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Valmonte v. De Villa, [G.R. No.

83988 September 29, 1989] (173 SCRA


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

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
contended that the checkpoints gave the respondents blanket authority to
make searches and seizures without search warrant or court order in
violation of the Constitution.


Do the military and police checkpoints violate the right of the people
against unreasonable search and seizures?


[The Court, voting 13-2, DISMISSED the petition.]

NO, military and police checkpoints DO NOT violate the right of the people
against unreasonable search and seizures.

xxx. Not all searches and seizures are prohibited. Those which are
reasonable are not forbidden. A reasonable search is not to be determined
by any fixed formula but is to be resolved according to the facts of each

Where, for example, the officer merely draws aside the curtain of a vacant
vehicle which is parked on the public fair grounds, or simply looks into a
vehicle, or flashes a light therein, these do not constitute unreasonable

The setting up of the questioned checkpoints in Valenzuela (and probably

in other areas) 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 also be regarded as measures to thwart plots to destabilize the
government, in the interest of public security. In this connection, the Court
may take judicial notice of the shift to urban centers and their suburbs of
the insurgency movement, so clearly reflected in the increased killings in
cities of police and military men by NPA sparrow units, not to mention
the abundance of unlicensed firearms and the alarming rise in
lawlessness and violence in such urban centers, not all of which are
reported in media, most likely brought about by deteriorating economic
conditions which all sum up to what one can rightly consider, at the very
least, as abnormal times. Between the inherent right of the state to protect
its existence and promote public welfare and an individual's right against a
warrantless search which is however reasonably conducted, the former
should prevail.

True, the manning of checkpoints by the military is susceptible of abuse by

the men in uniform, 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 within reasonable limits, are part of the
price we pay for an orderly society and a peaceful community.