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Chu v.

AM No. RTJ-03-1786
August 28, 2003
Carpio, J.
1. This is a complaint for gross ignorance of the law, serious
misconduct, and grave abuse of discretion file by Alfredo Chu
against respondent Judge Camilo Tamin of RTC, Branch 23,
Molave, Zamboaga del Sur (RTC Branch 23)
2. Complainant alleged that Community Environment and Natural
Resources Officer (CENRO) Michael dela Cruz of DENR, Region
IX applied for a search warrant with respondent judge
3. Dela Cruz claimed that the complainant was in possession of
forest products of dubious origin in violation of Section 68 of
the Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines (PD 705)
4. On the same day, respondent judge issued Search Warrant No.
364 ordering the seizure of several pieces of mangrove lumber
from the complainants fishpond.
5. Then, Dela Cruz, assisted by law enforcement agents, seized
from complainant 576 pieces of pagatpat lumber (mangrove
specie) with an estimated value of P138, 790
6. On September 22 and 24, 1999, complainant obtained from RTC
Branch 23 a copy of the complete records of the issuance of
Search Warrant No. 264. Both these certified copies did not
contain any transcript of respondent judges examination of
Dela Cruz or his witnesses as required by Rule 126 of the
Revised Criminal Procedure. Thus, this administrative complaint.
7. The complainant pointed that this was the 5th time that the
respondent judge issued, under questionable procedure, search
warrants against him for violation of PD 705.
8. In addition, the complainant alleged that the records f the
previous 4 warrants did not also contain any transcript of the
required examination of the witnesses.
9. In response to the directive of OCA to comment on the
complaint, the respondent judge denied the complainants
allegations and he contended that he personally examined a
certain Reynaldo Cuaresma, allegedly a witness of Dela Cruz
before issuing the warrant in question.
10. He further claimed that a transcript of the examination was
included in the records of Search Warrant No. 364
11. Instead of the original copy, the respondent judge attached to
his Indorsement an alleged computer printout of the transcript

claiming that the time and the date of its encoding was
verifiable in the computer files in his office.
12. The Court directed the Executive Judge Villegas of the RTC of
Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur to:
a) Verify from Branch 23 whether respondent judge
examined any witness before issuing Search Warrant No.
b) Secure from the Clerk of Court Lumapas here
explanation on the apparent discrepancy between the
copy of the records of Search Warrant No. 364 as
forwarded by respondent judge to OCA and as obtained
by complainant.
13. In his Report, Executive Judge Villegas stated that he verified
the record of the said search warrant and found a copy of the
transcript of the examination conducted by respondent judge
on Cuaresma.
14. In the respondent judges explanation, he reiterated that he
examined Cuaresma before issung Search Warrant no. 364.
However, respondent judge alleged for the first time that the
legal researcher in his office who prepared the duplicate copy
issued to complainant failed to recopy such transcript.
15. The Court referred this case to OCA for evaluation, report, and
16. OCA found respondent judge liable for gross ignorance of the
law and recommended the imposition of a fine on the ground
that the transcript of the searching questions was produced
only after the filing of the instant complaint.
17. It can be concluded that the respondent judge either did not
conduct the required searching questions, or if he did, he did
not put it in writing.
Issue: WON a probable cause for the issuance of a search and
seizure warrant against the complainant was present
Held: No
1. Section 5, Rule 126 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure
provides that the judge must before issuing the warrant,
personally examine in the form of searching questions and
answers, in writing and under oath, the complainant and the
witnesses he may produce
2. This provision implements the proscription against
unreasonable searches and seizures found in Section 2, Article
III 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 whatever 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 seize.

3. If, as respondent judge claims, he personally examined a

certain Cuaresma as the witness of Dela Cruz, he should have
secured the affidavit of Cuaresma.

4. The Court upholds the OCAs finding that the respondent judge,
who had earlier failed either to examine any witness before
issuing Search Warrant No. 364 or to reduce the examination in
5. The respondent judge was held guilty of gross misconduct and
is ordered to pay a fine
6. Note: In determination of probable cause, the court must
necessarily resolve whether of not an offense exists to justify
the issuance or quashal of the search warrant.