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G.R.No.185128.January30,2012.

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[FormerlyUDKNo.13980]

RUBEN DEL CASTILLO @ BOY CASTILLO, petitioner, vs.


PEOPLEOFTHEPHILIPPINES,respondent.

Criminal Procedure Constitutional Law Searches and Seizures


Search Warrants Requisites for the Issuance of a Search Warrant.The
requisites for the issuance of a search warrant are: (1) probable cause is
present(2)suchprobablecausemustbedeterminedpersonallybythejudge
(3) the judge must examine, in writing and under oath or affirmation, the
complainantandthewitnessesheorshemayproduce(4)theapplicantand
the witnesses testify on the facts personally known to them and (5) the
warrant specifically describes the place to be searched and the things to be
seized.
SameProbableCauseWordsandPhrasesDefined.Probablecause
forasearchwarrantisdefinedassuchfactsandcircumstanceswhichwould
lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has
been committed and that the objects sought in connection with the offense
are in the place sought to be searched. A finding of probable cause needs
onlytorestonevidenceshowingthat,morelikelythannot,acrimehasbeen
committed and that it was committed by the accused. Probable cause
demands more than bare suspicion it requires less than evidence which
would justify conviction. The judge, in determining probable cause, is to
consider the totality of the circumstances made known to him and not by a
fixed and rigid formula, and must employ a flexible, totality of the
circumstances standard. The existence depends to a large degree upon the
finding or opinion of the judge conducting the examination. This Court,
therefore,isinnopositiontodisturbthefactualfindingsofthejudgewhich
led to the issuance of the search warrant. A magistrates determination of
probablecausefortheissuanceofasearchwarrantispaidgreatdeferenceby
a reviewing court, as long as there was substantial basis for that
determination. Substantial basis means that the questions of the examining
judge brought out such facts and circumstances as would lead a reasonably
discreetandprudentmantobelievethatanoffensehasbeencommitted,and
theobjectsinconnectionwiththeoffensesoughttobeseizedareintheplace
sought to be searched. A review of the records shows that in the present
case,asubstantialbasisexists.

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*THIRDDIVISION.
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SameConstitutionalLawSearchWarrantsThewarrantissuedmust
particularly describe the place to be searched and persons or things to be
seized in order for it to be valid.The warrant issued must particularly
describetheplacetobesearchedandpersonsorthingstobeseizedinorder
forittobevalid.Adesignationordescriptionthatpointsouttheplacetobe
searched to the exclusion of all others, and on inquiry unerringly leads the
peace officers to it, satisfies the constitutional requirement of definiteness.
In the present case, Search Warrant No. 5709119724 specifically
designates or describes the residence of the petitioner as the place to be
searched. Incidentally, the items were seized by a barangaytanodinanipa
hut, 20 meters away from the residence of the petitioner. The confiscated
items,havingbeenfoundinaplaceotherthantheonedescribedinthesearch
warrant, can be considered as fruits of an invalid warrantless search, the
presentation of which as an evidence is a violation of petitioners
constitutionalguarantyagainstunreasonablesearchesandseizure.TheOSG
argues that, assuming that the items seized were found in another place not
designatedinthesearchwarrant,thesameitemsshouldstillbeadmissibleas
evidencebecausetheonewhodiscoveredthemwasabarangaytanodwhois
a private individual, the constitutional guaranty against unreasonable
searches and seizure being applicable only against government authorities.
Thecontentionisdevoidofmerit.
Same Same Administrative Law Agents of Persons in Authority
BarangayTanodsTheLocalGovernmentCodecontainsaprovisionwhich
describes the function of a barangay tanod as an agent of persons in
authority.Having been established that the assistance of the barangay
tanods was sought by the police authorities who effected the searched
warrant, the same barangaytanods therefore acted as agents of persons in
authority.Article152oftheRevisedPenalCodedefinespersonsinauthority
andagentsofpersonsinauthorityas:xxxanypersondirectlyvestedwith
jurisdiction, whether as an individual or as a member of some court or
governmentalcorporation,boardorcommission,shallbedeemedapersonin
authority.Abarangaycaptainandabarangaychairmanshallalsobedeemed
a person in authority. A person who, by direct provision of law or by
election or by appointment by competent authority, is charged with the
maintenance of public order and the protection and security of life and
property, such as barrio councilman, barrio policeman and barangayleader,
and any person who comes to the aid of persons in authority, shall be
deemedanagentofapersoninauthority.TheLocalGovernmentCodealso
containsaprovisionwhichdescribesthefunctionofabarangaytanodasan
agentofpersonsinauthority.
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Criminal Law Dangerous Drugs Act Illegal Possession of Shabu,


Elementsof.In every prosecution for the illegal possession of shabu, the
followingessentialelementsmustbeestablished:(a)theaccusedisfoundin
possessionofaregulateddrug(b)thepersonisnotauthorizedbylaworby
dulyconstitutedauthoritiesand(c)theaccusedhasknowledgethatthesaid
drugisaregulateddrug.
CriminalProcedureConstitutionalLawSearchesandSeizuresWhile
it is not necessary that the property to be searched or seized should be
ownedbythepersonagainstwhomthesearchwarrantisissued,theremust
be sufficient showing that the property is under appellants control or
possession.While it is not necessary that the property to be searched or
seized should be owned by the person against whom the search warrant is
issued, there must be sufficient showing that the property is under
appellants control or possession. The CA, in its Decision, referred to the
possession of regulated drugs by the petitioner as a constructive one.
Constructive possession exists when the drug is under the dominion and
control of the accused or when he has the right to exercise dominion and
control over the place where it is found. The records are void of any
evidence to show that petitioner owns the nipa hut in question nor was it
establishedthatheusedthesaidstructureasashop.TheRTC,aswellasthe
CA, merely presumed that petitioner used the said structure due to the
presence of electrical materials, the petitioner being an electrician by
profession.
Same Same Presumption of Innocence Evidence Proof Beyond
Reasonable Doubt The accused, in all criminal prosecutions, is presumed
innocentofthechargelaidunlessthecontraryisprovenbeyondreasonable
doubt.In considering a criminal case, it is critical to start with the laws
own starting perspective on the status of the accusedin all criminal
prosecutions,heispresumedinnocentofthechargelaidunlessthecontrary
is proven beyond reasonable doubt. Proof beyond reasonable doubt, or that
quantumofproofsufficienttoproduceamoralcertaintythatwouldconvince
andsatisfytheconscienceofthosewhoactinjudgment,isindispensableto
overcometheconstitutionalpresumptionofinnocence.

PETITIONforreviewoncertiorariofthedecisionandresolutionof
theCourtofAppeals.
ThefactsarestatedintheopinionoftheCourt.
RemegioC.Dayandayanforpetitioner.

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OfficeoftheSolicitorGeneralforrespondent.

PERALTA,J.:
For this Courts consideration is the Petition for Review1 on
Certiorari under Rule 45 of Ruben del Castillo assailing the
Decision2datedJuly31,2006andResolution3datedDecember13,
2007 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CAG.R. CR No. 27819,
whichaffirmedtheDecision4datedMarch14,2003oftheRegional
Trial Court (RTC), Branch 12, Cebu, in Criminal Case No. CBU
46291, finding petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
violationofSection16,ArticleIIIofRepublicAct(R.A.)6425.
Thefacts,asculledfromtherecords,arethefollowing:
Pursuant to a confidential information that petitioner was
engaged in selling shabu, police officers headed by SPO3
Bienvenido Masnayon, after conducting surveillance and testbuy
operation at the house of petitioner, secured a search warrant from
the RTC and around 3 oclock in the afternoon of September 13,
1997, the same police operatives went to Gil Tudtud St., Mabolo,
CebuCitytoservethesearchwarranttopetitioner.
Uponarrival,somebodyshoutedraid,whichpromptedthemto
immediately disembark from the jeep they were riding and went
directly to petitioners house and cordoned it. The structure of the
petitioners residence is a twostorey house and the petitioner was
staying in the second floor. When they went upstairs, they met
petitioners wife and informed her that they will implement the
search warrant. But before they can search the area, SPO3
Masnayon claimed that he saw petitioner run towards a small
structure,anipahut,infrontofhishouse.Masnayonchasedhimbut
tonoavail,be

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1DatedAugust23,2008,Rollo,pp.3244.
2 Penned by Associate Justice Marlene GonzalesSison, with Associate Justices
PampioA.AbarintosandPriscillaBaltazarPadilla,concurringid.,atpp.5470.
3DatedAugust23,2008,id.,atpp.7172.
4PennedbyPresidingJudgeApronianoB.Taypinid.,atpp.4553.

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causeheandhismenwerenotfamiliarwiththeentrancesandexits
oftheplace.
Theyallwentbacktotheresidenceofthepetitionerandclosely
guardedtheplacewherethesubjectranforcover.SPO3Masnayon
requested his men to get a barangay tanod and a few minutes
thereafter,hismenreturnedwithtwobarangaytanods.
In the presence of the barangay tanod, Nelson Gonzalado, and
theeldersisterofpetitionernamedDollydelCastillo,searchedthe
house of petitioner including the nipa hut where the petitioner
allegedlyranforcover.Hismenwhosearchedtheresidenceofthe
petitionerfoundnothing,butoneofthebarangaytanodswasableto
confiscate from the nipa hut several articles, including four (4)
plastic packs containing white crystalline substance. Consequently,
the articles that were confiscated were sent to the PNP Crime
Laboratoryforexamination.Thecontentsofthefour(4)heatsealed
transparentplasticpacksweresubjectedtolaboratoryexamination,
the result of which proved positive for the presence of
methamphetaminehydrochloride,orshabu.
Thus,anInformationwasfiledbeforetheRTCagainstpetitioner,
charginghimwithviolationofSection16,ArticleIIIofR.A.6425,
asamended.TheInformation5reads:

Thatonoraboutthe13thdayofSeptember1997,atabout3:00p.m.in
the City of Cebu, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court,thesaidaccused,withdeliberateintent,didthenandtherehaveinhis
possessionandcontrolfour(4)packsofwhitecrystallinepowder,havinga
total weight of 0.31 gram, locally known as shabu, all containing
methamphetamine hydrochloride, a regulated drug, without license or
prescriptionfromanycompetentauthority.
CONTRARYTOLAW.6

Duringarraignment,petitioner,withtheassistanceofhiscounsel,
pleadednotguilty.7Subsequently,trialonthemeritsensued.

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5Records,pp.12.
6Id.,atp.1.
7Id.,atp.57.

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To prove the earlier mentioned incident, the prosecution


presentedthetestimoniesofSPO3BienvenidoMasnayon,PO2Milo
Arriola,andForensicAnalyst,PoliceInspectorMutchitSalinas.
The defense, on the other hand, presented the testimonies of
petitioner, Jesusa del Castillo, Dalisay del Castillo and Herbert
Aclan,whichcanbesummarizedasfollows:
On September 13, 1997, around 3 oclock in the afternoon,
petitioner was installing the electrical wirings and airconditioning
units of the Four Seasons Canteen and Beauty Parlor at Wacky
Bldg., Cabancalan, Cebu. He was able to finish his job around 6
oclock in the evening, but he was engaged by the owner of the
establishment in a conversation. He was able to go home around
8:309oclockintheevening.Itwasthenthathelearnedfromhis
wife that police operatives searched his house and found nothing.
According to him, the small structure, 20 meters away from his
house where they found the confiscated items, was owned by his
olderbrotherandwasusedasastorageplacebyhisfather.
Aftertrial,theRTCfoundpetitionerguiltybeyondreasonableof
thechargeagainsthimintheInformation.Thedispositiveportionof
theDecisionreads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court finds the accused


Ruben del Castillo alyas Boy Castillo, GUILTY of violating Section 16,
Article III, Republic Act No. 6425, as amended. There being no mitigating
nor aggravating circumstances proven before this Court, and applying the
IndeterminateSentenceLaw,heissentencedtosufferthepenaltyofSix(6)
Months and One (1) Day as Minimum and Four (4) Years and Two (2)
MonthsasMaximumofPrisionCorreccional.
Thefour(4)smallplasticpacketsofwhitecrystallinesubstancehavinga
total weight of 0.31 gram, positive for the presence of methamphetamine
hydrochloride, are ordered confiscated and shall be destroyed in accordance
withthelaw.
SOORDERED.8

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8Id.,atp.254.

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Aggrieved, petitioner appealed his case with the CA, but the
latteraffirmedthedecisionoftheRTC,thus:

WHEREFORE,thechallengedDecisionisAFFIRMEDintotoandthe
appealisDISMISSED,withcostsagainstaccusedappellant.
SOORDERED.9

Afterthemotionforreconsiderationofpetitionerwasdeniedby
the CA, petitioner filed with this Court the present petition for
certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court with the following
argumentsraised:
1.THECOURTOFAPPEALSERREDINITSAPPLICATIONOFTHE
PROVISIONSOFTHECONSTITUTION,THERULESOFCOURTAND
ESTABLISHED JURISPRUDENCE VISVIS VALIDITY OF SEARCH
WARRANTNO.5709119724
2.THECOURTOFAPPEALSERREDINRULINGTHATTHEFOUR
(4) PACKS OF WHITE CRYSTALLINE POWDER ALLEGEDLY
FOUND ON THE FLOOR OF THE NIPA HUT OR STRUCTURE ARE
ADMISSIBLE IN EVIDENCE AGAINST THE PETITIONER, NOT
ONLY BECAUSE THE SAID COURT SIMPLY PRESUMED THAT IT
WASUSEDBYTHEPETITIONERORTHATTHEPETITIONERRAN
TO IT FOR COVER WHEN THE SEARCHING TEAM ARRIVED AT
HIS RESIDENCE, BUT ALSO, PRESUMING THAT THE SAID NIPA
HUT OR STRUCTURE WAS INDEED USED BY THE PETITIONER
AND THE FOUR (4) PACKS OF WHITE CRYSTALLINE POWDER
WERE FOUND THEREAT. THE SUBJECT FOUR (4) PACKS OF
WHITECRYSTALLINEPOWDERAREFRUITSOFTHEPOISONOUS
TREEand
3.THECOURTOFAPPEALSERREDINITSAPPLICATIONOFTHE
ELEMENTOFPOSSESSIONASAGAINSTTHEPETITIONER,ASIT
WAS IN VIOLATION OF THE ESTABLISHED JURISPRUDENCE ON
THE MATTER. HAD THE SAID COURT PROPERLY APPLIED THE
ELEMENT IN QUESTION, IT COULD HAVE BEEN ASSAYED THAT
THESAMEHADNOTBEENPROVEN.10

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9Rollo,p.70.
10Id.,atp.37.

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TheOfficeoftheSolicitorGeneral(OSG),initsCommentdated
February10,2009,enumeratedthefollowingcounterarguments:

I
SEARCH WARRANT No. 5709119724 issued by Executive Judge
PriscillaS.AganaofBranch24,RegionalTrialCourtofCebuCityisvalid.
II
The four (4) packs of shabu seized inside the shop of petitioner are
admissibleinevidenceagainsthim.
III
TheCourtofAppealsdidnoterrinfindinghimguiltyofillegalpossession
ofprohibiteddrugs.11

Petitioner insists that there was no probable cause to issue the


search warrant, considering that SPO1 Reynaldo Matillano, the
policeofficerwhoappliedforit,hadnopersonalknowledgeofthe
alleged illegal sale of drugs during a testbuy operation conducted
prior to the application of the same search warrant. The OSG,
however,maintainsthatthepetitioner,asidefromfailingtofilethe
necessary motion to quash the search warrant pursuant to Section
14, Rule 127 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, did not
introduceclearandconvincingevidencetoshowthatMasnayonwas
consciousofthefalsityofhisassertionorrepresentation.
Anent the second argument, petitioner asserts that the nipa hut
locatedabout20metersawayfromhishouseisnolongerwithinthe
permissibleareathatmaybesearchedbythepoliceofficersdueto
the distance and that the search warrant did not include the same
nipahutasoneoftheplacestobesearched.TheOSG,ontheother
hand, argues that the constitutional guaranty against unreasonable
searches and seizure is applicable only against government
authoritiesandnottoprivateindividualssuchasthebarangaytanod
who found the folded paper containing packs of shabu inside the
nipahut.

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11Id.,atpp.98103.

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As to the third argument raised, petitioner claims that the CA


erred in finding him guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal
possessionofprohibiteddrugs,becausehecouldnotbepresumedto
beinpossessionofthesamejustbecausetheywerefoundinsidethe
nipa hut. Nevertheless, the OSG dismissed the argument of the
petitioner, stating that, when prohibited and regulated drugs are
foundinahouseorotherbuildingbelongingtoandoccupiedbya
particular person, the presumption arises that such person is in
possessionofsuchdrugsinviolationoflaw,andthefactoffinding
thesameissufficienttoconvict.
ThisCourtfindsnomeritonthefirstargumentofpetitioner.
The requisites for the issuance of a search warrant are: (1)
probable cause is present (2) such probable cause must be
determinedpersonallybythejudge(3)thejudgemustexamine,in
writing and under oath or affirmation, the complainant and the
witnessesheorshemayproduce(4)theapplicantandthewitnesses
testify on the facts personally known to them and (5) the warrant
specifically describes the place to be searched and the things to be
seized.12 According to petitioner, there was no probable cause.
Probable cause for a search warrant is defined as such facts and
circumstances which would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent
man to believe that an offense has been committed and that the
objectssoughtinconnectionwiththeoffenseareintheplacesought
tobesearched.13Afindingofprobablecauseneedsonlytoreston
evidence showing that, more likely than not, a crime has been
committedandthatitwascommittedbytheaccused.Probablecause
demands more than bare suspicion it requires less than evidence
which would justify conviction.14 The judge, in determining
probablecause,istoconsiderthetotalityof

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12Abuanv.People,G.R.No.168773,October27,2006,505SCRA799,822,citing
Peoplev.Francisco,G.R.No.129035,August22,2002,387SCRA569,575.
13Santosv.PryceGases,Inc.,G.R. No. 165122, November 23, 2007, 538 SCRA
474,484,citingColumbiaPictures,Inc.v.CourtofAppeals,329Phil.875,903261
SCRA144,164(1996).
14Id.,citingSarigumbav.Sandiganbayan,G.R.Nos.15423941,February16,2005,
451SCRA533,550.

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thecircumstancesmadeknowntohimandnotbyafixedandrigid
formula,15andmustemployaflexible,totalityofthecircumstances
standard.16Theexistencedependstoalargedegreeuponthefinding
or opinion of the judge conducting the examination. This Court,
therefore,isinnopositiontodisturbthefactualfindingsofthejudge
which led to the issuance of the search warrant. A magistrates
determinationofprobablecausefortheissuanceofasearchwarrant
is paid great deference by a reviewing court, as long as there was
substantial basis for that determination.17 Substantial basis means
thatthequestionsoftheexaminingjudgebroughtoutsuchfactsand
circumstancesaswouldleadareasonablydiscreetandprudentman
to believe that an offense has been committed, and the objects in
connection with the offense sought to be seized are in the place
sought to be searched.18 A review of the records shows that in the
presentcase,asubstantialbasisexists.
With regard to the second argument of petitioner, it must be
remembered that the warrant issued must particularly describe the
placetobesearchedandpersonsorthingstobeseizedinorderforit
tobevalid.Adesignationordescriptionthatpointsouttheplaceto
besearchedtotheexclusionofallothers,andoninquiryunerringly
leadsthepeaceofficerstoit,satisfiestheconstitutionalrequirement
of definiteness.19 In the present case, Search Warrant No. 5709
11972420 specifically designates or describes the residence of the
petitioner as the place to be searched. Incidentally, the items were
seizedbyabarangaytanodinanipahut,20metersawayfromthe
residenceofthepetitioner.Theconfiscateditems,havingbeenfound
inaplace

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15Abuanv.People,supranote12,citingPeoplev.Tampis,467Phil.582,590407
SCRA582,590(2003)Massachusettsv.Upton,466US727,104S.Ct.2085(1984).
16Id.,citingUSv.Canan,48F.3d954(1995).
17Peoplev.EstelaTuan,G.R.No.176066,August11,2011,628SCRA226.
18Id.citingPeoplev.Tee,443Phil.521,540395SCRA419,437438(2003).
19Peoplev.Tee,supra.
20Records,p.114.

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otherthantheonedescribedinthesearchwarrant,canbeconsidered
asfruitsofaninvalidwarrantlesssearch,thepresentationofwhich
as an evidence is a violation of petitioners constitutional guaranty
against unreasonable searches and seizure. The OSG argues that,
assuming that the items seized were found in another place not
designated in the search warrant, the same items should still be
admissibleasevidencebecausetheonewhodiscoveredthemwasa
barangay tanod who is a private individual, the constitutional
guarantyagainstunreasonablesearchesandseizurebeingapplicable
only against government authorities. The contention is devoid of
merit.
Itwastestifiedtoduringtrialbythepoliceofficerswhoeffected
the search warrant that they asked the assistance of the barangay
tanods,thus,inthetestimonyofSPO3Masnayon:
FiscalCentino:
QForhowlongdidthechasetakeplace?
AJustaveryfewmoments.
QAfterthat,whatdidyou[do]whenyouwerenotabletoreachhim?
AIwatchedhisshopandthenIrequestedmymentogetabarangaytanod.
QWereyouabletogetabarangaytanod?
AYes.
QCanyoutelluswhatisthenameofthebarangaytanod?
ANelsonGonzalado.
QForpointofclarification,howmanybarangaytanod[did]yourdriverget?
ATwo.
QWhathappenedafterthat?
AWesearchedthehouse,butwefoundnegative.
QWhoproceededtothesecondfloorofthehouse?
ASPO1CiriloPogosoandMiloAreolawentupstairsandfoundnothing.
QWhataboutyou,wherewereyou?
AI[was]watchinghisshopandIwaswithMatillano.

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QWhataboutthebarangaytanod?
ATogetherwithMiloandPogoso.
QWhenthesearchatthesecondfloorofthehouseyieldednegativewhatdid
youdo?
AThey went downstairs because I was suspicious of his shop because he
ranfromhisshop,sowesearchedhisshop.
QWhowerewithyouwhenyousearchedtheshop?
AThebarangaytanodNiloGonzalado,theeldersisterofRubendelCastillo
namedDollydelCastillo.
QYou mean to say, that when (sic) SPO1 Reynaldo Matillano, Barangay
Tanod Nilo Gonzalado and the elder sister of Ruben del Castillo were
togetherintheshop?
AYes.
QWhathappenedattheshop?
AOneofthebarangaytanodswasabletopickupwhitefoldedpaper.
QWhat[were]thecontentsofthatwhitefoldedpaper?
AAplasticpackcontainingwhitecrystalline.
QWasthattheonlyitem?
AThereareotherslikethefoil,scissor.
QWereyoupresentwhenthosepersonsfoundthosetinfoilandothersinsidethe
electricshop?
AYes.21

Thefactthatnoitemswereseizedintheresidenceofpetitioner
and that the items that were actually seized were found in another
structure by a barangay tanod, was corroborated by PO2 Arriola,
thus:
FISCAL:
QSo, upon arriving at the house of Ruben del Castillo alias Boy, can you still
recallwhattookplace?
AWecordonedthearea.

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21TSN,July16,1998,pp.89.(Emphasissupplied.)

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QAndafteryoucordonedthearea,didanythinghappen?
AWewaitedforthebarangaytanod.
QAnddidthebarangaytanodeventuallyappear?
AYes. And then we started our search in the presence of Ruben del Castillos
wife.
QWhatisthenameofthewifeofRubendelCastillo?
AIcannotrecallhername,butifIseeherIcanrecall[her]face.
QWhat about Ruben del Castillo, was she around when [you] conducted the
search?
ANo. Ruben was not in the house. But our team leader, team mate Bienvenido
MasnayonsawthatRubenranawayfromhisadjacentelectronicshopnearhis
house,infrontofhishouse.
QDidyoufindanythingduringthesearchinthehouseofRubendelCastillo?
AAfteroursearchinthehouse,wedidnotseeanything.Thehousewasclean.
QWhatdidyoudoafterwards,ifany?
AWeleft(sic)outofthehouseandproceededtohiselectronicshop.
QDoyouknowthereasonwhyyouproceededtohiselectronicshop?
AYes. Because our team leader Bienvenido Masnayon saw that (sic) Ruben run
fromthatstoreandfurthermorethedoorwasopen.
QHowfaristheelectronicshopfromthehouseofRubendelCastillo?
AMoreorless,5to6metersinfrontofhishouse.
xxxx
QSo,whoenteredinsidetheelectronicshop?
AThe one who first entered the electronic shop is our team leader Bienvenido
Masnayon.
QYoumentionedthatMasnayonenteredfirst.Doyoumeantosaythattherewere
otherpersonsorotherpersonthatfollowedafterMasnayon?
AThenwefollowedsuit.
QAllofyourpoliceofficersandthebarangaytanodfollowedsuit?
AIledOtadoyandthebarangaytanod.
QWhataboutyou?
AIalsofollowedsuit.

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QAnddidanythinghappeninsidetheshopofRubendelCastillo?
AItwasthebarangaytanodwhosawthefoldedpaperandIsawhimopen
thefoldedpaperwhichcontainedfourshabudeck.
QHowfarwereyouwhenyousawthefoldedpaperandthetanodopenthefolded
paper?
AWeweresidebysidebecausetheshopwasverysmall.22

SPO1Pogosoalsotestifiedonthesamematter,thus:
FISCALCENTINO:
QAndwheredidyouconductthesearch,Mr.Witness?
AAthisresidence,thetwostoreyhouse.
QAmongthethreepolicemen,whowerewithyouinconductingthesearchatthe
residenceoftheaccused?
AI,BienvenidoMasnayon.
QAndwhattranspiredafteryousearchedthehouseofRubendelCastillo?
ANegative,noshabu.
QAndwhathappenedafterwards,ifany?
AWewentdownstairsandproceededtothesmallhouse.
QCan you please describe to this Honorable Court, what was that small house
whichyouproceededto?
AItisanipahut.
QAndmoreorless,howfarornearwasitfromthehouseofRubendelCastillo?
A5to10meters.
QAndcouldyoutellMr.Witness,whatwasthatnipahutsupposedtobe?
AThatwastheelectronicshopofRubendelCastillo.
QAndwhathappenedwhenyourteamproceededtothenipahut?
AIwasjustoutsidethenipahut.

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22TSN,February4,1999,pp.46.(Emphasissupplied.)

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QAndwhoamongtheteamwentinside?
APO2MiloAreolaandtheBarangayTanod.23

Having been established that the assistance of the barangay


tanods was sought by the police authorities who effected the
searched warrant, the same barangay tanods therefore acted as
agents of persons in authority. Article 152 of the Revised Penal
Codedefinespersonsinauthorityandagentsofpersonsinauthority
as:

xxxanypersondirectlyvestedwithjurisdiction,whetherasanindividual
or as a member of some court or governmental corporation, board or
commission,shallbedeemedapersoninauthority.Abarangaycaptainand
abarangaychairmanshallalsobedeemedapersoninauthority.
A person who, by direct provision of law or by election or by appointment
bycompetentauthority,ischarged with the maintenance of public order
and the protection and security of life and property, such as barrio
councilman,barriopolicemanandbarangayleader,andanypersonwho
comestotheaidofpersonsinauthority,shallbedeemedanagentofa
personinauthority.

The Local Government Code also contains a provision which


describesthefunctionofabarangaytanodasanagentofpersonsin
authority.Section388oftheLocalGovernmentCodereads:
SEC.388.PersonsinAuthority.ForpurposesoftheRevisedPenal
Code,thepunongbarangay,sangguniangbarangaymembers,andmembers
ofthelupongtagapamayapaineachbarangayshallbedeemedaspersonsin
authority in their jurisdictions, while other barangay officials and
memberswhomaybedesignatedbylaworordinanceandchargedwith
the maintenance of public order, protection and security of life and
property,orthemaintenanceofadesirableandbalancedenvironment,
and any barangay member who comes to the aid of persons in
authority,shallbedeemedagentsofpersonsinauthority.

Byvirtueoftheaboveprovisions,thepoliceofficers,aswellas
thebarangaytanodswereactingasagentsofapersoninauthority
during the conduct of the search. Thus, the search conducted was
unrea

_______________
23TSN,May12,1999,pp.34.(Emphasissupplied.)

445

VOL.664,JANUARY30,2012 445
DelCastillovs.People

sonable and the confiscated items are inadmissible in evidence.


Assumingexgratiaargumenti that the barangay tanod who found
the confiscated items is considered a private individual, thus,
making the same items admissible in evidence, petitioners third
argument that the prosecution failed to establish constructive
possessionoftheregulateddrugsseized,wouldstillbemeritorious.
Appellatecourtswillgenerallynotdisturbthefactualfindingsof
the trial court since the latter has the unique opportunity to weigh
conflicting testimonies, having heard the witnesses themselves and
observed their deportment and manner of testifying,24 unless
attended with arbitrariness or plain disregard of pertinent facts or
circumstances, the factual findings are accorded the highest degree
ofrespectonappeal25asinthepresentcase.
It must be put into emphasis that this present case is about the
violation of Section 16 of R.A. 6425. In every prosecution for the
illegalpossessionofshabu,thefollowingessentialelementsmustbe
established: (a) the accused is found in possession of a regulated
drug(b)thepersonisnotauthorizedbylaworbydulyconstituted
authoritiesand(c)theaccusedhasknowledgethatthesaiddrugisa
regulateddrug.26
In People v. Tira,27 this Court explained the concept of
possessionofregulateddrugs,towit:

This crime is mala prohibita, and, as such, criminal intent is not an


essentialelement.However,theprosecutionmustprovethattheaccusedhad
the intent to possess (animus posidendi) the drugs. Possession, under the
law, includes not only actual possession, but also constructive possession.
Actual possession exists when the drug is in the immediate physical
possession or control of the accused. On the other hand, constructive
possession exists when the drug is under the dominion and control of the
accused or when he has the right to exercise dominion and control over the
placewhere

_______________
24Peoplev.Baygar,376Phil.466,473318SCRA358,365(1999).
25Peoplev.Matito,468Phil.14,24423SCRA617,625(2004).
26Quelnanv.People,G.R.No.166061,July6,2007,526SCRA653,662,citingAbuan
v.People,supra note 12, and Peoplev.Torres, G.R. No. 170837, September 12, 2006, 501
SCRA591,610.
27G.R.No.139615,May28,2004,430SCRA134.

446

446 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
DelCastillovs.People

it is found. Exclusive possession or control is not necessary. The accused


cannotavoidconvictionifhisrighttoexercisecontrolanddominionoverthe
placewherethecontrabandislocated,issharedwithanother.28

While it is not necessary that the property to be searched or


seized should be owned by the person against whom the search
warrantisissued,theremustbesufficientshowingthattheproperty
isunderappellantscontrolorpossession.29TheCA,initsDecision,
referred to the possession of regulated drugs by the petitioner as a
constructive one. Constructive possession exists when the drug is
under the dominion and control of the accused or when he has the
right to exercise dominion and control over the place where it is
found.30 The records are void of any evidence to show that
petitioner owns the nipa hut in question nor was it established that
he used the said structure as a shop. The RTC, as well as the CA,
merely presumed that petitioner used the said structure due to the
presenceofelectricalmaterials,thepetitionerbeinganelectricianby
profession. The CA, in its Decision, noted a resolution by the
investigatingprosecutor,thus:

x x x As admitted by respondents wife, her husband is an electrician by


occupation.Assuch,conclusioncouldbearrivedatthatthestructure,which
housed the electrical equipments is actually used by the respondent. Being
thecase,hehascontrolofthethingsfoundinsaidstructure.31

In addition, the testimonies of the witnesses for the prosecution


donotalsoprovideproofastotheownershipofthestructurewhere
theseizedarticleswerefound.Duringtheirdirecttestimonies,they
justsaid,withoutstatingtheirbasis,thatthesamestructurewasthe
shopofpetitioner.32DuringthedirecttestimonyofSPO1Pogoso,he

_______________
28Id.at151152.
29Peoplev.DelCastillo,G.R.No.153254,September30,2004,439SCRA601,
613614,citingPeoplev.Dichoso,G.R.Nos.10121618,June4,1993,223SCRA174,
191,citingBurgosv.ChiefofStaff,133SCRA800(1984).
30Peoplev.Tira,supranote27.
31Rollo,p.65.
32TSN,July16,1998,pp.79TSN,February4,1999,pp.56.

447

VOL.664,JANUARY30,2012 447
DelCastillovs.People

even outrightly concluded that the electrical shop/nipa hut was


ownedbypetitioner,thus:
FISCALCENTINO:
QCan you please describe to this Honorable Court, what was that small house
whichyouproceededto?
AItisanipahut.
QAndmoreorless,howfarornearwasitfromthehouseofRubendelCastillo?
A5to10meters.
QAndcouldyoutellMr.Witness,whatwasthatnipahutsupposedtobe?
AThatwastheelectronicshopofRubendelCastillo.
QAndwhathappenedwhenyourteamproceededtothenipahut?
AIwasjustoutsidethenipahut.33

However, during crossexamination, SPO3 Masnayon admitted


that there was an electrical shop but denied what he said in his
earliertestimonythatitwasownedbypetitioner,thus:
ATTY.DAYANDAYAN:
QYoutestifiedthatRubendelCastillohasanelectricalshop,isthatcorrect?
AHecameoutofanelectricalshop.Ididnotsaythatheownstheshop.
QNow,thisshopiswithinastructure?
AYes.
QHowbigisthestructure?
AItisquiteabigstructure,becauseattheothersideisamahjongdenandatthe
othersideisastructurerentedbyacouple.34

Theprosecutionmustprovethatthepetitionerhadknowledgeof
theexistenceandpresenceofthedrugsintheplaceunderhiscontrol
and dominion and the character of the drugs.35 With the
prosecutions
_______________
33TSN,May12,1999,pp.34.
34TSN,July16,1998,p.15.
35SeePeoplev.Tira,supranote27.

448

448 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
DelCastillovs.People

failuretoprovethatthenipahutwasunderpetitionerscontroland
dominion, there casts a reasonable doubt as to his guilt. In
consideringacriminalcase,itiscriticaltostartwiththelawsown
starting perspective on the status of the accusedin all criminal
prosecutions,heispresumedinnocentofthechargelaidunlessthe
contrary is proven beyond reasonable doubt.36 Proof beyond
reasonable doubt, or that quantum of proof sufficient to produce a
moral certainty that would convince and satisfy the conscience of
those who act in judgment, is indispensable to overcome the
constitutionalpresumptionofinnocence.37
WHEREFORE,theDecisiondatedJuly31,2006oftheCourtof
AppealsinCAG.R.No.27819,whichaffirmedtheDecisiondated
March 14, 2003 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 12, Cebu, in
Criminal Case No. CBU46291 is hereby REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. Petitioner Ruben del Castillo is ACQUITTED on
reasonabledoubt.
SOORDERED.

Velasco, Jr. (Chairperson), Mendoza, Reyes** and Perlas


Bernabe,JJ.,concur.

_______________
36 People v. Sanchez, G.R. No. 175832, October 15, 2008, 569 SCRA 194, 207,
citingArticleIII(BillofRights),Section14(2)ofthe1987Constitutionwhichreads:
Inallcriminalprosecutions,theaccusedshallbepresumedinnocentuntilthecontrary
isproved,andshallenjoytherighttobeheardbyhimselfandcounsel,tobeinformed
ofthenatureandcauseoftheaccusationagainsthim,tohaveaspeedy,impartial,and
publictrial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to
securetheattendanceofwitnessesandproductionofevidenceinhisbehalf.However,
after arraignment, trial may proceed notwithstanding the absence of the accused
providedthathehasbeendulynotifiedandhisfailuretoappearisunjustifiable.
37Peoplev.Villanueva,G.R.No.131773,February13,2002,376SCRA615,637,
citingPeoplev.Gomez,G.R.No.101817,March26,1997,270SCRA432,444.
**Designated as an additional member in lieu of Associate Justice Roberto A.
Abad,perSpecialOrderNo.1178datedJanuary26,2012.

449
VOL.664,JANUARY30,2012 449
DelCastillovs.People

Judgment reversed and set aside, petitioner Ruben del Castillo


acquitted.

Note.Forvoluntarysurrendertobeappreciated,thefollowing
requisites should be present: 1) the offender has not been actually
arrested2)theoffendersurrenderedhimselftoapersoninauthority
orthelattersagentand3)thesurrenderwasvoluntary.(DeVeravs.
DeVera,584SCRA506[2009]).
o0o

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