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Zacarias Magoncia (Recurrente aka Appellant) vs Perfecto Palacio (Recurridos aka

Date: April 26, 1948
Ponente: Ozaeta, J.

Zacarias Magoncia was arrested for the crime of robbery by a band committed at the home
of Hilario Enovejas in Pangasinan. The police chief ordered 4 policemen to go to Magoncia's home.
These policemen, without a search warrant, entered Magoncia's house where Magoncia's wife
scolded them for searching their home while Magoncia was not around. The policemen found a
paltik, a hand grenade, a box containing 42 rounds and some pieces of cotton cloth owned by
Hilario Enovejas. A complaint of robbery by a band and illegal possession of firearm were filed
against the accused.
For the complaint of illegal possession of firearms, Magoncia filed a motion asking the trial
court to order the return of the illegally seized effects and to order the Fiscal (Palacio) to desist
from using such effects as evidence. The trial court denied the motion. Defendant now comes to
the Supreme Court on certiorari and requests to revoke the order of the trial court judge and to
order the fiscal to desist from using the seized items as evidence for the reason that they have
been illegally seized.

Issue: Whether the defendant is entitled to the return of the items seized
- No
- RA No. 4 prohibits the possession of firearm; the mere possession is a crime. Possession of
contraband is punishable by law. The Constitution does not guarantee immunity to a smuggler.
Return of the items to the defendant and to prevent them from being presented as evidence is to
exonerate the crime punished by RA No. 4.
- Possession of a thing susceptible to legal appropriation and subject of free trade, like a clock, is
different from a box of firearms whose possession is prohibited. In the first case, it should invoke
the guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizure, but possession of a firearm without a
license is flagrant violation of the law and the holder is subject to an arrest without a warrant and
the item may be seized.
- There is a wide distinction between the seizure of property lawfully within the possession of a
person and the seizure of property held and used in violation of law. Thus contraband articles, and
those things which under the law one has no right to possess, for the purpose of issue or
disposition, are not embraced in the protection of the constitutional guaranty. Indeed, an
individual in the possession of such goods is entitled to no protection whatsoever, for such goods
are not subject to ownership, and may be forfeited or destroyed. They are, therefore, subject to
search and seizure.

Petition dismissed

Perfecto (Concurring):
The search of Magoncia's house without a search warrant is illegal. The policemen who
conducted the search violated one of the fundamental guarantees of the Bill of Rights; they should
be held accountable for their actions.
However, the trial judge acted correctly in denying Magoncia's motion that the items be
returned to him and not be used as evidence. To order the return of the prohibited weapons to
Magoncia is to justify an illegality or criminal offense. The illegality of the search is independent
from the illegal possession of prohibited arms. The illegality of the search did not make legal an
illegal possession of firearms. When, in pursuing an illegal action or in the commission of a
criminal offense, the offending police officers should happen to discover a criminal offense being
committed by any persons, they are not precluded from performing their duties as police officers
for the apprehension of the guilty persons and the taking of the corpus delicti.