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Valmonte v.

De Villa
G.R. No. 83988 (173 SCRA 211)
September 29, 1989
TOPIC: SEARCH and SEIZURE: The Checkpoint Case
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 contention:
Petitioners aver that, because of the installation of said checkpoints, the
residents of Valenzuela are worried of being harassed and of their safety being
placed at the arbitrary, capricious and whimsical disposition of the military manning
the checkpoints, considering that their cars and vehicles are being subjected to
regular searches and check-ups, especially at night or at dawn, without the benefit
of a search warrant and/or court order.
Their alleged fear for their safety increased when, at dawn ,Benjamin Parpon,
a supply officer of the Municipality of Valenzuela, Bulacan, was gunned down
allegedly in cold blood by the members of the NCRDC manning the checkpoint for
ignoring and/or refusing to submit himself to the checkpoint and for continuing to
speed off inspite of warning shots fired in the air.
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?
HELD
NO, military and police checkpoints DO NOT violate the right of the
people against unreasonable search and seizures.
The Court DISMISSED the petition.

Petitioner's concern for their safety and apprehension at being harassed by


the military manning the checkpoints are not sufficient grounds to declare the
checkpoints per se illegal.No proof has been presented before the Court to show
that, in the course of their routine checks, the military, indeed, committed specific
violations of petitioners'' rights against unlawful search and seizure of other rights.
The constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures is a
personal right invocable only by those whose rights have been infringed, or
threatened to be infringed. Not all searches and seizures are prohibited. Those
which are reasonable are not forbidden.
The setting up of the questioned checkpoints 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 not also be regarded as measures to thwart plots to destabilize
the govt, in the interest of public security. Between the inherent right of the state to
protect its existence and promote public welfare and an individuals right against a
warrantless search w/c is, however, reasonably conducted, the former should
prevail.
True, the manning of checkpoints by the military is susceptible of abuse by
the military 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 w/in
reasonable limits, are part of the price we pay for an orderly society and a peaceful
community.
Dissenting Opinion
The declaration that individual rights must yield to the demands of national
security ignores the fact that the Bill of Rights was intended precisely to limit the
authority of the State even if asserted on the ground of national security. What is
worse is that the searches and seizures are peremptorily pronounced to be
reasonable even without proof of probable cause and much less the required
warrant. The improbable excuse is that they are aimed at '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." For these purposes, every individual may be stopped and searched at
random and at any time simply because he excites the suspicion, caprice, hostility
or malice of the officers manning the checkpoints, on pain of arrest or worse, even
being shot to death, if he resists.
While the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, as my brethren
advance, is a right personal to the aggrieved party, the petitioners, precisely, have
come to Court because they had been, or had felt, aggrieved. .In that event, the
burden is the State's, to demonstrate the reasonableness of the search. The
petitioners, Ricardo Valmonte in particular, need not, therefore, have illustrated the
"details of the incident" .