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People of The Philippines (Plaintiff-appellee) vs Rosa Aruta y Menguin (Accused-

Date: April 3, 1998
Ponente: Romero, J.

Dec 13, 1988. P/Lt. Abello, Officer-in-charge of the Narcotics Command (NARCOM) of
Olongapo City, was tipped of by an informant, known as Benjie, that a certain 'Aling Rosa' would
be arriving from Baguio the following with a large volume of marijuana. Abello formed his team to
make the arrest.
At around 4:00 pm on Dec 14, The team went to West Bajac-Bajac, Olongapo City and
deployed themselves. At around 6:30 pm a bus arrived and two females and a male got off. The
informant pointed out 'Aling Rosa'. The team approached and introduced themselves. Abello asked
the for the contents of the bag, and it was handed to him. The bag was found to contain dried
marijuana leaves in a plastic bag marked 'Cash Katutak'. The team confiscated the bag and Rosa
was brought to NARCOM for investigation. The marijuana specimen was examined at the PC/INP
Crime Laboratory, Camp Olivas, Pampanga by P/Maj. Marlene Salangad, a Forensic Chemist, and
was found to positive for marijuana.

Rosa had just come from Choice Theater where she was watching a movie. As Rosa was
about to cross the street, an old woman asked her help in carrying a shoulder bag. In the middle
of the road, Lt. Abello and Lt. Domingo arrested her and asked her to go with them to NARCOM.
During the investigation, she disclaimed any knowledge as to the identity of the woman and said
that the old woman was nowhere to be found after she was arrested. No search warrant was
shown to her by the arresting officers.

After the prosecution rested its case, the defense filed a 'Demurer to Evidence' alleging the
illegality of the search and seizure, and the inadmissibility of the evidence. The said Demurer was
denied, without the trial court ruling on the illegality of the search and seizure, and inadmissibility
of evidence. The trial court continued to hear the case. She entered a plea of 'not guilty'. Rosa
testified in her own behalf, and presented her version of the facts.
After the prosecution made a formal offer of evidence, the defense filed a 'Comment and/or
Objection to Prosecution's Formal Offer of Evidence' contesting the inadmissibility of items seized.
Not convinced with Rosa's version of the incident, the RTC of Olongapo convicted Rosa of
transporting 8.5 kilograms of marijuana from Baguio to Olongapo in violation of Sec 4, Art 11 of
RA 6425 (Dangerous Drugs Act), and sentenced her to life imprisonment and to pay a fine of
Rosa appeals to the Supreme Court.

(Short version: Rosa was arrested. She questions the legality of her arrest and the admissibility of
evidence of the prosecution.)

Issue: Whether the search and seizure was valid
- No. There was no warrant, and the case did not fall under the exceptions to a warrantless
- A search may be conducted by law enforcers only on the strength of a search warrant validly
issued by a judge as provided by Art III, Sec 2 of the Constitution. Articles which are the product
of unreasonable searches and seizures are inadmissible as evidence (Stonehill vs Diokno + Art III,
Sec 3(2) of Constitution).
- The right of a person to be secured against any unreasonable seizure of his body and any
deprivation of his liberty is a most basic and fundamental one. A statute, rule or situation which
allows exceptions to the requirement of a warrant of arrest or search warrant must be strictly
construed and their application limited only to cases specifically provided or allowed by law.
- Following cases where warrants are not required:
1. Warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest recognized under Sec 12, Rule 126 or the
Rules of Court and by prevailing jurisprudence
2. Seizure of evidence in 'plain view', the elements of which are: 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) evidence was inadvertently discovered by the police who had a right to
be where they are; c) evidence must be immediately apparent; d) 'plain view' justified
mere seizure of evidence without further search.
3. Search of a moving vehicle
4. Consented warrantless search
5. Customs search
6. Stop and frisk
7. Exigent and Emergency circumstances.
- In the exceptions stated, the essential requisite of probable cause must still be satisfied before a
warrantless seach and seizure can be lawfully conducted. Although probable cause eludes exact
definition, it generally signifies a reasonable ground of suspicion supported by circumstances
sufficiently strong in themselves to warrant a cautious man to believe that the person accused is
guilty of the offense with which he is charged. Absent any probable cause, the object/s seized
could not be admitted and used as evidence. Probable cause must be based on reasonable ground
of suspicion or belief that a crime has been committed or is about to be committed.
- There have been cases where information from an informant establishes sufficient probable
cause to affect the warrantless search (People v Tangliben, People v Malmstedt, People v Bagista,
Manalili v CA). In those cases, there are additional factors and circumstances which, when taken
together with the information, constituted probable cause which justifies the warrantless searches
and seizures. In the present case, however, there exists no probable cause.
- The present case is similar to People v Aminnudin and People v Encinada. In these cases, the
police received information that a particular person will commit a crime at a certain place and
time, but the police did not apply for a warrant even though they had time to do so. Thus the
evidence obtained could not be used against the accused.
- To legitimize the warrantless arrest and seizure of Rosa, she must have been validly arrested
under Sec Rule 113 which states that a person may be arrested without a warrant if he is
committing or attempting to commit an offense. Rosa cannot be said to be committing a crime.
Neither was she about to commit one nor had she just committed a crime. She was merely
crossing the street and was not acting in any manner that would engender a reasonable ground
for NARCOM agents to suspect and conclude that she was committing a crime. There was no
reason for the police to suspect Rosa, except for the pointing finger of the informant.
- There was no legal basis for the police to effect a warrantless seach of Rosa's bag, there being
no probable cause and Rosa not being lawfully arrested. The articles seized could not be used as
evidence against Rosa for these are 'fruits of a poisoned tree'. A lawful arrest must precede the
search of a person and his belongings. Where a search is first undertaken, and an arrest effected
based on evidence produced by search, bot such search and arrest would be unlawful, for being
contrary to law.
- In the absence of probable cause to effect a valid and legal warrantless arrest, the search and
seizure of Rosa's bag would also not be justified as seizure of evidence in 'plain view'. The
marijuana was inside the bag when the police arrested Rosa.
- Neither would the search and seizure of Rosa's bag be justified as a seach of moving vehicle.
There was no moving vehicle to speak of as Rosa was apprehended several minutes after she
alighted from the bus, and while she was on the street.
- The stop and frisk exception also does not apply. There was no observable manifestation that
could have aroused the suspicion of the police to cause them to stop and frisk Rosa. Rosa was
merely crossing the street; she was did not attempt to flee as she was approached.
- Warrantless search and seizure under exigent and emergency situation does not apply. No
similar circumstances found the case of People v De Gracia, which found the search and seizure
valid, can be found in the present case. In People v De Gracia, the courts were closed and general
chaos and disorder prevailed, and the circumstances show that a crime was being committed.
- Rosa could not be said to have consented to the search and seizure done. Rosa handing her bag
over could not be construed as voluntary submission or an implied acquiescence to the
unreasonable search. Her lack of objection to the search is not tantamount to a waiver of her
constitutional rights or a voluntary submission to the warrantless search. People v Barros: To
constitute a waiver, it must first appear that the right exists; secondly, that the person involved
had knowledge, actual or constructive, of the existence of such right; and lastly, that said person
had an actual intention to relinquish the right.
- The argument that the police officers would have encountered difficulty in securing a search
warrant is untenable. Had the officers applied for a warrant, they could have secured one without
too much difficulty. The person intended to be search has been particularized; the time was
sufficiently ascertained to be in the afternoon of December 14, 1988; 'Aling Rosa' turned out to be
the accused-appellant and the thing to be seized was marijuana; the vehicle was identified as a
Victory Liner bus.
- While it may be argued that by entering a plea during arraignment and by actively participating
in the trial, the accused may be deemed to have waived any objections to the illegality of the
warrantless search and seizure and to the inadmissibility of the evidence, such cannot be applied
in this case. The plea and active participation in the trial would not cure the illegality of the search
and transform the inadmissible evidence into objects of proof. Also, the records show that Rosa
filed a Demurrer to Evidence and objected and opposed the prosecution's formal offer of evidence.
Waiver of the non-admissibility of evidence is not to be casually presumed.
- There was no excuse for NARCOM agents not to procure a search warrant considering that they
had more than 24 hours to do so.

(Basically: there is no lawful arrest and seizure because 1) there was no search or arrest warrant;
2) there was no probable cause when Rosa was arrested; 3) the arrest being unlawful, the
consequent seizure of articles is also unlawful; 4) the articles seized are not in plain view; 5) the
moving vehicle search does not apply, there being no vehicle; 6) stop and frisk does not apply,
there being no suspicious behavior on the part of Rosa; 7) there are no exigent and emergency
circumstances to make the warrantless search and seizure valid; and 8) there was no consent to
the search and seizure, there being no clear showing of Rosa relinquishing her right against
unreasonable search and seizure.)

Decision of the trial court is reversed and set aside. For lack of evidence to establish her guilt
beyond reasonable doubt, Rosa Aruta is acquitted and ordered released.