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Pendon v CA ‫׀‬ G.R. No. 84873 ‫׀‬ November 16, 1990 | Medialdea, J.

Petitioner: Erle Pendon, for himself and as Managing Partner of Kener Trading Company
Respondents: The Court of Appeals, Hon. Enrique T. Jocson in his capacity as Presiding Judge of Branch 47,
RTC of Negros Occidental; Fiscal Alexander N. Mirano, in his capacity as City Fiscal of Bacolod
City and the Provincial Commander of the 331st PC Company, Bacolod City

TOPIC
Search & Seizure; Procedure for issuance of a search

SUMMARY
Search warrant was issued against petitioner for supposedly stolen items from NAPOCOR.

Search warrant was invalid because there was an improper finding of probable cause seeing as the judge did not
personally examine the applicant and witness through searching questions and answers (only through 4 questions
that were pre-typed; applicant himself was not even asked), and there was no showing that the applicant had
personal knowledge of the commission of the crime. (The warrant was also general, and no showing that the items
seized were prohibited by law).

FACTS
 This petition for review on certiorari seeks to set aside decision of Court of Appeals which affirmed the decision
of the Regional Trial Court of Negros Occidental that the search warrant issued against him was legal.

 First Lieutenant Felipe L. Rojas of the Philippine Constabulary filed an application for a search warrant
alleging “that he was informed and verily believes that Kenneth Siao who may be found at Kener Trading
Company has in his possession and control NAPOCOR Galvanized bolts, grounding motor drive assembly;
aluminum wires and other NAPOCOR Tower parts and line accessories which he is concealing in the premises
above mentioned.”
 The application was subscribed before Judge Demosthenes D. Magallanes of MTC of Bacolod City and
supported by the joint deposition of 2 witnesses.1

 On the basis of the application and joint deposition, Judge Magallanes issued Search Warrant No. 181,
commanding the search of the property described.

o Constabulary officers conducted a search and seized certain items


o A complaint for violation of the Anti-Fencing Law was filed against Kenneth Siao by NAPOCOR.
 Same complaint was filed against petitioner Edon, as Siao relinquished his ownership of
Kener to him
 Raffled to Judge Jocson of Branch 47, RTC Negros Occidental
 Before his arraignment, petitioner filed an application for the return of the articles seized on the ground that
said warrant was issued illegally

1
"We, Ignacio L. Reyes and IAI Eduardo Abaja, CIS after having been duly sworn to, testify as follows:
1. QUESTION: What are your names and other personal circumstances?
ANSWER: IGNACIO L. REYES, 34 years old, married, an employee of NAPOCOR and presently residing at Eroreco Subdivision,
Bacolod City and AIA EDUARDO ABAJA, CIS, regular member of the CO/INP CIS Command, Bacolod City.
2. QUESTION: Do you know the premises/house of KENNETH SIAO located at Rizal Street, near cor. Lacson St., Bacolod City?
ANSWER: Yes, Sir.
3. QUESTION: Do you have personal knowledge that said KENNETH SIAO who may be found in the said premises/house has/have
in his/her/their possession and control the following property, to wit:j NAPOCOR Galvanized bolts, grounding motor drive
assembly, aluminum wires and other NAPOCOR Tower parts and line accessories?
ANSWER: Yes, sir.
4. QUESTION: How do you know that above-described property/ies is/are being kept in said premises/house?
ANSWER: We conducted surveillance and we were able to purchase some of these items.”
o The application was amended to an application for quashal of the illegally-issued search warrant and
for the return of the articles seized by virtue thereof
o Judge Jocson issued an order impliedly denying the application for the quashal of the search warrant
without ruling on the issue of the validity of its issuance
 MR was filed, denied
 Petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with a prayer for a restraining order, assailing the legality
of search warrant and praying for the permanent prohibition against the use in evidence of the articles and
properties seized and the return thereof to petitioner.
 CA dismissed petition, finding existence of a probable cause to justify the issuance of the search warrant.

ISSUES
 W/N the Search Warrant 181 was issued illegally? YES.
o Petitioner: application of 1st Lt. Rojas and joint deposition of Abaja and Reyes filed to comply with
requisites of searching questions and answers
 Joint deposition of witnesses showed that the questions were pre-typed, mimeographed and the
answers were merely filled-in
 No examination of the applicant and of the joint deponents was personally conducted by Judge
Magallens
 No showing that neither of the affiants had personal knowledge of any specific offense was
committed by petitioner or that the articles were stolen or that they were brought to Siao

o Court: The constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures is guaranteed under Art 3 Sec
2
 The issuance of a search warrant is justified only upon a finding of probably cause
 Probable cause for a search warrant has been defined as such facts and circumstances which
would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed
and that the objects sought in connection with the offense are in the place sought to be searched
 In determining existence of probable cause:
 Judge must examine the witnesses personally
 The examination must be under oath
 The examination must be reduced in writing in the form of searching questions and
answers
 These are provided for in Sec 4 Rule 126 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure
 Existence of probable cause depends to a large degree upon the finding or opinion of the judge
conducting the examination

o In this case: rule that judge must personably examine the applicant and witnesses in the form of searching
questions and answers was not sufficiently complied with
 Applicant himself was not asked any searching questions
 The only part he played was to subscribe the application before the judge
 The questions were pre-typed and did not state that applicant had personal knowledge of a
robbery/ theft and that the proceeds were in possession of the person whom the search warrant
was sought to be issues
 In previous jurisprudence in was held that:
 “Where the applicant himself was not subjected to an interrogation but was questioned
only “to ascertain, among others, if he knew and understood (his affidavit) and only
because the application was not yet subscribed and sworn to,” We held that: “It is
axiomatic that the examination must be probing and exhaustive, not merely routinary or
pro forma, if the claimed probable cause is to be established. The examining magistrate
must not simply rehash the contents of the affidavit but must make his own inquiry on
the intent and justification of the application.” Library
 Likewise, the joint deposition can hardly satisfy the same requirement. The prosecutor admitted
in his memorandum that the questions propounded were pre-typed.
 The 4 questions propounded could hardly support a finding of probable cause
 No statement in the joint deposition that the articles were derived from proceeds of the
crime or that the applicant knew that a crime was committed
 Not even shown what connection Siao has with Kener

o There is also an infirmity with the search warrant in its generality.


 The items listed are so general that the searching team can practically take half of the business of
Kener Trading, the premises searched
 Items described do not fall under the list of personal roperty which may be seized under Sec 2,
Rule 126
 The subject of an offense
 Stolen or embezzled property and other proceeds or fruits of an offense
 Used or intended to be used as a means of committing an offense

o There is no showing that the possession of the items described are prohibited by law therefore, the
return thereof to petitioner is proper.
 The seized articles were described as “galvanized bolts, V-chuckle, U-bolts and 3 1/2 feet angular
bar”
o Also, the use in evidence of the articles seized pursuant to an invalid search warrant as per Art 3 Sec 3 (2)

FINAL RULING

ACCORDINGLY, the petition is GRANTED. Judgment is hereby rendered: 1) declaring Search Warrant No. 181 issued
by Judge Demosthenes Magallanes NULL and VOID; 2) ordering the return of the items seized by virtue of the said
warrant to herein petitioner; and 3) permanently enjoining respondents from using in evidence the articles seized by
virtue of Search Warrant No. 181 in Criminal Case No. 5657.chanr