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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 200748 July 23, 2014

JAIME D. DELA CRUZ, Petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

DECISION

SERENO, CJ:

This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari, filed by petitioner Jaime D. dela


Cruz, from the Decision1 dated 22 June 2011 issued by the Twentieth
Division of the Court of Appeals (CA) and Resolution2 dated 2 February 2012
issued by the Former Twentieth Division of the CA in CA-G.R. C.R. No. 00670.

THE ANTECEDENT FACTS

Petitioner Jaime D. dela Cruz was charged with violation of Section 15,
Article II of Republic Act No. (R.A.) 9165, or The Comprehensive Dangerous
Drugs Act of 2002, by the Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer of the
Office of the Ombudsman - Visayas, in an Information3 dated 14 February
2006, which reads:

That on or about the 31st day of January 2006, at Cebu City, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused,
JAIME D. DE LA CRUZ, a public officer, having been duly appointed and
qualified to such public position as Police Officer 2 of the Philippine National
Police (PNP) assigned in the Security Service Group of the Cebu City Police
Office, after having beenarrested by agents of the National Bureau of
Investigation (NBI) in an entrapment operation, was found positive for use
of METHAMPHETAMINE HYDROCHLORIDEcommonly known as "Shabu", the
dangerous drug after a confirmatory test conducted on said accused.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

When arraigned, petitioner, assisted by counsel de parte, pleaded not guilty


to the charge. The records do not reveal whether De la Cruz was likewise
charged for extortion.

VERSION OF THE PROSECUTION

The evidence of the prosecution reveals that at 8:00 a.m. of 31 January


2006, the agents and special investigators of the National Bureau of
Investigation, Central Visayas Regional Office (NBI-CEVRO) or simply NBI,
received a Complaint from Corazon Absin (Corazon) and Charito Escobido
(Charito). The complainants claimed that at 1:00 a.m. of that same day, Ariel
Escobido (Ariel), the live-in partner of Corazon and son of Charito, was
picked up by several unknown male persons believed to be police officers
for allegedly selling drugs. An errand boy gave a number to the
complainants, and when the latter gave the number a ring, they were
instructed to proceed to the Gorordo Police Office located along Gorordo
Avenue, Cebu City. In the said police office, they met "James" who
demanded from them P100,000, later lowered to P40,000, in exchange for
the release of Ariel. After the meeting, the complainants proceeded to the
NBI-CEVRO to file a complaint and narrate the circumstances of the meeting
to the authorities. While at the NBI-CEVRO, Charitoeven received calls
supposedly from "James" instructing her to bring the money as soon as
possible.

The special investigators at the NBI-CEVRO verified the text messages


received by the complainants.1wphi1 A team was immediately formed to
implement an entrapment operation, which took place inside a Jollibee
branch at the corner of Gen. Maxilom and Gorordo Avenues, Cebu City. The
officers were able to nab Jaime dela Cruz by using a pre-marked 500 bill
dusted with fluorescent powder, which was made part of the amount
demanded by "James" and handed by Corazon. Petitioner was later brought
to the forensic laboratory of the NBI-CEVRO where forensic examination was
done by forensic chemist Rommel Paglinawan. Petitioner was required to
submit his urine for drug testing. It later yielded a positive result for
presence of dangerous drugs as indicated in the confirmatory test result
labeled as Toxicology (DangerousDrugs) Report No. 2006-TDD-2402 dated
16 February 2006.

VERSION OF THE DEFENSE

The defense presented petitioner as the lone witness. He denied the charges
and testified that while eating at the said Jollibee branch, he was arrested
allegedly for extortion by NBI agents. When he was at the NBI Office, he was
required to extract urine for drug examination, but he refused saying he
wanted it to be done by the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime
Laboratory and not by the NBI. His request was, however, denied. He also
requested to be allowed to call his lawyer prior to the taking of his urine
sample, to no avail.

THE RULING OF THE RTC

The Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 58 of Cebu City, in its Decision4 dated
6 June 2007, found the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating
Section 15, Article II of R.A. 9165 and sentenced him to suffer the penalty of
compulsory rehabilitation for a period of not less than six (6) months at the
Cebu Center for the Ultimate Rehabilitation of Drug Dependents located at
Salinas, Lahug, Cebu City.5

Petitioner filed an appeal assigning as error the RTCs validation of the result
of the urine test despite its dubiousness having been admitted in spite of
the lack of legal basis for itsadmission. First, he alleges that the forensic
laboratory examination was conducted despite the fact that he was not
assisted by counsel, in clear violation of his constitutional right. Secondly, he
was allegedly held guilty beyond reasonable doubt notwithstanding the lack
of sufficient basis to convict him.

THE RULING OF THE CA


The CA found the appeal devoid of merit and affirmed the ruling of the RTC.

Petitioner filed a timely Motion for Reconsideration. He argued that the CA


overlooked prevailing jurisprudence, which states that drug testing
conducted under circumstancessimilar to his would violate a persons right
to privacy. The appellate court nevertheless denied the motion.

Petitioner thus filed the present Petition for Review on certiorari. He assigns
as errors the use of hearsay evidence as basis for his conviction and the
questionable circumstances surrounding his arrest and drug test.

Respondent, through the Office of the Solicitor General, filed its


Comment,6 saying that "petitioners arguments cannot be the subject of a
petition for review on certiorariunder Rule 45, as they involve questions of
facts which may not be the subject thereof; after his arraignment, he can no
longer contest the validity of his arrest, less so at this stage of the
proceedings; his guilt has been adequately established by direct evidence;
and the manner in which the laboratory examination was conducted was
grounded on a valid and existing law.

THE ISSUE

We deem it proper to give due course to this Petition by confronting head-


on the issue of whether or not the drug test conducted upon the petitioner
is legal.

OUR RULING

We declare that the drug testconducted upon petitioner is not grounded


upon any existing law or jurisprudence.

We gloss over petitioners non-compliance with the Resolution7 ordering


him to submit clearly legible duplicate originals or certified true copies of
the assailed Decision and Resolution. Petitioner was charged with use of
dangerous drugs in violation of the law, the pertinent provision of which
reads:
Section 15. Use of Dangerous Drugs. A person apprehended or arrested,
who is found to be positive for use of any dangerous drug, after a
confirmatory test, shall be imposed a penalty of a minimum of six (6)
months rehabilitation in a government center for the first offense, subject to
the provisions of Article VIII of this Act. If apprehended using any dangerous
drug for the second time, he/she shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment
ranging from six (6) years and one (1) day to twelve (12) years and a fine
ranging from Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) to Two hundred thousand
pesos (P200,000.00): Provided,That this Section shall not be applicable
where the person tested is also found to have in his/her possession such
quantity of any dangerous drug provided for under Section 11 of this Act, in
which case the provisions stated therein shall apply.8

The RTC subsequently convicted petitioner, ruling that the following


elements of Section 15 were established: (1) the accused was arrested; (2)
the accused was subjected to drug test; and (3) the confirmatory test shows
that he used a dangerous drug.

Disregarding petitioners objection regarding the admissibility of the


evidence, the lower court also reasoned that "a suspect cannot invoke his
right to counsel when he is required to extract urine because, while he is
already in custody, he is not compelled to make a statement or testimony
against himself. Extracting urine from ones body is merely a mechanical act,
hence, falling outside the concept of a custodial investigation."

We find the ruling and reasoning of the trial court, as well as the subsequent
affirmation by the CA, erroneous on three counts.

The drug test in Section 15 does not cover persons apprehended or arrested
for any unlawful act, but only for unlawful acts listed under Article II of R.A.
9165.

First, "[a] person apprehended orarrested" cannot literally mean any person
apprehended or arrested for any crime.The phrase must be read in context
and understood in consonance with R.A. 9165. Section 15 comprehends
persons arrested or apprehended for unlawful acts listed under Article II of
the law.

Hence, a drug test can be made upon persons who are apprehended or
arrested for, among others, the "importation,"9 "sale, trading,
administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and
transportation",10"manufacture"11 and "possession"12 of dangerous drugs
and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals; possession thereof
"during parties, social gatherings or meetings"13 ; being "employees and
visitors of a den, dive or resort";14 "maintenance of a den, dive or
resort";15 "illegal chemical diversion of controlled precursors and essential
chemicals"16 ; "manufacture or delivery"17 or "possession"18 of equipment,
instrument, apparatus, and other paraphernalia for dangerous drugs and/or
controlled precursors and essential chemicals; possession of dangerous
drugs "during parties, social gatherings or meetings"19 ; "unnecessary"20 or
"unlawful"21 prescription thereof; "cultivation or culture of plantsclassified
as dangerous drugs or are sources thereof";22 and "maintenance and
keeping of original records of transactions on dangerous drugs
and/orcontrolled precursors and essential chemicals."23 To make the
provision applicable to all persons arrested or apprehended for any crime
not listed under Article II is tantamount to unduly expanding its meaning.
Note thataccused appellant here was arrested in the alleged act of
extortion.

A charge for violation of Section 15 of R.A. 9165 is seen as expressive of the


intent of the law to rehabilitate persons apprehended or arrested for the
unlawful acts enumerated above instead of charging and convicting them of
other crimes with heavier penalties. The essence of the provision is more
clearly illustrated in People v. Martinez24 as follows:

On a final note, this Court takes the opportunity to be instructive on Sec. 11


(Possession of Dangerous Drugs) and Sec. 15 (Use of Dangerous Drugs) of
R.A. No. 9165, withregard to the charges that are filed by law enforcers. This
Court notes the practice of law enforcers of filing charges under Sec. 11 in
cases where the presence of dangerous drugs as basis for possession is only
and solely in the form of residue, being subsumed under the last paragraph
of Sec. 11. Although not incorrect, it would be more in keeping withthe
intent of the law to file charges under Sec. 15 instead in order to rehabilitate
first time offenders of drug use, provided thatthere is a positive
confirmatory test result as required under Sec. 15.The minimum penalty
under the last paragraph of Sec. 11 for the possession of residue
isimprisonment of twelve years and one day, while the penalty under Sec.
15 for first time offenders of drug use is a minimum of six months
rehabilitation in a government center. To file charges under Sec. 11 on the
basis of residue alone would frustrate the objective of the law to rehabilitate
drug users and provide them with an opportunity to recover for a second
chance at life.

In the case at bench, the presence of dangerous drugs was only in the form
of residue on the drug paraphernalia, and the accused were found positive
for use of dangerous drugs. Granting that the arrest was legal, the evidence
obtained admissible, and the chain of custody intact, the law enforcers
should have filed charges under Sec. 15, R.A. No. 9165 or for use of
dangerous drugs and, if there was no residue at all, they should have been
charged under Sec. 14 (Possession of Equipment, Instrument, Apparatus and
Other Paraphernalia for Dangerous Drugs During Parties, Social Gatherings
or Meetings). Sec. 14 provides that the maximum penalty under Sec.
12(Possession of Equipment, Instrument, Apparatus and Other
Paraphernalia for Dangerous Drugs) shall be imposed on any person who
shall possess any equipment, instrument, apparatus and other
paraphernalia for dangerous drugs. Under Sec. 12, the maximum penalty is
imprisonment of four years and a fine of P50,000.00. In fact, under the same
section, the possession of such equipment, apparatus or other
paraphernalia is prima facieevidence that the possessor has used a
dangerous drug and shall be presumed to have violated Sec. 15.

In order to effectively fulfill the intent of the law to rehabilitate drug users,
this Court thus calls on law enforcers and prosecutors in dangerous drugs
cases to exercise proper discretion in filing charges when the presence of
dangerous drugs isonly and solely in the form of residue and the
confirmatory test required under Sec. 15 is positive for use of dangerous
drugs.In such cases, to afford the accused a chance to be rehabilitated, the
filing of charges for or involving possession of dangerous drugs should only
be done when another separate quantity of dangerous drugs, other than
mere residue, is found in the possession of the accused as provided for in
Sec. 15. (Emphasis supplied)

Furthermore, making the phrase "a person apprehended or arrested" in


Section 15 applicable to all persons arrested or apprehended for unlawful
acts, not only under R.A. 9165 but for all other crimes, is tantamount to a
mandatory drug testing of all persons apprehended or arrested for any
crime. To overextend the application of thisprovision would run counter to
our pronouncement in Social Justice Society v. Dangerous Drugs Board and
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency,25 to wit:

x x x [M]andatory drug testing can never be random and suspicionless. The


ideas of randomness and being suspicionless are antithetical to their being
made defendants in a criminal complaint. They are not randomly picked;
neither are they beyond suspicion. When persons suspected of committing a
crime are charged, they are singled out and are impleaded against their will.
The persons thus charged, by the bare fact of being haled before the
prosecutors office and peaceably submitting themselves to drug testing, if
that be the case, do not necessarily consent to the procedure, let alone
waive their right to privacy. To impose mandatory drug testing on the
accused is a blatant attempt to harness a medical test as a tool for criminal
prosecution, contrary to the stated objectives of RA 6195. Drug testing in
this case would violate a persons right to privacy guaranteed under Sec. 2,
Art. III of the Constitution. Worse still, the accused persons are veritably
forced to incriminate themselves. (Emphasis supplied)

The drug test is not covered by allowable non-testimonial compulsion.

We find that petitioner never raisedthe alleged irregularity of his arrest


before his arraignment and raises the issue only now before this tribunal;
hence, he is deemed to have waived his right to question the validity of his
arrest curing whatever defect may have attended his arrest.26 However, "a
waiver of an illegal warrantless arrest does not mean a waiver of the
inadmissibility of evidence seized during an illegal warrantless arrest."27

We are aware of the prohibition against testimonial compulsion and the


allowable exceptions to such proscription. Cases where non-testimonial
compulsion has been allowed reveal, however, that the pieces of evidence
obtained were all material to the principal cause of the arrest.

The constitutional right of an accused against self-incrimination proscribes


the use of physical or moral compulsion to extort communications from the
accused and not the inclusion of his body in evidence when it may be
material. Purely mechanical acts are not included in the prohibition as the
accused does not thereby speak his guilt, hence the assistance and guiding
hand ofcounsel is not required. (People vs. Olvis, 238 Phil. 513 [1987]) The
essence of the right against selfincrimination is testimonial compulsion, that
is, the giving of evidence against himself through a testimonial act. (People
vs. Casinillo, 213 SCRA 777 [1992]; People vs. Tranca, 235 SCRA 455 [1994];
People vs. Rondero, 378 Phil. 123 [1999]) Hence,it has been held that a
woman charged with adultery may be compelled to submit to physical
examination to determine her pregnancy; (Villaflor vs. Summers, 41 Phil. 62
[1920]) and an accused may be compelled to submit to physical examination
and to have a substance taken from his body for medical determination as
to whether he was suffering from gonorrhea which was contracted by his
victim;(U.S. vs. Tan Teng, 23 Phil. 145 [1912]) to expel morphine from his
mouth; (U.S. vs. Ong Siu Hong, 36 Phil. 735 [1917]) to have the outline of his
foot traced todetermine its identity with bloody footprints; (U.S. vs. Salas,
25 Phil. 337 [1913]; U.S. vs. Zara, 42 Phil. 308 [1921]) and to be
photographed or measured, or his garments or shoes removed or replaced,
or to move his body to enable the foregoing things to be done.(People vs.
Otadora, 86 Phil. 244 [1950])28 (Emphasis supplied)

In the instant case, we fail to see howa urine sample could be material to
the charge of extortion.1wphi1 The RTC and the CA, therefore, both erred
when they held that the extraction of petitioners urine for purposes of drug
testing was "merely a mechanical act, hence, falling outside the concept of a
custodial investigation."
We note a case where a urine sample was considered as admissible. In
Gutang v. People,29 the petitioner therein and his companions were arrested
in connection with the enforcement of a search warrant in his residence. A
PNP-NARCOM team found and confiscated shabu materials and
paraphernalias. The petitioner and his companions in that case were also
asked to give urine samples, which yielded positive results. Later, the
petitioner therein was found guilty of the crime of illegal possession and use
of prohibited drugs. Gutang claimed that the latters urine sample was
inadmissible in evidence, since it was derived in effect from an uncounselled
extrajudicial confession.

In the Gutang et al.case, the Court clarified that "what the Constitution
prohibits is the use of physical or moral compulsion to extort
communication from the accused, but not an inclusion of his body in
evidence, when it may be material." The situation in Gutangwas categorized
as falling among the exemptions under the freedom from testimonial
compulsion since what was sought tobe examined came from the body of
the accused. The Court said:

This was a mechanical act the accused was made to undergo which was not
meant to unearth undisclosedfacts but to ascertain physical attributes
determinable by simple observation. In fact, the record shows that
petitioner and his co-accused were not compelled to give samples of their
urine but they in fact voluntarily gave the same when they were requested
to undergo a drug test.

Assuming arguendothat the urine samples taken from the petitioner are
inadmissible in evidence, we agree with the trial court that the record is
replete with other pieces of credible evidence including the testimonial
evidence of the prosecution which point to the culpability of the petitioner
for the crimes charged.

We emphasize that the circumstances in Gutangare clearly different from


the circumstances of petitioner in the instant case.1awp++i1 First, Gutang
was arrested in relation to a drug case. Second, he volunteered to give his
urine. Third, there were other pieces of evidence that point to his culpability
for the crimes charged. In the present case, though, petitioner was arrested
for extortion; he resisted having his urine sample taken; and finally, his urine
sample was the only available evidencethat was used as basis for his
conviction for the use of illegal drugs.

The drug test was a violation of petitioners right to privacy and right against
self-incrimination.

It is incontrovertible that petitioner refused to have his urine extracted and


tested for drugs. He also asked for a lawyer prior to his urine test. He was
adamant in exercising his rights, but all of his efforts proved futile, because
he was still compelled to submit his urine for drug testing under those
circumstances.

The pertinent provisions in Article III of the Constitution are clear:

Section 2. The right of the people to be securein their persons, houses,


papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever
nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or
warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined
personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the
complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing
the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

Section 17. No person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.

In the face of these constitutional guarantees, we cannot condone drug


testing of all arrested persons regardless of the crime or offense for which
the arrest is being made.

While we express our commendation of law enforcement agents as they


vigorously track down offenders intheir laudable effort to curb the pervasive
and deleterious effects of dangerous drugs on our society, they must,
however, be constantly mindful of the reasonable limits of their authority,
because it is not unlikely that in their clear intent to purge society of its
lawless elements, they may be knowingly or unknowingly transgressing the
protected rights of its citizens including even members of its own police
force.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed Decision dated 22 June 2011


issued by the Twentieth Division, and the Resolution dated 2 February 2012
issued by the former Twentieth Division of the Court of Appeals, in CA-G.R.
C.R. No. 00670 are SET ASIDE. Petitioner is hereby ACQUITTED.

SO ORDERED.

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO


Chief Justice, Chairperson

WE CONCUR:

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO


Associate Justice

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.


Associate Justice Associate Justice

BIENVENIDO L. REYES
Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the
conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before
the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court's Division.

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO


Chief Justice

Footnotes
1
Rollo, pp. 20-30; Penned by Associate Justice Ramon Paul L.
Hernando and concurred in by Associate Justices Edgardo L. delos
Santos and Victoria Isabel A. Paredes.
2
Id. at 32.
3
Rollo, p. 41.
4
Rollo, pp. 33-40; Penned by former RTC Judge (now CA Justice)
Gabriel T. Ingles.
5
Id. at 40.
6
Id. at 69-86.
7
Id. at 64.
8
R.A. 9165.
9
Section 4.
10
Section 5.
11
Section 8.
12
Section 11.
13
Section 13.
14
Section 7.
15
Section 6.
16
Section 9.
17
Section 10.
18
Section 12.
19
Section 14.
20
Section 18.
21
Section 19.
22
Section 16.
23
Section 17.
24
G.R. No. 191366, 13 December 2010, 637 SCRA 791.
25
591 Phil. 393 (2008).
26
People v. Racho, G.R. No. 186529, 3 August 2010, 626 SCRA 633.
27
People v. Lapitaje, 445 Phil. 731 (2003).
28
People v. Gallarde, 382 Phil. 718 (2000).
29
390 Phil. 805 (2000).
Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

ABRAHAM MICLAT, JR. y CERBO, G.R. No. 176077


Petitioner, Present:
VELASCO, JR., J., Chairperson,
PERALTA,
ABAD,
- versus - MENDOZA, and
SERENO,* JJ.

Promulgated:

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, August 31, 2011


Respondent.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION

PERALTA, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to reverse and set aside
the Decision[1] dated October 13, 2006 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R.
CR No. 28846, which in turn affirmed in toto the Decision of the Regional Trial
Court (RTC), Branch 120, Caloocan City, in Criminal Case No. C-66765
convicting petitioner of Violation of Section 11, Article II of Republic Act (RA)
No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The factual and procedural antecedents are as follows:
In an Information[2] dated November 11, 2002, petitioner Abraham C.
Miclat, Jr. was charged for Violation of Section 11, Article II of RA No. 9165,
the accusatory portion of which reads:

That on or about the 08th day of November 2002, in


Caloocan City, Metro Manila and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, without the
authority of law, did then and there willfully and feloniously have
in his possession, custody and control [METHAMPHETAMINE]
HYDROCHLORIDE (SHABU)weighing 0.24 gram, knowing the
same to be a dangerous drug under the provisions of the above-
cited law.
CONTRARY TO LAW. (Emphasis supplied.)[3]

Upon arraignment, petitioner, with the assistance of counsel pleaded not


guilty to the crime charged. Consequently, trial on the merits ensued.

To establish its case, the prosecution presented Police Inspector Jessie


Abadilla Dela Rosa (P/Insp Dela Rosa), Forensic Chemical Officer of the
Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory, NPD-CLO, Caloocan City
Police Station and Police Officer 3 Rodrigo Antonio (PO3 Antonio) of the
Caloocan Police Station Drug Enforcement Unit. The testimony of the police
investigator, PO3 Fernando Moran (PO3 Moran), was dispensed with after
petitioners counsel admitted the facts offered for stipulation by the
prosecution.

On the other hand, the defense presented the petitioner as its sole
witness. The testimonies of Abraham Miclat, Sr. and Ma. Concepcion Miclat,
the father and sister, respectively, of the petitioner was dispensed with after
the prosecution agreed that their testimonies were corroborative in nature.
Evidence for the Prosecution

First to testify for the prosecution was P/Insp. Jessie


Abadilla Dela Rosa, Forensic Chemical Officer of the PNP Crime
Laboratory, NPD-CLO, Caloocan City Police Station who, on the
witness stand, affirmed his own findings in Physical Science
Report No. D-1222-02 (Exhs. D, D-1, and D-2) that per qualitative
examination conducted on the specimen submitted, the white
crystalline substance weighing 0.05 gram, 0.06 gram, 0.07 gram,
and 0.06 gram then contained inside four (4) separate pieces of
small heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets (Exhs. D-4 to D-7)
gave positive result to the test for Methylamphetamine (sic)
Hydrochloride, a dangerous drug.

Also, thru the testimony of PO3 Rodrigo Antonio of the


Caloocan Police Station-Drug Enforcement Unit, Samson
Road, Caloocan City, the prosecution further endeavored to
establish the following:

At about 1:00 oclock in the afternoon of November 8, 2002,


P/Insp. Jose Valencia of the Caloocan City Police Station-SDEU
called upon his subordinates after the (sic) receiving an INFOREP
Memo from Camp Crame relative to the illicit and down-right
drug-trading activities being undertaken along Palmera Spring II,
Bagumbong, Caloocan City involving Abe Miclat, Wily alias
Bokbok and one Mic or Jojo (Exhs. E, E-1, and (sic) E-3, and E-4).
Immediately, P/Insp. Valencia formed a surveillance team headed
by SPO4 Ernesto Palting and is composed of five (5) more
operatives from the Drug Enforcement Unit, namely: PO3
Pagsolingan, PO2 Modina, PO2 De Ocampo, and herein witness
PO3 Antonio. After a short briefing at their station, the team
boarded a rented passenger jeepney and proceeded to the target
area to verify the said informant and/or memorandum.
When the group of SPO4 Palting arrived at Palmera Spring
II, Caloocan City at around 3:50 oclock that same afternoon, they
were [at] once led by their informant to the house of one Alias
Abe. PO3 Antonio then positioned himself at the perimeter of the
house, while the rest of the members of the group deployed
themselves nearby. Thru a small opening in the curtain-covered
window, PO3 Antonio peeped inside and there at a distance of 1
meters, he saw Abe arranging several pieces of small plastic
sachets which he believed to be containing shabu. Slowly, said
operative inched his way in by gently pushing the door as well as
the plywood covering the same. Upon gaining entrance, PO3
Antonio forthwith introduced himself as a police officer while
Abe, on the other hand, after being informed of such authority,
voluntarily handed over to the former the four (4) pieces of small
plastic sachets the latter was earlier sorting out. PO3 Antonio
immediately placed the suspect under arrest and brought him
and the four (4) pieces of plastic sachets containing white
crystalline substance to their headquarters and turned them over
to PO3 Fernando Moran for proper disposition. The suspect was
identified as Abraham Miclat y Cerbo a.k.a ABE, 19 years old,
single, jobless and a resident of Maginhawa Village, Palmera
Spring II, Bagumbong, Caloocan City.[4]

Evidence for the Defense

On the other hand, the [petitioner] has a different version


of the incident completely opposed to the theory of the
prosecution. On the witness stand, he alleged that at about4:00
oclock in the afternoon of November 8, 2002, while he, together
with his sister and father, were at the upper level of their house
watching the television soap Cindy, they suddenly heard a
commotion downstairs prompting the three (3) of them to go
down. There already inside were several male individuals in
civilian clothes who introduced themselves as raiding police
operatives from the SDEU out to effect his (Abe) arrest for alleged
drug pushing. [Petitioner] and his father tried to plead his case to
these officers, but to no avail. Instead, one of the operatives even
kicked [petitioner] at the back when he tried to resist the
arrest. Immediately, [petitioner] was handcuffed and together
with his father, they were boarded inside the police vehicle. That
on their way to the Bagong Silang Police Station, PO3 Pagsolingan
showed to [petitioner] a small piece of plastic sachet containing
white crystalline substances allegedly recovered by the raiding
police team from their house. At around 9:00 oclock in the
evening, [petitioner] was transferred to the Sangandaan
Headquarters where he was finally detained. That upon
[petitioners] transfer and detention at the said headquarters, his
father was ordered to go home.[5]

On July 28, 2004, the RTC, after finding that the prosecution has
established all the elements of the offense charged, rendered a
Decision[6] convicting petitioner of Violation of Section 11, Article II of RA No.
9165, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, from the facts established, the Court finds the


accused ABRAHAM MICLAT Y CERBO GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of possession of a dangerous drugs (sic)
defined and penalized under the provision of Section 11, sub-
paragraph No. (3), Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 and hereby
imposes upon him an indeterminate penalty of six (6) years and
one (1) day to twelve (12) years of imprisonment, in view of the
absence of aggravating circumstances. The Court likewise orders
the accused to pay the amount of Three Hundred Thousand Pesos
(Php300,000.00) as fine.

Let the 0.24 gram of shabu subject matter of this case be


confiscated and forfeited in favor of the Government and to be
turned over to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for
proper disposition.

SO ORDERED. (Emphasis supplied.)[7]


Aggrieved, petitioner sought recourse before the CA, which appeal was
later docketed as CA-G.R. CR No. 28846.

On October 13, 2006, the CA rendered a Decision[8] affirming in toto the


decision of the RTC, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, the foregoing considered, the appeal is


hereby DISMISSED and the assailed Decision AFFIRMED in
toto. Costs against the accused-appellant.

SO ORDERED. (Emphasis supplied.)[9]

In affirming the RTC, the CA ratiocinated that contrary to the contention of


the petitioner, the evidence presented by the prosecution were all admissible
against him.Moreover, it was established that he was informed of his
constitutional rights at the time of his arrest. Hence, the CA opined that the
prosecution has proven beyond reasonable doubt all of the elements
necessary for the conviction of the petitioner for the offense of illegal
possession of dangerous drugs.

Hence, the petition raising the following errors:

1. WHETHER OR NOT A POLICE SURVEILLANCE TEAM SENT TO


DETERMINE THE VERACITY OF A CAMP CRAME MEMORANDUM
OF SHABU TRADING ACTIVITY AT CALOOCAN CITY, WHICH
CONVERTED THEIR MISSION FROM SURVEILLANCE TO A RAIDING
TEAM, CAN VALIDLY MAKE AN ARREST AND SEARCH WITHOUT A
VALID WARRANT HAVING BEEN FIRST OBTAINED FROM A COURT
OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION.

2. WHETHER OR NOT PEEPING THROUGH A CURTAIN-COVERED


WINDOW IS WITHIN THE MEANING OF PLAIN VIEW DOCTRINE
FOR A WARRANTLESS SEIZURE TO BE LAWFUL.

3. WHETHER OR NOT THE BELIEF OF PO3 ANTONIO THAT THE


FOUR (4) PIECES OF PLASTIC SACHETS ALLEGEDLY BEING
ARRANGED BY PETITIONER CONTAINED SHABU JUSTIFIED HIS
ENTRY INTO THE HOUSE AND ARREST PETITIONER WITHOUT ANY
WARRANT.

4. WHETHER OR NOT ARRANGING FOUR (4) PIECES OF PLASTIC


SACHETS CONSTITUTE AS A CRIME WITHIN THE MEANING OF
SECTION 5 (3), RULE 113 OF THE RULES OF COURT.

5. WHETHER OR NOT PETITIONER WAS PROPERLY APPRAISED (SIC)


OF HIS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS TO BE INFORMED OF THE CAUSE
AND NATURE OF HIS ARREST AND RIGHT TO BE ASSISTED BY
COUNSEL DURING THE PERIOD OF HIS ARREST AND CONTINUED
DETENTION.

6. WHETHER OR NOT THE CONVICTION BY THE LOWER COURT OF


THE PETITIONER, AS AFFIRMED BY THE HONORABLE COURT OF
APPEALS, ON THE BASIS OF AN ILLEGAL SEARCH AND ARREST, IS
CORRECT.[10]

Simply stated, petitioner is assailing the legality of his arrest and the
subsequent seizure of the arresting officer of the suspected sachets of
dangerous drugs from him. Petitioner insists that he was just watching
television with his father and sister when police operatives suddenly barged
into their home and arrested him for illegal possession of shabu.
Petitioner also posits that being seen in the act of arranging several
plastic sachets inside their house by one of the arresting officers who was
peeping through a window is not sufficient reason for the police authorities
to enter his house without a valid search warrant and/or warrant of
arrest. Arguing that the act of arranging several plastic sachets by and in itself
is not a crime per se, petitioner maintains that the entry of the police
surveillance team into his house was illegal, and no amount of incriminating
evidence will take the place of a validly issued search warrant. Moreover,
peeping through a curtain-covered window cannot be contemplated as within
the meaning of the plain view doctrine, rendering the warrantless arrest
unlawful.

Petitioner also contends that the chain of custody of the alleged illegal
drugs was highly questionable, considering that the plastic sachets were not
marked at the place of the arrest and no acknowledgment receipt was issued
for the said evidence.

Finally, petitioner claims that the arresting officer did not inform him of
his constitutional rights at any time during or after his arrest and even during
his detention. Hence, for this infraction, the arresting officer should be
punished accordingly.

The petition is bereft of merit.

At the outset, it is apparent that petitioner raised no objection to the


irregularity of his arrest before his arraignment. Considering this and his
active participation in the trial of the case, jurisprudence dictates that
petitioner is deemed to have submitted to the jurisdiction of the trial court,
thereby curing any defect in his arrest.[11] An accused is estopped from
assailing any irregularity of his arrest if he fails to raise this issue or to move
for the quashal of the information against him on this ground before
arraignment. Any objection involving a warrant of arrest or the procedure by
which the court acquired jurisdiction over the person of the accused must be
made before he enters his plea; otherwise, the objection is deemed
waived.[12]

In the present case, at the time of petitioners arraignment, there was


no objection raised as to the irregularity of his arrest. Thereafter, he actively
participated in the proceedings before the trial court. In effect, he is deemed
to have waived any perceived defect in his arrest and effectively submitted
himself to the jurisdiction of the court trying his case. At any rate, the illegal
arrest of an accused is not sufficient cause for setting aside a valid judgment
rendered upon a sufficient complaint after a trial free from error. It will not
even negate the validity of the conviction of the accused.[13]

True, the Bill of Rights under the present Constitution provides in part:

SEC. 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons,


houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and
seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be
inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue
except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the
judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the
complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly
describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to
be seized.

However, a settled exception to the right guaranteed by the above-


stated provision is that of an arrest made during the commission of a crime,
which does not require a previously issued warrant. Such warrantless arrest
is considered reasonable and valid under Section 5 (a), Rule 113 of the Revised
Rules on Criminal Procedure, to wit:

Sec. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful a peace office


of a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:

(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested


has committed, is actually committing, or is
attempting to commit an offense;[14]

For the exception in Section 5 (a), Rule 113 to operate, this Court has
ruled that two (2) elements must be present: (1) the person to be arrested
must execute an overt act indicating that he has just committed, is actually
committing, or is attempting to commit a crime; and (2) such overt act is done
in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer.[15]

In the instant case, contrary to petitioners contention, he was caught in


flagrante delicto and the police authorities effectively made a valid
warrantless arrest.The established facts reveal that on the date of the arrest,
agents of the Station Drug Enforcement Unit (SDEU) of the Caloocan City
Police Station were conducting a surveillance operation in the area of Palmera
Spring II to verify the reported drug-related activities of several individuals,
which included the petitioner. During the operation, PO3 Antonio, through
petitioners window, saw petitioner arranging several plastic sachets
containing what appears to be shabu in the living room of their home. The
plastic sachets and its suspicious contents were plainly exposed to the view
of PO3 Antonio, who was only about one and one-half meters from where
petitioner was seated. PO3 Antonio then inched his way in the house by
gently pushing the door. Upon gaining entrance, the operative introduced
himself as a police officer. After which, petitioner voluntarily handed over to
PO3 Antonio the small plastic sachets. PO3 Antonio then placed petitioner
under arrest and, contrary to petitioners contention, PO3 Antonio informed
him of his constitutional rights.[16] PO3 Antonio then took the petitioner and
the four (4) pieces of plastic sachets to their headquarters and turned them
over to PO3 Moran. Thereafter, the evidence were marked AMC 1-4, the
initials of the name of the petitioner. The heat-sealed transparent sachets
containing white crystalline substance were submitted to the PNP Crime
Laboratory for drug examination, which later yielded positive results for the
presence of methamphetamine hydrochloride, a dangerous drug under RA
No. 9165.

Considering the circumstances immediately prior to and surrounding


the arrest of the petitioner, petitioner was clearly arrested in flagrante
delicto as he was then committing a crime, violation of the Dangerous Drugs
Act, within the view of the arresting officer.

As to the admissibility of the seized drugs in evidence, it too falls within


the established exceptions.

Verily, no less than the 1987 Constitution mandates that a search and
consequent seizure must be carried out with a judicial warrant; otherwise, it
becomes unreasonable, and any evidence obtained therefrom shall be
inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.[17] The right against
warrantless searches and seizure, however, is subject to legal and judicial
exceptions, namely:

1. Warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest;


2. Search of evidence in "plain view";
3. Search of a moving vehicle;
4. Consented warrantless search;
5. Customs search;
6. Stop and Frisk; and
7. Exigent and emergency circumstances.[18]

What constitutes a reasonable or unreasonable warrantless search or


seizure is purely a judicial question, determinable from the uniqueness of the
circumstances involved, including the purpose of the search or seizure, the
presence or absence of probable cause, the manner in which the search and
seizure was made, the place or thing searched, and the character of the
articles procured.[19]

It is to be noted that petitioner was caught in the act of arranging the


heat-sealed plastic sachets in plain sight of PO3 Antonio and he voluntarily
surrendered them to him upon learning that he is a police officer. The seizure
made by PO3 Antonio of the four plastic sachets from the petitioner was not
only incidental to a lawful arrest, but it also falls within the purview of
the plain view doctrine.

Objects falling in plain view of an officer who has a right


to be in a position to have that view are subject to seizure even
without a search warrant and may be introduced in evidence.
The plain view doctrine applies when the following requisites
concur: (a) the law enforcement officer in search of the evidence
has a prior justification for an intrusion or is in a position from
which he can view a particular area; (b) the discovery of
evidence in plain view is inadvertent; (c) it is immediately
apparent to the officer that the item he observes may be
evidence of a crime, contraband or otherwise subject to seizure.
The law enforcement officer must lawfully make an initial
intrusion or properly be in a position from which he can
particularly view the area. In the course of such lawful intrusion,
he came inadvertently across a piece of evidence incriminating
the accused. The object must be open to eye and hand and its
discovery inadvertent. (Emphasis supplied.)[20]

It is clear, therefore, that an object is in plain view if the object itself is


plainly exposed to sight. Since petitioners arrest is among the exceptions to
the rule requiring a warrant before effecting an arrest and the evidence seized
from the petitioner was the result of a warrantless search incidental to a
lawful arrest, which incidentally was in plain view of the arresting officer, the
results of the ensuing search and seizure were admissible in evidence to prove
petitioners guilt of the offense charged.

As to petitioners contention that the police failed to comply with the


proper procedure in the transfer of custody of the seized evidence thereby
casting serious doubt on its seizure, this too deserves scant consideration.

Section 21, paragraphs 1 and 2, Article II of RA No. 9165 provides:

Section 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized,


and/or Surrendered Dangerous Drugs, Plant Sources of Dangerous
Drugs, Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals,
Instruments/Paraphernalia and/or Laboratory Equipment. - The
PDEA shall take charge and have custody of all dangerous drugs,
plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and
essential chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia and/or
laboratory equipment so confiscated, seized and/or surrendered,
for proper disposition in the following manner:

(1) The apprehending team having initial custody and


control of the drugs shall, immediately after seizure
and confiscation, physically inventory
and photograph the same in the presence of the
accused or the person/s from whom such items were
confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative
or counsel, a representative from the media and the
Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public
official who shall be required to sign the copies of the
inventory and be given a copy thereof;

(2) Within twenty-four (24) hours upon


confiscation/seizure of dangerous drugs, plant
sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors
and essential chemicals, as well as
instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory
equipment, the same shall be submitted to the PDEA
Forensic Laboratory for a qualitative and quantitative
examination;

x x x x.

Corolarilly, the implementing provision of Section 21 (a), Article II of the


Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA No. 9165, provides:

(a) The apprehending team having initial custody and control of


the drugs shall, immediately after seizure and confiscation,
physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of
the accused or the person/s from whom such items were
confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a
representative from the media and the Department of Justice
(DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign
the copies of the inventory and be given a copy thereof: Provided,
further, that non-compliance with these requirements under
justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and the evidentiary
value of the seized items are properly preserved by the
apprehending officer/team, shall not render void and invalid such
seizures of and custody over said items.
x x x x.[21]

From the foregoing, it is clear that the failure of the law enforcers to
comply strictly with the rule is not fatal. It does not render petitioners arrest
illegal nor the evidence adduced against him inadmissible.[22] What is essential
is the preservation of the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized
items, as the same would be utilized in the determination of the guilt or
innocence of the accused.[23]

Here, the requirements of the law were substantially complied with and
the integrity of the drugs seized from the petitioner was preserved. More
importantly, an unbroken chain of custody of the prohibited drugs taken from
the petitioner was sufficiently established. The factual antecedents of the
case reveal that the petitioner voluntarily surrendered the plastic sachets to
PO3 Antonio when he was arrested. Together with petitioner, the evidence
seized from him were immediately brought to the police station and upon
arriving thereat, were turned over to PO3 Moran, the investigating
officer. There the evidence was marked. The turn-over of the subject sachets
and the person of the petitioner were then entered in the official
blotter. Thereafter, the Chief of the SDEU, Police Senior Inspector Jose
Ramirez Valencia, endorsed the evidence for laboratory examination to the
National Police District PNP Crime Laboratory. The evidence was delivered by
PO3 Moran and received by Police Inspector Jessie Dela Rosa. [24] After a
qualitative examination of the contents of the four (4) plastic sachets by the
latter, the same tested positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride, a
dangerous drug.[25]

An unbroken chain of custody of the seized drugs had, therefore, been


established by the prosecution from the arresting officer, to the investigating
officer, and finally to the forensic chemist. There is no doubt that the items
seized from the petitioner at his residence were also the same items marked
by the investigating officer, sent to the Crime Laboratory, and later on tested
positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride.

For conviction of illegal possession of a prohibited drug to lie, the


following elements must be established: (1) the accused was in possession of
an item or an object identified to be a prohibited or regulated drug; (2) such
possession is not authorized by law; and (3) the accused was freely and
consciously aware of being in possession of the drug.[26] Based on the
evidence submitted by the prosecution, the above elements were duly
established in the present case. Mere possession of a regulated drug per
se constitutes prima facie evidence of knowledge or animus
possidendi sufficient to convict an accused absent a satisfactory explanation
of such possession the onus probandi is shifted to the accused, to explain the
absence of knowledge or animus possidendi.[27]

It is a settled rule that in cases involving violations of the


Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, credence is given to prosecution
witnesses who are police officers for they are presumed to have performed
their duties in a regular manner.[28] Although not constrained to blindly accept
the findings of fact of trial courts, appellate courts can rest assured that such
facts were gathered from witnesses who presented their statements live and
in person in open court. In cases where conflicting sets of facts are presented,
the trial courts are in the best position to recognize and distinguish
spontaneous declaration from rehearsed spiel, straightforward assertion
from a stuttering claim, definite statement from tentative disclosure, and to
a certain degree, truth from untruth.[29]

In the present case, there is no compelling reason to reverse the


findings of fact of the trial court. No evidence exist that shows any apparent
inconsistencies in the narration of the prosecution witnesses of the events
which transpired and led to the arrest of petitioner. After a careful evaluation
of the records, We find no error was committed by the RTC and the CA to
disregard their factual findings that petitioner committed the crime charged
against him.

Against the overwhelming evidence of the prosecution, petitioner


merely denied the accusations against him and raised the defense of frame-
up. The defense of denial and frame-up has been invariably viewed by this
Court with disfavor, for it can easily be concocted and is a common and
standard defense ploy in prosecutions for violation of the Dangerous Drugs
Act. In order to prosper, the defense of denial and frame-up must be proved
with strong and convincing evidence.[30]

As to the penalty, while We sustain the amount of fine, the


indeterminate sentence imposed should, however, be modified.
Section 11, Article II, RA No. 9165, otherwise known as the
Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, provides:

Section 11. Possession of Dangerous Drugs. The penalty of


life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from Five hundred
thousand pesos (P500,000.00) to Ten million pesos
(P10,000,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person, who, unless
authorized by law, shall possess any dangerous drug in the
following quantities, regardless of the degree of purity thereof:

x x x x.

Otherwise, if the quantity involved is less than the foregoing


quantities, the penalties shall be graduated as follows:

x x x x.
(3) Imprisonment of twelve (12) years and one
(1) day to twenty (20) years and a fine ranging from
Three hundred thousand pesos (P300,000.00) to Four
hundred thousand pesos (P400,000.00), if the
quantities of dangerous drugs are less than five (5)
grams of opium, morphine, heroin, cocaine or
cocaine hydrochloride, marijuana resin or marijuana
resin oil, methamphetamine hydrochloride or
"shabu", or other dangerous drugs such as, but not
limited to, MDMA or "ecstasy," PMA, TMA, LSD, GHB,
and those similarly designed or newly-introduced
drugs and their derivatives, without having any
therapeutic value or if the quantity possessed is far
beyond therapeutic requirements; or less than three
hundred (300) grams of marijuana.[31]

From the foregoing, illegal possession of less than five (5) grams of
methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu is penalized with imprisonment of
twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years and a fine ranging from
Three Hundred Thousand Pesos (P300,000.00) to Four Hundred Thousand
Pesos (P400,000.00).The evidence adduced by the prosecution established
beyond reasonable doubt that petitioner had in his possession 0.24 gram
of shabu, or less than five (5) grams of the dangerous drug, without any legal
authority.

Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the minimum period of the


imposable penalty shall not fall below the minimum period set by the law; the
maximum period shall not exceed the maximum period allowed under the
law; hence, the imposable penalty should be within the range of twelve (12)
years and one (1) day to fourteen (14) years and eight (8) months.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is DENIED. The Decision
dated October 13, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 28846
is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Petitioner is sentenced to suffer the
indeterminate sentence of twelve (12) years and one (1) day to fourteen (14)
years and eight (8) months.

SO ORDERED.

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice
Chairperson

ROBERTO A. ABAD JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA


Associate Justice Associate Justice

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO


Associate Justice

ATTESTATION
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
Courts Division.

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice
Third Division, Chairperson

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division
Chairpersons Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision
had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer
of the opinion of the Courts Division.

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

*
Designated additional member, per Special Order No. 1028 dated June 21,
2011.
[1]
Penned by Associate Justice Josefina Guevara-Salonga, with Associate
Justices Vicente Q. Roxas and Apolinario D. Bruselas, Jr., concurring; rollo, pp.
140-51.
[2]
Id. at 40.
[3]
Id.
[4]
Id. at 76-77.
[5]
Id. at. 78.
[6]
Id. at 75-82.
[7]
Id. at 81-82.
[8]
Supra note 1.
[9]
Id. at 151.
[10]
Id. at 209-210.
[11]
Valdez v. People, G.R. No. 170180, November 23, 2007, 538 SCRA 611,
622.
[12]
Rebellion v. People, G.R. No. 175700, July 5, 2010, 623 SCRA 343, 348.
[13]
People v. Santos, G.R. No. 176735, June 26, 2008, 555 SCRA 578, 601.
[14]
Emphasis supplied.
[15]
People v. Tudtud, 458 Phil. 752, 775 (2003).
[16]
TSN, (PO3 Rodrigo Antonio), April 21, 2003, p. 5; rollo, p. 60.
[17]
1987 Constitution, Article III, Sections 2 and 3 (2).
[18]
People v. Racho, G.R. No. 186529, August 3, 2010, 626 SCRA 633, 641.
[19]
People v. Nuevas, G.R. No. 170233, February 22, 2007, 516 SCRA 463,
476.
[20]
People v. Lagman, G.R. No. 168695, December 8, 2008, 573 SCRA 224,
236, citing People v. Doria, 361 Phil. 595, 633-634 (1999).

[21]
Emphasis supplied.
[22]
People v. Pagkalinawan, G.R. No. 184805, March 3, 2010, 614 SCRA 202,
218, citing People v. Naquita, G.R. No. 180511, July 28, 2008, 560 SCRA 430,
448.
[23]
Id.
[24]
Rollo, p. 37.
[25]
Id. at 38.
[26]
People v. Teddy Batoon and Melchor Batoon, G.R. No. 184599, November
24, 2010.
[27]
People v. Sembrano, G.R. No. 185848, August 16, 2010, 628 SCRA 328,
343.
[28]
People v. Tamayo, G.R. No. 187070, February 24, 2010, 613 SCRA 556,
564.
[29]
People v. Willie Midenilla, et al., G.R. No. 186470, September 27, 2010.
[30]
People v. Hernandez, G.R. No. 184804, June 18, 2009, 589 SCRA 625, 642.
[31]
Emphasis supplied.
Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

CHURCHILLE V. MARI and the G.R. No. 187728


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Present:
Petitioners, VELASCO, JR., J., Chairperson,
PERALTA,
- versus - ABAD,
MENDOZA, and
SERENO,* JJ.
HON. ROLANDO L. GONZALES,
Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Promulgated:
Court, Branch 39, Sogod, Southern
Leyte, and PO1 RUDYARD PALOMA y September 12, 2011
TORRES,
Respondents.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION

PERALTA, J.:

This resolves the Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court,
praying that the Order[1] of the Regional Trial Court of Sogod, Southern Leyte
(RTC), dated January 16, 2009, dismissing the criminal case for rape against
PO1 Rudyard Paloma y Torres (private respondent), and the
Resolution[2] dated March 16, 2009, denying petitioners' motion for
reconsideration, be annulled and set aside.
The records reveal the following antecedent facts.

On October 25, 2004, petitioner AAA, private complainant below, executed a


sworn statement before an Investigator of the 8th Regional Office, Philippine
National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) in
Tacloban City, where she stated that she was raped by herein private
respondent on October 10, 2004 at her boarding house at Sogod, Southern
Leyte. A preliminary investigation of the case was commenced on November
4, 2004 before the Presiding Judge of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC)
of Sogod. A warrant of arrest was issued against private respondent, so he
voluntarily surrendered to the Chief of Police of Sogod on November 18, 2004
and was then incarcerated at the Sogod Municipal Jail.

On November 20, 2004, private respondent filed a Motion for Bail. Hearings
on the motion commenced on December 7, 2004, but petitioner failed to
appear. Only private respondent presented evidence. Thus, on March 16,
2005, the MCTC of Sogod issued an Order allowing private respondent to post
bail set at P200,000.00.After posting a surety bond, private respondent was
released from confinement.

Pursuant to the issuance of A.M. No. 05-8-26, divesting first-level courts of


authority to conduct preliminary investigation of criminal complaints
cognizable by Regional Trial Courts, records of the subject case were
transmitted to the Provincial Prosecutor's Office of Southern Leyte. [3] The
Prosecutor's Office issued a Resolution dated May 26, 2008, finding probable
cause against private respondent and, accordingly, an Information for Rape
was filed on June 11, 2008. A warrant of arrest was immediately issued
against private respondent.

On June 27, 2008, private respondent was committed to detention [4] and, on
June 30, 2008, the RTC issued an Order[5] stating that accused had voluntarily
surrendered to the Office of the Clerk of Court and arraignment was set for
July 31, 2008. In the meantime, on July 3, 2008, private respondent filed a
Motion to Admit Cash Bond in Lieu of Surety Bond; thus, in an Order dated
July 10, 2008, the RTC cancelled the July 31, 2008 schedule for arraignment
and reset the arraignment and hearing on said motion for August 20, 2008. At
said scheduled date for arraignment and hearing on the motion, nobody
appeared for the prosecution.Hence, the RTC issued the Order[6] dated August
20, 2008 resetting the arraignment for October 31, 2008 and stating that:

x x x this Court hereby orders the public prosecutor x x x and/or


his assistant prosecutor x x x to appear and prosecute this case on
the next scheduled hearing from arraignment up to the
termination of the trial of this case otherwise this Court will order
the dismissal of this case for failure to prosecute or nolle
prosequi.[7]

On October 28, 2008, petitioner AAA, private complainant below, filed


through her private counsel, a Motion for Cancellation of
Hearing,[8] manifesting that Atty. Pedro Felicen, Jr. had been granted the
authority to prosecute by the Provincial Prosecutor and praying that the
scheduled arraignment on October 31, 2008 be cancelled due to the
pendency of private complainant's petition for transfer of venue before this
Court. The authorized private prosecutor did not appear on said hearing
date. The hearing on October 31, 2008 proceeded as the RTC ruled, in its
Order[9] issued on the same day, that unless restrained by a higher court, the
mere pendency of a petition for transfer of venue is not sufficient reason to
suspend the proceedings. Moreover, counsel for accused invoked the
accused's right to a speedy trial and, thus, private respondent was arraigned
in the presence of the Provincial Prosecutor who was designated by the RTC
to represent the prosecution for the purpose of arraignment. Pre-trial was set
for November 13, 2008. Nevertheless, said schedule for pre-trial was
cancelled (per Order[10] dated November 4, 2008) as the Presiding Judge of
the RTC had to attend a PHILJA Seminar, and pre-trial was reset to November
24, 2008. On November 24, 2008, the day of the pre-trial itself, the private
prosecutor again filed a Motion for Cancellation of Hearing, again using as
justification the pendency of the petition for transfer of venue. The RTC issued
an Order on even date, reading as follows:
During the scheduled pre-trial conference of this case, the public
prosecutors of Leyte, the private prosecutor and the private
complainant failed to appear despite proper notices sent [to]
them. A motion for cancellation of hearing was filed by the
authorized private prosecutor, Pedro Felicen, Jr. for reasons
stated therein to which this Court finds to be not meritorious,
hence, the same is denied. x x x the public prosecutor as well as
the counsel for the accused were directed to make their oral
comments on the first endorsement of the Hon. Deputy Court
Administrator, regarding the motion to transfer venue of this case
to any of the RTC, at Tacloban City, x x x.

x x x Thereafter, the pre trial proceeded by discussing matters


concerning the amicable settlement, plea bargaining agreement,
stipulation of facts, pre-marking of documentary exhibits,
number of witnesses, trial dates and nature of the defense. There
being no other matters to discuss on pre-trial in order to expedite
the early disposition of this case, the pre-trial proper is now
deemed terminated.[11]

The said Order also scheduled the initial hearing for trial on the merits for
December 12, 2008. On December 12, 2008, no one appeared for the
prosecution, prompting counsel for accused private respondent to move for
dismissal of the case on the ground of failure to prosecute. Private
respondent's motion to dismiss was denied per Order[12] dated December 12,
2008, and hearing was reset to January 16, 2009.

Again, on the very day of the January 16, 2009 hearing, the private prosecutor
filed an Urgent Motion for Cancellation of Hearing, stating that it

was only on January 14, 2009 that he was furnished a copy of the notice of
the January 16, 2009 hearing and he had to attend a previously scheduled
hearing for another case he was handling, set for the very same date. Thus, in
the Order dated January 16, 2009, the RTC disposed, thus:
x x x Again notably absent are the private prosecutor, the two
public prosecutors designated by the Department of Justice to
prosecute this case as well as the private complainant herself.
A last minute urgent motion to reset was filed by the private
prosecutor, but the same is denied being in violation of the three
(3) day rule in filing written postponements. After hearing the
arguments coming from both the public prosecutor assigned to
this Court and counsel for the defense, the Court deems it proper
to act on the urgency of the matter prayed for by the said
counsel. Considering that the accused has been languishing in jail
since June, 2008 up to the present and to allow him to stay in jail
for a single minute, it is quite unreasonable and would violate his
right to speedy trial.
WHEREFORE, finding the motion of the counsel for the accused to
be based on grounds that are meritorious, this Court pursuant
to x x x the rule on speedy trial (RA 8433) [should be 8493] hereby
orders this case dismissed for failure of the prosecution to
prosecute or nolle prosequi.[13]

Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration, but the RTC denied the same
per Resolution dated March 16, 2009.

Hence, the present petition for certiorari, alleging that public respondent
acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction in rashly and precipitately dismissing the rape case against private
respondent. Respondents counter that there was no grave abuse committed
by the trial court and setting aside the dismissal of the rape case would put
private respondent in double jeopardy.

The Court finds the petition bereft of merit.


Firstly, petitioners failed to observe the doctrine on hierarchy of
courts. In Garcia v. Miro,[14] the Court, quoting Vergara, Sr. v. Suelto,[15] ruled
thus:

The Supreme Court is a court of last resort, and must so remain


if it is to satisfactorily perform the functions assigned to it by the
fundamental charter and immemorial tradition. It cannot and
should not be burdened with the task of dealing with causes in
the first instance. Its original jurisdiction to issue the so-called
extraordinary writs should be exercised only where absolutely
necessary or where serious and important reasons exist
therefor. Hence, that jurisdiction should generally be exercised
relative to actions or proceedings before the Court of Appeals, or
before constitutional or other tribunals, bodies or agencies whose
acts for some reason or another are not controllable by the Court
of Appeals. Where the issuance of an extraordinary writ is also
within the competence of the Court of Appeals or a Regional
Trial Court, it is in either of these courts that the specific action
for the writ's procurement must be presented. This is, and
should continue, to be the policy in this regard, a policy that
courts and lawyers must strictly observe.[16] (Emphasis supplied.)

On this point alone, the petition is already dismissible. However, on several


occasions, this Court found compelling reasons to relax the rule on
observance on hierarchy of courts. In Pacoy v. Cajigal,[17] the Court opted not
to strictly apply said doctrine, since the issue involved is double jeopardy,
considered to be one of the most fundamental constitutional rights of an
accused. Hence, the Court also finds sufficient reason to relax the rule in this
case as it also involves the issue of double jeopardy, necessitating a look into
the merits of the petition.

Petitioners insist that the RTC dismissed the criminal case against private
respondent too hurriedly, despite the provision in Section 10 of the Speedy
Trial Act of 1998 (Republic Act No. 8493), now incorporated in Section 3, Rule
119 of the Rules of Court, to wit:
SEC. 3. Exclusions. - The following periods of delay shall be
excluded in computing the time within which trial must commence:
(a) Any period of delay resulting from other
proceedings concerning the accused, including but
not limited to the following:

xxxx

(5) Delay resulting from orders of inhibition, or


proceedings relating to change of venue of cases or transfer from
other courts;

x x x x[18]

A careful reading of the above rule would show that the only delays that may
be excluded from the time limit within which trial must commence are those
resulting from proceedings concerning the accused. The time involved in the
proceedings in a petition for transfer of venue can only be excluded from said
time limit if it was the accused who instituted the same. Hence, in this case,
the time during which the petition for transfer of venue filed by the private
complainant is pending, cannot be excluded from the time limit of thirty (30)
days from receipt of the pre-trial order imposed in Section 1, Rule 119 of the
Rules of Court.

The records reveal that the 30-day time limit set by Section 1, Rule 119 of the
Rules of Court had, in fact, already been breached. The private prosecutor
received the Pre-trial Order[19] dated November 24, 2008 on December 3,
2008, while the Provincial Prosecutor received the same on December 2,
2008.[20] This means that at the latest, trial should have commenced by
January 2, 2009, or if said date was a Sunday or holiday, then on the very next
business day. Yet, because of the prosecution's failure to appear at the
December 12, 2008 hearing for the initial presentation of the prosecution's
evidence, the RTC was constrained to reset the hearing to January 16, 2009,
which is already beyond the 30-day time limit. Nevertheless, the prosecution
again failed to appear at the January 16, 2009 hearing. Indeed, as aptly
observed by the RTC, petitioners showed recalcitrant behavior by obstinately
refusing to comply with the RTC's directives to commence presentation of
their evidence. Petitioners did not even show proper courtesy to the court,
by filing motions for cancellation of the hearings on the very day of the
hearing and not even bothering to appear on the date they set for hearing on
their motion. As set forth in the narration of facts above, the prosecution
appeared to be intentionally delaying and trifling with court processes.

Petitioners are likewise mistaken in their notion that mere pendency of


their petition for transfer of venue should interrupt proceedings before the
trial court. Such situation is akin to having a pending petition
for certiorari with the higher courts. In People v. Hernandez,[21] the Court held
that delay resulting from extraordinary remedies against interlocutory orders
must be read in harmony with Section 7, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court which
provides that the [p]etition [under Rule 65] shall not interrupt the course of
the principal case unless a temporary restraining order or a writ of
preliminary injunction has been issued against the public respondent from
further proceeding in the case.[22] The trial court was then correct and acting
well within its discretion when it refused to grant petitioners' motions for
postponement mainly because of the pendency of their petition for transfer
of venue.

The trial court cannot be faulted for refusing to countenance delays in the
prosecution of the case. The Court's ruling in Tan v. People[23] is quite
instructive, to wit:

An accused's right to "have a speedy, impartial, and public


trial" is guaranteed in criminal cases by Section 14 (2) of Article III
of the Constitution. This right to a speedy trial may be defined as
one free from vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays, its
"salutary objective" being to assure that an innocent person may
be free from the anxiety and expense of a court litigation or, if
otherwise, of having his guilt determined within the shortest
possible time compatible with the presentation and
consideration of whatsoever legitimate defense he may
interpose. Intimating historical perspective on the evolution of
the right to speedy trial, we reiterate the old legal maxim, "justice
delayed is justice denied." This oft-repeated adage requires the
expeditious resolution of disputes, much more so in criminal
cases where an accused is constitutionally guaranteed the right
to a speedy trial.

Following the policies incorporated under the 1987 Constitution,


Republic Act No. 8493, otherwise known as "The Speedy Trial Act
of 1998," was enacted, with Section 6 of said act limiting the trial
period to 180 days from the first day of trial. Aware of problems
resulting in the clogging of court dockets, the Court implemented
the law by issuing Supreme Court Circular No. 38-98, which has
been incorporated in the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure,
Section 2 of Rule 119.

In Corpuz v. Sandiganbayan, the Court had occasion to state -

The right of the accused to a speedy trial and to a


speedy disposition of the case against him was
designed to prevent the oppression of the citizen by
holding criminal prosecution suspended over him for
an indefinite time, and to prevent delays in the
administration of justice by mandating the courts to
proceed with reasonable dispatch in the trial of
criminal cases. Such right to a speedy trial and a
speedy disposition of a case is violated only when the
proceeding is attended by vexatious, capricious and
oppressive delays. The inquiry as to whether or not an
accused has been denied such right is not susceptible
by precise qualification. The concept of a speedy
disposition is a relative term and must necessarily be
a flexible concept.
While justice is administered with dispatch, the
essential ingredient is orderly, expeditious and not
mere speed. It cannot be definitely said how long is
too long in a system where justice is supposed to be
swift, but deliberate. It is consistent with delays and
depends upon circumstances. It secures rights to the
accused, but it does not preclude the rights of public
justice. Also, it must be borne in mind that the rights
given to the accused by the Constitution and the
Rules of Court are shields, not weapons; hence, courts
are to give meaning to that intent.

The Court emphasized in the same case that:

A balancing test of applying societal interests and the


rights of the accused necessarily compels the court to
approach speedy trial cases on an ad hoc basis.

In determining whether the accused has been


deprived of his right to a speedy disposition of the
case and to a speedy trial, four factors must be
considered: (a) length of delay; (b) the reason for the
delay; (c) the defendant's assertion of his right; and
(d) prejudice to the defendant. x x x.

Closely related to the length of delay is the reason or


justification of the State for such delay. Different
weights

should be assigned to different reasons or


justifications invoked by the State. x x x.

Exhaustively explained in Corpuz v. Sandiganbayan, an accused's


right to speedy trial is deemed violated only when the proceeding
is attended by vexatious, capricious, and oppressive delays. In
determining whether petitioner was deprived of this right, the
factors to consider and balance are the following: (a) duration
of the delay; (b) reason therefor; (c) assertion of the right or
failure to assert it; and (d) prejudice caused by such delay.

xxxx

We emphasize that in determining the right of an accused to


speedy trial, courts are required to do more than a
mathematical computation of the number of postponements of
the scheduled hearings of the case. A mere mathematical
reckoning of the time involved is clearly insufficient, and
particular regard must be given to the facts and circumstances
peculiar to each case.[24]

Here, it must be emphasized that private respondent had already been


deprived of his liberty on two occasions. First, during the preliminary
investigation before the MCTC, when he was incarcerated from November 18,
2004 to March 16, 2005, or a period of almost four months; then again, when
an Information had already been issued and since rape is a non-bailable
offense, he was imprisoned beginning June 27, 2008 until the case was
dismissed on January 16, 2009, or a period of over 6 months. Verily, there can
be no cavil that deprivation of liberty for any duration of time is quite
oppressive. Because of private respondent's continued incarceration, any
delay in trying the case would cause him great prejudice. Thus, it was
absolutely vexatious and oppressive to delay the trial in the subject criminal
case to await the outcome of petitioners' petition for transfer of venue,
especially in this case where there is no temporary restraining order or writ
of preliminary injunction issued by a higher court against herein public
respondent from further proceeding in the case.
Hence, the Court does not find any grave abuse of discretion committed by
the trial court in dismissing the case against private respondent for violation
of his constitutional right to speedy trial.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice
Chairperson

ROBERTO A. ABAD JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA


Associate Justice Associate Justice
MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO
Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
Courts Division.

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice
Third Division, Chairperson

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division
Chairpersons Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision
were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of
the opinion of the Courts Division.
RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

*
Designated additional member per Special Order No. 1028 dated June 21,
2011.
[1]
Penned by Rolando L. Gonzales, Presiding Judge, RTC, Br. 39, Sogod,
Southern Leyte; rollo, pp. 80-81.
[2]
Id. at 88-93
[3]
MCTC records, pp. 378-379.
[4]
RTC records, p. 25.
[5]
Id. at 26.
[6]
Id. at 91-92.
[7]
Id. at 92.
[8]
Id. at 193-195.
[9]
Id. at 199-200.
[10]
Id. at 206.
[11]
Id. at 218.
[12]
Id. at 260-261.
[13]
Id. at 273-274.
[14]
G.R. No. 167409, March 20, 2009, 582 SCRA 127.
[15]
G.R. No. L-74766, December 21, 1987, 156 SCRA 753.
[16]
Garcia v. Miro, supra note 14, at 131-132.
[17]
G.R. No. 157472, September 28, 2007, 534 SCRA 338.
[18]
Emphasis and underscoring supplied.
[19]
RTC records, pp. 223-225.
[20]
See Registry Receipts, RTC records, attached to the dorsal portion of p.
225.
[21]
G.R. Nos. 154218 & 154372, August 28, 2006, 499 SCRA 688.
[22]
Id. at 713.
[23]
G.R. No. 173637, April 21, 2009, 586 SCRA 139.
[24]
Id. at 151-155. (Emphasis supplied).
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 200334 July 30, 2014

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent-Appellee,


vs.
VICTOR COGAED y ROMANA, Accused-Appellant.

DECISION

LEONEN, J.:

The mantle of protection upon one's person and one's effects through
Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution is essential to allow citizens to evolve
their autonomy and, hence, to avail themselves of their right to privacy. The
alleged compromise with the battle against dangerous drugs is more
apparent than real. Often, the compromise is there because law enforcers
neglect to perform what could have been done to uphold the Constitution
as they pursue those who traffic this scourge of society.

Squarely raised in this appeal1 is the admissibility of the evidence seized as


a result of a warrantless arrest. The police officers identified the alleged
perpetrator through facts that were not based on their personal knowledge.
The information as to the accuseds whereabouts was sent through a text
message. The accusedwho never acted suspicious was identified by a driver.
The bag that allegedly contained the contraband was required to be opened
under intimidating circumstances and without the accused having been fully
apprised of his rights. This was not a reasonable search within the meaning
of the Constitution. There was no reasonable suspicion that would allow a
legitimate "stop and frisk" action. The alleged waiver of rights by the
accused was not done intelligently, knowingly, and without improper
pressure or coercion.
The evidence, therefore, used against the accused should be excluded
consistent with Article III, Section 3 (2) of the Constitution. There being no
possible admissible evidence, the accused should be acquitted.

According to the prosecution, at about 6:00 a.m. of November 25, 2005,


Police Senior Inspector Sofronio Bayan (PSI Bayan) of the San Gabriel Police
Station in San Gabriel,La Union, "received a text message from an
unidentified civilian informer"2 that one Marvin Buya (also known as Marvin
Bugat) "[would]be transporting marijuana"3 from Barangay LunOy, San
Gabriel, La Union to the Poblacion of San Gabriel, La Union.4

PSI Bayan organized checkpoints in order "to intercept the suspect."5 PSI
Bayan ordered SPO1 Jaime Taracatac, Jr. (SPO1 Taracatac), a member of the
San Gabriel Police, to set up a checkpoint in the waiting area of passengers
from San Gabriel bound for San Fernando City.6 A passenger jeepney from
Barangay Lun-Oy arrived at SPO1 Taracatacs checkpoint.7 The jeepney
driver disembarked and signalled to SPO1 Taracatac indicating the two male
passengers who were carrying marijuana.8 SPO1 Taracatac approached the
two male passengers who were later identified as Victor RomanaCogaed and
Santiago Sacpa Dayao.9 Cogaed was carrying a blue bag and a sack while
Dayao was holding a yellow bag.10

SPO1 Taracatac asked Cogaed and Dayao about the contents of their
bags.11 Cogaed and Dayao told SPO1 Taracatac that they did not know since
they were transporting the bags as a favor for their barriomatenamed
Marvin.12 After this exchange, Cogaed opened the blue bag, revealing three
bricks of what looked like marijuana.13 Cogaed then muttered, "nagloko
daytoy nga Marvinen, kastoymet gayam ti nagyanna,"which translates to
"Marvin is a fool, this is what [is] contained in the bag."14 "SPO1 Taracatac
arrested [Cogaed] and . . . Dayao and brought them to the police
station."15 Cogaed and Dayao "were still carrying their respective
bags"16inside the station.17
While at the police station, the Chief of Police and Investigator PO3 Stanley
Campit (PO3 Campit) requested Cogaed and Dayao to empty their
bags.18 Inside Cogaeds sack was "four (4) rolled pieces of suspected
marijuana fruiting tops,"19 and inside Dayaos yellow bag was a brick of
suspected marijuana.20

PO3 Campit prepared the suspected marijuana for laboratory testing.21 PSI
Bayan personally delivered the suspected marijuana to the PNP Crime
Laboratory.22 Forensic Chemical Officer Police Inspector Valeriano Panem
Laya II performed the tests and found that the objects obtained were indeed
marijuana.23 The marijuana collected from Cogaeds blue bag had a total
weight of 8,091.5 grams.24 The marijuana from Cogaeds sack weighed
4,246.1 grams.25 The marijuana collected from Dayaos bag weighed 5,092
grams.26 A total of 17,429.6 grams werecollected from Cogaeds and Dayaos
bags.27

According to Cogaeds testimony during trial, he was at Balbalayan, La


Union, "waiting for a jeepney to take him"28to the Poblacion of San Gabriel
so he could buy pesticide.29 He boarded a jeepney and recognized Dayao, his
younger brothers friend.30 Upon arrival at the Poblacion of San Gabriel,
Dayao and Cogaed alighted from the jeepney.31 Dayao allegedly "asked for
[Cogaeds] help in carrying his things, which included a travelling bag and a
sack."32 Cogaed agreed because they were both going to the market.33 This
was when SPO1 Taracatac approached them, and when SPO1 Taracatac
asked Cogaed what was inside the bags, Cogaed replied that he did not
know.34 SPO1 Taracatac then talked to Dayao, however, Cogaed was not
privy to their conversation.35Thereafter, SPO1 Taracatac arrested Dayao and
Cogaed and brought them to the police station.36 These facts were
corroborated by an eyewitness,Teodoro Nalpu-ot, who was standing across
the parking lot where Cogaed was apprehended.37

At the police station, Cogaed said that "SPO1 Taracatac hit [him] on the
head."38 The bags were also opened, but Cogaed never knew what was
inside.39
It was only later when Cogaed learned that it was marijuana when he and
Dayao were charged with illegal possession of dangerous drugs under
Republic Act No. 9165.40 The information against them states:

That on or about the 25th day of November, 2005, in the Municipality of San
Gabriel, Province of La Union, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused VICTOR COGAED Y ROMANA and
SANTIAGO DAYAO Y SACPA (who acted with discernment) and JOHN
DOE,conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, did then
there wilfully, unlawfully, feloniously and knowingly, without being
authorized by law, have in their control, custody and possession dried
marijuana, a dangerous drug, with a total weight of seventeen
thousand,four hundred twenty-nine and sixtenths (17, 429.6) grams.

CONTRARY TO Section 11 (Possession of Dangerous Drugs), Article II, of


Republic Act No. 9165 (otherwise known as the "Comprehensive Dangerous
Drugs Act of 2002").41

The case was raffled to Regional Trial Court, Branch 28 of San Fernando City,
La Union.42 Cogaed and Dayao pleaded not guilty.43 The case was dismissed
against Dayao because he was only 14 years old at that time and was
exempt from criminal liability under the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of
2006 or Republic Act No. 9344.44Trial against Cogaed ensued. In a
decision45 dated May 21, 2008, the Regional Trial Court found Cogaed guilty.
The dispositive portion of the decision states:

WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused Victor Cogaed y Romana GUILTY


beyond reasonable doubt for Violation of Section 11, Article II of Republic
Act No. 9165 (otherwise known as the "Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs
Act of 2002") and sentences him to suffer life imprisonment, and to pay a
fine of one million pesos (Php 1,000,000.00).46

The trial court judge initiallyfound Cogaeds arrest illegal considering that
"Cogaed at that time was not, at the moment of his arrest, committing a
crime nor was shown that hewas about to do so or that had just done so. He
just alighted from the passenger jeepney and there was no outward
indication that called for his arrest."47 Since the arrest was illegal, the
warrantless search should also be considered illegal.48 However, the trial
court stated that notwithstanding the illegality of the arrest, Cogaed
"waived his right to object to such irregularity"49 when "he did not protest
when SPO1 Taracatac, after identifying himself, asked him to open his
bag."50

Cogaed appealed51 the trial courts decision.However, the Court of Appeals


denied his appeal and affirmed the trial courts decision.52 The Court of
Appeals found that Cogaed waived his right against warrantless searches
when "[w]ithout any prompting from SPO1 Taracatac, [he] voluntarily
opened his bag."53 Hence, this appeal was filed.

The following errors were assigned by Cogaed in his appellants brief:

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN ADMITTING THE SEIZED DANGEROUS


DRUGS AS EVIDENCE AGAINST THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT DESPITE BEING
THE RESULT OF AN UNLAWFUL WARRANTLESS SEARCH AND SEIZURE.

II

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-


APPELLANT DESPITE THE ARRESTING OFFICERS NON-COMPLIANCE WITH
THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE PROPER CUSTODY OF SEIZED DANGEROUS
DRUGS UNDER REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9165.

III

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-


APPELLANT DESPITE THE ARRESTING OFFICERS FAILURE TO PRESERVE THE
INTEGRITY AND EVIDENTIARY VALUE OF THE SEIZED DANGEROUS DRUGS.54

For our consideration are the following issues: (1) whether there was a valid
search and seizure of marijuana as against the appellant; (2) whether the
evidence obtained through the search should be admitted; and (3) whether
there was enough evidence to sustain the conviction of the accused.

In view of the disposition of this case, we deem that a discussion with


respect to the requirements on the chain of custody of dangerous drugs
unnecessary.55

We find for the accused.

II

The right to privacy is a fundamental right enshrined by implication in our


Constitution. It has many dimensions. One of its dimensions is its protection
through the prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures in Article III,
Section 2 of the Constitution:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and
effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and
for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of
arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determinedpersonally by
the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant
and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to
be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

This provision requires that the court examine with care and diligence
whether searches and seizures are "reasonable." As a general rule, searches
conducted with a warrant that meets all the requirements of this provision
are reasonable. This warrant requires the existence of probable cause that
can only be determined by a judge.56 The existence of probable cause must
be established by the judge after asking searching questions and
answers.57 Probable cause at this stage can only exist if there is an offense
alleged to be committed. Also, the warrant frames the searches done by the
law enforcers. There must be a particular description of the place and the
things to be searched.58

However, there are instances when searches are reasonable even when
warrantless.59 In the Rules of Court, searchesincidental to lawful arrests are
allowed even without a separate warrant.60 This court has taken into
account the "uniqueness of circumstances involved including the purpose of
the search or seizure, the presence or absence of probable cause, the
manner in which the search and seizure was made, the place or thing
searched, and the character of the articles procured."61 The known
jurisprudential instances of reasonable warrantless searches and seizures
are:

1. Warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest. . . ;

2. Seizure of evidence in "plain view," . . . ;

3. Search of a moving vehicle. Highly regulated by the government, the


vehicles inherent mobility reduces expectation of privacy especially
when its transit in public thoroughfares furnishes a highly reasonable
suspicion amounting to probable cause that the occupant committed a
criminal activity;

4. Consentedwarrantless search;

5. Customs search;

6. Stop and frisk; and

7. Exigent and emergency circumstances.62 (Citations omitted)

III

One of these jurisprudential exceptionsto search warrants is "stop and


frisk". "Stop and frisk" searches are often confused with searches incidental
to lawful arrests under the Rules of Court.63 Searches incidental to a lawful
arrest require that a crime be committed in flagrante delicto, and the search
conducted within the vicinity and withinreach by the person arrested is
done to ensure that there are no weapons, as well as to preserve the
evidence.64
On the other hand, "stop and frisk"searches are conducted to prevent the
occurrence of a crime. For instance, the search in Posadas v. Court of
Appeals65 was similar "to a stop and frisk situation whose object is either to
determine the identity of a suspicious individual or to maintain the status
quomomentarily while the police officer seeks to obtain more
information."66 This court stated that the "stop and frisk" search should be
used "[w]hen dealing with a rapidly unfolding and potentially criminal
situation in the city streets where unarguably there is no time to secure . . .
a search warrant."67

The search involved in this case was initially a "stop and frisk" search, but it
did not comply with all the requirements of reasonability required by the
Constitution.

"Stop and frisk" searches (sometimes referred to as Terrysearches68) are


necessary for law enforcement. That is, law enforcers should be given the
legal arsenal to prevent the commission of offenses. However, this should
be balanced with the need to protect the privacy of citizens in accordance
with Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution.

The balance lies in the concept of"suspiciousness" present in the situation


where the police officer finds himself or herself in. This may be undoubtedly
based on the experience ofthe police officer. Experienced police officers
have personal experience dealing with criminals and criminal behavior.
Hence, they should have the ability to discern based on facts that they
themselves observe whether an individual is acting in a suspicious
manner. Clearly, a basic criterion would be that the police officer, with his or
her personal knowledge, must observe the facts leading to the suspicion of
an illicit act.

In Manalili v. Court of Appeals,69 the police officers were initially informed


about a place frequented by people abusing drugs.70 When they arrived, one
of the police officers saw a man with "reddish eyes and [who was] walking in
a swaying manner."71 The suspicion increased when the man avoided the
police officers.72 These observations led the police officers to conclude that
the man was high on drugs.73 These were sufficient facts observed by the
police officers "to stop[the] petitioner [and] investigate."74

In People v. Solayao,75 police officers noticed a man who appeared


drunk.76 This man was also "wearing a camouflage uniform or a jungle
suit."77 Upon seeing the police, the man fled.78 His flight added to the
suspicion.79After stopping him, the police officers found an unlicensed
"homemade firearm"80 in his possession.81 This court ruled that "[u]nder the
circumstances, the government agents could not possibly have procured a
search warrant first."82 This was also a valid search.

In these cases, the police officers using their senses observed facts that led
to the suspicion. Seeing a man with reddish eyes and walking in a swaying
manner, based on their experience, is indicative of a person who uses
dangerous and illicit drugs. A drunk civilian in guerrilla wear is probably
hiding something as well.

The case of Cogaed was different. He was simply a passenger carrying a bag
and traveling aboarda jeepney. There was nothing suspicious, moreover,
criminal, about riding a jeepney or carrying a bag. The assessment of
suspicion was not made by the police officer but by the jeepney driver. It
was the driver who signalled to the police that Cogaed was "suspicious."

This is supported by the testimony of SPO1 Taracatac himself:

COURT:

Q So you dont know what was the content while it was still being carried by
him in the passenger jeep?

WITNESS:

A Not yet, Your Honor.83

SPO1 Taracatac likewise stated:

COURT:
Q If the driver did not make a gesture pointing to the accused, did you have
reason to believe that the accused were carrying marijuana?

WITNESS:

A No, Your Honor.84

The jeepney driver had to point toCogaed. He would not have been
identified by the police officers otherwise.

It is the police officer who should observe facts that would lead to a
reasonable degree of suspicion of a person. The police officer should not
adopt the suspicion initiated by another person. This is necessary to justify
that the person suspected be stopped and reasonably searched.85 Anything
less than this would be an infringementupon ones basic right to security of
ones person and effects.

IV

Normally, "stop and frisk" searches do not give the law enforcer an
opportunity to confer with a judge to determine probable cause. In Posadas
v. Court of Appeals,86 one of the earliest cases adopting the "stop and frisk"
doctrine in Philippine jurisprudence, this court approximatedthe suspicious
circumstances as probable cause:

The probable causeis that when the petitioner acted suspiciously and
attempted to flee with the buri bag there was a probable cause that he was
concealing something illegal in the bag and it was the right and duty of the
police officers to inspect the same.87 (Emphasis supplied)

For warrantless searches, probable cause was defined as "a reasonable


ground of suspicionsupported by circumstances sufficiently strong in
themselves to warrant a cautious man to believe that the person accused is
guilty of the offense with which he is charged."88
Malacat v. Court of Appeals89 clarifies the requirement further. It does not
have to be probable cause,but it cannot be mere suspicion.90 It has to be a
"genuine reason"91 to serve the purposes of the "stop and frisk" exception:92

Other notable points of Terryare that while probable cause is not required
to conduct a "stop and frisk," it nevertheless holds that mere suspicion or a
hunch will not validate a "stop and frisk." A genuine reason must exist, in
light of the police officers experience and surrounding conditions, to
warrant the belief that the person detained has weapons concealed about
him.93 (Emphasis supplied, footnotes omitted)

In his dissent for Esquillo v. People,94 Justice Bersamin reminds us that police
officers must not rely on a single suspicious circumstance.95 There should be
"presence of more than oneseemingly innocent activity, which, taken
together, warranted a reasonable inference of criminal activity."96 The
Constitution prohibits "unreasonable searches and seizures."97 Certainly,
reliance on only one suspicious circumstance or none at all will not result in
a reasonable search.98

There was not a single suspicious circumstance in this case, and there was
no approximation for the probable cause requirement for warrantless
arrest. The person searched was noteven the person mentioned by the
informant. The informant gave the name of Marvin Buya, and the person
searched was Victor Cogaed. Even if it was true that Cogaed responded by
saying that he was transporting the bag to Marvin Buya, this still remained
only as one circumstance. This should not have been enough reason to
search Cogaed and his belongings without a valid search warrant.

Police officers cannot justify unbridled searches and be shielded by this


exception, unless there is compliance with the "genuine reason"
requirement and that the search serves the purpose of protecting the
public. As stated in Malacat:
[A] "stop-and-frisk" serves a two-fold interest: (1) the general interest of
effective crime prevention and detection, which underlies the recognition
that a police officer may, under appropriate circumstances and in an
appropriate manner, approach a person for purposes of investigating
possible criminal behavior even without probable cause; and (2) the more
pressing interest of safety and self-preservationwhich permit the police
officer to take steps to assure himself that the person with whom he deals is
not armed with a deadly weapon that could unexpectedly and fatally be
used against the police officer.99 (Emphasis supplied)

The "stop and frisk" searchwas originally limited to outer clothing and for
the purpose of detecting dangerous weapons.100 As in
Manalili,101 jurisprudence also allows "stop and frisk" for cases involving
dangerous drugs.

The circumstances of thiscase are analogous to People v. Aruta.102 In that


case, an informant told the police that a certain "Aling Rosa" would be
bringing in drugs from Baguio City by bus.103 At the bus terminal, the police
officers prepared themselves.104 The informant pointed at a woman crossing
the street105 and identified her as "Aling Rosa."106 The police apprehended
"Aling Rosa," and they alleged that she allowed them to look inside her
bag.107The bag contained marijuana leaves.108

In Aruta, this court found that the search and seizure conducted was
illegal.109 There were no suspicious circumstances that preceded Arutas
arrest and the subsequent search and seizure.110 It was only the informant
that prompted the police to apprehend her.111 The evidence obtained was
not admissible because of the illegal search.112 Consequently, Aruta was
acquitted.113

Arutais almost identical to this case, except that it was the jeepney driver,
not the polices informant, who informed the police that Cogaed was
"suspicious."

The facts in Arutaare also similar to the facts in People v.


Aminnudin.114 Here, the National Bureau ofInvestigation (NBI) acted upon a
tip, naming Aminnudin as somebody possessing drugs.115 The NBI waited for
the vessel to arrive and accosted Aminnudin while he was disembarking
from a boat.116 Like in the case at bar, the NBI inspected Aminnudins bag
and found bundles of what turnedout to be marijuana leaves.117 The court
declared that the searchand seizure was illegal.118 Aminnudin was
acquitted.119

People v. Chua120 also presents almost the same circumstances. In this case,
the police had been receiving information that the accused was distributing
drugs in "different karaoke bars in Angeles City."121 One night, the police
received information that thisdrug dealer would be dealing drugs at the
Thunder Inn Hotel so they conducted a stakeout.122 A car "arrived and
parked"123 at the hotel.124The informant told the police that the man parked
at the hotel was dealing drugs.125 The man alighted from his car.126 He was
carrying a juice box.127 The police immediately apprehended him and
discovered live ammunition and drugs in his person and in the juice box he
was holding.128

Like in Aruta, this court did not find anything unusual or suspicious about
Chuas situation when the police apprehended him and ruled that "[t]here
was no validstop-and-frisk."129

VI

None of the other exceptions to warrantless searches exist to allow the


evidence to be admissible.The facts of this case do not qualify as a search
incidental to a lawful arrest.

Rule 126, Section 13 of the Rules of Court allows for searches incidental to a
lawful arrest. For there to be a lawful arrest, there should be either a
warrant of arrest or a lawful warrantless arrest as enumerated in Rule 113,
Section 5 of the Rules of Court:

Section 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. A peace officer or a


private person may, withouta warrant, arrest a person:
(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is
actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense;

(b) When an offense has just been committed and he has probable
cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or
circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it; and

(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped


from a penal establishment or place where he is serving final
judgment or temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has
escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another.

The apprehension of Cogaed was not effected with a warrant of arrest.


None of the instances enumerated in Rule 113, Section 5 of the Rules of
Court were present whenthe arrest was made. At the time of his
apprehension, Cogaed has not committed, was not committing, or was
about to commit a crime. As in People v. Chua, for a warrantless arrest of in
flagrante delictoto be affected, "two elements must concur: (1) the person
to bearrested must execute anovert act indicating that he has just
committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit a crime; and
(2) such overt act is done inthe presence or within the view of the arresting
officer."130 Both elements were missing when Cogaed was arrested.131 There
were no overt acts within plain view of the police officers that suggested
that Cogaed was in possession of drugs at that time.

Also, Cogaed was not an escapee prisoner that time; hence, he could not
have qualified for the last allowable warrantless arrest.

VII

There can be no valid waiver of Cogaeds constitutional rights even if we


assume that he did not object when the police asked him to open his bags.
As this court previously stated:

Appellants silence should not be lightly taken as consent to such search.


The implied acquiescence to the search, if there was any, could not have
been more than mere passive conformity given under intimidating or
coercive circumstances and is thus considered no consent at all within the
purview of the constitutional guarantee.132(Citations omitted) Cogaeds
silence or lack of aggressive objection was a natural reaction to a coercive
environment brought about by the police officers excessive intrusion into
his private space. The prosecution and the police carry the burden of
showing that the waiver of a constitutional right is one which is knowing,
intelligent, and free from any coercion. In all cases, such waivers are not to
be presumed.

The coercive atmosphere created by the presence of the police officer can
be discerned again from the testimony of SPO1 Taracatac during cross-
examination:

ATTY. BINWAG:

Q Now, Mr. witness, you claimed that you only asked them what are the
contents of their bags, is it not?

WITNESS:

A Yes, maam.

Q And then without hesitation and voluntarily they just opened their bags, is
it not?

A Yes, maam.

Q So that there was not any order from you for them to open the bags?

A None, maam.

Q Now, Mr. witness when you went near them and asked them what were
the contents ofthe bag, you have not seen any signs of hesitation or fright
from them, is it not?

A It seems they were frightened, maam.


Q But you actually [claimed] that there was not any hesitation from them in
opening the bags, is it not?

A Yes, maam but when I went near them it seems that they were
surprised.133 (Emphasis supplied)

The state of mind of Cogaed was further clarified with SPO1 Taracatacs
responses to Judge Florendos questions:

COURT:

....

Q Did you have eye contact with Cogaed?

A When I [sic] was alighting from the jeepney, Your Honor I observed that he
was somewhat frightened.1wphi1 He was a little apprehensive and when
he was already stepping down and he put down the bag I asked him, "whats
that," and he answered, "I dont know because Marvin only asked me to
carry."134

For a valid waiver by the accused of his or her constitutional right, it is not
sufficient that the police officerintroduce himself or herself, or be known as
a police officer.1wphi1 The police officer must also inform the person to be
searched that any inaction on his orher part will amount to a waiver of any
of his or her objections that the circumstances do not amount to a
reasonable search. The police officer must communicate this clearly and in a
language known to the person who is about to waive his or her
constitutional rights. There must be anassurance given to the police officer
that the accused fully understands his or her rights. The fundamental nature
of a persons constitutional right to privacy requires no less.

VIII
The Constitution provides:
Any evidence obtained in violation of [the right against unreasonable
searches and seizures] shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any
proceeding.135

Otherwise known as the exclusionary rule or the fruit of the poisonous tree
doctrine, this constitutional provision originated from Stonehill v.
Diokno.136 This rule prohibits the issuance of general warrants that
encourage law enforcers to go on fishing expeditions. Evidence obtained
through unlawful seizures should be excluded as evidence because it is "the
only practical means of enforcing the constitutional injunction against
unreasonable searches and seizures."137 It ensures that the fundamental
rights to ones person, houses, papers, and effects are not lightly infringed
upon and are upheld.

Considering that the prosecution and conviction of Cogaed were founded on


the search of his bags, a pronouncement of the illegality of that search
means that there is no evidence left to convict Cogaed.

Drugs and its illegal traffic are a scourgeto our society. In the fight to
eradicate this menace, law enforcers should be equipped with the resources
to be able to perform their duties better. However, we cannot, in any way,
compromise our societys fundamental values enshrined in our Constitution.
Otherwise, we will be seen as slowlydismantling the very foundations of the
society that we seek to protect.

WHEREFORE, the decisions of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 28, San
Fernando City, La Union and of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No.
03394 are hereby REVERSEDand SET ASIDE. For lack of evidence to establish
his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, accused-appellant VICTOR COGAED Y
ROMANA is hereby ACQUITTED and ordered RELEASED from confinement
unless he is being heldfor some other legal grounds. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

MARVIC MARIO VICTOR F. LEONEN


Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice
Chairperson

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.*


Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA


Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the oofnion of the
Court's Division.

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice
Chairperson, Third Division

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division
Chairperson's Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above
Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to
the writer of the opinion of the Court's Division.

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO


Chief Justice

Footnotes
* Designated as Acting Member in view of the vacancy in the Third
Division per Special Order No. 1691 dated May 22, 2014.
1
CA rollo, pp. 39-58.
2
Id. at 60.
3
Id.
4
Rollo, p. 5; CA rollo, p. 10.
5
Id.
6
Id.
7
Id.
8
Id.
9
Id.
10
Id.
11
Rollo, p. 5; CA rollo, p. 13.
12
Rollo, pp. 56, 13.
13
Id. at 6, 13.
14
Id. at 6.
15
Id.
16
Id.
17
Id.
18
Id.
19
Id.
20
Id.
21
Id.
22
Id.
23
Rollo, p. 7; CA rollo, p. 12.
24
Rollo, p. 7.
25
Id.
26
Id.
27
Id.
28
Id.
29
Id.
30
Id.
31
Id.
32
Id. at 78.
33
Id. at 8.
34
Id. at 5.
35
Id. at 8.
36
Id.
37
Id.
38
Id.
39
Id.
40
Rollo, pp. 8 and 34.
41
Id. at 34.
42
Id. at 23.
43
Id. at 4.
44
Id.
45
CA rollo, pp. 915.
46
Id. at 15.
47
Id. at 14.
48
Id.
49
Id.
50
Id.
51
Id. at 3958.
52
Rollo, pp. 222. Ninth Division, decision penned by Associate Justice
Ramon R. Garcia, with Associate Justices Rosmari D. Carandang and
Samuel H. Gaerlan concurring.
53
Id. at 12.
54
CA rollo, pp. 4142.
55
Rep. Act No. 10640 (2014) amending sec. 21 of Rep. Act No. 9165.
56
CONST., art. III, sec. 2.
57
CONST., art. III, sec. 2.
58
CONST., art. III, sec. 2.
59
See Valmonte v. De Villa, 258 Phil. 838, 843 (1989) [Per J. Padilla, En
Banc]: "Not all searches and seizures are prohibited. Those which are
reasonable are not forbidden."
60
RULES OF COURT, Rule 126, sec. 13. Search incident to lawful arrest.
A person lawfully arrested may be searched for dangerous weapons
or anything which may have been used or constitute proof in the
commission of an offense without search warrant.
61
Esquillo v. People, G.R. No. 182010, August 25, 2010, 629 SCRA 370,
383 [Per J. Carpio- Morales, Third Division], citing People v. Nuevas,
545 Phil. 356, 370371 (2007) [Per J. Tinga, Second Division].
62
People v. Aruta,351 Phil. 868, 879880 (1998) [Per J. Romero, Third
Division].
63
Esquillo v. People, G.R. No. 182010, August 25, 2010, 629 SCRA 370,
393394 [Per J. CarpioMorales, Third Division] (Bersamin dissenting),
citing Malacat v. Court of Appeals,347 Phil. 462, 479480 (1997) [Per J.
Davide, Jr., En Banc].
64
See also Nolasco v. Judge Pao, 223 Phil. 363, 377378 (1985) [Per J.
Melencio-Herrera, En Banc].
65
G.R. No. 89139, August 2, 1990, 188 SCRA 288 [Per J. Gancayco, First
Division].
66
Id. at 294, citingthe Solicitor Generals arguments.
67
Manalili v. Court of Appeals, 345 Phil. 632, 636 (1997) [Per J.
Panganiban, Third Division].
68
The term was derived from the American case of Terry v. Ohio, 392
U.S. 1 (1968). This case served as basis for allowing "stop and frisk"
searches in this jurisdiction.
69
345 Phil. 632 (1997) [Per J. Panganiban, Third Division].
70
Id. at 638.
71
Id.
72
Id.
73
Id. at 647.
74
Id.
75
330 Phil. 811 (1996) [Per J. Romero, Second Division].
76
Id. at 815.
77
Id.
78
Id.
79
Id. at 818819.
80
Id. at 815.
81
Id.
82
Id. at 819.
83
TSN, May 23, 2006, p. 6.
84
TSN, June 1, 2006, pp. 2122.
85
Malacat v. Court of Appeals, 347 Phil. 462, 473474 (1997) [Per J.
Davide, Jr., En Banc].
86
G.R. No. 89139, August 2, 1990, 188 SCRA 288 [Per J. Gancayco, First
Division].
87
Id. at 293.
88
People v. Aruta, 351 Phil. 868, 880 (1998) [Per J. Romero, Third
Division] (Emphasis supplied).
89
347 Phil. 462 (1997) [Per J. Davide, Jr., En Banc].
90
Id. at 481.
91
Id.
92
Id.
93
Id.
94
Esquillo v. People, G.R. No. 182010, August 25, 2010, 629 SCRA 370
[Per J. Carpio Morales, Third Division].
95
Id. See dissenting opinion of J. Bersamin, p. 397.
96
Id.
97
CONST., art. III, sec. 2.
98
See dissenting opinion of J. Bersamin in Esquillo v. People, G.R. No.
182010, August 25, 2010, 629 SCRA 370, 397 [Per J. Carpio Morales,
Third Division].
99
Malacat v. Court of Appeals,347 Phil. 462, 481-482 (1997) [Per J.
Davide, En Banc].
100
In J. Bersamins dissent inEsquillo v. People, G.R. No. 182010,
August 25, 2010, 629 SCRA 370, 396, he opined:

[A] Terryprotective search is strictly limited towhat is necessary


for the discovery of weapons that may be used to harm the
officer of the law or others nearby. There must then be a
genuine reason to believe that the accused is armed and
presently dangerous. Being an exception to the rule requiring a
search warrant, a Terryprotective search is strictly construed;
hence, it cannot go beyond what is necessary to determine if the
suspect is armed. Anything beyond is no longer valid and the
fruits of the search will be suppressed.

See also Terry v. Ohio,392 U.S. 1 (1968).


101
345 Phil. 632 (1997) [Per J. Panganiban, Third Division].
102
People v. Aruta, 351 Phil. 868 (1998) [Per J. Romero, Third Division].
103
Id. at 883.
104
Id.
105
Id. at 884885.
106
Id. at 883.
107
Id.
108
Id.
109
Id. at 888.
110
Id. at 885.
111
Id.
112
Id. at 894.
113
Id. at 895.
114
246 Phil. 424 (1988) [Per J. Cruz, First Division].
115
Id. at 427.
116
Id.
117
Id.
118
Id. at 434.
119
Id. at 435.
120
444 Phil. 757 (2003) [Per J. Ynares-Santiago, First Division].
121
Id. at 763.
122
Id.
123
Id.
124
Id.
125
Id.
126
Id.
127
Id.
128
Id. at 763764.
129
Id. at 774.
130
Id. at 770.
131
See also People v. Molina,404 Phil. 797, 812 (2001) [Per J. Ynares-
Santiago, En Banc] and People v. Aminnudin, 246 Phil. 424, 433434
(1988) [Per J. Cruz, First Division].

However, the application of these rules to crimes of illegal


possession has been subject of debate. In People v. Maspil,
Jr.(G.R. No. 85177, August 20, 1990, 188 SCRA 751 [Per J.
Gutierrez, Jr., Third Division]), we ruled that the accused were in
flagrante delictowhen the police searched their cargo at a
checkpoint, and the accused were found to be transporting
prohibited drugs. {761-762} The court delineated this from
Aminnudinbecause in Aminnudin,the police had an opportunity
to secure a warrant. {433} Maspilalso relied on the doctrine in
People v. Tangliben(263 Phil. 106 (1990) [Per J. Gutierrez, Jr.,
Third Division]) wherein the search was considered incidental to
an in flagrante delictoarrest because of the "urgency" of the
situation. {115}

Despite these doctrinal deviations, it is better if we follow the


two-tiered test to determine if an individual is in flagrante
delicto, which calls for his or her warrantless arrests.The general
rule should be that there must be an overt act and that such act
is in plain view of the law enforcer.
132
People v. Encinada, 345 Phil. 301, 322 (1997) [Per J. Panganiban,
Third Division].
133
TSN, June 1, 2006, pp. 1819.
134
Id. at 21.
135
CONSTI., art. III, sec. 3 (b).
136
126 Phil. 738 (1967) [Per C.J. Concepcion, En Banc].
137
Id. at 750.
Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

JOSEPH C. CEREZO, G.R. No. 185230


Petitioner,
Present:

CARPIO, J.,
- versus - Chairperson,
NACHURA,
PERALTA,
ABAD, and
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, MENDOZA, JJ.
JULIET YANEZA, PABLO ABUNDA, JR., and
VICENTE AFULUGENCIA,
Promulgated:
Respondents.

June 1, 2011

x------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION
NACHURA, J.:

This petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeks
to annul the July 11, 2008 Decision[1] and the November 4, 2008
Resolution[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 99088, which
reversed and set aside the October 24, 2006[3] and the February 26,
2007[4] Orders of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 92.

The RTC Orders revived Criminal Case No. Q-03-115490, entitled People of the
Philippines v. Juliet Yaneza, Pablo Abunda, Jr., Oscar Mapalo and Vicente
Afulugencia, after the same was dismissed in an earlier Order.

The Facts

On September 12, 2002, petitioner Joseph Cerezo filed a complaint for libel
against respondents Juliet Yaneza, Pablo Abunda, Jr., and Vicente Afulugencia
(respondents), as well as Oscar Mapalo (Mapalo).[5]

Finding probable cause to indict respondents,[6] the Quezon City


Prosecutors Office (OP-QC) filed the corresponding Information against them
on February 18, 2003 before the RTC.[7]

Respondents thereafter filed a Motion for Reconsideration and/or Motion to


Re-evaluate Prosecutions Evidence before the OP-QC.[8]
In its resolution dated November 20, 2003, the OP-QC reversed its
earlier finding and recommended the withdrawal of the
Information.[9] Consequently, a Motion to Dismiss and Withdraw Information
was filed before the RTC on December 3, 2003. During the intervening period,
specifically on November 24, 2003, respondents were arraigned. All of them
entered a not guilty plea.[10]

In deference to the prosecutors last resolution, the RTC ordered the criminal
case dismissed in its Order dated March 17, 2004, viz.:

Settled is the rule that the determination of the persons to be


prosecuted rests primarily with the Public Prosecutor who is
vested with quasi-judicial discretion in the discharge of this
function. Being vested with such power, he can reconsider his
own resolution if he finds that there is reasonable ground to do
so. x x x.

More so, the Court cannot interfere with the Public Prosecutors
discretion to determine probable cause or the propriety of
pursuing or not a criminal case when the case is not yet filed in
Court, as a general rule. However, if the same criminal case has
been filed in Court already, the Public Prosecutor can still
interfere with it subject to the approval of the Court. In the case
of Republic vs. Sunga, et al., the Supreme Court held that while it
has been settled in the case of Crespo vs. Mogul that the trial
court is the sole judge on whether a criminal case should be
dismissed after the complaint or information has been filed in
court, nonetheless any motion of the offended party for the
dismissal of the criminal case, even if without objection of the
accused, should first be referred to the prosecuting fiscal and only
after hearing should the court exercise its exclusive authority to
dismiss or continue with the prosecution of the case. The Court,
therefore, after hearing and conferring with the fiscal, can dismiss
the case if convinced that there is [no] reason to continue with
the prosecution [of] the same. As in this case, the Court finds
merit [in] the motion of the Public Prosecutor.[11]

Aggrieved, petitioner moved for reconsideration of the said Order, arguing


that the November 20, 2003 OP-QC resolution has not yet attained finality,
considering that the same was the subject of a Petition for Review filed before
the Department of Justice (DOJ).[12] The RTC deferred action on the said
motion to await the resolution of the DOJ.[13]

On June 26, 2006, the Secretary of Justice promulgated his resolution


reversing and setting aside the OP-QCs November 20, 2003 resolution, and
directing the latter to refile the earlier Information for libel.[14]
On October 24, 2006, the RTC issued its first assailed Order granting
petitioners motion for reconsideration, conformably with the resolution of
the DOJ Secretary, thus:

Considering the findings of the Department of Justice reversing the


resolution of the City Prosecutor, the Court gives favorable action
to the Motion for Reconsideration. In the same manner as
discussed in arriving at its assailed order dated 17 March 2004,
the Court gives more leeway to the Public Prosecutor in
determining whether it has to continue or stop prosecuting a
case. While the City Prosecutor has previously decided not to
pursue further the case, the Secretary of Justice, however,
through its resolution on the Petition for Review did not agree
with him.

The Court disagrees with the argument raised by the


accused that double jeopardy sets in to the picture. The order of
dismissal as well as the withdrawal of the Information was not yet
final because of the timely filing of the Motion for
Reconsideration. The Court[,] therefore, can still set aside its
order. Moreover, there is no refiling of the case nor the filing of a
new one. The case filed remains the same and the order of
dismissal was merely vacated because the Court finds the Motion
for Reconsideration meritorious.
WHEREFORE, finding the Motion for Reconsideration
meritorious, the Order dated 17 March 2004 is hereby
RECONSIDERED and SET ASIDE.
Let the arraignment of accused Oscar Mapalo and pre-trial [of]
the other accused be set on 06 December 2006 at 8:30 in the
morning.

SO ORDERED.[15]

Respondents moved for reconsideration, but the motion was denied in


the RTCs second assailed Order dated February 26, 2007.[16]
Relentless, respondents elevated their predicament to the CA through a
Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, arguing in the main
that the RTC Orders violated their constitutional right against double
jeopardy.
Ruling of the CA

The appellate court found the RTC to have gravely abused its discretion in
ordering the reinstatement of the case. The CA annulled the impugned
RTC Orders, ruling that all the elements of double jeopardy exist. There
was a valid Information sufficient in form and substance filed before a
court of competent jurisdiction to which respondents had pleaded, and
that the termination of the case was not expressly consented to by
respondents; hence, the same could not be revived or refiled without
transgressing respondents right against double jeopardy.

The CA further found that the DOJ Secretary improperly took cognizance of
the Petition for Review because DOJ Department Order No. 223
mandates that no appeal shall be entertained if the accused has already
been arraigned or, if the arraignment took place during the pendency
of the appeal, the same shall be dismissed.[17]

Petitioner interposed the instant appeal when his motion for reconsideration
of the CA Decision was denied.[18]

The Issues

Petitioner ascribes the following errors to the CA:


a. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in finding that there was
Double Jeopardy, specifically on the alleged existence of the
requisites to constitute Double Jeopardy;
b. The Honorable Court of Appeals failed to consider the fact that
there was NO refiling of the case nor the filing of a new one in
arriving [at] its conclusion that Double Jeopardy sets in to the
picture;
c. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in finding that there was
1.) a valid termination of the case on the basis of the Order of
the Trial Court dated 17 March 2004, and allegedly 2.) without
the express consent of the respondents.[19]

The assigned errors will be subsumed into this issue:

Whether there was a valid termination of the case so as to usher in the


impregnable wall of double jeopardy.

Our Ruling

The petition is impressed with merit.

Well-entrenched is the rule that once a case is filed with the court, any
disposition of it rests on the sound discretion of the court. In thus resolving a
motion to dismiss a case or to withdraw an Information, the trial court should
not rely solely and merely on the findings of the public prosecutor or the
Secretary of Justice.[20]It is the courts bounden duty to assess independently
the merits of the motion, and this assessment must be embodied in a written
order disposing of the motion.[21]While the recommendation of the
prosecutor or the ruling of the Secretary of Justice is persuasive, it is not
binding on courts.

In this case, it is obvious from the March 17, 2004 Order of the RTC,
dismissing the criminal case, that the RTC judge failed to make his own
determination of whether or not there was a prima facie case to hold
respondents for trial. He failed to make an independent evaluation or
assessment of the merits of the case. The RTC judge blindly relied on the
manifestation and recommendation of the prosecutor when he should have
been more circumspect and judicious in resolving the Motion to Dismiss and
Withdraw Information especially so when the prosecution appeared to be
uncertain, undecided, and irresolute on whether to indict respondents.

The same holds true with respect to the October 24, 2006 Order, which
reinstated the case. The RTC judge failed to make a separate evaluation and
merely awaited the resolution of the DOJ Secretary. This is evident from the
general tenor of the Order and highlighted in the following portion thereof:

As discussed during the hearing of the Motion for


Reconsideration, the Court will resolve it depending on the
outcome of the Petition for Review. Considering the findings of
the Department of Justice reversing the resolution of the City
Prosecutor, the Court gives favorable action to the Motion for
Reconsideration.[22]
By relying solely on the manifestation of the public prosecutor and the
resolution of the DOJ Secretary, the trial court abdicated its judicial power
and refused to perform a positive duty enjoined by law. The said Orders were
thus stained with grave abuse of discretion and violated the complainants
right to due process. They were void, had no legal standing, and produced no
effect whatsoever.[23]

This Court must therefore remand the case to the RTC, so that the latter
can rule on the merits of the case to determine if a prima facie case exists and
consequently resolve the Motion to Dismiss and Withdraw
Information anew.

It is beyond cavil that double jeopardy did not set in. Double jeopardy
exists when the following requisites are present: (1) a first jeopardy attached
prior to the second; (2) the first jeopardy has been validly terminated; and (3)
a second jeopardy is for the same offense as in the first. A first jeopardy
attaches only (a) after a valid indictment; (b) before a competent court; (c)
after arraignment; (d) when a valid plea has been entered; and (e) when the
accused has been acquitted or convicted, or the case dismissed or otherwise
terminated without his express consent.[24]

Since we have held that the March 17, 2004 Order granting the motion
to dismiss was committed with grave abuse of discretion, then respondents
were not acquitted nor was there a valid and legal dismissal or termination of
the case. Ergo, the fifth requisite which requires the conviction and acquittal
of the accused, or the dismissal of the case without the approval of the
accused, was not met. Thus, double jeopardy has not set in.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GIVEN DUE COURSE, and the


assailed July 11, 2008 Decision and the November 4, 2008 Resolution of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 99088, and the October 24, 2006 and the
February 26, 2007 Orders of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch
92, are hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. The case is REMANDED to the
Quezon City RTC, Branch 92, for evaluation on whether probable cause exists
to hold respondents for trial.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.

ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA ROBERTO A. ABAD


Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA


Associate Justice

ATTESTATION
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
Courts Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division
Chairperson's Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision
had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer
of the opinion of the Courts Division.

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice
[1]
Penned by Associate Justice Arturo G. Tayag, with Associate Justices Martin
S. Villarama, Jr. (now a member of this Court) and Noel G. Tijam,
concurring; rollo, pp. 18-38.
[2]
Id. at 41-47.
[3]
Id. at 49-51.
[4]
Id. at 52.
[5]
Supra note 1, at 20.
[6]
Resolution dated February 18, 2003 in I.S. No. 02-12597; rollo, pp. 53-57.
[7]
Supra note 1, at 21.
[8]
Id.
[9]
Rollo, pp. 58-59.
[10]
Supra note 1, at 21-22.
[11]
Id. at 23-24.
[12]
Rollo, pp. 60-76.
[13]
Supra note 1, at 25.
[14]
As summarized in the October 24, 2006 Order of the RTC; supra note 3, at
50.
[15]
Id. at 50-51.
[16]
Supra note 4.
[17]
Supra note 1.
[18]
Supra note 2.
[19]
Rollo, pp. 6-7.
[20]
First Womens Credit Corporation v. Baybay, G.R. No. 166888, January 31,
2007, 513 SCRA 637, 646, citing Santos v. Orda, Jr., 481 Phil. 93, 106 (2004).
[21]
Lee v. KBC Bank N.V., G.R. No. 164673, January 15, 2010, 610 SCRA 117,
132, citing Ledesma v. Court of Appeals, 344 Phil. 207, 235 (1997).
[22]
Supra note 3, at 50.
[23]
See Co v. Lim, G.R. Nos. 164669-70, October 30, 2009, 604 SCRA 702, 712,
citing Summerville General Merchandising & Co., Inc. v. Eugenio, Jr., G.R. No.
163741, August 7, 2007, 529 SCRA 274, 281-282.
[24]
Section 7, Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, as
amended provides:
Sec. 7. Former conviction or acquittal; double jeopardy. - When an
accused has been convicted or acquitted, or the case against him dismissed
or otherwise terminated without his express consent by a court of competent
jurisdiction, upon a valid complaint or information or other formal charge
sufficient in form and substance to sustain a conviction and after the accused
had pleaded to the charge, the conviction or acquittal of the accused or the
dismissal of the case shall be a bar to another prosecution for the offense
charged, or for any attempt to commit the same or frustration thereof, or for
any offense which necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the
offense charged in the former complaint or information.