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HPS Software and Communication Corporation vs.

PLDT
G.R. Nos. 170217 & 170694; 10 December 2012; Leonardo-de Castro, J.
SUMMARY
The case is a consolidation of 2 petitions for review on certiorari each seeking to annul a ruling
of the CA setting aside an RTC ruling which directed the immediate return of seized items to
HPS and another CA ruling which affirmed an RTC order to release the seized equipment. The
controversy originated from 2 search warrants for violation of RPC308 for Theft of Telephone
Services and for Violation of PD401 for unauthorized installation of telephone communication
equipment following the complaint of PLDT accusing HPS of conducting ISR or unauthorized
sale of international long distance calls. The warrants were issued by the TC to seize
instruments of the crime after being satisfied with the affidavits and sworn testimony of the
complainants witnesses that they saw telephone equipment inside the respondents compound
being used for the purpose of conducting ISR. After the implementation of the warrants, the
motions to quash the warrants and return the things seized were filed which were granted by
the RTC.
There were 5 issues for the SCs resolution. Firstly, on whether PLDT possessed the legal
personality to file the petition in light of respondents claim that, in criminal appeals, it is the
SolGen which has the exclusive and sole power to file appeals in behalf of People, SC held that
PLDT did because the petition filed did not involve an ordinary criminal action, nor a civil action,
but a special criminal process. Secondly, on whether PLDTs petition for certiorari should have
been dismissed outright by the CA since no MR was filed before the RTC order, SC held that
despite the non-fulfilment of the requirement of MR filing, the peculiar circumstances
surrounding the case offered exceptions to the rule, that is, PLDTs deprivation of due process
when the RTC expeditiously released the items seized by virtue of the subject search warrants
without waiting for PLDT to file its memorandum and despite the fact that no motion for
execution was filed by respondents which was required. Thirdly, on whether PLDT was engaged
in forum shopping when it filed a petition for certiorari despite the fact that it had previously
filed an appeal from the RTC order, SC held that no, PLDT did not because the 2 motions posed
different causes of action, i.e., the appeal that PLDT elevated to the CA was an examination of
the validity of the trial courts action of quashing the search warrants that it initially issued
while, on the other hand, the petition for certiorari was an inquiry on whether the TC judge
committed grave abuse of discretion when he ordered the release of the seized items subject of
the search warrants despite the fact that the RTC order had not yet become final and executory.
Fourthly, on whether the 2 search warrants were improperly quashed, SC held that yes, they
were because: (1) evidence presented were sufficient to show probable cause to issue subject
warrants; and (2) subject warrants werent general warrants because the items to be seized
were sufficiently identified physically and their relation to the offenses charged were also
specifically identified. Lastly, on whether the release of the items seized was proper, SC held
that no, it wasnt therefore agreeing with one of the CA ruling that there was indeed grave
abuse of discretion.
DOCTRINES
[1] An International Simple Resale (ISR) activity is an act of subtraction covered by the
provisions on Theft, and that the business of providing telecommunication or telephone service
is personal property, which can be the object of Theft under Article 308 of the RPC.
[2] A search warrant proceeding is not a criminal action, much less a civil action, but a special
criminal process.
[3] Probable cause, as a condition for the issuance of a search warrant, is such reasons
supported by facts and circumstances as will warrant a cautious man to believe that his action
and the means taken in prosecuting it are legally just and proper.

[5] The quantum of evidence required to prove probable cause is not the same quantum of
evidence needed to establish proof beyond reasonable doubt which is required in a criminal
case that may be subsequently filed.
[6] A search warrant issued must particularly describe the place to be searched and persons or
things to be seized in order for it to be valid, otherwise, it is considered as a general warrant
which is proscribed by both jurisprudence and the 1987 Constitution.