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Valmonte v.

De Villa 1989 decision


FACTS: On 20 January 1987, the National Capital Region District Command (NCRDC) was
activated pursuant to Letter of Instruction 02/87 of the Philippine General Headquarters, AFP,
with the mission of conducting security operations within its area of responsibility and
peripheral areas, for the purpose of establishing an effective territorial defense, maintaining
peace and order, and providing an atmosphere conducive to the social, economic and political
development of the National Capital Region. As part of its duty to maintain peace and order,
the NCRDC installed checkpoints in various parts of Valenzuela, Metro Manila.
Petitioners Atty. Ricardo Valmonte, who is a resident of Valenzuela, Metro Manila, and the Union
of Lawyers and Advocates For Peoples Rights (ULAP) sought the declaration of checkpoints in
Valenzuela, Metro Manila and elsewhere as unconstitutional. In the alternative, they prayed
that respondents Renato De Villa and the National Capital Region District Command (NCRDC)
be directed to formulate guidelines in the implementation of checkpoints for the protection of
the people. Petitioners contended that the checkpoints gave the respondents blanket authority
to make searches and seizures without search warrant or court order in violation of the
Constitution.
ISSUE: Do the military and police checkpoints violate the right of the people against
unreasonable search and seizures?
RULING: DISMISSED.
NO, military and police checkpoints DO NOT violate the right of the people against
unreasonable search and seizures.
xxx. Not all searches and seizures are prohibited. Those which are reasonable are not
forbidden. A reasonable search is not to be determined by any fixed formula but is to be
resolved according to the facts of each case.
Where, for example, the officer merely 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, these
do not constitute unreasonable search.
The setting up of the questioned checkpoints in Valenzuela (and probably in other areas) may
be considered as a security measure to enable the NCRDC to pursue its mission of establishing
effective territorial defense and maintaining peace and order for the benefit of the public.
Checkpoints may also be regarded as measures to thwart plots to destabilize the government,
in the interest of public security. In this connection, the Court may take judicial notice of the
shift to urban centers and their suburbs of the insurgency movement, so clearly reflected in the
increased killings in cities of police and military men by NPA sparrow units, not to mention the
abundance of unlicensed firearms and the alarming rise in lawlessness and violence in such
urban centers, not all of which are reported in media, most likely brought about by
deteriorating economic conditions which all sum up to what one can rightly consider, at the
very least, as abnormal times. Between the inherent right of the state to protect its existence
and promote public welfare and an individual's right against a warrantless search which is
however reasonably conducted, the former should prevail.

True, the manning of checkpoints by the military is susceptible of abuse by the men in uniform,
in the same manner that all governmental power is susceptible of abuse. But, at the cost of
occasional inconvenience, discomfort and even irritation to the citizen, the checkpoints during
these abnormal times, when conducted within reasonable limits, are part of the price we pay
for an orderly society and a peaceful community.
Valmonte v. De Villa 1990 decision
It should be stated, at the outset, that nowhere in the questioned decision did this Court
legalize all checkpoints, i.e. at all times and under all circumstances. What the Court declared
is, that checkpoints are not illegal per se. Thus, under exceptional circumstances, as where the

survival of organizedgovernment is on the balance, or where the lives and safety of the people
are ingrave peril, checkpoints may be allowed and installed by the government.
Implicit in this proposition is, that when the situation clears and such grave perils are removed,
checkpoints will have absolutely no reason to remain. One must concede to the basic right of
the (government) to defend itself from its enemies and, while in power, to pursue its program
of government intended or public welfare; and in the pursuit of those objectives, the
government hasthe equal right, under its police power, to select the reasonable means and
methods for best achieving them. The checkpoint is evidently one of such means it has
selected.
Admittedly, the routine checkpoint stop does intrude, to a certain extent, on motorist's right to
"free passage without interruption", but it cannot be denied that, as a rule, it involves only a
brief detention of travelers during which the vehicle's occupants are required to answer a brief
question or two. For as long as the vehicle is neither 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. These
routine checks, when conducted in a fixed area, are even less intrusive
In any situation, where abuse marks the operation of a checkpoint, the citizen is not helpless.
For the military is not above but subject to the law. And the courts exist to see that the law is
supreme. Soldiers, including those who man checkpoints, who abuse their authority act beyond
the scope of their authority and are, therefore, liable criminally and civilly for their abusive acts.

People v. Rodelio C. Exala, et al.


FACTS
A private jeep driven by accused-appellant Bocalan was stopped at a police checkpoint in
Cavite City for routine inspection. With Bocalan were his co-accused Fernandez and Exala. Pfc.
Galang, a member of the inspection team, went near the jeep and asked the occupants if there
were firearms inside. They answered in the negative. Pfc. Galang proceeded to inspect the
vehicle by beaming a flashlight inside. He then noticed a black leather bag measuring about 1
foot wide and 2 feet long with its sides bulging. When he asked what it contained, there was
deadening silence from the 3 accused. Nobody answered. Instead, they suddenly became
fidgety. Suspicious, Pfc. Galang ordered the bag opened, which was found out to contain
marijuana. The 3 accused were thereafter prosecuted and convicted of illegal transportation of
marijuana. Accused Bocalan appealed and questioned the legality of the admission of the
marijuana as evidence against him since it was seized without a valid search warrant.
ISSUE
Was the marijuana seized without warrant during the checkpoint admissible in evidence against
the accused?
THE RULING
The Court held that Bocalan is deemed to have waived his objection to the admission of the
seized marijuana because he neither raised this issue before the trial court nor objected to the
admissibility of the marijuana when it was offered in evidence.

And even assuming that there was no such waiver, the Court held that still Bocalans
contention deserves scant consideration because there are instances where search and seizure
can be made without necessarily being preceded by an arrest. An illustration would be the
stop-and-search without a warrant at military or police checkpoints, the constitutionality of
which has already been upheld by this Court [in Valmonte vs. De Villa]. Vehicles are generally
allowed to pass through these checkpoints after a routine inspection and answering a few
questions. If vehicles are stopped and extensively searched it is because of some probable

cause which justifies a reasonable belief of those manning the checkpoints that either the
motorist is a law-offender or the contents of the vehicle are or have been instruments in the
commission of an offense.

According to the Court, lest it be misunderstood, the foregoing doctrine is not intended to do
away with the general rule that no person shall be subjected to search of his person, personal
effects and belongings, or his residence except of virtue of a search warrant or on the occasion
of a lawful arrest. This case, however, is an incident to or an offshoot of a lawful stop-andsearch at a military or police checkpoint.

The checkpoint in the instant case was established in line with Operational Bakal, the main
object of which was to search for unlicensed firearms and other prohibited items in the
possession of unauthorized persons passing through it. When the jeep carrying the contraband
passed through the checkpoint, it was flagged down and the occupants were asked routine
questions. In the course thereof, Pfc. Galang noticed a black leather bag the sides of which
were bulging. He asked what the contents of the bag were. None of the accused answered. At
that moment, the demeanor of the accused changed; they became suspiciously quiet and
nervous as if they were concealing something from Pfc. Galang. The accused clearly appeared
to be in abject fear of being discovered. Such peculiar apprehensiveness if not restrained
reaction of the accused, which did not appear normal, provided the probable cause justifying a
more extensive search that led to the opening of the bag and the discovery of the prohibited
stuff.

Guanzon v De Villa
Facts: The 41 petitioners alleged that the "saturation drive" or "aerial target zoning" that were
conducted in their place (Tondo Manila) were unconstitutional. They alleged that there is no
specific target house to be search and that there is no search warrant or warrant of arrest
served. Most of the policemen are in their civilian clothes and without nameplates or
identification cards. The residents were rudely rouse from their sleep by banging on the walls
and windows of their houses. The residents were at the point of high-powered guns and herded
like cows. Men were ordered to strip down to their briefs for the police to examine their tattoo
marks. The residents complained that they're homes were ransacked, tossing their belongings
and destroying their valuables. Some of their money and valuables had disappeared after the
operation. The residents also reported incidents of maulings, spot-beatings and maltreatment.
Those who were detained also suffered mental and physical torture to extract confessions and
tactical informations. The respondents said that such accusations were all lies. Respondents
contends that the Constitution grants to government the power to seek and cripple subversive
movements for the maintenance of peace in the state. The aerial target zoning were intended
to flush out subversives and criminal elements coddled by the communities were the said
drives were conducted. They said that they have intelligently and carefully planned months
ahead for the actual operation and that local and foreign media joined the operation to witness
and record such event.
Issue: Whether or Not the saturation drive committed consisted of violation of human rights.
Held: It is not the police action per se which should be prohibited rather it is the procedure used
or the methods which "offend even hardened sensibilities" .Based on the facts stated by the
parties, it appears to have been no impediment to securing search warrants or warrants of
arrest before any houses were searched or individuals roused from sleep were arrested. There
is no showing that the objectives sought to be attained by the "aerial zoning" could not be
achieved even as th rights of the squatters and low income families are fully protected.
However, the remedy should not be brought by a tazpaer suit where not one victim complaints
and not one violator is properly charged. In the circumstances of this taxpayers' suit, there is

no erring soldier or policeman whom the court can order prosecuted. In the absence of clear
facts no permanent relief can be given.
In the meantime where there is showing that some abuses were committed, the court
temporary restraint the alleged violations which are shocking to the senses. Petition is
remanded to the RTC of Manila.