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Salvador v.

GR No. 146706
July 15, 2005
This is a petition for review on certiorari filed by accused Tomas Salvador, assailing the
decision rendered by the CA, affirming the decision of RTC convicting him and his fellow coaccused of violating the Tariff and Customs Code.
On the wee hours of Jun. 4, 1994, Aurelio Mandin, Danilo Santos and petitioner Tomas
Salvador all aircraft mechanics employed by the Philippine Air Lines (PAL) and assigned at
NAIA and Manila Domestic Airport, were apprehended by intelligence operatives of the
Philippine Air Force (PAF) for possessing 13 packets of smuggled watches and jewelries valuing
at more than half a million pesos. The officers were conducting routine surveillance operations at
the Airport to act on reports of drug trafficking and smuggling by PAL personnel. They were
keeping a close watch on an airplane parked inside Airport Terminal. At around 11:30 pm, the
officers noticed 3 persons boarding the plane, and eventually they disembarked with their
abdominal areas bulging, thereafter boarding an airplane tow truck. The officers immediately
followed the truck, when they were able to block it, they asked the persons to alight, the 3
accused having packages covered by girdles, inside their shirts. This prompted the officers to
arrest the accused, bringing them to the PAFSECOM office. Upon examination of the packages,
an inventory was made of assorted watches and gold jewelries. An information was charged
against the accused, but they denied committing the offense, alleging that they were framed by
the officers. Despite the defense, the RTC rendered a decision finding them guilty, which the CA
affirmed. Only accused Salvador filed this petition assailing the decision.
1. Whether the seized items are admissible in evidence.
1. Yes.
The petitioner contends that the warrantless search and seizure conducted was illegal, since they
were unaware that a crime was committed and the officers just engaged in a fishing expedition in
violation of the petitioners right against unlawful search and seizure. The Court ruled that one of
the exceptions in requiring a warrant before an arrest is when it amounts to a customs search.
The special mission of the officers was to conduct a surveillance, to act on reports of drug
trafficking and smuggling by PAL personnel. This is in a nature of a customs search so a warrant
may be dispensed with. In addition to that, the petitioner and his co-accused were on board a
moving aircraft tow truck, which is also one of the recognized exceptions for a warrant to be
dispensed with. It is impracticable to wait for a warrant to be issued first before a search is
conducted for moving vehicles, since they can easily be moved out of the locality or jurisdiction
were the warrant is sought. Establishing that the search and seizure conducted was legal, the
pieces of evidence obtained are admissible in court to sustain the conviction of the petitioner.

Prepared by: Jo-Anne D. Coloquio