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G.R. No.

161106 January 13, 2014 code and PIN provided under a GlobalTalk prepaid
WORLDWIDE WEB CORPORATION and CHERRYLL L. YU, account, he was then requested to enter the destination
Petitioners, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and PHILIPPINE number, which included the country code, phone
LONG DISTANCE TELEPHONE COMPANY, Respondents. number and a pound sign. The call was completed to a
phone number in Taiwan. However, when he checked
SERENO, CJ the records, it showed that the call was only directed to
the local number 6891135. This indicated that the
FACTS: international test call using GlobalTalk bypassed PLDT’s
IGF.
 Police Chief Inspector Villegas of the Regional  Based on the records of PLDT, telephone number
Intelligence Special Operations Office of the PNP filed 6891135 is registered to WWC. However, upon an
applications for warrants before the RTC of Quezon City ocular inspection conducted by Rivera at this address, it
to search the office premises of Worldwide Web was found that the occupant of the unit is Planet
Corporation and Planet Internet Corporation located at Internet, which also uses the telephone lines registered
the 11th floor, IBM Plaza Building, No. 188 Eastwood to WWC. These telephone lines are interconnected to a
City, Libis, Quezon City, as well as the office premises of server and used as dial-up access lines/numbers of
petitioner Planet Internet Corporation (Planet Internet) WWC.
located at UN 2103, 21/F Orient Square Building,  Gali further alleged that because PLDT lines and
Emerald Avenue, Barangay San Antonio, Pasig City. equipment had been illegally connected by petitioners
 The applications alleged that petitioners were to a piece of equipment that routed the international
conducting illegal toll bypass operations, which calls and bypassed PLDT’s IGF, they violated P.D. No. 401
amounted to theft and violation of P.D. No. 401 as amended, on unauthorized installation of telephone
(Penalizing the Unauthorized Installation of Water, connections.
Electrical or Telephone Connections, the Use of  Petitioners also committed theft, because through their
Tampered Water or Electrical Meters and Other Acts), misuse of PLDT phone lines/numbers and equipment
to the damage and prejudice of the PLDT. and with clear intent to gain, they illegally stole business
 The trial court conducted a hearing on the applications and revenues that rightly belong to PLDT.
for search warrants. The applicants Rivera and Gali of  Moreover, they acted contrary to the letter and intent
the Alternative Calling Pattern Detection Division of of R. A. No. 7925, because in bypassing the IGF of PLDT,
PLDT testified as witnesses. they evaded the payment of access and bypass charges
Witness’ testimonies in its favor while "piggy-backing" on its multi-million
 According to Rivera, a legitimate international long dollar facilities and infrastructure, thus stealing its
distance call should pass through the local exchange or business revenues from international long distance
public switch telephone network (PSTN) on to the toll calls.
center of one of the international gateway facilities  Further, petitioners acted in gross violation of
(IGFs) in the Philippines. Memorandum Circular No. 6-2-92 of the National
 The call is then transmitted to the other country Telecommunications Commission prohibiting the use of
through voice circuits, either via fiber optic submarine customs premises equipment without first securing
cable or microwave radio using satellite facilities, and type approval license from the latter.
passes the toll center of one of the IGFs in the  PLDT alleged that petitioners deprived it of foreign
destination country. exchange revenues, and evaded the payment of taxes,
 The toll center would then meter the call, which will license fees, and charges, to the prejudice of the
pass through the PSTN of the called number to complete government.
the circuit. In contrast, WWC and Planet Internet were  RTC :granted the application for search warrants.
able to provide international long distance call services  Three warrants were issued against the office premises
to any part of the world by using PLDT’s telephone lines, of petitioners, authorizing police officers to seize
but bypassing its IGF. various items in the office premises of WWC and Planet
 This scheme constitutes toll bypass, a "method of Internet, which includes various telecommunications
routing and completing international long distance calls equipment to support the illegal toll bypass operations.
using lines, cables, antenna and/or wave or frequency  The warrants were implemented on the same day by
which connects directly to the local or domestic RISOO operatives of the NCR-PNP.
exchange facilities of the originating country or the  Over a hundred items were seized, including 15 CPUs,
country where the call is originated." 10 monitors, numerous wires, cables, diskettes and
 On the other hand, Gali claimed that a phone number files, and a laptop computer.
serviced by PLDT and registered to WWC was used to  Planet Internet notes that even personal diskettes of its
provide a service called GlobalTalk, "an internet-based employees were confiscated; and areas not devoted to
international call service, which can be availed of via the transmission of international calls, such as the
prepaid or billed/post-paid accounts." President’s Office and the Information Desk, were
 During a test call using GlobalTalk, Gali dialed the local searched. Voltage regulators, as well as reserve and
PLDT telephone number 6891135, the given access line. broken computers, were also seized.
After a voice prompt required him to enter the user

Who must prosecute criminal actions. and not a criminal action to be the warrants issued were in the nature of general entertained by a court pursuant to its original warrants. process. passed the IGF of Eastern Telecommunications  The requisites. Petitioners separately moved for reconsideration of the  Therefore. filed a petition for certiorari rather than an appeal when  An application for a search warrant is a judicial process it questioned the RTC Resolution before the CA. the quashal of the search warrants were final commenced by a complaint or information shall be prosecuted orders. procedure and purpose for the issuance Philippines. quashal orders via an appeal rather than a petition for  Among the points raised was that PLDT should have certiorari. the act complained of. merely which Planet Internet marketed by virtue of a "Reseller constitutes process. not interlocutory.  Whether the criminal case (of which the search ISSUES: warrant is an incident) has already been filed before the 1) Whether or not conformity of the public prosecutor is necessary trial court is significant for the purpose of determining prior filing a motion for reconsideration to question an order the proper remedy from a grant or denial of a motion quashing search warrants to quash a search warrant. drastic in its nature.  Thus."  An application for a search warrant is a special criminal  PLDT filed a Consolidated Opposition to the motions to process. Agreement. such both provided international direct dialing services. It is a special and peculiar IGF of either Eastern or Capwire. by the trial court. and of a complaint or an information. Rules on Criminal Procedure.  Petitioners filed their respective motions to quash the  The above provision states the general rule that the search warrants. criminal action.  PLDT moved for reconsideration. The application quash. properly taken therefrom. it used the akin to a writ of discovery. the independently prior to the filing of a criminal action is deemed a quashal of a search warrant is merely interlocutory. but by the filing of an (4) the objects seized pursuant thereto were "fruits of the application therefor. where a search warrant is applied for and 3) Whether or not the assailed search warrants were general issued in anticipation of a criminal case yet to be filed. and an appeal may be under the direction and control of the prosecutor. An application for a search warrant is not a criminal  When the search warrants issued were subsequently action. a search warrant is obtained. 1) No." Planet Internet used PLDT lines for the first  A search warrant is in the nature of a criminal process phase of the call. therefore. subject of an appeal. remedy. since prosecution of all criminal actions commenced by a the acts complained of did not constitute theft. PLDT was correct when they assailed the CA ruling. Inc. generally issued by a court in the exercise of its  RTC : granted the motions to quash on the ground that ancillary jurisdiction. an application for a search warrant is not a were ordered released to petitioners. Where the search warrant 2) Whether or not an order quashing a search warrant issued is issued as an incident in a pending criminal case. there was nothing left to be done necessary to give PLDT personality to question the RTC. Hence. rather than a criminal action. not by the filing (3) the search warrants were general warrants.  CA: reversed and set aside the RTC Resolutions and  It partakes of a final order and can be the proper declared the search warrants valid and effective. 5. The conducted either as an incident in a main criminal case appellate court denied the Motions for already filed in court or in anticipation of one yet to be Reconsideration. .  However. this petition filed. warrants the order quashing the warrant (and denial of a motion for reconsideration of the grant) ends the HELD: judicial process.  A search warrant is definitively considered merely as a None of these contentions were refuted by PLDT. which was issued motion. Rule 110 of the independently prior to the filing of a criminal action. for and the obtention of a search warrant cannot be  In the hearing of the motions to quash. the properties seized under the said warrants  Therefore. poisonous tree. the test calls equated with the institution and prosecution of a alluded to by Gali in his Affidavit were shown to have criminal action in a trial court. citing basically the same grounds: public prosecutor has direction and control of the (1) the search warrants were issued without probable cause. and of Capital Wireless. conformity of the City Prosecutor prior to filing the  An order quashing a search warrant. is not merely an interlocutory order. final order that can be the subject of an appeal  In contrast. phone bills and Eastern and Capwire for its IGF usage. as required under Section 5. complaint or information. SEC. as a warrant of arrest or a search warrant. but its motion was denied on the ground that it had failed to get the 2) Yes. conformity of the public prosecutor is not quashed by the RTC. — All criminal actions  Thus. A warrant. and made necessary  Planet Internet religiously paid PLDT for its domestic because of a public necessity. of a search warrant are completely different from those  Planet Internet explained that Eastern and Capwire for the institution of a criminal action. but for the second phase. jurisdiction. (2) toll bypass. was not a crime.

The petitions were DENIED. Rivera conducted ocular inspection of the premises of petitioners and was able to confirm that they had utilized various telecommunications equipment consisting of computers.  Any description of the place or thing to be searched that will enable the officer making the search with reasonable certainty to locate such place or thing is sufficient. antennas. against whom the warrant is issued. . or routers. tapes. It is only necessary that there be reasonable particularity and certainty as to the identity of the property to be searched for and seized.  Our Constitution guarantees our right against unreasonable searches and seizures.  The particularity of the description of the place to be searched and the things to be seized is required wherever and whenever it is feasible. a d support equipment such as software. multiplexers. lines. 3. as it makes the person.  PLDT was able to establish the connection between the items to be searched as identified in the warrants and the crime of theft of its telephone services and business. diskettes. Technical precision of description is not required.  It is one that allows the seizure of one thing under a warrant describing another and gives the officer executing the warrant the discretion over which items to take.  The assailed search warrants are not general warrants. and safeguards have been put in place to ensure that people and their properties are searched only for the most compelling and lawful reasons.  The things to be seized must be described with particularity.  Prior to the application for the search warrants. PABX or switching equipment. manuals and other documentary records to support the illegal toll bypass operations.  A general warrant is defined as a search or arrest warrant that is not particular as to the person to be arrested or the property to be seized. modems.  Such discretion is abhorrent. ) No. The Court of Appeals decision were AFFIRMED. cables. vulnerable to abuses. so that the warrant shall not be a mere roving commission.  The requirement of particularity in the description of things to be seized is fulfilled when the items described in the search warrant bear a direct relation to the offense for which the warrant is sought.  A search warrant fulfills the requirement of particularity in the description of the things to be seized when the things described are limited to those that bear a direct relation to the offense for which the warrant is being issued.