally, sir.

ATTY. DE GUZMAN:

What do you mean normally, you also put the marking?

WITNESS:

Yes, sir.

ATTY. DE GUZMAN:

So everything has pre-mark?

WITNESS:

Yes, sir.

ATTY. DE GUZMAN:
And then when pre-mark specimen is submitted to you, you merely analyze the same is that correct?

WITNESS:

Yes, sir.

ATTY. DE GUZMAN:

And you do not change any marking there?

WITNESS:

Yes, sir.

ATTY. DE GUZMAN:

Now in the marking that we have it appearing that Exhibits A, B, and C are PH, am I correct?

WITNESS:

RH sir, not PH.

ATTY. DE GUZMAN:

Because it shows in the zerox (sic) copy that it is RH because of that slant. Now when this specimen was submitted to you was
it three specimens submitted to you or only one specimen A, B, C were ranking to one?

WITNESS:

No sir, three (3) specimens.[23]

It is significant to note that accused-appellant stated in his demurrer to evidence that the specimens submitted for laboratory
examination were not the three plastic sachets that were allegedly recovered by the poseur-buyer PO2 Raul Herrera, which
may thus be construed to be an implied admission.[24]

Accused-appellants allegation that he is a victim of a frame-up, which has been held as a shop-worn defense of those accused
in drug-related cases, is viewed by the Court with disfavor. Like the defense of alibi, frame-up is an allegation that can easily be
concocted.[25] For this claim to prosper, the defense must adduce clear and convincing evidence to overcome the presumption
of regularity of official acts of government officials.[26] Absent any proof of motive to falsely accuse him of such a grave offense,
the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty and the findings of the trial court with respect to the
credibility of witnesses shall prevail over that of the accused-appellant.[27]

Apart from his defense that he is a victim of a frame-up and extortion by the police officers, accused-appellant could not
present any other viable defense. Again, while the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty by law
enforcement agents should not by itself prevail over the presumption of innocence, for the claim of frame-up to prosper, the
defense must be able to present clear and convincing evidence to overcome this presumption of regularity. This, it failed to do.

Bayani de Leons testimony that the accused was being taken as a carnapping suspect only further weakened the defense,
considering it was totally out of sync with the testimony of accused-appellant vis--vis the positive testimonies of the police
officers on the events that transpired on the night of 24 August 2002 when the buy-bust operation was conducted. It is also
highly suspect and unusual that accused-appellant never mentioned that he was taken as a carnapping suspect if indeed this
were the case, considering it would have been his ticket to freedom.

To recall, on direct examination by the defense counsel, Bayani de Leon testified as follows:

ATTY. CONCEPCION:

Mr. Witness, were you able to talk to Narciso Agulay that time he was arrested?

WITNESS:
Yes maam, when Narciso Agulay was put inside a room at Station 5 and in that room, I, Riparip and Herrera entered.

ATTY. CONCEPCION:

What was the conversation all about?

WITNESS:

He was being asked if he was one of those who held up a taxi maam.

ATTY. CONCEPCION:

What was the response of Narciso Agulay?

WITNESS:

Narciso Agulay was crying and at the same time denying that he was with that person. When we told him that the person we
arrested with the firearm was pointing to him, he said that he does not know about that incident and he does not know also
that person who pointed him maam.[28]

Witness Bayani de Leons testimony is dubious and lacks credence. From the testimony of Bayani de Leon, it is apparent that
accused-appellant would necessarily have known what he was being arrested for, which was entirely inconsistent with accused-
appellants previous testimony. Such inconsistency further diminished the credibility of the defense witness. It would seem that
Bayani de Leons testimony was but a mere afterthought.

Moreover, Bayani de Leon testified that he allegedly came to know of the fact that accused-appellant was being charged
under Republic Act No. 9165 when he (Bayani de Leon) was also detained at the city jail for robbery with homicide, testifying as
follows:

FIS. ARAULA:

And you only knew that Narciso Agulay was charged of Section 5, R.A. 9165 when you were detained at the City Jail?

WITNESS:

Yes sir.

FIS. ARAULLA:

In fact, you were talking with each other?

WITNESS:

Yes sir, and I asked what is the case filed against him.

FIS. ARAULLA:

And that is the time you know that Narciso Agulay was charged of (sic) Section 5?

WITNESS:

Yes sir.[29]

This Court, thus, is in agreement with the trial court in finding that:

Bayani himself appears to be a shady character. By his admission he is a bata or agent of PO Vasquez. As far as the court
knows, such characters are used by the police because they are underworld character (sic). [30]

Finally, the testimony of accused-appellants brother, Benjamin Agulay, is not convincing. Benjamin, being accused-appellants
brother, we find him to be unreliable. Suffice it to say that, having been given by a relative of the accused-appellant, his
testimony should be received with caution.
On this premise, this Court has laid down the objective test in scrutinizing buy-bust operations. In People v. Doria,[31] we said:

We therefore stress that the objective test in buy-bust operations demands that the details of the purported transaction must
be clearly and adequately shown. This must start from the initial contact between the poseur-buyer and the pusher, the offer
to purchase, the promise or payment of the consideration until the consummation of the sale by the delivery of the illegal drug
subject of the sale. The manner by which the initial contact was made, whether or not through an informant, the offer to
purchase the drug, the payment of the buy-bust money, and the delivery of the illegal drug, whether to the informant alone or
the police officer, must be the subject of strict scrutiny by courts to insure that law-abiding citizens are not unlawfully induced
to commit an offense. x x x.

It bears to point out that prosecutions of cases for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act arising from buy-bust operations
largely depend on the credibility of the police officers who conducted the same, and unless clear and convincing evidence is
proffered showing that the members of the buy-bust team were driven by any improper motive or were not properly
performing their duty, their testimonies on the operation deserve full faith and credit.[32]

The law presumes that an accused in a criminal prosecution is innocent until the contrary is proved. [33] This presumption of
innocence of an accused in a criminal case is consistent with a most fundamental constitutional principle, fleshed out by
procedural rules which place on the prosecution the burden of proving that an accused is guilty of the offense charged by proof
beyond reasonable doubt. This constitutional guarantee is so essential that the framers of the constitution found it imperative
to keep the provision from the old constitution to emphasize the primacy of rights that no person shall be held to answer for a
criminal offense without due process of law.[34]

In his dissent, Justice Brion focused on the conviction that the buy-bust operation and the consequent seizure of the prohibited
substance either did not take place or has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt because of a gap in the prosecutions
evidence. Convinced that under the proven facts of the present case, the dissent maintains that the prosecution has not proven
that a crime had been committed through proof beyond reasonable doubt -- that the three plastic sachets that were admitted
into evidence during the trial were in fact the same items seized from the accused-appellant when he was arrested.

The guilt of accused-appellant was established beyond reasonable doubt. Contrary to the dissents claim, the totality of the
evidence would indicate that the sale of the prohibited drug had taken place, and that the sale was adequately established and
the prosecution witnesses clearly identified accused-appellant as the offender.Moreover, the seized items, proven positive to
be shabu, were properly identified and presented before the court.

To reiterate, in prosecutions for illegal sale of regulated or prohibited drugs, conviction is proper if the following elements are
present: (1) the identity of the buyer and the seller, the object, and the consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and
the payment therefor. What is material is the proof that the transaction or sale actually took place, coupled with the
presentation in court of the prohibited or regulated drug. [35] The term corpus delicti means the actual commission by someone
of the particular crime charged.

The procedure for the custody and disposition of confiscated, seized and/or surrendered dangerous drugs, among others, is
provided under Section 21 (a), paragraph 1 of Article II of Republic Act No. 9165, to wit:

(a) The apprehending team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, immediately after seizure and
confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom such
items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the
Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be
given a copy thereof;

Section 21 (a), Article II of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 9165, which implements said provision,
reads:

(a) The apprehending team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, immediately after seizure and
confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom such
items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the
Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be
given a copy thereof; Provided, further that non-compliance with these requirements under justifiable grounds, as long as the
integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending officers/team, shall not
render void and invalid such seizures of and custody over said items.
The above provision further states that non-compliance with the stipulated procedure, under justifiable grounds, shall not
render void and invalid such seizures of and custody over said items, for as long as the integrity and evidentiary value of the
seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending officers. The evident purpose of the procedure provided for is the
preservation of the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items, as the same would be utilized in the determination of
the guilt of or innocence of the accused.

On the chain of custody of the seized drugs

The dissent agreed with accused-appellants assertion that the police operatives failed to comply with the proper procedure in
the chain of custody of the seized drugs. It premised that non-compliance with the procedure in Section 21(a), Article II of the
Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 9165 creates an irregularity and overcomes the presumption of
regularity accorded police authorities in the performance of their official duties. This assumption is without merit.

First, it must be made clear that in several cases[36] decided by the Court, failure by the buy-bust team to comply with said
section did not prevent the presumption of regularity in the performance of duty from applying.

Second, even prior to the enactment of R.A. 9165, the requirements contained in Section 21(a) were already there per
Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 3, Series of 1979. Despite the presence of such regulation and its non-compliance by the
buy-bust team, the Court still applied such presumption.[37] We held:

The failure of the arresting police officers to comply with said DDB Regulation No. 3, Series of 1979 is a matter strictly between
the Dangerous Drugs Board and the arresting officers and is totally irrelevant to the prosecution of the criminal case for the
reason that the commission of the crime of illegal sale of a prohibited drug is considered consummated once the sale or
transaction is established and the prosecution thereof is not undermined by the failure of the arresting officers to comply with
the regulations of the Dangerous Drugs Board.

While accused-appellant contends in his appellants brief that the police operatives did not submit the required inventory of the
seized items pursuant to the provisions of Section 21 (a), Article II of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act
No. 9165, the records belie this claim. On cross-examination by the defense, Police Officer (PO) 2 Herrera testified on making an
inventory of the seized items. PO2 Herrera testified as follows:

Q: When you arrested the suspect in this case, you confiscated two (2) items from him?

A: Yes sir.

Q: And you said that it is part of your procedure when you confiscated items from the suspect you made an inventory of the
item confiscated?

A: Yes sir.

Q: Did you make inventory of the confiscated items?

A: Yes sir it is with the police investigator.[38]

Moreover, non-compliance with the procedure outlined in Section 21(a), Article II of the Implementing Rules and Regulations
of Republic Act No. 9165, shall not render void and invalid such seizures of and custody over said items, for as long as the
integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending officers.

Consistent with this Courts pronouncements in People v. Bano[39]and in People v. Miranda,[40] contrary to appellants claim,
there is no showing of a broken chain in the custody of the seized items, later on determined to be shabu, from the moment of
its seizure by the entrapment team, to the investigating officer, to the time it was brought to the forensic chemist at the PNP
Crime Laboratory for laboratory examination. It was duly established by documentary, testimonial, and object evidence,
including the markings on the plastic sachets containing the shabu that the substance tested by the forensic chemist, whose
laboratory tests were well-documented, was the same as that taken from accused-appellant.

The records of the case indicate that after his arrest, accused-appellant was taken to the police station and turned over to the
police investigator. PO2 Herrera testified that he personally[41] made the markings RH (representing his initials) on the three
sachets, the inventory[42] of which was delivered to the police investigator. After the arrest, the seized items which had the
markings RH alleged to contain shabu were brought to the crime laboratory for examination.[43] The request for laboratory
examination and transfer of the confiscated sachets to the PNP crime laboratory was prepared by another officer, PO2 Gulferic,
the designated officer-on-case.[44] It was signed as well by the Chief of Office/Agency (SDEU/SIIB) Police Chief Inspector Leslie
Castillo Castillo. The request indicated that the seized items were delivered by PO2 Gulferic and received by Forensic Chemist
Jabonillo.[45] The three heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets each containing white crystalline substance were later on
determined to be positive for Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride or shabu.

When the prosecution presented the marked sachets in court, PO2 Herrera positively identified the plastic sachets
containing shabu which he bought from accused-appellant in the buy-bust operation. The sachets containing shabu had the
markings RH as testified by Forensic Chemist Jabonillo. PO2 Herrera positively identified in court that he put his initials RH on
the sachets. Thus, the identity of the drugs has been duly preserved and established by the prosecution. Besides, the integrity
of the evidence is presumed to be preserved unless there is a showing of bad faith, ill will, or proof that the evidence has been
tampered with. The accused-appellant in this case bears the burden to make some showing that the evidence was tampered or
meddled with to overcome a presumption of regularity in the handling of exhibits by public officers and a presumption that
public officers properly discharged their duties.[46]

PO2 Herrera identified the sachets in court, and more importantly, accused-appellant had the opportunity to cross-examine
him on this point.

This Court, thus, sees no doubt that the sachets marked RH submitted for laboratory examination and which were later on
found to be positive for shabu, were the same ones sold by accused-appellant to the poseur-buyer PO2 Herrera during the buy-
bust operation. There is no question, therefore, that the identity of the prohibited drug in this case was certainly safeguarded.

The dissent maintains that the chain of custody rule would include testimony about every link in the chain, from the moment
the item was picked up to the time it is offered into evidence x x x. This means that all persons who came into contact with the
seized drugs should testify in court; otherwise, the unbroken chain of custody would not be established.

We disagree. Not all people who came into contact with the seized drugs are required to testify in court. There is nothing in the
New Drugs Law or in any rule implementing the same that imposes such a requirement. As long as the chain of custody of the
seized substance was clearly established not to have been broken and that the prosecution did not fail to identify properly the
drugs seized, it is not indispensable that each and every person who came into possession of the drugs should take the witness
stand. In People v. Zeng Hua Dian,[47] we held:

After a thorough review of the records of this case, we find that the chain of custody of the seized substance was not broken
and that the prosecution did not fail to identify properly the drugs seized in this case. The non-presentation of witnesses of
other persons such as SPO1 Grafia, the evidence custodian, and PO3 Alamia, the officer on duty, is not a crucial point against
the prosecution. The matter of presentation of witneses by the prosecution is not for the court to decide. The prosecution has
the discretion as to how to present its case and it has the right to choose whom it wishes to present as witnesses.

In connection with this, it must not be forgotten that entries in official records made by a public officer in the performance of
his duty are prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated.[48] If it is now a requirement that all persons who came into
contact with the seized drugs should testify in court, what will now happen to those public officers (e.g., person who issued
request for examination of drugs or those who tested the drugs) who issued documents regarding the seized drugs? Shall they
be obligated to testify despite the fact the entries in the documents they issued are prima facie evidence of the facts therein
stated? We do not think so. Unless there is proof to the contrary, the entries in the documents are prima facie evidence of the
facts therein stated and they need not testify thereon.

The dissenting opinion likewise faults the prosecution for failing to disclose the identity of the person who submitted the item
that was examined. The answer to this question can easily be seen from the stamp made in the request for drug analysis. There
being no question by the accused on this matter, the entry thereon made by the public officer is definitely sufficient, same
being an entry in official records.

On the credibility of the witnesses

Prosecutions involving illegal drugs depend largely on the credibility of the police officers who conduct the buy-bust
operation.[49] In cases involving violations of the Dangerous Drugs Law, appellate courts tend to heavily rely upon the trial court
in assessing the credibility of witnesses, as it had the unique opportunity, denied to the appellate courts, to observe the
witnesses and to note their demeanor, conduct, and attitude under direct and cross-examination.[50] This Court, not being a
trier of facts itself, relies in good part on the assessment and evaluation by the trial court of the evidence, particularly the
attestations of the witnesses, presented to it.[51] Thus, this Court will not interfere with the trial courts assessment of the
credibility of witnesses considering there is nothing on record that shows some fact or circumstance of weight and influence
which the trial court has overlooked, misappreciated, or misinterpreted. Unless compelling reasons are shown otherwise, this
Court, not being a trier of facts itself, relies in good part on the assessment and evaluation by the trial court of the evidence,
particularly the attestations of witnesses, presented to it. As this Court has held in a long line of cases, the trial court is in a
better position to decide the question, having heard the witnesses themselves and observed their deportment and manner of
testifying during the trial.

Accused-appellant casts suspicion on the means or methods by which the police officers conducted the operation and claims to
be the victim of a frame-up.According to accused-appellant, the trial court relied heavily on the police officers testimonies that
what had actually transpired was a buy-bust operation, which resulted in his arrest.

In almost every case involving a buy-bust operation, the accused put up the defense of frame-up. Such claim is viewed with
disfavor, because it can easily be feigned and fabricated. In People v. Uy, the Court reiterated its position on the matter, to wit:

We are not unaware that in some instances law enforcers resort to the practice of planting evidence to extract information or
even to harass civilians. However, like alibi, frame-up is a defense that has been invariably viewed by the Court with disfavor as
it can easily be concocted [and] hence commonly used as a standard line of defense in most prosecutions arising from
violations of the Dangerous Drugs Act. We realize the disastrous consequences on the enforcement of law and order, not to
mention the well being of society, if the courts x x x accept in every instance this form of defense which can be so easily
fabricated. It is precisely for this reason that the legal presumption that official duty has been regularly performed exists.

In the case at bar, the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses are positive and convincing, sufficient to sustain the finding of
the trial court and the Court of Appeals that accused-appellants guilt had been established beyond reasonable doubt. First, the
testimony of PO2 Raul Herrera was spontaneous, straightforward and categorical. Second, PO1 Reyno Riparip, the back-up
police operative of PO2 Herrera, corroborated the latters testimony on material points.

Appellants defense of frame-up and self-serving assertion that he was mistakenly picked up by the police operatives for a
carnapping case cannot prevail over the positive and straight-forward testimonies of the police operatives who have performed
their duties regularly and in accordance with law, and have not been shown to have been inspired by any improper motive or to
have improperly performed their duty.[53]

To reiterate, Bayani de Leons testimony that the accused was being taken as a carnapping suspect only further weakened the
defense, considering it was totally out of sync with the testimony of accused-appellant vis--vis the positive testimonies of the
police officers on the events that transpired on the night of 24 August 2002 when the buy-bust operation was conducted.

The arrest of accused-appellant was made in the course of an entrapment, following a surveillance operation, normally
performed by police officers in the apprehension of violators of the Dangerous Drugs Act.

The Court so holds that in the absence of proof of any odious intent on the part of the police operatives to falsely impute such
a serious crime, as the one imputed against accused-appellant, it will not allow their testimonies to be overcome by the self-
serving claim of frame-up.

Even assuming arguendo that the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty has been overcome because of
failure to comply with Section 21(a), same will not automatically lead to the exoneration of the accused. Said presumption is
not the sole basis for the conviction of the accused. His conviction was based not solely on said presumption but on the
documentary and real evidence, and more importantly, on the oral evidence by prosecution witnesses whom we found to be
credible. It is to noted that one witness is sufficient to prove the corpus delicti that there was a consummated sale between the
poseur buyer and the accused -- there being no quantum of proof as to the number of witnesses to prove the same. In the case
at bar, the selling of drugs by accused was established.

The dissent likewise argues that the ponencia cannot impose on the defense the burden of proving that the police had an
improper motive in charging him because of the absence of the presumption of regularity.

We find this untenable. It is settled that if the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses are not impugned, full faith and credit
shall be accorded them. One impugns the testimony of witness during cross-examination. Did the defense satisfactorily impugn
the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses when he said that he was a victim of hulidap and that the policemen were
extorting money from him? Said declaration is definitely not sufficient to impugn the testimonies of the prosecution
witnesses. His mere say so that he was victimized without clear and convincing evidence to support such claim does not
suffice. If what he claims was indeed committed by the policemen, he should have sued or charged them. This, he did not
do. Such inaction runs counter to the normal human conduct and behavior of one who feels truly aggrieved by the act
complained of.[54]

From the foregoing, We are fully convinced that the accused is guilty as charged.

We thus hold that accused-appellants guilt has been established beyond reasonable doubt. This Court shall now determine the
proper penalties to be imposed on him.

An examination of the Information reveals that accused-appellant was charged with the unauthorized sale and delivery of
dangerous drugs consisting of twenty-five hundredths (0.25) gram of methylamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu). From the
testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, only one sachet[55] was sold and delivered to the poseur-buyer, PO2 Herrera. The two
other sachets[56] were not sold or delivered, but were found by PO2 Herrera inside the right pocket of accused-appellants pair
of shorts upon frisking, after the latter was caught in flagrante delicto during the buy-bust operation.

Accused-appellant could have been charged with the possession of dangerous drugs [57] on account of the second and third
sachets. This was not done. He cannot then be convicted of possession of dangerous drugs, without being properly charged
therewith, even if proved. Accused-appellant, however, is still guilty, as charged in the Information, of selling and delivering one
sachet to the poseur-buyer.

Under Republic Act No. 9165, the unauthorized sale of shabu carries with it the penalty of life imprisonment to death and a
fine ranging from Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00) to Ten Million Pesos (P10,000,000.00).

Pursuant, however, to the enactment of Republic Act No. 9346 entitled, An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in
the Philippines, only life imprisonment and fine, instead of death, shall be imposed.

We, therefore, find the penalty imposed by the trial court, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals life imprisonment and a fine
of P500,000.00 to be proper.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court of Appeals Decision in CA-G.R. CR No. 01994 dated 31 August 2007 is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. NO. 177237 : October 17, 2008]

WILLIAM CHING, Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

This Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assails the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals dated 27
March 2007 in CA G.R. CR HC No. 00945 which affirmed in toto the 19 January 2004 Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
of Manila, Branch 27, finding petitioner William Ching, alias Willy (Ching), guilty of violation of Section 15, Article III of Republic
Act No. 6425, as amended, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972.

On 21 October 1999, petitioner was charged before the RTC with violating Section 15, Article III of Republic Act No. 6425 in
Criminal Case No. 98-168211. The accusatory portion of the Information reads:

"That on or about October 19, 1998, at Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-
named accused, a foreign national from Amoy, China but married to a Filipina with two children, and not being authorized by
law to do so, did, then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously sell and deliver to a NARGROUP "poseur-buyer" some
3,076.28 grams of Methamphetamine Hydrochloride, a regulated drug commonly known as "SHABU," in violation of the above-
cited law."3

When arraigned on 24 November 1998, petitioner pleaded not guilty. Thereafter, trial ensued.

The prosecution presented the following witnesses: (1) Senior Police Officer (SPO)1 Alfredo F. Cadoy (SPO1 Cadoy), the
designated poseur-buyer of the team; (2) SPO1 Ruben M. Bernardo (SPO1 Bernardo), a member of the team who was
specifically tasked to back-up SPO1 Cadoy; (3) Marilyn D. Dequito, the forensic chemist of the Philippine National Police (PNP)
Crime Laboratory Office who examined the substance allegedly confiscated from Ching.
As documentary evidence, the prosecution offered the following: Exhibit "A" - Request for Laboratory Examination dated 20
October 1998 addressed to the PNP Crime Laboratory, Camp Crame of the three heat-sealed transparent plastic bags allegedly
confiscated from Ching containing white crystalline substance suspected to be "shabu" and weighing approximately one
kilogram each; Exhibit "B" - Initial Laboratory Report dated 20 October 1998 of the confiscated crystalline substance; Exhibit "C"
- Final Report dated 20 October 1998 of the confiscated items; Exhibit "D" - Request for Physical/Medical Examination of Ching;
Exhibits "E" to "K" - The seven one thousand peso-bills used in the buy-bust operation; Exhibit "L" - Booking Sheet and Arrest
Report of Ching; Exhibit "M" - Affidavit of Arrest of Ching signed by SPO1 Cadoy and SPO1 Bernardo; Exhibit "N" - Letter to the
Inquest Prosecutor dated 20 October 1998; Exhibit "O" - Green Plastic Bag bearing the name Prudential Bank, where the three
heat-sealed transparent plastic bags containing white crystalline substance suspected to be "shabu" were kept; Exhibits "P" to
"R" - the three transparent plastic bags containing white crystalline substance; Exhibit "S" - Sketch Drawn by SPO1 Cadoy of the
Location of the Buy-Bust Operation; Exhibit "T" - Original Copy Booking Sheet and Arrest Report of Ching.

The collective evidence adduced by the prosecution shows that at around 12:00 o'clock noon on 19 October 1998, while Police
Chief Leonardo Suan was in his office at Camp Crame, Quezon City, he received information from a confidential informant
about a drug deal to be consummated by the latter with petitioner Ching.4 Police Chief Suan immediately assembled a team to
conduct a buy-bust operation composed of Inspector Arsenal, SPO1 Cadoy, SPO1 Bernardo, SPO1 de los Santos, PO1 Velasquez
and PO2 San Jose.5

SPO1 Cadoy was designated as the poseur-buyer, while SPO1 Bernardo was assigned as one of the back-ups of the
former.6 Seven pieces of genuine one thousand-peso bills were prepared as marked money. The said bills were placed over the
boodle money in an attaché case.7

After the briefing, at about 1:00 p.m., the team on board three vehicles proceeded to the vicinity of the target area, a gasoline
station along San Fernando Street, Binondo, Manila. The group arrived at the target place at around 2:00 p.m., and positioned
themselves in different strategic locations.8

The confidential informant alighted from the vehicle and walked towards San Fernando Street.9 When the informant returned,
he was accompanied by Ching who was carrying with him a green bag bearing the name Prudential Bank.10 The confidential
informant introduced SPO1 Cadoy to Ching and told the latter that the former wanted to buy shabu.11 At once, Ching requested
to see the money. SPO1 Cadoy showed the money inside the attaché case. After seeing the money, Ching handed the green bag
to SPO1 Cadoy saying "Ito na ang tatlong kilo."12 SPO1 inspected the contents of the green bag which contained three plastic
packs of white crystalline substance. Convinced that the white crystalline substances were illegal drugs, SPO1 Cadoy handed the
attaché case to Ching.13 As soon as the money was in Ching's possession, SPO1 Cadoy executed the pre-arranged signal by
removing his hat.14 SPO1 Cadoy introduced himself to Ching as a NARCOM agent, while the other members of the team rushed
toward them and likewise introduced themselves to Ching as policemen and then SPO1 Cadoy and his team arrested William
Ching.15 SPO1 Bernardo retrieved from Ching the marked money while SPO1 Cadoy marked the plastic packs containing white
crystalline substance with "AFC," his initials. The arresting officers brought Ching to Camp Crame where he was subjected to
custodial investigation. During the investigation, the arresting officers prepared the Affidavit of Arrest, Booking Sheet and
Arrest Report, Request for Laboratory Examination, Request for Physical/Medical Examination and Referral to the Inquest
Prosecutor.

The three heat-sealed transparent plastic bags with the initials of SPO1 Cadoy were referred to the PNP Crime Laboratory Office
for examination. Upon examination by Chemical Officer Marilyn D. Dequito of the contents of the plastic bags, she found that
the same weighed 3,076.26 and was tested positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu." The findings of Chemical
Officer Marilyn D. Dequito, which are embodied in Physical Sciences Report No. D 3415-98 dated 20 October 1998, read:

SPECIMEN SUBMITTED:

A - Exh "A" One (1) heat sealed transparent plastic bag marked AFC containing 1013.16 of white crystalline substance.

B - Exh "B" One (1) heat sealed transparent plastic bag marked AFC containing 1026.5 g of white crystalline substance.

C - Exh "C" One (1) heat sealed transparent plastic bag marked AFC containing 1036.6 g of white crystalline substance.

PURPOSE LABORATORY EXAMINATION:

To determine the presence of prohibited and/or regulated drug.

FINDINGS:
Qualitative examination conducted on the above-stated specimen gave POSITIVE results for the presence of methamphetamine
hydrochloride, a regulated drug.

CONCLUSION:

Specimens A, B and C contain methamphetamine hydrochloride, a regulated drug. 16

The defense, on the other hand, put up the defense of denial and frame-up. To support this thesis, the defense presented
petitioner and seven other witnesses, namely: (1) Li Ali (Ali), 17 - year old niece of Ching; (2) Chuang Li Fun (Fun), Ching's sister
and mother of witnesses Li Ali and Li Jia Wang. Fun resides in No. 488, Peñaranda Street, Binondo, Manila, where Ching was
allegedly illegally arrested; (3) Li Jia Wang (Wang), the 13 - year old nephew of Ching who was his companion when he was
arrested by the police officers; (4) Eduardo B. Peralta, a pedicab driver plying the route of Peñaranda Street, Binondo, who
allegedly saw Ching being dragged from the apartment by three men to an FX van; (5) Rafael A. Cantollas, utility boy of Ching;
(6) Rosita C. Malait, a vendor whose place of business is across the apartment of Ching's sister; (7) Criselda E. Estrella, a
housemaid residing in the same apartment and floor where Ching was allegedly arrested by the police officers.

From the testimonies of the defense witnesses, the defense's version of the incident is that on 19 October 1998, Ching stayed
at his sister's apartment situated at No. 488, Peñaranda St., Binondo, Manila. Ching was accompanied by his nephew Wang, his
niece Ali, and his sister, Fun. At around 12:00 noon of the said day, Fun and Ali left the apartment to visit a granduncle who
resides in Nueva St., Ongpin, Manila. Ching and Wang were left behind. Ching was reading a book, clad only with a T-shirt and
short pants while Wang was watching TV. At about 2:00 p.m., somebody knocked at the door. Ching opened the door where he
saw six or seven men in civilian clothes, whom he later discovered as policemen. One of the men asked him if he is William
Ching. When Ching answered that he is William Ching, two of the men grabbed him by the arm and dragged him downstairs to
an FX van parked at the corner of Peñaranda and San Fernando Streets, Binondo, Manila. Ching was shoved to the back of the
vehicle where he was manacled and blindfolded. A plastic bag was also placed over his head. While the vehicle was moving, his
abductors demanded 10 million pesos from Ching and when he answered that he did not have such amount, he was mauled
and threatened that he will be killed. After sometime, the vehicle stopped infront of a police station. He was brought to a small
room where the men who seized him reiterated their demand for money. When he replied that he did not have said amount,
he was again mauled and then his private part was electrocuted. When Ching could no longer bear the torture, he asked that he
be allowed to call his sister. Because he insisted that he cannot grant their demand, his abductors took out three packages and
told him that the same were taken from him and then he was made to sign a document.

Meanwhile three or four of the policemen remained in the apartment unit and made a warrantless search. The officers were
still searching the room when Fun and Ali arrived. Fun tried to drive away the police officers who flashed their police
identification cards. Later, Fun received a call from Ching, informing her that he was arrested.

After the defense had rested its case, the prosecution, on rebuttal, offered the oral testimonies of Police Inspector Ramon B.
Arsenal (Inspector Arsenal), Police Chief Inspector Leonardo Suan (Police Chief Suan) and SPO1 Cadoy to rebut the claim of the
defense that the team arrested Ching in his sister's apartment and that the buy-bust operation was a mere fabrication.

Inspector Arsenal, a police officer assigned at the Special Operations Division, Narcotics Group, PNP and a member of the team
that conducted the purported buy-bust operation against Ching, testified that the buy-bust operation conducted at a gas
station in San Fernando Street, Binondo, Manila on 19 October 1998, was pursuant to an information from a confidential
informant. He stated that after the team was briefed by Police Chief Suan of the planned buy-bust operation, the team left for
the target area on board four vehicles, namely: Tamaraw FX, a red Toyota Corolla, a white Toyota Corolla and a Lancer. He said
that the confidential informant and the poseur-buyer boarded the Tamaraw FX. He arrived at the vicinity of the gas station at
around 1:45 p.m. where he saw the confidential informant alight from the Tamaraw FX and walk towards San Fernando Street.
Minutes later, the informant returned with Ching. He admitted that he did not see the actual exchange of shabu with the
money; however, he saw the actual arrest of Ching. He denied that Ching was taken from the apartment unit in Peñaranda
Street. Inspector Arsenal, however, clarified that after Ching was arrested at the gasoline station in San Fernando Street, the
team brought him to the corner of Peñaranda and San Fernando Streets because he told them that the source of the shabu, a
certain William Sy, will get the money at that place. He also denied the allegation that the team tortured and demanded P10
million from Ching.

Police Chief Suan, for his part, declared that he received information from alias "Ricky" regarding a drug deal with Ching. After
receiving the information, he formed a team to conduct a buy-bust operation and the designated poseur-buyer was SPO1
Cadoy, with SPO1 Bernardo as back-up. He gave seven pieces of genuine one thousand-peso bill to be used as the marked
money. It was also agreed in the briefing that the pre-arranged signal to indicate that the exchange of illegal drugs and money
is consummated was for the poseur-buyer to remove his hat. After the briefing, he instructed Inspector Arsenal to lead the
team to the target place near San Fernando Street, Binondo, Manila. He proceeded to the agreed place using his own car. He
arrived at the vicinity and positioned himself near the Binondo Church. Since his position is far from the target area, he
monitored the operation through a radio. At about 2:00 p.m., he was informed that the operation was consummated. He was
told to wait for a while since the arresting team would go to the corner of Peñaranda and San Fernado Streets to wait for the
source of the shabu. He was then informed that the source did not show up, so he ordered the team to proceed to Camp
Crame.

SPO1 Cadoy, clarified that he failed to mention the street where the buy-bust operation took place because he was not familiar
with the name of the streets in that place. He likewise contradicted the defense's version that the team took Ching from the
apartment in No. 488, Peñaranda Street. He insisted that there was a buy-bust operation conducted on the day in question.

On rebuttal, the prosecution presented the following documentary evidence: (1) Exhibit "A" Rebuttal, a judgment of the RTC
Quezon City, Branch 79, finding Ching guilty for selling methamphetamine hydrochloride in violation of Section 15, Article III of
R.A. 6425 to prove that Ching is a recidivist; (2) Exhibit "B" Rebuttal, a Sketch drawn by Inspector Arsenal of the place of the
buy-bust operation.

On 28 September 2001, the RTC rendered a decision finding Ching guilty of the crime charged. In the decision, the RTC
appreciated the aggravating circumstance of recidivism. With this, the supreme penalty of death was imposed against Ching.

On 5 October 2001, Ching filed Motions for Reconsideration/Re-opening of Proceedings. A Supplement to Motions for
Reconsideration/Re-opening of Proceedings dated 15 October 2001 was also filed by Ching.

The RTC denied the motion for reconsideration in an order dated 11 April 2002. However, the RTC, to avoid miscarriage of
justice, granted the re-opening of the proceedings to allow Ching to adduce sur-rebuttal evidence.

On sur-rebuttal, the defense did not present any witness. It merely submitted certifications from the clerks of courts of Bacoor
and Imus, Cavite, certifying that there is no Branch 197 in the RTC of Cavite, nor was there a drug case entitled "People v.
Lares" in any of the branches in any of the RTC branches in Bacoor and Imus. It must be noted that during cross-examination,
SPO1 Cadoy was confused as to whether it was his team or Ching that arrived first at the target place. SPO1 Cadoy explained
this confusion, saying that he just came from Cavite where he also testified in a drug case in which he was also the poseur buyer
and the buy-bust operation in that case also took place near a gasoline station. These certifications were presented to destroy
SPO1 Cadoy's credibility to prove that he was lying when he said that he testified in another drug case in Cavite, since no such
case exists in the courts of the said place.

In a decision dated 19 January 2004, the RTC rendered a decision convicting Ching of the crime charged and sentenced him
to reclusion perpetua. This time the RTC did not appreciate the presence of recidivism since the same was not alleged in the
information. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:

WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the Court finds accused WILLIAM CHING a.k.a. "WILLY", "GUILTY", beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of Violation of Section 15, Article III, Republic Act 6425, as amended by RA 7659 and considering
that neither mitigating nor aggravating circumstance is attendant in the commission thereof, hereby sentences him
[to] Reclusion Perpetua and to pay a fine of Three Million (P3,000,000.00) Pesos.

The subject shabu, (Exhs. "P", "Q" and "R") are ordered turned over to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for proper
disposition.17

Dissatisfied, Ching directly elevated his conviction to this Court for review. This Court, however, referred the case to the Court
of Appeals for intermediate review, conformably with the ruling in People v. Mateo.18

The Court of Appeals, on 27 March 2007, promulgated its Decision affirming the in toto the decision of the RTC in convicting
Ching of the crime charged. The dispositive part of the decision provides:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed Decision of the court a quo is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.19

Hence, the instant petition.

In his Memorandum, Ching raises the following issues:

I
Whether The Arrest Of The Petitioner Was Illegal.

II

Whether The Search Conducted On the Premises Is Illegal.

III

Whether The Buy-Bust Operation Against The Petitioner Was A Sham.20

Ching faults the RTC and the Court of Appeals for not giving credence to his version of what happened on the day in question.
He vigorously insists that on the day he was arrested, a group of men swooped down upon him and dragged him from his
sister's apartment unit and took him to a vehicle where his captors demanded a huge amount of money from him, and after his
refusal to heed to their demands, he was tortured and his captors planted evidence against him. Without the said buy-bust or
entrapment operation, there was no valid basis for his warrantless arrest. Hence, the operatives violated his constitutional right
against warrantless arrest. He also claims that the search done in the apartment unit was illegal since such was effected
following an illegal arrest.

Ching finds the buy-bust incredulous, as an illegal transaction such as sale of shabu could not have been done in a crowded
place and during busy hours of the day. Thus, the charge was fabricated by the police officers.

In the main, petitioner wants this Court to evaluate the credibility of the prosecution witnesses vis-a-visdefense witnesses. It
has often been said, however, that credibility of witnesses is a matter best examined by, and left to, the trial courts. 21 The time-
tested doctrine is that the matter of assigning values to declarations on the witness stand is best and most competently
performed by the trial judge who, unlike appellate magistrates, can weigh such testimony in light of the declarant's demeanor,
conduct and position to discriminate between truth and falsehood.22 Thus, appellate courts will not disturb the credence, or
lack of it, accorded by the trial court to the testimonies of witnesses.23 This is especially true when the trial court's findings have
been affirmed by the appellate court, because said findings are generally conclusive and binding upon this Court unless it be
manifestly shown that the latter court had overlooked or disregarded arbitrarily the facts and circumstances of significance in
the case.24

However, in view of the fact that at stake here is no less than the liberty of appellant, this Court thoroughly examined the entire
records of this case and scrutinized the testimonies and the pieces of documentary evidence tendered by both parties and
observed them at close range. Regrettably for Ching, this Court failed to identify any error committed by the RTC and the Court
of Appeals both in their respective appreciation of the evidence presented before them and in the conclusion they arrived at.

In the prosecution of sale of dangerous drugs, the concurrence of all the following elements must concur: (1) the identity of the
buyer and the seller, the object, and consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment therefor. What is
material to the prosecution for illegal sale of dangerous drugs is the proof that the transaction or sale actually took place,
coupled with the presentation in court of evidence of corpus delicti.25

In the instant case, all the elements of the crime have been sufficiently established by the prosecution. The witnesses for the
prosecution were able to prove that the buy-bust operation indeed took place and the shabu subject of the sale was brought
and duly identified in court. The poseur-buyer (SPO1 Cadoy) positively identified Ching as the one who sold to him the three
plastic bags of shabu. SPO1 Cadoy straightforwardly narrated the circumstances leading to the consummation of the sale of
illegal drugs and the arrest of Ching:

Q: After arriving at around 2:00 p.m., at San Fernando St., Binondo, Manila, what happened, if any, Mr. Witness?cralawred

A: When we arrived at San Fernando St., we saw alias Willy. I was introduced to him by the informant as the one who will buy
shabu.

Q: How many minutes were you there when you were introduced to this alias Willy? Before you were introduced, how many
minutes were you there at the place?cralawred

A: For a while only Sir, because when we arrived, Alias Willy was already there waiting for us, Sir.

Q: Where were you introduced? In what specific location, at San Fernando St.?cralawred

A: At the side of a gasoline station along San Fernando St.


Q: And was he carrying something or not, Mr. Witness?cralawred

A: He was carrying a bag, Sir.

Q: What happened after you were introduced to Alias Willy by the informant?cralawred

A: Alias Willy was talking like "parang barok at gusto niyang Makita ang pera." That is what I understood.

Q: Did you show the money to him?cralawred

A: Yes, sir. I showed him the money, genuine and the boodle money I was carrying.

COURT: You mean to say, you showed the money to Alias Willy without even telling him the quantity of shabu you would
buy?cralawred

A: We had a previous agreement, your Honor, that three (3) kilos of shabu will be bought from him. xxx. crvll

COURT: Who made that previous arrangement?cralawred

A: The informant who talked with him earlier, your Honor.

Q: After you had shown the buy-bust money to alias Willy, what did Alias Willy do, if any?cralawred

A: After I had shown the buy-bust money to Alias Willy and he was convinced, then, he handed to me, stating "eto na ang
tatlong (3) kilo."

Q: You said, he handed the bag to you. Isn't it?cralawred

A: He was showing to me a bag and saying, this is the three kilos and then, I asked him, that it be shown to me.

Q: Did he comply with your request that the same be shown to you?cralawred

A: Yes, Sir.

Q: What was shown to you, Mr. Witness?cralawred

A: The three (3) separate plastic pack of one kilo each pack was shown to me.

Q: You are saying that the contents of the bag, the plastic bag, which are the three (3) kilos of shabu, in separate small bags
were shown to you?cralawred

A: Yes, sir.

Q: You said, it was shown to you. How was it shown to you, Mr. Witness?cralawred

A: When I told him, let me see, then, he opened the bag and showed to me the contents.

Q: You said, that you were shown a bag containing the three (3) kilos of shabu. If you will be able to see that bag, would you
actually be able to recognize the same, Mr. Witness?cralawred

A: I will see if I can recognize it.

Q: I am showing you this green bag, plastic bag markings, with logo and marking, Prudential Bank, around the size of' already
marked as our Exh. "O", your honor. Could you please go over the same and tell this Hon. Court, if this is the very same bag that
were shown to you, Mr. Witness?cralawred

A: This is the one, Sir.

Q: Why did you say, that was the very same bag that was shown to you or was given to you by Alias Willy at that
time?cralawred
A: Because I placed my initial in that bag.

Q: By the way, you said that after being shown to you these three (3) plastic bags containing this subject shabu and after
inspecting them, what happened afterwards, if any, Mr. Witness?cralawred

A: I told him the drugs is okay, so, I gave him the money and he gave me the three (3) plastic bags (nagkaliwaan kami).

Q: Why do you say that these are the very same plastic bag containing the alleged shabu, that were sold to you by Alias Willy
for P2,100,000.00?cralawred

A: I placed my initial, sir.

Q: The letter AFC, who placed this marking?cralawred

A: My initial, Sir.

Q: And above the initial AFC, the bigger initial AFC appears a signature. Could you tell us who placed this marks and the
signature?cralawred

A: That is my signature, Sir.

Q:. Now, after the transfer or the exchange of xxx after receiving this bag containing the three (3) transparent plastic bags
containing in turn, the alleged shabu and after giving the money to him, what did you do afterwards, if any, Mr.
Witness?cralawred

A: I removed my hat as our pre-arranged signal.

Q: What happened after giving your pre-arranged signal by removing your hat. What happened if any?cralawred

A: I introduced to him that I was a NARCOM agent and my companions rushed to our place and apprehended William Ching. 26

The testimonies of the witnesses for the prosecution clearly showed that the sale of the 3 kilos of shabu actually happened. The
rest of the prosecution witnesses corroborated SPO1 Cadoy's testimony, that indeed the arrest of Ching was pursuant to a buy-
bust operation. Their accounts dovetailed each other and described the incident as a successful and effective buy-bust
operation against a drug dealer.

According to the records, the entrapment operation started when Police Chief Suan received information from an informant
that the latter was arranging a drug deal with Ching. Since the transaction was to be carried out almost immediately, Police
Chief Suan no longer required the conduct of a surveillance operation to verify the information. Police Chief Suan lost no time in
briefing his men. He then assembled a team to apprehend Ching in the arranged drug deal. He designated SPO1 Cadoy to act as
the poseur-buyer and gave him the marked money to be used in the transaction. Inspector Arsenal was also tasked to lead the
group in the target area. Police Chief Suan was monitoring his men nearby the area and communicated to them through a
radio. Although he did not witness the actual sale, he was able to recount the incidents prior and immediately after the buy-
bust operations, thus:

Q: On October 19, 1998, can you tell where were you?cralawred

A: I am at the office.

Q: What happened while you were there at the office?cralawred

A: At about 12:00 o'clock in the morning I received information from our informant regarding an arranged drug deal.

Q: Do you know what is that all about?cralawred

A: Selling arrangement with drug dealer they mentioned a certain Willy.

Q: What happened after you were given the arranged drug deal?cralawred

A: After receiving the information I gave my men briefing regarding the drug transaction
Q: Who were your men?cralawred

A: I am the team leader, Arsenal, Cadoy, Velazquez, San Luis, Bernardo and others.

Q: Who was designated as the poseur-buyer?cralawred

A: During that briefing, Cadoy was the poseur-buyer.

Q: How about his back-up?cralawred

A: I remember SPO1 Bernardo was one of the back-up of Cadoy on the buy bust operation.

Q: What happened thereafter after the briefing if any?cralawred

A: As I said SPO1 Cadoy acted as the poseur-buyer. Arsenal will act as the team leader of the group. SPO1 Bernardo as back-up
crvll

Q: Was there money involved in this transaction?cralawred

A: During that time I gave seven (7) pieces of P1,000.00 peso bill to be used as marked money in the plan buy-bust operation.

Q: Now aside from the genuine seven P1,000.00 peso bill, were there any other money involved?cralawred

A: I supposed [the] boodle money will be used in the buy bust operation.

Q: Do you have any pre-arranged signal in the conduct of buy bust operation?cralawred

A: Yes, sir. During the briefing, instruction was given to SPO1 Cadoy. The pre-arranged signal was as soon as the buy bust
operation was consummated, [SPO1 Cadoy was to remove] his hat.

Q: Do you know the approximate time that you arrived at the target area at Binondo, Manila?cralawred

A: Almost 2:00 o'clock.

Q: Where did you position yourself, your car, Mr. witness?cralawred

A: I position my car near the Binondo church and contacted thru the radio.

Q: You said you conducted your communication thru the radio, what happened thereafter xxx?cralawred

A: I don't know what actually happened. I was not in the real place or area in the actual place of buy bust operation, sir.

Q: What happened to the plan to the buy-bust?cralawred

A: I heard it was already consummated.

Q: What else happened?cralawred

A: There was an information that the suspect was arrested by Arsenal and was told to wait a while. The source of shabu will
come near from San Fernando and Peñaranda Street.

Q: What else happened?cralawred

A: Arsenal told me that they were waiting for few minutes at San Fernando St. because the suspect told them that [the source
of the] shabu will be coming and going to get the money.

Q: After that few minutes elapsed, did you have another communication [with] the group of Arsenal?cralawred

A: After few minutes, I think ten minutes after waiting they cannot find the source of shabu, I informed them to proceed to our
office.27
Inspector Arsenal likewise testified on the details of the preparations made by the team before they mounted the buy-bust
operation. He declared that he saw the informant fetch Ching near the gasoline station in San Fernando St., Binondo, and that
he saw SPO1 Bernardo rush towards the direction of Ching and SPO1 Cadoy to apprehend the former. The corroborative
testimony of Inspector Arsenal is as follows:

Q: Now, could you tell us where were you on October 19, 1998?cralawred

A: At the office, sir.

Q: Up to what time were you there at the office?cralawred

A: Until 12:00 o'clock we received an information that there is a buy-bust conducted at San Fernando, Binondo, Manila, sir.

Q: Now, what happen thereafter after the receipt of the information by the office?cralawred

A: Major Suan conducted a briefing regarding that buy bust operation. And designated SPO1 Cadoy as poseur buyer, Bernardo
as the back up and the rest as the perimeter and the advance party.

Q: Can you tell us how many were involved in this buy-bust operation in Binondo?cralawred

A: More or less eight (8).

Q: Can you name them if you can still remember?cralawred

A: Major Suan, Cadoy, Bernardo, Velasquez, San Luis, Cutsero, Congyan and Anasta.

Q: Can you remember how many cars were you when you went to the operation at Binondo?cralawred

A: One for the poseur buyer and three for the operatives.

Q: What kind of car did you use in that operation?cralawred

A: I ride in Toyota Corolla color red.

Q: How about the other cars, who were the passengers of the operatives?cralawred

A: On one car, white Toyota Corolla Major Suan, the driver and on Tamaraw FX, Cadoy and the CI.

Q: What do you mean by CI?cralawred

A: Confidential Informant.

Q: Or asset?cralawred

A: Yes, sir. And the other car I think Velasquez and Bernardo.

Q: xxx What is the fourth car, what kind of car was that?cralawred

A: Lancer gray, sir.

Q: Now, upon arrival' Okay upon positioning can you tell us what transpired if any, Mr. witness?cralawred

A: Upon arrival of the Tamaraw FX, CI alighted and proceeded toward the direction of San Fernando Street from the gasoline
station. So he proceeded to the direction of San Fernando and after more or less ten minutes they return together with one
Chinese looking.

Q: Now, can you identify that Chinese looking person whom your confidential informant fetch, if you can see him again can you
identify him?cralawred

A: Yes, sir.
Q: Now what happened next, if any? Mr. Witness?cralawred

A: After that I saw Bernardo running towards the direction of FX and suddenly there was apprehension.

Q: How about the accused what was he doing then?cralawred

A: Then we let them ride on the Tamaraw FX and then we conducted investigation as to who was this source. So he said that
the source will wait for him at Peñaranda corner San Fernando Street to that money from us he will give to this source of that
shabu.

Q: Now you said you went there. What happened when you reached that place?cralawred

A: We waited for the source of that area for around fifteen minutes but accused told us that a while [ago a] Honda Civic arrived
and left already. So we also left the place.28

SPO1 Cadoy's back-up, SPO1 Bernardo, confirmed the actual sale as he personally witnessed the drug deal. He recounted the
incident in this manner:

Q: You said the accused finally arrived. What happened afterwards the accused arrived in that place?cralawred

A: The two finally met sir. SPO1 Cadoy exchange the boodle money with the goods from the accused and after exchanging,
SPO1 Cadoy made the pre-arranged signal.

Q: What was the pre-arranged signal?cralawred

A: SPO1 Cadoy took off his hat.

Q: While watching the two transacted xxx, where were you at the precise moment?cralawred

A: We were on board our vehicle sir.

Q: Now, after SPO1 Cadoy made the pre-arranged signal by removing his hat, what did you do if any Mr. witness?cralawred

A: I alighted from our vehicle, rushed to the place of SPO1 Cadoy and accused where I immediately grabbed the boodle money
and as fast we can, we immediately boarded our vehicle xxx.29

Forensic Chemist, Marilyn D. Dequito, who examined the confiscated crystalline substance weighing 3,076.28 grams, found the
same positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride.

Comparing the defense version with that of the arresting/entrapping police officers as to what occurred in the afternoon of 19
October 1998, this Court finds, as did the RTC and the Court of Appeals, the accounts of the latter more credible. Aside from the
presumption that they - the police operatives - regularly performed their duties, this Court notes that these operatives, as
prosecution witnesses, gave consistent and straightforward narrations of what transpired on the day in question. The police
officers uniformly testified of having apprehended the appellant in a buy-bust operation.

The version depicted by the prosecution, through the testimonies of the entrapping officers, could only be described by people
who actually witnessed the event that took place on 19 October 1998. Only trustworthy witnesses could have narrated with
such detail and realism what really happened on the date referred to.

Once again this Court stresses that a buy-bust operation is a legally effective and proven procedure, sanctioned by law at that,
for apprehending drug peddlers and distributors.30 It is often utilized by law enforcers for the purpose of trapping and capturing
lawbreakers in the execution of their nefarious activities.31 This Court, of course, is not unaware that in some instances law
enforcers resort to the practice of planting evidence to extract information or even to harass civilians. But the defense of frame-
up in drug cases requires strong and convincing evidence because of the presumption that the law enforcement agencies acted
in the regular performance of their official duties. Moreover, the defense of denial or frame-up, like alibi, has been viewed by
the court with disfavor for it can just as easily be concocted and is a common and standard defense ploy in most prosecutions
for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act.

In the case under consideration, there is no evidence of any improper motive on the part of the police officers who
apprehended Ching. His allegations that the police officers beat him up in their attempt to extract money from him is belied by
the absence of any proof to that effect. He did not present any medical record that he was physically abused. If the police
officers indeed tried to extort money from Ching by beating him up, he could have filed the proper charges against the erring
police officers. The fact that no administrative or criminal charges were filed lends cogency to the conclusion that the alleged
frame-up was merely concocted as a defense ploy. In addition, if indeed the supposed disinterested witnesses of the defense,
i.e., the pedicab driver and the vendor, really saw Ching being forcibly dragged by unidentified men, they could have at least
informed the local authorities of such fact. This they did not do. Thus, the story of the defense is simply implausible.

As to Ching's contention that the buy-bust operation is improbable since no person possessed of his wit would close a 2.1
million-peso deal in broad daylight and in a crowded place, this Court finds the same unavailing.

This Court observed in many cases that drug pushers sell their prohibited articles to any prospective customer, be he a stranger
or not, in private as well as in public places, even in the daytime.32 Indeed, drug pushers have become increasingly daring,
dangerous and, worse, openly defiant of the law.33 Hence, what matters is not the time and venue of the sale, but the fact of
agreement and the acts constituting sale and delivery of the prohibited drugs.

Likewise untenable is Ching's objection to SPO1 Cadoy's credibility relative to the latter's testimony that prior to the hearing of
this case before the RTC, he attended another hearing in Cavite. As elucidated by the RTC:

On the confusion as to who arrived first at the target place ahead, [SPO1 Cadoy] explained that when he took the witness
stand, he just came from Cavite where he testified in a drug case where he was also the poseur-buyer and the buy-bust
operation also took place near a gas station. In that case, the seller arrived ahead of the operation team. The defense
submitted certifications to the effect that there is no RTC Branch [197] in Cavite and case alluded to by SPO1 Cadoy. xxx. The
defense should not capitalize on this on its effort to seek acquittal. Honest mistakes in a rather lengthy testimony cannot dilute
the credibility of a witness. In fact, honest mistakes are not inconsistent with truthful testimony.34

Ching's claim that his warrantless arrest was invalid is not meritorious. The rule is settled that an arrest made after an
entrapment does not require a warrant inasmuch as it is considered a valid warrantless arrest pursuant to Rule 113, Section
5(a) of the Rules of Court 47 which states:

SEC. 5. Arrest Without Warrant; When Lawful. - A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:

(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an
offense.

Having established that the buy-bust operation is factual and legitimate, the subsequent warrantless arrest of Ching and as well
as the warrantless seizure of the illegal drugs was permissible, thus:

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.35

The prosecution also established the identity of the shabu subject matter of the sale as the very same drug submitted for
laboratory examination and later presented before the RTC. SPO1 Cadoy testified that during the buy-bust operation Ching
handed him the green bag with the Prudential Bank logo and inside it were three transparent plastic bags containing three kilos
of shabu. SPO1 Cadoy declared that he personally made the markings "AFC" (representing his initials) on the items seized which
were turned over to the SPO3 Pio G. Titong, the police investigator.36 The police investigator made an inventory of the
confiscated items and prepared a letter request to the PNP Crime Laboratory to examine the seized items which had "AFC"
markings.37 A certain PO1 Pascua personally brought the said items to the PNP Crime Laboratory with a request for laboratory
examination and was duly received thereat as evidenced by the stamp signifying receipt thereof on the request itself. 38 Forensic
Chemist Marilyn D. Dequito personally received from PO1 Pascua the subject specimens.39 When the specimens were
quantitatively examined by the forensic chemist, the same weighed a little more than three kilos. The forensic chemist likewise
found the specimens to be positive for shabu. When the seized items marked "AFC" were presented during the trial, SPO1
Cadoy positively identified the said pieces of evidence as the same items he received from Ching and identified his initials
written on the plastic bags. Forensic Chemist Dequito also testified that the substances she examined positive for shabu had the
markings "AFC." With these pieces of evidence adduced by the prosecution, the identity of the drugs has been duly preserved
and established.
In sum, the positive identification made by the police officers and the laboratory report, not to mention the incredulous
defense of frame-up to which Ching resorts, sufficiently prove beyond reasonable doubt that he committed the crime charged.

The Court of Appeals imposed against petitioner the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay a fine of Three Million
(P3,000,000.00) Pesos.

The penalty prescribed under Section 15 of Article III, in relation to Section 20 of Article IV, of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972,
as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, for unauthorized sale of 200 grams or more of shabu or methamphetamine
hydrochloride is reclusion perpetua to death and a fine ranging from five hundred thousand pesos to ten million pesos.40

In the instant case, the report of Forensic Chemist Marilyn D. Dequito shows that the three (3) plastic plastic bags contained the
total weight of 3,076.28 grams. Since the quantity of the shabu weighs more than 250 grams, the proper penalty should
be reclusion perpetua to death. Since the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death consists of two indivisible penalties, Ching was
correctly meted the lesser penalty of reclusion perpetua, conformably with Article 63(2) of the Revised Penal Code that when
there are neither mitigating nor aggravating circumstances in the commission of the deed, the lesser penalty shall be applied.
As to the fine, considering that the amount of shabu sold was 3,076.28 grams, this Court finds the amount of P3,000,000.00
imposed by the RTC as reasonable.

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. CR HC No. 00945, which affirmed in toto the Decision of the
Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 27, convicting William Ching for violation of Section 15, Article III of Republic Act No.
6425, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua and ordering him
to pay the fine of P3,000,000.00, is AFFIRMED in toto.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 164815 September 3, 2009

SR. INSP. JERRY C. VALEROSO, Petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.

RESOLUTION

NACHURA, J.:

For resolution is the Letter-Appeal1 of Senior Inspector (Sr. Insp.) Jerry C. Valeroso (Valeroso) praying that our February 22,
2008 Decision2 and June 30, 2008 Resolution3 be set aside and a new one be entered acquitting him of the crime of illegal
possession of firearm and ammunition.

The facts are briefly stated as follows:

Valeroso was charged with violation of Presidential Decree No. 1866, committed as follows:

That on or about the 10th day of July, 1996, in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused without any authority of law, did then
and there willfully, unlawfully and knowingly have in his/her possession and under his/her custody and control

One (1) cal. 38 "Charter Arms" revolver bearing serial no. 52315 with five (5) live ammo.

without first having secured the necessary license/permit issued by the proper authorities.

CONTRARY TO LAW.4

When arraigned, Valeroso pleaded "not guilty."5 Trial on the merits ensued.

During trial, the prosecution presented two witnesses: Senior Police Officer (SPO)2 Antonio Disuanco (Disuanco) of the Criminal
Investigation Division of the Central Police District Command; and Epifanio Deriquito (Deriquito), Records Verifier of the
Firearms and Explosives Division in Camp Crame. Their testimonies are summarized as follows:
On July 10, 1996, at around 9:30 a.m., Disuanco received a Dispatch Order from the desk officer directing him and three (3)
other policemen to serve a Warrant of Arrest, issued by Judge Ignacio Salvador, against Valeroso for a case of kidnapping with
ransom.6

After a briefing, the team conducted the necessary surveillance on Valeroso checking his hideouts in Cavite, Caloocan, and
Bulacan. Eventually, the team members proceeded to the Integrated National Police (INP) Central Police Station in Culiat,
Quezon City, where they saw Valeroso about to board a tricyle. Disuanco and his team approached Valeroso. They put him
under arrest, informed him of his constitutional rights, and bodily searched him. They found a Charter Arms revolver, bearing
Serial No. 52315, with five (5) pieces of live ammunition, tucked in his waist.7

Valeroso was then brought to the police station for questioning. Upon verification in the Firearms and Explosives Division in
Camp Crame, Deriquito presented a certification8 that the subject firearm was not issued to Valeroso, but was licensed in the
name of a certain Raul Palencia Salvatierra of Sampaloc, Manila.9

On the other hand, Valeroso, SPO3 Agustin R. Timbol, Jr. (Timbol), and Adrian Yuson testified for the defense. Their testimonies
are summarized as follows:

On July 10, 1996, Valeroso was sleeping inside a room in the boarding house of his children located at Sagana Homes, Barangay
New Era, Quezon City. He was awakened by four (4) heavily armed men in civilian attire who pointed their guns at him and
pulled him out of the room.10 The raiding team tied his hands and placed him near the faucet (outside the room) then went
back inside, searched and ransacked the room. Moments later, an operative came out of the room and exclaimed, "Hoy, may
nakuha akong baril sa loob!"11

Disuanco informed Valeroso that there was a standing warrant for his arrest. However, the raiding team was not armed with a
search warrant.12

Timbol testified that he issued to Valeroso a Memorandum Receipt13 dated July 1, 1993 covering the subject firearm and its
ammunition, upon the verbal instruction of Col. Angelito Moreno.14

On May 6, 1998, the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 97, Quezon City, convicted Valeroso as charged and sentenced him to
suffer the indeterminate penalty of four (4) years, two (2) months and one (1) day, as minimum, to six (6) years, as maximum.
The gun subject of the case was further ordered confiscated in favor of the government.15

On appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed16 the RTC decision but the minimum term of the indeterminate penalty was
lowered to four (4) years and two (2) months.

On petition for review, we affirmed17 in full the CA decision. Valeroso filed a Motion for Reconsideration18 which was denied
with finality19 on June 30, 2008.

Valeroso is again before us through this Letter-Appeal20 imploring this Court to once more take a contemplative reflection and
deliberation on the case, focusing on his breached constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure. 21

Meanwhile, as the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) failed to timely file its Comment on Valeroso’s Motion for
Reconsideration, it instead filed a Manifestation in Lieu of Comment.22

In its Manifestation, the OSG changed its previous position and now recommends Valeroso’s acquittal. After a second look at
the evidence presented, the OSG considers the testimonies of the witnesses for the defense more credible and thus concludes
that Valeroso was arrested in a boarding house. More importantly, the OSG agrees with Valeroso that the subject firearm was
obtained by the police officers in violation of Valeroso’s constitutional right against illegal search and seizure, and should thus
be excluded from the evidence for the prosecution. Lastly, assuming that the subject firearm was admissible in evidence, still,
Valeroso could not be convicted of the crime, since he was able to establish his authority to possess the gun through the
Memorandum Receipt issued by his superiors.

After considering anew Valeroso’s arguments through his Letter-Appeal, together with the OSG’s position recommending his
acquittal, and keeping in mind that substantial rights must ultimately reign supreme over technicalities, this Court is swayed to
reconsider.23

The Letter-Appeal is actually in the nature of a second motion for reconsideration. While a second motion for reconsideration
is, as a general rule, a prohibited pleading, it is within the sound discretion of the Court to admit the same, provided it is filed
with prior leave whenever substantive justice may be better served thereby.24
This is not the first time that this Court is suspending its own rules or excepting a particular case from the operation of the
rules. In De Guzman v. Sandiganbayan,25 despite the denial of De Guzman’s motion for reconsideration, we still entertained his
Omnibus Motion, which was actually a second motion for reconsideration. Eventually, we reconsidered our earlier decision and
remanded the case to the Sandiganbayan for reception and appreciation of petitioner’s evidence. In that case, we said that if
we would not compassionately bend backwards and flex technicalities, petitioner would surely experience the disgrace and
misery of incarceration for a crime which he might not have committed after all.26 Also in Astorga v. People,27 on a second
motion for reconsideration, we set aside our earlier decision, re-examined the records of the case, then finally acquitted Benito
Astorga of the crime of Arbitrary Detention on the ground of reasonable doubt. And in Sta. Rosa Realty Development
Corporation v. Amante,28 by virtue of the January 13, 2004 En Banc Resolution, the Court authorized the Special First Division to
suspend the Rules, so as to allow it to consider and resolve respondent’s second motion for reconsideration after the motion
was heard on oral arguments. After a re-examination of the merits of the case, we granted the second motion for
reconsideration and set aside our earlier decision.

Clearly, suspension of the rules of procedure, to pave the way for the re-examination of the findings of fact and conclusions of
law earlier made, is not without basis.

We would like to stress that rules of procedure are merely tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice. They are
conceived and promulgated to effectively aid the courts in the dispensation of justice. Courts are not slaves to or robots of
technical rules, shorn of judicial discretion. In rendering justice, courts have always been, as they ought to be, conscientiously
guided by the norm that, on the balance, technicalities take a backseat to substantive rights, and not the other way around.
Thus, if the application of the Rules would tend to frustrate rather than to promote justice, it would always be within our power
to suspend the rules or except a particular case from its operation.29

Now on the substantive aspect.

The Court notes that the version of the prosecution, as to where Valeroso was arrested, is different from the version of the
defense. The prosecution claims that Valeroso was arrested near the INP Central Police Station in Culiat, Quezon City, while he
was about to board a tricycle. After placing Valeroso under arrest, the arresting officers bodily searched him, and they found
the subject firearm and ammunition. The defense, on the other hand, insists that he was arrested inside the boarding house of
his children. After serving the warrant of arrest (allegedly for kidnapping with ransom), some of the police officers searched the
boarding house and forcibly opened a cabinet where they discovered the subject firearm.

After a thorough re-examination of the records and consideration of the joint appeal for acquittal by Valeroso and the OSG, we
find that we must give more credence to the version of the defense.

Valeroso’s appeal for acquittal focuses on his constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure alleged to have been
violated by the arresting police officers; and if so, would render the confiscated firearm and ammunition inadmissible in
evidence against him.

The right against unreasonable searches and seizures is secured by Section 2, Article III of the Constitution which states:

SEC. 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and
seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue
except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the
complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things
to be seized.

From this constitutional provision, it can readily be gleaned that, as a general rule, the procurement of a warrant is required
before a law enforcer can validly search or seize the person, house, papers, or effects of any individual. 30

To underscore the significance the law attaches to the fundamental right of an individual against unreasonable searches and
seizures, the Constitution succinctly declares in Article III, Section 3(2), that "any evidence obtained in violation of this or the
preceding section shall be inadmissible in evidence for any purpose in any proceeding."31

The above proscription is not, however, absolute. The following are the well-recognized instances where searches and seizures
are allowed even without a valid warrant:

1. Warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest;


2. [Seizure] of evidence in "plain view." The elements are: a) a prior valid intrusion based on the valid warrantless arrest in
which the police are legally present in the pursuit of their official duties; b) the evidence was inadvertently discovered by the
police who have the right to be where they are; c) the evidence must be immediately apparent; and d) "plain view" justified
mere seizure of evidence without further search;

3. Search of a moving vehicle. Highly regulated by the government, the vehicle’s inherent mobility reduces expectation of
privacy especially when its transit in public thoroughfares furnishes a highly reasonable suspicion amounting to probable cause
that the occupant committed a criminal activity;

4. Consented warrantless search;

5. Customs search;

6. Stop and Frisk;

7. Exigent and emergency circumstances.32

8. Search of vessels and aircraft; [and]

9. Inspection of buildings and other premises for the enforcement of fire, sanitary and building regulations. 33

In the exceptional instances where a warrant is not necessary to effect a valid search or seizure, what constitutes a reasonable
or unreasonable search or seizure is purely a judicial question, determinable from the uniqueness of the circumstances
involved, including the purpose of the search or seizure, the presence or absence of probable cause, the manner in which the
search and seizure was made, the place or thing searched, and the character of the articles procured.34

In light of the enumerated exceptions, and applying the test of reasonableness laid down above, is the warrantless search and
seizure of the firearm and ammunition valid?

We answer in the negative.

For one, the warrantless search could not be justified as an incident to a lawful arrest. Searches and seizures incident to lawful
arrests are governed by Section 13, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court, which reads:

SEC. 13. Search incident to lawful arrest. – A person lawfully arrested may be searched for dangerous weapons or anything
which may have been used or constitute proof in the commission of an offense without a search warrant.

We would like to stress that the scope of the warrantless search is not without limitations. In People v. Leangsiri, 35People v.
Cubcubin, Jr.,36 and People v. Estella,37 we had the occasion to lay down the parameters of a valid warrantless search and
seizure as an incident to a lawful arrest.

When an arrest is made, it is reasonable for the arresting officer to search the person arrested in order to remove any weapon
that the latter might use in order to resist arrest or effect his escape. Otherwise, the officer’s safety might well be endangered,
and the arrest itself frustrated. In addition, it is entirely reasonable for the arresting officer to search for and seize any evidence
on the arrestee’s person in order to prevent its concealment or destruction.38

Moreover, in lawful arrests, it becomes both the duty and the right of the apprehending officers to conduct a warrantless
search not only on the person of the suspect, but also in the permissible area within the latter’s reach.39Otherwise stated, a
valid arrest allows the seizure of evidence or dangerous weapons either on the person of the one arrested or within the area of
his immediate control.40 The phrase "within the area of his immediate control" means the area from within which he might gain
possession of a weapon or destructible evidence.41 A gun on a table or in a drawer in front of one who is arrested can be as
dangerous to the arresting officer as one concealed in the clothing of the person arrested.42

In the present case, Valeroso was arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest allegedly for kidnapping with ransom. At that time,
Valeroso was sleeping inside the boarding house of his children. He was awakened by the arresting officers who were heavily
armed. They pulled him out of the room, placed him beside the faucet outside the room, tied his hands, and then put him
under the care of Disuanco.43 The other police officers remained inside the room and ransacked the locked cabinet 44 where
they found the subject firearm and ammunition.45 With such discovery, Valeroso was charged with illegal possession of firearm
and ammunition.
From the foregoing narration of facts, we can readily conclude that the arresting officers served the warrant of arrest without
any resistance from Valeroso. They placed him immediately under their control by pulling him out of the bed, and bringing him
out of the room with his hands tied. To be sure, the cabinet which, according to Valeroso, was locked, could no longer be
considered as an "area within his immediate control" because there was no way for him to take any weapon or to destroy any
evidence that could be used against him.

The arresting officers would have been justified in searching the person of Valeroso, as well as the tables or drawers in front of
him, for any concealed weapon that might be used against the former. But under the circumstances obtaining, there was no
comparable justification to search through all the desk drawers and cabinets or the other closed or concealed areas in that
room itself.46

It is worthy to note that the purpose of the exception (warrantless search as an incident to a lawful arrest) is to protect the
arresting officer from being harmed by the person arrested, who might be armed with a concealed weapon, and to prevent the
latter from destroying evidence within reach. The exception, therefore, should not be strained beyond what is needed to serve
its purpose.47 In the case before us, search was made in the locked cabinet which cannot be said to have been within Valeroso’s
immediate control. Thus, the search exceeded the bounds of what may be considered as an incident to a lawful arrest.48

Nor can the warrantless search in this case be justified under the "plain view doctrine."

The "plain view doctrine" may not be used to launch unbridled searches and indiscriminate seizures or to extend a general
exploratory search made solely to find evidence of defendant’s guilt. The doctrine is usually applied where a police officer is not
searching for evidence against the accused, but nonetheless inadvertently comes across an incriminating object.49

As enunciated in People v. Cubcubin, Jr.50 and People v. Leangsiri:51

What the "plain view" cases have in common is that the police officer in each of them had a prior justification for an intrusion in
the course of which[,] he came inadvertently across a piece of evidence incriminating the accused. The doctrine serves to
supplement the prior justification – whether it be a warrant for another object, hot pursuit, search incident to lawful arrest, or
some other legitimate reason for being present unconnected with a search directed against the accused – and permits the
warrantless seizure. Of course, the extension of the original justification is legitimate only where it is immediately apparent to
the police that they have evidence before them; the "plain view" doctrine may not be used to extend a general exploratory
search from one object to another until something incriminating at last emerges.52

Indeed, the police officers were inside the boarding house of Valeroso’s children, because they were supposed to serve a
warrant of arrest issued against Valeroso. In other words, the police officers had a prior justification for the intrusion.
Consequently, any evidence that they would inadvertently discover may be used against Valeroso. However, in this case, the
police officers did not just accidentally discover the subject firearm and ammunition; they actually searched for evidence
against Valeroso.

Clearly, the search made was illegal, a violation of Valeroso’s right against unreasonable search and seizure. Consequently, the
evidence obtained in violation of said right is inadmissible in evidence against him.1avvphi1

Unreasonable searches and seizures are the menace against which the constitutional guarantees afford full protection. While
the power to search and seize may at times be necessary for public welfare, still it may be exercised and the law enforced
without transgressing the constitutional rights of the citizens, for no enforcement of any statute is of sufficient importance to
justify indifference to the basic principles of government. Those who are supposed to enforce the law are not justified in
disregarding the rights of an individual in the name of order. Order is too high a price to pay for the loss of liberty. 53

Because a warrantless search is in derogation of a constitutional right, peace officers who conduct it cannot invoke regularity in
the performance of official functions.54

The Bill of Rights is the bedrock of constitutional government. If people are stripped naked of their rights as human beings,
democracy cannot survive and government becomes meaningless. This explains why the Bill of Rights, contained as it is in
Article III of the Constitution, occupies a position of primacy in the fundamental law way above the articles on governmental
power.55

Without the illegally seized firearm, Valeroso’s conviction cannot stand. There is simply no sufficient evidence to convict
him.56 All told, the guilt of Valeroso was not proven beyond reasonable doubt measured by the required moral certainty for
conviction. The evidence presented by the prosecution was not enough to overcome the presumption of innocence as
constitutionally ordained. Indeed, it would be better to set free ten men who might probably be guilty of the crime charged
than to convict one innocent man for a crime he did not commit.57

With the foregoing disquisition, there is no more need to discuss the other issues raised by Valeroso.

One final note. The Court values liberty and will always insist on the observance of basic constitutional rights as a condition sine
qua non against the awesome investigative and prosecutory powers of the government.58

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the February 22, 2008 Decision and June 30, 2008 Resolution are RECONSIDERED and
SET ASIDE. Sr. Insp. Jerry Valeroso is hereby ACQUITTED of illegal possession of firearm and ammunition.

SO ORDERED.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 178039

Plaintiff-Appellee,

Present:

CORONA, C.J.,

Chairperson

VELASCO, JR.,

-versus- LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,

DEL CASTILLO, and

PEREZ, JJ.

ERNESTO UYBOCO y RAMOS, Promulgated:

Defendant-Appellant.

January 19, 2011

x----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

PEREZ, J.:

Subject of this appeal is the 27 September 2006 Decision[1] promulgated by the Court of Appeals, affirming the Regional Trial
Courts (RTC) Judgment[2] in Criminal Case Nos. 93-130980, 93-132606, and 93-132607, finding Ernesto Uyboco y Ramos
(appellant) guilty of three (3) counts of kidnapping for ransom.

Appellant, along with now deceased Colonel Wilfredo Macias (Macias) and several John Does were charged in three separate
Informations, which read as follow:
In Criminal Case No. 93-130980:

That in the morning of December 20, 1993 and for sometime subsequent thereto in Manila and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously kidnap, carry away and detain the minor, JESON KEVIN DICHAVES, five (5) years old, against
his will and consent, thus depriving him of his liberty, for the purpose of extorting ransom for his release, which after payment
thereof in the amount of P1,320,000.00 in cash and P175,000.00 worth of assorted jewelry, including a Colt .45 Caliber Pistol
with SN 14836 or a total of ONE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P1,500,000.00) was divided by said accused
between and/or among themselves to the damage and prejudice of the aforementioned victim/or his parents.[3]

In Criminal Case No. 93-132606:

That in the morning of December 20, 1993 and for sometime subsequent thereto in Manila and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously kidnap, carry away and detain the minor, JESON KIRBY DICHAVES, two (2) years old, against
his will and consent, thus depriving him of his liberty, for the purpose of extorting ransom for his release, which after payment
thereof in the amount of P1,320,000.00 in cash and P175,000.00 worth of assorted jewelry, including a Colt .45 Caliber Pistol
with SN 14836 or a total of ONE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P1,500,000.00) was divided by said accused
between and/or among themselves to the damage and prejudice of the aforementioned victim/or his parents.[4]

In Criminal Case No. 93-132607:

That in the morning of December 20, 1993 and for sometime subsequent thereto in Manila and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously kidnap, carry away and detain NIMFA CELIZ, against her will and consent, thus depriving her
of liberty, for the purpose of extorting ransom for her release, which after payment thereof in the amount of P1,320,000.00 in
cash and P175,000.00 worth of assorted jewelry, including a Colt .45 Caliber Pistol with SN 14836 or a total of ONE MILLION
FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P1,500,000.00) was divided by said accused between and/or among themselves to the
damage and prejudice of the aforementioned victim.[5]

The arraignment was held in abeyance twice.[6] Finally, the arraignment was set on 22 October 1996. Appellant and Macias,
with the assistance of their counsels, however refused to enter a plea. This prompted the RTC to enter a plea of Not Guilty for
each of them. Trial on the merits ensued.

The prosecution presented the following witnesses: Nimfa Celiz (Nimfa), Jepson Dichaves (Jepson), Police Superintendent
Gilbert Cruz (P/Supt. Cruz), Police Superintendent Mario Chan (P/Supt. Chan), Police Inspector Cesar Escandor (P/Insp.
Escandor) and Carolina Alejo, whose version of facts are summarized as follows:

At around 10:30 a.m. on 20 December 1993, Nimfa and her wards, siblings Jeson Kevin and Jeson Kirby Dichaves were riding in
the Isuzu car of the Dichaves family, together with Yusan Dichaves (Yusan). Driver Pepito Acon (Acon) dropped off Yusan at
Metrobank in Claro M. Recto Avenue, Manila. While waiting for Yusan, Acon drove along Bilibid Viejo, Sampaloc. When the
vehicle passed by in front of San Sebastian Church, a stainless jeep with two men and one woman described as a tomboy on
board, suddenly blocked its way. One of the men, who was in police uniform accosted Acon and accused him of hitting the son
of a Presidential Security Group (PSG) General apparently with a stone when the vehicle ran over it. Acon denied the charges
but he was transferred to the stainless jeep while the man in police uniform drove the Isuzu car. The tomboy sat next to Nimfa
who then had Jeson Kirby sit on her lap while Jeson Kevin was sitting on the tomboys lap. They were brought to a house in
Merville Subdivision, Paranaque.[7]

While still in garage of the house, Nimfa was able to sneak out of the car and place a call to the secretary of her employer to
inform the latter that they were in Merville Subdivision. She came back to the car undetected and after a while, she and her
wards were asked to alight from the car and they were locked inside the comfort room.[8]

Jepson was at his office at 10:00 a.m. of 20 December 1993. He received a call from his wife asking him if Nimfa or Acon called
up, as she had been waiting for them at Metrobank where she was dropped off earlier. After 15 minutes, Yusan called again
and was already hysterical because she could not find the car when she roamed around the area. Jepson immediately called up
his brother Jaime and some police officers to inform them that his sons were missing. When Jepson arrived at Metrobank at
around 11:30 a.m., he received a call from his secretary informing him that Nimfa called about their whereabouts. When Jepson
got back to his office, his secretary informed him that an unidentified man called to inform them that he has custody of the
children and demanded P26 Million.[9]

Meanwhile in Merville Subdivision, the man in police uniform introduced himself to Nimfa as Sarge. He asked Nimfa for
information regarding her name and her employers telephone number. She feigned ignorance of those information. She even
claimed that she was merely a new employee.[10] Sarge informed Nimfa that they were in Fairview and that she was asked if she
knew how to go home. Nimfa chose to stay with her wards. When the phone rang, Sarge went out of the house and Nimfa
again sneaked a phone call to her employer informing them that they were being held up in Merville Subdivision.[11]

Jepson, through Jaimes help, went to the house of then Vice-President Joseph Estrada (Vice-President Estrada) at 8:00
p.m. Thereat, he met General Jewel Canson (Gen. Canson), General Panfilo Lacson (Gen. Lacson) and Major Ray Aquino (Major
Aquino). Vice-President Estrada ordered the police generals to rescue Jepsons sons and arrest the kidnappers. [12]

At 6:00 p.m., the kidnappers called Jepson and reduced the ransom to P10 Million.[13] That night, Nimfa was able to speak to
Jepson when two men handed the telephone to her. She recognized one of them as appellant, because she had seen the latter
in her employers office sometime in the first week of December 1993.[14]

On the following noon of 21 December 1993, the kidnappers called up Jepson numerous times to negotiate for the ransom. In
one of those calls, Jepson was able to recognize the voice of appellant because he had several business transactions with the
latter and they have talked for at least a hundred times during a span of two to four years.[15]

On 22 December 1993, the parties finally agreed to a ransom of P1.5 Million. Jepson offered P1.3 Million in cash and the
balance to be paid in kind, such as jewelry and a pistol.[16] Appellant asked Jepson to bring the ransom alone at Pancake House
in Magallanes Commercial Center. Jepson called up Gen. Canson and Gen. Lacson to inform them of the pay-off.[17]

At around 1:00 p.m. of even date, Nimfa was able to talk to Jepson and the latter informed her that they would be released
that afternoon.[18] At 3:00 p.m., Jepson drove his white Toyota Corolla car and proceeded to Pancake House in Magallanes
Commercial Center. He placed the money inside a gray bag and put it on the backseat. Jepson received a call from appellant at
4:00 p.m. who ordered him to put the bag in the trunk, leave the trunk unlocked, and walk away for ten (10) minutes without
turning back. Later, appellant checked on his trunk and the bag was already gone. Appellant then apprised him that his sons
and helper were already at the Shell Gasoline Station along South Luzon Expressway. He immediately went to the place and
found his sons and helper seated at the corner of the gas station.[19]

P/Insp. Escandor was assigned to proceed to Magallanes Commercial Center, together with two other police officers. They
reached the place at 3:30 p.m. and positioned themselves in front of the Maranao Arcade located at Magallanes Commercial
Center. He brought a camera to cover the supposed pay-off. He took a total of 24 shots.[20] He identified Macias together with
appellant in Magallanes Commercial Center and the latter as the one who took the ransom.[21]

P/Supt. Chan was one of the team leaders dispatched also at Magallanes Commercial Center in Makati on 22 December 1993
to take a video coverage on the supposed pay-off. He witnessed the pay-off and identified appellant as the one who took the
bag containing the ransom money from the car trunk of Jepson. [22]

P/Supt. Cruz is assigned to the now defunct Presidential Anti-Crime Commission Task Force Habagat and one of the team
leaders of Special Project Task Force organized on 22 December 1993 with the primary task of apprehending the kidnappers of
Dichaves children and helper. His group was assigned at Fort Bonifacio to await instructions from the overall Field Command
Officer Gen. Lacson. They had been waiting from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. when they received information that the kidnap
victims were released unharmed. They were further asked to maintain their position in Fort Bonifacio. At around 7:45 p.m.,
they heard on their radio that the suspects vehicle, a red Nissan Sentra was heading in their direction. A few minutes later, they
saw the red car and tailed it until it reached Dasmarias Village in Makati. They continuously followed the car inside the
village. When said car slowed down, they blocked it and immediately approached the vehicle.[23]

They introduced themselves as police officers and accosted the suspect, who turned out to be appellant. Appellant suddenly
pulled a .38 caliber revolver and a scuffle took place. They managed to subdue appellant and handcuffed him. Appellant was
requested to open the compartment and a gray bag was found inside.P/Supt. Cruz saw money, jewelry and a gun inside the
bag. Appellant was then brought to Camp Crame for questioning.[24]

At 8:00 p.m., Jepson received a call from Gen. Lacson asking him to go to Camp Crame. He and Nimfa went to Camp Crame
where he saw appellant alone in the office of Gen. Canson. He then saw the bag containing the ransom money, pieces of
jewelry and his gun on the table. Photographs were taken and Jepson was asked to identify them.[25]
A written inventory was prepared on the contents of the bag.[26] It was found out that a portion of the ransom money was
missing. It was then that appellant revealed that the missing money was in the possession of Macias. Appellant accompanied
P/Supt. Cruz and his team to the residence of Macias in Camp Aguinaldo.P/Supt. Cruz waited for Macias until 4:00 a.m. on the
following day and placed him under arrest. Macias was asked where the rest of the ransom money was and Macias went inside
the house and retrieved a red bag inside a small cabinet. P/Supt. Cruz prepared a receipt of the seized property from
Macias. Macias placed his signature on the receipt.[27]

Carolina Alejo was the owner of the house in Merville Subdivision where the kidnap victims were detained. She stated that she
leased the house to appellant.On 23 December 1993, it came to her knowledge that said house was used in the kidnapping. She
noticed that the lock of the comfort room was reversed so that it could only be locked from the outside. She considered this
unusual because she personally caused the door knob to be installed.[28]

The defense, on its part, presented appellant, Florinda Sese Barcelona (Ms. Sese), Dr. Jaime Leal (Dr. Leal), and retired Colonel
Ramon Navarro (Col. Navarro).

Appellant testified that he came to know Jepson when he was introduced to him by Col. Navarro in 1989 as the importer of
police equipment and accessories.Jepson wanted to buy revolving lights, police sirens and paging system. Through Navarro,
appellant also met Macias who was then selling his security agency in July 1993. He admitted that Jepson had been lending him
money since 1990 and his total borrowings amounted to P8.5 Million in December 1993. Appellant also knew Nimfa since 1990
and had met her five (5) times in the office of Jepson where Nimfa usually served him coffee.[29]

In December 1993, he rented a house in Merville Subdivision for his mother. He was given the key to the house in 15
December 1993 but he denied going to said place on 20, 21, 22, 23 of December 1993.

At 3:00 p.m. of 20 December 1993, he received a call from Jepson asking for P1 Million, as partial payment of his loan. Jepson
informed appellant that his sons were kidnapped and he requested appellant to negotiate with the kidnappers for the release
of his children. Out of pity, appellant agreed. He actively participated in the negotiations between 20 to 22 of December 1993,
where he successfully negotiated a lower ransom of P1.5 Million.

On 11:30 a.m. of 22 December 1993, Jepson again requested appellant to deliver the ransom money to the
kidnappers. Appellant acceded to the request. He asked Macias, who was in his office that day, to accompany him. The
kidnappers asked appellant to proceed to the Makati area and wait for further instructions.Appellant called up Jepson who told
him that he would deliver the money to appellant once instructions were given by the kidnappers. The kidnappers finally called
and asked appellant to proceed to Shell Gasoline Station-Magallanes. He informed Jepson of this fact and the latter asked
appellant to meet him in Magallanes Commercial Center where he would just put the money inside the car trunk and leave it
unlocked. Appellant took the money from Jepsons car and put it inside his car trunk and proceeded to Shell Gasoline
station.[30] Appellant and Macias did not see the kidnappers and Jepsons children at the station. He tried calling Jepson but
failed to communicate with him. They then decided to go back to the office in Cubao, Quezon City. At 7:00 p.m., he received a
call from the kidnappers who were cursing him because they apparently went to the Shell Gasoline Station and noticed that
there were many policemen stationed in the area, which prompted them to release the victims. Appellant left his office at
around 7:20 p.m. to go home in Dasmarias Village, Makati. When he was about ten (10) meters away from the gate of his
house, a car blocked his path. He saw P/Supt. Cruz, a certain Lt. Rodica and two other men alight from the car and were heavily
armed. They pulled him out of the car and hit him with their firearms.[31]

Ms. Sese was at the office of appellant on 22 December 1993 when she was told by the secretary, who appeared shaken, that a
caller was looking for appellant.She saw appellant arrive at the office with Macias.[32]

Dr. Leal, the medico-legal officer at Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory, presented the medico-legal certificate of
appellant and testified that the injuries of appellant could have been sustained during the scuffle.[33]

Col. Navarro introduced appellant to Jepson. He was privy to the loan transactions between appellant and Jepson where the
former asked loans from the latter.He even served as guarantor of some of the obligations of appellant. When the checks
issued by appellant were dishonored by the bank, Jepson filed a case against Navarro for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22,
wherein the latter was eventually acquitted.[34]

While the criminal cases were undergoing trial, Macias died. Consequently, his criminal liability is totally extinguished under
Article 89, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code.[35]
On 30 August 2002, the RTC rendered judgment finding appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of kidnapping
for ransom. The dispositive portion reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered herein accused Ernesto Ramos Uyboco is hereby found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime of Kidnapping for Ransom penalized by Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. 1084. He is hereby
ordered to suffer the prison term of reclusion perpetua for three (3) counts together with the accessory penalties provided by
law. He should pay private complainant Jepson Dichaves the amount of P150,000.00 as moral damages.

The above-described .45 Caliber Colt Pistol and 12-gauge Remington shotgun as well as the Nissan Sentra 4-Door Sedan are
hereby confiscated in favor of the government.

The Warden of Metro Manila Rehabilitation Center, Camp Ricardo R. Papa, Bicutan, Taguig, Metro Manila is hereby ordered to
immediately transfer the said accused to the Bureau of Corrections, National Bilibid Prison, Muntinlupa City. The Jail Director of
said bureau is ordered to inform this court in writing soonest as to when the said official took custody of the accused.[36]

The trial court held that the prosecution had established with the required quantum of evidence that the elements of
kidnapping for ransom were present and that appellant was the author of said crime.

Appellant filed a notice of appeal to the Supreme Court. Conformably to People v. Mateo,[37] this Court in a Resolution dated 6
September 2004, referred the case to the Court of Appeals for appropriate action and disposition.[38]

On 27 September 2006, the Court of Appeals affirmed in toto the Decision of the RTC, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, the August 30, 2002 Decision of the Regional Trial Court, national Capital Judicial Region, Br. 18, Manila, in
Criminal Cases Nos. 93-130980, 93-132606, and 93-132607, in convicting Ernesto Uyboco of three (3) counts of Kidnapping for
Ransom is hereby AFFIRMED in toto. No costs.[39]

A motion for reconsideration was filed by appellant but the same was denied in a Resolution dated 22 December 2006. Hence,
this appeal.

On 3 September 2007, this Court required the parties to file their respective supplemental briefs. On 25 October 2007,
appellants counsel filed a withdrawal of appearance. Appellee manifested that it is no longer filing a Supplemental
Brief.[40] Meanwhile, this Court appointed the Public Attorneys Office as counsel de oficiofor appellant. Appellee also filed a
manifestation that it is merely adopting all the arguments in the appellants brief submitted before the Court of Appeals. [41]

Appellant prays for a reversal of his conviction on three (3) counts of kidnapping for ransom based on the following assignment
of errors:

I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT DESPITE THE DISTURBING WHISPERS OF
DOUBT REPLETE IN THE PROSECUTIONS THEORY.

II. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GIVING CREDENCE TO NIMFA CELIZ TESTIMONY NOTWITHSTANDING THE INCREDIBILITY
OF HER STORY.

III. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN PRESUMING REGULARITY IN THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL FUNCTIONS OVER THE
CONSTITUTIONAL PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE OF THE ACCUSED UYBOCO.

IV. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING THE TESTIMONY OF JEPSON DICHAVEZ NOTWITHSTANDING HIS DISPLAYED
PROPENSITY FOR UNTRUTHFULNESS.

V. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING MOST OF THE OBJECT EVIDENCE PRESENTED AGAINST THE ACCUSED-
APPELLANT SINCE THEY WERE PROCURED IN VIOLATION OF HIS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS.

VI. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING OF FACT THAT THE MERVILLE PROPERTY LEASED BY ACCUSED-APPELLANT FROM
MS. CAROLINA ALEJO WAS THE VERY SAME HOUSE WHERE NIMFA CELIZ AND HER WARDS WERE ALLEGEDLY DETAINED.

VII. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT ACCUSED UYBOCO AS HAVING PARTICIPATED IN THE ABDUCTION OF
JESON KEVIN, JESON KIRBY, AND NIMFA CELIZ AS NOT A SINGLE EVIDENCE ON RECORD SUPPORTS THE SAME.
VIII. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT ACQUITTING THE ACCUSED CONSIDERING THAT ABDUCTION, AN IMPORTANT
ELEMENT OF THE CRIME, WAS NEVER ESTABLISHED AGAINST HIM.

IX. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THE ACCUSED GUILTY OF KIDNAPPING FOR RANSOM WITHOUT DISCUSSING
THE PARTICIPATION OF ACCUSED MACIAS CONSIDERING THAT THE CHARGE WAS FOR CONSPIRACY.[42]

The ultimate issue in every criminal case is whether appellants guilt has been proven beyond reasonable doubt. Guided by the
law and jurisprudential precepts, this Court is unerringly led to resolve this issue in the affirmative, as we shall hereinafter
discuss.

In order for the accused to be convicted of kidnapping and serious illegal detention under Article 267 of the Revised Penal
Code, the prosecution is burdened to prove beyond reasonable doubt all the elements of the crime, namely: (1) the offender is
a private individual; (2) he kidnaps or detains another, or in any manner deprives the latter of his liberty; (3) the act of
detention or kidnapping must be illegal; and (4) in the commission of the offense any of the following circumstances is present:
(a) the kidnapping or detention lasts for more than three days; (b) it is committed by simulating public authority; (c) serious
physical injuries are inflicted upon the person kidnapped or detained or threats to kill him are made; or (d) the person
kidnapped and kept in detained is a minor, the duration of his detention is immaterial. Likewise, if the victim is kidnapped and
illegally detained for the purpose of extorting ransom, the duration of his detention is immaterial.[43]

We are in full accord with the findings of the trial court that these elements were proven by the prosecution, thus:

1) Accused Uyboco is a private individual;

2) Accused Uyboco together with the unidentified persons/companions of accused Uyboco, referred to as John Does,
forcibly abducted the two sons of private complainant Jepson Dichaves, namely: then five-year-old Jeson Kevin and two-year
old Jeson Kirby as well as their maid or yaya Nimfa Celiz. Their abduction occurred at about 10:30 in the morning of December
20, 1993. The three victims were on board Jepsons Isuzu pick-up driven by Jepsons driver Pepito Acon. The moving pick-up was
in front of San Sebastian Church, Legarda, Manila when its path was blocked by a stainless jeep. A man in white t-shirt and
brown vest accosted driver Pepito for having allegedly ran over a stone that hit a son of a general working at the Presidential
Security Group. Pepito was made to ride in a jeep. The same man drove the pick-up to a house in Merville Subdivision,
Paranaque, Metro Manila, where the victims were illegally detained from December 20 to 23, 1993.

3) The act of the detention or kidnapping of the three victims was indubitably illegal. Their detention was not ordered
by any competent authority but by the private individual whose mind and heart were focused to illegally amassed huge amount
of money thru force and coercion for personal gain;

5) Both accused Uyboco and Macias had successfully extorted ransom by compelling the parents of the minors to give
in to their unreasonable demands to get the huge amount of money, a gun, and pieces of jewelry x x x. [44]

These facts were based on the narrations of the prosecutions witnesses, particularly that of Nimfa, the victim herself and
Jepson, the father of the two children abducted and the person from whom ransom was extorted.

Nimfa recounted how she and her wards were abducted in the morning of 20 December 2003 and detained in a house in
Merville Subdivision, Paraaque, thus:

A: When we arrived at the office after awhile we boarded the pick-up and then we left, Sir.

A: Those who boarded the pick-up, the driver Pepito Acon, Mrs. Yusan Dichavez, the two (2) children and myself, Sir.

A: We proceeded to Metrobank Recto, Sir.

Q: And when you stopped there, what happened?

A: Mrs. Yusan Dichavez alighted in order to cross the street to go to Metrobank, Sir.

Q: And then what followed next?

A: The driver, Jeson Kirvy, Jeson Kervin and myself made a right turn and we entered an alley, Sir.

Q: Before reaching Legarda, do you know of any untowards incident that happened?
A: Yes, sir.

ATTY. PAMARAN:

Q: What?

A: When we were already in front of the San Sebastian Church and Sta. Rita College there was a stainless jeep that block our
path, Sir.

Q: How many persons were inside that stainless jeep, if you know?

A: I have not notice, but there were many, Sir.

Q: How did that stainless jeep stop your vehicle?

A: Our driver Pepito Acon was signaled by the persons on the stainless jeep to stay on the side, sir.

Q: What did your driver Pepito Acon do when the sign was made to him?

A: The driver stopped the pick-up and set on the side, Sir.

Q: And then what followed next after he stopped?

A: The man told us that we will be brought to the precinct because when we then make a turn at Kentucky a stone was ran and
hit the son of the General of PSG from Malacaang, Sir.

Q: What did Pepito Acon do? When told to alight?

A: Pepito Acon alighted, Sir.

Q: Then what followed next?

A: After that Pepito alighted and the man who came from the stainless jeep boarded and he was the one who drove, Sir.

A: When that man boarded the pick-up there was a T-bird who also boarded on the passengers side, Sir.

Q: When you entered the gate of Merville Subdivision, where did you proceed?

A: When we entered the gate there was a street which I do not know and when we went straight as to my estimate we were
going back to the main gate, Sir.

A: The pick-up stopped in front of a low house near the gate, Sir.

Q: When you stopped in front of the gate, that house which is low, what happened?

A: The tomboy alighted and opened the gate of that low house, Sir.

Q: What followed next after the tomboy opened the gate?

A: After the tomboy opened the gate, the driver entered the pick-up inside, Sir.

Q: And when you entered the house, what happened?

A: When we entered the house we were confined at the comfort room, Sir.[45]

Jepson gave an account how appellant demanded ransom from him and eventually got hold of the money, thus:

A: Then Macias offered the release of the two (2) boys for 1.5 Million each, Sir.

A: Then I started begging and bargaining with them and then suddenly Uyboco was again the one continuing the conversation,
Sir.
Q: What did you say?

A: After some bargaining and beggings he reduced the demand to 1.7 million, and he asked for my wife to talk to because
according to him I was very hard to talk too, Sir.

ATTY. PAMARAN:

Q: You said he, to whom are you referring?

A: To Mr. Uyboco, Sir.

Q: What followed?

A: After some more bargaining and begins he further reduced their demand to1.5 million x x x.

Q: And after that what followed?

A: I offered them to fill up the different (sic) in kind, Sir.

Q: Why to offer the different (sic) in kind?

A: To fill up the different (sic) between 1.3 million to 1.5 million, Sir.

Q: So in short, how much cash did you offer?

A: I offered it for 1.3 million, Sir.

Q: How about the different (sic), what will it be?

A: At this point, he asked me to include my gun, Sir.

Q: How about the other balance?

A: My jewelry, Sir.[46]

Q: And what did you do after you were in possession of the money, the jewelries, the gun and the bag?

A: I returned to my office and put the cash in the bag.

Q: In short, what were those inside the bag?

A: The P1.325 million money, the gun and the assorted jewelries.

Q: And after placing them inside the bag, what happened?

A: I left my office at 3:00 PM to proceed to the Pancake House at the

Magallanes Commercial Center.

Q: Where did you place that bag?

A: That bag, at that time, was placed at the back seat when I was going to the Pancake House.

Q: What else did he tell you?

A: He told me to put the ransom bag x x x inside my trunk compartment, leave it and lock the car, and walk away without
looking back for ten (10) minutes.

Q: After that instruction, what happened, or what did you do?


A: After few minutes, he called again. He told me to drive and park the car beside the car Mitsubishi Colt Mirage with Plate NO.
NRZ-863.

Q: Did he tell you where was that Colt Mirage car parked?

A: Yes, in front of the Mercury Drug Store.

Q: And then, what did you do?

A: I followed his instruction.

Q: And what followed next?

A: After few more minutes, he called again and asked if I am in front of the Mercury Drug Store already.

Q: And what was your answer?

A: I told him yes and he again gave me the final arrangement, but he uttered I walk back towards the Pancake House without
looking back for ten (10) minutes.

Q: And?

A: And informing me the whereabouts of my sons.

ATTY. PAMARAN:

Q: Did you comply with that instruction?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: What did you do?

A: I walked towards the Pancake House without looking back for more than ten (10) minutes.

Q: That car that you parked near the Mitsubishi Colt, how far was your car the parked form that Colt Mirage?

A: Beside the Colt Mirage, Sir.

Q: And after you parked the car, what followed?

A: I walked towards the Pancake House without looking back and then I turned to the back of the supermarket and I checked
my trunk and saw that the bag is gone already.

Q: And what followed thereafter?

A: A few minutes, Uyboco called up and told me that my sons were at the shell station after the Magallanes Commercial Center
inside the Bibingkahan.[47]

Now, appellant seeks to destroy the credibility of these witnesses by imputing inconsistencies, untruthfulness and incredibility
in their testimonies.

Appellant harps on the supposed inconsistencies in the testimony of Nimfa, namely: First, Nimfa stated that on the day they
were to be released, they, together with Macias, left Merville Subdivision at 4:00 p.m. while appellant stayed behind. However,
P/Insp. Escandor testified that at around 4:00 p.m., he saw Macias and appellant at Magallanes Commercial Center. Second,
Nimfa could not properly identify the number of kidnappers. Third, Nimfa failed to state in her affidavit and during the direct
examination that Sarge had a gun, but later on cross-examination, she intimated that Sarge had a gun. Fourth, it was incredible
that Nimfa was able to identify the route taken by the kidnappers to the safe house because she was not allegedly
blindfolded. Fifth, it was strange for Nimfa to say that two persons, Macias and appellant, were holding the receiver and the
dialing mechanism whenever they hand the phone to her. Sixth, it was impossible for Nimfa to have access to an operational
telephone while in captivity.[48] The Court of Appeals correctly dismissed these inconsistencies as immaterial, in this wise:
The purported inconsistencies and discrepancies involve estimations of time or number; hence, the reference thereto would
understandably vary. The rule is that inconsistencies in the testimonies of prosecution witnesses on minor details and collateral
matters do not affect the substance of their declaration, their veracity or the weight of their testimonies. The inconsistencies
and discrepancies of the testimonies, in the case at bar, are not of such nature as would warrant the reversal of the decision
appealed from. On the contrary, such trivial inconsistencies strengthen, rather than diminish, Celiz testimony as they erase
suspicion that the same was rehearsed.

The fact that Uyboco and his companions neither donned masks to hide their faces nor blindfolded or tied up their victims goes
to show their brazenness in perpetrating the crime. Besides, familiarity with the victims or their families has never rendered the
commission of the crime improbable, but has in fact at times even facilitated its commission.Moreover, the fact that there was
a usable phone in the house where Celiz and the kids were held captive only proves that, in this real world, mistakes or
blunders are made and there is no such thing as a perfect crime. On a different view, it may even be posited that the incredible
happenings narrated by Celiz only highlights the brilliance of Uyboco and his companions. Verily, in committing the crime of
kidnapping with ransom, they adopted and pursued unfamiliar strategies to confuse the police authorities, the victim, and the
family of the victims.[49]

Appellant then zeroes in on Jepson and accuses him of lying under oath when he claimed that appellant owed him only P2.3
Million when in fact, appellant owed him P8.5 Million. Appellant charges Jepson of downplaying his closeness to him when in
fact they had several business deals and Jepson would address appellant as Ernie. Moreover, it was unbelievable for Jepson to
be able to identify with utmost certainty that the kidnapper he was supposedly talking to was appellant. Finally, appellant
claims that Jepsons motive to maliciously impute a false kidnapping charge against him boils down to money. Among the
businesses that Jepson owns was along the same line of business as that of appellant, which is the supply of police equipment
to the PNP. To eliminate competition and possibly procure all contracts from the PNP and considering his brothers close
association to then Vice-President Estrada, Jepson crafted and executed a frame up of appellant.

And the Court of Appeals had this to say:

For one, the strategy used, which is the use of unconventional or not so commonly used strategy, to apprehend the kidnappers
of Celiz and the Dichaves children is, by reason of their special knowledge and expertise, the police operatives call or
prerogative. Accordingly, in the absence of any evidence that said agents falsely testified against Uyboco, We shall presume
regularity in their performance of official duties and disregard Uybocos unsubstantiated claim that he was framed up.

Secondly, matters of presentation of witnesses by the prosecution and the determination of which evidence to present are not
for Uyboco or even the trial court to decide, but the same rests upon the prosecution. This is so since Section 5, Rule 110 of the
Revised Rules of Court expressly vests in the prosecution the direction and control over the prosecution of a case. As the
prosecution had other witnesses who it believes could sufficiently prove the case against Uyboco, its non-presentation of other
witnesses cannot be taken against the same.[50]

Time and again, this court has invariably viewed the defense of frame-up with disfavor. Like the defense of alibi, it can be just
as easily concocted.[51]

We are inclined to accord due weight and respect to the ruling of the lower courts in giving credence to the positive testimonies
of Nimfa and Jepson, both pointing to appellant as one of the kidnappers. Both witnesses testified in a clear and categorical
manner, unfazed by efforts of the defense to discredit them. As a rule, the assessment of the credibility of witnesses and their
testimonies is a matter best undertaken by the trial court, which had a unique opportunity to observe the witnesses firsthand
and to note their demeanor, conduct and attitude.[52] While it is true that the trial judge who conducted the hearing would be
in a better position to ascertain the truth or falsity of the testimonies of the witnesses, it does not necessarily follow that a
judge who was not present during the trial, as in this case, cannot render a valid and just decision, since the latter can very well
rely on the transcribed stenographic notes taken during the trial as the basis of his decision. [53]

Appellant raises questions which purportedly tend to instill doubt on the prosecutions theory, thus:

If Uyboco is really the mastermind of the kidnapping syndicate, why would he demand only P1.325M x x x as ransom? Why
would he be the one to personally pick-up the ransom money using his own car registered in his sons name? Why did he not
open the bag containing the ransom to check its contents? Why would he be the one to personally hand the phone to Nimfa
Celiz without any mask covering his face x x x. Why would he go back to his family residence x x x with the ransom money still
intact in the trunk of his car?

If Nimfa Celiz and her wards were indeed kidnapped, why were they not blindfolded x x x? Why were they not tied x x x?
If it is true that the house at Merville, Paraaque was used by accused-appellant Uyboco as the place of the alleged detention x x
x how come Uyboco signed the lease contract under his own name? x x x Certainly, any person with the education attainment
of at least high school degree, much more so an established businessman like accused-appellant would know that the lease
contract and the post-dated checks are incriminating evidence.

(h)ow come no effort was exerted in apprehending Uyboco during day 1 of the kidnapping? x x x Why is their story focused
only on the day of the ransom payment? Why did they not apply for a warrant of arrest against accused-appellant Uyboco
when they supposedly knew that from day 1, he was the kidnapper?

Why were there no tapes presented in evidence which recorded the conversations between the kidnappers x x x. [54]

Furthermore, appellant stresses that his financial status as an established and well-off businessman negates any motive on his
part to resort to kidnapping.

If we indulge appellants speculations, we could readily provide for the answers to all these questions that appellant originally
demanded P26 Million but this had been substantially reduced due to aggressive bargaining and negotiations; that appellant
personally picked up the ransom money because he could not trust anybody to do the work for him; that appellant did not
open the bag containing the money because he trusted Jepson, who then out of fear, would deliver as instructed; that
appellant did not cover his face in front of Nimfa because he thought Nimfa would not recognize him; that appellant went back
to his family residence because he never thought that Jepson would recognize him as the voice behind one of the kidnappers;
that the victims were not blindfolded or tied because Nimfa, who appeared to be ignorant to the kidnappers and the two
children barely 5 years old would be emboldened to escape; that appellant never thought that the police would discover the
place of detention; that the police employed a different strategy, which is to first secure the victims before they apprehend the
kidnappers; that to secure a warrant would be futile as the police then did not have sufficient evidence to pin down appellant
to the crime of kidnapping; that there were no actual record of the telephone conversations between Jepson and the
kidnappers.

However, to individually address each and every question would be tantamount to engaging in a battle of endless speculations,
which do not have a place in a court of law where proof or hard evidence takes precedence. On the other hand, the prosecution
presented testimonies and evidence to prove that kidnapping occurred and that appellant is the author thereof.

Appellant seeks to pierce the presumption of regularity enjoyed by police officers to anchor his argument that he has been
framed up. He belittles the efforts of the police officers who participated in the operation. Appellant claims that despite
knowledge of the place of alleged detention, the police did not try to rescue the kidnap victims. Appellant also notes that while
P/Supt. Chan denies installing any listening device to record the conversations of the kidnappers and Jepson, the interview
made by a reporter for a television network shows that Major Aquino admitted to taped conversations of appellants alleged
negotiations for the ransom with Jepson.Appellant insists that these taped conversations do exist.

Appellant cannot rely on a vague mention of an interview, if it indeed exists, to discredit the testimony of P/Supt. Chan. The
truth of the matter is appellant failed to prove the existence of the alleged taped conversations. The matters of failure of the
police officer to properly document the alleged pay-off, the non-production of the master copy of the video tape, and the chain
of custody supposedly broken are not semblance of neglect so as to debunk the presumption of regularity. In the absence of
proof of motive on the part of the police officers to falsely ascribe a serious crime against the accused, the presumption of
regularity in the performance of official duty, as well as the trial court's assessment on the credibility of the apprehending
officers, shall prevail over the accused's self-serving and uncorroborated claim of frame-up.[55]

Appellant then questions the validity of his arrest and the search conducted inside his car in absence of a warrant. The arrest
was validly executed pursuant to Section 5, paragraph (b) of Rule 113 of the Rules of Court, which provides:

SEC. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person: (a)
When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an
offense; (b) When an offense has in fact been committed and he has personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to
be arrested has committed it; and, (c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal
establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped
while being transferred from one confinement to another. (Emphasis supplied)

The second instance of lawful warrantless arrest covered by paragraph (b) cited above necessitates two stringent requirements
before a warrantless arrest can be effected: (1) an offense has just been committed; and (2) the person making the arrest has
personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested has committed it.[56]
Records show that both requirements are present in the instant case. The police officers present in Magallanes Commercial
Center were able to witness the pay-off which effectively consummates the crime of kidnapping. They all saw appellant take
the money from the car trunk of Jepson. Such knowledge was then relayed to the other police officers stationed in Fort
Bonifacio where appellant was expected to pass by.

Personal knowledge of facts must be based on probable cause, which means an actual belief or reasonable grounds of
suspicion. The grounds of suspicion are reasonable when, in the absence of actual belief of the arresting officers, the suspicion
that the person to be arrested is probably guilty of committing the offense is based on actual facts, i.e., supported by
circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to create the probable cause of guilt of the person to be arrested. A reasonable
suspicion, therefore, must be founded on probable cause, coupled with good faith on the part of the peace officers making the
arrest. Section 5, Rule 113 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure does not require the arresting officers to personally witness
the commission of the offense with their own eyes.[57]

It is sufficient for the arresting team that they were monitoring the pay-off for a number of hours long enough for them to be
informed that it was indeed appellant, who was the kidnapper. This is equivalent to personal knowledge based on probable
cause.

Likewise, the search conducted inside the car of appellant was legal because the latter consented to such search as testified by
P/Supt. Cruz. Even assuming that appellant did not give his consent for the police to search the car, they can still validly do so by
virtue of a search incident to a lawful arrest under Section 13, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court which states:

SEC. 13. Search incident to lawful arrest. A person lawfully arrested may be searched for dangerous weapons or anything which
may have been used or constitute proof in the commission of an offense without a search warrant.

In lawful arrests, it becomes both the duty and the right of the apprehending officers to conduct a warrantless search not only
on the person of the suspect, but also in the permissible area within the latter's reach. Otherwise stated, a valid arrest allows
the seizure of evidence or dangerous weapons either on the person of the one arrested or within the area of his immediate
control. The phrase "within the area of his immediate control" means the area from within which he might gain possession of a
weapon or destructible evidence.[58] Therefore, it is only but expected and legally so for the police to search his car as he was
driving it when he was arrested.

Appellant avers that it was not proven that appellant was present and in fact participated in the abduction of the
victims. Lacking this element, appellant should have been acquitted. In a related argument, appellant contends that conspiracy
was not proven in the execution of the crime, therefore, appellants participation was not sufficiently established.

The Court of Appeal effectively addressed these issues, to wit:

The prosecution was able to prove that: 1) At the time of the kidnapping, the house where Celiz and the Dichaves children were
kept was being leased by Uyboco; 2) Uyboco was present in the said house at the time when Celiz and the Dichaves children
were being kept thereat; 3) there being no evidence to the contrary, Uybocos presence in the same is voluntary; 4) that Uyboco
has in his possession some of the ransom payment; and, 5) that Uyboco was the one who told them that the balance of the
ransom payment is with Macias. All these circumstances clearly point out that Uyboco, together with several unidentified
persons, agreed or decided and conspired, to commit kidnapping for ransom.

Uybocos claim, that since it was not proven that he was one of the passengers of the jeep which waylaid the Dichaves vehicle
on December 20, 1993, he could not be convicted of kidnapping for ransom considering that his participation, if any, was
merely to provide the house where the victims were kept, is misplaced.

Moreover, to Our mind, it is inconceivable that members of a kidnapping syndicate would entrust the performance of an
essential and sensitive phase of their criminal scheme, i.e. possession of the ransom payment, to people not in cahoots with
them, and who had no knowledge whatsoever of the details of their nefarious plan.[59]

The testimonies of Nimfa and Jepson sufficiently point to the participation of appellant. While he was not present during the
abduction, he was present in the house where the victims were detained, oftentimes giving the phone to Nimfa to talk to
Jepson. He also actively demanded ransom from Jepson. The conspiracy was likewise proven by the above
testimonies. Appellant conspired with Macias and other John Does in committing the crime. Therefore, even with the absence
of appellant in the abduction stage, he is still liable for kidnapping for ransom because in conspiracy, the act of one is the act of
all.[60]

Based on the foregoing, we sustain appellants conviction


WHEREFORE, the Decision dated 30 August 2002 in Criminal Case Nos. 93-130980, 93-132606, and 93-132607 RTC, Branch 18,
Manila, finding Ernesto Uyboco y Ramos guilty of kidnapping for ransom, and the Decision dated 27 September 2006 of the
Court of Appeals, affirming in toto the Decision of the RTC, are AFFIRMED

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 198694 February 13, 2013

RAMON MARTINEZ y GOCO/RAMON GOCO y MARTINEZ @ MON, Petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

DECISION

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:

Assailed in this Petition for Review on Centiorari1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court are the June 30, 2011 Decision2 and
September 20, 2011 Resolution3 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. No. 32544 which affirmed the April 30, 2009
Decision4 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila Branch 2 (RTC) in Criminal Case No. 08-358669 convicting petitioner Ramon
Martinez y Goco/Ramon Goco y Martinez (Ramon) of the crime of possession of dangerous drugs punished under Section 11(3)
Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 (RA 9165) otherwise known as the "Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.’’

The Factual Antecedents

At around 9:15 in the evening of December 29, 2007, PO2 Roberto Soque (PO2 Soque), PO2 Alejandro Cepe(PO2 Cepe) and
PO3Edilberto Zeta (PO3 Zeta), who wereall assigned tothe Station Anti-Illegal Drugs (SAID) Section of the Malate Police Station
9 (Police Station 9), conducted a routine foot patrol along Balingkit Street, Malate, Manila. In the process, they heard a man
shouting "Putanginamo! Limangdaannabaito?" Forpurportedly violating Section 844 of the Revised Ordinance of the City of
Manila (Manila City Ordinance)which punishes breaches of the peace, the man, later identified as Ramon,was apprehended and
asked to empty his pockets. In the course thereof, the police officers were able to recover from him a small transparent plastic
sachet containing white crystalline substance suspected to beshabu.PO2 Soque confiscated the sachet and brought Ramon to
Police Station 9 where the former markedthe item with the latter’s initials, "RMG." There, Police Superintendent Ferdinand
RicafrenteQuirante(PSuptQuirante) prepared a request for laboratory examination which, together with the specimen, was
brought by PO2 Soque to the PNP Crime Laboratory for examination.

Forensic Chemist Police Senior Inspector Erickson Calabocal (PSInspCalabocal)examinedthe specimen which contained 0.173
gram of white crystalline substanceand found the same positive for methylamphetamine hydrochloride (or shabu).

Consequently, Ramon was charged with possession of dangerous drugs under Section 11(3), Article II of RA 9165 throughan
Information dated January 3, 2008 which states:

That on or about December 29, 2007, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, without being authorized by law to
possess any dangerous drug, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and knowingly have in his possession and under his custody
and control one (1) heat sealed transparent plastic sachet containing ZERO POINT ONE SEVEN THREE (0.173) gram of white
crystalline substance containing methylamphetamine hydrochloride known as SHABU, a dangerous drug. 5

In defense, Ramon denied the charge and gave his version of the incident. He narrated that on December 29, 2007, at around
4:00 in the afternoon, whilewalking alongBalingkit Street to borrow a welding machine from one Paez Garcia, a man in civilian
clothing approached and asked him if he is Ramon Goco. Upon affirming his identity, he was immediately handcuffed by the
man who eventually introduced himself as a police officer. Together, they boarded a tricycle (sidecar) wherethe said officer
asked him if he was carrying illegal drugs. Despite his denial, he was still brought to a precinct to be detained. Thereafter, PO2
Soquepropositioned Ramon and asked for ₱20,000.00 in exchange for his release.When Ramon’s wife,AmaliaGoco, was unable
to produce the ₱20,000.00 which PO2 Soquehad asked for, he (Ramon) was brought to the Manila City Hall for inquest
proceedings.

The RTC Ruling

In its April 30, 2009 Decision, the RTCconvicted Ramon of the crime of possession of dangerous drugs as charged, finding all its
elements tohave been established through the testimonies of the prosecution’sdisinterested witnesses. In this relation,it
alsoupheld the legality of Ramon’s warrantless arrest, observing that Ramon was disturbing the peace in violation of the Manila
City Ordinance during the time of his apprehension. Consequently, Ramon was sentenced to suffer the penalty of imprisonment
oftwelve (12) years and one (1) day as minimum to seventeen (17) years and four (4) months as maximum and to pay a fine of
₱300,000.00. Aggrieved, Ramon elevated his conviction to the CA.

The CA Ruling

In its June 30, 2011 Decision,the CA denied Ramon’s appeal and thereby affirmedhis conviction. Itupheld the factual findings of
the RTC which found that the elements of the crime of possession of dangerous drugs were extant, to wit: (1) that the accused
is in possession of a prohibited drug; (2) that such possession is not authorized by law; and (3) that the accused freely and
consciously possessed the said drug.6

Likewise, the CA sustained the validity of the body search made on Ramon as an incident of alawful warrantless arrest for
breach of the peace which he committed in the presence of the police officers, notwithstanding its (the case for breach of the
peace)subsequent dismissal for failure to prosecute.

Moreover, the CAobserved that every link in the chain of custody of the prohibited drug wassufficiently establishedfrom the
time PO2Soque took the sameup to its actual presentation in court.

Finally, it did not give credence to Ramon’s claim of extortion as his asseverationsfailed to overcome the presumption of
regularity in the performance of the police officers’ official duties.

The Issue

The sole issue raised in this petition is whether or not the CA erred in affirming the Decision of the RTC convicting Ramon of the
crime of possession of dangerous drugs.

The Ruling of the Court

The petition is meritorious.

Enshrined in the fundamental law is a person’s right against unwarranted intrusions by the government. Section 2, Article III of
the 1987 Philippine Constitution (Constitution) states that:

Section 2.The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and
seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue
except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the
complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things
to be seized.

Accordingly, so as to ensure that the same sacrosanct right remains revered, effects secured by government authoritiesin
contraventionof the foregoingarerendered inadmissible in evidence for any purpose, in any proceeding. In this regard, Section
3(2), Article III of the Constitution provides that:

2. Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section [referring to Section 2] shall be inadmissible for any
purpose in any proceeding.

Commonly known as the "exclusionary rule," the above-cited proscription is not, however, an absolute and rigid one.7 As found
in jurisprudence, the traditional exceptions are customs searches,8 searches of moving vehicles,9seizure of evidence in plain
view,10 consented searches,11 "stop and frisk" measures12 andsearches incidental to a lawful arrest.13 This last-mentioned
exception is of particular significance to this case and thus, necessitates further disquisition.

A valid warrantless arrest which justifies a subsequent search is one that is carried out under the parameters of Section 5(a),
Rule 113 of the Rules of Court14 which requires that the apprehending officer must have been spurred by probable cause to
arresta person caught in flagrante delicto. To be sure,the term probable cause has been understood to mean a reasonable
ground of suspicion supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to warrant a cautious man's belief that the
person accused is guilty of the offense with which he is charged.15Specifically with respect to arrests, it is such facts and
circumstances which would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed by the
person sought to be arrested.16 In this light, the determination of the existence or absence of probable cause necessitates a re-
examination of the factual incidents.
Records show that PO2 Soque arrested Ramon for allegedly violating Section 844 of the Manila City Ordinance which provides
as follows:

Sec. 844. – Breaches of the Peace. – No person shall make, and, countenance, or assist in making any riot, affray, disorder,
disturbance, or breach of the peace; or assault, beat or use personal violence upon another without just cause in any public
place; or utter any slanderous, threatening or abusive language or expression or exhibit or display any emblem, transparency,
representation, motto, language, device, instrument, or thing; or do any act, in any public place, meeting or procession, tending
to disturb the peace or excite a riot, or collect with other persons in a body or crowd for any unlawful purpose; or disturbance
or disquiet any congregation engaged in any lawful assembly.1âwphi1

PENALTY: Imprisonment of not more than six (6) months and / or fine not more than Two Hundred pesos (PHP 200.00)

As may be readily gleaned, the foregoing ordinancepenalizes the following acts: (1) making, countenancing, or assisting in
making any riot, affray, disorder, disturbance, or breach of the peace; (2) assaulting, beating or using personal violence upon
another without just cause in any public place; (3) uttering any slanderous, threatening or abusive language or expression or
exhibiting or displaying any emblem, transparency, representation, motto, language, device, instrument, or thing; and (4) doing
any act, in any public place, meeting or procession, tending to disturb the peace or excite a riot, or collect with other persons in
a body or crowd for any unlawful purpose, or disturbance or disquiet any congregation engaged in any lawful assembly.
Evidently, the gravamen of these offenses is the disruption of communal tranquillity. Thus, to justify a warrantless arrest based
on the same, it must be established that the apprehension was effected after a reasonable assessment by the police officer that
a public disturbance is being committed.

In this regard, PO2 Soque’s testimony detailed the surrounding circumstances leading to Ramon’s warrantless warrant, viz:

DIRECT EXAMINATION:

ASST. CITY PROS. YAP:

Q: Tell the Court, what happened when you were there on patrol? PO2 Soque:

A: While we were on routinary patrol we heard a man shouting on top of his voice telling "Putang ina mo! Limang daan na ba
ito?" pointing to his right front pocket, sir.

Q: There was a shouting, where was this man shouting, where was the shouting came from?

A: Along the street of Balingkit, sir.

Q: How far were you from this shouting, as you said?

A: About ten (10) meters, sir.

Q: Tell the Court what happened, what next follows?

A: We proceeded to the voice where it came from, then, we saw a man, sir.

Q: Who was that man?

A: Goco, sir.

Q: Who is this Goco in relation to this case?

A: Ramon Martinez Goco, sir.

Q: Who is this Goco in relation to this case?

A: He is the one that we apprehended, sir.

Q: What was he doing then when you said you responded immediately, when you saw a man?

A: We saw him shouting on top of his voice, sir.


Q: That is why you came near him, the one who shouted?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: So, what did you do, Mr. Witness, together with your other cooperatives?

A: We apprehended him for bringing [sic] the silence of the serenity of the place, sir.

Q: What time was that already at that time, the incident of shouting?

A: Past 9:00, sir.

Q: Who actually accosted Goco, the one who shouted?

A: Me, sir.

Q: Tell the Court, how many were there at that time present with Goco?

A: They scampered away when they saw the police were coming near the place, sir, they scampered in different directions.

Q: Tell the Court what were Cepe and Zeta doing also when you approached the accused?

A: They followed me, sir.

Q: So, tell the Court what happened when you approached accused therein Goco?

A: We apprehended Goco for violation for alarm scandal, sir.

CROSS EXAMINATION:

ATTY. AMURAO:

Q: So, just like Leveriza, Balingkit is also thickly populated? PO2 Soque:

A: Yes, sir.

Q: And there are many people outside their houses?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: And I can imagine everybody there outside was talking also?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: I was very noisy, everybody talking, altogether?

A: They were talking casually.

Clearly, a perusal of the foregoing testimony negates the presence of probable cause when the police officers conducted their
warrantless arrest of Ramon.

To elucidate, it cannot be said that the act of shouting in a thickly-populated place, with many people conversing with each
other on the street, would constitute any of the acts punishable under Section 844 of the Manila City Ordinance as above-
quoted. Ramon was not making or assisting in any riot, affray, disorder, disturbance, or breach of the peace; he was not
assaulting, beating or using personal violence upon another; and, the words he allegedly shouted – "Putanginamo!
Limangdaannabaito?" –are not slanderous, threatening or abusive, and thus, could not have tended to disturb the peace or
excite a riot considering that at the time of the incident, Balingkit Street was still teeming with people and alive with activity.

Further, it bears stressing that no one present at the place of arrest ever complained that Ramon’s shouting disturbed the
public. On the contrary, a disinterested member of the community (a certain Rosemarie Escobal) even testified that Ramon was
merely standing in front of the store of a certain MangRomy when a man in civilian clothes, later identified as PO2 Soque,
approached Ramon, immediately handcuffed and took him away.19

In its totality, the Court observes that these facts and circumstances could not have engendereda well-founded belief that any
breach of the peace had been committed by Ramon at the time that his warrantless arrest was effected. All told, noprobable
cause existedto justify Ramon’s warrantless arrest.

Indeed, while it is true that the legality of arrest depends upon the reasonable discretion of the officer or functionary to whom
the law at the moment leaves the decision to characterize the nature of the act or deed of the person for the urgent purpose of
suspending his liberty,20 this should not be exercised in a whimsical manner, else a person’s liberty be subjected to ubiquitous
abuse. Aslaw enforcers, it is largely expectedof them to conduct a more circumspect assessment of the situation at hand. The
determination of probable cause is not a blanket-license to withhold liberty or to conduct unwarranted fishing expeditions. It
demarcates the line between legitimate human conduct on the one hand, and ostensible criminal activity, on the other. In this
respect, it must be performedwisely and cautiously, applying the exacting standards of a reasonably discreet and prudent man.
Surely, as constitutionally guaranteed rightslie at the fore, the duty to determine probable cause should be clothed with utmost
conscientiousness as well as impelled by a higher sense of public accountability.

Consequently, as it cannot be said that Ramon was validly arrested the warantless search that resulted from it was also illegal.
Thus, the subject shabu purportedly seized from Ramon is inadmissible in evidence for being the proverbial fruit of the
poisonous tree as mandated by the above discussed constitutional provision. In this regard, considering that the confiscated
shabuis the very corpus delicitof the crime charged, Ramon's acquital should therefore come as a matter of course.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The June 30, 2011 Decision and September 20, 2011 Resolution of the Court of Appeals
in CA-G.R. CR No. 32544 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner Ramon Martinez y Goco/Ramon Goco y Martinez is hereby
ACQUITTED of the crime charged.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 201363 March 18, 2013

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
NAZARENO VILLAREAL y LUALHATI, Accused-Appellant.

DECISION

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:

This is an appeal from the May 25, 2011 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 31320 which affirmed in toto
the December 11, 2007 Decision2

of the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City, Branch 123 (RTC), convicting appellant Nazareno Villareal y Lualhati (appellant) of
violation of Section 11, Article II of Republic Act No. 91653 (RA 9165) and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of imprisonment
for twelve (12) years and one (1) day to fourteen (14) years and eight (8) months and to pay a fine of ₱300,000.00.

The Factual Antecedents

On December 25, 2006 at around 11:30 in the morning, as PO3 Renato de Leon (PO3 de Leon) was driving his motorcycle on his
way home along 5th Avenue, he saw appellant from a distance of about 8 to 10 meters, holding and scrutinizing in his hand a
plastic sachet of shabu. Thus, PO3 de Leon, a member of the Station Anti-Illegal Drugs-Special Operation Unit (SAID-SOU) in
Caloocan City, alighted from his motorcycle and approached the appellant whom he recognized as someone he had previously
arrested for illegal drug possession.4

Upon seeing PO3 de Leon, appellant tried to escape but was quickly apprehended with the help of a tricycle driver. Despite
appellant’s attempts to resist arrest, PO3 de Leon was able to board appellant onto his motorcycle and confiscate the plastic
sachet of shabu in his possession. Thereafter, PO3 de Leon brought appellant to the 9th Avenue Police Station to fix his
handcuffs, and then they proceeded to the SAID-SOU office where PO3 de Leon marked the seized plastic sachet with "RZL/NV
12-25-06," representing his and appellant’s initials and the date of the arrest.5
Subsequently, PO3 de Leon turned over the marked evidence as well as the person of appellant to the investigator, PO2
Randulfo Hipolito (PO2 Hipolito) who, in turn, executed an acknowledgment receipt6 and prepared a letter request7 for the
laboratory examination of the seized substance. PO2 Hipolito personally delivered the request and the confiscated item to the
Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory, which were received by Police Senior Inspector Albert Arturo (PSI Arturo),
the forensic chemist.8

Upon qualitative examination, the plastic sachet, which contained 0.03 gram of white crystalline substance, tested positive for
methylamphetamine hydrochloride, a dangerous drug.9

Consequently, appellant was charged with violation of Section 11, Article II of RA 9165 for illegal possession of dangerous drugs
in an Information10 which reads:

That on or about the 25th day of December, 2006 in Caloocan City, Metro Manila and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, without being authorized by law, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have
in his possession, custody and control, METHYLAMPHETAMINE HYDROCHLORIDE (Shabu) weighing 0.03 gram which, when
subjected to chemistry examination gave positive result of METHYLAMPHETAMIME HYDROCHLORIDE, a dangerous drug.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

When arraigned, appellant, assisted by counsel de oficio, entered a plea of not guilty to the offense charged. 11

In his defense, appellant denied PO3 de Leon’s allegations and instead claimed that on the date and time of the incident, he
was walking alone along Avenida, Rizal headed towards 5th

Avenue when someone who was riding a motorcycle called him from behind. Appellant approached the person, who turned
out to be PO3 de Leon, who then told him not to run, frisked him, and took his wallet which contained ₱1,000.00. 12

Appellant was brought to the 9th Avenue police station where he was detained and mauled by eight other detainees under the
orders of PO3 de Leon. Subsequently, he was brought to the Sangandaan Headquarters where two other police officers, whose
names he recalled were "Michelle" and "Hipolito," took him to the headquarters’ firing range. There, "Michelle" and "Hipolito"
forced him to answer questions about a stolen cellphone, firing a gun right beside his ear each time he failed to answer and
eventually mauling him when he continued to deny knowledge about the cellphone. 13 Thus, appellant sustained head injuries
for which he was brought to the Diosdado Macapagal Hospital for proper treatment. 14

The following day, he underwent inquest proceedings before one Fiscal Guiyab, who informed him that he was being charged
with resisting arrest and "Section 11."15 The first charge was eventually dismissed.

The RTC Ruling

After trial on the merits, the RTC convicted appellant as charged upon a finding that all the elements of the crime of illegal
possession of dangerous drugs have been established, to wit: (1) the appellant is in possession of an item or object which is
identified to be a prohibited drug; (2) that such possession is not authorized by law; and (3) that the accused freely and
consciously possesses said drug. Finding no ill motive on the part of PO3 de Leon to testify falsely against appellant, coupled
with the fact that the former had previously arrested the latter for illegal possession of drugs under Republic Act No. 6425 16 (RA
6425), the RTC gave full faith and credit to PO3 de Leon’s testimony. Moreover, the RTC found the plain view doctrine to be
applicable, as the confiscated item was in plain view of PO3 de Leon at the place and time of the arrest.

On the other hand, the RTC gave scant consideration to the defenses of denial and frame-up proffered by the appellant, being
uncorroborated, and in the light of the positive assertions of PO3 de Leon. It refused to give credence to appellant’s claim that
PO3 de Leon robbed him of his money, since he failed to bring the incident to the attention of PO3 de Leon’s superiors or to
institute any action against the latter.

Consequently, the RTC sentenced appellant to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of twelve (12) years and one (1) day to
fourteen (14) years and eight (8) months and to pay a fine of ₱300,000.00.

The CA Ruling

In its assailed Decision, the CA sustained appellant’s conviction, finding "a clear case of in flagrante delicto warrantless
arrest"17 as provided under Section 5, Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. The CA held that appellant
"exhibited an overt act or strange conduct that would reasonably arouse suspicion,"18aggravated by the existence of his past
criminal citations and his attempt to flee when PO3 de Leon approached him.

Citing jurisprudence, the appellate court likewise ruled that the prosecution had adequately shown the continuous and
unbroken chain of custody of the seized item, from the time it was confiscated from appellant by PO3 de Leon, marked at the
police station, turned over to PO2 Hipolito and delivered to the crime laboratory, where it was received by PSI Arturo, the
forensic chemist, up to the time it was presented in court for proper identification.

The Issue

The sole issue advanced before the Court for resolution is whether the CA erred in affirming in toto the RTC’s Decision
convicting appellant of the offense charged.

The Ruling of the Court

The appeal is meritorious.

Section 5, Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure lays down the basic rules on lawful warrantless arrests, either by
a peace officer or a private person, as follows:

Sec. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. – A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:

(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an
offense;

(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 be arrested has committed it; and

(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal 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 one confinement to
another.

For the warrantless arrest under paragraph (a) of Section 5 to operate, two elements must concur: (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; and
(2) such overt act is done in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer.19 On the other hand, paragraph (b) of
Section 5 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 appellant had committed it.20

In both instances, the officer’s personal knowledge of the fact of the commission of an offense is absolutely required. Under
paragraph (a), the officer himself witnesses the crime while under paragraph (b), he knows for a fact that a crime has just been
committed.

In sustaining appellant’s conviction in this case, the appellate court ratiocinated that this was a clear case of an "in flagrante
delicto warrantless arrest" under paragraphs (a) and (b) of Section 5, Rule 113 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, as
above-quoted.

The Court disagrees.

A punctilious assessment of the factual backdrop of this case shows that there could have been no lawful warrantless arrest. A
portion of PO3 de Leon’s testimony on direct examination in court is revelatory:

FISCAL LARIEGO: While you were there at 5th

Avenue, was there anything unusual that transpired?

PO3 DE LEON: Yes Ma’am.

Q: What was this incident?

A: While I was on board my motorcycle on my home, I saw a man looking at the shabu in his hand, Ma’am.
Q: And exactly what time was this?

A: Around 11:30 in the morning, Ma’am.

Q: How far were you from this person that you said was verifying something in his hand?

A: Eight to ten meters, Ma’am.

Q: What exactly did you see he was verifying? A: The shabu that he was holding, Ma’am.

Q: After seeing what the man was doing, what did you do next?

A: I alighted from my motorcycle and approached him, Ma’am.

Q: In the first place why do you say that what he was examining and holding in his hand was a shabu?

A: Because of the numerous arrests that I have done, they were all shabu, Ma’am.21 (Underscoring supplied)

On the basis of the foregoing testimony, the Court finds it inconceivable how PO3 de Leon, even with his presumably perfect
vision, would be able to identify with reasonable accuracy, from a distance of about 8 to 10 meters and while simultaneously
driving a motorcycle, a negligible and minuscule amount of powdery substance (0.03 gram) inside the plastic sachet allegedly
held by appellant. That he had previously effected numerous arrests, all involving shabu, is insufficient to create a conclusion
that what he purportedly saw in appellant’s hands was indeed shabu.

Absent any other circumstance upon which to anchor a lawful arrest, no other overt act could be properly attributed to
appellant as to rouse suspicion in the mind of PO3 de Leon that he (appellant) had just committed, was committing, or was
about to commit a crime, for the acts per se of walking along the street and examining something in one’s hands cannot in any
way be considered criminal acts. In fact, even if appellant had been exhibiting unusual or strange acts, or at the very least
appeared suspicious, the same would not have been sufficient in order for PO3 de Leon to effect a lawful warrantless arrest
under paragraph (a) of Section 5, Rule 113.

Neither has it been established that the rigorous conditions set forth in paragraph (b) of Section 5, 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 appellant had committed it.

The factual circumstances of the case failed to show that PO3 de Leon had personal knowledge that a crime had been
indisputably committed by the appellant. It is not enough that PO3 de Leon had reasonable ground to believe that appellant
had just committed a crime; a crime must in fact have been committed first, which does not obtain in this case.

Without the overt act that would pin liability against appellant, it is therefore clear that PO3 de Leon was merely impelled to
apprehend appellant on account of the latter’s previous charge22 for the same offense. The CA stressed this point when it said:

It is common for drugs, being illegal in nature, to be concealed from view.1âwphi1 PO3 Renato de Leon saw appellant holding
and scrutinizing a piece of plastic wrapper containing a white powderly substance. PO3 Renato de Leon was quite familiar with
appellant, having arrested him twice before for the same illegal possession of drug. It was not just a hollow suspicion. The third
time around, PO3 de Leon had reasonably assumed that the piece of plastic wrapper appellant was holding and scrutinizing also
contained shabu as he had personal knowledge of facts regarding appellant’s person and past criminal record. He would have
been irresponsible to just ‘wait and see’ and give appellant a chance to scamper away. For his part, appellant being, in fact, in
possession of illegal drug, sensing trouble from an equally familiar face of authority, ran away. Luckily, however, PO3 de Leon
caught up with him through the aid of a tricycle driver. Appellant’s act of running away, indeed, validated PO3 de Leon’s
reasonable suspicion that appellant was actually in possession of illegal drug. x x x23

However, a previous arrest or existing criminal record, even for the same offense, will not suffice to satisfy the exacting
requirements provided under Section 5, Rule 113 in order to justify a lawful warrantless arrest. "Personal knowledge" of the
arresting officer that a crime had in fact just been committed is required. To interpret "personal knowledge" as referring to a
person’s reputation or past criminal citations would create a dangerous precedent and unnecessarily stretch the authority and
power of police officers to effect warrantless arrests based solely on knowledge of a person’s previous criminal infractions,
rendering nugatory the rigorous requisites laid out under Section 5.
It was therefore error on the part of the CA to rule on the validity of appellant’s arrest based on "personal knowledge of facts
regarding appellant’s person and past criminal record," as this is unquestionably not what "personal knowledge" under the law
contemplates, which must be strictly construed.24

Furthermore, appellant’s act of darting away when PO3 de Leon approached him should not be construed against him. Flight
per se is not synonymous with guilt and must not always be attributed to one’s consciousness of guilt.25It is not a reliable
indicator of guilt without other circumstances,26 for even in high crime areas there are many innocent reasons for flight,
including fear of retribution for speaking to officers, unwillingness to appear as witnesses, and fear of being wrongfully
apprehended as a guilty party.27 Thus, appellant’s attempt to run away from PO3 de Leon is susceptible of various explanations;
it could easily have meant guilt just as it could likewise signify innocence.

In fine, appellant’s acts of walking along the street and holding something in his hands, even if they appeared to be dubious,
coupled with his previous criminal charge for the same offense, are not by themselves sufficient to incite suspicion of criminal
activity or to create probable cause enough to justify a warrantless arrest under Section 5 above-quoted. "Probable cause" has
been understood to mean a reasonable ground of suspicion supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to
warrant a cautious man's belief that the person accused is guilty of the offense with which he is charged. 28 Specifically with
respect to arrests, it is such facts and circumstances which would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an
offense has been committed by the person sought to be arrested,29 which clearly do not obtain in appellant’s case.

Thus, while it is true that the legality of an arrest depends upon the reasonable discretion of the officer or functionary to whom
the law at the moment leaves the decision to characterize the nature of the act or deed of the person for the urgent purpose of
suspending his liberty,30 it cannot be arbitrarily or capriciously exercised without unduly compromising a citizen’s
constitutionally-guaranteed right to liberty. As the Court succinctly explained in the case of People v. Tudtud: 31

The right of a person to be secure against any unreasonable seizure of his body and any deprivation of his liberty is a most basic
and fundamental one. The statute or rule which allows exceptions to the requirement of warrants of arrest is strictly construed.
Any exception must clearly fall within the situations when securing a warrant would be absurd or is manifestly unnecessary as
provided by the Rule. We cannot liberally construe the rule on arrests without warrant or extend its application beyond the
cases specifically provided by law. To do so would infringe upon personal liberty and set back a basic right so often violated and
so deserving of full protection.

Consequently, there being no lawful warrantless arrest, the shabu purportedly seized from appellant is rendered inadmissible in
evidence for being the proverbial fruit of the poisonous tree. As the confiscated shabu is the very corpus delicti of the crime
charged, appellant must be acquitted and exonerated from all criminal liability.

WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 31320 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Appellant
Nazareno Villareal y Lualhati is ACQUITTED on reasonable doubt of the offense charged and ordered immediately released from
detention, unless his continued confinement is warranted by some other cause or ground.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 93516 August 12, 1992

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILLIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
BASILIO DAMASO @ Bernardo/BERNIE MENDOZA @ KA DADO, accused-appellant.

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

MEDIALDEA, J.:

The accused-appellant, Basilio Damaso, was originally charged in an information filed before the Regional Trial Court of
Dagupan City with violation of Presidential Decree No. 1866 in furtherance of, or incident to, or in connection with the crime of
subversion, together with Luzviminda Morados y Galang @ Ka Mel, Teresita Calosa y Macabangon @ Ka Tessie, Ricardo Calosa y
Perez @ Ka Ric, Marites Calosa y Evangelista @ Ka Tess, Eric Tanciangco y Capira @ Ka Ric and Luz Tanciangco y Pencial @ Ka
Luz (Records, p. 3). Such information was later amended to exclude all the above-enumerated persons except the accused-
appellant from the criminal charge. The amended information reads:
That an or about the 19th day of June, 1988, in the City of Dagupan, Philippines, and within the territorial jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, Basilio DAMASO @ Bernardo/Bernie Mendoza @ KA DADO, did then and there,
willfully, unlawfully and criminally, have in his possession, custody and control one (1) M14 Rifle bearing Serial No. 1249935
with magazine and Fifty-Seven (57) live ammunition, in furtherance of, or incident to, or in connection with the crime of
subversion, filed against said accused in the above-entitled case for Violation of Republic Act 1700, as amended by Executive
Order No. 276.

Contrary to Third Paragraph of Sec. 1, P.D. 1866. (Records, p. 20)

Upon arraignment, the accused-appellant pleaded not guilty to the crime charged (Records, p. 37). Trial on the merits ensued.
The prosecution rested its case and offered its exhibits for admission. The counsel for accused-appellant interposed his
objections to the admissibility of the prosecution's evidence on grounds of its being hearsay, immaterial or irrelevant and illegal
for lack of a search warrant. On these bases, he, thereafter, manifested that he was not presenting any evidence for the
accused (TSN, December 28, 1989, p. 139). On January 17, 1990, the trial court rendered decision, the dispositive portion of
which states:

WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused Basilio Damaso alias Bernardo/Bernie Mendoza alias Ka Dado guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of Violation of Presidential Decree Number 1866, and considering that the Violation is in furtherance of, or incident to, or
in connection with the crime of subversion, pursuant to Section 1, Paragraph 3 of Presidential Decree Number 1866 hereby
sentences the accused to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua and to pay the costs of the proceedings.

The M14 Rifle bearing Serial Number 1249935 and live ammunition and all the articles and/or items seized on June 19, 1988 in
connection with this case and marked and submitted in court as evidence are ordered confiscated and forfeited in favor of the
government, the same to be turned over to the Philippine Constabulary Command at Lingayen, Pangasinan.

SO ORDERED. (Rollo, p. 31)

Thus, this present recourse with the following assignment of errors:

A. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING ACCUSED APPELLANT GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE CRIME OF ILLEGAL
POSSESSION OF FIREARMS AND AMMUNITIONS IN FURTHERANCE OF, OR INCIDENT TO, OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE CRIME
OF SUBVERSION DESPITE THE WOEFULLY INADEQUATE EVIDENCE PRESENTED BY THE PROSECUTION.

B. THE COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED WHEN THE QUALIFYING CIRCUMSTANCES OF SUBVERSION WAS NOT
PROVEN BY THE PROSECUTION.

C. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN CONSIDERING AS EVIDENCE THE FIREARMS DOCUMENTS AND ITEMS LISTED IN EXHIBIT E
AFTER THEY WERE DECLARED INADMISSIBLE WITH FINALITY BY ANOTHER BRANCH OF THE SAME COURT AND THE SAID
EVIDENCE ARE THE FRUITS OF AN ILLEGAL SEARCH.

D. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING THE MOTIONS TO QUASH FILED BY ACCUSED-APPELLANT BECAUSE THE SEPARATE
CHARGE FOR SUBVERSION AGAINST HIM ABSORBED THE CHARGE FOR ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF FIREARMS IN FURTHERANCE OF
OR INCIDENT TO, OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE CRIME OF SUBVERSION. (pp. 55-66, Rollo)

The antecedent facts are set forth by the Solicitor General in his Brief, as follows:

On June 18, 1988, Lt. Candido Quijardo, a Philippine Constabulary officer connected with the 152nd PC Company at Lingayen,
Pangasinan, and some companions were sent to verify the presence of CPP/NPA members in Barangay Catacdang, Arellano-
Bani, Dagupan City. In said place, the group apprehended Gregorio Flameniano, Berlina Aritumba, Revelina Gamboa and
Deogracias Mayaoa. When interrogated, the persons apprehended revealed that there was an underground safehouse at
Gracia Village in Urdaneta, Pangasinan. After coordinating with the Station Commander of Urdaneta, the group proceeded to
the house in Gracia Village. They found subversive documents, a radio, a 1 x 7 caliber .45 firearm and other items (pp. 4, 6-7,
tsn, October 23, 1989).

After the raid, the group proceeded to Bonuan, Dagupan City, and put under surveillance the rented apartment of Rosemarie
Aritumba, sister of Berlina Aritumba whom they earlier arrested. They interviewed Luzviminda Morados, a visitor of Rosemarie
Aritumba. She stated that she worked with Bernie Mendoza, herein appellant. She guided the group to the house rented by
appellant. When they reached the house, the group found that it had already been vacated by the occupants. Since Morados
was hesitant to give the new address of Bernie Mendoza, the group looked for the Barangay Captain of the place and requested
him to point out the new house rented by appellant. The group again required Morados to go with them. When they reached
the house, the group saw Luz Tanciangco outside. They told her that they already knew that she was a member of the NPA in
the area. At first, she denied it, but when she saw Morados she requested the group to go inside the house. Upon entering the
house, the group, as well as the Barangay Captain, saw radio sets, pamphlets entitled "Ang Bayan," xerox copiers and a
computer machine. They also found persons who were companions of Luz Tanciangco (namely, Teresita Calosa, Ricardo Calosa,
Maries Calosa, Eric Tanciangco and Luzviminda Morados). The group requested the persons in the house to allow them to look
around. When Luz Tanciangco opened one of the rooms, they saw books used for subversive orientation, one M-14 rifle, bullets
and ammunitions, Kenwood radio, artificial beard, maps of the Philippines, Zambales, Mindoro an(d) Laguna and other items.
They confiscated the articles and brought them to their headquarters for final inventory. They likewise brought the persons
found in the house to the headquarters for investigation. Said persons revealed that appellant was the lessee of the house and
owned the items confiscated therefrom (pp. 8-12, tsn, ibid; pp. 2-4, 6, 8-10, 31, tsn, October 31, 1989). (p. 5, Brief of Plaintiff-
Appellee, p. 91, Rollo)

While We encourage and support law enforcement agencies in their drive against lawless elements in our society, We must,
however, stress that the latter's efforts to this end must be done within the parameters of the law. In the case at bar, not only
did We find that there are serious flaws in the method used by the law officers in obtaining evidence against the accused-
appellant but also that the evidence as presented against him is weak to justify conviction.

We reverse.

The records of this case show that the accused-appellant was singled out as the sole violator of P.D. No. 1866, in furtherance of,
or incident to, or in connection with the crime of subversion. Yet, there is no substantial and credible evidence to establish the
fact that the appellant is allegedly the same person as the lessee of the house where the M-14 rifle and other subversive items
were found or the owner of the said items. The prosecution presented two witnesses who attested to this fact, thus:

Lieutenant Candito Quijardo

Fiscal

Q How about this Bernie Mendoza, who was the one renting the house?

A He was not around at that time, but according to Luz (Tanciangco) who mentioned the name Bernie Mendoza (as) the one
who was renting the house and at the same time claiming that it was Bernie Mendoza who owns the said items. (TSN of
October 31, 1989, p. 40)

Q I am showing you another picture which we request to be marked as Exhibit "K-2," tell us if it has any connection to the
house?

A The same house, sir.

Q Now, this person who according to you allegedly occupied the house at Bonuan Gueset, by the name of Bernie Mendoza, in
your capacity as a Military officer, did you find out the identity?

A I am not the proper (person) to tell the real identity of Bernie de Guzman.

Q Can you tell the Honorable Court the proper person who could tell the true identity of Bernie Mendoza?

A The Intelligence of the Pangasinan PC Command.

Q Can you name these officers?

A Captain Roberto Rosales and his assistant, First Lt. Federico Castro. (ibid, pp. 54-55)

M/Sqt. Artemio Gomez

Q That underground house, do you know who was the principal occupant of that house?

A During our conversation with the occupants, they revealed that a certain Ka Bernie is the one occupying the house, Bernie
Mendoza alias Basilio Damaso.

. . . (TSN, December 27, 1989, pp. 126-128)


Clearly, the aforequoted testimonies are hearsay because the witnesses testified on matters not on their own personal
knowledge. The Solicitor General, however, argues that while the testimonies may be hearsay, the same are admissible because
of the failure of counsel for appellant to object thereto.

It is true that the lack of objection to a hearsay testimony results in its being admitted as evidence. But, one should not be
misled into thinking that since these testimonies are admitted as evidence, they now have probative value. Hearsay evidence,
whether objected to or not, cannot be given credence. In People vs. Valero, We emphatically declared that:

The failure of the defense counsel to object to the presentation of incompetent evidence, like hearsay evidence or evidence
that violates the rule of res inter alios acta, or his failure to ask for the striking out of the same does not give such evidence any
probative value. The lack of objection may make any incompetent evidence admissible. But admissibility of evidence should not
be equated with weight of evidence. Hearsay evidence whether objected to or not has no probative value.
(L-45283-84, March 19, 1982, 112 SCRA 675, emphasis supplied)

It is unfortunate that the prosecution failed to present as witnesses the persons who knew the appellant as the lessee and
owner of the M-14 rifle. In this way, the appellant could have exercised his constitutional right to confront the witnesses and to
cross-examine them for their truthfulness. Likewise, the records do not show any other evidence which could have identified
the appellant as the lessee of the house and the owner of the subversive items. To give probative value to these hearsay
statements and convict the appellant on this basis alone would be to render his constitutional rights useless and without
meaning.

Even assuming for the sake of argument that the appellant is the lessee of the house, the case against him still will not prosper,
the reason being that the law enforcers failed to comply with the requirements of a valid search and seizure proceedings.

The right against unreasonable searches and seizures is enshrined in the Constitution (Article III, Section 2). The purpose of the
law is to prevent violations of private security in person and property, and unlawful invasions of the sanctity of the home by
officers of the law acting under legislative or judicial sanction and to give remedy against such usurpations when attempted
(see Alvero v. Dizon, 76 Phil. 637, 646). However, such right is not absolute. There are instances when a warrantless search and
seizure becomes valid, namely: (1) search incidental to an arrest; (2) search of a moving vehicle; and (3) seizure of evidence in
plain view (Manipon, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan, L-58889, July 31, 1986, 143 SCRA 267, 276). None of these exceptions is present in
this case.

The Solicitor General argues otherwise. He claims that the group of Lt. Quijardo entered the appellant's house upon invitation
of Luz Tanciangco and Luzviminda Morados, helper of the appellant; that when Luz Tanciangco opened one of the rooms, they
saw a copier machine, computer, M-14 rifle, bullets and ammunitions, radio set and more subversive items; that technically
speaking, there was no search as the group was voluntarily shown the articles used in subversion; that besides, a search may be
validly conducted without search warrant with the consent of the person searched in this case, appellant's helper and Luz
Tanciangco allowed them to enter and to look around the appellant's house; and that since the evidence seized was in plain
view of the authorities, the same may be seized without a warrant.

We are not persuaded. The constitutional immunity from unreasonable searches and seizures, being personal one, cannot be
waived by anyone except the person whose rights are invaded or one who is expressly authorized to do so in his or her behalf
(De Garcia v. Locsin, 65 Phil. 689, 695). In the case at bar, the records show that appellant was not in his house at that time Luz
Tanciangco and Luz Morados, his alleged helper, allowed the authorities to enter it (TSN, October 31, 1989, p. 10). We Find no
evidence that would establish the fact that Luz Morados was indeed the appellant's helper or if it was true that she was his
helper, that the appellant had given her authority to open his house in his absence. The prosecution likewise failed to show if
Luz Tanciangco has such an authority. Without this evidence, the authorities' intrusion into the appellant's dwelling cannot be
given any color of legality. While the power to search and seize is necessary to the public welfare, still it must be exercised and
the law enforced without transgressing the constitutional rights of the citizens, for the enforcement of no statute is of sufficient
importance to justify indifference to the basic principles of government (Rodriguez v. Evangelista, 65 Phil. 230, 235). As a
consequence, the search conducted by the authorities was illegal. It would have been different if the situation here demanded
urgency which could have prompted the authorities to dispense with a search warrant. But the record is silent on this point.
The fact that they came to the house of the appellant at nighttime (Exh. J, p. 7, Records), does not grant them the license to go
inside his house. In Alih v. Castro, We ruled that:

The respondents cannot even plead the urgency of the raid because it was in fact not urgent. They knew where the petitioners
were. They had every opportunity to get a search warrant before making the raid. If they were worried that the weapons inside
the compound would be spirited away, they could have surrounded the premises in the meantime, as a preventive measure.
There was absolutely no reason at all why they should disregard the orderly processes required by the Constitution and instead
insist on arbitrarily forcing their way into the petitioner's premises with all the menace of a military invasion. (G.R. No. 69401,
June 23, 1987, 151 SCRA 279, 286)

Another factor which illustrates the weakness of the case against the accused-appellant is in the identification of the gun which
he was charged to have illegally possessed. In the amended information (supra, pp. 1-2), the gun was described as an M-14 rifle
with serial no. 1249935. Yet, the gun presented at the trial bore a different serial number thus:

FISCAL

Q Will you kindly restate again the items that you found inside the house?

Lt. Quijardo:

A When she opened the doors of the rooms that we requested for, we immediately saw different kinds of books of which we
believed to be used for subversive orientation and the M-14 rifle.

Q In what portion of the house did you find this M-14 rifle which you mentioned?

A In the same room of which the subversive documents were placed.

Q If this firearm would be shown to you would you be able to identify the same?

A Yes, sir.

Q I am showing to you a rifle bearing a serial number 1249985 which for purposes of identification, may we request your Honor,
that this rifle be marked as Exhibit "D."

COURT:

Mark it.

FISCAL:

Q Kindly examine the said firearm and tell the Honorable Court the relation of that firearm to the firearm which according to
you you found inside the room allegedly occupied by one Bernie Mendoza?

A This is the same rifle which was discovered during our raid in the same house. (TSN, October 31, 1989, pp. 36-38, emphasis
supplied).

The Solicitor General contends that the discrepancy is merely a typographical error.

We do not think so. This glaring error goes into the substance of the charge. Its correction or lack of it could spell the difference
between freedom and incarceration of the accused-appellant.

In crimes of illegal possession of firearm as in this case, the prosecution has the burden to prove the existence of the firearm
and that the accused who possessed or owned the firearm does not have the corresponding license for it. Since the gun as
identified at the trial differs from the gun described in the amended information, the corpus delicti(the substance of the crime,
the fact that a crime has actually been committed) has not been fully established. This circumstance coupled with dubious
claims of appellant's connection to the house (where the gun was found) have totally emasculated the prosecution's case.

But even as We find for the accused-appellant, We, take exception to the argument raised by the defense that the crime of
subversion absorbs the crime of illegal possession of firearm in furtherance of or incident to or in connection with the crime of
subversion. It appears that the accused-appellant is facing a separate charge of subversion. The defense submits that the trial
court should have peremptorily dismissed this case in view of the subversion charge. In People of the Philippines v. Asuncion, et
al., We set forth in no uncertain terms the futility of such argument. We quote:

If We are to espouse the theory of the respondents that force and violence are the very essence of subversion, then it loses its
distinction from rebellion. In People v. Liwanag (G.R. No. 27683, 1976, 73 SCRA 473, 480 [1976]), the Court categorically
distinguished subversion from rebellion, and held:
Violation of Republic Act No. 1700, or subversion, as it is more commonly called, is a crime distinct from that of actual rebellion.
The crime of rebellion is committed by rising publicly and taking up arms against the Government for any of the purposes
specified in Article 134 of the Revised Penal Code; while the Anti-Subversion Act (Republic Act No. 1700) punishes affiliation or
membership in a subversive organization as defined therein. In rebellion, there must be a public uprising and taking of arms
against the Government; whereas, in subversion, mere membership in a subversive association is sufficient and the taking up of
arms by a member of a subversive organization against the Government is but a circumstance which raises the penalty to be
imposed upon the offender. (Emphasis supplied)

Furthermore, in the case of Buscayno v. Military Commission (G.R. 58284, 109 289 (1981]), this Court said that subversion, like
treason, is a crime against national security, while rebellion is a crime against public order. Rising publicly and taking arms
against the Government is the very element of the crime on rebellion. On the other hand, R.A. 1700 was enacted to outlaw the
Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) , other similar associations and its successors because their existence and activities
constitute a clear, present and grave danger to national security.

The first Whereas clause of R.A. 1700 states that the CPP is an organized conspiracy to overthrow the Government, not only by
force and violence but also by deceit, subversion, and other illegal means. This is a recognition that subversive acts do not only
constitute force and violence (contrary to the arguments of private respondents), but may partake of other forms as well. One
may in fact be guilty of subversion by authoring subversive materials, where force and violence is neither necessary or
indispensable.

Private respondents contended that the Court in Misolas v. Panga impliedly ruled that if an accused is simultaneously charged
with violation of P.D. 1866 and subversion, the doctrine of absorption of common crimes as applied in rebellion would have
found application therein. The respondents relied on the opinion of this Court when it said:

. . . in the present case, petitioner is being charged specifically for the qualified offense of illegal possession of firearms and
ammunition under PD 1866. HE IS NOT BEING CHARGED WITH THE COMPLEX CRIME OF SUBVERSION WITH ILLEGAL
POSSESSION OF FIREARMS. NEITHER IS HE BEING SEPARATELY CHARGED FOR SUBVERSION AND FOR ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF
FIREARMS. Thus, the rulings of the Court in Hernandez, Geronimo and Rodriguez find no application in this case.

This is however a mere obiter. In the above case, the Court upheld the validity of the charge under the third paragraph of
Section 1 of P.D. 1866. The Court opined that the dictum in the Hernandez case is not applicable in that case, considering that
the legislature deemed it fit to provide for two distinct offenses: (1) illegal possession of firearms qualified by subversion (P.D.
1866) and (2) subversion qualified by the taking up of arms against the Government (R.A. 1700). The practical result of this may
be harsh or it may pose grave difficulty on an accused in instances similar to those that obtain in the present case, but the
wisdom of the legislature in the lawful exercise of its power to enact laws is something that the Court cannot inquire into . . .
(G.R. Nos. 83837-42, April 22, 1992).

Nonetheless, the evidence in hand is too weak to convict the accused-appellant of the charge of illegal possession of firearm in
furtherance of, or incident to or in connection with the crime of subversion, We are therefore, left with no option, but to acquit
the accused on reasonable doubt.

ACCORDINGLY, the decision appealed from is hereby REVERSED and the appellant is ACQUITTED with costs de oficio.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-95630 June 18, 1992

SPOUSES LEOPOLDO and MA. LUISA VEROY, petitioners,


vs.
THE HON. WILLIAM L. LAYAGUE, Presiding Judge, Branch XIV, Regional Trial Court at Davao City; and BRIG. GEN. PANTALEON
DUMLAO, Commanding General, PC-Criminal Investigation Service, respondents.

PARAS, J.:

This was originally a petition for certiorari, mandamus and prohibition under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court: certiorari, to review
the Order of the respondent Judge dated October 2, 1990 denying herein petitioner's Motion for Hospital
Confinement; mandamus, to compel respondent Judge to resolve petitioners' long pending motion for bail; and prohibition, to
enjoin further proceedings on the ground that the legal basis therefore is unconstitutional for being violative of the due process
and equal protection clauses of the Constitution.

The facts of this case are as follows:

Petitioners are husband and wife who owned and formerly resided at No. 13 Isidro St., Skyline Village. Catalunan Grande, Davao
City. When petitioner Leopoldo Veroy was promoted to the position of Assistant Administrator of the Social Security System
sometime in June, 1988, he and his family transferred to 130 K-8th St., East Kamias, Quezon City, where they are presently
residing. The care and upkeep of their residence in Davao City was left to two (2) houseboys, Jimmy Favia and Eric Burgos, who
had their assigned quarters at a portion of the premises. The Veroys would occasionally send money to Edna Soguilon for the
salary of the said houseboys and other expenses for the upkeep of their house. While the Veroys had the keys to the interior of
the house, only the key to the kitchen, where the circuit breakers were located, was entrusted to Edna Soguilon to give her
access in case of an emergency. Hence, since 1988, the key to the master's bedroom as well as the keys to the children's rooms
were retained by herein Petitioners so that neither Edna Soguilon nor the caretakers could enter the house.

On April 12, 1990, Capt. Reynaldo Obrero of the Talomo Patrol Station, PC/INP, acting upon a directive issued by Metrodiscom
Commander Col. Franco Calida, raided the house of herein petitioners in Davao City on information that the said residence was
being used as a safehouse of rebel soldiers. They were able to enter the yard with the help of the caretakers but did not enter
the house since the owner was not present and they did not have a search warrant. Petitioner Ma. Luisa was contacted by
telephone in her Quezon City residence by Capt. Obrero to ask permission to search the house in Davao City as it was
reportedly being used as a hideout and recruitment center of rebel soldiers. Petitioner Ma. Luisa Veroy responded that she is
flying to Davao City to witness the search but relented if the search would not be conducted in the presence of Major Ernesto
Macasaet, an officer of the PC/INP, Davao City and a long time family friend of the Veroys. The authority given by Ma. Luisa
Veroy was relayed by Capt. Obrero to Major Macasaet who answered that Ma. Luisa Veroy has called him twice by telephone
on the matter and that the permission was given on the condition that the search be conducted in his presence.

The following day, Capt. Obrero and Major Macasaet met at the house of herein petitioners in Skyline Village to conduct the
search pursuant to the authority granted by petitioner Ma. Luisa Veroy. The caretakers facilitated their entry into the yard, and
using the key entrusted to Edna Soguilon, they were able to gain entrance into the kitchen. However, a locksmith by the name
of George Badiang had to be employed to open the padlock of the door leading to the children's room. Capt. Obrero and Major
Macasaet then entered the children's room and conducted the search. Capt. Obrero recovered a .45 cal. handgun with a
magazine containing seven (7) live bullets in a black clutch bag inside an unlocked drawer. Three (3) half-full jute sacks
containing printed materials of RAM-SFP (samples of which were attached as Annexes "H" and "H-1" of the petition) (Rollo, pp.
49-55) were also found in the children's room. A search of the children's recreation and study area revealed a big travelling bag
containing assorted polo shirts, men's brief, two (2) pieces polo barong and short sleeve striped gray polo. sweat shirt, two (2)
pairs men's socks, a towel made in U.S.A., one blanket, a small black bag, Gandhi brand, containing a book entitled "Islamic
Revolution Future Path of the Nation", a road map of the Philippines, a telescope, a plastic bag containing assorted medicines
and religious pamphlets was found in the master's bedroom. Sgt. Leo Justalero was instructed by Capt. Obrero to make an
inventory and receipt of the articles seized, in the house (Annex "F" of the Petition, Rollo, p. 48). Said receipt was signed by Eric
Burgos, one of the caretakers, and George Badiang, the locksmith, as witnesses. Sgt. Justalero turned over the articles to Sgt.
Rodolfo Urbano at the police station.

The case was referred for preliminary investigation to Quezon City Assistant Prosecutor Rodolfo Ponferrada who was
designated Acting Provincial Prosecutor for Davao City by the Department of Justice through Department Order No. 88 dated
May 16, 1990. In a resolution dated August 6, 1990, Fiscal Ponferrada recommended the filing of an information against herein
petitioners for Violation of Presidential Decree No. 1866 (Illegal Possession of Firearms and Ammunitions in Furtherance of
Rebellion) (Annex "L" of the Petition, Rollo, p. 71). Hence, on August 8, 1990. an Information for the said offense was filed by
the Office of the City Prosecutor of Davao City before the Regional Trial Court, 11th Judicial Region, Davao City, docketed as
Criminal Case No. 20595-90 and entitled "People of the Philippines v. Atty. Leopoldo Veroy and Mrs. Maria Luisa Veroy" (Annex
"K" of the Petition, Rollo, p. 70). No bail was recommended by the prosecution.

The aforementioned resolution dated August 6, 1990 of Fiscal Ponferrada was received by the petitioners on August 13, 1990.
On the same day, the latter filed a Motion for Bail before herein respondent Judge Layague which was denied on August 17,
1990 for being premature since at that time, petitioners had not yet been arrested. Despite the fact that the warrants for their
arrest have not yet been served on them, herein petitioners voluntarily surrendered themselves to Brig. Gen. Pantaleon
Dumlao, PC-CIS Chief, since it was the CIS that initiated the complaint. However, the latter refused to receive them on the
ground that his office has not yet received copies of their warrants of arrest.
In the meantime, on August 15, 1990, herein petitioners were admitted to the St. Luke's Hospital for various ailments brought
about or aggravated by the stress and anxiety caused by the filing of the criminal complaint. On August 17, 1990, Brig. Gen.
Dumlao granted their request that they be allowed to be confined at the hospital and placed under guard thereat.

In an Indorsement dated August 20, 1990, the CIS through Capt. Benjamin de los Santos, made its return to the trial court
informing the latter of the voluntary surrender of herein petitioners and the fact that they were under hospital confinement.
Herein Petitioner reiterated their Motion for Bail. In an Order dated August 24, 1990 (Annex "M" of the Petition, Rollo, p. 74),
the hearing for the Motion for Ball was set for August 31, 1990 to enable the prosecution to present evidence it opposition to
said motion. The prosecution filed its written opposition (Annex "N" of the Petition, Rollo, p. 75) on August 28, 1990, arguing
that the evidence of petitioners' guilt was strong and thereafter presented its evidence.

On September 21, 1990, respondent Judge required the CIS to produce the bodies of herein petitioners on October 1, 1990 for
arraignment (Annex "O" of the Petition, Rollo, p. 76). Upon their arraignment, herein Petitioners entered a plea of not guilty
and filed an "Urgent Motion for Hospital Confinement" (Annex "OO" of the Petition Rollo, p. 77) which was denied by the court
in its Order dated October 2, 1990 (Annex "P" of the Petition, Rollo, p. 80). It likewise ordered their commitment at the Davao
City Rehabilitation Center, Ma-a, Davao City pending trial on the merits. Herein petitioners argued orally a motion for
reconsideration which was opposed by the prosecution. At the conclusion thereof, the court a quo issued a second order annex
"Q" of the Petition, Rollo, p. 83) denying then motion for reconsideration and as to the alternative prayer to reopen the motion
for hospital confinement, set the continuance thereof to October 17, 1990. It was further ordered that the petitioners shall
remain under the custody of the PC-CIS pending resolution of the case.

Meanwhile, petitioners were returned to the St. Luke's Hospital where their physical condition remained erratic. On or about
October 18, 1990, herein petitioners were informed that Brig. Gen. Dumlao had issued a directive for their transfer from the St.
Luke's Hospital to Camp Crame on the basis of the October 2, 1990 Order (Annex "Q" of the Petition, Rollo, p. 83). Petitioners
made representations that the tenor of the court order warranted maintenance of the status quo, i.e., they were to continue
their hospital confinement. However, Brig, Gen. Dumlao informed them that unless otherwise restrained by the court, they
would proceed with their transfer pursuant to the order of the trial court.

Hence, this petition on October 25, 1990 this Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order, effective immediately and continuing
until further orders from this Court, ordering: (a) respondent Hon. William L. Layague to refrain from further proceeding with
petitioners' "Motion for Hospital Confinement" in Criminal Case No. 20595-90 entitled "People of the Philippines v. Leopoldo
Veroy and Ma. Luisa Veroy"; and (b) respondent Brig. Gen. Pantaleon Dumlao to refrain from transferring petitioners from the
St. Luke's Hospital (Rollo, pp. 84-A to 84-C).

On November 2, 1990, respondent Judge issued an order denying petitioners' Motion for Bail (Annex "A" of the Second
Supplemental Petition, Rollo, p. 133). Petitioners filed a Supplemental Petition on November 7, 1990 (Rollo, P. 105) and a
Second Supplemental Petition on November 16, 1990 (Rollo, p. 120) which sought to review the order of the trial court dated
November 2, 1990 denying their petition for bail.

Acting on the Supplemental Petition filed by Petitioners and taking into consideration several factors such as: a) that the
possibility that they will flee or evade the processes of the court is fairly remote; b) their poor medical condition; and c) the
matters in their Second Supplemental Petition especially since the prosecution's evidence refers to constructive possession of
the disputed firearms in Davao City through the two (2) caretakers while petitioners lived in Manila since 1988, this Court, on
November 20, 1990, granted petitioners' provisional liberty and set the bail bond at P20,000.00 each (Rollo, p. 141). Petitioners
posted a cash bond in the said amount on November 23, 1990 (Rollo, pp. 143-145).

The petition was given due course on July 16, 1991 (Rollo, p. 211). Respondents adopted their Comment dated December 28,
1990 (Rollo, pp. 182-191) as their Memorandum while, petitioners filed their Memorandum on September 9, 1991 (Rollo, pp.
218-269).

As submitted by the respondents, and accepted by petitioners, the petition for mandamus to compel respondent Judge to
resolve petitioners' Motion for Bail, and the petition for certiorari to review the order of respondent judge initially denying their
Motion for Hospital Confinement, were rendered moot and academic by the resolutions of this Court dated November 20, 1990
and October 25, 1990, respectively. What remains to be resolved is the petition for prohibition where petitioners raised the
following issues:

1. Presidential Decree No. 1866, or at least the third paragraph of Section 1 thereof, is unconstitutional for being violative of the
due process and equal protection clauses of the Constitution;
2. Presidential Decree No. 1866 has been repealed by Republic Act No. 6968;

3. Assuming the validity of Presidential Decree No. 1866 the respondent judge gravely abused his discretion in admitting in
evidence certain articles which were clearly inadmissible for being violative of the prohibition against unreasonable searches
and seizures.

The issue of constitutionality of Presidential Decree No. 1866 has been laid to rest in the case of Misolas v. Panga, G.R. No.
83341, January 30, 1990 (181 SCRA 648), where this Court held that the declaration of unconstitutionality of the third
paragraph of Section 1 of Presidential Decree No. 1866 is wanting in legal basis since it is neither a bill of attainder nor does it
provide a possibility of a double jeopardy.

Likewise, petitioners' contention that Republic Act 6968 has repealed Presidential Decree No. 1866 is bereft of merit. It is a
cardinal rule of statutory construction that where the words and phrases of a statute are not obscure or ambiguous. its
meaning and the intention of the legislature must be determined from the language employed, and where there is no
ambiguity in the words, there is no room for construction (Provincial Board of Cebu v. Presiding Judge of Cebu, CFI, Br. IV, G.R.
No. 34695, March 7, 1989 [171 SCRA 1]). A perusal of the aforementioned laws would reveal that the legislature provided for
two (2) distinct offenses: (1) illegal possession of firearms under Presidential Decree No. 1866; and (2) rebellion, coup d' etat,
sedition and disloyalty under Republic Act 6968; evidently involving different subjects which were not clearly shown to have
eliminated the others.

But petitioners contend that Section 1 of Presidential Decree No. 1866 is couched in general or vague terms. The terms "deal
in", "acquire", "dispose" or "possess" are capable of various interpretations such that there is no definiteness as to whether or
not the definition includes "constructive possession" or how the concept of constructive possession should be applied.
Petitioners were not found in actual possession of the firearm and ammunitions. They were in Quezon City while the prohibited
articles were found in Davao City. Yet they were being charged under Presidential Decree No. 1866 upon the sole circumstance
that the house wherein the items were found belongs to them (Memorandum for Petitioners, Rollo, pp. 242-244).

Otherwise stated, other than their ownership of the house in Skyline Village, there was no other evidence whatsoever that
herein petitioners possessed or had in their control the items seized (Ibid., pp. 248-250). Neither was it shown that they had the
intention to possess the Firearms or to further rebellion (Ibid., P. 252).

In a similar case, the revolver in question was found in appellant's store and the question arouse whether he had possession
or custody of it within the meaning of the law.

This Court held that:

The animus possidendi must be proved in opium cases where the prohibited drug was found on the premises of the accused
and the same rule is applicable to the possession of firearms. The appellant denied all knowledge of the existence of the
revolver, and the Government's principal witness stated that there were a number of employees in the store. The only
testimony which tends to show that the appellant had the possession or custody of this revolver is the inference drawn from
the fact that it was found in his store, but we think that this inference is overcome by the positive testimony of the appellant,
when considered with the fact that there were a number of employees in the store, who, of course, could have placed the
revolver in the secret place where it was found without the knowledge of the appellant. At least there is a very serious doubt
whether he knew of the existence of this revolver. In such case the doubt must be resolved in favor of the appellant. (U.S. v.
Jose and Tan Bo., 34 Phil. 724 [1916])

But more importantly, petitioners question the admissibility in evidence of the articles seized in violation of their constitutional
right against unreasonable search and seizure.

Petitioners aver that while they concede that Capt. Obrero had permission from Ma. Luisa Veroy to break open the door of
their residence, it was merely for the purpose of ascertaining thereat the presence of the alleged "rebel" soldiers. The
permission did not include any authority to conduct a room to room search once inside the house. The items taken were,
therefore, products of an illegal search, violative of their constitutional rights As such, they are inadmissible in evidence against
them.

The Constitution guarantees the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against
unreasonable searches and seizures (Article III, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution). However, the rule that searches and
seizures must be supported by a valid warrant is not an absolute one. Among the recognized exceptions thereto are: (1) a
search incidental to an arrest; (2) a search of a moving vehicle; and (3) seizure of evidence in plain view (People v. Lo Ho Wing,
G.R. No. 88017, January 21, 1991 [193 SCRA 122]).

None of these exceptions pertains to the case at bar. The reason for searching the house of herein petitioners is that it was
reportedly being used as a hideout and recruitment center for rebel soldiers. While Capt. Obrero was able to enter the
compound, he did not enter the house because he did not have a search warrant and the owners were not present. This shows
that he himself recognized the need for a search warrant, hence, he did not persist in entering the house but rather contacted
the Veroys to seek permission to enter the same. Permission was indeed granted by Ma. Luisa Veroy to enter the house but
only to ascertain the presence of rebel soldiers. Under the circumstances it is undeniable that the police officers had ample
time to procure a search warrant but did not.

In a number of cases decided by this Court, (Guazon v. De Villa, supra.; People v. Aminnudin, G.R. No. L-74869, July 6, 1988 [163
SCRA 402]; Alih v. Castro, G.R. No. L-69401, June 23, 1987 [151 SCRA 279]), warrantless searches were declared illegal because
the officials conducting the search had every opportunity to secure a search Warrant. The objects seized, being products of
illegal searches, were inadmissible in evidence in the criminal actions subsequently instituted against the accused-appellants
(People v. Cendana, G.R. No. 84715, October 17, 1990 [190 SCRA 538]).

Undeniably, the offense of illegal possession of firearms is malum prohibitum but it does not follow that the subject thereof is
necessarily illegal per se. Motive is immaterial in mala prohibita but the subjects of this kind of offense may not be summarily
seized simply because they are prohibited. A search warrant is still necessary. Hence, the rule having been violated and no
exception being applicable, the articles seized were confiscated illegally and are therefore protected by the exclusionary
principle. They cannot be used as evidence against the petitioners in the criminal action against them for illegal possession of
firearms. (Roan v. Gonzales, 145 SCRA 689-690 [1986]). Besides, assuming that there was indeed a search warrant, still in mala
prohibita, while there is no need of criminal intent, there must be knowledge that the same existed. Without the knowledge or
voluntariness there is no crime.

PREMISES CONSIDERED, the petition as granted and the criminal case against the petitioners for illegal possession of firearms is
DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

[G.R. No. 109250. September 5, 1997]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. NORIEL LACERNA y CORDERO & MARLON LACERNA y ARANADOR, accused.

MARLON LACERNA y ARANADOR, accused-appellant.

DECISION

PANGANIBAN, J.:

The unrelenting and pervading war against illegal drugs has absorbed the attention of all branches of government, both
national and local, as well as media, parents, educators, churches and the public at large. This case is one more intrepid battle
in such all-out war. Herein appellant seeks acquittal on the ground that his acts did not constitute the crime of giving away
prohibited drugs penalized by Section 4 of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended (The Dangerous Drugs Act). Nonetheless, he
cannot escape the law because the very same deeds, which appellant admits to have performed, show his culpability for illegal
possession of prohibited drugs -- penalized in Section 8 of R.A. 6425, as amended -- which is necessarily included in the crime
charged in the Information.

Statement of the Case

This ruling is explained by the Court as it resolves this appeal from the Decision,[1] dated February 24, 1993, of the Regional Trial
Court of Manila, Branch 16,[2] convicting Appellant Marlon Lacerna y Aranador of violation of Section 4 of Republic Act No.
6425, as amended x x x.

Asst. City Prosecutor of Manila Juan O. Bermejo, Jr. charged appellant and Noriel Lacerna in an Information, [3] dated September
16, 1992, which reads as follows:[4]

The undersigned accuses NORIEL LACERNA Y CORDERO and MARLON LACERNA Y ARANADOR of a violation of Section 4 Art. II,
in relation to Section 21, Art. IV of Republic Act 6425, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1675, xxx
That on or about September 12, 1992, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, not being authorized by law to sell,
deliver or give away to another or distribute any prohibited drug, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and jointly sell, deliver
or give away to another the following, to wit:

Eighteen (18) blocks of marijuana

flowering tops - weight 18.235 kilograms

which is a prohibited drug.

When the case was called for arraignment on October 7, 1992, appellant and his co-accused appeared without counsel but they
alleged that they had engaged the services of a certain Atty. Kangleon. Thus, the trial court provisionally appointed Atty.
Rodolfo P. Libatique of the Public Attorneys Office as counsel de oficio, in case Atty. Kangleon did not appear for the
arraignment on October 28, 1992.[5] Because the alleged counsel de parte failed to show up during the arraignment on that
date, Atty. Libatique assisted the accused who pleaded not guilty.[6]

After trial on the merits, the court a quo promulgated the assailed Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:[7]

WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, judgment is hereby rendered:

I. The guilt of the accused Marlon Lacerna having been established beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of violation of
Section 4 of RA 6425, as amended, he is found guilty of the same, sentencing him to life imprisonment and to pay a fine
of P20,000. With costs.

II. The guilt for the crime charged of accused Noriel Lacerna not having been established beyond reasonable doubt he is hereby
ACQUITTED. The warden of the Manila City Jail is ordered to release his person, unless held on other charges.

The evidence seized in this case is to remain in the custody of the NBI Director as Drugs Custodian of the Dangerous Drugs
Board. (RA 425, Sec. 36; Supreme Court Circular No. 9 dated July 18, 1973) to be properly disposed of after the final disposition
of this case.

Hence, only Marlon Lacerna (his co-accused having been acquitted) interposed this appeal direct to the Supreme Court in view
of the life penalty imposed.[8]

The Facts

Version of the Prosecution

The prosecution presented the following witnesses: PO3 Carlito P. Valenzuela, Forensic Chemist Aida A. Pascual, and PO3 Rafael
Melencio. Their testimonies are summarized by the Solicitor General in the Appellees Brief as follows:[9]

On September 12, 1992, Police Officer 3 (PO3) Carlito P. Valenzuela, a member of the Mobile Patrol Division of the Western
Police District (WPD), was assigned to man the checkpoint and patrol the area somewhere along the sidestreets of Radial Road
near Moriones Street. The assignment to monitor strategic places in the city and barangays of Manila was a direct order from
General Nazareno. Thus, he and his companion PO3 Angelito Camero went about cruising the area in their Mobile Patrol car,
with PO3 Valenzuela at the helm. At about 2:00 p.m., appellant and co-accused, who were aboard a taxicab, passed by PO3
Valenzuelas place of assignment, which was then heavy with traffic, looking suspicious (t.s.n., PO3 Valenzuela, Nov. 11, 1992,
pp. 3-4; Nov. 20, 1992, pp. 2-7).

Appellant was seated beside the taxi driver while co-accused was seated at the left back seat of the taxi. When PO3 Valenzuela
looked at the occupants of said taxi, the latter bowed their heads and slouched, refusing to look at him. Feeling that something
was amiss, PO3 Valenzuela and his companion stopped the vehicle, signaling the driver to park by the side of the road (t.s.n.,
PO3 Valenzuela, Nov. 11, 1992, pp. 3-4).

PO3 Valenzuela and his co-police officer asked permission to search the vehicle. As the occupants readily agreed, the police
officers went about searching the luggages in the vehicle which consisted of a knapsack and a dark blue plastic grocery
bag. They asked appellant what the contents of the plastic bag were. Co-accused Noriel Lacerna immediately answered that the
bag contained his vomit (t.s.n., PO3 Valenzuela, Nov. 11, 1992, pp. 4-5).
Skeptical of what appellant and co-accused disclosed as regards the contents of the plastic bag, PO3 Valenzuela made a hole in
the bag and peeped inside. He found several blocks wrapped in newspaper, with the distinct smell of marijuana emanating
from it. PO3 Valenzuela opened one of the boxes and saw dried marijuana leaves. He told appellant and co-accused that the
contents of the bag were marijuana, which co-accused readily affirmed. According to both Lacernas, the bag was a padala of
their uncle. Specifically, they claimed that the bag was sent by their uncle, who happened to be in Baguio City, for shipment to
Iloilo (t.s.n., PO3 Valenzuela, Nov. 11, 1992, pp. 5-7; Nov. 20, 1992, pp. 8-10).

Appellant and co-accused, and the plastic bag containing blocks of marijuana were brought by PO3 Valenzuela and PO3 Camero
to the WPD Headquarters on UN Avenue, Manila.[10] At about 9:00 p.m. of the same day, both appellant and co-accused were
turned over to PO3 Rafael Melencio for investigation while the blocks were turned over to Lt. de Soto (tsn., PO3 Melencio, Dec.
11, 1992, pp. 3-5. 20).

Lt. de Soto counted the blocks of marijuana, numbering eighteen (18) in all. Each block was wrapped in newspaper. After seeing
what the contents of the blocks were, the specimens (Exhs. B to B-19) were brought to the National Bureau of Investigation
(NBI) for further examination.[11] On the other hand, PO3 Melencio investigated appellant and co-accused, informing them of
their constitutional rights during a custodial investigation. Thereafter, he prepared the Affidavit of Apprehension and the
Booking Sheet and Arrest Report (Exhs. A, G, List of Exhibits, pp. 1, 15; tsn., PO3 Melencio, Dec. 11, 1992, pp. 15-24).

NBI Forensic Chemist Aida A. Pascual examined the eighteen (18) confiscated blocks which tested positive of containing
marijuana (Exhs. C, F to F-9. List of Exhibits, pp. 2-14; tsn., A. Pascual, Dec. 2, 1992, pp. 2-5).

Version of the Defense

Appellant sets up the defense of denial, alleging that the blue plastic bag was owned by his uncle who requested him to bring it
to Iloilo. He also denied knowing that it contained marijuana. In his Brief prepared by the Public Attorneys Office, he narrated
his version of the factual circumstances of this case, as follows:[12]

On September 12, 1992, at about 2:00 P.M., accused Marlon and Noriel Lacerna were riding in a taxicab on their way to (the)
North Harbor to board a boat bound for Iloilo City. While plying along Pier 15 their taxicab was flagged down by a patrol mobile
car. Accused Marlon Lacerna (appellant herein) was sitting in front while accused Noriel Lacerna was at the back of the
taxicab.The accused carried two bags. One bag contained their personal belongings and the other bag contained things which
their uncle Edwin Lacerna asked them to bring along. When their taxicab was stopped, the two policemen in the Mobile car
requested them that they and their baggage be searched. Confident that they have not done anything wrong, they allowed to
be searched. During the (search), the two accused were not allowed to alight from the taxicab. The knapsack bag which
contained their clothes was first examined in front of them. The second bag was taken out from the taxi and was checked at the
back of the taxicab. The accused were not able to see the checking when the policemen brought the plastic bag at the back of
the taxi. After checking, the policemen told them its positive. The accused were (asked) to alight and go to the patrol car. They
were brought to the WPD Headquarters at United Nations. While there, they were brought inside a room. They asked what
wrong they have done but the policemen told them to wait for Major Rival. At about 8:00 oclock P.M., Major Rival talked to
them and asked them where the baggage came from and they answered that it was given to them by their uncle. Then Major
Rival asked them to hold the marijuana and pictures were taken. Later, they were brought inside the cell where they were
maltreated by the Kabo. The Kabo forced them to admit ownership of the marijuana. Noriel was boxed on the chest,
blindfolded and a plastic (bag) was placed on his neck and was strangled. The mauling took place for about 30 minutes inside
the toilet. They refused to sign the Booking and Arrest Report but they impressed their fingerprint on a white bond paper.They
were brought by Melencio to the Inquest Prosecutor at the City Hall. On the way to the Inquest Prosecutor, Melencio told them
to admit the charge against them before the Inquest Fiscal, because if they will deny, something (would happen) to them in the
afternoon and Melencio even uttered to them vulva of your mother. Because they were apprehensive and afraid, they
admitted the charge before the Inquest Fiscal.

(Appellant) Marlon Lacerna first met his uncle Edwin Lacerna at Munoz Market. The second time was on September 11, 1992,
when his uncle went to his brothers house in Caloocan City and requested him to bring his (uncle) personal belongings upon
learning that he (Marlon) is leaving for Iloilo city the next day, September 12, 1992. He told his uncle to bring his personal
belongings either in the evening of that day or the following day at the (Grand) Central (Station), Monumento because he was
going to buy a ticket for Noriel as he intend (sic) to bring the latter with him in going home to the province. His uncle already
gave a ticket for him. When he and Noriel (arrived) at the Grand Central at about 10:00 oclock A.M. on September 12, 1992,
their uncle was already there. The latter placed the plastic bag besides their baggages. They no longer inspected the contents of
the bag as the same was twisted and knotted on top. After getting a ticket from the office of Don Sulpicio Lines, Marlon told
Noriel to hail a taxi and then they proceeded to the pier.
(Appellants) purpose in going home to Iloilo was to get all the requirements needed in his application to enter the Marines.

Accused Noriel just arrived in Manila three days before September 12, 1992 to look for a job and was staying with (appellant) at
Caloocan City. In the evening of September 11, 1992, (appellant) requested him to come xxx with him to Iloilo and assured him
that he (would) be the one to pay for (Noriels) fare. (TSN., January 6, 1993, pp. 3-23; January 8, 1993, pp. 2-12; January 11,
1993, pp. 2-18; January 20, 1992, pp. 2-6; January 22, 1993, pp. 2-14)

Ruling of the Trial Court

The court a quo observed that appellant could not be convicted of delivering prohibited drugs because the Information did not
allege that he knowingly delivered marijuana.Neither could he be convicted of transporting or dispatching in transit such
prohibited drugs because these acts were not alleged in the Information. The trial court mused further that appellant could not
be convicted of selling marijuana because the elements constituting this crime were not proven. However, the Information
charged appellant with giving away to another prohibited drugs, a charge which was different from delivery defined under
Section 2 (f) [13] of R.A. 6245, as amended. Citing People vs. Lo Ho Wing,[14] the trial court ruled that giving away to another is
akin to transporting prohibited drugs, a malum prohibitum established by the mere commission of said act. Thus, the court a
quoconvicted appellant of giving away marijuana to another on the following premise:[15]

It is not denied by (appellant) that he did give to his co-accused cousin Noriel Lacerna the bundled 18 blocks of marijuana who
thereupon seated himself at the rear of the taxi with the marijuana.His claim that he did not know the contents of the blue
plastic bag can hardly be believed because it is within judicial notice that the marijuana contents readily emits a pungent odor
so characteristic of marijuana as what happened when the 18 blocks were displayed in open Court. But as stated, guilty
knowledge is not required by the phrase GIVE AWAY TO ANOTHER (Sec. 4). It was clearly established that he gave the stuff to
another, that is, to his co-accused Noriel Lacerna. The law does not distinguish as to whether the word another refers to a third
person other than a co-accused or to a co-accused. The information, as in the case at bar, need not allege guilty knowledge on
the part of Marlon Lacerna in giving away to another the marijuana. (Appellant) should, therefor be found culpable for violating
Section 4 of RA 6425, as amended, as charged for giving away to another the marijuana.

Accused Noriel Lacerna, on the other hand, was acquitted for insufficiency of evidence. The court a quo reasoned that it cannot
be said that he did give away to another the marijuana for it was (appellant) who gave the marijuana to (Noriel). Besides, unlike
appellant who was urbanized in mannerism and speech, Noriel Lacerna manifested probinsyano traits and was, thus, unlikely to
have dealt in prohibited drugs.

The Issues

Appellant objects to the trial courts Decision and assigns the following errors: [16]

The lower court erred in making a sweeping statement that the act of giving away to another() is not defined under R.A. 6425
specifically requiring knowledge what intent one (sic) is passing is a dangerous drug, as contradistinguished from the term
deliver; where knowledge is required.

II

The lower court erred in not giving credence to the assertion of accused-appellant that he had no knowledge that what were
inside the plastic bag given to him by his uncle were marijuana leaves.

III

The trial court erred in convicting accused-appellant despite failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable
doubt.

The Courts Ruling

After meticulously reviewing the records of the case and taking into account the alleged errors cited above and the argument
adduced in support thereof, the Court believes that the issues can be restated as follows: (1) Was appellants right against
warrantless arrest and seizure violated? (2) Was the trial court correct in convicting appellant for giving away to another 18
blocks of marijuana? and (3) May the appellant be held guilty of illegal possession of prohibited drugs? The Court answers the
first two questions in the negative and the third in the affirmative.
First Issue: Appellants Right Against

Warrantless Search and Seizure

The defense argues that the bricks of marijuana were inadmissible in evidence as they were obtained through illegal search and
seizure. Appellant alleges that at the time of the search and seizure, he and his co-accused were not committing any crime as
they were merely riding a taxicab on the way to Pier 15, North Harbor in Manila. Hence, the precipitate arrest and seizure
violated their constitutional right and the marijuana seized constituted fruits of the poisonous tree.

The Solicitor General disagrees, contending that the search and seizure were consistent with recent jurisprudential trend
liberalizing warrantless search and seizure where the culprits are riding moving vehicles, because a warrant cannot be secured
in time to apprehend the mobile target.

Both contentions are inaccurate. In the recent case of People vs. Cuison,[17] this Court reiterated the principles governing arrest,
search and seizure. To summarize, let us begin with Section 2, Article III of the 1987 Constitution which provides:

SEC. 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and
seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue
except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the
complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things
to be seized.

The Constitution further decrees that any evidence obtained in violation of the provision mentioned is inadmissible in evidence:

SEC. 3. x x x

(2) Any evidence obtained in violation of x x x the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.

However, not being absolute, this right is subject to legal and judicial exceptions. The Rules of Court, Section 12 of Rule 126,
provides that a person lawfully arrested may be searched for dangerous weapons or anything which may be used as proof of
the commission of an offense, without a search warrant.

Five generally accepted exceptions to the rule against warrantless arrest have also been judicially formulated as follows: (1)
search incidental to a lawful arrest, (2) search of moving vehicles, (3) seizure in plain view, (4) customs searches, and (5) waiver
by the accused themselves of their right against unreasonable search and seizure.[18] Search and seizure relevant to moving
vehicles are allowed in recognition of the impracticability of securing a warrant under said circumstances. In such cases
however, the search and seizure may be made only upon probable cause, i.e., upon a belief, reasonably arising out of
circumstances known to the seizing officer, that an automobile or other vehicle contains an item, article or object which by law
is subject to seizure and destruction.[19] Military or police checkpoints have also been declared to be not illegal per se as long as
the vehicle is neither searched nor its occupants subjected to body search, and the inspection of the vehicle is merely visual.[20]

In the case at bar, the taxicab occupied by appellant was validly stopped at the police checkpoint by PO3 Valenzuela. It should
be stressed as a caveat that the search which is normally permissible in this instance is limited to routine checks -- visual
inspection or flashing a light inside the car, without the occupants being subjected to physical or body searches. A search of the
luggage inside the vehicle would require the existence of probable cause.[21]

In applicable earlier Decisions, this Court held that there was probable cause in the following instances: (a) where the
distinctive odor of marijuana emanated from the plastic bag carried by the accused;[22] (b) where an informer positively
identified the accused who was observed to have been acting suspiciously;[23] (c) where the accused fled when accosted by
policemen;[24] (d) where the accused who were riding a jeepney were stopped and searched by policemen who had earlier
received confidential reports that said accused would transport a large quantity of marijuana; [25] and (e) where the moving
vehicle was stopped and searched on the basis of intelligence information and clandestine reports by a deep penetration agent
or spy -- one who participated in the drug smuggling activities of the syndicate to which the accused belonged -- that said
accused were bringing prohibited drugs into the country.[26]

In the case at hand, however, probable cause is not evident. First, the radio communication from General Nazareno, which the
arresting officers received and which they were implementing at that time, concerned possible cases of robbery and holdups in
their area.[27] Second, Noriel Lacernas suspicious reactions of hiding his face and slouching in his seat when PO3 Valenzuelas car
passed alongside the taxicab might have annoyed the latter, or any other law enforcer, and might have caused him to suspect
that something was amiss. But these bare acts do not constitute probable cause to justify the search and seizure of appellants
person and baggage. Furthermore, the Claudio ruling cannot be applied to this case because the marijuana was securely packed
inside an airtight plastic bag and no evidence, e.g., a distinctive marijuana odor, was offered by the prosecution.

Nonetheless, we hold that appellant and his baggage were validly searched, not because he was caught in flagrante delicto, but
because he freely consented to the search.True, appellant and his companion were stopped by PO3 Valenzuela on mere
suspicion -- not probable cause -- that they were engaged in a felonious enterprise. But Valenzuela expressly sought appellants
permission for the search. Only after appellant agreed to have his person and baggage checked did the actual search
commence. It was his consent which validated the search, waiver being a generally recognized exception to the rule against
warrantless search.[28]

We are aware that this Court in Aniag, Jr. vs. COMELEC outlawed a search based on an implied acquiescence, because such
acquiescence was not consent within the purview of the constitutional guaranty, but was merely passive conformity to the
search given under intimidating and coercive circumstances.[29] In the case before us, however, appellant himself who was
urbanized in mannerism and speech expressly said that he was consenting to the search as he allegedly had nothing to hide and
had done nothing wrong.[30] In his brief, appellant explicitly, even if awkwardly, reiterated this: Confident that they [the
accused] have not done anything wrong, they allowed to be searched. This declaration of appellant is a confirmation of his
intelligent and voluntary acquiescence to the search. The marijuana bricks were, therefore, obtained legally through a valid
search and seizure. They were admissible in evidence; there was no poisonous tree to speak of.

Second Issue: Did Appellant

Give Away the Prohibited Drug?

The trial court justified the conviction of appellant for giving away to another the prohibited drugs, because he literally handed
to Noriel the plastic bag containing marijuana, manually transferring the plastic bag from the front seat to the backseat of the
taxicab. We hold, however, that this is not the act penalized by the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972.

Section 4 of R.A. 6425, as amended, the violation of which is charged in the Information, penalizes any person who, unless
authorized by law, shall sell, administer, deliver, give away to another, distribute, dispatch in transit or transport any prohibited
drug, or shall act as a broker in any of such transactions.

The phrase give away is commonly defined as to make a present of; to donate, or to make a sacrifice.[31] As used in a statute
making it an offense to sell, give away, or otherwise dispose of liquor without a license, this phrase was construed as extending
only to a disposition in ejusdem generis with a sale or a gift.[32] It is synonymous with to furnish, a broad term embracing the
acts of selling and giving away with the intent of transferring ownership. Selling by itself is one distinct mode of committing the
offense, and furnishing is intended only to include other modes of affording something to others besides selling it.[33]

As distinguished from delivery, which is an incident of sale, giving away is a disposition other than a sale. It is, therefore, an act
short of a sale which involves no consideration. The prohibited drug becomes an item or merchandise presented as a gift or
premium (giveaway), where ownership is transferred.

According to appellant, he gave the plastic bag and the knapsack to Noriel because the latter got into the taxicab first and
because there was more room in the backseat than in the front. By handing the plastic bag to Noriel, appellant cannot be
punished for giving away marijuana as a gift or premium to another. In Cuison,[34] this Court acquitted an accused of carrying
and transporting prohibited drugs because the act per se of handing over a baggage at the airport cannot in any way be
considered criminal.

Further, adopting the trial courts interpretation would lead to absurd conclusions. Following the trial courts line of reasoning,
Noriel should have been held liable for the same crime when he gave the plastic bag to PO3 Valenzuela for the latters
inspection. And yet, the trial court inexplicably acquitted him. Valenzuela would similarly be criminally culpable as he testified
that he turned over the plastic bag to his superior, Lt. de Soto. It is a well-settled rule that statutes should receive a sensible
construction so as to give effect to the legislative intention and to avoid an unjust or an absurd conclusion. [35]

Third Issue:

May Appellant Be Convicted

of Illegal Possession?
Appellants exoneration from giving away a prohibited drug to another under Section 4 of the Dangerous Drugs Act does not,
however, spell freedom from all criminal liability.A conviction for illegal possession of prohibited drugs, punishable under
Section 8 of the same Act, is clearly evident.

In People vs. Tabar,[36] the Court convicted appellant of illegal possession under Section 8 of said Act, although he was charged
with selling marijuana under Section 4, Article II thereof.[37]

The prevailing doctrine is that possession of marijuana is absorbed in the sale thereof, except where the seller is further
apprehended in possession of another quantity of the prohibited drugs not covered by or included in the sale and which are
probably intended for some future dealings or use by the seller.[38]

Possession is a necessary element in a prosecution for illegal sale of prohibited drugs. It is indispensable that the prohibited
drug subject of the sale be identified and presented in court.[39] That the corpus delicti of illegal sale could not be established
without a showing that the accused possessed, sold and delivered a prohibited drug clearly indicates that possession is an
element of the former. The same rule is applicable in cases of delivery of prohibited drugs and giving them away to another.

In People vs. Manzano,[40] the Court identified the elements of illegal sale of prohibited drugs, as follows: (1) the accused sold
and delivered a prohibited drug to another, and (2) he knew that what he had sold and delivered was a dangerous
drug. Although it did not expressly state it, the Court stressed delivery, which implies prior possession of the prohibited
drugs. Sale of a prohibited drug can never be proven without seizure and identification of the prohibited drug, affirming that
possession is a condition sine qua non.

It being established that illegal possession is an element of and is necessarily included in the illegal sale of prohibited drugs, the
Court will thus determine appellants culpability under Section 8.

From the penal provision under consideration and from the cases adjudicated, the elements of illegal possession of prohibited
drugs are as follows: (a) the accused is in possession of an item or object which is identified to be a prohibited drug; (b) such
possession is not authorized by law; and (c) the accused freely and consciously possessed the prohibited drug. [41]

The evidence on record established beyond any doubt that appellant was in possession of the plastic bag containing prohibited
drugs, without the requisite authority. The NBI forensic chemists identification of the marijuana or Indian hemp was conclusive.

Appellant protests the trial courts finding that he knew that the plastic bag contained marijuana. The lower court ruled that
appellant could not have possibly missed the pervasive pungent smell emitted by marijuana which was duly noted when the
marijuana was exhibited in open court. This reasoning, however, is not supported by the evidence; the plastic bag, at the time
of the search and seizure, was twisted and tied at the top, and thus airtight. PO3 Valenzuela did not even notice this pervasive
characteristic smell until he poked a hole in the plastic bag and unwrapped the newspaper covering one of the marijuana bricks.

It is well-settled that criminal intent need not be proved in the prosecution of acts mala prohibita. On grounds of public policy
and compelled by necessity, courts have always recognized the power of the legislature, as the greater master of things, to
forbid certain acts in a limited class of cases and to make their commission criminal without regard to the intent of the
doer.[42] Such legislative enactments are based on the experience that repressive measures which depend for their efficiency
upon proof of the dealers knowledge or of his intent are of little use and rarely accomplish their purposes; besides, the
prohibited act is so injurious to the public welfare that, regardless of the persons intent, it is the crime itself. [43]

This, however, does not lessen the prosecutions burden because it is still required to show that the prohibited act was
intentional.[44] Intent to commit the crime and intent to perpetrate the act must be distinguished. A person may not have
consciously intended to commit a crime; but if he did intend to commit an act, and that act is, by the very nature of things, the
crime itself, then he can be held liable for the malum prohibitum.[45] Intent to commit the crime is not necessary, but intent to
perpetrate the act prohibited by the special law must be shown. In Bayona, the Court declared:[46]

xxx The law which the defendant violated is a statutory provision, and the intent with which he violated it is immaterial. x x x
x The act prohibited by the Election Law was complete. The intention to intimidate the voters or to interfere otherwise with the
election is not made an essential element of the offense. Unless such an offender actually makes use of his revolver, it would be
extremely difficult, if not impossible, to prove that he intended to intimidate the voters.

The rule is that in acts mala in se there must be a criminal intent, but in those mala prohibita it is sufficient if the prohibited act
was intentionally done. Care must be exercised in distinguishing the difference between the intent to commit the crime and the
intent to perpetrate the act. * * * (U.S. vs. Go Chico, 14 Phil., 128).
In illegal possession of prohibited drugs under Section 8 of the Dangerous Drugs Act, the prosecution is not excused from
proving that possession of the prohibited act was done freely and consciously, which is an essential element of the crime.

In the case at bar, appellant was found to have in his possession a plastic bag containing 18 kg of marijuana formed into 18
bricks which were separately wrapped. His possession thereof gives rise to a disputable presumption under Section 3[j], Rule
131 of the Rules of Court,[47] that he is the owner of such bag and its contents. His bare, unpersuasive, feeble and
uncorroborated disavowal -- that the plastic bag was allegedly given to him by his uncle without his knowing the contents --
amounts to a denial which by itself is insufficient to overcome this presumption. [48] Besides, this defense, unless substantiated
by clear evidence, is invariably viewed with disfavor by courts, for it can just as easily be concocted. Verily, it is a common and
standard defense ploy in most prosecutions involving dangerous drugs.[49]

Further, the trial court did not give credence to appellants denial. It is axiomatic that appellate courts accord the highest
respect to the assessment of witnesses credibility by the trial court, because the latter was in a better position to observe their
demeanor and deportment on the witness stand.[50] The defense failed to present sufficient reasons showing that the trial court
had overlooked or misconstrued any evidence of substance that would justify the reversal of its rejection of appellants defense
of denial.

Appellant is, therefore, liable for illegal possession of prohibited drugs under Section 8 of the Dangerous Drugs Act. [51]

WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision is hereby MODIFIED. Appellant is CONVICTED of illegal possession of prohibited drugs under
Section 8 of R.A. 6425; SENTENCED, in accordance with the Indeterminate Sentence Law, to eight (8) years as minimum to
twelve (12) years as maximum; and ORDERED to pay a fine of twelve thousand pesos (P12,000.00). Costs de oficio.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 124442. July 20, 2001]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ARMANDO COMPACION y SURPOSA, accused-appellant.

DECISION

KAPUNAN, J.:

Armando S. Compacion was charged with violating Section 9 of R.A. No. 6425 (known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972), as
amended by R.A. No. 7659, in an information which reads as follows:

The undersigned accuses ARMANDO COMPACION y Surposa, Barangay Captain of Barangay Bagonbon, San Carlos City, Negros
Occidental, of the crime of VIOLATION OF SECTION 9, REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6425, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE DANGEROUS
DRUGS ACT OF 1972 AS AMENDED BY REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7659 committed as follows:

"That on or about 1:30 oclock A.M., July 13, 1995, at Barangay Bagonbon, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, without any authority of law, did, then and there,
willfully, unlawfully and criminally plant, cultivate or culture two (2) full grown Indian Hemp Plants, otherwise known as
Marijuana plants, more or less eleven (11) feet tall, in gross violation of Section 9, Republic Act No. 6425, otherwise known as
the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972 as amended by Republic Act No. 7659."

CONTRARY TO LAW.[1]

Upon arraignment on August 16, 1995, the accused pleaded not guilty to the crime charged.

Thereafter, trial ensued.

On January 2, 1996, the trial court convicted the accused of the crime charged. The decretal portion of the decision reads as
follows:

WHEREAS, the Court finds the accused ARMANDO COMPACION Y SURPOSA GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT of the crime
of Violation of Section 9, R.A. No. 6425, otherwise known as The Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended by R.A. No. 7659
whereof he is charged in the information in the instant case and sentences him to reclusion perpetua and to pay a fine of half a
million (P500,000.00) Pesos, Philippine Currency. The portion of the backyard of his residence in the poblacion proper of Brgy.
Bagonbon this City and Province, in which the two (2) marijuana plants, Exh. F, subject-matter of this case, were planted,
cultivated and cultured, is hereby ordered confiscated and escheated in favor of the State, pursuant to the aforequoted Sec. 13
R.A. 7659.

It would seem that the penalty imposed upon the accused in the instant case for having planted, cultivated and cultured just
two (2) marijuana plants is extremely harsh. But there is nothing in the law which allows the Court to impose a lesser penalty in
view of the peculiar facts and circumstances in this particular case. Hence, dura lex, sed lex. The law is, indeed, harsh but it is
the law.

The obvious message of the law is that people should not have a nonchalant or cavalier attitude towards dangerous prohibited
drugs. They should not dabble in it as if they were a flippant thing.These dangerous and prohibited drugs are a terrible menace
to the minds and morality of our people for their distortive and pervertive effects on them resulting in rampant
criminality. That is why the government wants this evil exterminated from our country. It is too bad that the accused instead of
helping the government in this drive, in his capacity as barangay captain of his barangay, made a mockery of it by planting,
cultivating and culturing said two (2) marijuana plants himself.

A word of counsel and hope for the accused. This is a time of reflection forced upon him by the result of his own act in violating
the law. It is time for him to humbly submit to the compassion of God and of his only begotten Son, whose birth on earth to
become the Saviour of all sinners, we have just celebrated, to change and transform his own life by his coming to Him for the
purpose, so that with a changed life, God might be gracious enough to move the heart of His Excellency, the President, of this
Country, to pardon and let him walk out of prison a freeman. It would be good for him to read Gods Word daily while in prison
for his guidance, comfort and hope.

Accused convicted of the crime whereof he is charged in the information in the instant case.

SO ORDERED.[2]

The accused now appeals from the above judgment of conviction and asks the Court to reverse the same on the following
grounds, viz:

The lower court erred:

1. In holding that Exhibit F of the prosecution, consisting of two marijuana plants wrapped in plastic, is admissible in evidence
against the accused as the corpus delicti in the instant case, inspite of the fact that the prosecution failed to prove that the
specimens of marijuana (Exhibit F) examined by the forensic chemist were the ones purportedly planted and cultivated by the
accused, and of the fact that the prosecution failed to establish the evidences chain of custody; and

2. In holding that the warrantless search of the residence of the accused at 1:30 oclock in the morning of July 13, 1995 at
Barangay Bagonbon, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, and seizure of two eleven feet tall, more or less, full grown suspected
Indian Hemp, otherwise known as Marijuana plants, leading to the subsequent arrest of the accused, were valid on the ground
that the accused has committed the crime of cultivating the said marijuana plants in violation of Sec. 9, RA 6425 (Dangerous
Drugs Act of 1972), as amended by RA 7659 in open view, inspite of the fact that they had to enter the dwelling of the accused
to get to the place where the suspected marijuana plants were planted, and in admitting in evidence the said plants, later
marked as Exhibit F, against the accused, inspite of the fact that the said plants were the fruits of the poisonous tree. [3]

The relevant facts are as follows:

Acting on a confidential tip supplied by a police informant that accused-appellant was growing and cultivating marijuana plants,
SPO1 Gilbert L. Linda and SPO2 Basilio Sarong of the 6thNarcotic Regional Field Unit of the Narcotics Command (NARCOM) of
the Bacolod City Detachment conducted a surveillance of the residence of accused-appellant who was then the barangay
captain of barangay Bagonbon, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental on July 9, 1995. During the said surveillance, they saw two (2)
tall plants in the backyard of the accused-appellant which they suspected to be marijuana plants.[4]

SPO1 Linda and SPO2 Sarong reported the result of their surveillance to SPO4 Ranulfo T. Villamor, Jr., Chief of NARCOM,
Bacolod City, who immediately formed a team composed of the members of the Intelligence Division Provincial Command, the
Criminal Investigation Command and the Special Action Force. Two members of the media, one from DYWF Radio and another
from DYRL Radio, were also included in the composite team.

On July 12, 1995, the team applied for a search warrant with the office of Executive Judge Bernardo Ponferrada in Bacolod
City. However, Judge Ponferrada informed them that he did not have territorial jurisdiction over the matter.[5] The team then
left Bacolod City for San Carlos City. They arrived there around six-thirty in the evening, then went to the house of Executive
Judge Roberto S. Javellana to secure a search warrant. They were not able to do so because it was nighttime and office hours
were obviously over. They were told by the judge to go back in the morning.[6]

Nonetheless, the team proceeded to barangay Bagonbon and arrived at the residence of accused-appellant in the early
morning of July 13, 1995. SPO4 Villamor knocked at the gate and called out for the accused-appellant. What happened
thereafter is subject to conflicting accounts. The prosecution contends that the accused-appellant opened the gate and
permitted them to come in. He was immediately asked by SPO4 Villamor about the suspected marijuana plants and he
admitted that he planted and cultivated the same for the use of his wife who was suffering from migraine. SPO4 Villamor then
told him that he would be charged for violation of Section 9 of R.A. No. 6425 and informed him of his constitutional rights. The
operatives then uprooted the suspected marijuana plants. SPO1 Linda conducted an initial field test of the plants by using the
Narcotics Drug Identification Kit. The test yielded a positive result.[7]

On July 15, 1995, the plants were turned over to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory, Bacolod City Police
Command, particularly to Senior Inspector Reah Abastillas Villavicencio. Senior Inspector Villavicencio weighed and measured
the plants, one was 125 inches and weighed 700 grams while the other was 130 inches and weighed 900 grams. Three (3)
qualitative examinations were conducted, namely: the microscopic test, the chemical test, and the thin layer chromatographic
test. All yielded positive results.[8]

On his part, accused-appellant maintains that around one-thirty in the early morning of July 13, 1995 while he and his family
were sleeping, he heard somebody knocking outside his house.He went down bringing with him a flashlight. After he opened
the gate, four (4) persons who he thought were members of the military, entered the premises then went inside the house. It
was dark so he could not count the others who entered the house as the same was lit only by a kerosene lamp. One of the four
men told him to sit in the living room. Some of the men went upstairs while the others went around the house. None of them
asked for his permission to search his house and the premises.[9]

After about twenty (20) minutes of searching, the men called him outside and brought him to the backyard. One of the military
men said: Captain, you have a (sic) marijuana here at your backyard to which accused-appellant replied: I do not know that they
were (sic) marijuana plants but what I know is that they are medicinal plants for my wife who was suffering from migraine.[10]

After he was informed that the plants in his backyard were marijuana, the men took pictures of him and
themselves. Thereafter, he was brought inside the house where he and the military men spent the night. [11]

At around ten oclock that same morning, they brought him with them to the city hall. Accused-appellant saw that one of the
two (2) service vehicles they brought was fully loaded with plants. He was later told by the military men that said plants were
marijuana.[12] Upon arrival at the city hall, the men met with the mayor and then unloaded the alleged marijuana plants. A
picture of him together with the arresting team was taken with the alleged marijuana as back drop. Soon thereafter, he was
taken to Hda. Socorro at the SAF Headquarters.[13]

A criminal complaint for violation of Section 9 of R.A. No. 6425, as amended by R.A. No. 7659 was filed against accused-
appellant.

Turning to the legal defenses of accused-appellant, we now consider his allegation that his constitutional right against
unreasonable searches and seizures had been violated by the police authorities.

The relevant constitutional provisions are found in Sections 2 and 3 [2], Article III of the 1987 Constitution which read as
follows:

Sec. 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and
seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue
except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the
complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things
to be seized.

Sec. 3. xxx

(2) Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.

Said constitutional provisions are safeguards against reckless, malicious and unreasonable invasion of privacy and liberty. The
Court, in Villanueva v. Querubin,[14] underscored their importance:
It is deference to ones personality that lies at the core of this right, but it could be also looked upon as a recognition of a
constitutionally protected area, primarily ones home, but not necessarily thereto confined. What is sought to be guarded is a
mans prerogative to choose who is allowed entry to his residence. In that haven of refuge, his individuality can assert itself not
only in the choice of who shall be welcome but likewise in the kind of objects he wants around him. There the state, however
powerful, does not as such have access except under the circumstances above noted, for in the traditional formulation, his
house, however humble, is his castle. Thus is outlawed any unwarranted intrusion by government, which is called upon to
refrain from any invasion of his dwelling and to respect the privacies of his life. In the same vein, Landynski in his authoritative
work could fitly characterize this constitutional right as the embodiment of a spiritual concept: the belief that to value the
privacy of home and person and to afford its constitutional protection against the long reach of government is no less than to
value human dignity, and that his privacy must not be disturbed except in case of overriding social need, and then only under
stringent procedural safeguards.[15]

A search and seizure, therefore, must be carried out through or with a judicial warrant; otherwise, such search and seizure
becomes unreasonable within the meaning of the constitutional provision.[16] Evidence secured thereby, i.e., the fruits of the
search and seizure, will be inadmissible in evidence for any purpose in any proceeding.[17]

The requirement that a warrant must be obtained from the proper judicial authority prior to the conduct of a search and
seizure is, however, not absolute. There are several instances when the law recognizes exceptions, such as when the owner of
the premises consents or voluntarily submits to a search;[18] when the owner of the premises waives his right against such
incursion;[19]when the search is incidental to a lawful arrest;[20] when it is made on vessels and aircraft for violation of customs
laws;[21] when it is made on automobiles for the purpose of preventing violations of smuggling or immigration laws;[22] when it
involves prohibited articles in plain view;[23] when it involves a stop and frisk situation;[24] when the search is under exigent and
emergency circumstances;[25] or in cases of inspection of buildings and other premises for the enforcement of fire, sanitary and
building regulations.[26] In these instances, a search may be validly made even without a warrant.

In the instant case, the search and seizure conducted by the composite team in the house of accused-appellant was not
authorized by a search warrant. It does not appear either that the situation falls under any of the above mentioned
cases. Consequently, accused-appellants right against unreasonable search and seizure was clearly violated.

It is extant from the records that accused-appellant did not consent to the warrantless search and seizure conducted. While the
right to be secure from unreasonable search and seizure may, like every right, be waived either expressly or impliedly,[27] such
waiver must constitute a valid waiver made voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently. The act of the accused-appellant in allowing
the members of the military to enter his premises and his consequent silence during the unreasonable search and seizure could
not be construed as voluntary submission or an implied acquiescence to warrantless search and seizure especially so when
members of the raiding team were intimidatingly numerous and heavily armed. His implied acquiescence, if any, could not have
been more than mere passive conformity given under coercive or intimidating circumstances and is, thus, considered no
consent at all within the purview of the constitutional guarantee.Consequently, herein accused-appellants lack of objection to
the search and seizure is not tantamount to a waiver of his constitutional right or a voluntary submission to the warrantless
search and seizure.[28] The case of People v. Burgos,[29] is instructive. In Burgos, the Court ruled that the accused is not to be
presumed to have waived the unlawful search simply because he failed to object. There, we held:

xxx To constitute a waiver, it must appear first that the right exists; secondly, that the person involved had knowledge, actual or
constructive, of the existence of such a right; and lastly, that said person had an actual intention to relinquish the right (Pasion
Vda. De Garcia v. Locsin, 65 Phil. 689). The fact that the accused failed to object to the entry into his house does not amount to
a permission to make a search therein (Magoncia v. Palacio, 80 Phil. 770). As pointed out by Justice Laurel in the case of Pasion
Vda. De Garcia v. Locsin (supra);

As the constitutional guaranty is not dependent upon any affirmative act of the citizen, the courts do not place the citizen in the
position of either contesting an officers authority by force, or waiving his constitutional rights; but instead they hold that a
peaceful submission to a search or seizure is not a consent or an invitation thereto, but is merely a demonstration of regard for
the supremacy of the law.

We apply the rule that: courts indulge every reasonable presumption against waiver of fundamental constitutional rights and
that we do not presume acquiescence in the loss of fundamental rights.[30]

Neither could the members of the composite team have justified their search of accused-appellants premises by invoking the
necessity and urgency of the situation. It was admitted by the members of the arresting team that the residence of accused-
appellant had already been put under surveillance following a tip from a confidential informant. The surveillance was
conducted on July 9, 1995 while the alleged marijuana plants were seized four (4) days later or on July 13, 1995. Surely, the
raiding team had all the opportunity to have first secured a search warrant before forcing their way into accused-appellants
premises. In fact, they earlier had approached then Executive Judge Ponferrada of Bacolod City who declined to issue one on
the ground that the matter was outside his territorial jurisdiction. Then, they went to Executive Judge Javellana of San Carlos
City in the evening of July 12, 1995 who asked them to come back in the morning as it was already nighttime and outside of
office hours. However, in their haste to apprehend the accused-appellant on the pretext that information of his impending
arrest may be leaked to him, the team proceeded to go to his residence to arrest him and seize the alleged marijuana
plants. The teams apprehension of a tip-off was unfounded. It is far-fetched that one could have gone to accused-appellants
place before the following morning to warn him of his impending arrest as barangay Bagonbon is an isolated and difficult to
reach mountain barangay. The road leading to it was rough, hilly and eroded by rain and flood.[31] A few hours delay to await
the issuance of a warrant in the morning would not have compromised the teams operation.

In justifying the validity of the warrantless arrest, search and seizure on July 13, 1995, the trial court ruled that the accused-
appellant was caught in flagrante delicto of having planted, grown and cultivated the marijuana plants which was easily visible
from outside of the residence of the accused.[32] Thus, the trial court concluded that:

xxx (T)he said two (2) marijuana plants, Exh. F, were the very corpus delicti of the crime the accused has been committing since
the time he planted them in the backyard of his residence for whatever reason a corpus delicti which the NARCOM agents saw
with their very own eyes as the same were in plain view when they made a surveillance in the accuseds place on July 9,
1995.Said corpus delicti has remained on the spots in accuseds backyard where they had been growing since the time they
were planted there and, therefore, any peace officer or even private citizen, for that matter, who has seen said plants and
recognized them as marijuana, was by law empowered and authorized to arrest the accused even without any warrant of
arrest.

The accused was caught in flagrante delicto for he was carrying marijuana, hence, committing a crime, at the time of his
arrest. The warrantless search which was conducted following a lawful arrest, was valid.

- People vs. Bandin (Dec. 10, 1993)

226 SCRA 299, at p. 300

The accused was caught in flagrante delicto growing, cultivating and culturing said two (2) marijuana plants, Exh. F, in the
backyard of his residence, which the NARCOM agents uprooted from there at the time they arrested and apprehended
him. Under said circumstances, a search warrant and/or warrant of arrest were not legally needed before the NARCOM agents
could effect the arrest of the accused.[33]

As a general rule, objects in the plain view of an officer who has the right to be in the position to have that view are subject to
seizure without a warrant.[34] It is usually applied where a police officer is not searching for evidence against the accused, but
nonetheless inadvertently comes across an incriminating object.[35] Thus, the following elements must be present before the
doctrine may be applied: (a) a prior valid intention based on the valid warrantless arrest in which the police are legally present
in the pursuit of their official duties; (b) the evidence was inadvertently discovered by the police who have the right to be
where they are; (c) the evidence must be immediately apparent; and (d) plain view justified were seizure of evidence without
further search.[36]

Here, there was no valid warrantless arrest. They forced their way into accused-appellants premises without the latters
consent. It is undisputed that the NARCOM agents conducted a surveillance of the residence of accused-appellant on July 9,
1995 on the suspicion that he was growing and cultivating marijuana when they allegedly came in plain view of the marijuana
plants.When the agents entered his premises on July 13, 1995, their intention was to seize the evidence against him. In fact,
they initially wanted to secure a search warrant but could not simply wait for one to be issued. The NARCOM agents, therefore,
did not come across the marijuana plants inadvertently when they conducted a surveillance and barged into accused-appellants
residence.

In People v. Musa,[37] the Court held:

The plain view doctrine may not, however, be used to launch unbridled searches and indiscriminate seizures nor to extend a
general exploratory search made solely to find evidence of defendants guilt. The plain view doctrine is usually applied where a
police officer is not searching for evidence against the accused, but nonetheless inadvertently comes across an incriminating
object.[Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443, 29 L.Ed. 2d 564 (1971)] Furthermore, the U.S. Supreme Court stated the
following limitations on the application of the doctrine:
What the plain view cases have in common is that the police officer in each of them had a prior justification for an intrusion in
the course of which he came inadvertently across a piece of evidence incriminating the accused. The doctrine serves to
supplement the prior justification whether it be a warrant for another object, hot pursuit, search incident to lawful arrest, or
some other legitimate reason for being present unconnected with a search directed against the accused and permits the
warrantless seizure. Of course, the extension of the original justification is legitimate only where it is immediately apparent to
the police that they have evidence before them; the plain view doctrine may not be used to extend a general exploratory
search from one object to another until something incriminating at last emerges. [Id., 29 L.Ed. 2d 583. See also Texas v. Brown,
460 U.G. 730, 75 L. Ed. 2d 502 (1983)]

It was not even apparent to the members of the composite team whether the plants involved herein were indeed marijuana
plants. After said plants were uprooted, SPO1 Linda had to conduct a field test on said plants by using a Narcotics Drug
Identification Kit to determine if the same were indeed marijuana plants. [38] Later, Senior Inspector Villavicencio, a forensic
chemist, had to conduct three (3) qualitative examinations to determine if the plants were indeed marijuana. [39]

Since the evidence was secured on the occasion of an unreasonable search and seizure, the same is tainted and illegal and
should therefore be excluded for being the proverbial fruit of a poisonous tree.[40] In People v. Aruta,[41] we held that:

The exclusion of such evidence is the only practical means of enforcing the constitutional injunction against unreasonable
searches and seizure. The non-exclusionary rule is contrary to the letter and spirit of the prohibition against unreasonable
searches and seizures.

While conceding that the officer making the unlawful search and seizure may be held criminally and civilly liable,
the Stonehill case observed that most jurisdictions have realized that the exclusionary rule is he only practical means of
enforcing the constitutional injunction against abuse. This approach is based on the justification made by Judge Learned Hand
that only in case the prosecution which itself controls the seizing officials, knows that it cannot profit by their wrong, will the
wrong be repressed.

Unreasonable searches and seizures are the menace against which the constitutional guarantees afford full protection. While
the power to search and seize may at times be necessary to the public welfare, still it may be exercised and the law enforced
without transgressing the constitutional rights of the citizens, for the enforcement of no statute is of sufficient importance to
justify indifference to the basic principles of government.

Those who are supposed to enforce the law are not justified in disregarding the rights of the individual in the name of
order. Order is too high a price to pay for the loss of liberty. As Justice Holmes declared: I think it is less evil that some criminals
escape than that the government should play an ignoble part. It is simply not allowed in free society to violate a law to enforce
another, especially if the law violated is the Constitution itself.[42]

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of San Carlos City, Branch 58 is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accused-
appellant Armando S. Compacion is hereby ACQUITTED of the crime charged on ground of reasonable doubt. He is ordered
released from confinement unless he is being held for some other legal grounds. The subject marijuana is ordered disposed of
in accordance with law.

SO ORDERED.

[G.R. No. 142531. October 15, 2002]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. DANILO ASIS y FONPERADA and GILBERT FORMENTO y SARICON, appellant.

DECISION

PANGANIBAN, J.:

Circumstantial evidence that merely arouses suspicions or gives room for conjecture is not sufficient to convict. It must do more
than just raise the possibility, or even the probability, of guilt. It must engender moral certainty. Otherwise, the constitutional
presumption of innocence prevails, and the accused deserves acquittal.

The Case
For automatic review before this Court is the March 8, 2000 Decision[1] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila (Branch 54) in
Criminal Case No. 98-163090, finding Danilo Asis y Fonperada and Gilbert[2] Formento y Saricon guilty beyond reasonable doubt
of robbery with homicide aggravated by abuse of confidence, superior strength and treachery. The decretal portion of the
Decision reads as follows:

WHEREFORE, the two (2) accused are found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Robbery with Homicide with the
generic aggravating circumstances of abuse of confidence, superior strength and treachery; and each is sentenced to death
under Article 294, par. 1 of the Revised Penal Code; they are also ordered to jointly and severally pay P100,000.00 as damages
to the heirs of the victim.[3]

Appellants were charged in an Information[4] dated February 18, 1998, worded as follows:[5]

That on or about February 10, 1998, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, conspiring and confederating together
and mutually helping each other, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with intent to gain and by means of
force and violence upon person, to wit: by then and there stabbing one YU HING GUAN @ ROY CHING with a bladed instrument
on the different parts of the body thereafter take, rob and carry away the following, to wit:

Cash money in the amount of P20,000.00

one (1) wristwatch

one (1) gold necklace

and undetermined items

or all in the total amount of P20,000.00 more or less, belonging to said YU HING GUAN @ ROY CHING against his will, to the
damage and prejudice of the said owner in the aforesaid amount more or less of P20,000.00, Philippine Currency, and as a
result thereof, he sustained mortal stab wounds which were the direct and immediate cause of his death. [6]

When arraigned on July 9, 1998, both appellants pleaded not guilty.[7] Found to be deaf-mutes, they were assisted, not only by
a counsel de oficio,[8] but also by an interpreter from the Calvary Baptist Church. After due trial, appellants were found guilty
and sentenced to death.

The Facts

Version of the Prosecution

In its Brief,[9] the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) detailed the facts in the following manner:

The prosecution presented nine (9) witnesses. Although none of them had actually seen the crime committed, strong and
substantial circumstantial evidence abound linking beyond reasonable doubt both appellants to the crime.

As culled from the records, hereunder are the pertinent facts of the case:

George Huang, the nephew of the victim Yu Hing Guan a.k.a. Roy Ching, always passes by the store of the victim at 1042
Benavidez Street, Binondo, Manila to bring food stuff, ice and other things to his uncle and mother, Diana Yu, who work[s] in
the office of said store.

On February 9, 1998, at around 6:30 oclock in the morning, Huang arrived at the victims store and discovered that the steel
door of the store was locked from the outside. When he opened the steel door, he found everything to be normal except for
the inner door which had always been left open but which was closed at that time with only a chair blocking it.

When he removed the blocking chair, he discovered the body of his uncle, Yu Hing Guan a.k.a. Roy Ching (victim), lying
prostrate on the ground with a knife embedded on his nape. He closed the door and proceeded to Luneta, where [his] mother
exercises, to inform her of what he saw. After informing [his] mother, Huang first went to the Chinatown Police Station and
reported the incident; thereafter, he went to another station located in Soler corner Reina Regente to report the incident again.
Diana Yu, the sister of the victim, testified that on February 9, 1998, before 8:30 oclock in the evening, she was in the office of
her brother where she was working at 1042 Benavidez St., Binondo, Manila. She saw the two appellants, namely: Danilo Asis
and Gilbert Formento, and her brother (the victim), who are all deaf-mutes, talking in sign language. She testified that Danilo
Asis frequented the office of the victim, while Gilbert Formento came only on the night of February 9, 1998. At around 8:30
oclock in the evening, she left the office, leaving both appellants and the victim behind. The following morning, at around 7:30
oclock in the morning, her son, George Huang, informed her of her brothers (victims) death. Upon learning of said incident, she
went to the office where she saw her brothers body. She discovered that the sales proceeds of the preceding day were missing
and the necklace of her brother (victim) which he always wore was also missing.

On re-direct examination, Diana testified that she suspected both appellants, especially Gilbert Formento, to have perpetrated
the crime because of the fact that she saw the pair of shorts of the victim in the bag of appellant Gilbert Formento.

Jimmy Pagaduan testified that he was a helper in the Yu Hing Guan Auto Supply for five years already. He saw the two
appellants everyday in the store of the victim. Furthermore, he testified that as far as he knows, Danilo Asis owed the victim
PhP 3,000.00 and that he saw a list thereof which the victim showed him. On February 9, 1998, he left the store at around 6:00
oclock in the evening and he saw both appellants conversing with the victim.

SPO2 Pablo Ileto of WPD Homicide Section testified that on February 11, 1998, he was at Barangay Sto. Ni[]o, Hagunoy, Bulacan
together with Sgt. Napoleon Timbol, PO3 Luis Chico, and witness, Diana Yu. The three (3) of them were trying to locate the
whereabouts of appellant Gilbert Formento in connection with the death of Yu Hing Guan a.k.a. Roy Ching. They coordinated
with the Hagunoy Bulacan police and searched the area. Diana Yu saw Gilbert Formento in a delivery truck and she pointed him
to them. Thereafter, they invited Gilbert Formento to their office at the WPD Homicide Section. But before going to the WPD
station, they first brought Gilbert Formento to his house. Upon reaching the house, Diana Yu asked from the wife of the suspect
for the stolen money. However, they could not understand each other, so the wife gave Diana Yu the bag of Gilbert Formento
where Diana Yu noticed the pair of shorts which belonged to the victim. PO2 Ileto noticed what appears to be blood stains on
the pair of shorts.

SPO1 Benito Cabatbat testified that he, together with SPO1 Alfredo Opriasa, SPO1 Raul Olavario, the photographer SPO2 Tabio,
and fingerprint technician Domingo Daclan of the District Crime Laboratory Division went to the crime scene to conduct the
investigation on February 10, 1998. Upon arriving at the scene, they saw the victim lying prostrate on the ground, barefooted,
and clad only in brief.

After photographing the victim, the team went upstairs where traces of blood were seen on the second and third floors.

During the course of investigation, SPO1 Cabatbat received a phone call from a relative informing him that one of the suspects,
appellant Danilo Asis, went back to the scene of the crime. Afterwards, they brought Danilo Asis to the police station for
investigation, who expectedly denied having anything to do with the killing of the victim.

During investigation (February 10, 1998), SPO1 Balatbat noticed that there was a bloodstain in Asis T-shirt.

During the presentation of prosecution witness Dr. Olga Bausa, they stipulated that the bloodstains found in the white t-shirt
with a lettering of Collorrific and in the short pants were human blood.[10] (Citations omitted)

Version of the Defense

On the other hand, appellants version of the facts is as follows:[11]

GILBERT FORMENTO is a deaf-mute who is one of the accused in this case. He testified through sign interpreter, Mrs. Nelda
Bahena. On February 9, 1998 at about 11 am., he was in the house of Roy Ching[.] They talked about things and events. When
he left the house of Ching he proceeded to Bulacan while Asis went to Luneta. He denied having in possession of the clothes of
Ching found with him in Bulacan. A policeman met him in his house in Sto. Nino, Hagunoy, Bulacan. They handcuffed him
immediately. He was whipped for the first time in his life. He was brought to Manila at Funeraria Paz. The relatives of Roy Ching
were pointing to him while he was being whipped by the two policemen.

NESTOR PAGLINAWAN is a friend of Danilo Asis. He is a vendor who vends at the PICC area. He testified that accused-appellant
Danilo Asis occasionally help[s] him in vending by guarding his selling items and preparing coffee. He communicated with
accused-appellant Asis through sign language. He had known Asis for five years. On February 9, 1998, at about 10:00 p.m.,
Danilo Asis was with him at the PICC. Accused-appellant Asis stayed with him until 7:00 am of the following day.
DANILO ASIS is a deaf-mute and one of the accused in this case. He testified through sign interpreters, Ms. Theta Figuerres and
Mrs. Nelda Bahena. Roy Ching was his friend since 1995. On February 9, 1998, he went to the store of Roy Ching because he
was called by Ching to help him in his store. When he arrived at Chings store, Gilbert Formento was there already. The three of
them drank beer. He left the store at 9:00 p.m., ahead of Gilbert Formento. He proceeded to PICC to help his friend Nestor, a
cigarette vendor.

He denied killing Ching. When he went back to Roy Chings store at 10 a.m. the following day, he felt depressed upon knowing
that Roy Ching was dead. He was arrested and incarcerated on that same day.[12] (Citations omitted)

Ruling of the Trial Court

The RTC held that the crime charged and proved is robbery with homicide under Article 294, No. 1 of the Revised Penal
Code.[13] It ruled that although no witnesses to the actual killing and robbery were presented, the circumstantial evidence
including the recovery of bloodstained clothing from both accused definitely proved that the two (2) x x x committed the
crime.[14] Finally, the RTC also appreciated the aggravating circumstances of abuse of confidence, superior strength and
treachery and thus sentenced both appellants to the supreme penalty of death.

Hence, this automatic review before us.[15]

Issues

In their Brief, appellants fault the trial court with the following assignment of errors:

The trial court gravely erred in finding the accused-appellants guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of robbery with
homicide notwithstanding the insufficiency of the circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution.

II

The trial court gravely erred in concluding that evident premeditation, treachery and conspiracy attended the killing of Roy
Ching.

III

The trial court gravely erred in not considering the physical infirmities of the two accused-appellants who are deaf-mutes.[16]

The Courts Ruling

The appeal is meritorious. The prosecutions evidence does not prove the guilt of appellants beyond reasonable doubt; hence,
their constitutional right to be presumed innocent remains and must be upheld.

Main Issue:

Sufficiency of Prosecution Evidence

In the present appeal, two things stand out: first, there were no eyewitnesses to the robbery or to the homicide; and second,
none of the items allegedly stolen were recovered or presented in evidence.

Appellants argue that the pieces of circumstantial evidence submitted by the prosecution are insufficient to prove their guilt
beyond reasonable doubt. The prosecution counters that these pieces of evidence, taken together, necessarily lead to their
conviction.

Certainly, it is not only by direct evidence that the accused may be convicted of the crime charged.[17] Circumstantial evidence is
resorted to when direct testimony would result in setting felons free and deny proper protection to the community. [18] The
former is not a weaker form of evidence vis--vis the latter.[19] The accused may be convicted on the basis of circumstantial
evidence, provided the proven circumstances constitute an unbroken chain leading to one fair reasonable conclusion pointing
to the accused, to the exclusion of all others, as the guilty person.[20] Circumstantial evidence is akin to a tapestry; it should be
made up of strands which create a pattern when interwoven.[21] This pattern should be reasonably consistent with the
hypothesis that the accused is guilty and at the same time totally inconsistent with the proposition that he or she is innocent.[22]
The Rules on Evidence[23] allow conviction by means of circumstantial evidence as follows:

SEC. 4. Circumstantial evidence, when sufficient. Circumstantial evidence is sufficient for conviction if:

(a) There is more than one circumstance;

(b) The facts from which the inferences are derived are proven; and

(c) The combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt.

Bloodstained Trousers

The prosecution argues that the strongest piece of evidence damning appellants is the victims bloodstained pair of short pants
recovered from the bag of Gilbert Formento.It argues that since the trousers were recovered from one of the appellants, then
Rule 131 (j) of the Revised Rules of Court should apply. The said provision is worded, thus:

Sec. 3. Disputable presumptions.

The following presumptions are satisfactory if uncontradicted, but may be contradicted and overcome by other evidence:

(j) That a person found in possession of a thing taken in the doing of a recent wrongful act is the taker and the doer of the
whole act; otherwise, that things which a person possesses, or exercises acts of ownership over, are owned by him;[24]

We disagree. It escapes this Court how the recovery of a bloodstained pair of shorts allegedly owned by the victim should give
rise to the presumption that one of the appellants was the taker and doer of the whole act [25] of robbery with homicide. By
itself, the retrieval of the pair of shorts does not prove that appellants, or even just one of them, robbed the trouser owner of
cash and jewelry and also killed him, as charged in the Information. Neither does it show that appellants, or one of them,
perpetrated the aggression leading to the victims death.

Furthermore, the ownership of the pair of shorts was not definitively determined. And even granting for the sake of argument
that it indeed belonged to the victim, still, there is no evidence to prove that it was taken from him on the night of the
homicide. Neither can it be ruled out that he might have lent it or gave it to either one of the two. It was neither extraordinary
nor impossible for him to have allowed Appellant Formento to use it, considering that they were friends, and that they shared a
commonality as deaf-mutes.

The OSG harps on the bloodstains found on the shorts. But as testified to by the pathologist[26] who examined them, although
the origin was human blood, the blood grouping could not be determined. [27] Thus, its mere presence on the pair of shorts did
not in any way support the prosecutions theory linking appellants to the crime.

Evidence Is Inadmissible

In any event, appellants argument of illegal search and seizure cannot simply be brushed aside, considering the guarantee so
sacredly enshrined in our Constitution.

There is no question that appellants were collared without any arrest warrant. Neither was there any valid search warrant
obtained against them. However, they never questioned the legality of their arrest through a motion to quash the Information.
Instead, they entered a plea of not guilty and participated in the trial. Settled is the rule that any objection involving the arrest
or the trial courts procedure of acquiring jurisdiction over the person of the accused must be made before the arraignment;
otherwise, the objection is deemed waived.[28]

Indeed, appellants do not now question the legality of their arrest. What they object to is the introduction of the bloodstained
pair of shorts allegedly recovered from the bag of Appellant Formento. They argue that the search was illegally done, making
the obtainment of the pair of shorts illegal and taints them as inadmissible. The prosecution, on the other hand, contends that
it was the wife of appellant who voluntarily surrendered the bag that contained the bloodstained trousers of the victim.[29] Her
act, it claims, constituted a valid consent to the search without a warrant.[30]

We clarify. Primarily, the constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures, being a personal one, cannot be
waived by anyone except the person whose rights are invaded or who is expressly authorized to do so on his or her behalf. [31] In
the present case, the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses show that at the time the bloodstained pair of shorts was
recovered, Appellant Formento, together with his wife and mother, was present. Being the very subject of the search,
necessarily, he himself should have given consent. Since he was physically present, the waiver could not have come from any
other person.

The OSG cites Lopez v. Commissioner of Customs,[32] which validated a waiver of a warrantless search, when a woman thought
to be the wife of the accused -- but who later turned out to be a manicurist -- surrendered to the police the papers belonging to
the appellant. The instant appeal, however, presents a different situation, because here the accused himself was present when
the search was made. Hence, consent should have been obtained from or given by him. In Lopez, the accused was not present
when the search was made; hence, the consent given by the occupant of the hotel room was deemed the consent of the
accused who was then renting the space.

The OSGs argument loses even more cogency when evaluated against the well-settled principles on searches and seizures
without warrants.

To constitute a valid waiver, it must be shown that first, the right exists; second, the person involved had knowledge, actual or
constructive, of the existence of such a right; and third, the person had an actual intention to relinquish the right.[33] How could
Appellant Formento have consented to a warrantless search when, in the first place, he did not understand what was
happening at that moment? The prosecution witnesses themselves testified that there was no interpreter to assist him -- a
deaf-mute -- during the arrest, search and seizure. Naturally, it would seem that he indeed consented to the warrantless
search, as the prosecution would want this Court to believe.

As early as 1938, Justice Jose P. Laurel pointed out in Pasion vda. de Garcia v. Locsin:

As the constitutional guaranty is not dependent upon any affirmative act of the citizen, the courts do not place the citizen in the
position of either contesting an officers authority by force, or waiving his constitutional rights; but instead they hold that a
peaceful submission to a search or seizure is not a consent or an invitation thereto, but is merely a demonstration of regard for
the supremacy of the law.[34]

This point becomes even more pronounced in the present case, in which appellant is a deaf-mute, and there was no interpreter
to explain to him what was happening. His seeming acquiescence to the search without a warrant may be attributed to plain
and simple confusion and ignorance.

Verily, courts indulge every reasonable presumption against waiver of fundamental constitutional rights and x x x we do not
presume acquiescence [to] the loss of fundamental rights.[35]

Neither can the OSG claim that appellants wife voluntarily surrendered the bag that contained the bloodstained trousers of the
victim.[36] As admitted by Prosecution Witness PO2 Pablo Ileto, the victims sister and appellants wife cannot understand each
other.[37] Eventually, appellants wife gave the belongings of Gilbert Formento where the bloodstained shorts of the victim were
recovered.[38] How can the surrender of appellants belongings in this case be voluntary, when the person surrendering them did
not even understand the person she was communicating with?

To be sure, the OSG cannot even use the argument that the search was made by a private individual, the victims sister, and
thereby skirt the issue of constitutional protection against unlawful searches by the State.

The victims sister herself testified against this argument as follows:

ATTY. FONTANILLA

Q So Gilbert Formento was not wearing the alleged trouser[s]?

A The bag was given by his mother or his wife, sir.

Q To whom?

A To the policemen, sir.

Q And they searched this, is that right?

A Yes sir.[39]
This testimony clearly forecloses the assertion that it was not the police authorities who conducted the search. This testimony
in fact belies that of PO2 Pablo Ileto[40] that it was the prosecution witness who was talking to appellants wife, and who
conducted the search that yielded the bloodstained shortpants.

All told, the bloodstained pair of shorts was a piece of evidence seized on the occasion of an unlawful search and seizure. Thus,
it is tainted and should thus be excluded for being the proverbial fruit of the poisonous tree.[41] In the language of the
fundamental law, it shall be inadmissible in evidence for any purpose in any proceeding.[42]

Bloodstained Shirt

The prosecution then contends that when the other appellant, Danilo Asis, was brought to the police station for investigation
the following day, the police found bloodstain on his shirt.

Again, this fact cannot be taken as an indication of guilt on the part of Appellant Asis. It does not point to the conclusion that he
was involved in the crime charged against him. We cannot agree that since there was bloodstain on his clothing, ergo, he
committed the robbery and the attendant killing. At most, this piece of circumstantial evidence, taken with the other one, may
lead to suspicion. But courts do not rely on circumstantial evidence that merely arouses suspicion or conjecture. [43] For
circumstantial evidence to lead to conviction, it must do more than just raise the mere possibility or even probability of
guilt.[44] It must engender moral certainty.

Motive for the Crime

The prosecution then attempts to ascribe motive to appellants by arguing that one of them, Appellant Asis, allegedly owed the
victim P6,070.[45]

Indeed, motive becomes material when the evidence is circumstantial or inconclusive, and there is some doubt on whether a
crime has been committed or whether the accused has committed it.[46] But the prosecutions contention again fails, as the fact
of indebtedness was never conclusively established. According to the sister of the victim, Asis still owed her brother the amount
of P6,070. Yet, during the testimony of the said appellant, it was shown that it was actually the victim who had been indebted
to the former. The prosecution, in fact, uses this testimony of Asis to bolster its claim that he became madder and madder at
the victim. Coming from the prosecution itself, this argument casts doubts on whether it was appellant who owed the victim or
the other way around.

The Public Attorneys Office, the defense counsel, correctly points out that the victim himself had made the entries in his
logbook which served as bases for the prosecutions averment that appellant owed him some amount. The sister, who was
explaining the entries, admitted that she had no personal knowledge thereof. More important, their veracity was never
established. Neither were the erasures or scratches thereon sufficiently explained.

To show that there was sufficient motive to commit the crime charged, the prosecution uses the testimony of Asis that he got
madder and madder at the victim. This statement is too speculative to deserve serious consideration.

The Last Persons Seen

Talking with the Victim

It is also argued that appellants were the last persons seen with the victim; ergo, the suspicion that they were the authors of
the crime. Admittedly, this circumstance may raise a speculation, but it is insufficient to establish their guilt. As this Court has
consistently stressed, mere suspicions and speculations can never be the bases of conviction in a criminal case. [47]

Neither is the mere presence of appellants at the locus criminis sufficient to implicate them. Their being at the store of the
victim was not unusual, as testified to by the witnesses. In fact, it was established that he and appellants had known one
another well, and that they had regularly met at his store. Moreover, there was paucity of evidence indicating that, other than
appellants, no other person had or could have had access to the store where he was robbed and killed.

As they themselves correctly observe, their complicity in the crime becomes even more doubtful because, as testified to by his
sister, the neighbors heard shouts; these could not have come from deaf-mutes. Furthermore, appellants question the non-
presentation of the results of the tests conducted on the fingerprints lifted from the crime scene.

Appellants Pointed to Each Other?


Finally, we do not find any evidence that appellants indeed pointed to one another as the author of the crime charged. In fact,
even during their cross-examination, neither of them specifically shifted the blame to the other. When questioned by the public
prosecutor, they even denied having done so.

All told, to sustain a conviction for the complex crime of robbery with homicide, which is primarily an offense against property,
it is essential that the robbery be proved beyond reasonable doubt.[48] Proof of the homicide alone is not sufficient to support a
conviction for the aforesaid complex crime.[49]

Essential to robbery is the taking, with intent to gain, of personal property belonging to another by means of violence or
intimidation against another person by the use of force upon things. There is robbery with homicide when, by reason or on the
occasion of a robbery with the use of violence against or intimidation of persons, homicide is also committed. [50]

Accordingly, in robbery with homicide cases, the prosecution needs to prove these elements: (a) the taking of personal
property is perpetrated by means of violence or intimidation against a person; (b) the property taken belongs to another; (c)
the taking is characterized by intent to gain or animus lucrandi; and (d) on the occasion of the robbery or by reason thereof, the
crime of homicide -- here used in its generic sense -- is committed.[51]

Robbery Completely

Unsubstantiated

The prosecution tried its best to prove the crime of homicide, even if unsuccessfully, but in the process, it left the crime of
robbery totally unsubstantiated.

More glaring is the fact that the Information charged appellants as conspiring and confederating together and mutually helping
each other.[52] Yet, the RTC Decision found them both guilty of the crime charged without any pronouncement as to the
presence of conspiracy. To serve effectively as a basis for conviction, conspiracy must be proved as convincingly as the criminal
act itself.[53]

Had the alleged conspiracy to commit the crime been established, then the precise modality of each individual conspirator
becomes secondary. The applicable rule in conspiracy is that the act of one shall be deemed to be the act of all.[54] The degree
of actual participation in the commission of the crime is immaterial.[55] However, since there was neither proof nor finding of
conspiracy, then the extent of the individual participation of each appellant should have been clearly delineated.

In criminal cases, the prosecution has the onus probandi of establishing the guilt of the accused.[56] Ei incumbit probatio non qui
negat. He who asserts -- not he who denies -- must prove.[57] The burden must be discharged by the prosecution on the
strength of its own evidence, not on the weakness of that for the defense.[58] Hence, circumstantial evidence that has not been
adequately established, much less corroborated, cannot be the basis of conviction.[59] Suspicion alone is insufficient, the
required quantum of evidence being proof beyond reasonable doubt.[60] Indeed, the sea of suspicion has no shore, and the
court that embarks upon it is without rudder or compass.[61]

It must be stressed that in our criminal justice system, the overriding consideration is not whether the court doubts the
innocence of the accused, but whether it entertains a reasonable doubt as to their guilt. [62] Where there is no moral certainty as
to their guilt, they must be acquitted even though their innocence may be questionable. The constitutional right to be
presumed innocent until proven guilty can be overthrown only by proof beyond reasonable doubt.[63]

In the final analysis, the circumstances narrated by the prosecution engender doubt rather than moral certainty on the guilt of
appellants.

In view of the above findings, we deem it unnecessary to deal with the other issues raised by appellants.

WHEREFORE, the automatically appealed Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Manila (Branch 54) in Criminal Case No. 98-
163090 is SET ASIDE. Danilo Asis and Gilbert Formento are ACQUITTED on reasonable doubt, and ordered
immediately RELEASED from custody, unless they are being held for some other lawful cause.

The director of the Bureau of Corrections is ORDERED to implement this Decision forthwith and to INFORM this Court, within
five (5) days from receipt hereof, of the date appellants were actually released from confinement. Costs de oficio.

SO ORDERED.
[G.R. No. 144037. September 26, 2003]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. NOEL TUDTUD y PAYPA and DINDO BOLONG y NARET, accused-appellants.

DECISION

TINGA, J.:

. It is desirable that criminals should be detected, and to that end that all available evidence should be used. It also is desirable
that the government should not itself foster and pay for other crimes, when they are the means by which the evidence is to be
obtained. If it pays its officers for having got evidence by crime, I do not see why it may not as well pay them for getting it in the
same way, and I can attach no importance to protestations of disapproval if it knowingly accepts and pays and announces that
it will pay for the fruits. We have to choose, and for my part I think it a less evil that some criminals should escape than that the
government should play an ignoble part.

So wrote Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in Olmstead v. U.S.[1] On this occasion, this Court is made to choose between letting
suspected criminals escape or letting the government play an ignoble part.

Sometime during the months of July and August 1999, the Toril Police Station, Davao City received a report from a civilian asset
named Bobong Solier about a certain Noel Tudtud. [2] Solier related that his neighbors have been complaining about Tudtud,
who was allegedly responsible for the proliferation of marijuana in their area.[3]

Reacting to the report, PO1 Ronald Desierto, PO1 Ramil Floreta and their superior, SPO1 Villalonghan, [4] all members of the
Intelligence Section of the Toril Police Station, conducted surveillance in Soliers neighborhood in Sapa, Toril, Davao City. [5] For
five days, they gathered information and learned that Tudtud was involved in illegal drugs. [6]According to his neighbors, Tudtud
was engaged in selling marijuana.[7]

On August 1, 1999, Solier informed the police that Tudtud had headed to Cotabato and would be back later that day with new
stocks of marijuana.[8] Solier described Tudtud as big-bodied and short, and usually wore a hat.[9] At around 4:00 in the
afternoon that same day, a team composed of PO1 Desierto, PO1 Floreta and SPO1 Villalonghan posted themselves at the
corner of Saipon and McArthur Highway to await Tudtuds arrival.[10] All wore civilian clothes.[11]

About 8:00 later that evening, two men disembarked from a bus and helped each other carry a carton[12] marked King
Flakes.[13] Standing some five feet away from the men, PO1 Desierto and PO1 Floreta observed that one of the men fit Tudtuds
description.[14] The same man also toted a plastic bag.[15]

PO1 Floreta and PO1 Desierto then approached the suspects and identified themselves as police officers. [16] PO1 Desierto
informed them that the police had received information that stocks of illegal drugs would be arriving that night. [17] The man
who resembled Tudtuds description denied that he was carrying any drugs.[18] PO1 Desierto asked him if he could see the
contents of the box.[19] Tudtud obliged, saying, it was alright.[20] Tudtud opened the box himself as his companion looked on.[21]

The box yielded pieces of dried fish, beneath which were two bundles, one wrapped in a striped plastic bag[22] and another in
newspapers.[23] PO1 Desierto asked Tudtud to unwrap the packages.[24] They contained what seemed to the police officers as
marijuana leaves.[25]

The police thus arrested Tudtud and his companion, informed them of their rights and brought them to the police
station.[26] The two did not resist.[27]

The confiscated items were turned over to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory for examination. [28] Forensic
tests conducted by Police Chief Inspector Noemi Austero, forensic chemist of the PNP Crime Laboratory, Region XI, on
specimens taken from the confiscated items confirmed the police officers suspicion. The plastic bag contained 3,200 grams of
marijuana leaves while the newspapers contained another 890 grams.[29] Police Chief Inspector Austero reduced her findings in
her report, Physical Sciences Report No. D-220-99 dated 2 August 1999.[30]

Noel Tudtud and his companion, Dindo Bulong, were subsequently charged[31] before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Davao
City with illegal possession of prohibited drugs.[32] Upon arraignment, both accused pleaded not guilty.[33] The defense,
however, reserved their right to question the validity of their arrest and the seizure of the evidence against them.[34]

Trial ensued thereafter.


The prosecution presented five witnesses, namely, arresting officers PO1 Desierto and PO1 Floreta, their civilian informant
Bobong Solier, forensic chemist Police Chief Inspector Noemi Austero, and SPO3 Nicolas Algabre, exhibit custodian of the PNP
Crime Laboratory. Said witnesses testified to the foregoing narration of facts.

The accused, denying the charges against them, cried frame-up.

Noel Tudtud recalled that on August 1, 1999 he had gone to Kabacan, North Cotabato to sell pairs of Levis pants, which was his
sideline.[35] At about 5:00 in the afternoon, he returned to Davao City by bus.[36] Upon reaching Toril, Tudtud, along with less
than ten passengers, got down the bus.[37]

Suddenly, a man who identified himself as a police officer approached him, pointing a .38 caliber revolver. [38] The man told him
not to run.[39] Tudtud raised his arms and asked, Sir, what is this about?[40] The man answered that he would like to inspect the
plastic bag Tudtud was carrying, and instructed Tudtud to open the bag, which revealed several pairs of Levis pants. [41]

The man then directed Tudtud to open a carton box some two meters away.[42] According to Tudtud, the box was already there
when he disembarked the bus.[43] Tudtud told the man the box was not his, but proceeded to open it out of fear after the man
again pointed his revolver at him.[44] Tudtud discovered pieces of dried fish, underneath which was something wrapped in
cellophane.[45]

What is that? the man asked.[46] Tudtud replied that he did not know.[47] Without even unwrapping the cellophane, the man
said it was marijuana and abruptly handcuffed Tudtud.[48]

Simultaneously, another man was pointing a firearm at Dindo Bolong at the other side of the street, some eight meters from
Tudtud.[49]

Bolong recounted that he was on his way to a relative in Daliao after attending a cousins wedding in Hagonoy, Davao del Sur
when he was accosted.[50] After alighting the bus, Bolong crossed the street.[51] Someone then approached him and pointed a
gun at him.[52] The man ordered him not to move and handcuffed him.[53] Bolong asked why he was being arrested but the man
just told him to go with them.[54]

The suspects were then taken to the police station where, they would later claim, they met each other for the first time. [55]

Assailing the credibility of informant Bobong Solier, the defense offered the testimonies of Felicia Julaton, [56] Branch 3 Clerk of
Court, Claudio Bohevia,[57] Branch 7 Clerk of Court, and Mercedita Abunda,[58] Branch 9 Utility Clerk, all of the Davao City
Municipal Trial Circuit Court. They testified and presented court documents showing that one Bobo or Bobong Ramirez was
charged in their respective branches with various crimes, specifically, light threats, less serious physical injuries and
robbery. The defense asserted that the Bobo or Bobong Ramirez accused in these cases is the same person as the informant
Bobong Solier.[59]

Swayed by the prosecutions evidence beyond reasonable doubt, the RTC rendered judgment convicting both accused as
charged and sentencing them to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay a fine of P500,000.00.[60]

On appeal, Noel Tudtud and Dindo Bolong assign, among other errors, the admission in evidence of the marijuana leaves, which
they claim were seized in violation of their right against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The right against unreasonable searches and seizures is secured by Section 2, Article III of the Constitution, which states:

SEC. 2. The right of the people to be secured in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and
seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue
except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the
complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the places to be searched and the persons or things
to be seized.

The rule is that a search and seizure must be carried out through or with a judicial warrant; otherwise, such search and seizure
becomes unreasonable within the meaning of the above-quoted constitutional provision, and any evidence secured thereby,
will be inadmissible in evidence for any purpose in any proceeding.[61] Section 3 (2), Article III of the Constitution explicitly
provides:

(2) Any evidence obtained in violation of the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.
The proscription in Section 2, Article III, however, covers only unreasonable searches and seizures. The following instances are
not deemed unreasonable even in the absence of a warrant:

1. Warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest. (Sec. 12, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court and prevailing jurisprudence);

2. Search of evidence in plain view. The elements are: (a) a prior valid intrusion based on the valid warrantless arrest in which
the police are legally present in the pursuit of their official duties; (b) the evidence was inadvertently discovered by the police
who have the right to be where they are; (c) the evidence must be immediately apparent; (d) plain view justified mere seizure
of evidence without further search;

3. Search of a moving vehicle. Highly regulated by the government, the vehicles inherent mobility reduces expectation of
privacy especially when its transit in public thoroughfares furnishes a highly reasonable suspicion amounting to probable cause
that the occupant committed a criminal activity;

4. Consented warrantless search;

5. Customs search;

6. Stop and Frisk; and

7. Exigent and emergency circumstances.[62]

The RTC justified the warrantless search of appellants belongings under the first exception, as a search incident to a lawful
arrest. It cited as authorities this Courts rulings in People v. Claudio,[63] People v. Tangliben,[64] People v. Montilla,[65] and People
v. Valdez.[66] The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), in arguing for the affirmance of the appealed decision, invokes the cases
of People v. Maspil, Jr.,[67] People v. Malmstedt,[68] and People v. Bagista.[69]

A search incidental to a lawful arrest is sanctioned by the Rules of Court. Prior to its revision in 2000, Section 12,[70] Rule 126 of
said Rules read as follows:

SEC. 12. Search incident to lawful arrest. A person lawfully arrested may be searched for dangerous weapons or anything which
may be used as proof of the commission of an offense, without a search warrant.

Section 5 (a), Rule 113 of the Rules, in turn, allows warrantless arrests:

SEC. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:

(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an
offense;

It is significant to note that the search in question preceded the arrest. Recent jurisprudence holds that the arrest must precede
the search; the process cannot be reversed.[71] Nevertheless, a search substantially contemporaneous with an arrest can
precede the arrest if the police have probable cause to make the arrest at the outset of the search.[72] The question, therefore,
is whether the police in this case had probable cause to arrest appellants. Probable cause has been defined as:

an actual belief or reasonable grounds of suspicion. The grounds of suspicion are reasonable when, in the absence of actual
belief of the arresting officers, the suspicion that the person to be arrested is probably guilty of committing the offense, is
based on actual facts, i.e., supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to create the probable cause of guilt of
the person to be arrested. A reasonable suspicion therefore must be founded on probable cause, coupled with good faith of the
peace officers making the arrest.[73]

The long-standing rule in this jurisdiction, applied with a great degree of consistency, is that reliable information alone is not
sufficient to justify a warrantless arrest under Section 5 (a), Rule 113. The rule requires, in addition, that the accused perform
some overt act that would indicate that he has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense.

In the leading case of People v. Burgos,[74] this Court held that the officer arresting a person who has just committed, is
committing, or is about to commit an offense must have personal knowledge of that fact. The offense must also be committed
in his presence or within his view.[75] In Burgos, the authorities obtained information that the accused had forcibly recruited one
Cesar Masamlok as member of the New Peoples Army, threatening the latter with a firearm. Upon finding the accused, the
arresting team searched his house and discovered a gun as well as purportedly subversive documents. This Court, in declaring
then Section 6 (a), Rule 113 of the Rules of Court inapplicable, ruled that:

There is no such personal knowledge in this case. Whatever knowledge was possessed by the arresting officers, it came in its
entirety from the information furnished by Cesar Masamlok. The location of the firearm was given by the appellants wife.

At the time of the appellants arrest, he was not in actual possession of any firearm or subversive document. Neither was he
committing any act which could be described as subversive. He was, in fact, plowing his field at the time of the arrest.

The right of a person to be secure against any unreasonable seizure of his body and any deprivation of his liberty is a most basic
and fundamental one. The statute or rule which allows exceptions to the requirement of warrants of arrest is strictly
construed. Any exception must clearly fall within the situations when securing a warrant would be absurd or is manifestly
unnecessary as provided by the Rule. We cannot liberally construe the rule on arrests without warrant or extend its application
beyond the cases specifically provided by law. To do so would infringe upon personal liberty and set back a basic right so often
violated and so deserving of full protection.[76]

Consequently, the items seized were held inadmissible, having been obtained in violation of the accuseds constitutional rights
against unreasonable searches and seizures.

In People v. Aminnudin,[77] this Court likewise held the warrantless arrest and subsequent search of appellant therein illegal,
given the following circumstances:

the accused-appellant was not, at the moment of his arrest, committing a crime nor was it shown that he was about to do so or
that he had just done so. What he was doing was descending the gangplank of the M/V Wilcon 9 and there was no outward
indication that he called for his arrest. To all appearances, he was like any of the other passengers innocently disembarking
from the vessel. It was only when the informer pointed to him as the carrier of the marijuana that he suddenly became suspect
and so subject to apprehension. It was the furtive finger that triggered his arrest. The identification by the informer was the
probable cause as determined by the officers (and not a judge) that authorized them to pounce upon Aminnudin and
immediately arrest him.[78]

Thus, notwithstanding tips from confidential informants and regardless of the fact that the search yielded contraband, the mere
act of looking from side to side while holding ones abdomen,[79] or of standing on a corner with ones eyes moving very fast,
looking at every person who came near,[80] does not justify a warrantless arrest under said Section 5 (a). Neither does putting
something in ones pocket,[81] handing over ones baggage,[82] riding a motorcycle,[83] nor does holding a bag on board
a trisikad[84]sanction State intrusion. The same rule applies to crossing the street per se.[85]

Personal knowledge was also required in the case of People v. Doria.[86] Recently, in People v. Binad Sy Chua,[87] this Court
declared invalid the arrest of the accused, who was walking towards a hotel clutching a sealed Zest-O juice box. For the
exception in Section 5 (a), Rule 113 to apply, this Court ruled, two elements must concur: (1) the person to be arrested must
execute an overt act indicating he has just committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit a crime; and (2) such
overt act is done in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer. Reliable information alone is insufficient.

In the following cases, the search was held to be incidental to a lawful arrest because of suspicious circumstances: People v.
Tangliben[88] (accused was acting suspiciously), People v. Malmstedt[89] (a bulge on the accuseds waist), and People v. de
Guzman[90] (likewise a bulge on the waist of the accused, who was wearing tight-fitting clothes).

There is, however, another set of jurisprudence that deems reliable information sufficient to justify a search incident to a
warrantless arrest under Section 5 (a), Rule 113, thus deviating from Burgos. To this class of cases belong People v. Maspil,
Jr.,[91] People v. Bagista,[92] People v. Balingan,[93] People v. Lising,[94] People v. Montilla,[95] People v. Valdez,[96] and People v.
Gonzales.[97] In these cases, the arresting authorities were acting on information regarding an offense but there were no overt
acts or suspicious circumstances that would indicate that the accused has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to
commit the same. Significantly, these cases, except the last two, come under some other exception to the rule against
warrantless searches. Thus, Maspil, Jr. involved a checkpoint search, Balingan was a search of a moving vehicle, Bagistawas
both, and Lising and Montilla were consented searches.

Nevertheless, the great majority of cases conforms to the rule in Burgos, which, in turn, more faithfully adheres to the letter of
Section 5(a), Rule 113. Note the phrase in his presence therein, connoting personal knowledge on the part of the arresting
officer. The right of the accused to be secure against any unreasonable searches on and seizure of his own body and any
deprivation of his liberty being a most basic and fundamental one, the statute or rule that allows exception to the requirement
of a warrant of arrest is strictly construed. Its application cannot be extended beyond the cases specifically provided by law.[98]

The cases invoked by the RTC and the OSG are, therefore, gravely misplaced. In Claudio,[99] the accused, who was seated aboard
a bus in front of the arresting officer, put her bag behind the latter, thus arousing the latters
suspicion. In Tangliben and Malmstedt, the accused had also acted suspiciously.

As noted earlier, Maspil, Jr., Bagista and Montilla were justified by other exceptions to the rule against warrantless
searches. Montilla, moreover, was not without its critics.There, majority of the Court held:

Appellant insists that the mere fact of seeing a person carrying a traveling bag and a carton box should not elicit the slightest
suspicion of the commission of any crime since that is normal. But precisely, it is in the ordinary nature of things that drugs
being illegally transported are necessarily hidden in containers and concealed from view. Thus, the officers could reasonably
assume, and not merely on a hollow suspicion since the informant was by their side and had so informed them, that the drugs
were in appellants luggage. It would obviously have been irresponsible, if now downright absurd under the circumstances, to
require the constable to adopt a wait and see attitude at the risk of eventually losing the quarry.

Here, there were sufficient facts antecedent to the search and seizure that, at the point prior to the search were already
constitutive of probable cause, and which by themselves could properly create in the minds of the officers a well-grounded and
reasonable belief that appellant was in the act of violating the law. The search yielded affirmance both of that probable cause
and the actuality that appellant was then actually committing a crime by illegally transporting prohibited drugs. With these
attendant facts, it is ineluctable that appellant was caught in flagrante delicto, hence his arrest and the search of his belongings
without the requisite warrant were both justified.[100]

While concurring with the majority, Mr. Justice Vitug reserved his vote on the discussion on the warrantless search being
incidental to a lawful arrest. Mr. Justice Panganiban, joined by Messrs. Justices Melo and Puno, filed a Separate Opinion.

Although likewise concurring in the majoritys ruling that appellant consented to the inspection of his baggage, Justice
Panganiban disagreed with the conclusion that the warrantless search was incidental to a lawful arrest. He argued that
jurisprudence required personal knowledge on the part of the officers making the in flagrante delicto arrest.In Montilla, the
appellant did not exhibit any overt act or strange conduct that would reasonably arouse in their minds suspicion that he was
embarking on some felonious enterprise.

Law and jurisprudence in fact require stricter grounds for valid arrests and searches without warrant than for the issuance of
warrants therefore. In the former, the arresting person must have actually witnessed the crime being committed or attempted
by the person sought to be arrested; or he must have personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested
perpetrated the crime that had just occurred. In the latter case, the judge simply determines personally from testimonies of
witnesses that there exists reasonable grounds to believe that a crime was committed by the accused.

To say that reliable tips constitute probable cause for a warrantless arrest or search is in my opinion, a dangerous precedent
and places in great jeopardy the doctrines laid down in many decisions made by this Court, in its effort to zealously guard and
protect the sacred constitutional right against unreasonable arrests, searches and seizures. Everyone would be practically at the
mercy of so-called informants, reminiscent of the makapilis during the Japanese occupation. Any one whom they point out to a
police officer as a possible violator of the law could then be subject to search and possible arrest. This is placing limitless power
upon informants who will no longer be required to affirm under oath their accusations, for they can always delay their giving of
tips in order to justify warrantless arrests and searches. Even law enforcers can use this as an oppressive tool to conduct
searches without warrants, for they can always claim that they received raw intelligence information only on the day or
afternoon before. This would clearly be a circumvention of the legal requisites for validly effecting an arrest or conducting a
search and seizure.Indeed the majoritys ruling would open loopholes that would allow unreasonable arrests, searches and
seizures.[101]

Montilla would shortly find mention in Justice Panganibans concurring opinion in People v. Doria, supra, where this Court ruled:

Accused-Appellant Gaddao was arrested solely on the basis of the alleged identification made by her co-accused. PO3
Manlangit, however, declared in his direct examination that appellant Doria named his co-accused in response to his (PO3
Manlangits) query as to where the marked money was. Appellant Doria did not point to appellant Gaddao as his associate in the
drug business, but as the person with whom he left the marked bills. This identification does not necessarily lead to the
conclusion that appellant Gaddao conspired with her co-accused in pushing drugs. Appellant Doria may have left the money in
her house, with or without any conspiracy. Save for accused-appellant Dorias word, the Narcom agents had no showing that the
person who affected the warantless arrest had, in his own right, knowledge of facts implicating the person arrested to the
perpetration of a criminal offense, the arrest is legally objectionable.[102] [Italics in the original.]

Expressing his accord with Mr. Justice Punos ponencia, Justice Panganiban said that Doria rightfully brings the Court back to
well-settled doctrines on warrantless arrests and searches, which have seemingly been modified through an obiter in People v.
Ruben Montilla.[103]

Montilla, therefore, has been seemingly discredited insofar as it sanctions searches incidental to lawful arrest under similar
circumstances. At any rate, Montilla was a consented search. As will be demonstrated later, the same could not be said of this
case.

That leaves the prosecution with People v. Valdez, which, however, involved an on-the-spot information. The urgency of the
circumstances, an element not present in this case, prevented the arresting officer therein from obtaining a warrant.

Appellants in this case were neither performing any overt act or acting in a suspicious manner that would hint that a crime has
been, was being, or was about to be, committed. If the arresting officers testimonies are to be believed, appellants were merely
helping each other carry a carton box. Although appellant Tudtud did appear afraid and perspiring,[104] pale[105] and
trembling,[106] this was only after, not before, he was asked to open the said box.

In no sense can the knowledge of the herein arresting officers that appellant Tudtud was in possession of marijuana be
described as personal, having learned the same only from their informant Solier. Solier, for his part, testified that he obtained
his information only from his neighbors and the friends of appellant Tudtud:

Q What was your basis in your report to the police that Tudtud is going to Cotabato and get stocks of marijuana?

A Because of the protest of my neighbors who were saying who will be the person whou [sic] would point to him because he
had been giving trouble to the neighborhood because according to them there are [sic] proliferation of marijuana in our
place. That was the complained [sic] of our neighbors.

Q Insofar as the accused Tudtud is concerned what was your basis in reporting him particularly?

A His friends were the once who told me about it.

Q For how long have you know [sic] this fact of alleged activity of Tudtud in proliferation of marijuana?

A About a month.

Q Regarding the report that Tudtud went to Cotabato to get stocks of marijuana which led to his apprehension sometime in the
evening of August 1 and according to the report [which] is based on your report my question is, how did you know that Tudtud
will be bringing along with him marijuana stocks on August 1, 1999?

A Because of the information of his neighbor.[107]

In other words, Soliers information itself is hearsay. He did not even elaborate on how his neighbors or Tudtuds friends
acquired their information that Tudtud was responsible for the proliferation of drugs in their neighborhood.

Indeed, it appears that PO1 Floreta himself doubted the reliablility of their informant. He testified on cross-examination:

Q You mean to say that Bobot Solier, is not reliable?

A He is trustworthy.

Q Why [did] you not consider his information not reliable if he is reliable?

A (witness did not answer).

ATTY. CAETE:

Never mind, do not answer anymore. Thats all.[108]


The prosecution, on re-direct examination, did not attempt to extract any explanation from PO1 Floreta for his telling silence.

Confronted with such a dubious informant, the police perhaps felt it necessary to conduct their own surveillance. This
surveillance, it turns out, did not actually consist of staking out appellant Tudtud to catch him in the act of plying his illegal
trade, but of a mere gather[ing] of information from the assets there.[109] The police officers who conducted such surveillance
did not identify who these assets were or the basis of the latters information. Clearly, such information is also hearsay, not of
personal knowledge.

Neither were the arresting officers impelled by any urgency that would allow them to do away with the requisite warrant, PO1
Desiertos assertions of lack of time[110]notwithstanding. Records show that the police had ample opportunity to apply for a
warrant, having received Soliers information at around 9:00 in the morning; Tudtud, however, was expected to arrive at around
6:00 in the evening of the same day.[111] In People v. Encinada, supra, the Court ruled that there was sufficient time to procure a
warrant where the police officers received at 4:00 in the afternoon an intelligence report that the accused, who was supposedly
carrying marijuana, would arrive the next morning at 7:00 a.m.:

Even if the information was received by Bolonia about 4:00 p.m. of May 20, 1992 at his house, there was sufficient time to
secure a warrant of arrest, as the M/V Sweet Pearl was not expected to dock until 7:00 a.m. the following day. Administrative
Circular No. 13 allows application for search warrants even after office hours:

3. Raffling shall be strictly enforced, except only in case where an application for search warrant may be filed directly with any
judge whose jurisdiction the place to be searched is located, after office hours, or during Saturdays, Sundays, and legal
holidays, in which case the applicant is required to certify under oath the urgency of the issuance thereof after office hours, or
during Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays; . . ..

The same procedural dispatch finds validation and reiteration in Circular No. 19, series of 1987, entitled Amended Guidelines
and Procedures on Application for search warrants for Illegal Possession of Firearms and Other Serious Crimes Filed in Metro
Manila Courts and Other Courts with Multiple Salas:

This Court has received reports of delay while awaiting raffle, in acting on applications for search warrants in the campaign
against loose firearms and other serious crimes affecting peace and order. There is a need for prompt action on such
applications for search warrant. Accordingly, these amended guidelines in the issuance of a search warrant are issued:

1. All applications for search warrants relating to violation of the Anti-subversion Act, crimes against public order as defined in
the Revised Penal Code, as amended, illegal possession of firearms and/or ammunition and violations of the Dangerous Drugs
Act of 1972, as amended, shall no longer be raffled and shall immediately be taken cognizance of and acted upon by the
Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court, and Municipal Trial Court under whose jurisdiction the
place to be searched is located.

2. In the absence of the Executive Judge, the Vice-Executive Judge shall take cognizance of and personally act on the same. In
the absence of the Executive Judge or Vice-Executive Judge, the application may be taken cognizance of and acted upon
by any judge of the Court where application is filed.

3. Applications filed after office hours, during Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, shall likewise be taken cognizance of and acted
upon by any judge of the Court having jurisdiction of the place to be searched, but in such cases the applicant shall certify and
state the facts under oath, to the satisfaction of the judge, that its issuance is urgent.

4. Any judge acting on such application shall immediately and without delay personally conduct the examination of the
applicant and his witnesses to prevent the possible leakage of information.He shall observe the procedures, safeguards, and
guidelines for the issuance of search warrants provided for in this Courts Administrative Circular No. 13, dated October 1,
1985.[112] [Italics in the original.]

Given that the police had adequate time to obtain the warrant, PO1 Floretas testimony that the real reason for their omission
was their belief that they lacked sufficient basis to obtain the same assumes greater significance. This was PO1 Floretas familiar
refrain:

Q When Solier reported to you that fact, that Tudtud will be coming from Cotabato to get that (sic) stocks, you did not go to
court to get a search warrant on the basis of the report of Bobot Solier?

A No.
Q Why?

A Because we have no real basis to secure the search warrant.

Q When you have no real basis to secure a search warrant, you have also no real basis to search Tudtud and Bulong at that
time?

A Yes, sir.

Q And Bobot Solier told you that Tudtud, that he would already bring marijuana?

A Yes, sir.

Q And this was 9:00 a.m.?

A Yes, sir.

Q The arrival of Tudtud was expected at 6:00 p.m.?

A Yes, sir.

Q Toril is just 16 kilometers from Davao City?

A Yes, sir.

Q And the Office of the Regional Trial Court is only about 16 kilometers, is that correct?

A Yes, sir.

Q And it can be negotiated by thirty minutes by a jeep ride?

A Yes, sir.

Q And you can asked [sic] the assistance of any prosecutor to apply for the search warrant or the prosecutor do [sic] not assist?

A They help.

Q But you did not come to Davao City, to asked [sic] for a search warrant?

A As I said, we do not have sufficient basis.[113]

It may be conceded that the mere subjective conclusions of a police officer concerning the existence of probable cause is not
binding on [the courts] which must independently scrutinize the objective facts to determine the existence of probable cause
and that a court may also find probable cause in spite of an officers judgment that none exists. [114] However, the fact that the
arresting officers felt that they did not have sufficient basis to obtain a warrant, despite their own information-gathering
efforts, raises serious questions whether such surveillance actually yielded any pertinent information and even whether they
actually conducted any information-gathering at all, thereby eroding any claim to personal knowledge.

Finally, there is an effective waiver of rights against unreasonable searches and seizures if the following requisites are present:

1. It must appear that the rights exist;

2. The person involved had knowledge, actual or constructive, of the existence of such right;

3. Said person had an actual intention to relinquish the right.[115]

Here, the prosecution failed to establish the second and third requisites. Records disclose that when the police officers
introduced themselves as such and requested appellant that they see the contents of the carton box supposedly containing the
marijuana, appellant Tudtud said it was alright. He did not resist and opened the box himself.
The fundamental law and jurisprudence require more than the presence of these circumstances to constitute a valid waiver of
the constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures. Courts indulge every reasonable presumption against
waiver of fundamental constitutional rights; acquiescence in the loss of fundamental rights is not to be presumed.[116] The fact
that a person failed to object to a search does not amount to permission thereto.

. As the constitutional guaranty is not dependent upon any affirmative act of the citizen, the courts do not place the citizen in
the position of either contesting an officers authority by force, or waiving his constitutional rights; but instead they hold that a
peaceful submission to a search or seizure is not a consent or an invitation thereto, but is merely a demonstration of regard for
the supremacy of the law.[117] [Underscoring supplied.]

Thus, even in cases where the accused voluntarily handed her bag[118] or the chairs[119] containing marijuana to the arresting
officer, this Court held there was no valid consent to the search.

On the other hand, because a warrantless search is in derogation of a constitutional right, peace officers who conduct it cannot
invoke regularity in the performance of official functions and shift to the accused the burden of proving that the search was
unconsented.[120]

In any case, any presumption in favor of regularity would be severely diminished by the allegation of appellants in this case that
the arresting officers pointed a gun at them before asking them to open the subject box. Appellant Tudtud testified as follows:

Q This person who approached you according to you pointed something at you[.] [What] was that something?

A A 38 cal. Revolver.

Q How did he point it at you?

A Like this (Witness demonstrating as if pointing with his two arms holding something towards somebody).

Q This man[,] what did he tell you when he pointed a gun at you?

A He said do not run.

Q What did you do?

A I raised my hands and said Sir, what is this about?

Q Why did you call him Sir?

A I was afraid because when somebody is holding a gun, I am afraid.

Q Precisely, why did you address him as Sir?

A Because he was holding a gun and I believed that somebody who is carrying a gun is a policeman.

Q When you asked him what is this? What did he say?

A He said I would like to inspect what you are carrying.[]

Q What did you say when you were asked to open that carton box?

A I told him that is not mine.

Q What did this man say?

A He again pointed to me his revolver and again said to open.

Q What did you do?

A So I proceeded to open for fear of being shot.[121]


Appellants implied acquiescence, if at all, could not have been more than mere passive conformity given under coercive or
intimidating circumstances and is, thus, considered no consent at all within the purview of the constitutional
guarantee.[122] Consequently, appellants lack of objection to the search and seizure is not tantamount to a waiver of his
constitutional right or a voluntary submission to the warrantless search and seizure.[123]

As the search of appellants box does not come under the recognized exceptions to a valid warrantless search, the marijuana
leaves obtained thereby are inadmissible in evidence. And as there is no evidence other than the hearsay testimony of the
arresting officers and their informant, the conviction of appellants cannot be sustained.

The Bill of Rights is the bedrock of constitutional government. If people are stripped naked of their rights as human beings,
democracy cannot survive and government becomes meaningless. This explains why the Bill of Rights, contained as it is in
Article III of the Constitution, occupies a position of primacy in the fundamental law way above the articles on governmental
power.[124]

The right against unreasonable search and seizure in turn is at the top of the hierarchy of rights,[125] next only to, if not on the
same plane as, the right to life, liberty and property, which is protected by the due process clause.[126] This is as it should be for,
as stressed by a couple of noted freedom advocates,[127] the right to personal security which, along with the right to privacy, is
the foundation of the right against unreasonable search and seizure includes the right to exist, and the right to enjoyment of
life while existing. Emphasizing such right, this Court declared in People v. Aruta:

Unreasonable searches and seizures are the menace against which the constitutional guarantees afford full protection. While
the power to search and seize may at times be necessary to the public welfare, still it may be exercised and the law enforced
without transgressing the constitutional rights of the citizens, for the enforcement of no statute is of sufficient importance to
justify indifference to the basic principles of government.

Those who are supposed to enforce the law are not justified in disregarding the rights of the individual in the name of
order. Order is too high a price to pay for the loss of liberty. As Justice Holmes declared: I think it is less evil that some criminals
escape than that the government should play an ignoble part. It is simply not allowed in free society to violate a law to enforce
another, especially if the law violated is the Constitution itself.[128]

Thus, given a choice between letting suspected criminals escape or letting the government play an ignoble part, the answer, to
this Court, is clear and ineluctable.

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City is REVERSED. Appellants Noel Tudtud y Paypa and Dindo
Bolong y Naret are hereby ACQUITTED for insufficiency of evidence. The Director of the Bureau of Prisons is ordered to cause
the immediate release of appellants from confinement, unless they are being held for some other lawful cause, and to report to
this Court compliance herewith within five (5) days from receipt hereof.

SO ORDERED.

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 170233

Appellee,

Present:

QUISUMBING, J.,

- versus - Chairperson,

CARPIO,

CARPIO MORALES,

JESUS NUEVAS y GARCIA, TINGA, and

REYNALDO DIN y GONZAGA, VELASCO, JR., JJ.

and FERNANDO INOCENCIO y


ABADEOS,

Appellants. Promulgated:

February 22, 2007

x----------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

TINGA, J.:

Jesus Nuevas y Garcia (Nuevas) was charged[1] before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Olongapo City, Branch 75, with illegal
possession of marijuana in violation of Section 8, Article II of Republic Act No. 6425[2] as amended.

Reynaldo Din y Gonzaga (Din) and Fernando Inocencio y Abadeos (Inocencio) were likewise charged[3] with the same crime,
before the same court.

Upon arraignment, Nuevas, Din and Inocencio pleaded not guilty to the charges. [4] As the evidence in the cases was common
and the prosecution would utilize the same witnesses, the cases were consolidated. After a joint trial on the merits, the RTC
rendered a Decision[5] dated 4 April 2002, disposing as follows:

WHEREFORE, finding all accused in the above-entitled cases guilty beyond reasonable doubt, this Court hereby sentences them
to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua and each to pay [a] fine of P500,000.00 without subsidiary imprisonment in case of
insolvency and to pay the costs

The bricks of marijuana are hereby confiscated and disposed in accordance with existing regulations.

SO ORDERED.[6]

To put in appropriate context the operative facts on which adjudication of this case hinges, there is need to recall the factual
assertions of the witnesses for both the prosecution and the defense.

PO3 Teofilo B. Fami (Fami) testified that in the morning of 27 September 1997, he and SPO3 Cesar B. Cabling (Cabling)
conducted a stationary surveillance and monitoring of illegal drug trafficking along Perimeter Street, Barangay Pag-
asa, Olongapo City. They had received information that a certain male person, more or less 54 in height, 25 to 30 years old, with
a tattoo mark on the upper right hand, and usually wearing a sando and maong pants, would make a delivery of marijuana
dried leaves. While stationed thereat, they saw a male person who fit the description, carrying a plastic bag, later identified as
Jesus Nuevas (Nuevas), alight from a motor vehicle. They accosted Nuevas and informed him that they are police officers. Fami
asked Nuevas where he was going. Nuevas answered arrogantly but afterwards, calmed down. Nuevas and Fami conversed in
the Waray dialect. Nuevas informed him that there were other stuff in the possession of a certain Vangie, an associate, and two
other male persons. Later on, Nuevas voluntarily pointed to the police officers a plastic bag which, when opened, contained
marijuana dried leaves and bricks wrapped in a blue cloth. Shortly, in his bid to escape charges, Nuevas disclosed where the two
(2) other male persons would make the delivery of marijuana weighing more or less five (5) kilos.[7]

Fami and Cabling, together with Nuevas, then proceeded to Purok 12, Old Cabalan, Olongapo City, which according to Nuevas
was where his two (2) companions, Din and Inocencio, could be located. From there, they saw and approached two (2) persons
along the National Highway, introducing themselves as police officers. Din was carrying a light blue plastic bag. When asked, Din
disclosed that the bag belonged to Nuevas. Fami then took the bag and upon inspection found inside it marijuana packed in
newspaper and wrapped therein.[8] After confiscating the items, Fami and Cabling brought Nuevas, Din and Inocencio to the
police office at Purok III for proper documentation.[9] Fami further testified that a receipt for the property seized was issued by
Cabling and that a field test was duly conducted on the confiscated items. All three accused were likewise physically examined
on the basis of which corresponding medical certificates were issued. The corresponding booking sheets and arrest report were
also accomplished. Fami stated that he and Cabling executed a joint affidavit in connection with the arrest of all the accused
and the confiscation of the items.[10]

On cross-examination, Fami revealed that when the receipt of evidence seized was prepared, all three (3) accused were not
represented by counsel. He likewise disclosed that he was the one who escorted all the accused during their physical
examination. He also escorted all three to the Fiscals office where the latter were informed of the charges against them. [11]
Cabling corroborated Famis testimony. He, however, testified that after he and Fami had introduced themselves as police
officers, Din and Inocencio voluntarily handed to Fami the marijuana dried leaves.[12]

On cross-examination, Cabling testified that the arrest of Nuevas was the result of a tip from Famis informant, conceding
though that the name of Nuevas was not included in the list of persons under surveillance. Fami then relayed the tip to
Cabling.[13] Cabling restated that Nuevas had voluntarily submitted the plastic bag he was holding and that after Nuevas had
been informed of the violation of law attributed to him, he admitted his willingness to cooperate and point to his other
cohorts.[14] When Fami and Cabling proceeded to the identified location of Nuevass cohorts, they chanced upon Din and
Inocencio along the road. Din was holding a bag while Inocencio was looking into its contents. [15] Cabling averred that Din
voluntarily handed the plastic bag he was holding to the police officers.[16]

For his defense, Nuevas testified that in the morning of 27 September 1997, he was walking along Perimeter Street, on his way
home from the Barangay Hall, when Fami called him. Nuevas approached Fami, who was then in front of his house, and asked
why Fami had called him. Fami poked his gun at Nuevas and asked him to go inside the room where Fami handcuffed Nuevass
hands, got Nuevass wallet, took out P1,500.00 and put it in his (Famis) wallet. Fami then confronted Nuevas with shabu use but
the latter denied the charge. Before leaving the house with Nuevas, Fami brought out a plastic bag and told Nuevas to carry it.
Subsequently, they boarded a red ownertype jeep and proceeded to Station B where Nuevas was put in jail. Nuevas further
stated that he did not know Din or Inocencio.[17]

Din, on the other hand, stated that at about 10 oclock in the morning of 27 September 1997, while his compare Inocencio was
visiting, two (2) men entered his house looking for a woman. The two (2) introduced themselves as police officers. Then, Din
and Inocencio were immediately handcuffed. They were not informed of the reason for their arrest and were told that the
reason will be explained to them in court. Next, they were brought to the Cabalan precinct where the investigator asked for
their names, and subsequently to Station B where they were ordered to stand up and be photographed with Nuevas, who Din
first met in jail. Inside the room where they had their fingerprints taken, he saw marijuana placed on top of the table.[18]

Inocencio testified that he went to his compadre Dins house in the morning of 27 September 1997 to sell his fighting cocks as
he needed money to redeem his drivers license. While there, he and Din were arrested by two persons, one of whom pointed a
gun at them while the other searched the house for a lady named Vangie. Afterwards, he and Din were brought to the Cabalan
Police Precinct and then to Station B where he first came to know Nuevas. He denied that a plastic bag containing marijuana
was recovered from them and claimed that he only saw such evidence on the day he gave his testimony. He also stated that
when a photograph was taken of the three of them, he and Din were ordered to point to a wrapped thing. When the
photograph was taken, they were not assisted by counsel. He also does not recall having signed a receipt of property seized.
Afterwards, they were brought to a detention cell. And when they asked the police what they did wrong, the police replied that
they will just explain it in court. [19]

All three were found guilty as charged and the judgment of conviction was elevated to the Court for automatic review.
However, on 14 July 2003, Nuevas filed a manifestation and motion to withdraw appeal.[20] The Court granted Nuevass
withdrawal of appeal and considered the case closed and terminated as to him, in a Resolution[21] dated 25 August 2003.

In a Resolution[22] dated 22 September 2004 of the Court in G.R. Nos. 153641-42,[23] the cases were transferred to the Court of
Appeals pursuant to the Courts ruling in People v. Efren Mateo.[24]

Before the Court of Appeals, Din and Inocencio (appellants) argued that the trial court erred: (1) in finding them guilty of the
crime charged on the basis of the testimonies of the arresting officers; and (2) n not finding that their constitutional rights have
been violated.[25]

The Court of Appeals in a Decision[26] dated 27 May 2005, in CA-G.R. CR No. 00341, affirmed the decision of the trial court. The
dispositive portion of the decision reads:

WHEREFORE, all the foregoing considered, the instant appeal is DENIED. The Decision of
the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo City, Branch 75, in Criminal Case No. 459-97, is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.[27]

The Court of Appeals restated the rule that when the issue involves the credibility of a witness, the trial courts assessment is
entitled to great weight, even finality, unless it is shown that it was tainted with arbitrariness or there was an oversight of some
fact or circumstance of weight or influence. The appellate court found Fami and Cablings version of how appellants were
apprehended to be categorical and clear. Din, at the time of his apprehension, was seen holding a plastic bag containing
marijuana leaves. On the other hand, Inocencios possession of the marijuana leaves was established by the fact that he was
seen in the act of looking into the plastic bag carried by Din.[28]

With respect to appellants claim that their constitutional rights have been violated, the appellate court stated that the search in
the instant case is exempted from the requirement of a judicial warrant as appellants themselves waived their right against
unreasonable searches and seizures. According to the appellate court, both Cabling and Fami testified that Din voluntarily
surrendered the bag. Appellants never presented evidence to rebut the same. Thus, in the instant case, the exclusionary rule
does not apply.[29]

Din and Inocencio are now before the Court submitting for resolution the same matters argued before the Court of Appeals.
Through their Manifestation (In Lieu of Supplementary Brief)[30] dated 22 March 2006, appellants stated that all the arguments
necessary to support their acquittal have already been discussed in the brief they had submitted before the appellate court;
thus, the filing of a supplemental brief would be a mere reiteration of the arguments discussed in said brief.[31] The Office of the
Solicitor General manifested that it is no longer filing a supplemental brief.[32]

The conviction or acquittal of appellants rests on the validity of the warrantless searches and seizure made by the police
officers and the admissibility of the evidence obtained by virture thereof.

In holding that the warrantless searches and seizure are valid, the trial court ruled as follows:

While the confiscation of the bricks of marijuana from the accused Jesus Nuevas was without a search warrant, it was not
bereft of a probable cause. The police team received informations [sic] from an asset that on that day, a male person whom he
sufficiently described will deliver marijuana at the vicinity of Perimeter and Bonifacio S[t]., Pag-asa, Olongapo City, a known
drop point of illegal drugs. They went to the said area upon that information. Their waiting was fruitful because not long
afterwards they saw the accused Jesus Nuevas alighting from a tricycle carrying a bag and after confronting him,
he voluntarily gave the bag containing bricks of dried marijuana leaves. With respect to the confiscation of 2 kilos of marijuana
and the apprehension of accused Reynaldo Din and Fernando Inocencio, it was a result of a continued operation by the team
which this time was led by accused Nuevas to get some concession from the team for his own earlier apprehension. As the
apprehension of Nuevas was upon a probable cause, in the same vein was the apprehension of Reynaldo Din and Fernando
Inocencio and the recovery from them [of] 2 kilos of dried marijuana leaves. The propriety of this conclusion is necessity [sic]
because of the impossibility of getting first a warrant in so short a time with such cumbersome requirements before one can be
issued. Before getting a warrant, the culprits shall have already gone into hiding. These situations are not distant to the case of
People v[.] Jean Balingan (G.R. No. 105834, 13 Feb. 1995) where we learned that expediency and practicality are some of the
justification[s] in the warrantless arrest.[33] [Emphasis supplied]

Appellants maintain that there was no basis for their questioning and the subsequent inspection of the plastic bags of Nuevas
and Din, as they were not doing anything illegal at the time.[34]

Our Constitution states that a search and seizure must be carried through or with a judicial warrant; otherwise, such search and
seizure becomes unreasonable and any evidence obtained therefrom is inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.[35] The
constitutional proscription, however, is not absolute but admits of exceptions, namely:

1. Warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest. (Sec. 12, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court and prevailing jurisprudence);

2. Search of evidence in plain view. The elements are: (a) a prior valid intrusion based on the valid warrantless arrest in which
the police are legally present in the pursuit of their official duties; (b) the evidence was inadvertently discovered by the police
who have the right to be where they are; (c) the evidence must be immediately apparent; (d) plain view justified mere seizure
of evidence without further search;

3. Search of a moving vehicle. Highly regulated by the government, the vehicles inherent mobility reduces expectation of
privacy especially when its transit in public thoroughfares furnishes a highly reasonable suspicion amounting to probable cause
that the occupant committed a criminal activity;

4. Consented warrantless search;

5. Customs search;

6. Stop and Frisk; and

7. Exigent and emergency circumstances.[36]


In the instances where a warrant is not necessary to effect a valid search or seizure, or when the latter cannot be performed
except without a warrant, what constitutes a reasonable or unreasonable search or seizure is purely a judicial question,
determinable from the uniqueness of the circumstances involved, including the purpose of the search or seizure, the presence
or absence of probable cause, the manner in which the search and seizure was made, the place or thing searched and the
character of the articles procured.[37]

The courts below anchor appellants conviction on the ground that the searches and seizure conducted in the instant case based
on a tip from an informant fall under one of the exceptions as Nuevas, Din and Inocencio all allegedly voluntarily surrendered
the plastic bags containing marijuana to the police officers.[38]

We differ.

First, the Court holds that the searches and seizures conducted do not fall under the first exception, warrantless searches
incidental to lawful arrests.

A search incidental to a lawful arrest is sanctioned by the Rules of Court.[39] Recent jurisprudence holds that the arrest must
precede the search; the process cannot be reversed as in this case where the search preceded the arrest. Nevertheless, a
search substantially contemporaneous with an arrest can precede the arrest if the police have probable cause to make the
arrest at the outset of the search. [40]

In this case, Nuevas, Din and Inocencio were not committing a crime in the presence of the police officers. Moreover, police
officers Fami and Cabling did not have personal knowledge of the facts indicating that the persons to be arrested had
committed an offense. The searches conducted on the plastic bag then cannot be said to be merely incidental to a lawful
arrest. Reliable information alone is not sufficient to justify a warrantless arrest under Section 5(a), Rule 113. The rule requires,
in addition, that the accused perform some overt act that would indicate that he has committed, is actually committing, or is
attempting to commit an offense.[41]

Secondly, neither could the searches be justified under the plain view doctrine.

An object is in plain view if it