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EDMUND SYDECO y SIONZON, Petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

G.R. No. 202692 November 12, 2014


Ponente: VELASCO, JR., J.:
Facts:
Edmund Sydeco was charged before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila with drunk driving under the
provisions of Section 56(f) of Republic Act 4136, and for resisting arrest in violation of Article 151 of the
Revised Penal Code. According to the police officers who arrested him, they were conducting a
checkpoint along Roxas Avenue corner Quirino Avenue when they spotted a swerving Ford Ranger driven
by Edmundo They thus flagged down the vehicle and asked the driver to alight from the vehicle so he
could take rest in the nearby police station. Denying that he was drunk, Edmund insisted he could drive
the vehicle, refused to alight, and swore at the team leader, P/Insp. Aguilar. The latter pointed out to
Edmund that they have seen him swerve and drive under the influence of liquor, arrested him, but
Edmund put up a resistance, which was futile as he was eventually subdued. He was brought to the
Ospital ng Maynila which conducted a medical examination on him and issued a medical certificate
stating he was positive for alcoholic breath. On the other hand, Edmund denied the accusation against
him. He stated that on that early morning, he had just come from his restaurant in Macapagal Ave.,
together with his cook Josie and waiter Joenilo when they came upon the police checkpoint. The police
officers ordered him open his door alight from the vehicle to be subjected to bodily search. He refused,
insisting on plain view only search, which irked the team leader, P/Insp. Aguilar, who then hit him and
accused him of drunk driving, pointing to the empty cases of beer in his vehicle. Edmund insisted on
being sober pointing out that the bottles came from his restaurant. The team leader then boxed him on
the mouth and pointed a gun at his head and arrested him. They brought him to the Ospital ng Maynila
where he refused to be examined and no alcoholic breath was conducted on him; however, they still
succeeded in securing a medical certificate attesting that he was positive for alcoholic breath. For this, he
filed charges against the police officers as well as the doctor who issued the medical certificate. He was
detained at the police station, but before his release, he was able to secure a medical certificate that he
sustained physical injuries and that he was negative for alcoholic breath. After trial, the MTC convicted
him as charged, which were affirmed by the Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals. In his appeal
to the Supreme Court, Edmund averred that the lower courts should not have upheld the presumption of
regularity in the performance of official duty by the police officers in his case, and the medical certificate
should not have been given probative weight as the doctor who prepared it did not testify before the court.
Issue:
Whether or not the conviction of petitioner by the lower courts is proper
Held:

No. In the case at bar, the men manning the checkpoint in the subject area and during the
period material appeared not to have performed their duties as required by law, or at least fell
short of the norm expected of peace officers. They spotted the petitioners purported swerving
vehicle. They then signaled him to stop which he obeyed. But they did not demand the
presentation of the drivers license or issue any ticket or similar citation paper for traffic violation
as required under the particular premises by Sec. 29 of RA 4136. When the police officers
stopped the petitioners car, they did not issue any ticket for swerving as required under Section
29 of RA 4136. Instead, they inspected the vehicle, ordered the petitioner and his companions
to step down of their pick up and concluded that the petitioner was then drunk mainly because
of the cases of beer found at the trunk of the vehicle. Also, on the issue that the petitioner

resisted the arrest, the Supreme Court also finds this untenable. The two key elements of
resistance and serious disobedience punished under Art. 151 of the RPC are: (1) That a person
in authority or his agent is engaged in the performance of official duty or gives a lawful order to
the offender; and (2) That the offender resists or seriously disobeys such person or his agent.
Petitioners act of exercising ones right against unreasonable searches to be conducted in the
middle of the night cannot, in context, be equated to disobedience let alone resisting a lawful
order in contemplation of Art. 151 of the Revised Penal Code.

Moreover, there is, to stress, nothing in RA 4136 that authorized the checkpoint-manning
policemen to order petitioner and his companions to get out of the vehicle for a vehicle and body
search. And it bears to emphasize that there was no reasonable suspicion of the occurrence of
a crime that would allow what jurisprudence refers to as a "stop and frisk" action. As SPO4
Bodino no less testified, the only reason why they asked petitioner to get out of the vehicle was
not because he has committed a crime, but because of their intention to invite him to Station 9
so he could rest before he resumes driving. But instead of a tactful invitation, the apprehending
officers, in an act indicative of overstepping of their duties, dragged the petitioner out of the
vehicle and, in the process of subduing him, pointed a gun and punched him on the face. None
of the police officers, to note, categorically denied the petitioners allegation about being
physically hurt before being brought to the Ospital ng Maynila to be tested for intoxication. What
the policemen claimed was that it took the three (3) of them to subdue the fifty-five year old
petitioner. Both actions were done in excess of their authority granted under RA 4136.

Conviction must come only after it survives the test of reason.it is thus required that every
circumstance favoring ones innocence be duly taken into account. Given the deviation of the
police officers from the standard and usual procedure in dealing with traffic violation by
perceived drivers under the influence of alcohol and executing an arrest, the blind reliance and
simplistic invocation by the trial court and the CA on the presumption of regularity in the conduct
of police duty is clearly misplaced. In the present case, the absence of conclusive proof being
under the influence of liquor while driving coupled with the forceful manner the police yanked
petitioner out of his vehicle argues against or at least cast doubt on the finding of guilt for
drunken driving and resisting arrest.

It is basic that the burden of proving the guilt of an accused lies on the prosecution which must
rely on the strength of its evidence and not on the weakness of the defense. Hence, the
Supreme Court reversed and set aside the decision of the CA, and acquitted the petitioner from
the crimes charged.