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THIRD DIVISION

SR. INSP. JERRY C. VALEROSO, G.R. No. 164815


Petitioner,
Present:

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,
Chairperson,
- versus - CHICO-NAZARIO,
VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA, and
PERALTA, JJ.

COURT OF APPEALS and Promulgated:


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Respondents. September 3, 2009

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

RESOLUTION

NACHURA, J.:

For resolution is the Letter-Appeal[1] of Senior Inspector (Sr. Insp.) Jerry C.


Valeroso (Valeroso) praying that our February 22, 2008 Decision[2] and June
30, 2008 Resolution[3] 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 certification[8] 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


Receipt[13] 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) affirmed[16] 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 affirmed[17] in full the CA decision.


Valeroso filed a Motion for Reconsideration[18] which was denied with
finality[19] on June 30, 2008.
Valeroso is again before us through this Letter-Appeal[20] 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 Valerosos 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 Valerosos 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 Valerosos
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 Valerosos arguments through his Letter-


Appeal, together with the OSGs 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 Guzmans 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 petitioners 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 respondents 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.
Valerosos 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 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;
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,[35] People 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 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.[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 latters
reach.[39] 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.[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 Valerosos
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 defendants 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


Valerosos 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 Valerosos right


against unreasonable search and seizure. Consequently, the evidence
obtained in violation of said right is inadmissible in evidence against him.
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, Valerosos 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.

ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO PRESBITERO J.VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice Associate Justice

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice
ATT E S TATI O N
I attest that the conclusions in the above Resolution were reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
Courts Division.

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Third Division

C E RT I FI CAT I O N

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

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

[1]
Rollo, pp. 229-232.
[2]
Id. at 148-165.
[3]
Id. at 227.
[4]
Records, p. 1.
[5]
Id. at 33.
[6]
Rollo, p. 149.
[7]
Id.
[8]
Exh. C, Folder of Exhibits.
[9]
Rollo, pp. 149-150.
[10]
Id. at 39.
[11]
Valerosos testimony was corroborated by Yuson; id. at 151.
[12]
Rollo, p. 152.
[13]
Exh. 1, Folder of Exhibits.
[14]
Rollo, p. 152.
[15]
The decision was penned by Judge Oscar L. Leviste; id. at 38-45.
[16]
Embodied in a decision dated May 4, 2004, penned by Associate Justice Andres B. Reyes, Jr., with
Associate Justices Danilo B. Pine and Edgardo F. Sundiam, concurring; rollo, pp. 16-31.
[17]
Rollo, pp. 148-165.
[18]
Id. at 169-177.
[19]
Id. at 227.
[20]
Supra note 1.
[21]
Rollo, p. 230.
[22]
Id. at 239-270.
[23]
See De Guzman v. Sandiganbayan, 326 Phil. 182 (1996).
[24]
Astorga v. People, G.R. No. 154130, August 20, 2004, 437 SCRA 152, 155.
[25]
Supra note 23.
[26]
De Guzman v. Sandiganbayan, id. at 191.
[27]
Supra note 24.
[28]
G.R. Nos. 112526 and 118838, March 16, 2005, 453 SCRA 432.
[29]
Astorga v. People, supra note 24, at 155-156.
[30]
People v. Sevilla, 394 Phil. 125, 139 (2000).
[31]
Id.
[32]
People v. Tudtud, G.R. No. 144037, September 26, 2003, 412 SCRA 142, 153-154; Caballes v. Court of
Appeals, 424 Phil. 263, 277 (2002); People v. Sevilla, supra note 30, at 139-140; People v. Aruta, 351 Phil.
868, 879-880 (1998).
[33]
Nachura, Antonio Eduardo B., Outline Reviewer in Political Law, 2009, pp. 139-142.
[34]
Caballes v. Court of Appeals, supra note 32, at 278.
[35]
322 Phil. 226 (1996).
[36]
413 Phil 249 (2001).
[37]
443 Phil. 669 (2003).
[38]
People v. Estella, id. at 685.
[39]
People v. Cueno, 359 Phil. 151, 163 (1998).
[40]
People v. Cubcubin, Jr., supra note 36, at 271; see People v. Leangsiri, supra note 35.
[41]
People v. Estella, supra note 37, at 685.
[42]
Id.
[43]
TSN, February 19, 1997, pp. 21-25.
[44]
TSN, March 17, 1997, p. 27.
[45]
Id. at 3.
[46]
People v. Estella, supra note 37, at 685.
[47]
Id.
[48]
Id. at 686.
[49]
People v. Cubcubin, Jr., supra note 40, at 271; People v. Leangsiri, supra note 35, at 249.
[50]
Supra note 40.
[51]
Supra note 35.
[52]
People v. Cubcubin, Jr., supra note 36, at 272; People v. Leangsiri, supra note 35, at 249-250.
[53]
People v. Aruta, supra note 32, at 895.
[54]
People v. Cubcubin, Jr., supra note 36, at 270-271.
[55]
People v. Tudtud, supra note 32, at 168.
[56]
People v. Sarap, 447 Phil. 642, 652 (2003).
[57]
Id. at 652-653.
[58]
People v. Januario, 335 Phil. 268, 304 (1997).
Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

RODEL LUZ y ONG, G. R. No. 197788


Petitioner,

Present:

CARPIO, J., Chairperson,


- versus - BRION,
PEREZ,
SERENO, and
REYES, JJ.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Promulgated:


[1]

Respondent. February 29, 2012


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

DECISION

SERENO, J.:

This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 seeking to


set aside the Court of Appeals (CA) Decision in CA-G.R. CR No. 32516
dated 18 February 2011[2]and Resolution dated 8 July 2011.

Statement of the Facts and of the Case


The facts, as found by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), which
sustained the version of the prosecution, are as follows:

PO2 Emmanuel L. Alteza, who was then assigned at the Sub-


Station 1 of the Naga City Police Station as a traffic enforcer, substantially
testified that on March 10, 2003 at around 3:00 oclock in the morning, he
saw the accused, who was coming from the direction of Panganiban Drive
and going to Diversion Road, Naga City, driving a motorcycle without a
helmet; that this prompted him to flag down the accused for violating a
municipal ordinance which requires all motorcycle drivers to wear helmet
(sic) while driving said motor vehicle; that he invited the accused to come
inside their sub-station since the place where he flagged down the accused
is almost in front of the said sub-station; that while he and SPO1 Rayford
Brillante were issuing a citation ticket for violation of municipal
ordinance, he noticed that the accused was uneasy and kept on getting
something from his jacket; that he was alerted and so, he told the accused
to take out the contents of the pocket of his jacket as the latter may have a
weapon inside it; that the accused obliged and slowly put out the contents
of the pocket of his jacket which was a nickel-like tin or metal container
about two (2) to three (3) inches in size, including two (2) cellphones, one
(1) pair of scissors and one (1) Swiss knife; that upon seeing the said
container, he asked the accused to open it; that after the accused opened
the container, he noticed a cartoon cover and something beneath it; and
that upon his instruction, the accused spilled out the contents of the
container on the table which turned out to be four (4) plastic sachets, the
two (2) of which were empty while the other two (2) contained
suspected shabu.[3]

Arraigned on 2 July 2003, petitioner, assisted by counsel, entered a


plea of Not guilty to the charge of illegal possession of dangerous
drugs. Pretrial was terminated on 24 September 2003, after which, trial
ensued.

During trial, Police Officer 3 (PO3) Emmanuel Alteza and a forensic


chemist testified for the prosecution. On the other hand, petitioner testified
for himself and raised the defense of planting of evidence and extortion.

In its 19 February 2009 Decision,[4] the RTC convicted petitioner of


illegal possession of dangerous drugs[5] committed on 10 March 2003. It
found the prosecution evidence sufficient to show that he had been lawfully
arrested for a traffic violation and then subjected to a valid search, which led
to the discovery on his person of two plastic sachets later found to
contain shabu. The RTC also found his defense of frame-up and extortion to
be weak, self-serving and unsubstantiated. The dispositive portion of its
Decision held:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered, finding accused


RODEL LUZ y ONG GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of
violation of Section 11, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 and sentencing
him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment ranging from
twelve (12) years and (1) day, as minimum, to thirteen (13) years, as
maximum, and to pay a fine of Three Hundred Thousand Pesos
(₱300,000.00).

The subject shabu is hereby confiscated for turn over to the


Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for its proper disposition and
destruction in accordance with law.

SO ORDERED.[6]

Upon review, the CA affirmed the RTCs Decision.

On 12 September 2011, petitioner filed under Rule 45 the instant


Petition for Review on Certiorari dated 1 September 2011. In a Resolution
dated 12 October 2011, this Court required respondent to file a comment on
the Petition. On 4 January 2012, the latter filed its Comment dated 3 January
2012.

Petitioner raised the following grounds in support of his Petition:

(i) THE SEARCH AND SEIZURE OF THE ALLEGED


SUBJECT SHABU IS INVALID.

(ii) THE PRESUMPTION OF REGULARITY IN THE


PERFORMANCE OF DUTY OF THE POLICE OFFICER
CANNOT BE RELIED UPON IN THIS CASE.

(iii) THE INTEGRITY AND EVIDENTIARY VALUE OF THE


ALLEGED SUBJECT SPECIMEN HAS BEEN
COMPROMISED.

(iv) THE GUILT OF THE ACCUSED-PETITIONER WAS NOT


PROVEN BEYOND THE REASONABLE DOUBT (sic).[7]
Petitioner claims that there was no lawful search and seizure, because there
was no lawful arrest. He claims that the finding that there was a lawful arrest
was erroneous, since he was not even issued a citation ticket or charged with
violation of the city ordinance. Even assuming there was a valid arrest, he
claims that he had never consented to the search conducted upon him.

On the other hand, finding that petitioner had been lawfully arrested, the
RTC held thus:

It is beyond dispute that the accused was flagged down and apprehended
in this case by Police Officers Alteza and Brillante for violation of City
Ordinance No. 98-012, an ordinance requiring the use of crash helmet by
motorcycle drivers and riders thereon in the City of Naga and prescribing
penalties for violation thereof. The accused himself admitted that he was
not wearing a helmet at the time when he was flagged down by the said
police officers, albeit he had a helmet in his possession. Obviously, there is
legal basis on the part of the apprehending officers to flag down and arrest
the accused because the latter was actually committing a crime in their
presence, that is, a violation of City Ordinance No. 98-012. In other words,
the accused, being caught in flagrante delicto violating the said Ordinance,
he could therefore be lawfully stopped or arrested by the apprehending
officers. x x x.[8]

We find the Petition to be impressed with merit, but not for the particular
reasons alleged. In criminal cases, an appeal throws the entire case wide
open for review and the reviewing tribunal can correct errors, though
unassigned in the appealed judgment, or even reverse the trial courts
decision based on grounds other than those that the parties raised as errors.[9]

First, there was no valid arrest of petitioner. When he was flagged down
for committing a traffic violation, he was not, ipso facto and solely for this
reason, arrested.

Arrest is the taking of a person into custody in order that he or she


may be bound to answer for the commission of an offense.[10] It is effected
by an actual restraint of the person to be arrested or by that persons
voluntary submission to the custody of the one making the arrest. Neither the
application of actual force, manual touching of the body, or physical
restraint, nor a formal declaration of arrest, is required. It is enough that
there be an intention on the part of one of the parties to arrest the other, and
that there be an intent on the part of the other to submit, under the belief and
impression that submission is necessary.[11]

Under R.A. 4136, or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, the
general procedure for dealing with a traffic violation is not the arrest of the
offender, but the confiscation of the drivers license of the latter:

SECTION 29. Confiscation of Driver's License. Law enforcement


and peace officers of other agencies duly deputized by the Director shall,
in apprehending a driver for any violation of this Act or any regulations
issued pursuant thereto, or of local traffic rules and regulations not
contrary to any provisions of this Act, confiscate the license of the driver
concerned and issue a receipt prescribed and issued by the Bureau therefor
which shall authorize the driver to operate a motor vehicle for a period not
exceeding seventy-two hours from the time and date of issue of said
receipt. The period so fixed in the receipt shall not be extended, and shall
become invalid thereafter. Failure of the driver to settle his case within
fifteen days from the date of apprehension will be a ground for the
suspension and/or revocation of his license.

Similarly, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Operations


Manual[12] provides the following procedure for flagging down vehicles
during the conduct of checkpoints:
SECTION 7. Procedure in Flagging Down or Accosting Vehicles
While in Mobile Car. This rule is a general concept and will not apply in
hot pursuit operations. The mobile car crew shall undertake the following,
when applicable: x x x

m. If it concerns traffic violations, immediately issue a Traffic Citation


Ticket (TCT) or Traffic Violation Report (TVR). Never indulge in
prolonged, unnecessary conversation or argument with the driver
or any of the vehicles occupants;

At the time that he was waiting for PO3 Alteza to write his citation
ticket, petitioner could not be said to have been under arrest. There was no
intention on the part of PO3 Alteza to arrest him, deprive him of his liberty,
or take him into custody. Prior to the issuance of the ticket, the period during
which petitioner was at the police station may be characterized merely as
waiting time. In fact, as found by the trial court, PO3 Alteza himself testified
that the only reason they went to the police sub-station was that petitioner
had been flagged down almost in front of that place. Hence, it was only for
the sake of convenience that they were waiting there. There was no intention
to take petitioner into custody.

In Berkemer v. McCarty,[13] the United States (U.S.) Supreme Court


discussed at length whether the roadside questioning of a motorist detained
pursuant to a routine traffic stop should be considered custodial
interrogation. The Court held that, such questioning does not fall under
custodial interrogation, nor can it be considered a formal arrest, by virtue of
the nature of the questioning, the expectations of the motorist and the officer,
and the length of time the procedure is conducted. It ruled as follows:

It must be acknowledged at the outset that a traffic stop


significantly curtails the freedom of action of the driver and the
passengers, if any, of the detained vehicle. Under the law of most States, it
is a crime either to ignore a policemans signal to stop ones car or, once
having stopped, to drive away without permission. x x x

However, we decline to accord talismanic power to the phrase in


the Miranda opinion emphasized by respondent. Fidelity to the doctrine
announced in Miranda requires that it be enforced strictly, but only in
those types of situations in which the concerns that powered the decision
are implicated. Thus, we must decide whether a traffic stop exerts upon a
detained person pressures that sufficiently impair his free exercise of his
privilege against self-incrimination to require that he be warned of his
constitutional rights.

Two features of an ordinary traffic stop mitigate the danger that a


person questioned will be induced to speak where he would not otherwise
do so freely, Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U. S., at 467. First, detention of a
motorist pursuant to a traffic stop is presumptively temporary and
brief. The vast majority of roadside detentions last only a few minutes. A
motorists expectations, when he sees a policemans light flashing behind
him, are that he will be obliged to spend a short period of time answering
questions and waiting while the officer checks his license and registration,
that he may then be given a citation, but that in the end he most likely will
be allowed to continue on his way. In this respect, questioning incident to
an ordinary traffic stop is quite different from stationhouse interrogation,
which frequently is prolonged, and in which the detainee often is aware
that questioning will continue until he provides his interrogators the
answers they seek. See id., at 451.

Second, circumstances associated with the typical traffic stop


are not such that the motorist feels completely at the mercy of the
police. To be sure, the aura of authority surrounding an armed, uniformed
officer and the knowledge that the officer has some discretion in deciding
whether to issue a citation, in combination, exert some pressure on the
detainee to respond to questions. But other aspects of the situation
substantially offset these forces. Perhaps most importantly, the typical
traffic stop is public, at least to some degree. x x x

In both of these respects, the usual traffic stop is more analogous


to a so-called Terry stop, see Terry v. Ohio, 392 U. S. 1 (1968), than to a
formal arrest. x x x The comparatively nonthreatening character of
detentions of this sort explains the absence of any suggestion in our
opinions that Terry stops are subject to the dictates of Miranda. The
similarly noncoercive aspect of ordinary traffic stops prompts us to hold
that persons temporarily detained pursuant to such stops are not in custody
for the purposes of Miranda.

xxxxxxxxx

We are confident that the state of affairs projected by respondent


will not come to pass. It is settled that the safeguards prescribed by
Miranda become applicable as soon as a suspects freedom of action is
curtailed to a degree associated with formal arrest. California v. Beheler,
463 U. S. 1121, 1125 (1983) (per curiam). If a motorist who has been
detained pursuant to a traffic stop thereafter is subjected to treatment that
renders him in custody for practical purposes, he will be entitled to the full
panoply of protections prescribed by Miranda. See Oregon v. Mathiason,
429 U. S. 492, 495 (1977) (per curiam). (Emphasis supplied.)

The U.S. Court in Berkemer thus ruled that, since the motorist therein was
only subjected to modest questions while still at the scene of the traffic stop,
he was not at that moment placed under custody (such that he should have
been apprised of his Miranda rights), and neither can treatment of this sort
be fairly characterized as the functional equivalent of a formal arrest.
Similarly, neither can petitioner here be considered under arrest at the time
that his traffic citation was being made.

It also appears that, according to City Ordinance No. 98-012, which was
violated by petitioner, the failure to wear a crash helmet while riding a
motorcycle is penalized by a fine only. Under the Rules of Court, a warrant
of arrest need not be issued if the information or charge was filed for an
offense penalized by a fine only. It may be stated as a corollary that neither
can a warrantless arrest be made for such an offense.
This ruling does not imply that there can be no arrest for a traffic violation.
Certainly, when there is an intent on the part of the police officer to deprive
the motorist of liberty, or to take the latter into custody, the former may be
deemed to have arrested the motorist. In this case, however, the officers
issuance (or intent to issue) a traffic citation ticket negates the possibility of
an arrest for the same violation.

Even if one were to work under the assumption that petitioner was
deemed arrested upon being flagged down for a traffic violation and
while awaiting the issuance of his ticket, then the requirements for a
valid arrest were not complied with.

This Court has held that at the time a person is arrested, it shall be the
duty of the arresting officer to inform the latter of the reason for the arrest
and must show that person the warrant of arrest, if any. Persons shall be
informed of their constitutional rights to remain silent and to counsel, and
that any statement they might make could be used against them. [14] It may
also be noted that in this case, these constitutional requirements were
complied with by the police officers only after petitioner had been arrested
for illegal possession of dangerous drugs.

In Berkemer, the U.S. Court also noted that the Miranda warnings
must also be given to a person apprehended due to a traffic violation:

The purposes of the safeguards prescribed by Miranda are to


ensure that the police do not coerce or trick captive suspects into
confessing, to relieve the inherently compelling pressures generated by the
custodial setting itself, which work to undermine the individuals will to
resist, and as much as possible to free courts from the task of scrutinizing
individual cases to try to determine, after the fact, whether particular
confessions were voluntary. Those purposes are implicated as much by in-
custody questioning of persons suspected of misdemeanors as they are by
questioning of persons suspected of felonies.

If it were true that petitioner was already deemed arrested when he was
flagged down for a traffic violation and while he waiting for his ticket, then
there would have been no need for him to be arrested for a second timeafter
the police officers allegedly discovered the drugsas he was already in their
custody.
Second, there being no valid arrest, the warrantless search that resulted
from it was likewise illegal.

The following are the instances when a warrantless search is allowed: (i) a
warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest; (ii) search of evidence in
plain view; (iii) search of a moving vehicle; (iv) consented warrantless
search; (v) customs search; (vi) a stop and frisk search; and (vii) exigent and
emergency circumstances.[15] None of the above-mentioned instances,
especially a search incident to a lawful arrest, are applicable to this case.

It must be noted that the evidence seized, although alleged to be


inadvertently discovered, was not in plain view. It was actually concealed
inside a metal container inside petitioners pocket. Clearly, the evidence was
not immediately apparent.[16]

Neither was there a consented warrantless search. Consent to a search is not


to be lightly inferred, but shown by clear and convincing evidence.[17] It must
be voluntary in order to validate an otherwise illegal search; that is, the
consent must be unequivocal, specific, intelligently given and
uncontaminated by any duress or coercion. While the prosecution claims that
petitioner acceded to the instruction of PO3 Alteza, this alleged accession
does not suffice to prove valid and intelligent consent. In fact, the RTC
found that petitioner was merely told to take out the contents of his pocket.
[18]

Whether consent to the search was in fact voluntary is a question of


fact to be determined from the totality of all the circumstances. Relevant to
this determination are the following characteristics of the person giving
consent and the environment in which consent is given: (1) the age of the
defendant; (2) whether the defendant was in a public or a secluded location;
(3) whether the defendant objected to the search or passively looked on; (4)
the education and intelligence of the defendant; (5) the presence of coercive
police procedures; (6) the defendants belief that no incriminating evidence
would be found; (7) the nature of the police questioning; (8) the environment
in which the questioning took place; and (9) the possibly vulnerable
subjective state of the person consenting. It is the State that has the burden of
proving, by clear and positive testimony, that the necessary consent was
obtained, and was freely and voluntarily given.[19] In this case, all that was
alleged was that petitioner was alone at the police station at three in the
morning, accompanied by several police officers. These circumstances
weigh heavily against a finding of valid consent to a warrantless search.

Neither does the search qualify under the stop and frisk rule. While the rule
normally applies when a police officer observes suspicious or unusual
conduct, which may lead him to believe that a criminal act may be afoot, the
stop and frisk is merely a limited protective search of outer clothing for
weapons.[20]

In Knowles v. Iowa,[21] the U.S. Supreme Court held that when a police
officer stops a person for speeding and correspondingly issues a citation
instead of arresting the latter, this procedure does not authorize the officer to
conduct a full search of the car. The Court therein held that there was no
justification for a full-blown search when the officer does not arrest the
motorist. Instead, police officers may only conduct minimal intrusions, such
as ordering the motorist to alight from the car or doing a patdown:

In Robinson, supra, we noted the two historical rationales for the


search incident to arrest exception: (1) the need to disarm the suspect in
order to take him into custody, and (2) the need to preserve evidence for
later use at trial. x x x But neither of these underlying rationales for the
search incident to arrest exception is sufficient to justify the search in the
present case.

We have recognized that the first rationaleofficer safetyis both


legitimate and weighty, x x x The threat to officer safety from issuing a
traffic citation, however, is a good deal less than in the case of a custodial
arrest. In Robinson, we stated that a custodial arrest involves danger to an
officer because of the extended exposure which follows the taking of a
suspect into custody and transporting him to the police station. 414 U. S.,
at 234-235. We recognized that [t]he danger to the police officer flows
from the fact of the arrest, and its attendant proximity, stress, and
uncertainty, and not from the grounds for arrest. Id., at 234, n. 5. A routine
traffic stop, on the other hand, is a relatively brief encounter and is
more analogous to a so-called Terry stop . . . than to a formal
arrest. Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U. S. 420, 439 (1984). See also Cupp v.
Murphy, 412 U. S. 291, 296 (1973) (Where there is no formal arrest . . . a
person might well be less hostile to the police and less likely to take
conspicuous, immediate steps to destroy incriminating evidence).
This is not to say that the concern for officer safety is absent in
the case of a routine traffic stop. It plainly is not. See Mimms, supra, at
110; Wilson, supra, at 413-414. But while the concern for officer safety
in this context may justify the minimal additional intrusion of
ordering a driver and passengers out of the car, it does not by itself
justify the often considerably greater intrusion attending a full
fieldtype search. Even without the search authority Iowa urges, officers
have other, independent bases to search for weapons and protect
themselves from danger. For example, they may order out of a vehicle
both the driver, Mimms, supra, at 111, and any passengers, Wilson, supra,
at 414; perform a patdown of a driver and any passengers upon reasonable
suspicion that they may be armed and dangerous, Terry v. Ohio, 392 U. S.
1 (1968); conduct a Terry patdown of the passenger compartment of a
vehicle upon reasonable suspicion that an occupant is dangerous and may
gain immediate control of a weapon, Michigan v. Long, 463 U. S. 1032,
1049 (1983); and even conduct a full search of the passenger
compartment, including any containers therein, pursuant to a custodial
arrest, New York v. Belton, 453 U. S. 454, 460 (1981).

Nor has Iowa shown the second justification for the authority to search
incident to arrestthe need to discover and preserve evidence. Once
Knowles was stopped for speeding and issued a citation, all the evidence
necessary to prosecute that offense had been obtained. No further evidence
of excessive speed was going to be found either on the person of the
offender or in the passenger compartment of the car. (Emphasis supplied.)

The foregoing considered, petitioner must be acquitted. While he may have


failed to object to the illegality of his arrest at the earliest opportunity, a
waiver of an illegal warrantless arrest does not, however, mean a waiver of
the inadmissibility of evidence seized during the illegal warrantless arrest.[22]

The Constitution guarantees the right of the people to be secure in


their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and
seizures.[23] Any evidence obtained in violation of said right shall be
inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding. While the power to search
and seize may at times be necessary to the public welfare, still it must be
exercised and the law implemented without contravening the constitutional
rights of citizens, for the enforcement of no statute is of sufficient
importance to justify indifference to the basic principles of government.[24]

The subject items seized during the illegal arrest are inadmissible.
[25]
The drugs are the very corpus delicti of the crime of illegal possession of
dangerous drugs. Thus, their inadmissibility precludes conviction and calls
for the acquittal of the accused.[26]

WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The 18 February 2011


Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 32516 affirming the
judgment of conviction dated 19 February 2009 of the Regional Trial Court,
5th Judicial Region, Naga City, Branch 21, in Criminal Case No. RTC 2003-
0087, is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner Rodel Luz y Ong
is hereby ACQUITTED and ordered immediately released from detention,
unless his continued confinement is warranted by some other cause or
ground.

SO ORDERED.

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

ARTURO D. BRION JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice Associate Justice
BIENVENIDO L. REYES
Associate Justice

ATT E STAT I O N

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in


consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
Courts Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

C E R T I FI CAT I O N

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division
Chairpersons Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision
had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer
of the opinion of the Courts Division.

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

[1]
The Petition was originally captioned as Rodel Luz y Ong v. Hon. Court of Appeals, Hon. Presiding
Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 21, Naga City. However, under Section 4, Rule 45 of the Rules of
Court, the petition must state the full name of the appealing party as the petitioner and the adverse party as
respondent, without impleading the lower courts or judges thereof either as petitioners or respondents.
[2]
Penned by Associate Justice Ricardo R. Rosario and concurred in by Associate Justices Hakim S.
Abdulwahid and Samuel H. Gaerlan.
[3]
Rollo, p. 91.
[4]
Docketed as Criminal Case No. RTC 2003-0087; rollo, pp. 90-102.
[5]
See Section 11, Republic Act No. (R.A.) 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
[6]
Rollo, p. 101.
[7]
Rollo, p. 23.
[8]
Id. at 96.
[9]
People v. Saludes, 452 Phil. 719, 728 (2003).
[10]
RULES OF COURT, Rule 113, Sec. 1.
[11]
People v. Milado, 462 Phil. 411 (2003).
[12]
PNPM-DO-DS-3-1 dated March 2010.
[13]
468 U.S. 420 (1984).
[14]
Morales v. Enrile, 206 Phil. 466 (1983).
[15]
People v. Bolasa, 378 Phil. 1073, 1078-1079 (1999).
[16]
See People v. Macalaba, 443 Phil. 565 (2003).
[17]
Caballes v. Court of Appeals, 424 Phil. 263 (2002).
[18]
RTC Decision, rollo, p. 91.
[19]
Caballes v. Court of Appeals, 424 Phil. 263 (2002).
[20]
People v. Sy Chua, 444 Phil. 757 (2003).
[21]
525 U.S. 113 (1998).
[22]
People v. Lapitaje, 445 Phil. 729 (2003).
[23]
1987 CONST., Art. III, Sec. 2.
[24]
Valdez v. People, G.R. No. 170180, 23 November 2007, 538 SCRA 611.
[25]
People v. Martinez, G.R. No. 191366, 13 December 2010.
[26]
Id.

June 7, 2017

G.R. No. 200370

MARIO VERIDIANO y SAPI, Petitioner


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent

DECISION

LEONEN, J.:

Through this Petition for Review on Certiorari, Mario Veridiano y Sapi (Veridiano) assails the
1

Decision dated November 18, 2011 and Resolution dated January 25, 2012 of the Court of
2 3

Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 33588, which affirmed his conviction for violation of Article II,
Section 11 of Republic Act No. 9165. 4

In an Information filed before the Regional Trial Court of San Pablo City, Laguna, Veridiano
5

was charged with the crime of illegal possession of dangerous drugs. The Information read:
That on or about January 15, 2008, in the Municipality of Nagcarlan, Province of Laguna and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, not being
permitted or authorized by law, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in
his possession, control and custody one (1) small heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet
containing 2. 72 grams of dried marijuana leaves, a dangerous drug.

CONTRARY TO LAW. 6

On October 9, 2008, Veridiano was arraigned. He pleaded not guilty to the offense charged.
Trial on the merits ensued. 7

During trial, the prosecution presented PO 1 Guillermo Cabello (PO 1 Cabello) and POI
Daniel Solano (POI Solano) to testify. 8

According to the prosecution, at about 7:20 a.m. of January 15, 2008, a concerned citizen
called a certain P03 Esteves, police radio operator of the Nagcarlan Police Station, informing
him that a certain alias "Baho," who was later identified as Veridiano, was on the way to San
Pablo City to obtain illegal drugs. 9

P03 Esteves immediately relayed the information to PO I Cabello and P02 Alvin Vergara
(P02 Vergara) who were both on duty. Chief of Police June Urquia instructed POI Cabello
10

and P02 Vergara to set up a checkpoint at Barangay Taytay, Nagcarlan, Laguna. 11

The police officers at the checkpoint personally knew Veridiano.

They allowed some vehicles to pass through after checking that he was not on board. At 12

around 10:00 a.m., they chanced upon Veridiano inside a passenger jeepney coming from
San Pablo, Laguna. They flagged down the jeepney and asked the passengers to
13

disembark. The police officers instructed the passengers to raise their t-shirts to check for
14

possible concealed weapons and to remove the contents of their pockets. 15

The police officers recovered from Veridiano "a tea bag containing what appeared to be
marijuana." POI Cabello confiscated the tea bag and marked it with his initials. Veridiano
16 17

was arrested and apprised of his constitutional rights. He was then brought to the police
18

station.
19

At the police station, PO 1 Cabello turned over the seized tea bag to PO 1 Solano, who also
placed his initials. PO 1 Solano then made a laboratory examination request, which he
20

personally brought with the seized tea bag to the Philippine National Police Crime
Laboratory. The contents of the tea bag tested positive for marijuana.
21 22

For his defense, Veridiano testified that he went to the fiesta in San Pablo City on January
15, 2008. After participating in the festivities, he decided to go home and took a passenger
23

jeepney bound for Nagcarlan. At around 10:00 a.m., the jeepney passed a police
24

checkpoint in Barangay Taytay, Nagcarlan. Veridiano noticed that the jeepney was being
25

followed by three (3) motorcycles, each with two (2) passengers in civilian attire. 26

When the jeepney reached Barangay Buboy, Nagcarlan, the motorcyclists flagged down the
jeepney. Two (2) armed men boarded the jeepney and frisked Veridiano. However, they
27 28

found nothing on his person. Still, Veridiano was accosted and brought to the police station
29

where he was informed that "illegal drug was ... found in his possession. " 30
In the Decision dated July 16, 2010, the Regional Trial Court found Veridiano guilty beyond
31

reasonable doubt for the crime of illegal possession of marijuana. Accordingly, he was
sentenced to suffer a penalty of imprisonment of twelve (12) years and one (1) day, as
minimum, to twenty (20) years, as maximum, and to pay a fine of ₱300,000.00. 32

Veridiano appealed the decision of the trial court asserting that "he was illegally
arrested." He argued that the tea bag containing marijuana is "inadmissible in evidence [for]
33

being the 'fruit of a poisonous tree. "[['34]] Veridiano further argued that the police officers
failed to comply with the rule on chain of custody. 35

On the other hand, the prosecution asserted that "[t]he legality of an arrest affects only the
jurisdiction of the court over [the person of the accused]." Thus, by entering his plea,
36

Veridiano waived his right to question any irregularity in his arrest. With regard to the
37

alleged illegal warrantless search conducted by the police officers, the prosecution argued
that Veridiano' s "submissive deportment at the time of the search" indicated that he
consented to the warrantless search. 38

On November 18, 2011, the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision affirming the guilt
39

ofVeridiano. 40

The Court of Appeals found that "Veridiano was caught in jlagrante delicto" of having
marijuana in his possession. Assuming that he was illegally arrested, Veridiano waived his
41

right to question any irregularity that may have attended his arrest when he entered his plea
and submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court. Furthermore, the Court of Appeals held
42

that Veridiano consented to the warrantless search because he did not protest when the
police asked him to remove the contents of his pocket. 43

Veridiano moved for reconsideration, which was denied in the

Resolution dated January 25, 2012.44

On March 16, 2012, Veridiano filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari. 45

Petitioner argues that the tea bag containing marijuana leaves was seized in violation of his
right against unreasonable searches and seizures. He asserts that his arrest was
46

illegal. Petitioner was merely seated inside the jeepney at the time of his apprehension. He
47

did not act in any manner that would give the police officers reasonable ground to believe
that he had just committed a crime or that he was committing a crime. Petitioner also 48

asserts that reliable information is insufficient to constitute probable cause that would support
a valid warrantless arrest. 49

Since his arrest was illegal, petitioner argues· that "the accompanying [warrantless] search
was likewise illegal." Hence, under Article III, Section 2, in relation to Article III, Section
50 51

3(2) of the Constitution, the seized tea bag containing marijuana is "inadmissible in
52

evidence [for] being the fruit of a poisonous tree."


53

Nevertheless, assuming that the seized tea bag containing marijuana is admissible in
evidence, petitioner contends that the prosecution failed to preserve its integrity. The 54

apprehending team did not strictly comply with the rule on chain of custody under Section 21
of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 9165. 55
In a Resolution dated June 13, 2012, this Court required respondent to file a comment on the
petition. In the Manifestation and Motion dated August 1, 2012, respondent stated that it
56 57

would no longer file a comment.

The following issues are for this Court's resolution:

First, whether there was a valid warrantless arrest;

Second, whether there was a valid warrantless search against petitioner; and

Lastly, whether there is enough evidence to sustain petitioner's conviction for illegal
possession of dangerous drugs.

The Petition is granted.

The invalidity of an arrest leads to several consequences among which are: (a) the failure to
acquire jurisdiction over the person of an accused; (b) criminal liability of law enforcers for
illegal arrest; and (c) any search incident to the arrest becomes invalid thus rendering the
evidence acquired as constitutionally inadmissible.

Lack of jurisdiction over the person of an accused as a result of an invalid arrest must be
raised through a motion to quash before an accused enters his or her plea. Otherwise, the
objection is deemed waived and an accused is "estopped from questioning the legality of his
[or her] arrest."58

The voluntary submission of an accused to the jurisdiction of the court and his or her active
participation during trial cures any defect or irregularity that may have attended an
arrest. The reason for this rule is that "the legality of an arrest affects only the jurisdiction of
59

the court over the person of the accused." 60

Nevertheless, failure to timely object to the illegality of an arrest does not preclude an
accused from questioning the admissibility of evidence seized. The inadmissibility of the
61

evidence is not affected when an accused fails to question the court's jurisdiction over his or
her person in atimely manner. Jurisdiction over the person of an accused and the
constitutional inadmissibility of evidence are separate and mutually exclusive consequences
of an illegal arrest.

As a component of the right to privacy, the fundamental right against unlawful searches and
62

seizures is guaranteed by no less than the Constitution. Article III, Section 2 of the
Constitution 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. 63
To underscore the importance of an individual's right against unlawful searches and seizures,
Article III, Section 3(2) of the Constitution considers any evidence obtained in violation of this
right as inadmissible. 64

The Constitutional guarantee does not prohibit all forms of searches and seizures. It is only
65

directed against those that are unreasonable. Conversely, reasonable searches and
66

seizures fall outside the scope of the prohibition and are not forbidden. 67

In People v. Aruta, this Court explained that the language of the Constitution implies that
68

"searches and seizures are normally unreasonable unless authorized by a validly issued
search warrant or warrant of arrest." The requirements of a valid search warrant are laid
69

down in Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution and reiterated in Rule 126, Section 4 of the
Rules on Criminal Procedure. 70

However, People v. Cogaed clarified that there are exceptional circumstances "when
71

searches are reasonable even when warrantless." The following are recognized instances
72

of permissible warrantless searches laid down in jurisprudence: (1) a "warrantless search


incidental to a lawful arrest," (2) search of "evidence in 'plain view,"' (3) "search of a moving
73

vehicle," (4) "consented warrantless search[es]," (5) "customs search," (6) "stop and frisk,"
and (7) "exigent and emergency circumstances." 74

There is no hard and fast rule in determining when a search and seizure is reasonable. In
any given situation, "[w]hat constitutes a reasonable ... search ... is purely a judicial
question," the resolution of which depends upon the unique and distinct factual
circumstances. This may involve an inquiry into "the purpose of the search or seizure, the
75

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." 76

II

Pertinent to the resolution of this case is the determination of whether the warrantless search
was incidental to a lawful arrest. The Court of Appeals concluded that petitioner was
caught in flagrante delicto of having marijuana in his possession making the warrantless
search lawful. 77

This Court disagrees. Petitioner's warrantless arrest was unlawful.

A search incidental to a lawful arrest requires that there must first be a lawful arrest before a
search is made. Otherwise stated, a lawful arrest must precede the search; "the process
cannot be reversed." For there to be a lawful arrest, law enforcers must be armed with a
78

valid warrant. Nevertheless, an arrest may also be effected without a warrant.

There are three (3) grounds that will justify a warrantless arrest. Rule 113, Section 5 of the
Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides:

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;
(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.

The first kind of warrantless arrest is known as an in flagrante delicto arrest. The validity of
this warrantless arrest requires compliance with the overt act test as explained in Cogaed:
79

[F]or a warrantless arrest of in flagrante delicto to be affected, "two elements must concur:
(1) the person to be arrested must execute an overt act indicating that he [or she] 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."80

Failure to comply with the overt act test renders an inflagrante delicto arrest constitutionally
infirm. In Cogaed, the warrantless arrest was invalidated as an in flagrante delicto arrest
because the accused did not exhibit an overt act within the view of the police officers
suggesting that he was in possession of illegal drugs at the time he was apprehended. 81

The warrantless search in People v. Racho was also considered unlawful. The police
82 83

officers received information that a man was in possession of illegal drugs and was on board
a Genesis bus bound for Baler, Aurora. The informant added that the man was "wearing a
red and white striped [t]-shirt." The police officers waited for the bus along the national
84

highway. When the bus arrived, Jack Racho (Racho) disembarked and waited along the
85

highway for a tricycle. Suddenly, the police officers approached him and invited him to the
86

police station since he was suspected of having shabu in his possession. As Racho pulled
87

out his hands from his pocket, a white envelope fell yielding a sachet of shabu. 88

In holding that the warrantless search was invalid, this Court observed that Racho was not
"committing a crime in the presence of the police officers" at the time he was
apprehended. Moreover, Racho's arrest was solely based on a tip. Although there are
89 90

cases stating that reliable information is sufficient to justify a warrantless search incidental to
a lawful arrest, they were covered under the other exceptions to the rule on warrantless
searches. 91

Rule 113, Section 5(b) of the Rules of Court pertains to a hot pursuit arrest. The rule
92

requires that an offense has just been committed. It connotes "immediacy in point of
time." That a crime was in fact committed does not automatically bring the case under this
93

rule. An arrest under Rule 113, Section 5(b) of the Rules of Court entails a time element
94

from the moment the crime is committed up to the point of arrest.

Law enforcers need not personally witness the commission of a crime. However, they must
have personal knowledge of facts and circumstances indicating that the person sought to be
arrested committed it.

People v. Gerente illustrates a valid arrest under Rule 113, Section 5(b) of the Rules of
95

Court. In Gerente, the accused was convicted for murder and for violation of Republic Act
No. 6425. He assailed the admissibility of dried marijuana leaves as evidence on the ground
96

that they were allegedly seized from him pursuant to a warrantless arrest. On appeal, the
97

accused's conviction was affirmed. This Court ruled that the warrantless arrest was justified
98
under Rule 113, Section 5(b) of the Rules of Court. The police officers had personal
knowledge of facts and circumstances indicating that the accused killed the victim:

The policemen arrested Gerente only some three (3) hours after Gerente and his
companions had killed Blace. They saw Blace dead in the hospital and when they inspected
the scene of the crime, they found the instruments of death: a piece of wood and a concrete
hollow block which the killers had used to bludgeon him to death. The eye-witness, Edna
Edwina Reyes, reported the happening to the policemen and pinpointed her neighbor,
Gerente, as one of the killers. Under those circumstances, since the policemen had personal
knowledge of the violent death of Blace and of facts indicating that Gerente and two others
had killed him, they could lawfully arrest Gerente without a warrant. If they had postponed his
arrest until they could obtain a warrant, he would have fled the law as his two companions
did. (Emphasis supplied)
99

The requirement that law enforcers must have personal knowledge of facts surrounding the
commission of an offense was underscored in In Re Saliba v. Warden. 100

In Re Saliba involved a petition for habeas corpus. The police officers suspected Datukan
Salibo (Salibo) as one (1) of the accused in the Maguindano Massacre. Salibo presented
101

himself before the authorities to clear his name. Despite his explanation, Salibo was
apprehended and detained. In granting the petition, this Court pointed out that Salibo was
102

not restrained under a lawful court process or order. Furthermore, he was not arrested
103

pursuant to a valid warrantless arrest: 104

It is undisputed that petitioner Salibo presented himself before the Datu Hofer Police Station
to clear his name and to prove that he is not the accused Butukan S. Malang. When
petitioner Salibo was in the presence of the police officers of Datu Hofer Police Station, he
was neither committing nor attempting to commit an offense. The police officers had no
personal knowledge of any offense that he might have committed. Petitioner Salibo was also
not an escapee prisoner. (Emphasis supplied)
105

In this case, petitioner's arrest could not be justified as an inflagrante delicta arrest under
Rule 113, Section 5(a) of the Rules of Court. He was not committing a crime at the
checkpoint. Petitioner was merely a passenger who did not exhibit any unusual conduct in
the presence of the law enforcers that would incite suspicion. In effecting the warrantless
arrest, the police officers relied solely on the tip they received. Reliable information alone is
insufficient to support a warrantless arrest absent any overt act from the person to be
arrested indicating that a crime has just been committed, was being committed, or is about to
be committed. 10

The warrantless arrest cannot likewise be justified under Rule 113, Section 5(b) of the
Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. The law enforcers had no personal knowledge of any
fact or circumstance indicating that petitioner had just committed an offense.

A hearsay tip by itself does not justify a warrantless arrest. Law enforcers must have
personal knowledge of facts, based on their observation, that the person sought to be
arrested has just committed a crime. This is what gives rise to probable cause that would
justify a warrantless search under Rule 113, Section 5(b) of the Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure.

III
The warrantless search cannot be justified under the reasonable suspicion requirement in
"stop and frisk" searches.

A "stop and frisk" search is defined in People v. Chua as "the act of a police officer to stop
107

a citizen on the street, interrogate him, and pat him for weapon(s) or contraband." Thus, 108

the allowable scope of a "stop and frisk" search is limited to a "protective search of outer
clothing for weapons." 109

Although a "stop and frisk" search is a necessary law enforcement measure specifically
directed towards crime prevention, there is a need to safeguard the right of individuals
against unreasonable searches and seizures. 110

Law enforcers do not have unbridled discretion in conducting "stop and frisk" searches.
While probable cause is not required, a "stop and frisk" search cannot be validated on the
basis of a suspicion or hunch. Law enforcers must have a genuine reason to believe,
111

based on their experience and the particular circumstances of each case, that criminal
activity may be afoot. Reliance on one (1) suspicious activity alone, or none at all, cannot
112

produce a reasonable search. 113

In Manalili v. Court of Appeals, the police officers conducted surveillance operations in


114

Caloocan City Cemetery, a place reportedly frequented by drug addicts. They chanced 115

upon a male person who had "reddish eyes and [was] walking in a swaying
manner." Suspecting that the man was high on drugs, the police officers approached him,
116

introduced themselves, and asked him what he was holding. However, the man 117

resisted. Upon further investigation, the police officers found marijuana in the man's
118

possession. 119 This Court held that the circumstances of the case gave the police officers
justifiable reason to stop the man and investigate if he was high on drugs. 120

In People v. Solayao, the police officers were conducting an intelligence patrol to verify
121

reports on the presence of armed persons within Caibiran. They met a group of drunk men,
122

one (1) of whom was the accused in a camouflage uniform. When the police officers123

approached, his companions fled leaving behind the accused who was told not to run
away. One (1) of the police officers introduced himself and seized from the accused a
124

firearm wrapped in dry coconut leaves. This Court likewise found justifiable reason to stop
125

and frisk the accused when "his companions fled upon seeing the government agents." 126

The "stop and frisk" searches in these two (2) cases were considered valid because the
accused in both cases exhibited overt acts that gave law enforcers genuine reason to
conduct a "stop and frisk" search. In contrast withManalili and Solayao, the warrantless
search in Cogaed was considered as an invalid "stop and frisk" search because of the
127

absence of a single suspicious circumstance that would justify a warrantless search.

In Cogaed, the police officers received information that a certain Marvin Buya would be
transporting marijuana. A passenger jeepney passed through the checkpoint set up by the
128

police officers. The driver then disembarked and signaled that two (2) male passengers were
carrying marijuana. The police officers approached the two (2) men, who were later
129

identified as Victor Cogaed (Cogaed) and Santiago Dayao, and inquired about the contents
of their bags. 130

Upon further investigation, the police officers discovered three (3) bricks of marijuana in
Cogaed's bag. In holding that the "stop and frisk" search was invalid, this Court reasoned
131

that "[t]here was not a single suspicious circumstance" that gave the police officers genuine
reason to stop the two (2) men and search their belongings. Cogaed did not exhibit any
132

overt act indicating that he was in possession of marijuana. 133

Similar to Cogaed, petitioner in this case was a mere passenger in a jeepney who did not
exhibit any act that would give police officers reasonable suspicion to believe that he had
drugs in his possession. Reasonable persons will act in a nervous manner in any check
point. There was no evidence to show that the police had basis or personal knowledge that
would reasonably allow them to infer anything suspicious.

IV

Moreover, petitioner's silence or lack of resistance can hardly be considered as consent to


the warrantless search. Although the right against unreasonable searches and seizures may
be surrendered through a valid waiver, the prosecution must prove that the waiver was
executed with clear and convincing evidence. Consent to a warrantless search and seizure
134

must be "unequivocal, specific, intelligently given ... [and unattended] by duress or


coercion."135

The validity of a consented warrantless search is determined by the totality of the


circumstances. This may involve an inquiry into the environment in which the consent was
136

given such as "the presence of coercive police procedures." 137

Mere passive conformity or silence to the warrantless search is only an implied


acquiescence, which amounts to no consent at all. In Cogaed, this Court observed:
138

Cogaed's silence or lack of aggressive objection was a natural reaction to a coercive


environment brought about by the police officer's excessive intrusion into his private space.
The prosecution and the police carry the burden of showing that the waiver of a constitutional
right is one which is knowing, intelligent, and free from any coercion. In all cases, such
waivers are not to be presumed. 139

The presence of a coercive environment negates the claim that petitioner consented to the
warrantless search.

Another instance of a valid warrantless search is a search of a moving vehicle. The rules
governing searches and seizures have been liberalized when the object of a search is a
vehicle for practical purposes. Police officers cannot be expected to appear before a judge
140

and apply for a search warrant when time is of the essence considering the efficiency of
vehicles in facilitating transactions involving contraband or dangerous articles. However, the
141

inherent mobility of vehicles cannot justify all kinds of searches. Law enforcers must act on
142

the basis of probable cause. 143

A checkpoint search is a variant of a search of a moving vehicle. Due to the number of


144

cases involving warrantless ·searches in checkpoints and for the guidance of law enforcers,
it is imperative to discuss the parameters by which searches in checkpoints should be
conducted.

Checkpoints per se are not invalid. They are allowed in exceptional circumstances to
145

protect the lives of individuals and ensure their safety. They are also sanctioned in cases
146
where the government's survival is in danger. Considering that routine checkpoints intrude
147

"on [a] motorist'sright to 'free passage'" to a certain extent, they must be "conducted in a
148

way least intrusive to motorists." The extent of routine inspections must be limited to a
149

visual search. Routine inspections do not give law enforcers carte blanche to perform
warrantless searches. 150

In Valmonte v. De Villa, this Court clarified that "[f]or as long as the vehicle is neither
151

searched nor its occupants subjected to a body search, and the inspection of the vehicle is
limited to a visual search, said routine checks cannot be regarded as violative of an
individual's right against unreasonable search[es]." Thus, a search where an "officer merely
152

draws aside the curtain of a vacant vehicle which is parked on the public fair grounds, or
simply looks into a vehicle, or flashes a light therein" is not unreasonable. 153

However, an extensive search may be conducted on a vehicle at a checkpoint when law


enforcers have probable cause to believe that the vehicle's passengers committed a crime or
when the vehicle contains instruments of an offense. 154

Thus, routinary and indiscriminate searches of moving vehicles are allowed if they are limited
to a visual search. This holds especially true when the object of the search is a public vehicle
where individuals have a reasonably reduced expectation of privacy. On the other hand,
extensive searches are permissible only when they are founded upon probable cause. Any
evidence obtained will be subject to the exclusionary principle under the Constitution.

That the object of a warrantless search is allegedly inside a moving vehicle does not justify
an extensive search absent probable cause. Moreover, law enforcers cannot act solely on
the basis of confidential or tipped information. A tip is still hearsay no matter how reliable it
may be. It is not sufficient to constitute probable cause in the absence of any other
circumstance that will arouse suspicion.

Although this Court has upheld warrantless searches of moving vehicles based on tipped
information, there have been other circumstances that justified warrantless searches
conducted by the authorities.

In People v. Breis, apart from the tipped information they received, the law enforcement
155

agents observed suspicious behavior on the part of the accused that gave them reasonable
ground to believe that a crime was being committed. The accused attempted to alight from
156

the bus after the law enforcers introduced themselves and inquired about the ownership of a
box which the accused had in their possession. In their attempt to leave the bus, one (1) of
157

the accused physically pushed a law enforcer out of the way. Immediately alighting from a
158

bus that had just left the terminal and leaving one's belongings behind is unusual conduct. 159

In People v. Mariacos, a police officer received information that a bag containing illegal
160

drugs was about to be transported on a passenger jeepney. The bag was marked with
161

"O.K." On the basis of the tip, a police officer conducted surveillance operations on board a
162

jeepney. Upon seeing the bag described to him, he peeked inside and smelled the distinct
163

odor of marijuana emanating from the bag. The tipped information and the police officer's
164

personal observations gave rise to probable cause that rendered the warrantless search
valid.165

The police officers in People v. Ayangao and People v. Libnao likewise received tipped
166 167

information regarding the transport of illegal drugs. In Libnao, the police officers had
probable cause to arrest the accused based on their three (3)-month long surveillance
operation in the area where the accused was arrested. On the other hand, inAyangao, the
168

police officers noticed marijuana leaves protruding through a hole in one (1) of the sacks
carried by the accused. 169

In the present case, the extensive search conducted by the police officers exceeded the
allowable limits of warrantless searches. They had no probable cause to believe that the
1âwphi1

accused violated any law except for the tip they received. They did not observe any peculiar
activity from the accused that may either arouse their suspicion or verify the tip. Moreover,
the search was flawed at its inception. The checkpoint was set up to target the arrest of the
accused.

There are different hybrids of reasonable warrantless searches. There are searches based
on reasonable suspicion as in Posadas v. Court of Appeals where this Court justified the
170

warrantless search of the accused who attempted to flee with a buri bag after the police
officers identified themselves.171

On the other hand, there are reasonable searches because of heightened security. In Dela
Cruz v. People, the search conducted on the accused was considered valid because it was
172

done in accordance with routine security measures in ports. This case, however, should
173

not be construed to apply to border searches. Border searches are not unreasonable per
se; there is a "reasonable reduced expectation of privacy" when travellers pass through or
174

stop at airports or other ports of travel.


175

The warrantless search conducted by the police officers is invalid. Consequently, the tea bag
containing marijuana seized from petitioner is rendered inadmissible under the exclusionary
principle in Article III, Section 3(2) of the Constitution. There being no evidence to support his
conviction, petitioner must be acquitted.

WHEREFORE, the Decision dated July 16, 2010 of the Regional Trial Court in Criminal Case
No. 16976-SP and the Decision dated November 18, 2011 and Resolution dated January 25,
2012 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR. No. 33588 are REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. Petitioner Mario Veridiano y Sapi is hereby ACQUITTED and is ordered
immediately RELEASED from confinement unless he is being held for some other lawful
cause.

SO ORDERED.

MARVIC M.V.F. LEONEN


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Chief Justice
Chairperson

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA


Associate Justice Associate Justice

SAMUEL R. MARTIRES
Associate Justice
ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decisionhad been reached in consultation before
the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division

CERTIFICATION

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

MARIA LOURDES P.A. SERENO


Chief Justice

Footnotes

*
On official leave.

**
On official leave.

1
Rollo, pp. 8-29, Petition for Review on Certiorari.

2
Id. at 31-44. The Decision was penned by Associate Justice Remedios A. Salazar-
Fernando and concurred in by Associate Justices Sesinando E. Villon and Amy C.
Lazaro-Javier of the Second Division, Court of Appeals, Manila.

3
Id. at 46-47. The Resolution was penned by Associate Justice Remedios A. Salazar-
Fernando and concurred in by Associate Justices Mario V. Lopez and Amy C.
Lazaro-Javier of the Special Second Division, Court of Appeals, Manila.

4
Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act (2002).

5
Rollo, p. 64, Regional Trial Court Decision.

6
Id.

7
Id.

8
Id. at 10.

9
Id.

10
Id.
11
Id.

12
Id.

13
Id. at 11.

14
Id. at 34.

15
Id.

16
Id.

17
Id.

18
Id. at 66, Regional Trial Court Decision.

19
Id. at 1 I.

20
Id.

21
Id. at 35.

22
Id. at 11.

23
Id.

24
Id.

25
Id.

26
Id.

27
Id.

28
Id.

29
Id.

30
Id. at 11-12.

Id. at 64-72. The Decision, docketed as Crim. Case No. 16976-SP, was penned by
31

Presiding Judge Agripino G. Morga of Branch 32, Regional Trial Court of San Pablo
City.

32
Id. at 72.

33
Id. at 37.

34
Id.
35
Id. at 41.

36
Id. at 88, Brief for the Plaintiff-Appellee.

37
Id.

38
Id.

39
Id. at 31--44.

40
Id. at 43.

41
Id. at 37.

42
Id. at 40.

43
Id.

44
Id. at 46--47.

45
Id. at 8-29.

46
Id. at 14-18.

47
Id. at 14-16.

48
Id. at 16.

49
Id.

50
Id. at 17.

51
CONST. art. III, sec. 2 provides:

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.

52
CONST., art. III, sec. 3(2) provides:

Section 3. (2) Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding


section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.

53
Rollo, pp. 17-18.

54
Id. at 19.
55
Id. at 19-21.

56
Id. at 106.

57
Id. at 107-111, Manifestation and Motion (In Lieu of Comment).

People v. Lopez, Jr. y Mancilla, 315 Phil. 59, 71-72 (1995) [Per J. Kapunan, First
58

Division]. See Filoteo, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan, 331 Phil. 531, 578 (1996) [Per J.
Panganiban, En Banc]; Rebellion v. People, 637 Phil. 339, 345 (2010) [Per J. Del
Castillo, First Division].

People v. Lapitaje, 445 Phil. 729, 748 (2003) [Per J. Austria-Martinez, En


59

Banc]; Rebellion v. People, 637 Phil. 339, 345 (2010) [Per J. Del Castillo, First
Division].

People v. Es cordial, 424 Phil. 627, 651-652 (2002) [Per J. Mendoza, En


60

Banc] citing People v. Timon, 346 Phil. 572 (1997) [Per J. Panganiban, Third
Division].

61
Homar v. People, G.R. No. 182534, September 2, 2015
<http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/pdf/web/viewer.html?
file=/jurisprudence/20l5/september2015/182534.pdf> 9 [Per J. Brion, Second
Division]; Sindac v. People,G.R. No. 220732, September 6, 2016 <
http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/pdf/web/viewer.html?file=/j
urisprudence/20I6/september2016/220732.pdf> 10-11 [Per J. Perlas-Bernabe, First
Division]; People v. Racho, 640 Phil. 669, 681 (2010) [Per J. Nachura, Second
Division]; People v. Martinez y Angeles, 652 Phil. 347, 359 (20 IO) [Per J. Mendoza,
Second Division]. See Antiquera y Codes v. People, 723 Phil. 425, 432 (2013) [Per J.
Abad, Third Division].

62
People v. Cogaed, 740 Phil. 212, 220 (2014) [Per J. Leonen, Third Division].

63
CONST., art. III, sec. 2.

64
CONST., art. III, sec. 3(2) provides:

Section 3.

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

65
People v. Aruta, 351 Phil. 868, 878 (1998) [Per J. Romero, Second Division].

66
Id.

67
Valmonte v. De Villa, 258 Phil. 838, 843 (1989) [Per J. Padilla, En Banc].

68
351 Phil. 868 (1998) [Per J. Romero, Second Division].

69
Id. at 878.
70
Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, A.M. No. 00-5-03-SC, Rule 126, sec. 4
provides: Section 4.Requisites for issuing search warrant. - A search warrant shall
not issue except upon probable cause in connection with one specific offense 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 things to be seized which may be anywhere in the
Philippines.

71
740 Phil. 212 (2014) [Per J. Leonen, Third Division].

72
Id. at 227.

73
The Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure allows a warrantless search incidental to
a lawful arrest. RULES OF COURT, Rule 126, sec. 13 provides: Section 13. Search
incident to lawful arrest. - A person lawfully arrested may be searched for dangerous
weapons or anything that may have been used or constitute proof in the commission
of an offense without a search warrant.

People v. Cogaed, 740 Phil. 212, 228 (2014) [Per J. Leonen, Third Division], citing
74

People v. Aruta, 351 Phil. 868, 879-880 (1998) [Per J. Romero, Third Division].

75
Valmonte v. De Villa, 258 Phil. 838, 843 (1989) [Per J. Padilla, En Banc].

People v. Racho, 640 Phil. 669, 676 (2010) [Per J. Nachura, Third Division] citing
76

People v. Nuevas, 545 Phil. 356 (2007) [Per J. Tinga, Second Division].

77
Rollo, p. 37.

78
People v. Racho, 640 Phil. 669, 676 (2010) [Per J. Nachura, Second Division].

79
See People v. Cogaed, 740 Phil. 212, 238 (2014) [Per J. Leonen, Third Division].

Id. citing People v. Chua 444 Phil. 757 (2003) [Per J. Ynares-Santiago, First
80

Division].

81
Id. at 238-239.

82
640 Phil. 669 (2010) [Per J. Nachura, Second Division].

83
Id. at 679-680.

84
Id. at 671-672.

85
Id. at 672.

86
Id.

87
Id.

88
Id.
89
Id.

90
Id. at 667.

Id. This Court cited People v. Maspil, Jr., 266 Phil. 815 (1990) [J. Gutierrez, Jr.,
91

Third Division]; People v. Bagista, 288 Phil 828 (1992) [J. Nocon, Second
Division]; People v. Balingan, 311 Phil. 290 (1995) [J. Puno, Second
Division]; People v. Lising, 341 Phil. 801 (1997) [Per J. Melo, Third Division];
and People v. Montilla,349 Phil. 640 (1998) [Per J. Regalado, En Banc].

92
Malacat v. Court of Appeals, 347 Phil. 462, 479 (1997) [Per J. Davide, En Banc].

93
In re Saliba v. Warden, 757 Phil. 630, 656 (2015) [Per J. Leonen, Second Division]
citing the Dissenting Opinion of J. Teehankee in Ilagan v. Enrile, 223 Phil. 561 (1985)
[Per J. Melencio-Herrera, En Banc].

94
Id.

95
292-A Phil. 34 (1993) [Per J. Griño-Aquino, First Division].

96
Id. at 39.

97
Id.

98
Id.

99
Id. at 40.

100
757 Phil. 630 (2015) [Per J. Leonen, Second Division].

101
Id. at 634-635.

102
Id. at 635.

103
Id. at 654-655.

104
Id.

105
Id. at 655.

People v. Tudtud, 458 Phil. 752, 773 (2003) [Per J. Tinga, Second
106

Division]; People v. Nuevas, 545 Phil. 356, 371-372 (2007) [Per J. Tinga, Second
Division]; People v. Racho, 640 Phil. 669, 678 (2010) [Per J. Nachura, Second
Division].

107
444 Phil. 757 (2003) [Per J. Ynares-Santiago, First Division].

108
Id. at 773-774.
Malacat v. Court of Appeals, 347 Phil. 462, 480 (1997) [Per J. Davide, Jr., En
109

Banc].

110
People v. Cogaed, 740 Phil. 212, 232 (2014) [Per J. Leanen, Third Division].

Malacat v. Court of Appeals, 347 Phil. 462, 481 (1997) [Per J. Davide, Jr., En
111

Banc]. u2 Id.

People v. Cogaed, 740 Phil. 212, 233 (2014) [Per J. Leonen, Third Division] citing
113

J. Bersamin, Dissenting Opinion in Esquillo v. People, 643 Phil. 577 (2010) [Per J.
Carpio-Morales, Third Division].

114
345 Phil. 632 (1997) [Per J. Panganiban, Third Division].

115
Id. at 638.

116
Id.

117
Id.

118
Id.

119
Id.

120
Id. at 647.

121
330 Phil. 811 (1996) [Per J. Romero, Second Division].

122
Id. at 814-815.

123
Id. at 815.

124
Id.

125
Id.

126
Id. at 819.

127
740 Phil. 212 (2014) [Per J. Leonen, Third Division]

128
Id. at 221.

129
Id.

130
Id.

131
Id. at 221-222.

132
Id. at 234.
133
Id. at 45236-237.

Caballes v. Court of Appeals, 424 Phil. 263, 286 (2002) [Per J. Puno, First
134

Division].

Id. See also People v. Nuevas, 545 Phil. 356, 373 (2007) [Per J. Tinga, Second
135

Division].

136
Id.

137
Id.

See Caballes v. Court of Appeals, 424 Phil. 263, 285 (2002) [Per J. Puno, First
138

Division]; People v. Cogaed, 740 Phil. 212, 239-240 (2014) [Per J. Leonen, Third
Division].

139
People v. Cogaed, 740 Phil. 212, 239 (2014) [Per J. Leonen, Third Division].

Caballes v. Court of Appeals, 424 Phil. 263, 278 (2002) [Per J. Puno, First
140

Division].

141
Id.

142
Id. at 279.

143
Id.

144
See People v. Manago, G.R. No. 212340, August 17, 2016 <
http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/pdf/web/viewer.html?
file=/jurisprudence/20l6/august2016/212340.pdf> 9 [Per J. Perlas-Bernabe, First
Division].

145
Valmonte v. De Villa, 264 Phil. 265, 269 (1990) [Per J. Padilla, En Banc].

146
Id.

147
Id.

148
Id. at 270.

People v. Vinecario, 465 Phil. 192, 206 (2004) [Per J. Carpio Morales, Third
149

Division].

150
People v. Manago, G.R. No. 212340, August 17, 2016,
<http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/pdf/web/viewer.html?
file=/jurisprudence/20l6/august2016/212340 .pdt> 10 [Per J. Perlas-Bernabe, First
Division].

151
264 Phil. 265 (1990) [Per J. Padilla, En Banc].
152
Id. at 270.

153
Valmonte v. De Villa, 258 Phil. 838, 843 (1989) [Per J. Padilla, En Banc].

Valmonte v. De Villa, 264 Phil. 265, 271 (1990) [Per J. Padilla, En Banc]. See
154

People v. Vinecario, 465 Phil. 192 (2004) [Per J. Carpio-Morales, Third Division].

155
767 Phil. 40 (2015) [Per J. Carpio, Second Division].

156
Id. at 62-65.

157
Id.

158
Id. at 65.

159
Id. at 64.

160
635 Phil. 315 (2010) [Per J. Nachura, Second Division].

161
Id. 322-323.

162
Id.

163
Id.

164
Id. at 325.

165
Id. at 331.

166
471 Phil. 379 (2004) [Per J. Corona, Third Division].

167
443 Phil. 506 (2003) [Per J. Puno, Third Division].

168
Id. at 517.

169
471 Phil. 379, 384 (2004) [Per J. Corona, Third Division].

170
266 Phil. 306 (1990) [Per J. Gancayo, First Division].

171
Id. at 307-312.

G.R. No. 209387, January 11, 2016 < http://sc.judiciary.gov.


172

ph/pdf/web/viewer.html?file=/jurisprudence/20I6/january2016/2093 87. pdf> [Per J.


Leonen, Second Division].

173
Id. at 22.

Dela Cruz v. People, G.R. No. 209387, January 11, 2016 <
174

http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/pdf/web/viewer.html?
file=/jurisprudence/20l6/january2016/209387.pdf> 16 [Per J. Leonen, Second
Division].

175
Id. at 17.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 200334 July 30, 2014

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent-Appellee,


vs.
VICTOR COGAED y ROMANA, Accused-Appellant.

DECISION

LEONEN, J.:

The mantle of protection upon one's person and one's effects through Article III, Section 2 of
the Constitution is essential to allow citizens to evolve their autonomy and, hence, to avail
themselves of their right to privacy. The alleged compromise with the battle against
dangerous drugs is more apparent than real. Often, the compromise is there because law
enforcers neglect to perform what could have been done to uphold the Constitution as they
pursue those who traffic this scourge of society.

Squarely raised in· this appeal is the admissibility of the evidence seized as a result of a
1

warrantless arrest. The police officers identified the alleged perpetrator through facts that
were not based on their personal knowledge. The information as to the accused’s
whereabouts was sent through a text message. The accusedwho never acted suspicious
was identified by a driver. The bag that allegedly contained the contraband was required to
be opened under intimidating circumstances and without the accused having been fully
apprised of his rights. This was not a reasonable search within the meaning of the
Constitution. There was no reasonable suspicion that would allow a legitimate "stop and
frisk" action. The alleged waiver of rights by the accused was not done intelligently,
knowingly, and without improper pressure or coercion.

The evidence, therefore, used against the accused should be excluded consistent with
Article III, Section 3 (2) of the Constitution. There being no possible admissible evidence, the
accused should be acquitted.

According to the prosecution, at about 6:00 a.m. of November 25, 2005, Police Senior
Inspector Sofronio Bayan (PSI Bayan) of the San Gabriel Police Station in San Gabriel,La
Union, "received a text message from an unidentified civilian informer" that one Marvin Buya
2
(also known as Marvin Bugat) "[would]be transporting marijuana" from Barangay LunOy, 3

San Gabriel, La Union to the Poblacion of San Gabriel, La Union. 4

PSI Bayan organized checkpoints in order "to intercept the suspect." PSI Bayan ordered 5

SPO1 Jaime Taracatac, Jr. (SPO1 Taracatac), a member of the San Gabriel Police, to set up
a checkpoint in the waiting area of passengers from San Gabriel bound for San Fernando
City. A passenger jeepney from Barangay Lun-Oy arrived at SPO1 Taracatac’s
6

checkpoint. The jeepney driver disembarked and signalled to SPO1 Taracatac indicating the
7

two male passengers who were carrying marijuana. SPO1 Taracatac approached the two
8

male passengers who were later identified as Victor RomanaCogaed and Santiago Sacpa
Dayao. Cogaed was carrying a blue bag and a sack while Dayao was holding a yellow bag.
9 10

SPO1 Taracatac asked Cogaed and Dayao about the contents of their bags. Cogaed and 11

Dayao told SPO1 Taracatac that they did not know since they were transporting the bags as
a favor for their barriomatenamed Marvin. After this exchange, Cogaed opened the blue
12

bag, revealing three bricks of what looked like marijuana. Cogaed then muttered, "nagloko
13

daytoy nga Marvinen, kastoymet gayam ti nagyanna,"which translates to "Marvin is a fool,


this is what [is] contained in the bag." "SPO1 Taracatac arrested [Cogaed] and . . . Dayao
14

and brought them to the police station." Cogaed and Dayao "were still carrying their
15

respective bags" inside the station.


16 17

While at the police station, the Chief of Police and Investigator PO3 Stanley Campit (PO3
Campit) requested Cogaed and Dayao to empty their bags. Inside Cogaed’s sack was "four18

(4) rolled pieces of suspected marijuana fruiting tops," and inside Dayao’s yellow bag was a
19

brick of suspected marijuana. 20

PO3 Campit prepared the suspected marijuana for laboratory testing. PSI Bayan personally 21

delivered the suspected marijuana to the PNP Crime Laboratory. Forensic Chemical Officer 22

Police Inspector Valeriano Panem Laya II performed the tests and found that the objects
obtained were indeed marijuana. The marijuana collected from Cogaed’s blue bag had a
23

total weight of 8,091.5 grams. The marijuana from Cogaed’s sack weighed 4,246.1
24

grams. The marijuana collected from Dayao’s bag weighed 5,092 grams. A total of
25 26

17,429.6 grams werecollected from Cogaed’s and Dayao’s bags. 27

According to Cogaed’s testimony during trial, he was at Balbalayan, La Union, "waiting for a
jeepney to take him" to the Poblacion of San Gabriel so he could buy pesticide. He boarded
28 29

a jeepney and recognized Dayao, his younger brother’s friend. Upon arrival at the Poblacion 30

of San Gabriel, Dayao and Cogaed alighted from the jeepney. Dayao allegedly "asked for 31

[Cogaed’s] help in carrying his things, which included a travelling bag and a sack." Cogaed 32

agreed because they were both going to the market. This was when SPO1 Taracatac
33

approached them, and when SPO1 Taracatac asked Cogaed what was inside the bags,
Cogaed replied that he did not know. SPO1 Taracatac then talked to Dayao, however,
34

Cogaed was not privy to their conversation. Thereafter, SPO1 Taracatac arrested Dayao
35

and Cogaed and brought them to the police station. These facts were corroborated by an
36

eyewitness,Teodoro Nalpu-ot, who was standing across the parking lot where Cogaed was
apprehended. 37

At the police station, Cogaed said that "SPO1 Taracatac hit [him] on the head." The bags 38

were also opened, but Cogaed never knew what was inside. 39
It was only later when Cogaed learned that it was marijuana when he and Dayao were
charged with illegal possession of dangerous drugs under Republic Act No. 9165. The 40

information against them states:

That on or about the 25th day of November, 2005, in the Municipality of San Gabriel,
Province of La Union, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused VICTOR COGAED Y ROMANA and SANTIAGO DAYAO Y SACPA (who acted with
discernment) and JOHN DOE,conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another,
did then there wilfully, unlawfully, feloniously and knowingly, without being authorized by law,
have in their control, custody and possession dried marijuana, a dangerous drug, with a total
weight of seventeen thousand,four hundred twenty-nine and sixtenths (17, 429.6) grams.

CONTRARY TO Section 11 (Possession of Dangerous Drugs), Article II, of Republic Act No.
9165 (otherwise known as the "Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002"). 41

The case was raffled to Regional Trial Court, Branch 28 of San Fernando City, La
Union. Cogaed and Dayao pleaded not guilty. The case was dismissed against Dayao
42 43

because he was only 14 years old at that time and was exempt from criminal liability under
the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 or Republic Act No. 9344. Trial against
44

Cogaed ensued. In a decision dated May 21, 2008, the Regional Trial Court found Cogaed
45

guilty. The dispositive portion of the decision states:

WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused Victor Cogaed y Romana GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt for Violation of Section 11, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 (otherwise
known as the "Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002") and sentences him to suffer
life imprisonment, and to pay a fine of one million pesos (Php 1,000,000.00). 46

The trial court judge initiallyfound Cogaed’s arrest illegal considering that "Cogaed at that
time was not, at the moment of his arrest, committing a crime nor was shown that hewas
about to do so or that had just done so. He just alighted from the passenger jeepney and
there was no outward indication that called for his arrest." Since the arrest was illegal, the
47

warrantless search should also be considered illegal. However, the trial court stated that
48

notwithstanding the illegality of the arrest, Cogaed "waived his right to object to such
irregularity" when "he did not protest when SPO1 Taracatac, after identifying himself, asked
49

him to open his bag." 50

Cogaed appealed the trial court’s decision.However, the Court of Appeals denied his appeal
51

and affirmed the trial court’s decision. The Court of Appeals found that Cogaed waived his
52

right against warrantless searches when "[w]ithout any prompting from SPO1 Taracatac, [he]
voluntarily opened his bag." Hence, this appeal was filed.
53

The following errors were assigned by Cogaed in his appellant’s brief:

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN ADMITTING THE SEIZED DANGEROUS


DRUGS AS EVIDENCE AGAINST THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT DESPITE BEING THE
RESULT OF AN UNLAWFUL WARRANTLESS SEARCH AND SEIZURE.

II
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT
DESPITE THE ARRESTING OFFICER’S NON-COMPLIANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENTS
FOR THE PROPER CUSTODY OF SEIZED DANGEROUS DRUGS UNDER REPUBLIC
ACT NO. 9165.

III

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT


DESPITE THE ARRESTING OFFICER’S FAILURE TO PRESERVE THE INTEGRITY AND
EVIDENTIARY VALUE OF THE SEIZED DANGEROUS DRUGS. 54

For our consideration are the following issues: (1) whether there was a valid search and
seizure of marijuana as against the appellant; (2) whether the evidence obtained through the
search should be admitted; and (3) whether there was enough evidence to sustain the
conviction of the accused.

In view of the disposition of this case, we deem that a discussion with respect to the
requirements on the chain of custody of dangerous drugs unnecessary. 55

We find for the accused.

II

The right to privacy is a fundamental right enshrined by implication in our Constitution. It has
many dimensions. One of its dimensions is its protection through the prohibition of
unreasonable searches and seizures in Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution:

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 determinedpersonally 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.

This provision requires that the court examine with care and diligence whether searches and
seizures are "reasonable." As a general rule, searches conducted with a warrant that meets
all the requirements of this provision are reasonable. This warrant requires the existence of
probable cause that can only be determined by a judge. The existence of probable cause
56

must be established by the judge after asking searching questions and answers. Probable
57

cause at this stage can only exist if there is an offense alleged to be committed. Also, the
warrant frames the searches done by the law enforcers. There must be a particular
description of the place and the things to be searched. 58

However, there are instances when searches are reasonable even when warrantless. In the 59

Rules of Court, searchesincidental to lawful arrests are allowed even without a separate
warrant. This court has taken into account the "uniqueness of circumstances involved
60

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." The known jurisprudential instances of reasonable
61

warrantless searches and seizures are:


1. Warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest. . . ;

2. Seizure of evidence in "plain view," . . . ;

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. Consentedwarrantless search;

5. Customs search;

6. Stop and frisk; and

7. Exigent and emergency circumstances. (Citations omitted)


62

III

One of these jurisprudential exceptionsto search warrants is "stop and frisk". "Stop and frisk"
searches are often confused with searches incidental to lawful arrests under the Rules of
Court. Searches incidental to a lawful arrest require that a crime be committed in flagrante
63

delicto, and the search conducted within the vicinity and withinreach by the person arrested
is done to ensure that there are no weapons, as well as to preserve the evidence. 64

On the other hand, "stop and frisk"searches are conducted to prevent the occurrence of a
crime. For instance, the search in Posadas v. Court of Appeals was similar "to a ‘stop and
65

frisk’ situation whose object is either to determine the identity of a suspicious individual or to
maintain the status quomomentarily while the police officer seeks to obtain more
information." This court stated that the "stop and frisk" search should be used "[w]hen
66

dealing with a rapidly unfolding and potentially criminal situation in the city streets where
unarguably there is no time to secure . . . a search warrant." 67

The search involved in this case was initially a "stop and frisk" search, but it did not comply
with all the requirements of reasonability required by the Constitution.

"Stop and frisk" searches (sometimes referred to as Terrysearches ) are necessary for law
68

enforcement. That is, law enforcers should be given the legal arsenal to prevent the
commission of offenses. However, this should be balanced with the need to protect the
privacy of citizens in accordance with Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution.

The balance lies in the concept of"suspiciousness" present in the situation where the police
officer finds himself or herself in. This may be undoubtedly based on the experience ofthe
police officer. Experienced police officers have personal experience dealing with criminals
and criminal behavior. Hence, they should have the ability to discern — based on facts that
they themselves observe — whether an individual is acting in a suspicious manner. Clearly, a
basic criterion would be that the police officer, with his or her personal knowledge, must
observe the facts leading to the suspicion of an illicit act.

In Manalili v. Court of Appeals, the police officers were initially informed about a place
69

frequented by people abusing drugs. When they arrived, one of the police officers saw a
70
man with "reddish eyes and [who was] walking in a swaying manner." The suspicion
71

increased when the man avoided the police officers. These observations led the police
72

officers to conclude that the man was high on drugs. These were sufficient facts observed
73

by the police officers "to stop[the] petitioner [and] investigate."


74

In People v. Solayao, police officers noticed a man who appeared drunk. This man was
75 76

also "wearing a camouflage uniform or a jungle suit." Upon seeing the police, the man
77

fled. His flight added to the suspicion. After stopping him, the police officers found an
78 79

unlicensed "homemade firearm" in his possession. This court ruled that "[u]nder the
80 81

circumstances, the government agents could not possibly have procured a search warrant
first." This was also a valid search.
82

In these cases, the police officers using their senses observed facts that led to the suspicion.
Seeing a man with reddish eyes and walking in a swaying manner, based on their
experience, is indicative of a person who uses dangerous and illicit drugs. A drunk civilian in
guerrilla wear is probably hiding something as well.

The case of Cogaed was different. He was simply a passenger carrying a bag and traveling
aboarda jeepney. There was nothing suspicious, moreover, criminal, about riding a jeepney
or carrying a bag. The assessment of suspicion was not made by the police officer but by the
jeepney driver. It was the driver who signalled to the police that Cogaed was "suspicious."

This is supported by the testimony of SPO1 Taracatac himself:

COURT:

Q So you don’t know what was the content while it was still being carried by him in the
passenger jeep?

WITNESS:

A Not yet, Your Honor. 83

SPO1 Taracatac likewise stated:

COURT:

Q If the driver did not make a gesture pointing to the accused, did you have reason to
believe that the accused were carrying marijuana?

WITNESS:

A No, Your Honor. 84

The jeepney driver had to point toCogaed. He would not have been identified by the police
officers otherwise.

It is the police officer who should observe facts that would lead to a reasonable degree of
suspicion of a person. The police officer should not adopt the suspicion initiated by another
person. This is necessary to justify that the person suspected be stopped and reasonably
searched. Anything less than this would be an infringementupon one’s basic right to security
85

of one’s person and effects.

IV

Normally, "stop and frisk" searches do not give the law enforcer an opportunity to confer with
a judge to determine probable cause. In Posadas v. Court of Appeals, one of the earliest
86

cases adopting the "stop and frisk" doctrine in Philippine jurisprudence, this court
approximatedthe suspicious circumstances as probable cause:

The probable causeis that when the petitioner acted suspiciously and attempted to flee with
the buri bag there was a probable cause that he was concealing something illegal in the bag
and it was the right and duty of the police officers to inspect the same. (Emphasis supplied)
87

For warrantless searches, probable cause was defined as "a reasonable ground of
suspicionsupported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to warrant a cautious
man to believe that the person accused is guilty of the offense with which he is charged." 88

Malacat v. Court of Appeals clarifies the requirement further. It does not have to be probable
89

cause,but it cannot be mere suspicion. It has to be a "genuine reason" to serve the


90 91

purposes of the "stop and frisk" exception: 92

Other notable points of Terryare that while probable cause is not required to conduct a "stop
and frisk," it nevertheless holds that mere suspicion or a hunch will not validate a "stop and
frisk." A genuine reason must exist, in light of the police officer’s experience and surrounding
conditions, to warrant the belief that the person detained has weapons concealed about
him. (Emphasis supplied, footnotes omitted)
93

In his dissent for Esquillo v. People, Justice Bersamin reminds us that police officers must
94

not rely on a single suspicious circumstance. There should be "presence of more than
95

oneseemingly innocent activity, which, taken together, warranted a reasonable inference of


criminal activity." The Constitution prohibits "unreasonable searches and
96

seizures." Certainly, reliance on only one suspicious circumstance or none at all will not
97

result in a reasonable search. 98

There was not a single suspicious circumstance in this case, and there was no
approximation for the probable cause requirement for warrantless arrest. The person
searched was noteven the person mentioned by the informant. The informant gave the name
of Marvin Buya, and the person searched was Victor Cogaed. Even if it was true that Cogaed
responded by saying that he was transporting the bag to Marvin Buya, this still remained only
as one circumstance. This should not have been enough reason to search Cogaed and his
belongings without a valid search warrant.

Police officers cannot justify unbridled searches and be shielded by this exception, unless
there is compliance with the "genuine reason" requirement and that the search serves the
purpose of protecting the public. As stated in Malacat:

[A] "stop-and-frisk" serves a two-fold interest: (1) the general interest of effective crime
prevention and detection, which underlies the recognition that a police officer may, under
appropriate circumstances and in an appropriate manner, approach a person for purposes of
investigating possible criminal behavior even without probable cause; and (2) the more
pressing interest of safety and self-preservationwhich permit the police officer to take steps
to assure himself that the person with whom he deals is not armed with a deadly weapon
that could unexpectedly and fatally be used against the police officer. (Emphasis supplied) 99

The "stop and frisk" searchwas originally limited to outer clothing and for the purpose of
detecting dangerous weapons. As in Manalili, jurisprudence also allows "stop and frisk"
100 101

for cases involving dangerous drugs.

The circumstances of thiscase are analogous to People v. Aruta. In that case, an informant
102

told the police that a certain "Aling Rosa" would be bringing in drugs from Baguio City by
bus. At the bus terminal, the police officers prepared themselves. The informant pointed at
103 104

a woman crossing the street and identified her as "Aling Rosa." The police apprehended
105 106

"Aling Rosa," and they alleged that she allowed them to look inside her bag. The bag 107

contained marijuana leaves. 108

In Aruta, this court found that the search and seizure conducted was illegal. There were no 109

suspicious circumstances that preceded Aruta’s arrest and the subsequent search and
seizure. It was only the informant that prompted the police to apprehend her. The
110 111

evidence obtained was not admissible because of the illegal search. Consequently, Aruta 112

was acquitted. 113

Arutais almost identical to this case, except that it was the jeepney driver, not the police’s
informant, who informed the police that Cogaed was "suspicious."

The facts in Arutaare also similar to the facts in People v. Aminnudin. Here, the National 114

Bureau ofInvestigation (NBI) acted upon a tip, naming Aminnudin as somebody possessing
drugs. The NBI waited for the vessel to arrive and accosted Aminnudin while he was
115

disembarking from a boat. Like in the case at bar, the NBI inspected Aminnudin’s bag and
116

found bundles of what turnedout to be marijuana leaves. The court declared that the
117

searchand seizure was illegal. Aminnudin was acquitted.


118 119

People v. Chua also presents almost the same circumstances. In this case, the police had
120

been receiving information that the accused was distributing drugs in "different karaoke bars
in Angeles City." One night, the police received information that thisdrug dealer would be
121

dealing drugs at the Thunder Inn Hotel so they conducted a stakeout. A car "arrived and 122

parked" at the hotel. The informant told the police that the man parked at the hotel was
123 124

dealing drugs. The man alighted from his car. He was carrying a juice box. The police
125 126 127

immediately apprehended him and discovered live ammunition and drugs in his person and
in the juice box he was holding. 128

Like in Aruta, this court did not find anything unusual or suspicious about Chua’s situation
when the police apprehended him and ruled that "[t]here was no valid‘stop-and-frisk’." 129

VI

None of the other exceptions to warrantless searches exist to allow the evidence to be
admissible.The facts of this case do not qualify as a search incidental to a lawful arrest.
Rule 126, Section 13 of the Rules of Court allows for searches incidental to a lawful arrest.
For there to be a lawful arrest, there should be either a warrant of arrest or a lawful
warrantless arrest as enumerated in Rule 113, Section 5 of the Rules of Court:

Section 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. – A peace officer or a private person may,
withouta 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 temporarily confined
while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one
confinement to another.

The apprehension of Cogaed was not effected with a warrant of arrest. None of the
instances enumerated in Rule 113, Section 5 of the Rules of Court were present whenthe
arrest was made. At the time of his apprehension, Cogaed has not committed, was not
committing, or was about to commit a crime. As in People v. Chua, for a warrantless arrest of
in flagrante delictoto be affected, "two elements must concur: (1) the person to bearrested
must execute anovert act indicating that he has just committed, is actually committing, or is
attempting to commit a crime; and (2) such overt act is done inthe presence or within the
view of the arresting officer." Both elements were missing when Cogaed was
130

arrested. There were no overt acts within plain view of the police officers that suggested
131

that Cogaed was in possession of drugs at that time.

Also, Cogaed was not an escapee prisoner that time; hence, he could not have qualified for
the last allowable warrantless arrest.

VII

There can be no valid waiver of Cogaed’s constitutional rights even if we assume that he did
not object when the police asked him to open his bags. As this court previously stated:

Appellant’s silence should not be lightly taken as consent to such search. 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. (Citations omitted)
132

Cogaed’s silence or lack of aggressive objection was a natural reaction to a coercive


environment brought about by the police officer’s excessive intrusion into his private space.
The prosecution and the police carry the burden of showing that the waiver of a constitutional
right is one which is knowing, intelligent, and free from any coercion. In all cases, such
waivers are not to be presumed.

The coercive atmosphere created by the presence of the police officer can be discerned
again from the testimony of SPO1 Taracatac during cross-examination:
ATTY. BINWAG:

Q Now, Mr. witness, you claimed that you only asked them what are the contents of their
bags, is it not?

WITNESS:

A Yes, ma’am.

Q And then without hesitation and voluntarily they just opened their bags, is it not?

A Yes, ma’am.

Q So that there was not any order from you for them to open the bags?

A None, ma’am.

Q Now, Mr. witness when you went near them and asked them what were the contents ofthe
bag, you have not seen any signs of hesitation or fright from them, is it not?

A It seems they were frightened, ma’am.

Q But you actually [claimed] that there was not any hesitation from them in opening the bags,
is it not?

A Yes, ma’am but when I went near them it seems that they were surprised. (Emphasis 133

supplied)

The state of mind of Cogaed was further clarified with SPO1 Taracatac’s responses to Judge
Florendo’s questions:

COURT:

....

Q Did you have eye contact with Cogaed?

A When I [sic] was alighting from the jeepney, Your Honor I observed that he was somewhat
frightened. He was a little apprehensive and when he was already stepping down and he
1âwphi1

put down the bag I asked him, "what’s that," and he answered, "I don’t know because Marvin
only asked me to carry." 134

For a valid waiver by the accused of his or her constitutional right, it is not sufficient that the
police officerintroduce himself or herself, or be known as a police officer. The police officer
1âwphi1

must also inform the person to be searched that any inaction on his orher part will amount to
a waiver of any of his or her objections that the circumstances do not amount to a
reasonable search. The police officer must communicate this clearly and in a language
known to the person who is about to waive his or her constitutional rights. There must be
anassurance given to the police officer that the accused fully understands his or her rights.
The fundamental nature of a person’s constitutional right to privacy requires no less.
VIII
The Constitution provides:

Any evidence obtained in violation of [the right against unreasonable searches and seizures]
shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding. 135

Otherwise known as the exclusionary rule or the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine, this
constitutional provision originated from Stonehill v. Diokno. This rule prohibits the issuance
136

of general warrants that encourage law enforcers to go on fishing expeditions. Evidence


obtained through unlawful seizures should be excluded as evidence because it is "the only
practical means of enforcing the constitutional injunction against unreasonable searches and
seizures." It ensures that the fundamental rights to one’s person, houses, papers, and
137

effects are not lightly infringed upon and are upheld.

Considering that the prosecution and conviction of Cogaed were founded on the search of
his bags, a pronouncement of the illegality of that search means that there is no evidence left
to convict Cogaed.

Drugs and its illegal traffic are a scourgeto our society. In the fight to eradicate this menace,
law enforcers should be equipped with the resources to be able to perform their duties better.
However, we cannot, in any way, compromise our society’s fundamental values enshrined in
our Constitution. Otherwise, we will be seen as slowlydismantling the very foundations of the
society that we seek to protect.

WHEREFORE, the decisions of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 28, San Fernando City, La
Union and of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 03394 are hereby REVERSEDand
SET ASIDE. For lack of evidence to establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, accused-
appellant VICTOR COGAED Y ROMANA is hereby ACQUITTED and ordered RELEASED
from confinement unless he is being heldfor some other legal grounds. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

MARVIC MARIO VICTOR F. LEONEN


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice
Chairperson

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.*


Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA


Associate Justice

ATT E STATI O N

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

C E RTI F I CATI O N

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

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO


Chief Justice

Footnotes

* Designated as Acting Member in view of the vacancy in the Third Division per
Special Order No. 1691 dated May 22, 2014.

1
CA rollo, pp. 39-58.

2
Id. at 60.

3
Id.

4
Rollo, p. 5; CA rollo, p. 10.

5
Id.

6
Id.

7
Id.

8
Id.

9
Id.

10
Id.

11
Rollo, p. 5; CA rollo, p. 13.

12
Rollo, pp. 5–6, 13.

13
Id. at 6, 13.

14
Id. at 6.

15
Id.
16
Id.

17
Id.

18
Id.

19
Id.

20
Id.

21
Id.

22
Id.

23
Rollo, p. 7; CA rollo, p. 12.

24
Rollo, p. 7.

25
Id.

26
Id.

27
Id.

28
Id.

29
Id.

30
Id.

31
Id.

32
Id. at 7–8.

33
Id. at 8.

34
Id. at 5.

35
Id. at 8.

36
Id.

37
Id.

38
Id.

39
Id.

40
Rollo, pp. 8 and 3–4.
41
Id. at 3–4.

42
Id. at 2–3.

43
Id. at 4.

44
Id.

45
CA rollo, pp. 9–15.

46
Id. at 15.

47
Id. at 14.

48
Id.

49
Id.

50
Id.

51
Id. at 39–58.

Rollo, pp. 2–22. Ninth Division, decision penned by Associate Justice Ramon R.
52

Garcia, with Associate Justices Rosmari D. Carandang and Samuel H. Gaerlan


concurring.

53
Id. at 12.

54
CA rollo, pp. 41–42.

55
Rep. Act No. 10640 (2014) amending sec. 21 of Rep. Act No. 9165.

56
CONST., art. III, sec. 2.

57
CONST., art. III, sec. 2.

58
CONST., art. III, sec. 2.

59
See Valmonte v. De Villa, 258 Phil. 838, 843 (1989) [Per J. Padilla, En Banc]: "Not
all searches and seizures are prohibited. Those which are reasonable are not
forbidden."

60
RULES OF COURT, Rule 126, 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 search
warrant.

61
Esquillo v. People, G.R. No. 182010, August 25, 2010, 629 SCRA 370, 383 [Per J.
Carpio- Morales, Third Division], citing People v. Nuevas, 545 Phil. 356, 370–371
(2007) [Per J. Tinga, Second Division].
62
People v. Aruta,351 Phil. 868, 879–880 (1998) [Per J. Romero, Third Division].

63
Esquillo v. People, G.R. No. 182010, August 25, 2010, 629 SCRA 370, 393–394
[Per J. CarpioMorales, Third Division] (Bersamin dissenting), citing Malacat v. Court
of Appeals,347 Phil. 462, 479–480 (1997) [Per J. Davide, Jr., En Banc].

See also Nolasco v. Judge Paño, 223 Phil. 363, 377–378 (1985) [Per J. Melencio-
64

Herrera, En Banc].

65
G.R. No. 89139, August 2, 1990, 188 SCRA 288 [Per J. Gancayco, First Division].

66
Id. at 294, citingthe Solicitor General’s arguments.

Manalili v. Court of Appeals, 345 Phil. 632, 636 (1997) [Per J. Panganiban, Third
67

Division].

The term was derived from the American case of Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968).
68

This case served as basis for allowing "stop and frisk" searches in this jurisdiction.

69
345 Phil. 632 (1997) [Per J. Panganiban, Third Division].

70
Id. at 638.

71
Id.

72
Id.

73
Id. at 647.

74
Id.

75
330 Phil. 811 (1996) [Per J. Romero, Second Division].

76
Id. at 815.

77
Id.

78
Id.

79
Id. at 818–819.

80
Id. at 815.

81
Id.

82
Id. at 819.

83
TSN, May 23, 2006, p. 6.

84
TSN, June 1, 2006, pp. 21–22.
Malacat v. Court of Appeals, 347 Phil. 462, 473–474 (1997) [Per J. Davide, Jr., En
85

Banc].

86
G.R. No. 89139, August 2, 1990, 188 SCRA 288 [Per J. Gancayco, First Division].

87
Id. at 293.

88
People v. Aruta, 351 Phil. 868, 880 (1998) [Per J. Romero, Third Division]
(Emphasis supplied).

89
347 Phil. 462 (1997) [Per J. Davide, Jr., En Banc].

90
Id. at 481.

91
Id.

92
Id.

93
Id.

Esquillo v. People, G.R. No. 182010, August 25, 2010, 629 SCRA 370 [Per J.
94

Carpio Morales, Third Division].

95
Id. See dissenting opinion of J. Bersamin, p. 397.

96
Id.

97
CONST., art. III, sec. 2.

See dissenting opinion of J. Bersamin in Esquillo v. People, G.R. No. 182010,


98

August 25, 2010, 629 SCRA 370, 397 [Per J. Carpio Morales, Third Division].

Malacat v. Court of Appeals,347 Phil. 462, 481-482 (1997) [Per J. Davide, En


99

Banc].

In J. Bersamin’s dissent inEsquillo v. People, G.R. No. 182010, August 25, 2010,
100

629 SCRA 370, 396, he opined:

[A] Terryprotective search is strictly limited towhat is necessary for the


discovery of weapons that may be used to harm the officer of the law or
others nearby. There must then be a genuine reason to believe that the
accused is armed and presently dangerous. Being an exception to the rule
requiring a search warrant, a Terryprotective search is strictly construed;
hence, it cannot go beyond what is necessary to determine if the suspect is
armed. Anything beyond is no longer valid and the fruits of the search will be
suppressed.

See also Terry v. Ohio,392 U.S. 1 (1968).

101
345 Phil. 632 (1997) [Per J. Panganiban, Third Division].
102
People v. Aruta, 351 Phil. 868 (1998) [Per J. Romero, Third Division].

103
Id. at 883.

104
Id.

105
Id. at 884–885.

106
Id. at 883.

107
Id.

108
Id.

109
Id. at 888.

110
Id. at 885.

111
Id.

112
Id. at 894.

113
Id. at 895.

114
246 Phil. 424 (1988) [Per J. Cruz, First Division].

115
Id. at 427.

116
Id.

117
Id.

118
Id. at 434.

119
Id. at 435.

120
444 Phil. 757 (2003) [Per J. Ynares-Santiago, First Division].

121
Id. at 763.

122
Id.

123
Id.

124
Id.

125
Id.

126
Id.
127
Id.

128
Id. at 763–764.

129
Id. at 774.

130
Id. at 770.

See also People v. Molina,404 Phil. 797, 812 (2001) [Per J. Ynares-Santiago, En
131

Banc] and People v. Aminnudin, 246 Phil. 424, 433–434 (1988) [Per J. Cruz, First
Division].

However, the application of these rules to crimes of illegal possession has


been subject of debate. In People v. Maspil, Jr.(G.R. No. 85177, August 20,
1990, 188 SCRA 751 [Per J. Gutierrez, Jr., Third Division]), we ruled that the
accused were in flagrante delictowhen the police searched their cargo at a
checkpoint, and the accused were found to be transporting prohibited drugs.
{761-762} The court delineated this from Aminnudinbecause in Aminnudin,the
police had an opportunity to secure a warrant. {433} Maspilalso relied on the
doctrine in People v. Tangliben(263 Phil. 106 (1990) [Per J. Gutierrez, Jr.,
Third Division]) wherein the search was considered incidental to an in
flagrante delictoarrest because of the "urgency" of the situation. {115}

Despite these doctrinal deviations, it is better if we follow the two-tiered test


to determine if an individual is in flagrante delicto, which calls for his or her
warrantless arrests.The general rule should be that there must be an overt
act and that such act is in plain view of the law enforcer.

132
People v. Encinada, 345 Phil. 301, 322 (1997) [Per J. Panganiban, Third Division].

133
TSN, June 1, 2006, pp. 18–19.

134
Id. at 21.

135
CONSTI., art. III, sec. 3 (b).

136
126 Phil. 738 (1967) [Per C.J. Concepcion, En Banc].

137
Id. at 750.

ECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 204589, November 19, 2014

RIZALDY SANCHEZ Y CAJILI, Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

DECISION

MENDOZA, J.:
This is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 seeking to reverse and set aside the July 25, 2012
Decision1and the November 20, 2012 Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA), in CA-G.R. CR No.
31742 filed by petitioner Rizaldy Sanchez y Cajili (Sanchez), affirming the April 21, 2005
Decision3 of the Regional Trial Court of Imus, Cavite, Branch 20 (RTC), which convicted him for
Violation of Section 11, Article II of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165. The dispositive portion of the RTC
decision reads: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is rendered convicting accused Rizaldy Sanchez y


Cajili of Violation of Section 11, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 and hereby sentences him to
suffer imprisonment from twelve (12) to fifteen (15) years and to pay a fine of Php300,000.00.

SO ORDERED.4
Sanchez was charged with violation of Section 11, Article II of R.A. No. 9165, otherwise known as
the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, in the Information, 5 dated March 20, 2003, filed
before the RTC and docketed as Criminal Case No. 10745-03. The accusatory portion of the
Information indicting Sanchez reads: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

That on or about the 19th day of March 2003, in the Municipality of Imus, Province of Cavite,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, not being
authorized by law, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his possession,
control and custody, 0.1017 gram of Methamphetamine Hydrochloride, commonly known as
“shabu,” a dangerous drug, in violation of the provisions of Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise known
as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
When arraigned, Sanchez pleaded not guilty to the offense charged. During the pre-trial, the
prosecution and the defense stipulated on the existence and due execution of the following pieces of
evidence: 1] the request for laboratory examination; 2] certification issued by the National Bureau
of Investigation (NBI); 3] Dangerous Drugs Report; and 4] transparent plastic sachet containing
small transparent plastic sachet of white crystalline substance.6 Thereafter, trial on the merits
ensued.

Version of the Prosecution

The prosecution’s version of the events as summarized by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG)
in its Comment7 on the petition is as follows: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Around 2:50 pm of March 19, 2003, acting on the information that Jacinta Marciano, aka “Intang,”
was selling drugs to tricycle drivers, SPO1 Elmer Amposta, together with CSU Edmundo Hernandez,
CSU Jose Tagle, Jr., and CSU Samuel Monzon, was dispatched to Barangay Alapan 1-B, Imus,
Cavite to conduct an operation.

While at the place, the group waited for a tricycle going to, and coming from, the house of Jacinta.
After a few minutes, they spotted a tricycle carrying Rizaldy Sanchez coming out of the house. The
group chased the tricycle. After catching up with it, they requested Rizaldy to alight. It was then
that they noticed Rizaldy holding a match box.

SPO1 Amposta asked Rizaldy if he could see the contents of the match box. Rizaldy agreed. While
examining it, SPO1 Amposta found a small transparent plastic sachet which contained a white
crystalline substance. Suspecting that the substance was a regulated drug, the group accosted
Rizaldy and the tricycle driver. The group brought the two to the police station.

On March 20, 2003, Salud M. Rosales, a forensic chemist from the NBI, submitted a Certification
which reads: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

This certifies that on the above date at 9:25 a.m. one PO1 Edgardo Nario of Imus, Mun. PS, PNP,
Imus, Cavite submitted to this office for laboratory examinations the following specimen/s to wit:

White crystalline substance contained in a small plastic sachet, marked “RSC,” placed in a plastic
pack, marked “Mar. 19, 2003.” (net wt. = 0.1017 gm)…

Examinations conducted on the above-mentioned specimen/s gave POSITIVE RESULTS for


METHAMPHETAMINE HYDROCHLORIDE.

Said specimen/s were allegedly confiscated from RIZALDY SANCHEZ y CAJILI and DARWIN REYES y
VILLARENTE.

Official report follows:


This certification was issued upon request for purpose of filing the case. 8
Version of the Defense

In the present petition,9 Sanchez denied the accusation against him and presented a different
version of the events that transpired in the afternoon of March 19, 2003, to substantiate his claim of
innocence: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

On 24 February 2005, the accused Rizaldy Sanchez took the witness stand. He testified that on the
date and time in question, he, together with a certain Darwin Reyes, were on their way home from
Brgy. Alapan, Imus, Cavite, where they transported a passenger, when their way was blocked by
four (4) armed men riding an owner-type jeepney. Without a word, the four men frisked him and
Darwin. He protested and asked what offense did they commit. The arresting officers told him that
they had just bought drugs from Alapan. He reasoned out that he merely transported a passenger
there but the policemen still accosted him and he was brought to the Imus Police Station where he
was further investigated. The police officer, however, let Darwin Reyes go. On cross-examination,
the accused admitted that it was the first time that he saw the police officers at the time he was
arrested. He also disclosed that he was previously charged with the same offense before Branch 90
of this court which was already dismissed, and that the police officers who testified in the said case
are not the same as those involved in this case.10
The Ruling of the RTC

On April 21, 2005, the RTC rendered its decision 11 finding that Sanchez was caught in flagrante
delicto , in actual possession of shabu. It stated that the police operatives had reasonable ground to
believe that Sanchez was in possession of the said dangerous drug and such suspicion was
confirmed when the match box Sanchez was carrying was found to contain shabu. The RTC lent
credence to the testimony of prosecution witness, SPO1 Elmer Amposta (SPO1 Amposta) because
there was no showing that he had been impelled by any ill motive to falsely testify against Sanchez.
The dispositive portion of which reads: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is rendered convicting accused Rizaldy Sanchez y


Cajili of Violation of Section 11, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 and hereby sentences him to
suffer imprisonment from twelve (12) to fifteen (15) years and to pay a fine of Php300,000.00.

SO ORDERED.12
Unfazed, Sanchez appealed the RTC judgment of conviction before the CA. He faulted the RTC for
giving undue weight on the testimony of SPO1 Amposta anchored merely on the presumption of
regularity in the performance of duty of the said arresting officer. He insisted that the prosecution
evidence was insufficient to establish his guilt.

The Ruling of the CA

The CA found no cogent reason to reverse or modify the findings of facts and conclusions reached
by the RTC and, thus, upheld the conviction of the accused for violation of Section 11, Article II of
R.A. No. 9165. According to the CA, there was probable cause for the police officers to believe that
Sanchez was then and there committing a crime considering that he was seen leaving the residence
of a notorious drug dealer where, according to a tip they received, illegal drug activities were being
perpetrated. It concluded that the confiscation by the police operative of the subject narcotic from
Sanchez was pursuant to a valid search. The CA then went on to write that non-compliance by the
police officers on the requirements of Section 21, paragraph 1, Article II of R.A. No. 9165,
particularly on the conduct of inventory and photograph of the seized drug, was not fatal to the
prosecution’s cause since its integrity and evidentiary value had been duly preserved. The fallo of
the decision reads: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 20, Imus, Cavite dated April 21, 2005
and Order dated October 1, 2007 in Criminal Case No. 10745-03 finding accused-appellant Rizaldy
C. Sanchez guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 11, Article II of Republic Act No.
9165, is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.13
Sanchez filed a motion for reconsideration of the July 25, 2012 Decision, but it was denied by the
CA in its November 20, 2012 Resolution.

Hence, this petition.


Bewailing his conviction, Sanchez filed the present petition for “certiorari” under Rule 65 of the
Rules of Court and anchored on the following
GROUNDS:

1. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, COMMITTED GRAVE
ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK AND/OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION WHEN
IT HELD THAT ACCUSED WAS CAUGHT IN FLAGRANTE DELICTO, HENCE, A SEARCH
WARRANT WAS NO LONGER NECESSARY; AND

2. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, WITH DUE RESPECT, COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE
OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK AND/OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION WHEN IT HELD
THAT NON-COMPLIANCE WITH SECTION 21, PARAGRAPH 1, ARTICLE II OF REPUBLIC ACT
NO. 9165 DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY RENDER THE SEIZED ITEMS INADMISSIBLE IN
EVIDENCE.14
Sanchez insists on his acquittal. He argues that the warrantless arrest and search on him were
invalid due to the absence of probable cause on the part of the police officers to effect an in
flagrante delictoarrest under Section 15, Rule 113 of the Rules of Court. He also contends that the
failure of the police operatives to comply with Section 21, paragraph 1, Article II of R.A. No. 9165
renders the seized item inadmissible in evidence and creates reasonable doubt on his guilt.

By way of Comment15 to the petition, the OSG prays for the affirmance of the challenged July 25,
2012 decision of the CA. The OSG submits that the warrantless search and seizure of the subject
narcotic were justified under the plain view doctrine where a police officer is not searching for
evidence against the accused, but nonetheless inadvertently comes across an incriminating object.

The Court’s Ruling

Preliminarily, the Court notes that this petition suffers from procedural infirmity. Under Section 1,
Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, the proper remedy to question the CA judgment, final order or
resolution, as in the present case, is a petition for review on certiorari, which would be but a
continuation of the appellate process over the original case. 16 By filing a special civil action
for certiorari under Rule 65, Sanchez therefore clearly availed himself of the wrong remedy.

Be that as it may, the Court, in several cases before, had treated a petition for certiorari as a
petition for review under Rule 45, in accordance with the liberal spirit and in the interest of
substantial justice, particularly (1) if the petition was filed within the reglementary period for filing a
petition for review; (2) errors of judgment are averred; and (3) there is sufficient reason to justify
the relaxation of the rules.17The case at bench satisfies all the above requisites and, hence, there is
ample justification to treat this petition for certiorari as a petition for review. Besides, it is axiomatic
that the nature of an action is determined by the allegations of the complaint or petition and the
character of the relief sought.18 Here, stripped of allegations of “grave abuse of discretion,” the
petition actually avers errors of judgment rather than of jurisdiction, which are the appropriate
subjects of a petition for review on certiorari.

Going now into the substance of the petition, the Court finds the same to be impressed with merit.

Although it is true that the trial court’s evaluation of the credibility of witnesses and their
testimonies is entitled to great respect and not to be disturbed on appeal, this rule, however, is not
a hard and fast one. It is a time-honored rule that the assessment of the trial court with regard to
the credibility of witnesses deserves the utmost respect, if not finality, for the reason that the trial
judge has the prerogative, denied to appellate judges, of observing the demeanor of the declarants
in the course of their testimonies. But an exception exists if there is a showing that the trial judge
overlooked, misunderstood, or misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight and substance that
would have affected the case.19 After going over the records of the case at bench, the Court finds
some facts of weight and substance that have been overlooked, misapprehended, or misapplied by
the trial court which cast doubt on the guilt of Sanchez.

In sustaining the conviction of Sanchez, the CA ratiocinated that this was a clear case of an in
flagrante delicto arrest under paragraph (a) Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure.
In this regard, the CA wrote: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

In the case at Bar, the acquisition of the regulated drug by the police officers qualifies as a valid
search following a lawful operation by the police officers. The law enforcers acted on the directive of
their superior based on an information that the owner of the residence where Sanchez came from
was a notorious drug dealer. As Sanchez was seen leaving the said residence, the law enforcers had
probable cause to stop Sanchez on the road since there was already a tip that illegal drug-related
activities were perpetrated in the place where he came from and seeing a match box held on one
hand, the police officers’ action were justified to inspect the same. The search therefore, is a sound
basis for the lawful seizure of the confiscated drug, arrest and conviction of Sanchez.

The case of People vs. Valdez (G.R. No. 127801, March 3, 1999) is instructive. In that case, the
police officers, by virtue of an information that a person having been previously described by the
informant, accosted Valdez and upon inspection of the bag he was carrying, the police officers found
the information given to them to be true as it yieldedmarijuana leaves hidden in the water jug and
lunch box inside Valdez’s bag. The Supreme Court in affirming the trial court’s ruling convicting
Valdez declared that:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

In this case, appellant was caught in flagrante since he was carryingmarijuana at the time of his
arrest. A crime was actually being committed by the appellant, thus, the search made upon his
personal effects falls squarely under paragraph (a) of the foregoing provisions of law, which allow a
warrantless search incident to lawful arrest. While it is true that SPO1 Mariano was not armed with a
search warrant when the search was conducted over the personal effects of appellant, nevertheless,
under the circumstances of the case, there was sufficient probable cause for said police officer to
believe that appellant was then and there committing a crime.
The cited case is akin to the circumstances in the instant appeal as in this case, Sanchez, coming
from the house of the identified drug dealer, previously tipped by a concerned citizen, walked to a
parked tricycle and sped towards the direction of Kawit, Cavite. The search that gave way to the
seizure of the match box containing shabu was a reasonable course of event that led to the valid
warrantless arrest since there was sufficient probable cause for chasing the tricycle he was in.
(Underscoring supplied)
A judicious examination of the evidence on record belies the findings and conclusions of the RTC
and the CA.

At the outset, it is observed that the CA confused the search incidental to a lawful arrest with the
stop-and-frisk principle, a well-recognized exception to the warrant requirement. Albeit it did not
expressly state so, the CA labored under the confused view that one and the other were indistinct
and identical. That confused view guided the CA to wrongly affirm the petitioner's conviction. The
Court must clear this confusion and correct the error.

It is necessary to remind the RTC and the CA that the Terry20 stop- and-frisk search is entirely
different from and should not be confused with the search incidental to a lawful arrest envisioned
under Section 13, Rule 126 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure. The distinctions have been made
clear in Malacat v. Court of Appeals21: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

In a search incidental to a lawful arrest, as the precedent arrest determines the validity of the
incidental search, the legality of the arrest is questioned in a large majority of these cases, e.g.,
whether an arrest was merely used as a pretext for conducting a search. In this instance, the law
requires that there first be a lawful arrest before a search can be made -- the process cannot be
reversed. At bottom, assuming a valid arrest, the arresting officer may search the person of the
arrestee and the area within which the latter may reach for a weapon or for evidence to destroy,
and seize any money or property found which was used in the commission of the crime, or the fruit
of the crime, or that which may be used as evidence, or which might furnish the arrestee with the
means of escaping or committing violence.

xxxx

We now proceed to the justification for and allowable scope of a “stop-and-frisk” as a "limited
protective search of outer clothing for weapons," as laid down in Terry, thus:

We merely hold today that where a police officer observes unusual conduct which leads him
reasonably to conclude in light of his experience that criminal activity may be afoot and that the
persons with whom he is dealing may be armed and presently dangerous, where in the course of
investigating this behavior he identifies himself as a policeman and makes reasonable inquiries, and
where nothing in the initial stages of the encounter serves to dispel his reasonable fear for his own
or others' safety, he is entitled for the protection of himself and others in the area to conduct a
carefully limited search of the outer clothing of such persons in an attempt to discover weapons
which might be used to assault him. Such a search is a reasonable search under the Fourth
Amendment x x x x.

Other notable points of Terry are that while probable cause is not required to conduct a “stop-and-
frisk,” it nevertheless holds that mere suspicion or a hunch will not validate a “stop-and-frisk.” A
genuine reason must exist, in light of the police officer's experience and surrounding conditions, to
warrant the belief that the person detained has weapons concealed about him. Finally, a “stop-and-
frisk” serves a two-fold interest: (1) the general interest of effective crime prevention and detection,
which underlies the recognition that a police officer may, under appropriate circumstances and in an
appropriate manner, approach a person for purposes of investigating possible criminal behavior
even without probable cause; and (2) the more pressing interest of safety and self-preservation
which permit the police officer to take steps to assure himself that the person with whom he deals is
not armed with a deadly weapon that could unexpectedly and fatally be used against the police
officer.22
In the case at bench, neither the in flagrante delicto arrest nor the stop- and-frisk principle was
applicable to justify the warrantless search and seizure made by the police operatives on Sanchez.
An assiduous scrutiny of the factual backdrop of this case shows that the search and seizure on
Sanchez was unlawful. A portion of SPO1 Amposta’s testimony on direct examination is revelatory,
viz:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Pros. Villarin:

Q: On March 19, 2003 at around 2:50 p.m., can you recall where were you?
A: Yes, Mam.

Q: Where were you?


A: We were in Brgy. Alapan 1-B, Imus, Cavite.

Q: What were you doing at Alapan 1-B, Imus, Cavite?


A: We were conducting an operation against illegal drugs.

Q: Who were with you?


A: CSU Edmundo Hernandez, CSU Jose Tagle, Jr. and CSU Samuel Monzon.

Q: Was the operation upon the instruction of your Superior?


A: Our superior gave us the information that there were tricycle drivers buying
drugs from “Intang” or Jacinta Marciano.

Q: What did you do after that?


A: We waited for a tricycle who will go to the house of Jacinta Marciano.

Q: After that what did you do?


A: A tricycle with a passenger went to the house of “Intang” and when the
passenger boarded the tricycle, we chase[d] them.

Q: After that, what happened next?


A: When we were able to catch the tricycle, the tricycle driver and the passenger
alighted from the tricycle.

Q: What did you do after they alighted from the tricycle?


A: I saw the passenger holding a match box.

Q: What did you do after you saw the passenger holding a match box?
A: I asked him if I can see the contents of the match box.

Q: Did he allow you?


A: Yes, mam. He handed to me voluntarily the match box.
Court:

Q: Who, the driver or the passenger?


A: The passenger, sir.

Pros. Villarin:

Q: After that what did you find out?


A: I opened the match box and I found out that it contained a small transparent
plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance.23
A search as an incident to a lawful arrest is sanctioned by the Rules of Court. 24 It bears emphasis
that the law requires that the search be incidental to a lawful arrest. Therefore it is beyond cavil
that a lawful arrest must precede the search of a person and his belongings; the process cannot be
reversed.25

Here, the search preceded the arrest of Sanchez. There was no arrest prior to the conduct of the
search. Arrest is defined under Section 1, Rule 113 of the Rules of Court as the taking of a person
into custody that he may be bound to answer for the commission of an offense. Under Section 2, of
the same rule, an arrest is effected by an actual restraint of the person to be arrested or by his
voluntary submission to the custody of the person making the arrest. 26

Even casting aside the petitioner’s version and basing the resolution of this case on the general
thrust of the prosecution evidence, no arrest was effected by the police operatives upon the person
of Sanchez before conducting the search on him. It appears from the above quoted testimony of
SPO1 Amposta that after they caught up with the tricycle, its driver and the passenger, Sanchez,
alighted from it; that he noticed Sanchez holding a match box; and that he requested Sanchez if he
could see the contentsof the match box, to which the petitioner acceded and handed it over to him.
The arrest of Sanchez was made only after the discovery by SPO1 Amposta of the shabu inside the
match box. Evidently, what happened in this case was that a search was first undertaken and then
later an arrest was effected based on the evidence produced by the search.

Even granting arguendo that Sanchez was arrested before the search, still the warrantless search
and seizure must be struck down as illegal because the warrantless arrest was unlawful. Section 5,
Rule 113 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure lays down the basic rules on lawful warrantless arrests,
either by a peace officer or a private person, as follows:
chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

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 actuallly
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.
xxx
For warrantless arrest under paragraph (a) of Section 5 (in flagrante delicto arrest) 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. 27 On the other hand,
paragraph (b) of Section 5 (arrest effected in hot pursuit) requires for its application that at the
time of the arrest, an offense has in fact just been committed and the arresting officer has personal
knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be apprehended has committed it. These elements
would be lacking in the case at bench.
The evidence on record reveals that no overt physical act could be properly attributed to Sanchez as
to rouse suspicion in the minds of the police operatives that he had just committed, was
committing, or was about to commit a crime. Sanchez was merely seen by the police operatives
leaving the residence of a known drug peddler, and boarding a tricycle that proceeded towards the
direction of Kawit, Cavite. Such acts cannot in any way be considered criminal acts. In fact, even if
Sanchez had exhibited unusual or strange acts, or at the very least appeared suspicious, the same
would not have been considered overt acts in order for the police officers to effect a lawful
warrantless arrest under paragraph (a) of Section 5, Rule 113.

It has not been established either that the rigorous conditions set forth in paragraph (b) of Section
5 have been complied with in this warrantless arrest. When the police officers chased the tricycle,
they had no personal knowledge to believe that Sanchez bought shabu from the notorious drug
dealer and actually possessed the illegal drug when he boarded the tricycle. Probable cause has
been held to signify 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 The police officers in this case had no inkling whatsoever as to what
Sanchez did inside the house of the known drug dealer. Besides, nowhere in the prosecution
evidence does it show that the drug dealer was conducting her nefarious drug activities inside her
house so as to warrant the police officers to draw a reasonable suspicion that Sanchez must have
gotten shabu from her and possessed the illegal drug when he came out of the house. In other
words, there was no overt manifestation on the part of Sanchez that he had just engaged in, was
actually engaging in or was attempting to engage in the criminal activity of illegal possession of
shabu. Verily, probable cause in this case was more imagined than real.

In the same vein, there could be no valid “stop-and-frisk” search in the case at bench. Elucidating
on what constitutes “stop-and-frisk” operation and how it is to be carried out, the Court in People v.
Chua29wrote: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

A stop and frisk was defined as the act of a police officer to stop a citizen on the street, interrogate
him, and pat him for weapon(s) or contraband. The police officer should properly introduce himself
and make initial inquiries, approach and restrain a person who manifests unusual and suspicious
conduct, in order to check the latter’s outer clothing for possibly concealed weapons. The
apprehending police officer must have a genuine reason, in accordance with the police officer’s
experience and the surrounding conditions, to warrant the belief that the person to be held has
weapons (or contraband) concealed about him. It should therefore be emphasized that a search and
seizure should precede the arrest for this principle to apply. 30
In this jurisdiction, what may be regarded as a genuine reason or a reasonable suspicion justifying a
Terry stop-and-frisk search had been sufficiently illustrated in two cases. In Manalili v. Court of
Appeals and People,31 a policeman chanced upon Manalili in front of the cemetery who appeared to
be “high” on drugs as he was observed to have reddish eyes and to be walking in a swaying
manner. Moreover, he appeared to be trying to avoid the policemen and when approached and
asked what he was holding in his hands, he tried to resist. When he showed his wallet, it contained
marijuana. The Court held that the policeman had sufficient reason to accost Manalili to determine if
he was actually “high” on drugs due to his suspicious actuations, coupled with the fact that the area
was a haven for drug addicts.

In People v. Solayao,32 the Court also found justifiable reason for the police to stop and frisk the
accused after considering the following circumstances: the drunken actuations of the accused and
his companions; the fact that his companions fled when they saw the policemen; and the fact that
the peace officers were precisely on an intelligence mission to verify reports that armed persons
where roaming the vicinity. Seemingly, the common thread of these examples is the presence of
more than one seemingly innocent activity, which, taken together, warranted a reasonable inference
of criminal activity. It was not so in the case at bench.

The Court does not find the totality of the circumstances described by SPO1 Amposta as sufficient to
incite a reasonable suspicion that would justify a stop-and-frisk search on Sanchez. Coming out
from the house of a drug pusher and boarding a tricycle, without more, were innocuous movements,
and by themselves alone could not give rise in the mind of an experienced and prudent police officer
of any belief that he had shabu in his possession, or that he was probably committing a crime in the
presence of the officer. There was even no allegation that Sanchez left the house of the drug dealer
in haste or that he acted in any other suspicious manner. There was no showing either that he tried
to evade or outmaneuver his pursuers or that he attempted to flee when the police officers
approached him. Truly, his acts and the surrounding circumstances could not have engendered any
reasonable suspicion on the part of the police officers that a criminal activity had taken place or was
afoot.

In the recent case of People v. Cogaed,33 where not a single suspicious circumstance preceded the
search on the accused, the Court ruled that the questioned act of the police officer did not constitute
a valid stop-and-frisk operation. Cogaed was a mere passenger carrying a blue bag and a sack and
travelling aboard a jeepney. He did not exhibit any unusual or suspicious behavior sufficient to
justify the law enforcer in believing that he was engaged in a criminal activity. Worse, the
assessment of suspicion was made not by the police officer but by the jeepney driver, who signaled
to the police officer that Cogaed was “suspicious.” In view of the illegality of the search and seizure,
the 12,337.6 grams of marijuana confiscated from the accused was held as inadmissible.

The OSG characterizes the seizure of the subject shabu from Sanchez as seizure of evidence in plain
view. The Court disagrees.

Under the plain view doctrine, objects falling in the plain view of an officer who has a right to be in
the position to have that view are subject to seizure and may be presented as evidence. 34 The plain
view doctrine applies when the following requisites concur: (1) the law enforcement officer in search
of the evidence has a prior justification for an intrusion or is in a position from which he can view a
particular area; (2) the discovery of the evidence in plain view is inadvertent; and (3) it is
immediately apparent to the officer that the item he observes may be evidence of a crime,
contraband or otherwise subject to seizure.35

Measured against the foregoing standards, it is readily apparent that the seizure of the subject
shabu does not fall within the plain view exception. First, there was no valid intrusion. As already
discussed, Sanchez was illegally arrested. Second, subject shabu was not inadvertently discovered,
and third, it was not plainly exposed to sight. Here, the subject shabu was allegedly inside a match
box being then held by Sanchez and was not readily apparent or transparent to the police officers.
In fact, SPO1 Amposta had to demand from Sanchez the possession of the match box in order for
him to open it and examine its content. The shabu was not in plain view and its seizure without the
requisite search warrant is in violation of the law and the Constitution.

In the light of the foregoing, there being no lawful warrantless arrest and warrantless search and
seizure, the shabu purportedly seized from Sanchez is 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, the accused must be acquitted and exonerated from the criminal charge of violation of
Section 11, Article II of R.A. No. 9165.

Furthermore, the Court entertains doubts whether the shabu allegedly seized from Sanchez was the
very same item presented during the trial of this case. The Court notes that there were several
lapses in the law enforcers’ handling of the seized item which, when taken collectively, render the
standards of chain of custody seriously breached.

Chain of custody means the duly recorded authorized movements and custody of seized drugs or
controlled chemicals from the time of seizure/confiscation to receipt in the forensic laboratory to
safekeeping to presentation in court for destruction.36 The function of the chain of custody
requirement is to ensure that the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items are preserved,
so much so that unnecessary doubts as to the identity of the evidence are removed. 37 Thus, the
chain of custody requirement has a two-fold purpose: (1) the preservation of the integrity and
evidentiary value of the seized items, and (2) the removal of unnecessary doubts as to the identity
of the evidence.38

In this case, the prosecution failed to account for each and every link in the chain of custody of the
shabu, from the moment it was allegedly confiscated up to the time it was presented before the
court as proof of the corpus delicti. The testimony of SPO1 Amposta was limited to the fact that he
placed the marking “RSC” on the seized drug; and that he and the three other police officers
brought Sanchez and the subject shabu to their station and turned them over to their investigator.
The prosecution evidence did not disclose where the marking of the confiscated shabu took place
and who witnessed it. The evidence does not show who was in possession of the seized shabu from
the crime scene to the police station. A reading of the Certification, dated March 20, 2003, issued by
Forensic Chemist Salud Rosales shows that a certain PO1 Edgardo Nario submitted the specimen to
the NBI for laboratory examination, but this piece of evidence does not establish the identity of the
police investigator to whom SPO1 Amposta and his group turned over the seized shabu. The
identities of the person who received the specimen at the NBI laboratory and the person who had
the custody and safekeeping of the seized marijuana after it was chemically analyzed pending its
presentation in court were also not disclosed.

Given the procedural lapses pointed out above, a serious uncertainty hangs over the identity of the
seized shabu that the prosecution introduced in evidence. The prosecution failed to establish an
unbroken chain of custody, resulting in rendering the seizure and confiscation of the shabu open to
doubt and suspicion. Hence, the incriminatory evidence cannot pass judicial scrutiny.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed July 25, 2012 Decision and the November 20,
2012 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 31742 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
Petitioner Rizaldy Sanchez y Cajili is ACQUITTED on reasonable doubt. Accordingly, the Court
orders the immediate release of the petitioner, unless the latter is being lawfully held for another
cause; and to inform the Court of the date of his release, or reason for his continued confinement,
within ten (10) days from receipt of notice.

SO ORDERED.

Carpio, (Chairperson), Brion, Del Castillo, and Leonen, JJ., concur.

Endnotes:

1
Penned by Associate Justice Danton Q. Bueser with Associate Justice Amelita G. Tolentino and
Associate Justice Ramon R. Garcia, concurring; rollo pp. 111-121.

2
Id. at 141-142.

3
Penned by Judge Rommel O. Baybay; id. at 44-46.

4
Id. at 43

5
Id. at 42-43.

6
Id. at 44-45.

7
Id. at 184-193.

8
Id. at 184-185.

9
Id. at 12-39.

10
Id. at 17.

11
Supra note 3.

12
Id. at 46.

13
Id at 120-121.

14
Id. at 17.

15
Id. at 184-192.

16
Heirs of Pagobo v. Court of Appeals, 345 Phil. 1119, 1133 (1997).

Oaminal v. Castillo, 459 Phil. 542, 556 (2003); Tagle v. Equitable PCI Bank, 575 Phil. 384,
17

4032008).

18
Ten Forty Realty and Development Corporation v. Cruz, 457 Phil. 603, 613 (2003).
People v. Alvarado, 429 Phil. 208, 219 (2002).
19

Terry v. Ohio, 392 US 1, 88 S. Ct. 1868, 20 L. Ed. 889.


20

21
347 Phil. 462 (1997).

22
Id. at 480-482.

23
TSN dated August 4, 2003, pp. 3-6.

24
Rule 126, Sec. 13, provides:

SEC. 13. Search incidental to a 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.

People v. Nuevas, 545 Phil. 356, 371 (2007).


25

People v. Milado, 462 Phil. 411, 416 ( 2003).


26

Zalameda v. People, 614 Phil. 710, 729 ( 2009).


27

People v. Villareal, G.R. No. 201363, March 18, 2013, 693 SCRA 549, 560-561.
28

29
444 Phil. 757 (2003).

30
Id. at 773-774.

31
345 Phil. 632 (1997).

32
330 Phil. 811 (1996).

33
G.R. No. 200334, July 30, 2014.

People v. Go, 457 Phil. 885, 928 (2003).


34

Judge Abelita III v. P/Supt. Doria, 612 Phil. 1127, 1135-1136.


35

People v. Guzon, G.R. No. 199901, October 9, 2013, 707 SCRA 384, 396.
36

People v. Langcua, G.R. No. 190343, February 6, 2013, 690 SCRA 123, 139.
37

People v. Morate, G.R. No. 201156, January 29, 2014.


38

DIVISION

[ GR No. 212340, Aug 17, 2016 ]

PEOPLE v. GERRJAN MANAGO Y ACUT +

RESOLUTION

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
Before the Court is an ordinary appeal[1] filed by accused-appellant
Gerrjan Manago y Acut (Manago) assailing the Decision[2] dated May
20, 2013 and the Resolution[3] dated November 6, 2013 of the Court of
Appeals (CA) in C.A.-G.R. CEB-C.R. No. 01342, which affirmed the
Decision[4] dated March 23, 2009 of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu
City, Branch 58 (RTC), in Criminal Case No. CBU-79707, finding
Manago guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 11,
Article II[5] of Republic Act No. (RA) 9165,[6] otherwise known as the
"Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002."

The Facts

On April 10, 2007, an Information[7] was filed before the RTC,


charging Manago of Possession of Dangerous Drugs, defined and
penalized under Section 11, Article II of RA 9165, the accusatory
portion of which reads:

That on or about the 16th day of March, 2007, at about 11:50 in the
evening, in the City of Cebu, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction
of this Honorable Court, the said accused, with deliberate intent, and
without authority of law, did then and there have in his possession
and under his control one (1) heat-sealed transparent plastic packet of
white crystalline substance weighing 5.85 grams
containing Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride [sic], a dangerous
drug, without being authorized by law.

CONTRARY TO LAW.[8]
According to the prosecution, at around 9:30 in the evening of March
15, 2007, PO3 Antonio Din (PO3 Din) of the Philippine National
Police (PNP) Mobile Patrol Group was waiting to get a haircut at
Jonas Borces Beauty Parlor when two (2) persons entered and
declared a hold-up. PO3 Din identified himself as a police officer and
exchanged gun shots with the two suspects. After the shootout, one of
the suspects boarded a motorcycle, while the other boarded a red
Toyota Corolla. The plate numbers of the vehicles were noted by PO3
Din.[9]

After the incident, PO3 Din received word from Barangay Tanod
Florentine Cano (Cano),[10] that the robbery suspects were last seen in
Barangay Del Rio Pit-os. Thus, S/Insp. George Ylanan (S/Insp.
Ylanan) conducted an investigation in the said barangay, and
discovered that before the robbery incident, Manago told Cano that
three persons - namely, Rico Lumampas, Arvin Cadastra, and Allan
Sordiano - are his employees in his roasted chicken business, and
they were to stay in Manago's house. Further, upon verification of the
getaway vehicles with the Land Transportation Office, the police
officers found out that the motorcycle was registered in Manago's
name, while the red Toyota Corolla was registered in the name pf
Zest-O Corporation, where Manage worked as a District Sales
Manager.[11]

With all the foregoing information at hand, the police officers,


comprised of a team including PO3 Din and S/Insp. Ylanan,
conducted a "hot pursuit" operation one (1) day after the robbery
incident, or on March 16, 2007, by setting up a checkpoint in Sitio
Panagdait. At around 9:30 in the evening of even date, the red Toyota
Corolla, then being driven by Manago, passed through the
checkpoint, prompting the police officers to stop the vehicle. The
police officers then ordered Manago to disembark, and thereafter,
conducted a thorough search of the vehicle. As the search produced
no contraband, the police officers then frisked Manago, resulting in
the discovery of one (1) plastic sachet containing a white crystalline
substance suspected to be methamphetamine
hydrochloride or shabu. The police officers seized the plastic pack,
arrested Manago, informed him of his constitutional rights, and
brought him and the plastic pack to their headquarters. Upon
reaching the headquarters, S/Insp. Ylanan turned over the seized
plastic pack to PO3 Joel Taboada, who in turn, prepared a request for
a laboratory examination of the same. SPO1 Felix Gabijan then
delivered the said sachet and request to Forensic Chemist Jude Daniel
Mendoza of the PNP Crime Laboratory, who, after conducting an
examination, confirmed that the sachet contained methamphetamine
hydrochloride or shabu.[12]

In his defense, Manago denied possessing the plastic pack recovered


by the police officers. He claimed that at around 11:50 in the evening
of March 16, 2007, he was about to start his vehicle and was on his
way home from the office when a pick-up truck stopped in front of his
car. Three (3) police officers armed with long firearms disembarked
from the said track. One of the officers knocked on the door of
Manago's vehicle and asked for his driver's license, to which Manago
complied. When the same officer saw Manago's name on the license,
the former uttered "mao na ni (this is him)." Manago was then
ordered to sit at the back of his car as the vehicle was driven by one of
the police officers directly to the Cebu City Police Station. After
arriving at the police station, Manago was interrogated about who the
robbers were and to divulge their whereabouts so that no criminal
charges would be filed against him. Manago claimed that he
requested for a phone call with his lawyer, as well as a copy of the
warrant for his arrest, but both requests went unheeded. After he was
dispossessed of his laptop, wallet, and two (2) mobile phones, he was
then photographed and placed in a detention cell. Thereafter, he was
brought to the Cebu City Prosecutor's Office where he was charged
with, among others, illegal possession of shabu.[13]

Prior to his arraignment, Manago filed a Motion to Dismiss for Lack


of Probable Cause and/or Motion for the Suppression of Evidence,
[14]
contending, inter alia, that there is neither probable cause
nor prima facie Evidence to conduct an arrest and search on him; as
such, the item seized torn him, i.e., the plastic sachet
containing shabu, is inadmissible in evidence pursuant to the fruit of
the poisonous tree doctrine.[15] However, in kn Order[16] dated May 31,
2007, the RTC denied the said motion. The RTC held that while (a)
the police officers, through PO3 Din, had no personal knowledge of
Manago's involvement in the robbery as they had to conduct in
investigation to identify him as the registered owner of the motorcycle
and (b) there was no in flagrante delicto arrest as Manago was merely
driving and gave no indication that he was committing an offense, the
RTC nevertheless held that there was a valid warrantless search of a
moving vehicle, considering that PO3 Din had probable cause to
believe that Manago was part of the robbery, because the latter was
driving the getaway vehicle used in the March 15, 2007 robbery
incident.[17]

On July 12, 2007, Manago was arraigned with the assistance of


counsel and pleaded not guilty to the charge against him.[18]

During the course of the trial, the contents of the plastic sachet were
re-examined by the National Bureau of Investigation, revealing that
out of the 5.7158 grams of white crystalline substance contained in
the sachet, only 0.3852 grams is methamphetamine hydrochloride,
while the rest is potassium aluminum sulphate or tawas, which is not
a dangerous drug substance. Thus, Manago applied for and was
granted bail.[19]

The RTC Ruling

In a Decision[20] dated March 23, 2009, the RTC found Manago guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of possession of 0.3852 grams of shabuand
accordingly, sentenced him to suffer the penalty of imprisonment for
a period of twelve (12) years and one (1) day, as minimum, to fifteen
(15) years, as maximum, and to pay a fine in the amount of
P300,000.00.[21]

Echoing its earlier findings in its May 31, 2007 Order, the RTC found
that the police officers conducted a valid warrantless search of a
moving vehicle, considering that PO3 Din positively identified the red
Toyota Corolla, then being driven by Manago, as the getaway vehicle
in the March 15, 2007 robbery incident. Thus, the item found in the
search, i.e., the plastic sachet containing shabu obtained from
Manago, is admissible in evidence and is enough to sustain a
conviction against him for violation of Section 11, Article II of RA
9165.[22]

Manago moved for reconsideration[23] and applied for bail pending


appeal, which were, however, both denied in an Omnibus
Order[24]dated May 12, 2009. Aggrieved, Manago appealed his
conviction before the CA.[25]

The CA Proceedings

Upon Manago's motion to post bail, the CA rendered a


Resolution[26] dated August 13, 2010, allowing Manago to post bail in
the amount of P200,000.00, noting that the quantity of
the shabu seized from him was only 0.3852 grams, thus bailable, and
that the Office of the Solicitor General did not oppose Manago's
motion.[27]
In a Decision[28] dated May 20, 2013, the CA affirmed Manago
„ conviction in toto. It held that the police officers conducted a valid
hot pursuit operation against Manago, considering that PO3 Din
personally identified him as the one driving the red Toyota Corolla
vehicle used in the March 15, 2007 robbery incident. As such, the CA
concluded that the warrantless arrest conducted against Manago was
valid, and consequently, the plastic sachet seized from him
containing shabu is admissible in evidence as it was done incidental
to a lawful arrest.[29]

Undaunted, Manago moved for reconsideration,[30] which was denied


in a Resolution[31] dated November 6, 2013; hence, the instant appeal.

The Issue Before the Court

The issue for the Court's resolution is whether or not Manage's


conviction for violation of Section 11, Article II of RA 9165 should be
upheld.

The Court's Ruling

The appeal is meritorious.

Section 2, Article III[32] of the 1987 Constitution mandates that a


search and seizure must be carried out through or on the
strength of a judicial warrant predicated upon the existence
of probable cause, absent which such search and seizure
becomes "unreasonable" within the meaning of the said
constitutional provision. To protect the people from unreasonable
searches and seizures, Section 3 (2), Article III[33] of the 1987
Constitution provides that evidence obtained and confiscated on the
occasion of such unreasonable searches and seizures are deemed
tainted and should be excluded for being the proverbial fruit of a
poisonous tree. In other words, evidence obtained from
unreasonable searches and seizures shall be inadmissible in
evidence for any purpose in any proceeding.[34]
One of the recognized exceptions to the need of a warrant before a
search may be effected is a search incidental to a lawful arrest. In
this instance, the law requires that there first be a lawful
arrest before a search can be made — the process cannot be
reversed.[35]

A lawful arrest may be effected with or without a warrant. With


respect to the latter, the parameters of Section 5, Rule 113 of the
Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure should - as a general rule - be
complied with:

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 of Rule 112.
Under the foregoing provision, there are three (3) instances when
warrantless arrests may be lawfully effected. These are: (a) an arrest
of a suspect in flagrante delicto; (b) an arrest of a suspect
where, based on personal knowledge of the arresting
officer, there isprobable cause that said suspect was the
perpetrator of a crime which had just been committed; and
(c) an arrest of a prisoner who has escaped from custody serving final
judgment or temporarily confined during the pendency of his case or
has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to
another.[36]
In warrantless arrests made pursuant to Section 5 (b), it is essential
that the element of personal knowledge must be coupled
with the element of immediacy; otherwise, the arrest may be
nullified, and resultantly, the items yielded through the search
incidental thereto will be rendered inadmissible in consonance with
the exclusionary rule of the 1987 Constitution. In Pestilos v.
Generoso,[37] the Court explained the requirement of immediacy as
follows:

Based on these discussions, it appears that the Court's appreciation of


the elements that "the offense has just been committed" and
"personal knowledge of facts and circumstances that the person to be
arrested; committed it" depended on the particular circumstances of
the case.

However, we note that the element of "personal knowledge of facts or


circumstance" under Section 5 (b), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of
Criminal Procedure requires clarification.

The phrase covers facts or, in the alternative, circumstances.


According to the Black's Law Dictionary, "circumstances are
attendant or accompanying facts, events or conditions."
Circumstances may pertain to events or actions within the actual
perception, personal evaluation or observation of the police officer at
the scene of the crime. Thus, even though the police officer has not
seen someone actually fleeing, he could still make a warrantless arrest
if, based on his personal evaluation of the circumstances at the scene
of the crime, he could determine the existence of probable cause that
the person sought to be arrested has committed the crime. However,
the determination of probable cause and the gathering of facts or
circumstances should be made immediately after the commission of
the crime in order to comply with the element of immediacy.

In other words, the clincher in the element of "personal


knowledge of facts or circumstances" is the required
element of immediacy within which these facts or
circumstances should be gathered. This required time
element acts as a safeguard to ensure that the police officers
have gathered the facts or perceived the circumstances
within a very limited time frame. This guarantees that the
police officers would have no time to base their probable
cause finding on facts or circumstances obtained after an
exhaustive investigation.

The reason for the element of the immediacy is this - as the time gap
from the commission of the crime to the arrest widens, the pieces of
information gathered are prone to become contaminated and
subjected to external factors, interpretations and hearsay. On the
other hand, with the element of immediacy imposed under
Section 5 (b), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure, the police officer's determination of probable
cause would necessarily be limited to raw or
uncontaminated facts or circumstances, gathered as they
were within a very limited period of time. The same provision
adds another safeguard with the requirement of probable cause as the
standard for evaluating these facts of circumstances before the police
officer could effect a valid warrantless arrest.[38] (Emphases and
underscoring supplied)
In this case, records reveal that at around 9:30 in the evening of
March 15, 2007, PO3 Din personally witnessed a robbery incident
while he was waiting for his turn to have a haircut at Jonas Borces
Beauty Parlor. After his brief shootout with the armed robbers, the
latter fled using a motorcycle and a red Toyota Corolla. Through an
investigation and verification made by the police officers headed by
PO3 Din and S/Insp. Ylanan, they were able to: (a) find out that the
armed robbers were staying in Barangay Del Rio Pit-os; and (b) trace
the getaway vehicles to Manago. The next day, or on March 16, 2007,
the police officers set up a checkpoint in Sitio Panagdait where, at
around 9:30 in the evening, the red Toyota Corolla being driven by
Manago passed by and was intercepted by the police officers. The
police officers then ordered Manago to disembark the car, and from
there, proceeded to search the vehicle and the body of Manago, which
search yielded the plastic sachet containing shabu. Thereupon, they
effected Manago's arrest.

The foregoing circumstances show that while the element of personal


knowledge under Section 5 (b) above was present - given that PO3
Din actually saw the March 15, 2007 robbery incident and even
engaged the armed robbers in a shootout - the required element of
immediacy was not met. This is because, at the time the police officers
effected the warrantless arrest upon Manago's person, investigation
and verification proceedings were already conducted, which
consequently yielded sufficient information on the suspects of the
March 15, 2007 robbery incident. As the Court sees it, the
information the police officers had gathered therefrom would have
been enough for them to secure the necessary warrants against the
robbery suspects. However, they opted to conduct a "hot pursuit"
operation which - considering the lack of immediacy - unfortunately
failed to meet the legal requirements therefor. Thus, there being no
valid warrantless arrest under the "hot pursuit" doctrine, the CA erred
in ruling that Manago was lawfully arrested.

In view of the finding that there was no lawful arrest in this case, the
CA likewise erred in ruling that the incidental search on Manago's
vehicle and body was valid. In fact, the said search was made
even before he was arrested and thus, violated the cardinal rule on
searches incidental to lawful arrests that there first be a lawful
arrest before a search can be made.

For another, the Court similarly finds the RTC's ruling that the police
officers conducted a lawful warrantless search of a moving vehicle on
Manago's red Toyota Corolla untenable.

In Caballes v. People,[39] the Court explained the concept of


warrantless searches on moving vehicles:

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. Thus, the rules governing search and seizure have
over the years been steadily liberalized whenever a moving
vehicle is the object of the search on the basis of
practicality. This is so considering that before a warrant could be
obtained, the place, things and persons to be searched must be
described to the satisfaction of the issuing judge - a requirement
which borders on the impossible in the case of smuggling effected by
the use of a moving vehicle that can transport contraband from one
place to another with impunity. We might add that a warrantless
search of a moving vehicle is justified on the ground that it
is not practicable to secure a warrant because the vehicle
can be quickly moved out of the locality or jurisdiction in
which the warrant must be sought. Searches without warrant of
automobiles is also allowed for the purpose of preventing violations of
smuggling or immigration laws, provided such searches are made at
borders or "constructive borders" like checkpoints near the boundary
lines of the State.[40] (Emphases and underscoring supplied)
A variant of searching moving vehicles without a warrant may entail
the setup of military or police checkpoints - as in this case -
which, based on jurisprudence, are not illegal per se for as long
as its necessity is justified by the exigencies of public order
and conducted in a way least intrusive to motorists.[41] Case
law further states that routine inspections in checkpoints are not
regarded as violative of an individual's right against unreasonable
searches, and thus, permissible, if limited to the following: (a) where
the officer merely draws aside the curtain of a vacant vehicle which is
parked on the public fair grounds; (b) simply looks into a vehicle; (c)
flashes a light therein without opening the car's doors; (d) where the
occupants are not subjected to a physical or body search; (e) where
the inspection of the Vehicles is limited to a visual search or visual
inspection; and (e) where the routine check is conducted in a fixed
area.[42]

It is well to clarify, however, that routine inspections do not give


police officers carte blanche discretion to conduct warrantless
searches in the absence of probable cause. When a vehicle is stopped
and subjected to an extensive search - as opposed to a mere routine
inspection - such a warrantless search has been held to be valid only
as long as the officers conducting the search have reasonable or
probable cause to believe before the search that they will find the
instrumentality or evidence pertaining to a crime, in the vehicle to be
searched.[43]

In the case at bar, it should be reiterated that the police officers had
already conducted a thorough investigation and verification
proceedings, which yielded, among others: (a) the identities of the
robbery suspects; (b) the place where they reside; and (c) the
ownership of the getaway vehicles used in the robbery, i.e., the
motorcycle and the red Toyota Corolla. As adverted to earlier, these
pieces of information were already enough for said police officers to
secure the necessary warrants to accost the robbery suspects.
Consequently, there was no longer any exigent circumstance that
would have justified the necessity of setting up the checkpoint in this
case for the purpose of searching the subject vehicle. In addition, it is
well to point out that the checkpoint was arranged for the targeted
arrest of Manago, who was already identified as the culprit of the
robbery incident. In this regard, it cannot, therefore, be said that the
checkpoint was meant to conduct a routinary and indiscriminate
search of moving vehicles. Rather, it was used as a subterfuge to put
into force the capture of the fleeing suspect. Unfortunately, this setup
cannot take the place of - nor skirt the legal requirement of -
procuring a valid search/arrest warrant given the circumstances of
this case. Hence, the search conducted on the red Toyota Corolla and
on the person of its driver, Manago, was unlawful.

In fine, Manago's warrantless arrest, and the search incidental


thereto, including that of his moving vehicle were all unreasonable
and unlawful. In consequence, the shabu seized from him is rendered
inadmissible in evidence pursuant to the exclusionary rule under
Section 3 (2), Article III of the 1987 Constitution. Since the
confiscated shabu is the very corpus delicti of the crime charged,
Manago must necessarily be acquitted and exonerated from criminal
liability.[44]

WHEREFORE, the appeal is GRANTED. The Decision dated May


20, 2013 and the Resolution dated November 6, 2013 of the Court of
Appeals in C.A.-G.R. CEB-C.R. No. 01342 are
hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, accused-
appellant Gerrjan Manago y Acut as hereby ACQUITTED of the
crime of violation of Section 11, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165.

SO ORDERED.

Sereno, C. J., (Chairperson), Leonardo-De Castro, Bersamin,


and Caguioa, JJ., concur.
[1]
See Notice of Appeal dated December 13, 2013; rollo, pp. 18-19.
[2]
Id. at 5-17. Penned by Associate Justice Ramon Paul L. Hernando
with Associate Justices Carmelita Salandanan-Manahan and Ma.
Luisa C. Quijano-Padilla concurring.
[3]
CA rollo, pp. 224-225.
[4]
Id. at 106-117. Penned by Presiding Judge Gabriel T. Ingles.
[5]
The pertinent portion of Section 11, Article II of RA 9165 provides:

SEC. 11. Possession of Dangerous Drugs. - The penalty x x x shall be


imposed upon any person, who, unless authorized by law, shall
possess any dangerous drugs in the following quantities, regardless of
the degree of purity thereof:

xxxx

(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 x x x
methamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu" x x x.
[6]
Entitled "AN ACT INSTITUTING THE COMPREHENSIVE
DANGEROUS DRUGS ACT OF 2002, REPEALING REPUBLIC ACT
NO. 6425, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE DANGEROUS DRUGS
ACT OF 1972, AS AMENDED, PROVIDING FUNDS THEREFOR,
AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES," approved on June 7, 2002.
[7]
Records, pp. 1-2.
[8]
Id. at 1. Italics supplied.
[9]
Rollo, p. 7.
[10]
"Florentino Cano, Jr." in some parts of the records.
[11]
Rollo, p.7.
[12]
Id. at 7-8.
[13]
Id. at 8-9.
[14]
Dated April 25, 2007. Records, pp. 35-49.
[15]
Id. at 35.
[16]
Id. at 74-78. Penned by Presiding Judge Gabriel T. Ingles.
[17]
Id.
[18]
Rollo, p. 6.
[19]
See CA rollo, pp. 51-53. See also pp. 54-55.
[20]
Id. at 106-117. Penned by Presiding Judge Gabriel T. Ingles.
[21]
Id. at 117.
[22]
Id. at 112-117.
[23]
Dated April 27, 2009. Records, pp. 531-549.
[24]
CA rollo, p. 118.
[25]
See Notice of Appeal dated May 19, 2009; records, p. 555.
[26]
CA rollo, pp. 51-53. Penned by Associate Justice Erwin D.
Sorongon with Executive Justice Portia A. Hormachuelos and
Associate Justice Socorro B. Inting concurring.
[27]
Id.
[28]
Rollo, pp. 5-17.
[29]
Id. at 11-15.
[30]
CA rollo, pp. 201-212.
[31]
Id. at 224-225.
[32]
Section 2, Article III of the 1987 Constitution 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.
[33]
Section 3(2), Article III of the 1987 Constitution states:

Sec 3. x x x

xxxx

(2) Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section


shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.
[34]
See Comerciante v. People, G.R. No. 205926, July 22, 2015, 763
SCRA 587, 594-595, citing Ambre v. People, 692 Phil. 681, 693
(2012).
[35]
Id. at 595, citations omitted.
[36]
Id. at 596, citing Malacat v. CA, 347 Phil. 462, 480 (1997).
[37]
G.R. No. 182601, November 10, 2014, 739 SCRA 337.
[38]
Id. at 373-374.
[39]
424 Phil 263 (2002).
[40]
Id. at 278-279, citations omitted.
[41]
Id. at 280, citations omitted.
[42]
See id. at 280, citations omitted.
[43]
See People v. Mariacos, 635 Phil. 315, 329 (2010), citing People v.
Bagista, G.R. No. 86218 September 18, 1992, 214 SCRA 63, 68-69.
[44]
See Comerciante v. People, supra note 34, at 603.