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G.R. Nos.

136066-67 February 4, 2003

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
BINAD SY CHUA, accused-appellant.

DECISION

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

On September 21, 1996, at around 10:00 in the evening, SPO2 Mario Nulud and PO2 Emmeraldo
Nunag received a report from their confidential informant that accused-appellant was about to deliver
drugs that night at the Thunder Inn Hotel in Balibago, Angeles City. On the basis of this lead, the
PNP Chief of Angeles City, Col. Neopito Gutierrez, immediately formed a team of operatives.

At around 11:45 in the evening, their informer pointed to a car driven by accused-appellant which
just arrived and parked near the entrance of the Thunder Inn Hotel. After accused-appellant alighted
from the car carrying a sealed Zest-O juice box, SPO2 Nulud and PO2 Nunag hurriedly accosted
him and introduced themselves as police officers. As accused-appellant pulled out his wallet, a small
transparent plastic bag with a crystalline substance protruded from his right back pocket. Forthwith,
SPO2 Nulud subjected him to a body search which yielded twenty (20) pieces of live .22 caliber
firearm bullets from his left back pocket. When SPO2 Nunag peeked into the contents of the Zest-O
box, he saw that it contained a crystalline substance. SPO2 Nulud instantly confiscated the small
transparent plastic bag, the Zest-O juice box, the twenty (20) pieces of .22 caliber firearm bullets and
the car used by accused-appellant. Afterwards, SPO2 Nulud and the other police operatives who
arrived at the scene brought the confiscated items to the office of Col. Guttierez at the PNP
Headquarters in Camp Pepito, Angeles City.3

B. THE SEARCH OF HIS PERSON AND THE SUBSEQUENT CONFISCATION OF SHABU


ALLEGEDLY FOUND ON HIM WERE CONDUCTED IN A LAWFUL AND VALID MANNER;

In the case at bar, neither the in flagrante delicto nor the "stop and frisk" principles is applicable to
justify the warrantless arrest and consequent search and seizure made by the police operatives on
accused-appellant.

In the same vein, there could be no valid "stop-and-frisk" in this case. A stop-and-frisk was defined
as the act of a police officer to stop a citizen on the street, interrogate him, and pat him for
weapon(s)25 or contraband. The police officer should properly introduce himself and make initial
inquiries, approach and restrain a person who manifests unusual and suspicious conduct, in order to
check the latter’s outer clothing for possibly concealed weapons.26 The apprehending police officer
must have a genuine reason, in accordance with the police officer’s experience and the surrounding
conditions, to warrant the belief that the person to be held has weapons (or contraband) concealed
about him.27 It should therefore be emphasized that a search and seizure should precede the arrest
for this principle to apply.28
This principle of "stop-and-frisk" search was invoked by the Court in Manalili v. Court of Appeals.29 In
said case, the policemen chanced upon the accused who had reddish eyes, walking in a swaying
manner, and who appeared to be high on drugs. Thus, we upheld the validity of the search as akin
to a "stop-and-frisk." In People v. Solayao,30 we also found justifiable reason to "stop-and-frisk" the
accused after considering the following circumstances: the drunken actuations of the accused and
his companions, the fact that his companions fled when they saw the policemen, and the fact that
the peace officers were precisely on an intelligence mission to verify reports that armed persons
where roaming the vicinity.

The foregoing circumstances do not obtain in the case at bar. There was no valid "stop-and-frisk" in
the case of accused-appellant. To reiterate, accused-appellant was first arrested before the search
and seizure of the alleged illegal items found in his possession. The apprehending police operative
failed to make any initial inquiry into accused-appellant’s business in the vicinity or the contents of
the Zest-O juice box he was carrying. The apprehending police officers only introduced themselves
when they already had custody of accused-appellant. Besides, at the time of his arrest, accused-
appellant did not exhibit manifest unusual and suspicious conduct reasonable enough to dispense
with the procedure outlined by jurisprudence and the law. There was, therefore, no genuine
reasonable ground for the immediacy of accused-appellant’s arrest.

Obviously, the acts of the police operatives wholly depended on the information given to them by
their confidential informant. Accordingly, before and during that time of the arrest, the arresting
officers had no personal knowledge that accused-appellant had just committed, was committing, or
was about to commit a crime.

At any rate, even if the fact of delivery of the illegal drugs actually occurred, accused-appellant’s
warrantless arrest and consequent search would still not be deemed a valid "stop-and frisk". For a
valid "stop-and-frisk" the search and seizure must precede the arrest, which is not so in this case.
Besides, as we have earlier emphasized, the information about the illegal activities of accused-
appellant was not unknown to the apprehending officers. Hence, the search and seizure of the
prohibited drugs cannot be deemed as a valid "stop-and-frisk".
G.R. No. 200334 July 30, 2014

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent-Appellee,


vs.
VICTOR COGAED y ROMANA, Accused-Appellant.

DECISION

LEONEN, J.:

At 6:00 a.m. of November 25, 2005, Police Senior Inspector Sofronio 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 "[would]be transporting marijuana"3 from Barangay LunOy, San
Gabriel, La Union to the Poblacion of San Gabriel, La Union.

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 Taracatac’s 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. SPO1 Taracatac asked Cogaed and Dayao about the
contents of their bags.11 After this exchange, Cogaed opened the blue bag, revealing three bricks of
what looked like marijuana. "SPO1 Taracatac arrested [Cogaed] and . . . Dayao and brought them to
the police station."15 Cogaed and Dayao "were still carrying their respective bags"16 inside the
station.17

(1) whether there was a valid search and seizure of marijuana as against the appellant;

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.

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 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 of the 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.

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 approximated the suspicious
circumstances as probable cause. Other notable points of Terry are 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 officer’s experience and
surrounding conditions, to warrant the belief that the person detained has weapons concealed about
him.

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 not even 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" search as 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.
G.R. No. L-27360 February 28, 1968

HON. RICARDO G. PAPA, as Chief of Police of Manila; HON. JUAN PONCE ENRILE, as
Commissioner of Customs; PEDRO PACIS, as Collector of Customs of the Port of Manila; and
MARTIN ALAGAO, as Patrolman of the Manila Police Department, petitioners,
vs.
REMEDIOS MAGO and HILARION U. JARENCIO, as Presiding Judge of Branch 23, Court of
First Instance of Manila, respondents.

Office of the Solicitor General for petitioners.


Juan T. David for respondents.

ZALDIVAR, J.:

Petitioner Martin Alagao, head of the counter-intelligence unit of the Manila Police
Department, acting upon a reliable information received on November 3, 1966 to the effect that a
certain shipment of personal effects, allegedly misdeclared and undervalued, would be released the
following day from the customs zone of the port of Manila and loaded on two trucks, and upon orders
of petitioner Ricardo Papa, Chief of Police of Manila and a duly deputized agent of the Bureau of
Customs, conducted surveillance at gate No. 1 of the customs zone. When the trucks left gate No. 1
at about 4:30 in the afternoon of November 4, 1966, elements of the counter-intelligence unit went
after the trucks and intercepted them at the Agrifina Circle, Ermita, Manila. The load of the two trucks
consisting of nine bales of goods, and the two trucks, were seized on instructions of the Chief of
Police. Upon investigation, a person claimed ownership of the goods and showed to the policemen a
"Statement and Receipts of Duties Collected in Informal Entry No. 147-5501", issued by the Bureau
of Customs in the name of a certain Bienvenido Naguit.

. The question whether a seizure or a search is unreasonable in the language of the


Constitution is a judicial and not a legislative question; but in determining whether a seizure
is or is not unreasonable, all of the circumstances under which it is made must be looked to.

In the instant case, we note that petitioner Martin Alagao and his companion policemen did not
have to make any search before they seized the two trucks and their cargo. In their original petition,
and amended petition, in the court below Remedios Mago and Valentin Lanopa did not even allege
that there was a search. 18 All that they complained of was,

But even if there was a search, there is still authority to the effect that no search warrant would
be needed under the circumstances obtaining in the instant case.

In the case of People v. Case (320 Mich., 379, 190 N.W., 389, 27 A.L.R., 686), the question
raised by defendant's counsel was whether an automobile truck or an automobile could be searched
without search warrant or other process and the goods therein seized used afterwards as evidence
in a trial for violation of the prohibition laws of the State. Same counsel contended the negative,
urging the constitutional provision forbidding unreasonable searches and seizures. The Court said:

. . . Neither our state nor the Federal Constitution directly prohibits search and seizure
without a warrant, as is sometimes asserted. Only "unreasonable" search and seizure is
forbidden. . . .
.. The automobile is a swift and powerful vehicle of recent development, which
has multiplied by quantity production and taken possession of our highways in battalions until
the slower, animal-drawn vehicles, with their easily noted individuality, are rare. Constructed
as covered vehicles to standard form in immense quantities, and with a capacity for speed
rivaling express trains, they furnish for successful commission of crime a disguising means of
silent approach and swift escape unknown in the history of the world before their advent. The
question of their police control and reasonable search on highways or other public places is
a serious question far deeper and broader than their use in so-called "bootleging" or "rum
running," which is itself is no small matter. While a possession in the sense of private
ownership, they are but a vehicle constructed for travel and transportation on highways.
Their active use is not in homes or on private premises, the privacy of which the law
especially guards from search and seizure without process. The baffling extent to which they
are successfully utilized to facilitate commission of crime of all degrees, from those against
morality, chastity, and decency, to robbery, rape, burglary, and murder, is a matter of
common knowledge. Upon that problem a condition, and not a theory, confronts proper
administration of our criminal laws. Whether search of and seizure from an automobile upon
a highway or other public place without a search warrant is unreasonable is in its final
analysis to be determined as a judicial question in view of all the circumstances under which
it is made.

Having declared that the seizure by the members of the Manila Police Department of the
goods in question was in accordance with law and by that seizure the Bureau of Customs had
acquired jurisdiction over the goods for the purpose of the enforcement of the customs and tariff
laws, to the exclusion of the Court of First Instance of Manila, We have thus resolved the principal
and decisive issue in the present case. We do not consider it necessary, for the purposes of this

G.R. No. L-41686 November 17, 1980

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF RIZAL, BRANCH IX, QUEZON CITY, presided by HON.
ULPIANO SARMIENTO, JESSIE HOPE and MONINA MEDINA, respondents.

GUERRERO, J.:

This original petition for certiorari seeks to nullify the Order dated August 20, 1975 issued by District
Judge Ulpiano Sarmiento in Criminal Case No. Q-3781 which stalled the prosecution of respondents
Sgt. Jessie C. Hope and Monina Medina for the alleged violation of section 3601 1 of the Tariff and
Customs Code. The order declared as inadmissible in evidence the allegedly smuggled articles
obtained by apprehending agents in the course of a warrantless search and seizure. Dispositively,
the order decreed:

WHEREFORE, in accordance with Article IV, Sec. 4, paragraph 2 of the present


Constitution, the boxes and the watches and bracelets contained therein seized from
the car of the accused Sgt. Jessie C. Hope, are hereby declared inadmissible in
evidence in this case; likewise, the pictures taken of said items attempted to be
presented as evidence in the instant case is hereby declared in admissible as
evidence against the accused.

SO ORDERED.

The records disclose that one week before February 9, 1974, the Regional Anti-Smuggling Action
Center (RASAC) was informed by an undisclosed Informer that a shipment of highly dutiable goods
would be transported to Manila from Angeles City on a blue Dodge car. Spurred by such lead,
RASAC Agents Arthur Manuel and Macario Sabado, on the aforesaid date and upon order of the
Chief of Intelligence and Operations Branch, RASAC-MBA, Col. Antonio Abad, Jr., stationed
themselves in the vicinity of the toll gate of the North Diversion Road at Balintawak, Quezon City.

At about 6:45 A.M. of the same day, a light blue Dodge car with Plate No. 21-87-73, driven by Sgt.
Jessie Hope who was accompanied by Monina Medina approached the exit gate and after giving the
toll receipt sped away towards Manila. The RASAC agents gave a chase and overtook Sgt. Hope's
car. Agent Sabado blew his whistle and signaled Sgt. Hope to stop but the latter instead of heeding,
made a U-turn back to the North Diversion Road, but he could not go through because of the buses
in front of his car. The Agents saw four (4) boxes on the back seat of the Dodge and upon inquiry as
to what those boxes were, Sgt. Hope answered "I do not know." Further, respondents were asked
where they were bringing the boxes, to which respondent Medina replied that they were bringing
them (boxes) to the Tropical Hut at Epifanio de los Santos. Agent Sabado boarded the Dodge car
with respondents while Agent Manuel took their own car and both cars drove towards Tropical Hut
making a brief stop at the Bonanza where Agent Manuel called up Col. Abad by telephone. Arriving
at the Tropical Hut, the party, together with Col. Abad who had joined them waited for the man who
according to Monina Medina was supposed to receive the boxes. As the man did not appear, Col.
Abad "called off the mission" and brought respondents and their car to Camp Aguinaldo arriving
there at about 9:00 A.M.

An inspection of Sgt. Hope's car at Camp Aguinaldo yielded eleven (11) sealed boxes, four (4) on
the rear seat and seven (7) more in the baggage compartment which was opened on orders of Col.
Abad. On the same order of the intelligence officer, the boxes were opened before the presence of
respondents Hope and Medina, representatives of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of
Customs, P.C., COSAC and photographers of the Department of National Defense.

The substantive issue as urged in the petition is whether or not the seizure of the merchandise in a
moving vehicle by authorized agents commissioned to enforce customs laws without warrant of
seizure breaches the constitutional immunity against unreasonable search and seizure and
therefore, such merchandise are inadmissible in evidence. Corollary to the issue is, has the trial
court gravely abused its discretion in finding the affirmative?

In the case at bar, the decision of the Collector of Customs, as in other seizure proceedings,
concerns the res rather than the persona. The proceeding is a probe on contraband or illegally
imported goods. These merchandise violated the revenue law of the country, and as such, have
been prevented from being assimilated in lawful commerce until corresponding duties are paid
thereon and the penalties imposed and satisfied either in the form of fines or of forfeiture in favor of
the government who will dispose of them in accordance with law. The importer or possessor is
treated differently. The fact that the administrative penalty befalls on him is an inconsequential
incidence to criminal liability. By the same token, the probable guilt cannot be negated simply
because he was not held administratively liable. The Collector's final declaration that the articles are
not subject to forfeiture does not detract his findings that untaxed goods were transported in
respondents' car and seized from their possession by agents of the law. Whether criminal liability
lurks on the strength of the provision of the Tariff and Customs Code adduced in the information can
only be determined in a separate criminal action. Respondents' exoneration in the administrative
cases cannot deprive the State of its right to prosecute. But under our penal laws, criminal
responsibility, if any, must be proven not by preponderance of evidence but by proof beyond
reasonable doubt.

Considering now the critical area of the dispute, under the law, the authority of persons duly
commissioned to enforce tariff and customs laws is quite exceptional when it pertains to the domain
of searches and seizures of goods suspected to have been introduced in the country in violation of
the customs laws. This Court had occasion to recognize this power granted to persons having police
authority under Section 2203 of the Code, who in order to discharge their official duties more
effecttively —

... may at anytime enter, pass through, or search any land or inclosure of any
warehouse, store or other building not being a dwelling house. (Section 2208,
emphasis supplied)

... (to) go aboard any vessel or aircraft within the limits of any collection district, and
to inspect, search and examine said vessel or aircraft and any trunk, package, box or
envelope on board, and search any person on board the said vessel or aircraft and to
this end to hail and stop such vessel or aircraft if under way. to use all necessary
force to compel compliance; and if it shall appear that any breach or violation of the
customs and tariff laws of the Philippines has been committed, whereby or in
consequence of which such vessels or aircrafts, or the article, or any part thereof, on
board of or imported by such vessel or aircrafts, is hable to forfeiture to make seizure
of the same or any part thereof.

The power of search herein above given shall extend to the removal of any false
bottom, partition, bulkhead or other obstruction, so far as may be necessary to
enable the officer to discover whether any dutiable or forfeitable articles may be
concealed. (Section 2210)

or,

... (to) open and examine any box, trunk, envelope or other container wherever found
when he has reasonable cause to suspect the presence therein of dutiable or
prohibited article or articles introduced into the Philippines contrary to law, and
likewise to stop, search and examine any vehicle, beast or person reasonably
suspected of holding or conveying such article as aforesaid (Section 2211, emphasis
supplied)

As enunciated in the leading case of Papa v. Mago 5, in the exercise of the specific functions
aforecited, the Code does not mention the need of a search warrant unlike Section 2209 which
explicitly provides that a "dwelling house may be entered and searched only upon warrant issued by
a judge (or justice of the peace), upon swom application showing probable cause and particularly
describing the place to be searched and person or thing to be seized." Aware of this delineation, the
Court in that case expressed the considered view that "except in the case of the search of a dwelling
house, persons exercising police authority under the customs law may effect search and seizure
without a search warrant in the enforcement of customs laws.
The rationale of the Mago ruling was nurtured by the traditional doctrine in Carroll v. United
States 6 wherein an imprimatur against constitutional infirmity was stamped in favor of a warrantless
search and seizure of such nature as in the case at bar. On this stable foundation We refute the
constitutional charge of respondents that the warrantless seizure violated Article IV, Section 3 of the
1973 Constitution, which finds origin in the Fourth Amendment of the American Constitution 7

The Carroll doctrine arose from the indictment and conviction of George Carroll and partner for
transporting in an automobile intoxicating liquor in violation of the National Prohibition Act. They
assailed the conviction on the ground that the trial court admitted in evidence two of the sixty-eight
bottles found by searching the automobile and eventual seizure of the same allegedly in violation of
the 4th Amendment, and therefore that the use of the liquor as evidence was improper. 8 To
paraphrase the significant views of Mr. Chief Justice Taft, the legislative history of the Act clearly
established the intent of Congress to make a distinction between the necessity for a search warrant
in the search of private dwellings and that of automobiles and other road vehicles in the enforcement
of the Act. This distinction is consistent with the 4th Amendment since the latter does not denounce
an searches or seizures, but only such as are unreasonable. Searches and seizures without warrant
are valid if made upon probable cause, that is, upon a belief reasonably arising out of circumstances
known to the seizing officer, that an automobile or other vehicle contains that which by law is subject
to seizure and destruction. 9 Similarly, other statutes of the Union such as the Act of 1789, Act of
August 4, 1790, and Act of March 3, 1815, among others, construed in the light of the 4th
Amendment had recognized the distinctive feature of a warrantless search of a ship motorboat,
wagon, or automobile for contraband goods where it is not practicable to secure a warrant because
the vehicle can be quickly moved out of the locality or jurisdiction in which the warrant must be
sought. 10 In such a situation, what appears to the measure of legality of the seizure was formulated
in this sense: "that the seizing officer shall have reasonable or probable cause for believing that the
automobile which he stops and seizes has contraband liquor therein which is being illegally
transported. " Therein the guarantee of the 4th Amendment was fulfilled. Where seizure is
impossible except without warrant, the seizing officer acts unlawfully and at his peril unless he can
show the court probable cause. 11

The counsel for the State is candid enough to admit that the Anti-Smuggling Action Center tries its
best to follow-up the more promising tips and information from informers, but ever often, the
information proves false or the smugglers are forewarned. 12 It is quite true the ASAC received one
such information several days or a week before the encounter; but the fact that its agents failed to
obtain a warrant in spite of the time allowance is not a sign that they have been remiss in their duty.
The records hardly reveal anything certain and confirmatory of the report during the said period
except the general knowledge that some highly dutiable goods would be transported from Angeles
City to Manila in a blue Dodge automobile. Not even the trial court has made any findings that ASAC
has established with exactitude the place to be searched and the person or thing to be seized.
Lacking this essential determination, the agents could not have possibly secured a valid warrant
even if they had foreseen its compelling necessity. For one thing, the information could have been
just another false alarm. Providentially, however, things turned out differently when in the morning of
February 9, 1974, the undisclosed Informer himself went along with the agents to the rendezvous
point where at the appointed time he positively Identified an approaching car as the one described
by him a week earlier to be the suspected carrier of untaxed merchandise. Clearly therefore, the
agents acted not on the basis of a mere hearsay but on a confirmed information worthy of belief and
probable cause enough for them to adopt measures to freeze the fleeting event.

We need not argue that the subjective phase of the police action taken by the ASAC Agents to effect
the apprehension of the suspected violators can be anything less than the ensuing interception and
stoppage of respondents' vehicle after a short chase. Neither can We sustain the argument that in
doing so, the agents violated respondents' constitutional "liberty of travel". To recall again Mr. Chief
Justice Taft: "(B)ut those lawfully within the country, entitled to use the public highways, have a right
to free passage without interruption or search unless there is known to a competent official
authorized to search, probable cause for believing that their vehicles are carrying contraband or
illegal merchandise." 13 What followed next in the scene was a simple inquiry as to the contents of
the boxes seen inside the car. Respondents' baffled denial of knowledge thereof could not but only
heighten the suspicion of a reasonable and inquisitive mind. Thus, the probable cause has not been
any less mitigated.

The purpose of the constitutional guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures is to
prevent violations of private security in person and property and unlawful invasion of the sanctity of
the home by officers of the law acting under legislative or judicial sanction and to give remedy
against such usurpation when attempted. 14 The right to privacy is an essential condition to the
dignity and happiness and to the peace and security of every individual, whether it be of home or of
persons and correspondence. 15 The constitutional inviolability of this great fundamental right
against unreasonable searches and seizures must be deemed absolute as nothing is more closer to
a man's soul than the serenity of his privacy and the assurance of his personal security. Any
interference allowable can only be for the best of causes and reasons. We draw from the context of
the Constitution that an intended search or seizure attains a high degree of propriety only when a
probable cause duly determined is branded on a warrant duly issued by a judge or other responsible
person as may be authorized by law. Not invariably, however, the reasonableness or
unreasonableness of the interference is not wholly defendent on the presence of a warrant or the
lack of it. In the ordinary cases where warrant is indispensably necessary, the mechanics prescribed
by the Constitution and reiterated in the Rules of Court must be followed and satisfied. But We need
not argue that there are exceptions. Thus, in the extraordinary events where warrant is not
necessary to effect a valid search or seizure, or when the latter cannot be performed except without
warrant, what constitutes a reasonable or unreasonable search or seizure becomes 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. 16

The ultimate question then, if any, that should confront the actuations of the ASAC Agents in this
case is whether the warrantless search and seizure conducted by them is lawful or not. We have
already seen that what they did was a faithful performance of a duty authorized under the Tariff and
Customs Code directing them as authorized agents to retrieve articles reasonably suspected of
having been possessed, issued or procured in violation of the tariff laws for which the government
has a direct interest. The official capacity of the agents has never been questioned by respondents.
Neither did respondents raise an issue on the constitutionality of the law giving the agents the power
to act as mandated. There 'is no question that the Agents have not exceeded their authority nor have
they acted so licentiously to bear upon respondents moral embarrassment or substantial prejudice
beyond what is necessary. The purpose of the search and seizure is more than clear to Us, hence,
We rule out the suspicion that the intention is only to elicit evidence to be used against respondents.

We do not see strong justification for the trial court's failure to recognize the circumstances at bar as
among the "rare cases" which it admittedly conceded to be exempted from the requirement of a
warrant. 17 The lapse lies on the dismal gap in the trial court's developmental treat- ment of the law
on arrest, search and seizure. It missed the vital distinction emphatically laid down in Boyd v. United
States 18 which was cited in Carroll with "particular significance and applicability." Thus, We quote Mr.
Justice Bradley in Boyd:

... The search and seizure of stolen or forfeited goods, or goods liable to duties and
concealed to avoid the payment thereof, are totally different things from a search for
and seizure of a man's private books and papers for the purpose of obtaining
information therein contained, or of using them as evidence against him, The two
things differ in toto coelo. In the one case, the government is entitled to the
possession of the property; in the other it is not. The seizure of stolen goods is
authorized by the common law; and the seizure of goods forfeited for a breach of the
revenue laws or concealed to avoid the duties payable on them, has been authorized
by English statutes for at least two centuries past; and the like seizure have been
authorized by our revenue acts from the commencement of the government. The first
statute passed by Congress to regulate the collection of duties, the Act of July 31,
1789. 1 State at L. 29, 43, chap. 5, contains provisions to this effect. As this act was
passed by the same Congress which proposed for adoption the original Amendments
to the Constitution, it is clear that the members of that body did not regard searches
and seizures of this kind as 'unreasonable' and they are not embraced within the
prohibition of the Amendment. So also the supervision authorized to be exercised by
officers of the revenue over the manufacture of custody of excisable articles, and the
entries thereof in books required by law to be kept for their inspection, are
necessarily excepted out of the category of unreasonable searches and seizures. So
also the laws which provide for the search and seizure of articles and things which it
is unlawful for a person to have in his possession for the purpose of issue or
disposition, such as counterfeit coin, lottery tickets, implements of gambling, etc. are
not within this category. Commonwealth v. Dana, 2 Met 329. Many other things of
this character might be enumerated. (Emphasis supplied).

Recently, in Viduya v. Berdiago 19 " this Court reiterated the controlling force of the Papa v.
Mago ruling hereinbefore cited and the persuasive authority of the leading decision in Carroll v.
U.S., supra, and in explaining the rationale of the doctrine significantly said that "(i)t is not for this
Court to do less than it can to implement and enforce the mandates of the customs and revenue
laws. The evils associated with tax evasion must be stamped out — without any disregard, it is to be
affirmed, of any constitutional right ...

The circumstances of the case at bar undoubtedly fall squarely within the privileged area where
search and seizure may lawfully be effected without the need of a warrant. The facts being no less
receptive to the applicability of the classic American ruling, the latter's force and effect as well as
the Mago decision must be upheld and reiterated in this petition. the find that the constitutional
guarantee has not been violated and the respondent court gravely erred in issuing the order of
August 20, 1975 declaring as inadmissible evidence the items or articles obtained and seized by the
apprehending agents without any search warrant, as well as the pictures of said items attempted to
be presented as evidence against the accused.

Notwithstanding the reversal and setting aside of the order of respondent judge assailed herein,
thereby allowing the introduction and admission of the subject prohibited articles in the trial of the
accused Jessie C. Hope and Monina Medina for alleged smuggling, in the interest of speedy justice,
the prosecution is directed forthwith to re-assess and re-evaluate the evidence at its disposal,
considering the lapse of time since the trial commenced on June 28, 1975 and was thus delayed due
to the filing of the instant certiorari petition and that on April 1, 1975, after seizure proceedings
initiated by the Collector of Customs, the said articles were ordered released upon payment of the
leviable duties, taxes and other charges due thereon plus a fine equivalent to 100% of the duties and
taxes thereof. After such re-assessment and re-evaluation, the prosecution must promptly take the
necessary action on the premises for the protection of the rights and interests of all parties
concerned.

WHEREFORE, the Order appealed from is hereby set aside and the case is ordered remanded for
further trial and reception of evidence without excluding the articles subject of the seizure or for such
action as the prosecution may take after the re-assessment and re-evaluation of its evidence as
hereinabove directed.
This judgment is immediately executory.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 88017 January 21, 1991

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
LO HO WING alias PETER LO, LIM CHENG HUAT alias ANTONIO LIM and REYNALDO TIA y
SANTIAGO, defendants. LO HO WING alias PETER LO, defendant-appellant.

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.


Segundo M. Gloria, Jr. for defendant-appellant.

GANCAYCO, J.:

This case involves the unlawful transport of metamphetamine, a regulated drug under Republic Act
No. 6425, as amended. One of its derivatives is metamphetamine hydrochloride, notoriously known
in street parlance as "shabu" or "poor man's cocaine."

Appellant Peter Lo, together with co-accused Lim Cheng Huat alias Antonio Lim and Reynaldo Tia,
were charged with a violation of Section 15, Article III of the aforementioned statute otherwise known
as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, before Branch 114 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City.
Only appellant and co-accused Lim Cheng Huat were convicted. They were sentenced to suffer life
imprisonment, to pay a fine of P25,000.00 each, and to pay the costs. Their co-accused Reynaldo
Tia was discharged as a state witness. The pertinent portion of the information reads as follows:

That on or about the 6th day of October, 1987, in Pasay City, Metro Manila, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring and confederating
together and mutually helping one another, without authority of law, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously deliver, dispatch or transport 56 teabags of
Metamphetamine, a regulated drug.

Contrary to law.1

The antecedent facts of the case as found by the trial court are as follows:

In July 1987, the Special Operations Group, a unit of the Criminal Investigation Service (CIS) of the
Philippine Constabulary (PC), received a tip from one of its informers about an organized group
engaged in the importation of illegal drugs, smuggling of contraband goods, and gunrunning. After
an evaluation of the information thus received, a project codenamed "OPLAN SHARON 887" was
created in order to bust the suspected syndicate.

As part of the operations, the recruitment of confidential men and "deep penetration agents' was
carried out to infiltrate the crime syndicate. One of those recruited was the discharged accused,
Reynaldo Tia (hereinafter referred to as Tia).

Tia was introduced to his co-accused Lim Cheng Huat (hereinafter referred to as Lim) by another
confidential agent named George on August 3, 1987. Lim expressed a desire to hire a male
travelling companion for his business nips abroad. Tia offered his services and was hired.

Lim and Tia met anew on several occasions to make arrangements for a trip to China. In the course
of those meetings, Tia was introduced to Peter Lo (hereinafter referred to as appellant), whom Tia
found out to be the person he was to accompany to China in lieu of Lim.

As a "deep penetration agent," Tia regularly submitted reports of his undercover activities on the
suspected criminal syndicate. Meanwhile, the officer-in-charge of OPLAN SHARON 887, Captain
Luisito Palmera, filed with his superiors the reports submitted to him, and officially informed the
Dangerous Drugs Board of Tia's activities.

On October 4, 1987, appellant and Tia left for Hongkong on board a Philippine Airlines flight. Before
they departed, Tia was able to telephone Captain Palmera to inform him of their expected date of
return to the Philippines as declared in his round-trip plane ticket-October 6, 1987 at two o'clock in
the afternoon.

The day after they arrived in Hongkong, Tia and appellant boarded a train bound for Guangzhou, in
the People's Republic of China. Upon arriving there, they checked in at a hotel, and rested for a few
hours. The pair thereafter went to a local store where appellant purchased six (6) tin cans of tea. Tia
saw the paper tea bags when the cans were opened for examination during the purchase.
Afterwards, they returned to the hotel. Appellant kept the cans of tea in his hotel room. That evening,
Tia went to appellant's room to talk to him. Upon entering, he saw two other men with appellant. One
was fixing the tea bags, while the other was burning substance on a piece of aluminum foil using a
cigarette lighter. Appellant joined the second man and sniffed the smoke emitted by the burning
substance. Tia asked the latter what they would be bringing back to the Philippines. He was
informed that their cargo consisted of Chinese drugs. Tia stayed in the room for about twenty
minutes before going back to his room to sleep.

The next day, October 6,1987, the two returned to Manila via a China Airlines flight. Appellant had
with him his red traveling bag with wheels. Before departing from Guangzhou however, customs
examiners inspected their luggage. The tin cans of tea were brought out from the traveling bag of
appellant. The contents of the cans were not closely examined, and appellant was cleared along
with Tia.

The plane landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), then named Manila International
Airport, on schedule. Lim met the newly-arrived pair at the arrival area. Lim talked to appellant, while
Tia, upon being instructed, looked after their luggage. After Lim and appellant finished their
conversation, the latter hailed a taxicab. Appellant and Tia boarded the taxicab after putting their
luggage inside the back compartment of the vehicle. Lim followed in another taxi cab.

Meanwhile, a team composed of six operatives headed by Captain Palmera was formed to act on
the tip given by Tia. On the expected date of arrival, the team proceeded to the NAIA. Captain
Palmera notified the Narcotics Command (NARCOM) Detachment at the airport for coordination.
After a briefing, the operatives were ordered to take strategic positions around the arrival area. Two
operatives stationed just outside the arrival area were the first ones to spot the suspects emerging
therefrom. Word was passed on to the other members of the team that the suspects were in sight.
Appellant was pulling along his red traveling bag while Tia was carrying a shoulder bag. The
operatives also spotted Lim meeting their quarry.

Upon seeing appellant and Tia leave the airport, the operatives who first spotted them followed
them. Along Imelda Avenue, the car of the operatives overtook the taxicab ridden by appellant and
Tia and cut into its path forcing the taxi driver to stop his vehicle. Meanwhile, the other taxicab
carrying Lim sped away in an attempt to escape. The operatives disembarked from their car,
approached the taxicab, and asked the driver to open the baggage compartment. Three pieces of
luggage were retrieved from the back compartment of the vehicle. The operatives requested from
the suspects permission to search their luggage. A tin can of tea was taken out of the red traveling
bag owned by appellant. Sgt. Roberto Cayabyab, one of the operatives, pried the lid open, pulled out
a paper tea bag from the can and pressed it in the middle to feel its contents. Some crystalline white
powder resembling crushed alum came out of the bag. The sergeant then opened the tea bag and
examined its contents more closely. Suspecting the crystalline powder to be a dangerous drug, he
had the three traveling bags opened for inspection. From the red traveling bag, a total of six (6) tin
cans were found, including the one previously opened. Nothing else of consequence was recovered
from the other bags. Tia and appellant were taken to the CIS Headquarters in Quezon City for
questioning.

Meanwhile, the second taxicab was eventually overtaken by two other operatives on Retiro Street,
Quezon City. Lim was likewise apprehended and brought to the CIS Headquarters for interrogation.

During the investigation of the case, the six tin cans recovered from the traveling bag of appellant
were opened and examined. They contained a total of fifty-six (56) paper tea bags with white
crystalline powder inside instead of tea leaves.

The tea bag opened by Sgt. Cayabyab during the search and seizure was sent to the PC-INP Crime
Laboratory for preliminary examination. Tests conducted on a sample of the crystalline powder
inside the tea bag yielded a positive result that the specimen submitted was metamphetamine.
Samples from each of the fifty-six (56) tea bags were similarly tested. The tests were also positive
for metamphetamine. Hence, the three suspects were indicted.

In rendering a judgment of conviction, the trial court gave full credence to the testimonies of the
government anti-narcotics operatives, to whom the said court applied the well-settled presumption of
regularity in the performance of official duties.

Appellant now assigns three errors alleged to have been committed by the trial court, namely:

I.

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING THE SEARCH AND SEIZURE ON THE
ACCUSED AS ILLEGAL.

II.

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED GUILTY OF DELIVERING,


DISPATCHING OR TRANSPORTING METAMPHETAMINE, A REGULATED DRUG.
III.

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DISCHARGING REYNALDO TIA TO TESTIFY FOR THE
PROSECUTION.2

We affirm.

Anent the first assignment of error, appellant contends that the warrantless search and seizure made
against the accused is illegal for being violative of Section 2, Article III of the Constitution. He
reasons that the PC-CIS officers concerned could very well have procured a search warrant since
they had been informed of the date and time of a arrival of the accused at the NAIA well ahead of
time, specifically two (2) days in advance. The fact that the search and seizure in question were
made on a moving vehicle, appellant argues, does not automatically make the warrantless search
herein fall within the coverage of the well-known exception to the rule of the necessity of a valid
warrant to effect a search because, as aforementioned, the anti-narcotics agents had both time and
opportunity to secure a search warrant.

The contentions are without merit. As correctly averred by appellee, that search and seizure must be
supported by a valid warrant is not an absolute rule. There are at least three (3) well-recognized
exceptions thereto. As set forth in the case of Manipon, Jr. vs. Sandiganbayan,3 these are: [1] a
search incidental to an arrest, [2] a search of a moving vehicle, and [3] seizure of evidence in plain
view (emphasis supplied). The circumstances of the case clearly show that the search in question
was made as regards a moving vehicle. Therefore, a valid warrant was not necessary to effect the
search on appellant and his co-accused.

In this connection, We cite with approval the averment of the Solicitor General, as contained in the
appellee's brief, that the rules governing search and seizure have over the years been steadily
liberalized whenever a moving vehicle is the object of the search on the basis of practicality. This is
so considering that before a warrant could be obtained, the place, things and persons to be
searched must be described to the satisfaction of the issuing judge—a requirement which borders
on the impossible in the case of smuggling effected by the use of a moving vehicle that can transport
contraband from one place to another with impunity.4

We might add that a warrantless search of a moving vehicle is justified on the ground that "it is not
practicable to secure a warrant because the vehicle can be quickly moved out of the locality or
jurisdiction in which the warrant must be sought."5

In the instant case, it was firmly established from the factual findings of the trial court that the
authorities had reasonable ground to believe that appellant would attempt to bring in contraband and
transport it within the country. The belief was based on intelligence reports gathered from
surveillance activities on the suspected syndicate, of which appellant was touted to be a member.
Aside from this, they were also certain as to the expected date and time of arrival of the accused
from China. But such knowledge was clearly insufficient to enable them to fulfill the requirements for
the issuance of a search warrant. Still and all, the important thing is that there was probable cause to
conduct the warrantless search, which must still be present in such a case.

The second assignment of error is likewise lacking in merit. Appellant was charged and convicted
under Section 15, Article III of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, which reads:

The penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from twenty thousand to thirty
thousand pesos shall be imposed upon any person who, unless authorized by law, shall sell,
dispose, deliver, transport or distribute any regulated drug (emphasis supplied).
The information charged the accused of delivering, transporting or dispatching fifty-six (56) tea bags
containing metamphetamine, a regulated drug. The conjunction "or' was used, thereby implying that
the accused were being charged of the three specified acts in the alternative. Appellant argues that
he cannot be convicted of "delivery" because the term connotes a source and a recipient, the latter
being absent under the facts of the case. It is also argued that "dispatching' cannot apply either
since appellant never sent off or disposed of drugs. As for "transporting," appellant contends that he
cannot also be held liable therefor because the act of transporting necessarily requires a point of
destination, which again is non- existent under the given facts.

The contentions are futile attempts to strain the meaning of the operative acts of which appellant and
his co-accused were charged in relation to the facts of the case. There is no doubt that law enforcers
caught appellant and his co-accused in flagrante delicto of transporting a prohibited drug. The term
"transport" is defined as "to carry or convey from one place to another."6 The operative words in the
definition are "to carry or convey." The fact that there is actual conveyance suffices to support a
finding that the act of transporting was committed. It is immaterial whether or not the place of
destination is reached. Furthermore, the argument of appellant gives rise to the illogical conclusion
that he and his co- accused did not intend to bring the metamphetamine anywhere, i.e. they had no
place of destination.

The situation in the instant case is one where the transport of a prohibited drug was interrupted by
the search and arrest of the accused. Interruption necessarily infers that an act had already been
commenced. Otherwise, there would be nothing to interrupt.

Therefore, considering the foregoing, since the information included the acts of delivery,
dispatch or transport, proof beyond reasonable doubt of the commission of any of the acts so
included is sufficient for conviction under Section 15, Article III of Republic Act No. 6425, as
amended.

Moreover, the act of transporting a prohibited drug is a malum prohibitum because it is punished as
an offense under a special law. It is a wrong because it is prohibited by law. Without the law
punishing the act, it cannot be considered a wrong. As such, the mere commission of said act is
what constitutes the offense punished and suffices to validly charge and convict an individual caught
committing the act so punished, regardless of criminal intent.7

As to the third assigned error, appellant contests the discharge of accused Reynaldo Tia to testify for
the prosecution on the ground that there was no necessity for the same. Appellant argues that deep
penetration agents such as Tia "have to take risks and accept the consequences of their
actions."8 The argument is devoid of merit. The discharge of accused Tia was based on Section 9,
Rule 119 of the Rules of Court, which reads in part:

Sec. 9. Discharge of the accused to be state witness. — When two or more persons are
jointly charged with the commission of any offense, upon motion of the prosecution before
resting its case, the court may directone or more of the accused to be discharged with their
consent so that they may be witnesses for the state . . . (emphasis supplied).

As correctly pointed out by the Solicitor General, the discharge of an accused is left to the sound
discretion of the lower court. The trial court has the exclusive responsibility to see that the
1âw phi 1

conditions prescribed by the rule exist.9 In the instant case, appellant does not allege that any of the
conditions for the discharge had not been met by the prosecution. Therefore, the discharge, as
ordered by the trial court, stands.
Finally, appellant alleges that the testimony of Sgt. Roberto Cayabyab regarding the facts
surrounding the commission of the offense proves that the discharge of accused Tia is unnecessary.
The allegation is baseless. Appellant himself admits that the sergeant's testimony corroborates the
testimony of the discharged accused. The fact of corroboration of the testimonies bolsters the
validity of the questioned discharge precisely because paragraph (a) of the aforequoted rule on
discharge requires that the testimony be substantially corroborated in its material points. The
corroborative testimony of the PC-CIS operative does not debunk the claim of the prosecution that
there is absolute necessity for the testimony of accused Tia.

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED in toto and the appeal is thereby
DISMISSED. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 146706. July 15, 2005

TOMAS SALVADOR, Petitioners,


vs.
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.

DECISION

SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:

At bar is the petition for review on certiorari1 filed by Tomas Salvador assailing the Decision2 dated
August 9, 2000 and Resolution dated January 9, 2001 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. R. CR No.
20186.

On the wee hours of June 4, 1994, Aurelio Mandin, Danilo Santos and petitioner Tomas Salvador,
then aircraft mechanics employed by the Philippine Air Lines (PAL) and assigned at the Ninoy
Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and Manila Domestic Airport, were nabbed by intelligence
operatives of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) for possessing thirteen (13) packets containing assorted
smuggled watches and jewelries valued at more than half a million pesos.

Consequently, they were charged before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 117, Pasay City
with violation of Section 3601 of the Tariff and Customs Code, docketed as Criminal Case No. 94-
5843. The Information reads:

"That on or about the 4th day of June 1994 at the NAIA/Domestic Airport vicinity, Pasay City and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused conspiring, confederating
and mutually helping one another, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully, and felonious assist in the
concealment and unlawful importation of the following items:

198 pieces of means watches…………… ₱187,110.00


76 pieces of men’s diving watches……… 8,640.00

32 pieces of ladies watches……………… 11,600.00

1600 grams of assorted jewelry…………. 322,000.00

with a total market value of ₱537,500.00 FIVE HUNDRED THIRTY-SEVEN THOUSAND THREEE
HUNDRED FIFTY PESOS, more or less, Philippine Currency, without authority or permit from proper
authorities.

CONTRARY TO LAW."3

When arraigned, all the accused, duly assisted by counsel, pleaded not guilty to the charge. Trial on
the merits then ensued.

The prosecution established the following facts:

On June 3, 1994, a Special Mission Group from the PAF Special Operations Squadron, headed by
Major Gerardo B. Pagcaliuangan and composed of Sgts. Rodolfo A. Teves, Geronimo G. Escarola,
Virgilio M. Sindac and Edwin B. Ople, conducted routine surveillance operations at the Manila
Domestic Airport to check on reports of alleged drug trafficking and smuggling being facilitated by
certain PAL personnel.

Major Pagcaliuangan then ordered Sgts. Teves and Ople to keep close watch on the second
airplane parked inside the Domestic Airport terminal. This aircraft is an Airbus 300 with tail number
RPC-3001. It arrived at the NAIA at 10:25 in the evening of June 3, 1994 from Hong Kong as Flight
No. PR-311. After its passengers disembarked and its cargo unloaded, it was towed by the PAL
ground crew and parked at the ramp area of the Domestic Airport terminal.

At around 11:30 that same evening, Sgt. Teves reported over his radio that three (3) persons had
boarded the Airbus 300. The team did not move, but continued its surveillance.

At 12:15 a.m. the following day (June 4), Sgt. Teves reported that the three (3) persons who earlier
boarded the Airbus 300 had disembarked with their abdominal areas bulging. They then boarded an
airplane tow truck with its lights off.

The PAF surveillance team promptly boarded their vehicles and followed the aircraft tow truck. At the
Lima Gate of the Domestic Airport, the team blocked and stopped the tow truck. Sgt. Teves then got
off, identified himself and asked the four (4) persons on board to alight. They were later identified as
Tomas Salvador, petitioner, Aurelio Mandin, Danilo Santos and Napoleon Clamor, the driver of the
tow truck.

Sgt. Teves approached Aurelio Mandin. He noticed that Mandin’s uniform was partly open, showing
a girdle. While Sgt. Teves was reaching for the girdle, a package wrapped in brown packaging tape
fell. Suspecting that the package contained smuggled items, Sgt. Teves yelled to his teammates,
"Positive!" Thereupon, the rest of the team surrounded petitioner and his two co-accused who
surrendered without a fight. The team searched their bodies and found that the three were wearing
girdles beneath their uniforms, all containing packets wrapped in packaging tape. Mandin yielded
five (5) packets, while petitioner and Santos had four (4) each. The team confiscated the packets
and brought all the accused to the PAFSECOM Office.
At around 8:00 o’clock the following morning, Emilen Balatbat, an examiner of the Bureau of
Customs, arrived at the PAFSECOM Office. She opened one of the packets and on seeing that it
contained dutiable goods, she proceeded to weigh the thirteen (13) packets seized from the
accused. She then prepared an inventory of the items seized and listed the weight of the
packets.4 Thereafter, she brought the seized packets to the In-Board Section, Bureau of Customs,
Airport Office where their contents were identified and appraised. The Bureau of Customs found 248
pieces of assorted watches and fourteen karat (14K) gold jewelries valued as follows:

QTY. UNIT DESCRIPTION APPRAISED


VALUE
10 pcs. Half-bangles with Charms Tricolors 122.8 gms.
6 pcs. Bracelet with Charms Tricolors 52.4 gms.
8 pcs. Bracelet (Tricolor) 64.2 gms.
5 pcs. Bangles (3 pcs./set) Tricolor 155.3 gms.
Baby’s Bangles with charm 18.2 gms.
L-Bangles with charm 68.5 gms.
L-Bangles 112.3 gms.
L-Creolla Earrings 901.56 gms.
TOTAL GRAMS +₱ 299,052.00

1,495 x ₱200.00/gm.
Assorted Watches
204 pcs. Citizen M watches with black dial with $2,600.00
gold metal bracelet (-1) x $25
24 pcs. Seiko 5 Ladies watches with blue dial 600.00
with white metal bracelet (-1) x $25
16 pcs. Seiko Divers Watch Mens- Black dial 800.00
with rubberized bracelet (-1) x $50
4 pcs. Seiko 5 Ladies watches with yellow 100.00
dial with gold metal bracelet (1) x $25
4 pcs. Citizen L-watches with white dial (4) x 80.00
$20
62 pcs. Seiko 5 Men’s watches with yellow 1,550.00
dial with gold metal bracelet (1) x $25
34 pcs. Seiko 5 Men’s watches with black dial 850.00
with gold metal bracelet (1) x $25
____ pcs. $6,580.00

248

The Investigating State Prosecutor conducted an inquest and thereafter recommended that
petitioner and his co-accused be charged with violating Section 3601 of the Tariff and Customs
Code. Accordingly, the Information, mentioned earlier, was filed with the RTC.

After the prosecution rested its case, the accused filed a Joint Demurrer to Evidence.

In an Order dated October 12, 1995, the trial court denied the demurrer and directed the accused to
present their evidence.
All the accused denied committing the offense charged, claiming they were framed-up by the
military.

Danilo Santos testified that on the night of June 3, 1994, he was assigned to the Airbus 300 with tail
No. RPC-3001, joining three junior mechanics who were then working on said aircraft. He was
conducting a visual check of the plane when a tow truck arrived on its way to Nichols Airfield. He told
one of the junior mechanics that he would take a break and be back in an hour. He then boarded the
tow truck. When it was near the Lima Gate, a jeep with four (4) men in civilian attire aboard
approached him. The four pointed their firearms at him and, after searching him for drugs, he was
frisked but nothing was found. He was nonetheless brought by the men to the PAFSECOM Office,
then to Villamor Airbase Hospital for a medical examination and alcohol test. Thereafter, he was
brought back to the PAFSECOM Office. There, another military man arrived and brought out a box
containing packets. Then he and his companions were told to put on their mechanic’s uniforms and
to wear girdles. The packets were placed on their bodies, after which they were photographed. He
further testified that he was asked to sign a certain paper but was not allowed to read it thoroughly.
During the investigation, he was not apprised of his rights nor assisted by a counsel.

Petitioner Tomas Salvador likewise denied any knowledge of the questioned items seized from him.
He testified that during the incident in question, he only boarded the tow truck to take a break at the
PAL canteen. He saw a box on the tow truck but was not aware of its contents. After his arrest, he
was made to sign a document under duress.

Aurelio Mandin also denied committing the offense charged. He declared that after his arrest, he
was made to sign a document by the PAF personnel, the contents of which he was not able to read.
He signed it because he was struck with a .45 caliber handgun by one of the military men and
threatened him with summary execution if he would not do so. He was not informed of his rights nor
given the services of counsel during the investigation.

After hearing, the trial court rendered its Decision convicting all the accused of the offense charged,
thus:

"WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court finds the accused Aurelio Mandin y Liston, Danilo
Santos y Antonio and Tomas Salvador y Magno GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt for violation of
Section 3601 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP). There being no aggravating
or mitigating circumstance and applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the court sentences each
of the accused to an indeterminate term of EIGHT (8) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor, as
minimum, to TEN (10) YEARS of prision mayor, as maximum, and to pay a fine of EIGHT
THOUSAND PESOS (₱8,000.00), without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay
the costs. The court also orders the forfeiture of the confiscated articles in favor of the Government.

SO ORDERED."5

All the accused then seasonably interposed an appeal to the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R.
CR No. 20186.

On August 9, 2000, the Appellate Court promulgated its Decision affirming the trial court’s Decision,
thus:

"We cannot see any justification for the setting aside of the contested Decision.

THE FOREGOING CONSIDERED, the appealed Decision is hereby AFFIRMED.


SO ORDERED."6

They filed a motion for reconsideration but was denied in a Resolution dated January 9, 2001.7

Only Tomas Salvador opted to elevate his case to this Court by way of the instant petition for review
on certiorari. He submits for our consideration the following assignments of error:

"I

THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF THE CRIME CHARGED IN THE INFORMATION LIKE


UNLAWFUL IMPORTATION, POSSESSION OF UNLAWFULLY IMPORTED ARTICLES AND
CONSPIRACY IN THE COMMISSION OF THE SAME, WERE NEVER PROVEN BEYOND
REASONABLE DOUBT.

II

THERE WAS NO PROBABLE CAUSE FOR THE ARREST AND SEARCH OF THE PERSONS OF
THE ACCUSED.

III

THE ACCEPTANCE BY THE TRIAL COURT AND THE AFFIRMANCE BY THE APPELLATE
COURT OF THE TESTIMONIES OF PROSECUTION WITNESSES, AS WELL AS ALL ITS
DOCUMENTARY EXHIBITS, DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE SAME WERE APPARENTLY
OBTAINED IN VIOLATION OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF THE ACCUSED WERE
UNLAWFUL.

IV

THE DENIAL BY THE TRIAL COURT AND THE CONCURRENCE BY THE APPELLATE COURT
OF THE DEMURRER TO EVIDENCE WERE ALSO WITHOUT LEGAL BASIS." 8

The above assignments of error boil down to these issues: (1) whether the seized items are
admissible in evidence; and (2) whether the prosecution has proved the guilt of petitioner beyond
reasonable doubt.

On the first issue, petitioner contends that the warrantless search and seizure conducted by the
PAF operatives is illegal. Citing People v. Burgos,9 he maintains that at the time he and his co-
accused were stopped by the PAF law enforces, they were unaware that a crime was being
committed. Accordingly, the law enforcers were actually engaged in a fishing expedition in violation
of his Constitutional right against unlawful search and seizure. Thus, the seized items should not
have been admitted in evidence against him.

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) counters that under the factual circumstances of the case
at bar, there was sufficient probable cause for the PAF surveillance team to stop and search
petitioner and his companions. They boarded the parked Air Bus 300 PAL plane at the time when
there were no other PAL personnel working therein. They stayed inside the plane for sometime and
surprisingly, came out with bulging waists. They then stopped and looked around and made
apparent signals. All these acts were sufficient to engender a reasonable suspicion that petitioner
and his colleagues were up to something illegal. Moreover, the search and seizure was conducted in
connection with the enforcement of customs law when the petitioner and his co-accused were riding
a motor vehicle. In addition, the search was conducted at the vicinity of Lima Gate of the Manila
Domestic Airport which, like every gate in the airport perimeter, has a checkpoint. Finally, the
petitioner and his companions agreed to the search after one of them was caught with a suspicious-
looking packet. Under these circumstances, the search and seizure is legal and the seized items are
admissible in evidence.

We agree with the OSG.

As a rule, the Bill of Rights prohibits intrusions by the law enforcers to a person’s body, personal
effects or residence, unless the same are conducted pursuant to a valid search warrant issued in
compliance with the procedure mandated by the Constitution and the Rules of Court. Thus, Sections
2 and 3(2), Article 3 of the 1987 Constitution provide:

"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.

SEC. 3.

xxx

(2) Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any
purpose in any proceeding.

x x x."

The above Constitutional provisions do not prohibit searches and seizures, but only such as
are unreasonable. Our jurisprudence provides for privileged areas where searches and seizures
may lawfully be effected sans a search warrant. These recognized exceptions include: (1) search of
moving vehicles; (2) search in plain view; (3) customs searches; (4) waiver or consented searches;
(5) stop-and-frisk situations; and (6) search incidental to a lawful arrest.10

Here, it should be noted that during the incident in question, the special mission of the PAF
operatives was to conduct a surveillance operation to verify reports of drug trafficking
and smuggling by certain PAL personnel in the vicinity of the airport. In other words, the search
made by the PAF team on petitioner and his co-accused was in the nature of a customs search. As
such, the team properly effected the search and seizure without a search warrant since it exercised
police authority under the customs law.11

In Papa vs. Mago12 involving a customs search, we held that law enforcers who are tasked to effect
the enforcement of the customs and tariff laws are authorized to search and seize, without a search
warrant, any article, cargo or other movable property when there is reasonable cause to suspect that
the said items have been introduced into the Philippines in violation of the tariff and customs law.
They may likewise conduct a warrantless search of any vehicle or person suspected of holding or
conveying the said articles, as in the case at bar.

In short, Mago clearly recognizes the power of the State to foil any fraudulent schemes resorted to
by importers who evade payment of customs duties. The Government’s policy to combat the serious
malady of smuggling cannot be reduced to futility and impotence on the ground that dutiable articles
on which the duty has not been paid are entitled to the same Constitutional protection as an
individual’s private papers and effects. Here, we see no reason not to apply this State policy which
we have continued to affirm.13

Moreover, we recall that at the time of the search, petitioner and his co-accused were on board
a moving PAL aircraft tow truck. As stated earlier, the search of a moving vehicle is recognized in
this jurisdiction as a valid exception to the requirement for a search warrant. Such exception is easy
to understand. A search warrant may readily be obtained when the search is made in a store,
dwelling house or other immobile structure. But it is impracticable to obtain a warrant when the
search is conducted in a mobile ship, aircraft or other motor vehicle since they can quickly be
moved out of the locality or jurisdiction where the warrant must be sought.14 Verily, we rule that the
Court of Appeals committed no reversible error in holding that the articles involved in the instant
controversy were validly seized by the authorities even without a search warrant, hence, admissible
in evidence against petitioner and his co-accused.

On the second issue, petitioner faults the Court of Appeals for readily sustaining the trial court’s
finding that the witnesses for the prosecution were credible, notwithstanding that their testimonies
contain glaring inconsistencies which tend to detract from their veracity. Petitioner submits that these
inconsistencies create serious doubt which should have been resolved in his favor.

We are not persuaded.

After a careful examination of the purported inconsistencies mentioned by petitioner, we find that
they do not relate with the elements of the offense charged. Rather, they tend to focus on minor and
insignificant matters as for instance: which PAF operative was in possession of the hand-held radio;
how the girdles (garters) were removed; and what time the aircraft in question arrived.

It bears stressing that these inconsistencies detract from the fact that all members of the special
PAF team who conducted the search positively identified the petitioner and his co-accused as the
same persons who boarded the PAL plane; stayed therein for a significant length of time;
disembarked in a manner which stirred suspicion from the team; and with unusually bulging
uniforms, rode an aircraft tow truck towards Lima Gate where they were caught in flagrante delicto.

As a rule, inconsistencies in the testimonies of witnesses which refer to trivial and insignificant
details do not destroy their credibility.15 Moreover, minor inconsistencies serve to strengthen rather
than diminish the prosecution’s case as they tend to erase suspicion that the testimonies have been
rehearsed, thereby negating any misgivings that the same were perjured.16

Section 3601 of the Tariff and Customs Code provides in part:

"SEC. 3601. Unlawful Importation. – Any person who shall fraudulently import or bring into the
Philippines, or assist in so doing, any article contrary to law, or shall receive, conceal, buy, seal or in
any manner facilitate the importation, concealment or sale of such article after importation, knowing
the same to have been imported contrary to law, shall be guilty of smuggling…

xxx

When, upon trial for violation of this section, the defendant is shown to have had possession of the
article in question, possession shall be deemed sufficient evidence to authorize conviction,
unless the defendant shall explain the possession to the satisfaction of the court: Provided,
however, That payment of the tax due after apprehension shall not constitute a valid defense in any
prosecution under this section."

Smuggling is thus committed by any person who (1) fraudulently imports or brings into the
Philippines or assists in importing or bringing into the Philippines any article, contrary to law, or (2)
receives, conceals, buys, sells or in any manner facilitates the transportation, concealment, or sale
of such article after importation, knowing the same to have been imported contrary to
law.17 Importation commences when the carrying vessel or aircraft enters the jurisdiction of the
Philippines with intention to unload and is deemed terminated upon payment of the duties, taxes and
other charges due upon the articles and the legal permit for withdrawal has been issued, or where
the articles are duty-free, once the articles have left the jurisdiction of the customs.18

In the instant case, the prosecution established by positive, strong, and convincing evidence that
petitioner and his co-accused were caught red-handed by a team from the PAF Special Operations
Squadron, while in the possession of highly dutiable articles inside the premises of the airport. The
contraband items were taken by petitioner and his co-accused from a PAL plane which arrived from
Hong Kong on the night of June 3, 1994. Petitioner and his colleagues then attempted to bring out
these items in the cover of darkness by concealing them inside their uniforms. When confronted by
the PAF team, they were unable to satisfactorily explain why the questioned articles were in their
possession. They could not present any document to prove lawful importation. Thus, their conviction
must necessarily be upheld. Clearly, the Court of Appeals committed no reversible error in affirming
the trial court’s Decision convicting petitioner and his co-accused.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The appealed Decision and Resolution of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 20186 are AFFIRMED IN ALL RESPECTS. Costs against the petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 188611 June 16, 2010

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee,


vs.
BELEN MARIACOS, Appellant.

DECISION

NACHURA, J.:

Before this Court is an appeal from the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-HC
No. 02718, which affirmed the decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 29, San Fernando
City, La Union, in Criminal Case No. 7144, finding appellant Belen Mariacos guilty of violating Article
II, Section 5 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

The facts of the case, as summarized by the CA, are as follows:


Accused-appellant Belen Mariacos was charged in an Information, dated November 7, 2005 of
violating Section 5, Article II of Republic Act [No.] 9165, allegedly committed as follows:

"That on or about the 27th day of October, 2005, in the Municipality of San Gabriel, Province of La
Union, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously transport, deliver 7,030.3, (sic) grams of dried
marijuana fruiting tops without the necessary permit or authority from the proper government agency
or office.

CONTRARY TO LAW."

When arraigned on December 13, 2005, accused-appellant pleaded not guilty. During the pre-trial,
the following were stipulated upon:

"1. Accused admits that she is the same person identified in the information as Belen
Mariacos;

2. That accused is a resident of Brgy. Lunoy, San Gabriel, La Union;

3. That at the time of the arrest of the accused, accused had just alighted from a passenger
jeepney;

4. That the marijuana allegedly taken from the possession of the accused contained in two
(2) bags were submitted for examination to the Crime Lab;

5. That per Chemistry Report No. D-109-2005, the alleged drug submitted for examination
gave positive result for the presence of marijuana;

6. That the drugs allegedly obtained from the accused contained (sic) and submitted for
examination weighed 7,030.3 grams;

7. The Prosecutor admits the existence of a counter-affidavit executed by the accused; and

8. The existence of the affidavits executed by the witnesses of the accused family (sic): Lyn
Punasen, Mercedes Tila and Magdalena Carino."

During the trial, the prosecution established the following evidence:

On October 26, 2005, in the evening, the San Gabriel Police Station of San Gabriel, La Union,
conducted a checkpoint near the police station at the poblacion to intercept a suspected
transportation of marijuana from Barangay Balbalayang, San Gabriel, La Union. The group at the
checkpoint was composed of PO2 Lunes B. Pallayoc ("PO2 Pallayoc"), the Chief of Police, and other
policemen. When the checkpoint did not yield any suspect or marijuana, the Chief of Police
instructed PO2 Pallayoc to proceed to Barangay Balbalayang to conduct surveillance operation (sic).

At dawn on October 27, 2005, in Barangay Balbalayang, PO2 Pallayoc met with a secret agent of
the Barangay Intelligence Network who informed him that a baggage of marijuana had been loaded
on a passenger jeepney that was about to leave for the poblacion. The agent mentioned three (3)
bags and one (1) blue plastic bag. Further, the agent described a backpack bag with an "O.K."
marking. PO2 Pallayoc then boarded the said jeepney and positioned himself on top thereof. While
the vehicle was in motion, he found the black backpack with an "O.K." marking and peeked inside its
contents. PO2 Pallayoc found bricks of marijuana wrapped in newspapers. He then asked the other
passengers on top of the jeepney about the owner of the bag, but no one knew.

When the jeepney reached the poblacion, PO2 Pallayoc alighted together with the other passengers.
Unfortunately, he did not notice who took the black backpack from atop the jeepney. He only
realized a few moments later that the said bag and three (3) other bags, including a blue plastic bag,
were already being carried away by two (2) women. He caught up with the women and introduced
himself as a policeman. He told them that they were under arrest, but one of the women got away.

PO2 Pallayoc brought the woman, who was later identified as herein accused-appellant Belen
Mariacos, and the bags to the police station. At the police station, the investigators contacted the
Mayor of San Gabriel to witness the opening of the bags. When the Mayor arrived about fifteen (15)
minutes later, the bags were opened and three (3) bricks of marijuana wrapped in newspaper, two
(2) round bundles of marijuana, and two (2) bricks of marijuana fruiting tops, all wrapped in a
newspaper, were recovered.

Thereafter, the investigators marked, inventoried and forwarded the confiscated marijuana to the
crime laboratory for examination. The laboratory examination showed that the stuff found in the bags
all tested positive for marijuana, a dangerous drug.

When it was accused-appellant’s turn to present evidence, she testified that:

On October 27, 2005, at around 7:00 in the morning, accused-appellant, together with Lani
Herbacio, was inside a passenger jeepney bound for the poblacion. While the jeepney was still at
the terminal waiting for passengers, one Bennie Lao-ang ("Lao-ang"), her neighbor, requested her to
carry a few bags which had been loaded on top of the jeepney. At first, accused-appellant refused,
but she was persuaded later when she was told that she would only be carrying the bags. When
they reached the poblacion, Lao-ang handed accused-appellant and her companion, Lani Herbacio,
the bags, and then Lao-ang suddenly ran away. A few moments later, PO2 Pallayoc was upon them,
arresting them. Without explanation, they were brought to the police station. When they were at the
police station, Lani Herbacio disappeared. It was also at the police station that accused-appellant
discovered the true contents of the bags which she was asked to carry. She maintained that she was
not the owner of the bags and that she did not know what were contained in the bags. At the police
station (sic) she executed a Counter-Affidavit.3

On January 31, 2007, the RTC promulgated a decision, the dispositive portion of which states:

WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused Belen Mariacos GUILTY as charged and sentences
here (sic) to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine of ₱500,000.00.

The 7,030.3 grams of marijuana are ordered confiscated and turned over to the Philippine Drug
Enforcement Agency for destruction in the presence of the Court personnel and media.

SO ORDERED.4

Appellant appealed her conviction to the CA. She argued that the trial court erred in considering the
evidence of the prosecution despite its inadmissibility.5 She claimed that her right against an
unreasonable search was flagrantly violated by Police Officer (PO)2 Pallayoc when the latter
searched the bag, assuming it was hers, without a search warrant and with no permission from her.
She averred that PO2 Pallayoc’s purpose for apprehending her was to verify if the bag she was
carrying was the same one he had illegally searched earlier. Moreover, appellant contended that
there was no probable cause for her arrest.6
Further, appellant claimed that the prosecution failed to prove the corpus delicti of the crime.7 She
alleged that the apprehending police officers violated Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 3,
Series of 1979, as amended by Board Regulation No. 2, Series of 1990, which prescribes the
procedure in the custody of seized prohibited and regulated drugs, instruments, apparatuses, and
articles. The said regulation directs the apprehending team having initial custody and control of the
drugs and/or paraphernalia, immediately after seizure or confiscation, to have the same physically
inventoried and photographed in the presence of appellant or her representative, who shall be
required to sign copies of the inventory. The failure to comply with this directive, appellant claimed,
casts a serious doubt on the identity of the items allegedly confiscated from her. She, likewise,
averred that the prosecution failed to prove that the items allegedly confiscated were indeed
prohibited drugs, and to establish the chain of custody over the same.

On the other hand, the People, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), argued that the
warrantless arrest of appellant and the warrantless seizure of marijuana were valid and
legal,8 justified as a search of a moving vehicle. It averred that PO2 Pallayoc had reasonable ground
to believe that appellant had committed the crime of delivering dangerous drugs based on reliable
information from their agent, which was confirmed when he peeked into the bags and smelled the
distinctive odor of marijuana.9 The OSG also argued that appellant was now estopped from
questioning the illegality of her arrest since she voluntarily entered a plea of "not guilty" upon
arraignment and participated in the trial and presented her evidence.10 The OSG brushed aside
appellant’s argument that the bricks of marijuana were not photographed and inventoried in her
presence or that of her counsel immediately after confiscation, positing that physical inventory may
be done at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the apprehending team, whichever
was practicable.11

In a Decision dated January 19, 2009, the CA dismissed appellant’s appeal and affirmed the RTC
decision in toto.12It held that the prosecution had successfully proven that appellant carried away
from the jeepney a number of bags which, when inspected by the police, contained dangerous
drugs. The CA ruled that appellant was caught in flagrante delicto of "carrying and conveying" the
bag that contained the illegal drugs, and thus held that appellant’s warrantless arrest was valid. The
appellate court ratiocinated:

It must be stressed that PO2 Pallayoc had earlier ascertained the contents of the bags when he was
aboard the jeep. He saw the bricks of marijuana wrapped in newspaper. That said marijuana was on
board the jeepney to be delivered to a specified destination was already unlawful. PO2 Pallayoc
needed only to see for himself to whom those bags belonged. So, when he saw accused-appellant
carrying the bags, PO2 Pallayoc was within his lawful duty to make a warrantless arrest of accused-
appellant.

xxxx

Firstly, this Court opines that the invocation of Section 2, Article III of the Constitution is misplaced.
At the time, when PO2 Pallayoc looked into the contents of the suspicious bags, there was no
identified owner. He asked the other passengers atop the jeepney but no one knew who owned the
bags. Thus, there could be no violation of the right when no one was entitled thereto at that time.

Secondly, the facts of the case show the urgency of the situation. The local police has been trying to
intercept the transport of the illegal drugs for more than a day, to no avail. Thus, when PO2 Pallayoc
was tipped by the secret agent of the Barangay Intelligence Network, PO2 Pallayoc had no other
recourse than to verify as promptly as possible the tip and check the contents of the bags.
Thirdly, x x x the search was conducted in a moving vehicle. Time and again, a search of a moving
vehicle has been justified on the ground that the mobility of motor vehicles makes it possible for the
vehicle to move out of the locality or jurisdiction in which the warrant must be sought. Thus, under
the facts, PO2 Pallayoc could not be expected to secure a search warrant in order to check the
contents of the bags which were loaded on top of the moving jeepney. Otherwise, a search warrant
would have been of no use because the motor vehicle had already left the locality.13

Appellant is now before this Court, appealing her conviction.

Once again, we are asked to determine the limits of the powers of the State’s agents to conduct
searches and seizures. Over the years, this Court had laid down the rules on searches and seizures,
providing, more or less, clear parameters in determining which are proper and which are not. 1avvphi1

Appellant’s main argument before the CA centered on the inadmissibility of the evidence used
against her. She claims that her constitutional right against unreasonable searches was flagrantly
violated by the apprehending officer.

Thus, we must determine if the search was lawful. If it was, then there would have been probable
cause for the warrantless arrest of appellant.

Article III, Section 2 of the Philippine Constitution provides:

Section 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.

Law and jurisprudence have laid down the instances when a warrantless search is valid. These are:

1. Warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest recognized under Section 12 [now Section
13], Rule 126 of the Rules of Court and by prevailing jurisprudence;

2. Seizure of evidence in "plain view," the elements of which are:

(a) a prior valid intrusion based on the valid warrantless arrest in which the police are
legally present in the pursuit of their official duties;

(b) the evidence was inadvertently discovered by the police who had the right to be
where they are;

(c) the evidence must be immediately apparent[;] and;

(d) "plain view" justified mere seizure of evidence without further search.

3. Search of a moving vehicle. Highly regulated by the government, the vehicle's 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. Consented warrantless search;

5. Customs search;

6. Stop and Frisk; and

7. Exigent and Emergency Circumstances.14

Both the trial court and the CA anchored their respective decisions on the fact that the search was
conducted on a moving vehicle to justify the validity of the search.

Indeed, the search of a moving vehicle is one of the doctrinally accepted exceptions to the
Constitutional mandate that no search or seizure shall be made except by virtue of a warrant issued
by a judge after personally determining the existence of probable cause.15

In People v. Bagista,16 the Court said:

The constitutional proscription against warrantless searches and seizures admits of certain
exceptions. Aside from a search incident to a lawful arrest, a warrantless search had been upheld in
cases of a moving vehicle, and the seizure of evidence in plain view.

With regard to the search of moving vehicles, this had been justified on the ground that the mobility
of motor vehicles makes it possible for the vehicle to be searched to move out of the locality or
jurisdiction in which the warrant must be sought.

This in no way, however, gives the police officers unlimited discretion to conduct warrantless
searches of automobiles in the absence of probable cause. When a vehicle is stopped and
subjected to an extensive search, such a warrantless search has been held to be valid only as long
as the officers conducting the search have reasonable or probable cause to believe before the
search that they will find the instrumentality or evidence pertaining to a crime, in the vehicle to be
searched.

It is well to remember that in the instances we have recognized as exceptions to the requirement of
a judicial warrant, it is necessary that the officer effecting the arrest or seizure must have been
impelled to do so because of probable cause. The essential requisite of probable cause must be
satisfied before a warrantless search and seizure can be lawfully conducted.17 Without probable
cause, the articles seized cannot be admitted in evidence against the person arrested.18

Probable cause is defined as a reasonable ground of suspicion supported by circumstances


sufficiently strong in themselves to induce a cautious man to believe that the person accused is
guilty of the offense charged. It refers to the existence of such facts and circumstances that can lead
a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed, and that the
items, articles or objects sought in connection with said offense or subject to seizure and destruction
by law are in the place to be searched.19

The grounds of suspicion are reasonable when, in the absence of actual belief of the arresting
officers, the suspicion that the person to be arrested is probably guilty of committing the offense is
based on actual facts, i.e., supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to create
the probable cause of guilt of the person to be arrested. A reasonable suspicion therefore must be
founded on probable cause, coupled with good faith on the part of the peace officers making the
arrest.20
Over the years, the rules governing search and seizure have been steadily liberalized whenever a
moving vehicle is the object of the search on the basis of practicality. This is so considering that
before a warrant could be obtained, the place, things and persons to be searched must be described
to the satisfaction of the issuing judge – a requirement which borders on the impossible in instances
where moving vehicle is used to transport contraband from one place to another with impunity.21

This exception is easy to understand. A search warrant may readily be obtained when the search is
made in a store, dwelling house or other immobile structure. But it is impracticable to obtain a
warrant when the search is conducted on a mobile ship, on an aircraft, or in other motor vehicles
since they can quickly be moved out of the locality or jurisdiction where the warrant must be
sought.22

Given the discussion above, it is readily apparent that the search in this case is valid. The vehicle
that carried the contraband or prohibited drugs was about to leave. PO2 Pallayoc had to make a
quick decision and act fast. It would be unreasonable to require him to procure a warrant before
conducting the search under the circumstances. Time was of the essence in this case. The
searching officer had no time to obtain a warrant. Indeed, he only had enough time to board the
vehicle before the same left for its destination.

It is well to remember that on October 26, 2005, the night before appellant’s arrest, the police
received information that marijuana was to be transported from Barangay Balbalayang, and had set
up a checkpoint around the area to intercept the suspects. At dawn of October 27, 2005, PO2
Pallayoc met the secret agent from the Barangay Intelligence Network, who informed him that a
baggage of marijuana was loaded on a passenger jeepney about to leave for the poblacion. Thus,
PO2 Pallayoc had probable cause to search the packages allegedly containing illegal drugs.

This Court has also, time and again, upheld as valid a warrantless search incident to a lawful arrest.
Thus, Section 13, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court provides:

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 a search warrant.23

For this rule to apply, it is imperative that there be a prior valid arrest. Although, generally, a warrant
is necessary for a valid arrest, the Rules of Court provides the exceptions therefor, to wit:

SEC. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful.—A peace officer or 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;

(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 is temporarily confined while his
case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another.
In cases falling under paragraphs (a) and (b) above, the person arrested without a warrant shall be
forthwith delivered to the nearest police station or jail and shall be proceeded against in accordance
with section 7 of Rule 112.24

Be that as it may, we have held that a search substantially contemporaneous with an arrest can
precede the arrest if the police has probable cause to make the arrest at the outset of the search.25

Given that the search was valid, appellant’s arrest based on that search is also valid.

Article II, Section 5 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 states:

SEC. 5 Sale, Trading, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Distribution and Transportation of


Dangerous Drugs and/or Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals. – The penalty of life
imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from Five hundred thousand pesos (₱500,000.00) to Ten
million pesos (₱10,000,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person, who, unless authorized by law,
shall sell, trade, administer, dispense, deliver, give away to another, distribute, dispatch in transit or
transport any dangerous drug, including any and all species of opium poppy regardless of the
quantity and purity involved, or shall act as a broker in any of such transactions.

The penalty of imprisonment ranging from twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years
and a fine ranging from One hundred thousand pesos (₱100,000.00) to Five hundred thousand
pesos (₱500,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person who, unless authorized by law, shall sell,
trade, administer, dispense, deliver, give away to another, distribute, dispatch in transit or transport
any controlled precursor and essential chemical, or shall act as a broker in such transactions.

In her defense, appellant averred that the packages she was carrying did not belong to her but to a
neighbor who had asked her to carry the same for him. This contention, however, is of no
consequence.

When an accused is charged with illegal possession or transportation of prohibited drugs, the
ownership thereof is immaterial. Consequently, proof of ownership of the confiscated marijuana is
not necessary.26

Appellant’s alleged lack of knowledge does not constitute a valid defense. Lack of criminal intent and
good faith are not exempting circumstances where the crime charged is malum prohibitum, as in this
case.27 Mere possession and/or delivery of a prohibited drug, without legal authority, is punishable
under the Dangerous Drugs Act.28

Anti-narcotics laws, like anti-gambling laws, are regulatory statutes. They are rules of convenience
designed to secure a more orderly regulation of the affairs of society, and their violation gives rise to
crimes mala prohibita. Laws defining crimes mala prohibita condemn behavior directed not against
particular individuals, but against public order.29

Jurisprudence defines "transport" as "to carry or convey from one place to another."30 There is no
definitive moment when an accused "transports" a prohibited drug. When the circumstances
establish the purpose of an accused to transport and the fact of transportation itself, there should be
no question as to the perpetration of the criminal act.31The fact that there is actual conveyance
suffices to support a finding that the act of transporting was committed and it is immaterial whether
or not the place of destination is reached.32
Moreover, appellant’s possession of the packages containing illegal drugs gave rise to the
disputable presumption33that she is the owner of the packages and their contents.34 Appellant failed
to rebut this presumption. Her uncorroborated claim of lack of knowledge that she had prohibited
drug in her possession is insufficient.

Appellant’s narration of facts deserves little credence. If it is true that Bennie Lao-ang merely asked
her and her companion to carry some baggages, it is but logical to first ask what the packages
contained and where these would be taken. Likewise, if, as appellant said, Lao-ang ran away after
they disembarked from the jeepney, appellant and her companion should have ran after him to give
him the bags he had left with them, and not to continue on their journey without knowing where they
were taking the bags.

Next, appellant argues that the prosecution failed to prove the corpus delicti of the crime. In
particular, she alleged that the apprehending police officers failed to follow the procedure in the
custody of seized prohibited and regulated drugs, instruments, apparatuses, and articles.

In all prosecutions for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act, the existence of all dangerous drugs is a
sine qua non for conviction. The dangerous drug is the very corpus delicti of that crime.35

Thus, Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 prescribes the procedure for custody and disposition of seized
dangerous drugs, to wit:

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.

The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of R.A. No. 9165 further 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:

(a) The apprehending officer/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, that the physical inventory and photograph shall be conducted at the place
where the search warrant is served; or at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the
apprehending officer/team, whichever is practicable, in case of warrantless seizures; 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.

PO2 Pallayoc testified that after apprehending appellant, he immediately brought her to the police
station. At the station, the police requested the Mayor to witness the opening of the bags seized from
appellant. When the Mayor arrived, he opened the bag in front of appellant and the other police
officers. The black bag yielded three bricks of marijuana wrapped in newspaper, while the plastic
bag yielded two bundles of marijuana and two bricks of marijuana fruiting tops.36 PO2 Pallayoc
identified the bricks. He and PO3 Stanley Campit then marked the same. Then the seized items
were brought to the PNP Crime Laboratory for examination.

It is admitted that there were no photographs taken of the drugs seized, that appellant was not
accompanied by counsel, and that no representative from the media and the DOJ were present.
However, this Court has already previously held that non-compliance with Section 21 is not fatal and
will not render an accused’s arrest illegal, or make the items seized inadmissible. What is of utmost
importance is the preservation of the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items.37

Based on the testimony of PO2 Pallayoc, after appellant’s arrest, she was immediately brought to
the police station where she stayed while waiting for the Mayor. It was the Mayor who opened the
packages, revealing the illegal drugs, which were thereafter marked and sent to the police crime
laboratory the following day. Contrary to appellant’s claim, the prosecution’s evidence establishes
the chain of custody from the time of appellant’s arrest until the prohibited drugs were tested at the
police crime laboratory.

While it is true that the arresting officer failed to state explicitly the justifiable ground for non-
compliance with Section 21, this does not necessarily mean that appellant’s arrest was illegal or that
the items seized are inadmissible. The justifiable ground will remain unknown because appellant did
not question the custody and disposition of the items taken from her during the trial.38 Even
assuming that the police officers failed to abide by Section 21, appellant should have raised this
issue before the trial court. She could have moved for the quashal of the information at the first
instance. But she did not. Hence, she is deemed to have waived any objection on the matter.

Further, the actions of the police officers, in relation to the procedural rules on the chain of custody,
enjoyed the presumption of regularity in the performance of official functions. Courts accord
credence and full faith to the testimonies of police authorities, as they are presumed to be
performing their duties regularly, absent any convincing proof to the contrary.39

In sum, the prosecution successfully established appellant’s guilt. Thus, her conviction must be
affirmed.

WHEREFORE, the foregoing premises considered, the appeal is DISMISSED. The Decision of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 02718 is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 215305


MARCELO G. SALUDAY, Petitioner
vs
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

Before the Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari assailing the Decision dated 26 June
2014 1 and the Resolution dated, 15 October 20142 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No.
01099. The Court of Appeals affirmed with modification the Sentence dated 15 September
2011 3 rendered by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 11, Davao City in Criminal CaseNo. 65, 734-09,
finding petitioner Marcelo G. Saluday (petitioner) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal
possession of high-powered firearm, ammunition, and explosive under Presidential Decree No.
1866,4 as amended (PD 1866).

The Antecedent Facts

On 5 May 2009, Bus No. 66 of Davao Metro Shuttle was flagged down by Task Force Davao of the
Philippine Army at a checkpoint near the Tefasco Wharf in Ilang, Davao City. SCAA Junbert M. Buco
(Buco), a member of the Task Force, requested all male passengers to disembark from the vehicle
while allowing the female passengers to remain inside. He then boarded the bus to check the
presence and intercept the entry of any contraband, illegal firearms or explosives, and suspicious
individuals.

SCAA Buco checked all the baggage and personal effects of the passengers, but a small, gray-black
pack bag on the seat at the rear of the bus caught his attention. He lifted the bag and found it too
heavy for its small size. SCAA Buco then looked at the male passengers lined outside and noticed
that a man in a white shirt (later identified as petitioner) kept peeping through the window towards
the direction of the bag. Afterwards, SCAA Buco asked who the owner of the bag was, to which the
bus conductor answered that petitioner and his brother were the ones seated at the back. SCAA
Buco then requested petitioner to board the bus and open the bag. Petitioner obliged and the bag
revealed the following contents: (1) an improvised .30 caliber carbine bearing serial number 64702;
(2) one magazine with three live ammunitions; (3) one cacao-type hand grenade; and (4) a ten-inch
hunting knife. SCAA Buco then asked petitioner to produce proof of his authority to carry firearms
and explosives. Unable to show any, petitioner was immediately arrested and informed of his rights
by SCAA Buco.

Petitioner was then brought for inquest before the Office of the City Prosecutor for Davao City. In its
Resolution dated 7 May 2009,5 the latter found probable cause to charge him with illegal possession
of high-powered firearm, ammunition, and explosive under PD l 866. The Information dated 8 May
2009 thus reads:

That on or about May 5, 2009, in the City of Davao, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-mentioned accused, willfully, unlawfully and knowingly, with intent to
possess, had in his possession and under his custody an improvised high powered firearm caliber
.30 carbine bearing Serial No. 64702 (made in Spain) with one (1) magazine loaded with three (3)
live ammunitions and one (1) "'cacao" type hand grenade explosive, without first securing the
necessary license to possess the same.
CONTRARY TO LAW.6

When arraigned, petitioner pleaded not guilty.

During the trial, the prosecution presented two witnesses namely, NUP Daniel Tabura (Tabura), a
representative of the Firearms and Explosives Division of the Philippine National Police, and SCAA
Buco. NUP Tabura identified the Certification dated 5 November 20097 attesting that petitioner was
"not a licensed/registered holder of any kind and caliber per verification from records." Meanwhile,
SCAA Buco identified petitioner and the items seized from the bag, and testified on the details of the
routine inspection leading to the immediate arrest of petitioner. On cross-examination, SCAA Buco
further elaborated on the search conducted:

Atty. Mamburam

Q And that check point, which was conducted along llang [R)oad,

Davao City, was by virtue of a memorandum?

A Yes, Your Honor.

xxxx

Q Now, you said that at around 5:00 of said date, you were able to intercept a Metro Shuttle
passenger bus and you requested all passengers to alight?

A Yes.

Q passengers were left inside?

A Yes, Your Honor.

Q And, after all passengers were able to alight, you checked all cargoes of the passengers in the
bus?

A Yes.

xxxx

Q And, you testified that one of those things inside the bus was a black gray colored pack bag which
was placed at the back portion of the bus?

A Yes.

Q You said that the hag was heavy?

A Yes.

Q And you picked up or carried also the other belongings or cargo[e]s inside the bus and that was
the only thing or item inside the bus which was heavy. Is that correct?
A There were many bags and they were heavy. When l asked who is the owner of the bag because
it was heavy but the bag was small. when I asked, he said the content of the bag was a cellphone.
But 1 noticed that it was heavy.

xxxx

Q And you said that somebody admitted ownership of the bag. Is that correct?

A Yes.

Q Who admitted ownership of the bag?

A (WITNESS POINTS TO THE ACCUSED)

Q Now, you said that while you are looking at the bag, you noticed that one male passenger you
pointed as the accused kept looking at you'?

A Yes.

Q And, aside from the accused, all the other male passengers were not looking at you?

A The other passengers were on the ground but he was in front of [the] window looking towards his
bag.

xxxx

Q And the accused admitted that he owned the bag, you requested him to open the bag'?

A Not yet. I let him board the bus and asked him if he can open it.

Q And, when he opened it?

A I saw the handle of the firearm. 8 (Emphasis supplied)

On the other hand, the defense presented petitioner as sole witness. On direct examination,
petitioner denied ownership of the bag. However, he also admitted to answering SCAA Buco when
asked about its contents and allowing SCAA Buco to open it after the latter sought for his
permission:

ATTY. MAMBURAM

Q x xx After the conductor of the bus told the member of the task force that you and your brother
were seated at the back of the bus. can you please tell us what happened next'?

A The member of the task force asked who is the owner of the bag and what were the contents of
the bag.

Q To whom did the member of the task force address that question?
A To me because I was pointed to by the conductor.

Q And what was your reply to the question of the member of the task force?

A I told him it was only a cellphone.

Q By the way, Mr. Witness, who owned that bag?

A My elder brother.

Q And why did you make a reply to the question of the member of the task force when, in fact, you
were not the owner of the bag?

A Because I was pointed to by the conductor that it was me and my brother who were seated at the
back.

xxxx

Q Now, after you told the member of the task force that probably the content of the bag was
cellphone, what happened next?

A He asked if he can open it.

Q And what was your reply?

A I told him yes, just open it.

xx xx

Q Now, you said that the owner of the bag and the one who carried that bag was your brother, what
is the name of your brother?

A Roger Saluday.

Q Where is your brother Roger now?

A Roger is already dead. He died in September 2009.9 (Emphasis supplied)

On cross-examination, petitioner clarified that only he was pointed at by the conductor when the
latter was asked who owned the bag. Petitioner also admitted that he never disclosed he was with
his brother when he boarded the bus:

PROS. VELASCO

Q You said that you panicked because they pulled you but as a way of saving yourself considering
you don't own the bag> did you not volunteer to inform them that [the] bag was owned by your
brother?

A I told them I have a companion but I did not tell them that it was my brother because I was also
afraid of my brother.
Q So, in short, Mr. Witness, you did not actually inform them that you had a brother at that
time when you were boarding that bus, correct?

A No, sir, I did not.

xxxx

Q So, you were answering all questions by saying it is not your bag but you confirm now that it was
the conductor of that bus who pointed you as the owner of the bag, correct?

A Yes, sir, the conductor pointed at me as the one who [sic] seated at the back. 10 (Emphasis
supplied)

The defense subsequently rested its case and the prosecution waived the right to present rebuttal
evidence. Upon order from the trial court, the parties submitted their respective memoranda.

The Decision of the Trial Court

Finding the denials of petitioner as self-serving and weak, the trial court declared him to be in actual
or constructive possession of firearm and explosive without authority or license. Consequently, in the
dispositive portion of the Sentence dated 15 September 2011, petitioner was adjudged guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of illegal possession of firearm, ammunition, and explosive under PD 1866:

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered finding Marcelo Gigbalen
Saluday GUILTY of illegal possession of high powered firearm, ammunition and explosive. For the
offense of illegal possession of high powered firearm and ammunition, he is hereby sentenced to
suffer an imprisonment of prision mayor in its minimum period. He is likewise ordered to pay a fine of
₱30,000.00. For the offense of illegal possession of explosive, he is hereby sentenced to suffer an
imprisonment of prision mayor in its maximum period to reclusion temporal. He is likewise ordered to
pay a fine of ₱50,000.00.

xxxx

SO ORDERED. 11

On 12 October 2011, petitioner timely filed his Notice of Appeal. 12

The Decision of the Court of Appeals

On appeal, petitioner challenged his conviction raising as grounds the alleged misappreciation of
evidence by the trial court and the supposed illegality of the search. 13 On the other hand, the Office
of the Solicitor General (OSG) argued that the warrantless search was valid being a consented
search, and that the factual findings of the trial court can no longer be disturbed. 14

In its Decision dated 26 June 2014, the Court of Appeals sustained the conviction of petitioner and
affirmed the ruling of the trial court with modification:

WHEREFORE. the instant appeal is DISMISSED. The Sentence dated September 15, 2011 of the
Regional Trial Court, 11th Judicial Region, Branch 11, Davao City, in Criminal Case No. 65, 734-09,
finding Marcelo Gigbalen Saluday guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal possession of high
powered firearm, ammunition and explosive is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that:
(1) for the offense of illegal possession of high-powered firearm and ammunition, he is imposed an
indeterminate sentence of four (4) years, eight (8) months and twenty-one (21) days of
prision correccional maximum, as the minimum term, to seven (7) years and one (1) day of prision
mayor minimum, as the maximum term, in addition to the fine of Thirty thousand pesos
(₱30,000.00); and

(2) for the offense of illegal possession of explosive, he is sentenced to suffer the penalty
of reclusion perpetua without eligibility for parole.

SO ORDERED.15

Petitioner then filed a Motion for Reconsideration,16 to which the OSG filed its Comment. 17 In its
Resolution dated 15 October 2014, 18 the Court of Appeals denied petitioner's Motion for
Reconsideration for being pro forma. Hence, petitioner filed this Petition for Review
on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.

The Issue

Petitioner assails the appreciation of evidence by the trial court and the Court of Appeals as to
warrant his conviction for the offenses charged.

The Ruling of this Court

We affirm.

Only questions of law may be raised in a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules
of Court.19 As a result, the Court, on appeal, is not duty-bound to weigh and sift through the evidence
presented during trial. 20Further, factual findings of the trial court, when affirmed by the Court of
Appeals, are accorded great respect, even finality. 21

Here, petitioner assails his conviction for illegal possession of high-powered firearm and ammunition
under PD 1866, and illegal possession of explosive under the same law. The elements of both
offenses are as follows: (1) existence of the firearm, ammunition or explosive; (2) ownership or
possession of the firearm, ammunition or explosive; and (3) lack of license to own or possess.22 As
regards the second and third elements, the Corn1: of Appeals concurred with the trial court that
petitioner was in actual or constructive possession of a high-powered firearm, ammunition, and
explosive without the requisite authority. The Decision dated 26 June 2014 reads in pertinent part:

In the present case, the prosecution proved the negative fact that appellant has no license or permit
to own or possess the firearm, ammunition and explosive by presenting NUP Daniel Tab[u]ra
(Tab[u]ra), a representative of the Firearms and Explosives Division (FED) of the PNP. He identified
the Certification issued by the Chief. Records Section. FED of the PNP, stating that appellant "is not
a licensed/registered holder of any kind and caliber per verification from records of this office."

Appellant, however, questions the competence of Tab[u]ra to testify on the veracity or truthfulness of
the Ce1tification. He claims that the officer who issued it should have been the one presented so he
would not be denied the right to confront and cross-examine the witnesses against him.

There is no merit to petitioner's claim. The following is pertinent:

xxxx
The Court on several occasions ruled that either the testimony of a representative of, or a
certification from, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Firearms and Explosive Office attesting that a
person is not a licensee of any firearm would suffice to prove beyond reasonable doubt the second
element of possession of illegal firearms. The prosecution more than complied when it presented
both.

xxxx

Also, appellant denies having physical or constructive possession of the firearms, ammunition and
explosive. However, his denial flies in the face of the following testimonies which he himself made:

xxxx

Appellant gave information, albeit misleading, on the contents of the bag. He even allowed the police
officer to open it. Based on his actuations, there could be no doubt that he owned the bag containing
the firearm, ammunition and explosive.

Shifting the blame to his dead brother is very easy for appellant to fabricate. Besides, the allegation
that his brother owned the bag is uncorroborated and self-serving. 23

As above-quoted, the presence of the second and third elements of illegal possession of firearm,
ammunition, and explosive raises questions of fact. Considering further that the Court of Appeals
merely echoed the factual findings of the trial court, the Court finds no reason to disturb them.

As regards the first element, petitioner corroborates the testimony of SCAA Buco on four important
points: one, that petitioner was a passenger of the bus flagged down on 5 May 2009 at a military
checkpoint in Ilang, Davao City; two, that SCAA Buco boarded and searched the bus; three, that the
bus conductor pointed at petitioner as the owner of a small, gray-black pack bag on the back seat of
the bus; and four, that the same bag contained a .30-caliber firearm with one magazine loaded who
three live ammunitions, and a hand grenade. Notably, petitioner does not challenge the chain of
custody over the seized items. Rather, he merely raises a pure question of law and argues that they
are inadmissible on the ground that the search conducted by Task Force Davao was illegal.

The Court disagrees.

Section 2, Article Ill of the Constitution, which was patterned after the Fourth Amendment to the
United States (U.S.) Constitution,24 reads:

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. (Emphasis supplied)

Indeed, the constitutional guarantee is not a blanket prohibition. Rather, it operates against
"unreasonable" searches and seizures only. 25

Conversely, when a search is "reasonable," Section 2, Article HI of the Constitution does not apply.
As to what qualifies as a reasonable search, the pronouncements of the U.S. Supreme Court, which
are doctrinal in this jurisdiction,26 may shed light on the matter.
In the seminal case of Katz v. United States, 27 the U.S. Supreme Court held that the electronic
surveillance of a phone conversation without a warrant violated the Fourth Amendment. According to
the U.S. Supreme Court, what the Fourth Amendment protects are people, not places such that what
a person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his or her own home or office, is not a subject of
Fourth Amendment protection in much the same way that what he or she seeks to preserve as
private, even in an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally protected, thus:

Because of the misleading way the issues have been formulated, the parties have attached great
significance to the characterization of the telephone booth from which the petitioner placed his calls.
The petitioner has strenuously argued that the booth was a "constitutionally protected area." The
Government has maintained with equal vigor that it was not. But this effo1i to decide whether or not
a given "area,'' viewed in the abstract, is "constitutionally protected" deflects attention from the
problem presented by this case. For the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places. What a
person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth
Amendment protection. See Lewis v. United States, 385 U.S. 206, 210; United States v. Lee, 274
U.S. 559, 563. But what he seeks to preserve as private, even in an area accessible to the public,
may be constitutionally protected. See Rios v. United States, 364 U.S. 253; £:y; parte Jackson, 96
U.S. 727, 733.28 (Emphasis supplied)

Further, Justice John Harlan laid down in his concurring opinion the two-part test that would trigger
the application of the Fourth Amendment. First, a person exhibited an actual (subjective) expectation
of privacy.29 Second, the expectation is one that society is prepared to recognize as reasonable
(objective).30

The prohibition of unreasonable search and seizure ultimately stems from a person's right to privacy.
Hence, only when the State intrudes into a person's expectation of privacy, which society regards as
reasonable, is the Fourth Amendment triggered. Conversely, where a person does not have an
expectation of privacy or one's expectation of privacy is not reasonable to society, the alleged State
intrusion is not a "search" within the protection of the Fourth Amendment.

A survey of Philippine case law would reveal the same jurisprudential reasoning. To illustrate,
in People v. Johnson,31 the Court declared airport searches as outside the protection of the search
and seizure clause due to the lack of an expectation of privacy that society will regard as
reasonable:

Persons may lose the protection of the search and seizure clause by exposure of their persons or
property to the public in a manner reflecting a lack of subjective expectation of privacy, which
expectation society is prepared to recognize as reasonable. Such recognition is implicit in airport
security procedures. With increased concern over airplane hijacking and terrorism has come
increased security at the nation's airports. Passengers attempting to board an aircraft routinely pass
through metal detectors; their carry-on baggage as well as checked luggage are routinely subjected
to x-ray scans. Should these procedures suggest the presence of suspicious objects. physical
searches are conducted to determine what the objects are. There is little question that such
searches are reasonable, given their minimal intrusiveness, the gravity of the safety interests
involved, and the reduced privacy expectations associated with airline travel. Indeed, travelers are
often notified through airport public address systems, signs. and notices in their airline tickets that
they are subject to search and, if any prohibited materials or substances are found, such would be
subject to seizure. These announcements place passengers on notice that ordinary constitutional
protections against warrantless searches and seizures do not apply to routine airport
procedures.32 (Citations omitted)
Similarly, in Dela Cruz v. People,33 the Court described seaport searches as reasonable searches on
the ground that the safety of the traveling public overrides a person's right to privacy:

Routine baggage inspections conducted by port authorities, although done without search warrants,
are not unreasonable searches per se. Constitutional provisions protecting privacy should not be so
literally understood so as to deny reasonable safeguards to ensure the safety of the traveling public.

xxxx

Thus, with port security personnel's functions having the color of state-related functions and deemed
agents of government, Marti is inapplicable in the present case. Nevertheless, searches pursuant to
port security measures are not unreasonable per se. The security measures of x-ray scanning and
inspection in domestic ports are akin to routine security procedures in airports.

xxxx

Port authorities were acting within their duties and functions when [they] used x-ray scanning
machines for inspection of passengers' bags. When the results of the x-ray scan revealed the
existence of firearms in the bag, the port authorities had probable cause to conduct u search of
petitioner's bag. Notably, petitioner did not contest the results of the x-ray scan.34

In People v. Breis,35 the Court also justified a bus search owing to the reduced expectation of privacy
of the riding public:

Unlike the officer in Chan Fook, IO1 Mangili did not exceed his authority in the performance of his
duty. Prior to Breis' resistance, IO1 Mangili laid nary a finger on Breis or Yurnol. Neither did his
presence in the bus constitute an excess of authority. The bus is public transportation, and is open
to the public. The expectation of privacy in relation to the constitutional right against unreasonable
searches in a public bus is not the same as that in a person's dwelling. In fact, at that point in time,
only the bus was being searched, not Yumol, Breis, or their belongings, and the search of moving
vehicles has been upheld.36

Indeed, the reasonableness of a person's expectation of privacy must be determined on a case-to-


case basis since it depends on the factual circumstances surrounding the case.37 Other factors such
as customs, physical surroundings and practices of a particular activity may diminish this
expectation.38 In Fortune Express, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,39 a common carrier was held civilly liable
for the death of a passenger due to the hostile acts of armed men who boarded and subsequently
seized the bus. The Could held that "simple precautionary measures to protect the safety of
passengers, such as frisking passengers and inspecting their baggages, preferably with non-
intrusive gadgets such as metal detectors, before allowing them on board could have been
employed without violating the passenger's constitutional rights."40 In Costabella Corp. v. Court of
Appeals,41 a compulsory right of way was found improper for the failure of the owners of the
dominant estate to allege that the passageway they sought to be re-opened was at a point least
prejudicial to the owner of the servient estate. The Court thus explained, ''[c]onsidering that the
petitioner operates a hotel and beach resort in its property, it must undeniably maintain a strict
standard of security within its premises. Otherwise, the convenience, privacy, and safety of its clients
and patrons would be compromised."42 Similarly, shopping malls install metal detectors and body
scanners, and require bag inspection as a requisite for entry. Needless to say, any security lapse on
the part of the mall owner can compromise public safety.

Concededly, a bus, a hotel and beach resort, and a shopping mall are all private property whose
owners have every right to exclude anyone from entering. At the same time, however, because
these private premises are accessible to the public, the State, much like the owner, can impose non-
intrusive security measures and filter those going in. The only difference in the imposition of security
measures by an owner and the State is, the former emanates from the attributes of ownership under
Article 429 of the Civil Code, while the latter stems from the exercise of police power for the
promotion of public safety. Necessad1y, a person's expectation of privacy is diminished whenever
he or she enters private premises that arc accessible to the public.

In view of the foregoing, the bus inspection conducted by Task Force Davao at a military checkpoint
constitutes a reasonable search. Bus No. 66 of Davao Metro Shuttle was a vehicle of public
transportation where passengers have a reduced expectation of privacy. Further, SCAA Buco
merely lifted petitioner's bag. This visual and minimally intrusive inspection was even less than the
standard x-ray and physical inspections done at the airport and seaport terminals where passengers
may further be required to open their bags and luggages. Considering the reasonableness of the bus
search, Section 2, Article III of the Constitution finds no application, thereby precluding the necessity
for a warrant.

As regards the warrantless inspection of petitioner's bag, the OSG argues that petitioner consented
to the search) thereby making the seized items admissible in evidence.43 Petitioner contends
otherwise and insists that his failure to object cannot be construed as an implied waiver.

Petitioner is wrong.

Doubtless, the constitutional immunity against unreasonable searches and seizures is a personal
right, which may be waived.44 However, to be valid, the consent must be voluntary such that it is
unequivocal, specific, and intelligently given, uncontaminated by any duress or coercion.45 Relevant
to this determination of voluntariness are the following characteristics of the person giving consent
and the environment in which consent is given: (a) the age of the consenting party; (b) whether he or
she was in a public or secluded location; (c) whether he or she objected to the search or passively
looked on;46 (d) his or her education and intelligence; (e) the presence of coercive police procedures;
(f) the belief that no incriminating evidence will be found;47 (g) the nature of the police questioning; (h)
the environment in which the questioning took place; and (i) the possibly vulnerable subjective state
of the person consenting.48

In Asuncion v. Court of Appeals,49the apprehending officers sought the permission of petitioner to


search the car, to which the latter agreed. According to the Court, petitioner himself freely gave his
consent to the search. In People v. Montilla, 50 the Court found the accused to have spontaneously
performed affirmative acts of volition by opening the bag without being forced or intimidated to do so,
which acts amounted to a clear waiver of his right. In People v. Omaweng,51 the police officers asked
the accused if they could see the contents of his bag, to which the accused said "you can see the
contents but those are only clothings." The policemen then asked if they could open and see it, and
the accused answered "you can see it." The Court held there was a valid consented search.

Similarly in this case, petitioner consented to the baggage inspection done by SCAA Buco. When
SCAA Buco asked if he could open petitioner's bag, petitioner answered ''yes, just open if' based
on petitioner's own testimony. This is clear consent by petitioner to the search of the contents of his
bag. In its Decision dated 26 June 2014, the Court of Appeals aptly held:

A waiver was found in People v. Omaweng. There, the police officers asked the accused if they
could see the contents of his bag and he answered "you can see the contents but those are only
clothings.'' When asked if they could open and see it, he said "you can see it." In the present case,
accused-appellant told the member of the task force that "it was only a cellphone" when asked who
owns the bag and what are its contents. When asked by the member of the task force if he could
open it, accused-appellant told him "yes, just open it." Hence, as in Omaweng, there was a waiver of
accused-appellants right against warrantless search.52

To emphasize, a reasonable search, on the one hand, and a warrantless search, on the other, are
mutually exclusive. While both State intrusions are valid even without a warrant, the underlying
reasons for the absence of a warrant are different. A reasonable search arises from a reduced
expectation of privacy, for which reason Section 2, Article III of the Constitution finds no application.
Examples include searches done at airports, seaports, bus terminals, malls, and similar public
·places. In contrast, a warrantless search is presumably an "unreasonable search," but for reasons
of practicality, a search warrant can be dispensed with. Examples include search incidental to a
lawful arrest, search of evidence in plain view, consented search, and extensive search of a private
moving vehicle.

Further, in the conduct of bus searches, the Court Jays down the following guidelines. Prior to
1âw phi 1

entry, passengers and their bags and luggages can be subjected to a routine inspection akin to
airport and seaport security protocol. In this regard, metal detectors and x-ray scanning machines
can be installed at bus terminals. Passengers can also be frisked. In lieu of electronic scanners,
passengers can be required instead to open their bags and luggages for inspection, which
inspection must be made in the passenger's presence. Should the passenger object, he or she can
validly be refused entry into the terminal.

While in transit, a bus can still be searched by government agents or the security personnel of the
bus owner in the following three instances. First, upon receipt of information that a passenger carries
contraband or illegal articles, the bus where the passenger is aboard can be stopped en route to
allow for an inspection of the person and his or her effects. This is no different from an airplane that
is forced to land upon receipt of information about the contraband or illegal articles carried by a
passenger onboard. Second, whenever a bus picks passengers en route, the prospective passenger
can be frisked and his or her bag or luggage be subjected to the same routine inspection by
government agents or private security personnel as though the person boarded the bus at the
terminal. This is because unlike an airplane, a bus is able to stop and pick passengers along the
way, making it possible for these passengers to evade the routine search at the bus
terminal. Third, a bus can be flagged down at designated military or police checkpoints where State
agents can board the vehicle for a routine inspection of the passengers and their bags or luggages.

In both situations, the inspection of passengers and their effects prior to entry at the bus terminal
and the search of the bus while in transit must also satisfy the following conditions to qualify as a
valid reasonable search. First, as to the manner of the search, it must be the least intrusive and must
uphold the dignity of the person or persons being searched, minimizing, if not altogether eradicating,
any cause for public embarrassment, humiliation or ridicule. Second, neither can the search result
from any discriminatory motive such as insidious profiling, stereotyping and other similar motives. In
all instances, the fundamental rights of vulnerable identities, persons with disabilities, children and
other similar groups should be protected. Third, as to the purpose of the search, it must be confined
to ensuring public safety. Fourth, as to the evidence seized from the reasonable search, courts must
be convinced that precautionary measures were in place to ensure that no evidence was planted
against the accused.

The search of persons in a public place is valid because the safety of others may be put at risk.
Given the present circumstances, the Court takes judicial notice that public transport buses and their
terminals, just like passenger ships and seaports, are in that category.

Aside from public transport buses, any moving vehicle that similarly accepts passengers at the
terminal and along its route is likewise covered by these guidelines. Hence, whenever compliant with
these guidelines, a routine inspection at the terminal or of the vehicle itself while in transit constitutes
a reasonable search. Otherwise, the intrusion becomes unreasonable, thereby triggering the
constitutional guarantee under Section 2, Article III of the Constitution.

To emphasize, the guidelines do not apply to privately-owned cars. Neither are they applicable to
moving vehicles dedicated for private or personal use, as in the case of taxis, which are hired by
only one or a group of passengers such that the vehicle can no longer be flagged down by any other
person unti1 the passengers on board alight from the vehicle.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision dated 26 June 2014 and the Resolution dated
15 October 2014 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 01099 are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

G. R. Nos. 102009-10 July 6, 1994

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
ROLANDO DE GRACIA, CHITO HENSON and JOHN DOES, accused. ROLANDO DE
GRACIA, accused-appellant.

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

Nicolas R. Ruiz, II for accused-appellant.

REGALADO, J.:

The incidents involved in this case took place at the height of the coup d' etat staged in December,
1989 by ultra-rightist elements headed by the Reform the Armed Forces Movement-Soldiers of the
Filipino People (RAM-SFP) against the Government. At that time, various government
establishments and military camps in Metro Manila were being bombarded by the rightist group with
their "tora-tora" planes. At around midnight of November 30, 1989, the 4th Marine Battalion of the
Philippine Marines occupied Villamor Air Base, while the Scout Rangers took over the Headquarters
of the Philippine Army, the Army Operations Center, and Channel 4, the government television
station. Also, some elements of the Philippine Army coming from Fort Magsaysay occupied the
Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan, Metro Manila. 1

Accused-appellant Rolando de Gracia was charged in two separate informations for illegal
possession of ammunition and explosives in furtherance of rebellion, and for attempted homicide,
docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. Q-90-11755 and Q-90-11756, respectively, which were tried jointly
by the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 103.
In Criminal Case No. Q-90-11755, Rolando de Gracia, Chito Henson and several John Does whose
true names and identities have not as yet been ascertained, were charged with the crime of illegal
possession of ammunition and explosives in furtherance of rebellion, penalized under Section 1,
paragraph 3, of Presidential Decree No. 1866, allegedly committed as follows:

That on or about the 5th day of DECEMBER, 1989, in QUEZON CITY, METRO
MANILA, PHILIPPINES, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused, conspiring and confederating together and mutually helping
one another, and without authority of law, did then and there willfully, unlawfully,
feloniously and knowingly have in their possession, custody and control, the following
to wit:

Five (5) bundles of C-4 or dynamites


Six (6) cartoons of M-16 ammunition at 20 each
One hundred (100) bottles of MOLOTOV bombs

without first securing the necessary license and/or permit to possess the same from
the proper authorities, and armed with said dynamites, ammunition and explosives
and pursuant to their conspiracy heretofore agreed upon by them and prompted by
common designs, come to an agreement and decision to commit the crime of
rebellion, by then and there participating therein and publicly taking arms against the
duly constituted authorities, for the purpose of overthrowing the Government of the
Republic of the Philippines, disrupting and jeopardizing its activities and removing
from its allegiance the territory of the Philippines or parts thereof. 2

In Criminal Case No. Q-90-11756, Rolando de Gracia, Chito Henson, Lamberto Bicus, Rodolfo Tor
and several John Does were charged with attempted homicide allegedly committed on December 1,
1989 in Quezon City upon the person of Crispin Sagario who was shot and hit on the right thigh.

Appellant was convicted for illegal possession of firearms in furtherance of rebellion, but was
acquitted of attempted homicide.

During the arraignment, appellant pleaded not guilty to both charges. However, he admitted that he
is not authorized to possess any firearms, ammunition and/or explosive. 3 The parties likewise
stipulated that there was a rebellion during the period from November 30 up to December 9, 1989. 4

The records show that in the early morning of December 1, 1989, Maj. Efren Soria of the Intelligence
Division, National Capital Region Defense Command, was on board a brown Toyota car conducting
a surveillance of the Eurocar Sales Office located at Epifanio de los Santos Avenue in Quezon City,
together with his team composed of Sgt. Crispin Sagario, M/Sgt. Ramon Briones, S/Sgt. Henry
Aquino, one S/Sgt. Simon and a Sgt. Ramos. The surveillance, which actually started on the night of
November 30, 1989 at around 10:00 P.M., was conducted pursuant to an intelligence report received
by the division that said establishment was being occupied by elements of the RAM-SFP as a
communication command post.

Sgt. Crispin Sagario, the driver of the car, parked the vehicle around ten to fifteen meters away from
the Eurocar building near P. Tuazon Street, S/Sgt. Henry Aquino had earlier alighted from the car to
conduct his surveillance on foot. A crowd was then gathered near the Eurocar office watching the
on-going bombardment near Camp Aguinaldo. After a while, a group of five men disengaged
themselves from the crowd and walked towards the car of the surveillance team. At that moment,
Maj. Soria, who was then seated in front, saw the approaching group and immediately ordered Sgt.
Sagario to start the car and leave the area. As they passed by the group, then only six meters away,
the latter pointed to them, drew their guns and fired at the team, which attack resulted in the
wounding of Sgt. Sagario on the right thigh. Nobody in the surveillance team was able to retaliate
because they sought cover inside the car and they were afraid that civilians or bystanders might be
caught in the cross-fire.

As a consequence, at around 6:30 A.M. of December 5, 1989, a searching team composed of F/Lt.
Virgilio Babao as team leader, M/Sgt. Lacdao, Sgt. Magallion, Sgt. Patricio Pacatang, and elements
of the 16th Infantry Battalion under one Col. delos Santos raided the Eurocar Sales Office. They
were able to find and confiscate six cartons of M-16 ammunition, five bundles of C-4 dynamites, M-
shells of different calibers, and "molotov" bombs inside one of the rooms belonging to a certain Col.
Matillano which is located at the right portion of the building. Sgt. Oscar Obenia, the first one to enter
the Eurocar building, saw appellant De Gracia inside the office of Col. Matillano, holding a C-4 and
suspiciously peeping through a door. De Gracia was the only person then present inside the room. A
uniform with the nametag of Col. Matillano was also found. As a result of the raid, the team arrested
appellant, as well as Soprieso Verbo and Roberto Jimena who were janitors at the Eurocar building.
They were then made to sign an inventory, written in Tagalog, of the explosives and ammunition
confiscated by the raiding team. No search warrant was secured by the raiding team because,
according to them, at that time there was so much disorder considering that the nearby Camp
Aguinaldo was being mopped up by the rebel forces and there was simultaneous firing within the
vicinity of the Eurocar office, aside from the fact that the courts were consequently closed. The group
was able to confirm later that the owner of Eurocar office is a certain Mr. Gutierrez and that appellant
is supposedly a "boy" therein.

Appellant Rolando de Gracia gave another version of the incident. First, he claims that on November
30, 1989, he was in Antipolo to help in the birthday party of Col. Matillano. He denies that he was at
the Eurocar Sales Office on December 1, 1989. Second, he contends that when the raiding team
arrived at the Eurocar Sales Office on December 5, 1989, he was inside his house, a small nipa hut
which is adjacent to the building. According to him, he was tasked to guard the office of Col.
Matillano which is located at the right side of the building. He denies, however, that he was inside
the room of Col. Matillano when the raiding team barged in and that he had explosives in his
possession. He testified that when the military raided the office, he was ordered to get out of his
house and made to lie on the ground face down, together with "Obet" and "Dong" who were janitors
of the building. He avers that he does not know anything about the explosives and insists that when
they were asked to stand up, the explosives were already there.

Appellant stated that he visited Col. Matillano in 1987 at the stockade of the Philippine Constabulary-
Integrated National Police (PC-INP), and that he knew Matillano was detained because of the latter's
involvement in the 1987coup d' etat. In July, 1989, appellant again went to see Matillano because he
had no job. Col. Matillano then told him that he could stay in the PC-INP stockade and do the
marketing for them. From that time until his arrest at the Eurocar office, appellant worked for
Matillano.

De Gracia believes that the prosecution witnesses were moved to testify against him because "bata
raw ako ni Col. Matillano eh may atraso daw sa kanila si Col. Matillano kaya sabi nila ito na lang
bata niya ang ipitin natin."

On February 22, 1991, the trial court rendered judgment 5 acquitting appellant Rolando de Gracia of
attempted homicide, but found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the offense of illegal
possession of firearms in furtherance of rebellion and sentenced him to serve the penalty
of reclusion perpetua. Moreover, it made a recommendation that "(i)nasmuch as Rolando de Gracia
appears to be merely executing or obeying orders and pursuant to the spirit contained in the 2nd
paragraph of Art. 135, R. P. C., the court recommends that Rolando de Gracia be extended
executive clemency after serving a jail term of five (5) years of good behavior.

That judgment of conviction is now challenged before us in this appeal.

Appellant principally contends that he cannot be held guilty of illegal possession of firearms for the
reason that he did not have either physical or constructive possession thereof considering that he
had no intent to possess the same; he is neither the owner nor a tenant of the building where the
ammunition and explosives were found; he was merely employed by Col. Matillano as an errand
boy; he was guarding the explosives for and in behalf of Col. Matillano; and he did not have actual
possession of the explosives. He claims that intent to possess, which is necessary before one can
be convicted under Presidential Decree No. 1866, was not present in the case at bar.

Presidential Decree No. 1866 provides as follows:

Sec. 1. Unlawful Manufacture, Sale, Acquisition, Disposition or Possession of


Firearms or Ammunition or Instruments Used or intended to be Used in the
Manufacture of Firearms or Ammunition. — The penalty of reclusion temporal in its
maximum period to reclusion perpetua shall be imposed upon any person who shall
unlawfully manufacture, deal in, acquire, dispose, or possess any firearms, part of
firearms, ammunition or machinery, tool or instrument used or intended to be used in
the manufacture of any firearm or ammunition.

If homicide or murder is committed with the use of an unlicensed firearm, the penalty
of death shall be imposed.

If the violation of this Section is in furtherance of, or incident to, or in connection with
the crimes of rebellion, insurrection or subversion, the penalty of death shall be
imposed.

Presidential Decree No. 1866 was passed because of an upsurge of crimes vitally affecting public
order and safety due to the proliferation of illegally possessed and manufactured firearms,
ammunition and explosives, and which criminal acts have resulted in loss of human lives, damage to
property and destruction of valuable resources of the country. The series of coup d' etats unleashed
in the country during the first few years of the transitional government under then President Corazon
P. Aquino attest to the ever-growing importance of laws such as Presidential Decree No. 1866 which
seek to nip in the bud and preempt the commission of any act or acts which tend to disturb public
peace and order.

I. The first issue to be resolved is whether or not intent to possess is an essential element of the
offense punishable under Presidential Decree No. 1866 and, if so, whether appellant De Gracia did
intend to illegally possess firearms and ammunition.

The rule is that ownership is not an essential element of illegal possession of firearms and
ammunition. What the law requires is merely possession which includes not only actual physical
possession but also constructive possession or the subjection of the thing to one's control and
management. 6 This has to be so if the manifest intent of the law is to be effective. The same evils,
the same perils to public security, which the law penalizes exist whether the unlicensed holder of a
prohibited weapon be its owner or a borrower. To accomplish the object of this law the proprietary
concept of the possession can have no bearing whatsoever. 7
But is the mere fact of physical or constructive possession sufficient to convict a person for unlawful
possession of firearms or must there be an intent to possess to constitute a violation of the law? This
query assumes significance since the offense of illegal possession of firearms is a malum
prohibitum punished by a special law, 8 in which case good faith and absence of criminal intent are
not valid defenses. 9

When the crime is punished by a special law, as a rule, intent to commit the crime is not necessary.
It is sufficient that the offender has the intent to perpetrate the act prohibited by the special law.
Intent to commit the crime and intent to perpetrate the act must be distinguished. A person may not
have consciously intended to commit a crime; but he did intend to commit an act, and that act is, by
the very nature of things, the crime itself. In the first (intent to commit the crime), there must be
criminal intent; in the second (intent to perpetrate the act) it is enough that the prohibited act is done
freely and consciously. 10

In the present case, a distinction should be made between criminal intent and intent to possess.
While mere possession, without criminal intent, is sufficient to convict a person for illegal possession
of a firearm, it must still be shown that there was animus possidendi or an intent to possess on the
part of the accused. 11 Such intent to possess is, however, without regard to any other criminal or
felonious intent which the accused may have harbored in possessing the firearm. Criminal intent
here refers to the intention of the accused to commit an offense with the use of an unlicensed
firearm. This is not important in convicting a person under Presidential Decree No. 1866. Hence, in
order that one may be found guilty of a violation of the decree, it is sufficient that the accused had no
authority or license to possess a firearm, and that he intended to possess the same, even if such
possession was made in good faith and without criminal intent.

Concomitantly, a temporary, incidental, casual, or harmless possession or control of a firearm


cannot be considered a violation of a statute prohibiting the possession of this kind of
weapon, 12 such as Presidential Decree No. 1866. Thus, although there is physical or constructive
possession, for as long as the animus possidendi is absent, there is no offense committed.

Coming now to the case before us, there is no doubt in our minds that appellant De Gracia is indeed
guilty of having intentionally possessed several firearms, explosives and ammunition without the
requisite license or authority therefor. Prosecution witness Sgt. Oscar Abenia categorically testified
that he was the first one to enter the Eurocar Sales Office when the military operatives raided the
same, and he saw De Gracia standing in the room and holding the several explosives marked in
evidence as Exhibits D to D-4. 13 At first, appellant denied any knowledge about the explosives.
Then, he alternatively contended that his act of guarding the explosives for and in behalf of Col.
Matillano does not constitute illegal possession thereof because there was no intent on his part to
possess the same, since he was merely employed as an errand boy of Col. Matillano. His pretension
of impersonal or indifferent material possession does not and cannot inspire credence.

Animus possidendi is a state of mind which may be determined on a case to case basis, taking into
consideration the prior and coetaneous acts of the accused and the surrounding circumstances.
What exists in the realm of thought is often disclosed in the range of action. It is not controverted that
appellant De Gracia is a former soldier, having served with the Philippine Constabulary prior to his
separation from the service for going on absence without leave
(AWOL). 14 We do not hesitate, therefore, to believe and conclude that he is familiar with and
knowledgeable about the dynamites, "molotov" bombs, and various kinds of ammunition which were
confiscated by the military from his possession. As a former soldier, it would be absurd for him not to
know anything about the dangerous uses and power of these weapons. A fortiori, he cannot feign
ignorance on the import of having in his possession such a large quantity of explosives and
ammunition. Furthermore, the place where the explosives were found is not a military camp or office,
nor one where such items can ordinarily but lawfully be stored, as in a gun store, an arsenal or
armory. Even an ordinarily prudent man would be put on guard and be suspicious if he finds articles
of this nature in a place intended to carry out the business of selling cars and which has nothing to
do at all, directly or indirectly, with the trade of firearms and ammunition.

On the basis of the foregoing disquisition, it is apparent, and we so hold, that appellant De Gracia
actually intended to possess the articles confiscated from his person.

II. The next question that may be asked is whether or not there was a valid search and seizure in
this case. While the matter has not been squarely put in issue, we deem it our bounden duty, in light
of advertence thereto by the parties, to delve into the legality of the warrantless search conducted by
the raiding team, considering the gravity of the offense for which herein appellant stands to be
convicted and the penalty sought to be imposed.

It is admitted that the military operatives who raided the Eurocar Sales Office were not armed with a
search warrant at that time. 15 The raid was actually precipitated by intelligence reports that said
office was being used as headquarters by the RAM. 16 Prior to the raid, there was a surveillance
conducted on the premises wherein the surveillance team was fired at by a group of men coming
from the Eurocar building. When the military operatives raided the place, the occupants thereof
refused to open the door despite requests for them to do so, thereby compelling the former to break
into the office. 17 The Eurocar Sales Office is obviously not a gun store and it is definitely not an
armory or arsenal which are the usual depositories for explosives and ammunition. It is primarily and
solely engaged in the sale of automobiles. The presence of an unusual quantity of high-powered
firearms and explosives could not be justifiably or even colorably explained. In addition, there was
general chaos and disorder at that time because of simultaneous and intense firing within the vicinity
of the office and in the nearby Camp Aguinaldo which was under attack by rebel forces. 18 The courts
in the surrounding areas were obviously closed and, for that matter, the building and houses therein
were deserted.

Under the foregoing circumstances, it is our considered opinion that the instant case falls under one
of the exceptions to the prohibition against a warrantless search. In the first place, the military
operatives, taking into account the facts obtaining in this case, had reasonable ground to believe that
a crime was being committed. There was consequently more than sufficient probable cause to
warrant their action. Furthermore, under the situation then prevailing, the raiding team had no
opportunity to apply for and secure a search warrant from the courts. The trial judge himself
manifested that on December 5, 1989 when the raid was conducted, his court was closed. 19 Under
such urgency and exigency of the moment, a search warrant could lawfully be dispensed with.

The view that we here take is in consonance with our doctrinal ruling which was amply explained in
People vs. Malmstedt 20 and bears reiteration:

While it is true that the NARCOM officers were not armed with a search warrant
when the search was made over the personal effects of accused, however, under the
circumstances of the case, there was sufficient probable cause for said officers to
believe that accused was then and there committing a crime.

Probable cause has been defined as such facts and circumstances which would lead
a reasonable, 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. The required probable cause that will justify a
warrantless search and seizure is not determined by any fixed formula but is
resolved according to the facts of each case.
Warrantless search of the personal effects of an accused has been declared by this
Court as valid, because of existence of probable cause, where the smell of marijuana
emanated from a plastic bag owned by the accused, or where the accused was
acting suspiciously, and attempted to flee.

Aside from the persistent reports received by the NARCOM that vehicles coming
from Sagada were transporting marijuana and other prohibited drugs, their
Commanding Officer also received information that a Caucasian coming from
Sagada on that particular day had prohibited drugs in his possession. Said
information was received by the Commanding Officer of NARCOM the very same
morning that accused came down by bus from Sagada on his way to Baguio City.

When NARCOM received the information, a few hours before the apprehension of
herein accused, that a Caucasian travelling from Sagada to Baguio City was carrying
with him prohibited drugs, there was no time to obtain a search warrant. In
the Tangliben case, the police authorities conducted a surveillance at the Victory
Liner Terminal located at Bgy. San Nicolas, San Fernando, Pampanga, against
persons engaged in the traffic of dangerous drugs, based on information supplied by
some informers. Accused Tangliben who was acting suspiciously and pointed out by
an informer was apprehended and searched by the police authorities. It was held that
when faced with on-the-spot information, the police officers had to act quickly and
there was no time to secure a search warrant.

It must be observed that, at first, the NARCOM officers merely conducted a routine
check of the bus (where accused was riding) and the passengers therein, and no
extensive search was initially made. It was only when one of the officers noticed a
bulge on the waist of accused, during the course of the inspection, that accused was
required to present his passport. The failure of accused to present his identification
papers, when ordered to do so, only managed to arouse the suspicion of the officer
that accused was trying to hide his identity. For is it not a regular norm for an
innocent man, who has nothing to hide from the authorities, to readily present his
identification papers when required to do so?

The receipt of information by NARCOM that a Caucasian coming from Sagada had
prohibited drugs in his possession, plus the suspicious failure of the accused to
produce his passport, taken together as a whole, led the NARCOM officers to
reasonably believe that the accused was trying to hide something illegal from the
authorities. From these circumstances arose a probable cause which justified the
warrantless search that was made on the personal effects of the accused. In other
words, the acts of the NARCOM officers in requiring the accused to open his pouch
bag and in opening one of the wrapped objects found inside said bag (which was
discovered to contain hashish) as well as the two (2) teddy bears with hashish
stuffed inside them, were prompted by accused's own attempt to hide his identity by
refusing to present his passport, and by the information received by the NARCOM
that a Caucasian coming from Sagada had prohibited drugs in his possession. To
deprive the NARCOM agents of the ability and facility to act accordingly, including, to
search even without warrant, in the light of such circumstances, would be to sanction
impotence and ineffectiveness in law enforcement, to the detriment of society.

In addition, we find the principle enunciated in Umil, et al., vs. Ramos,


et al., 21 applicable, by analogy, to the present case:
The arrest of persons involved in the rebellion whether as its fighting armed
elements, or for committing non-violent acts but in furtherance of the rebellion, is
more an act of capturing them in the course of an armed conflict, to quell the
rebellion, than for the purpose of immediately prosecuting them in court for a
statutory offense. The arrest, therefore, need not follow the usual procedure in the
prosecution of offenses which requires the determination by a judge of the existence
of probable cause before the issuance of a judicial warrant of arrest and the granting
of bail if the offense is bailable. Obviously the absence of a judicial warrant is no
legal impediment to arresting or capturing persons committing overt acts of violence
against government forces, or any other milder acts but really in pursuance of the
rebellious movement. The arrest or capture is thus impelled by the exigencies of the
situation that involves the very survival of society and its government and duly
constituted authorities. If killing and other acts of violence against the rebels find
justification in the exigencies of armed hostilities which (are) of the essence of
waging a rebellion or insurrection, most assuredly so in case of invasion, merely
seizing their persons and detaining them while any of these contingencies continues
cannot be less justified.

III. As earlier stated, it was stipulated and admitted by both parties that from November 30, 1989 up
to and until December 9, 1989, there was a rebellion. Ergo, our next inquiry is whether or not
appellant's possession of the firearms, explosives and ammunition seized and recovered from him
was for the purpose and in furtherance of rebellion.

The trial court found accused guilty of illegal possession of firearms in furtherance of rebellion
pursuant to paragraph 2 of Article 135 of the Revised Penal Code which states that "any person
merely participating or executing the command of others in a rebellion shall suffer the penalty
of prision mayor in its minimum period." The court below held that appellant De Gracia, who had
been servicing the personal needs of Col. Matillano (whose active armed opposition against the
Government, particularly at the Camelot Hotel, was well known), is guilty of the act of guarding the
explosives and "molotov" bombs for and in behalf of the latter. We accept this finding of the lower
court.

The above provision of the law was, however, erroneously and improperly used by the court below
as a basis in determining the degree of liability of appellant and the penalty to be imposed on him. It
must be made clear that appellant is charged with the qualified offense of illegal possession of
firearms in furtherance of rebellion under Presidential Decree No. 1866 which, in law, is distinct from
the crime of rebellion punished under Articles 134 and 135 of the Revised Penal Code. These are
two separate statutes penalizing different offenses with discrete penalties. The Revised Penal Code
treats rebellion as a crime apart from murder, homicide, arson, or other offenses, such as illegal
possession of firearms, that might conceivably be committed in the course of a rebellion. Presidential
Decree No. 1866 defines and punishes, as a specific offense, the crime of illegal possession of
firearms committed in the course or as part of a rebellion. 22

As a matter of fact, in one case involving the constitutionality of Section 1 of Presidential Decree No.
1866, the Court has explained that said provision of the law will not be invalidated by the mere fact
that the same act is penalized under two different statutes with different penalties, even if considered
highly advantageous to the prosecution and onerous to the accused. 23 It follows that, subject to the
presence of the requisite elements in each case, unlawful possession of an unlicensed firearm in
furtherance of rebellion may give rise to separate prosecutions for a violation of Section 1 of
Presidential Decree No. 1866, and also a violation of Articles 134 and 135 of the Revised Penal
Code on rebellion. Double jeopardy in this case cannot be invoked because the first is an offense
punished by a special law while the second is a felony punished by the Revised Penal Code, 24 with
variant elements.
It was a legal malapropism for the lower court to interject the aforestated provision of the Revised
Penal Code in this prosecution for a crime under a special law. Consequently, there is no basis for
its recommendation for executive clemency in favor of appellant De Gracia after he shall have
served a jail term of five years with good behavior. In any event, this is a matter within the exclusive
prerogative of the President whose decision thereon should be insulated against any tenuous
importunity.

Withal, we are duly convinced that the firearms, explosives and ammunition confiscated from
appellant De Gracia were illegally possessed by him in furtherance of the rebellion then admittedly
existing at that time. In the words of the court a quo:

2. the nature and quantity of the items — 5 bundles of C-4 dynamites, 6 cartons of
M-16 ammo and 100 bottles of molotov bombs indicate that the reports received by
the military that the Eurocar Sales Building was being used by the rebels was not
without basis. Those items are clearly not for one's personal defense. They are for
offensive operations. De Gracia admitted that per instruction of Col. Matillano he
went down to Eurocar Sales Building from Antipolo to stay guard there.

His manifestation of innocence of those items and what he has been guarding in that
office is not credible for: (a) he was a former military personnel; (b) at the birthday
party of Col. Matillano on November 30, 1989 many soldiers and ex-soldiers were
present which self-evidently discloses that De Gracia, in the company of his boss,
was still very much at home and constantly in touch with soldiers and the armed
rebellion of November 30, 1989 to December 8 or 9, 1989 was a military coup d' etat;
(c) it appears that he is the only person tasked with caretaking (sic) there in the
Matillano office, which shows that he is a highly trusted right-hand man of Col.
Matillano; and (d) as heretofore discussed, De Gracia was earlier seen with some
men who fired upon a car of the AFP intelligence agents. 25

Presidential Decree No. 1866 imposes the death penalty where the illegal possession of firearms
and ammunition is committed in furtherance of rebellion. At the time the offense charged in this case
was committed under the governance of that law, the imposition of the death penalty was proscribed
by the Constitution. Consequently, appellant De Gracia could only be sentenced to serve the penalty
of reclusion perpetua which was correctly meted out by the trial court, albeit with an erroneous
recommendation in connection therewith.

WHEREFORE, the impugned judgment of the trial court is hereby AFFIRMED, but its
recommendation therein for executive clemency and the supposed basis thereof are hereby
DELETED, with costs against accused-appellant.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 83988 September 29, 1989

RICARDO C. VALMONTE AND UNION OF LAWYERS AND ADVOCATES FOR PEOPLE'S


RIGHTS (ULAP), petitioners,
vs.
GEN. RENATO DE VILLA AND NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION DISTRICT
COMMAND, respondents.
Ricardo C. Valmonte for himself and his co-petitioners.

PADILLA, J.:

This is a petition for prohibition with preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order,
seeking the declaration of checkpoints in Valenzuela, Metro Manila or elsewhere, as unconstitutional
and the dismantling and banning of the same or, in the alternative, to direct the respondents to
formulate guidelines in the implementation of checkpoints, for the protection of the people.

Petitioner Ricardo C. Valmonte sues in his capacity as citizen of the Republic, taxpayer, member of
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), and resident of Valenzuela, Metro Manila; while petitioner
Union of Lawyers and Advocates for People's Rights (ULAP) sues in its capacity as an association
whose members are all members of the IBP.

The factual background of the case is as follows:

On 20 January 1987, the National Capital Region District Command (NCRDC) was activated
pursuant to Letter of Instruction 02/87 of the Philippine General Headquarters, AFP, with the mission
of conducting security operations within its area of responsibility and peripheral areas, for the
purpose of establishing an effective territorial defense, maintaining peace and order, and providing
an atmosphere conducive to the social, economic and political development of the National Capital
Region.1 As part of its duty to maintain peace and order, the NCRDC installed checkpoints in various
parts of Valenzuela, Metro Manila.

Petitioners aver that, because of the installation of said checkpoints, the residents of Valenzuela are
worried of being harassed and of their safety being placed at the arbitrary, capricious and whimsical
disposition of the military manning the checkpoints, considering that their cars and vehicles are
being subjected to regular searches and check-ups, especially at night or at dawn, without the
benefit of a search warrant and/or court order. Their alleged fear for their safety increased when, at
dawn of 9 July 1988, Benjamin Parpon, a supply officer of the Municipality of Valenzuela, Bulacan,
was gunned down allegedly in cold blood by the members of the NCRDC manning the checkpoint
along McArthur Highway at Malinta, Valenzuela, for ignoring and/or refusing to submit himself to the
checkpoint and for continuing to speed off inspire of warning shots fired in the air. Petitioner
Valmonte also claims that, on several occasions, he had gone thru these checkpoints where he was
stopped and his car subjected to search/check-up without a court order or search warrant.

Petitioners further contend that the said checkpoints give the respondents a blanket authority to
make searches and/or seizures without search warrant or court order in violation of the
Constitution; 2 and, instances have occurred where a citizen, while not killed, had been harassed.

Petitioners' concern for their safety and apprehension at being harassed by the military manning the
checkpoints are not sufficient grounds to declare the checkpoints as per se illegal. No proof has
been presented before the Court to show that, in the course of their routine checks, the military
indeed committed specific violations of petitioners' right against unlawful search and seizure or other
rights.

In a case filed by the same petitioner organization, Union of Lawyers and Advocates for People's
Right (ULAP) vs. Integrated National Police, 3 it was held that individual petitioners who do not allege
that any of their rights were violated are not qualified to bring the action, as real parties in interest.
The constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures is a personal right invocable
only by those whose rights have been infringed, 4 or threatened to be infringed. What constitutes a
reasonable or unreasonable search and seizure in any particular case is purely a judicial question,
determinable from a consideration of the circumstances involved. 5

Petitioner Valmonte's general allegation to the effect that he had been stopped and searched without
a search warrant by the military manning the checkpoints, without more, i.e., without stating the
details of the incidents which amount to a violation of his right against unlawful search and seizure,
is not sufficient to enable the Court to determine whether there was a violation of Valmonte's right
against unlawful search and seizure. Not all searches and seizures are prohibited. Those which are
reasonable are not forbidden. A reasonable search is not to be determined by any fixed formula but
is to be resolved according to the facts of each case. 6

Where, for example, the officer merely draws aside the curtain of a vacant vehicle which is parked
on the public fair grounds, 7 or simply looks into a vehicle, 8 or flashes a light therein, 9 these do not
constitute unreasonable search.

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

True, the manning of checkpoints by the military is susceptible of abuse by the men in uniform, in the
same manner that all governmental power is susceptible of abuse. But, at the cost of occasional
inconvenience, discomfort and even irritation to the citizen, the checkpoints during these abnormal
times, when conducted within reasonable limits, are part of the price we pay for an orderly society
and a peaceful community.

Finally, on 17 July 1988, military and police checkpoints in Metro Manila were temporarily lifted and
a review and refinement of the rules in the conduct of the police and military manning the
checkpoints was ordered by the National Capital Regional Command Chief and the Metropolitan
Police Director. 10

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 104961 October 7, 1994


CONGRESSMAN FRANCISCO B. ANIAG, JR., petitioner,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE SPECIAL TASK
FORCE, respondents.

Ronolfo S. Pasamba for petitioner.

BELLOSILLO, JR., J.:

PETITIONER assails in this petition (for declaratory relief, certiorari and prohibition) the following
resolutions of the Commission on Elections: Resolution No. 2327 dated 26 December 1991 for being
unconstitutional, and Resolution No. 92-0829 dated 6 April 1992 and Resolution No. 92-0999 dated
23 April 1992, for want of legal and factual bases.

The factual backdrop: In preparation for the synchronized national and local elections scheduled on
11 May 1992, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) issued on 11 December 1991 Resolution
No. 2323 otherwise referred to as the "Gun Ban," promulgating rules and regulations on bearing,
carrying and transporting of firearms or other deadly weapons, on security personnel or bodyguards,
on bearing arms by members of security agencies or police organizations, and organization or
maintenance of reaction forces during the election period.1 Subsequently, on 26 December 1991
COMELEC issued Resolution No. 2327 providing for the summary disqualification of candidates
engaged in gunrunning, using and transporting of firearms, organizing special strike forces, and
establishing spot checkpoints.2

On 10 January 1992, pursuant to the "Gun Ban," Mr. Serapio P. Taccad, Sergeant-at-Arms, House
of Representatives, wrote petitioner who was then Congressman of the 1st District of Bulacan
requesting the return of the two (2) firearms3 issued to him by the House of Representatives. Upon
being advised of the request on 13 January 1992 by his staff, petitioner immediately instructed his
driver, Ernesto Arellano, to pick up the firearms from petitioner's house at Valle Verde and return
them to Congress.

Meanwhile, at about five o'clock in the afternoon of the same day, the Philippine National Police
(PNP) headed by Senior Superintendent Danilo Cordero set up a checkpoint outside the Batasan
Complex some twenty (20) meters away from its entrance. About thirty minutes later, the policemen
manning the outpost flagged down the car driven by Arellano as it approached the checkpoint. They
searched the car and found the firearms neatly packed in their gun cases and placed in a bag in the
trunk of the car. Arellano was then apprehended and detained. He explained that he was ordered by
petitioner to get the firearms from the house and return them to Sergeant-at-Arms Taccad of the
House of Representatives.

Thereafter, the police referred Arellano's case to the Office of the City Prosecutor for inquest. The
referral did not include petitioner as among those charged with an election offense. On 15 January
1992, the City Prosecutor ordered the release of Arellano after finding the latter's sworn explanation
meritorious.4

On 28 January 1992, the City Prosecutor invited petitioner to shed light on the circumstances
mentioned in Arellano's sworn explanation. Petitioner not only appeared at the preliminary
investigation to confirm Arellano's statement but also wrote the City Prosecutor urging him to
exonerate Arellano. He explained that Arellano did not violate the firearms ban as he in fact was
complying with it when apprehended by returning the firearms to Congress; and, that he was
petitioner's driver, not a security officer nor a bodyguard.5

On 6 March 1992, the Office of the City Prosecutor issued a resolution which, among other matters,
recommended that the case against Arellano be dismissed and that the "unofficial" charge against
petitioner be also dismissed.6

Nevertheless, on 6 April 1992, upon recommendation of its Law Department, COMELEC issued
Resolution No. 92-0829 directing the filing of information against petitioner and Arellano for violation
of Sec. 261, par. (q), of B.P. Blg. 881 otherwise known as the Omnibus Election Code, in relation to
Sec. 32 of R.A. No. 7166;7 and petitioner to show cause why he should not be disqualified from
running for an elective position, pursuant to COMELEC Resolution No. 2327, in relation to Sec. 32,
33 and 35 of R.A. 7166, and
Sec. 52, par. (c), of B.P. Blg. 881.8

On 13 April 1992, petitioner moved for reconsideration and to hold in abeyance the administrative
proceedings as well as the filing of the information in court.9 On 23 April 1992, the COMELEC denied
petitioner's motion for reconsideration.10 Hence, this recourse.

Petitioner questions the constitutionality of Resolution No. 2327. He argues that the rules and
regulations of an administrative body must respect the limits defined by law; that the Omnibus
Election Code provides for the disqualification of any person/candidate from running for or holding a
public office, i.e., any person who has either been declared by competent authority as insane or
incompetent or has been sentenced by final judgment for subversion, insurrection, rebellion or for
any offense for which he has been sentenced to a penalty of more than eighteen months or for a
crime involving moral turpitude; that gunrunning, using or transporting firearms or similar weapons
and other acts mentioned in the resolution are not within the letter or spirit of the provisions of the
Code; that the resolution did away with the requirement of final conviction before the commission of
certain offenses; that instead, it created a presumption of guilt as a candidate may be disqualified
from office in situations (a) where the criminal charge is still pending, (b) where there is no pending
criminal case, and (c) where the accused has already been acquitted, all contrary to the requisite
quantum of proof for one to be disqualified from running or holding public office under the Omnibus
Election Code, i.e., proof beyond reasonable doubt. As a result, petitioner concludes, Resolution No.
2327 violates the fundamental law thus rendering it fatally defective.

But, the issue on the disqualification of petitioner from running in the


11 May 1992 synchronized elections was rendered moot when he lost his bid for a seat in Congress
in the elections that ensued. Consequently, it is now futile to discuss the implications of the charge
against him on his qualification to run for public office.

However, there still remains an important question to be resolved, i.e., whether he can be validly
prosecuted for instructing his driver to return to the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of
Representatives the two firearms issued to him on the basis of the evidence gathered from the
warrantless search of his car.

Petitioner strongly protests against the manner by which the PNP conducted the search. According
to him, without a warrant and without informing the driver of his fundamental rights the policemen
searched his car. The firearms were not tucked in the waist nor within the immediate reach of
Arellano but were neatly packed in their gun cases and wrapped in a bag kept in the trunk of the car.
Thus, the search of his car that yielded the evidence for the prosecution was clearly violative of
Secs. 2 and 3, par. (2), Art. III, of the Constitution. 11
Petitioner further maintains that he was neither impleaded as party respondent in the preliminary
investigation before the Office of the City Prosecutor nor included in the charge sheet.
Consequently, making him a respondent in the criminal information would violate his constitutional
right to due process.

Petitioner disputes the charge that he violated Sec. 33 of R.A. 7166, which prohibits any candidate
for public office during the election period from employing or availing himself or engaging the
services of security personnel or bodyguards since, admittedly, Arellano was not a security officer or
bodyguard but a civilian employee assigned to him as driver by the House of Representatives.
Specifically, petitioner further argues, Arellano was instructed to return to Congress, as he did, the
firearms in compliance with the directive of its Sergeant-at-Arms pursuant to the "Gun Ban," thus, no
law was in fact violated. 12

On 25 June 1992, we required COMELEC to file its own comment on the


petition13 upon manifestation of the Solicitor General that it could not take the position of COMELEC
and prayed instead to be excused from filing the required comment. 14

COMELEC claims that petitioner is charged with violation of Sec. 261, par. (q), in relation to Sec.
263, of B.P. Blg. 881 which provides that "the principals, accomplices and accessories, as defined in
the Revised Penal Code, shall be criminally liable for election offenses." It points out that it was upon
petitioner's instruction that Arellano brought the firearms in question outside petitioner's residence,
submitting that his right to be heard was not violated as he was invited by the City Prosecutor to
explain the circumstances regarding Arellano's possession of the firearms. Petitioner also filed a
sworn written explanation about the incident. Finally, COMELEC claims that violation of
the "Gun Ban" is mala prohibita, hence, the intention of the offender is immaterial. 15

Be that as it may, we find no need to delve into the alleged constitutional infirmity of Resolution No.
2327 since this petition may be resolved without passing upon this particular issue. 16

As a rule, a valid search must be authorized by a search warrant duly issued by an appropriate
authority. However, this is not absolute. Aside from a search incident to a lawful arrest, a warrantless
search had been upheld in cases of moving vehicles and the seizure of evidence in plain view,17 as
well as the search conducted at police or military checkpoints which we declared are not illegal per
se, and stressed that the warrantless search is not violative of the Constitution for as long as the
vehicle is neither searched nor its occupants subjected to a body search, and the inspection of the
vehicle is merely limited to a visual search. 18

Petitioner contends that the guns were not tucked in Arellano's waist nor placed within his reach, and
that they were neatly packed in gun cases and placed inside a bag at the back of the car.
Significantly, COMELEC did not rebut this claim. The records do not show that the manner by which
the package was bundled led the PNP to suspect that it contained firearms. There was no mention
either of any report regarding any nervous, suspicious or unnatural reaction from Arellano when the
car was stopped and searched. Given these circumstances and relying on its visual observation, the
PNP could not thoroughly search the car lawfully as well as the package without violating the
constitutional injunction.

An extensive search without warrant could only be resorted to if the officers conducting the search
had reasonable or probable cause to believe before the search that either the motorist was a law
offender or that they would find the instrumentality or evidence pertaining to the commission of a
crime in the vehicle to be searched.19 The existence of probable cause justifying the warrantless
search is determined by the facts of each case.20 Thus, we upheld the validity of the warrantless
search in situations where the smell of marijuana emanated from a plastic bag owned by the
accused, or where the accused was acting suspiciously, and attempted to flee. 21

We also recognize the stop-and-search without warrant conducted by police officers on the basis of
prior confidential information which were reasonably corroborated by other attendant matters, e.g.,
where a confidential report that a sizeable volume of marijuana would be transported along the route
where the search was conducted and appellants were caught in flagrante delicto transporting drugs
at the time of their arrest; 22 where apart from the intelligence information, there were reports by an
undercover "deep penetration" agent that appellants were bringing prohibited drugs into the
country; 23 where the information that a Caucasian coming from Sagada bringing prohibited drugs
was strengthened by the conspicuous bulge in accused's waistline, and his suspicious failure to
produce his passport and other identification papers;24 where the physical appearance of the
accused fitted the description given in the confidential information about a woman transporting
marijuana;25 where the accused carrying a bulging black leather bag were suspiciously quiet and
nervous when queried about its contents;26 or where the identity of the drug courier was already
established by police authorities who received confidential information about the probable arrival of
accused on board one of the vessels arriving in Dumaguete City. 27

In the case at bench, we find that the checkpoint was set up twenty (20) meters from the entrance to
the Batasan Complex to enforce Resolution
No. 2327. There was no evidence to show that the policemen were impelled to do so because of a
confidential report leading them to reasonably believe that certain motorists matching the description
furnished by their informant were engaged in gunrunning, transporting firearms or in organizing
special strike forces. Nor, as adverted to earlier, was there any indication from the package or
behavior of Arellano that could have triggered the suspicion of the policemen. Absent such justifying
circumstances specifically pointing to the culpability of petitioner and Arellano, the search could not
be valid. The action then of the policemen unreasonably intruded into petitioner's privacy and the
security of his property, in violation of Sec. 2, Art. III, of the Constitution. Consequently, the firearms
obtained in violation of petitioner's right against warrantless search cannot be admitted for any
purpose in any proceeding.

It may be argued that the seeming acquiescence of Arellano to the search constitutes an implied
waiver of petitioner's right to question the reasonableness of the search of the vehicle and the
seizure of the firearms.

While Resolution No. 2327 authorized the setting up of checkpoints, it however stressed that
"guidelines shall be made to ensure that no infringement of civil and political rights results from the
implementation of this authority," and that "the places and manner of setting up of checkpoints shall
be determined in consultation with the Committee on Firearms Ban and Security Personnel created
under Sec. 5, Resolution No. 2323."28 The facts show that PNP installed the checkpoint at about five
o'clock in the afternoon of 13 January 1992. The search was made soon thereafter, or thirty minutes
later. It was not shown that news of impending checkpoints without necessarily giving their locations,
and the reason for the same have been announced in the media to forewarn the citizens. Nor did the
informal checkpoint that afternoon carry signs informing the public of the purpose of its operation. As
a result, motorists passing that place did not have any inkling whatsoever about the reason behind
the instant exercise. With the authorities in control to stop and search passing vehicles, the motorists
did not have any choice but to submit to the PNP's scrutiny. Otherwise, any attempt to turnabout
albeit innocent would raise suspicion and provide probable cause for the police to arrest the motorist
and to conduct an extensive search of his vehicle.

In the case of petitioner, only his driver was at the car at that time it was stopped for inspection. As
conceded by COMELEC, driver Arellano did not know the purpose of the checkpoint. In the face of
fourteen (14) armed policemen conducting the operation,29 driver Arellano being alone and a mere
employee of petitioner could not have marshalled the strength and the courage to protest against the
extensive search conducted in the vehicle. In such scenario, the "implied acquiescence," if there was
any, could not be more than a mere passive conformity on Arellano's part to the search, and
"consent" given under intimidating or coercive circumstances is no consent within the purview of the
constitutional guaranty.

Moreover, the manner by which COMELEC proceeded against petitioner runs counter to the due
process clause of the Constitution. The facts show that petitioner was not among those charged by
the PNP with violation of the Omnibus Election Code. Nor was he subjected by the City Prosecutor
to a preliminary investigation for such offense. The non-disclosure by the City Prosecutor to the
petitioner that he was a respondent in the preliminary investigation is violative of due process which
requires that the procedure established by law should be obeyed. 30

COMELEC argues that petitioner was given the change to be heard because he was invited to
enlighten the City Prosecutor regarding the circumstances leading to the arrest of his driver, and that
petitioner in fact submitted a sworn letter of explanation regarding the incident. This does not satisfy
the requirement of due process the essence of which is the reasonable opportunity to be heard and
to submit any evidence one may have in support of his defense.31 Due process guarantees the
observance of both substantive and procedural rights, whatever the source of such rights, be it the
Constitution itself or only a statute or a rule of court. 32 In Go v. Court of Appeals,33 we held
that —

While the right to preliminary investigation is statutory rather than constitutional in its
fundament, since it has in fact been established by statute, it is a component part of
due process in criminal justice. The right to have a preliminary investigation
conducted before being bound over to trial for a criminal offense and hence formally
at risk of incarceration or some other penalty is not a mere formal or technical right; it
is a substantive right . . . . [T]he right to an opportunity to avoid a process painful to
anyone save, perhaps, to hardened criminals is a valuable right. To deny petitioner's
claim to a preliminary investigation would be to deprive him of the full measure of his
right to due process.

Apparently, petitioner was merely invited during the preliminary investigation of Arellano to
corroborate the latter's explanation. Petitioner then was made to believe that he was not a party
respondent in the case, so that his written explanation on the incident was only intended to
exculpate Arellano, not petitioner himself. Hence, it cannot be seriously contended that petitioner
was fully given the opportunity to meet the accusation against him as he was not apprised that he
was himself a respondent when he appeared before the City Prosecutor.

Finally, it must be pointed out too that petitioner's filing of a motion for reconsideration with
COMELEC cannot be considered as a waiver of his claim to a separate preliminary investigation for
himself. The motion itself expresses petitioner's vigorous insistence on his right. Petitioner's
protestation started as soon as he learned of his inclusion in the charge, and did not ease up even
after COMELEC's denial of his motion for reconsideration. This is understandably so since the
prohibition against carrying firearms bears the penalty of imprisonment of not less than one (1) year
nor more than six (6) years without probation and with disqualification from holding public office, and
deprivation of the right to suffrage. Against such strong stance, petitioner clearly did not waive his
right to a preliminary investigation.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The warrantless search conducted by the
Philippine National Police on 13 January 1992 is declared illegal and the firearms seized during the
warrantless search cannot be used as evidence in any proceeding against petitioner. Consequently,
COMELEC Resolution No. 92-0829 dated 6 April 1992 being violative of the Constitution is SET
ASIDE.

The temporary restraining order we issued on 5 May 1992 is made permanent.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 141137 January 20, 2004

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee,


vs.
VICTOR DIAZ VINECARIO; ARNOLD ROBLE and GERLYN WATES, Appellants.

DECISION

CARPIO-MORALES, J.:

From the Decision of July 20, 1999, as amended by Order of September 9, 1999, of the Regional
Trial Court of Davao City, Branch 16, finding appellants Victor Vinecario, Arnold Roble and Gerlyn
Wates guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Article IV of Republic Act No. 6425 (Dangerous
Drugs Act of 1972, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659), and imposing upon them the penalty
of reclusion perpetua, they lodged the present appeal.

The Information dated April 25, 1995, filed against appellants reads as follows:

The undersigned accuses the above-named accused for VIOLATION OF SECTION 4, ARTICLE II
IN RELATION TO SECTION 21, ARTICLE IV OF R.A. 6425, committed as follows:

That on or about April 10, 1995 in the City of Davao, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-mentioned accused, conspiring, confederating and helping one another,
without being authorized by law, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously transported, delivered and
possessed 1.7 kilos dried marijuana leaves which are prohibited drugs.

CONTRARY TO LAW.1

Upon arraignment on September 11, 1995, appellants, duly assisted by counsel, pleaded not guilty
to the offense charged.

The facts as established by the prosecution are as follows:

On the night of April 10, 1995, at around 10:45 p.m., as about fifteen police officers were manning a
checkpoint at Ulas, Davao City pursuant to COMELEC Resolution No. 2735, otherwise known as the
COMELEC gun ban, a Honda TMX motorcycle with three men on board sped past them.2 One of the
police officers blew his whistle3 and ordered them to return to the checkpoint.
Obliging, the three men aboard the motorcycle returned to the checkpoint. SPO1 Haydenburge Goc-
ong (SPO1 Goc-ong) of the 11th Regional Mobile Force 4th Company thereupon asked them why
they sped away to which appellant Victor Vinecario (Vinecario), who was seated behind appellant
Arnold Roble (Roble) and in front of appellant Gerlyn Wates (Wates) on the motorcycle, retorted that
he is a member of the army.4 When asked by the law enforcers to produce an identification card, he
could not, however, offer any. At this point, the police officers noticed that a big military backpack
was slung over the right shoulder of Vinecario who was observed, as were his co-appellants, to be
afraid and acting suspiciously.5 SPO1 Goc-ong thus asked Vinecario what the contents of the
backpack were. Vinecario answered that it merely contained a mat and proceeded to pass it to
Wates, who in turn passed it to Roble who, however, returned it to Vinecario.6

Suspecting that the backpack contained a bomb, SPO1 Goc-ong instructed his men to disperse,
following which he ordered Vinecario to open the bag. Vinecario did as ordered and as SPO1 Goc-
ong noticed something wrapped in paper, he told Vinecario to take the same out. Again Vinecario
obliged, albeit reiterating that it was only a mat.

SPO1 Goc-ong then touched the stuff wrapped in paper upon which Vinecario grabbed it,7 resulting
to the tearing off of the paper wrapper. Soon the smell of marijuana wafted in the air.

Vinecario thereafter told SPO1 Goc-ong "let us talk about this,"8 but the latter ignored Vinecario and
instead called his Commanding Officer and reported to him that marijuana was found in Vinecario’s
possession.

On orders of the Commanding Officer, the other police officers brought appellants along with two
bundles of marijuana, the backpack and the motorcycle to the battalion office at Camp Catitipan in
Davao City and were turned over to one PO2 Cabalon, an investigator of Regional Mobile Force 11.
Before proceeding to said battalion office, however, the incident was blottered9 by PO3 Edward
Morado at the Buhangin Police Station.10

On April 11, 1995, SPO1 Goc-ong, PO1 Vicente Carvajal (PO1 Carvajal) and PO1 Pual Padasay
brought the confiscated suspected marijuana to the camp’s crime laboratory for examination11 which
determined it to weigh 1,700 grams12 and to be indeed positive therefor.13

As for appellants, their version of the incident follows:

Vinecario, then a member of the 25th Infantry Battalion of the 6th Infantry Division of the Philippine
army stationed at Pagakpak, Pantukan,14 approached motorcycle driver Wates at a terminal in Andile,
Mawab and requested him to bring him to his elder brother at Parang, Maguindanao for a fee of
P500.00 which he paid.15 The two thus proceeded to Carmen, Panabo where they picked up Roble to
alternate with Wates as driver, and at 8:00 a.m., the three left for Parang.16

On reaching Parang at about 1:20 p.m., Vinecario borrowed P3,000.00 from his brother Teofanis to
shoulder the medical expenses of his son. At about 4:30 p.m., after partaking of snacks at Teofanis’
residence, appellants left for Davao City.

Along Parang Highway, Abdul Karim Datolarta, Vinecario’s former co-employee at Emerson
Plywood where he previously worked, blocked the motorcycle.17 Vinecario thus alighted from the
motorcycle and shook hands with Datolarta18 who asked where they were headed for and requested
that he ride with them. Vinecario turned Datolarta down as there was no longer any room in the
motorcycle. Datolarta then asked if he (Vinecario) could take his bag of clothes and bring it to his
cousin, one Merly, in Roxas, Tagum. Without examining its contents, Vinecario acquiesced, took
Datolarta’s bag and left with his co-appellants.19
On reaching Ulas in the evening of the same day, appellants, seeing that there was a
checkpoint,20 sped past it. When they were about 50 to 60 meters away from the checkpoint, they
heard a whistle, prompting Wates to tap Vinecario, telling him that the whistle came from the
checkpoint. Vinecario then told Roble to go back to the checkpoint.

While at the checkpoint, five police officers approached appellants and instructed them to alight from
the motorcycle. One of the officers asked Vinecario who he was, and Vinecario identified himself as
a member of the Philippine National Police.21 The officer asked for identification and when Vinecario
could not produce any, the former got the backpack slung on Vinecario’s shoulder.

The same officer then asked Vinecario if they could open the bag, and as Vinecario acquiesced, two
officers opened the bag upon which they shouted that it contained marijuana. Vinecario then
grabbed the backpack to confirm if there was indeed marijuana. At that instant, the police officers
held his hands and brought him, together with the other appellants, to the Buhangin Police Station,
and later to Camp Catitipan.

At the camp, appellants were investigated by police officials without the assistance of counsel,
following which they were made to sign some documents which they were not allowed to read.22

The trial court, by Decision of July 20, 1999, found appellants guilty as charged. The dispositive
portion of the decision reads, quoted verbatim:

WHEREFORE, finding the evidence of the prosecution, more than sufficient to prove the guilt of all
three accused beyond reasonable doubt of the offense charged, accused PFC Victor Vinecario,
Arnold Roble and Gerlyn Wates, pursuant to Sec. 4, Art. II in relation to Art. IV or (sic) Rep. Act 6425
as amended by Rep. Act 7659, Sec. 20, par. 5 thereof, are jointly sentence (sic) to suffer the
supreme penalty of death by lethal injection, under Rep Act 8177 in the manner and procedure
therein provided, in relation to Sec. 24 of Rep. Act 7659, amending Art. 81 of the Revised Penal
Code.

Finally pursuant to Rep. Act 7659 Sec. 22 the Branch Clerk of Court of RTC 16 Davao City, is
ordered to elevate the entire records of this case with the Clerk of Court, Supreme Court Manila, for
the automatic review of this Decision, after its promulgation.

SO ORDERED.23 (Underscoring supplied)

By Order of September 9, 1999, the trial court set aside its decision of July 20, 1999 and disposed
as follows, quoted verbatim:

Accordingly, all accused (sic) motion for reconsideration on this aspect, on the imposition of the
penalty against all accused, even if invoked only be accused Venecaio (sic) through his counsel de
officio, will apply to all accused since there exists conspiracy of all in the commission of the offense
charged.

Judgment of this court, dated July 20, 1999, is accordingly set aside and reconsidered, only insofar
as the imposition of the supreme penalty of death through lethal injection under Republic Act No.
8177, is concerned.

All accused PFC Victor Venecario, Arnold Roble and Gerlyn Wates, are instead sentence (sic) to
suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, pursuant to Art. IV, Sec. 21, in relation to Art. IV of
Republic Act No. 6425 as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, Sec. 20, par. 5 thereof, in accordance
with Art. 63 of the Revised Penal Code, as decided by the Supreme Court in the recent case of
Peope (sic) vs. Ruben Montilla G.R. No. 123872 dated January 30, 1998.

However, the findings of this court for the conviction of all aaccused (sic) of the offense charged, is
(sic) sustained. The corresponding motion (sic) for reconsideration of all accused through their
counsel for their acquittal of (sic) the offense charged, is denied, for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.24 (Emphasis and Underscoring supplied)

The prosecution then filed a Motion for Reconsideration25 dated September 14, 1995 of the above-
mentioned Order of the trial court, it arguing that the commission of the offense charged against
appellants was attended by an aggravating circumstance in that it was committed by an organized or
syndicated crime group, thus warranting the imposition of the death penalty.

In the meantime, Roble and Wates filed their Notice of Appeal26 on September 15, 1999. Vinecario
followed suit and filed his Notice of Appeal.27

The trial court, by Order dated September 22, 1999, denied the prosecution’s Motion.

In their brief, Roble and Wates assign the following errors:

1. THE TRIAL COURT’S OBSERVATION THAT APPELLANTS WATES AND ROBLE


CONSPIRED WITH VICTOR VINECARIO IN TRANSPORTING MARIJUANA FROM
PARANG, MAGUINDANAO IS NOT BORNE BY THE EVIDNECE (sic) ON RECORD AND
SHOWS THAT THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN MISAPPREHENDING FACTS IF
NOT A COMPLETE DISREGARD OF THE EVIDENCE, BOTH DOCUMENTARY AND
TESTIMONIAL.

2. THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FAILING TO AFFORD EVIDENTIARY


WEIGHT TO THE RECANTATION MADE BY POLICE OFFICERS HAYDENBURG GOC-
ONG AND VICENTE CARVAJAL THAT BOTH APPELLANTS WATES AND ROBLE WERE
NOT NERVOUS AND APPREHENSIVE AT THE TME (sic) OF THE OPENING OF THE
MILITARY PACK CONTAINING MARIJUANA NEAR THE CHECKPOINT.

3. THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT GIVING CREDENCE TO THE


TESTIMONIES OF APPELLANTS WATES AND ROBLE THAT THEY WERE MERELY
HIRED BY VICTOR VINECARIO TO BRING HIM TO PARANG, MAGUINDANAO FOR A
FEE OF P500.00 WITH FREE FOOD AND GASOLINE.

4. THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN DECLARING THE RENTAL OF P500.00


WHICH VINECARIO PAID TO THE OWNER OF THE [MOTORCYCLE] AS INADEQUATE
BY TAKING JUDICIAL NOTICE OF THE BUS FARE OF P268.00 FROM MACO, DAVAO
PROVINCE TO SUN WAY CROSSING, MAGUINDANAO DOWN TO PARANG,
MAGUINDANAO.28

Wates and Roble argue that there is no iota of evidence to prove that they acted with unity of
purpose and in the execution of any unlawful objective with Vinecario.29 They assert that they had no
prior knowledge of Vinecario’s plan to meet with a man who would give the backpack containing
marijuana; that prosecution witnesses SPO1 Goc-ong and PO1 Carvajal’s declaration that they
(appellants Wates and Roble) were not nervous, uneasy or apprehensive when the backpack was
opened buttresses their claim that they did not conspire with Vinecario; and that the prosecution’s
theory of conspiracy was merely based on the testimony of PO1 Carvajal that they acted nervously
when the backpack was ordered opened for inspection; that there was a "great variance" in the
testimonies of SPO1 Goc-ong and PO1 Carvajal in the direct examination and their testimonies on
rebuttal as to the events that transpired on April 10, 1995, thus casting serious doubts on the trial
court’s findings of guilt.

On September 17, 2001, Vinecario filed an Urgent Motion to Withdraw Appeal,30 stating that he is
"practically satisfied with the decision of the trial court"; that "he would not waste anymore the effort
of the honorable Supreme Court Justices in further reviewing his case"; and that as he was "driven
by the sincerest desire in renewing his life," he "irrevocably moves for the withdrawal of his appeal."
On even date, Roble and Wates likewise filed an Urgent Motion to Withdraw Appeal,31 stating that
they admit the commission of the offense for which they were convicted; that they are satisfied with
the decision of the trial court; and that they are already serving the penalty for their offense and
"realize the overt admittance of guilt as the only vehicle in [their] gradual renewal."

By Resolution of November 27, 2001, this Court denied the Motions of appellants and directed
Vinecario to file his brief within forty-five days from notice of the resolution.

In a brief dated January 25, 2002, Vinecario attributes the following errors to the trial court:

I. THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE SEARCH UPON THE
PERSON OF ACCUSED-APPELLANT AND THE SEIZURE OF THE ALLEGED 1,700
GRAMS OF MARIJUANA AS (sic) VALID.

II. THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN ADMITTING AS EVIDENCE AGAINST


ACCUSED-APPELLANT THE ALLEGED 1,700 GRAMS OF MARIJUANA AS IT WAS A
PRODUCT OF AN ILLEGAL SEARCH.

III. THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN GIVING WEIGHT AND CREDENCE TO THE
TESTIMONY OF PROSECUTION WITNESSES AND IN GIVING THE POLICEMEN THE
PRESUMPTION OF REGULARITY IN THE PERFORMANCE OF DUTY DESPITE THE
APPARENT IRREGULARITIES IN THE MANNER OF ARRESTING THE ACCUSED-
APPELLANT.

IV. THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE GUILT OF THE
ACCUSED-APPELLANT FOR THE CRIME CHARGED HAS BEEN PROVEN BEYOND
REASONABLE DOUBT.32

Vinecario argues that the prosecution failed to show that the search conducted by the police
officers was incident to a lawful arrest; that he could not have been deemed to have
consented to the search as any such consent was given under intimidating or coercive
circumstances; and that there existed no probable cause to justify the search and seizure of
the backpack, hence, the marijuana is inadmissible in evidence, it being a product of illegal
search.

Vinecario adds that the police officers who arrested and investigated him failed to inform him of his
rights to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel of his choice, thereby
violating Section 12(1), Article III of the Constitution.33

The rule is constitutionally enshrined that no search and seizure can lawfully be conducted without a
valid warrant issued by a competent judicial authority. Section 2, Article III of the Constitution so
ordains:
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.

And Section 3(2), Article III of the same Constitution mandates that any evidence obtained in
violation of the right of the people under Section 2 shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any
proceeding.

The constitutional proscription against warrantless searches and seizures admits of certain
exceptions, however. Search and/or seizure may be made without a warrant and the evidence
obtained therefrom may be admissible in the following instances: (1) search incident to a lawful
arrest; (2) search of a moving motor vehicle; (3) search in violation of customs laws; (4) seizure of
evidence in plain view; (5) when the accused himself waives his right against unreasonable
searches and seizures; and (6) stop-and-frisk situations.34

Searches conducted in checkpoints are valid for as long as they are warranted by the exigencies of
public order and are conducted in a way least intrusive to motorists.35 For as long as the vehicle is
neither searched nor its occupants subjected to a body search, and the inspection of the vehicle is
limited to a visual search, said routine checks cannot be regarded as violative of an individual’s right
against unreasonable search.36

x x x [Checkpoints are not illegal per se. Thus, under exceptional circumstances, as where the
survival of organized government is on the balance, or where the lives and safety of the people are
in grave peril, checkpoints may be allowed and installed by the government.

xxx

No one can be compelled, under our libertarian system, to share with the present government its
ideological beliefs and practices, or commend its political, social and economic policies or
performance. But, at least, one must concede to it the basic right to defend itself from its enemies
and, while in power, to pursue its program of government intended for public welfare; and in the
pursuit of those objectives, the government has the equal right, under its police power, to select the
reasonable means and methods for best achieving them. The checkpoint is evidently one of such
means it has selected.

Admittedly, the routine checkpoint stop does intrude, to a certain extent, on motorists’ right to "free
passage without interruption", but it cannot be denied that, as a rule, it involves only a brief detention
of travelers during which the vehicle’s occupants are required to answer a brief question or two. x x x

These routine checks, when conducted in a fixed area, are even less intrusive. As held by the U.S.
Supreme Court:

"Routine checkpoint stops do not intrude similarly on the motoring public. First, the potential
interference with legitimate traffic is minimal. Motorists using these highways are not taken by
surprise as they know, or may obtain knowledge of, the location of the checkpoints and will not be
stopped elsewhere. Second checkpoint operations both appear to and actually involve less
discretionary enforcement activity. The regularized manner in which established checkpoints are
operated is visible evidence, reassuring to law-abiding motorists, that the stops are duly authorized
and believed to serve the public interest. The location of a fixed checkpoint is not chosen by officers
in the field, but by official responsible for making overall decisions as to the most effective allocation
of limited enforcement resources. We may assume that such officials will be unlikely to locate a
checkpoint where it bears arbitrarily or oppressively on motorists as a class, and since field officers
may stop only those cars passing the checkpoint, there is less room for abusive or harassing stops
of individuals than there was in the case of roving-patrol stops. Moreover, a claim that a particular
exercise of discretion in locating or operating a checkpoint is unreasonable is subject to post-stop
judicial review."37

Judicial notice is taken of the existence of COMELEC Resolution No. 2735 imposing a gun ban
during an election period issued pursuant to Section 52(c) of the Omnibus Election Code (Batas
Pambansa Blg. 881).38 The national and local elections in 1995 having been held on May 8, the
present incident, which occurred on April 10, 1995, was well within the election period.

Although the general rule is that motorists and their vehicles as well as pedestrians passing through
checkpoints may only be subjected to a routine inspection, vehicles may be stopped and extensively
searched when there is probable cause which justifies a reasonable belief of the men at the
checkpoints that either the motorist is a law offender or the contents of the vehicle are or have been
instruments of some offense.39

Probable cause has been defined as such facts and circumstances which could lead a reasonable,
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. The required probable
cause that will justify a warrantless search and seizure is not detemined by any fixed formula but is
resolved according to the facts of each case.

Warrantless search of the personal effects of an accused has been declared by this Court as valid,
because of existence of probable cause, where the smell of marijuana emanated from a plastic bag
owned by the accused, or where the accused was acting suspiciously, and attempted to
flee.40 (Emphasis supplied).

That probable cause existed to justify the search conducted by the police officers at the checkpoint
is gathered from the following testimony of SPO1 Goc-ong:

Q: You said you saw three on board a motorcycle what did your unit do when these three persons
approached?

A: We were waiting for them. When they arrived they stopped and speeded away.

Q: What was your reaction when you saw the motor speeding away?

A: One of my men blew his whistle ordering to (sic) return back (sic).

xxx

Q: When they returned back (sic) what happened?

A: When they returned back (sic) I asked them why they speeded away?

Q: What did they answer?

A: One of them said that he is a member of the army.


Q: If that person who said that he is a member of the army is in court, can you point to him?

A: (Witness went down from the witness stand and pointed to a man wearing yellow t-shirt who
stood up and when asked about his name answered that he is Victor Venecario).

xxx

Q: What was your reaction when Venecario failed to show any identification papers to show that he
is really a member of the army?

A: We saw his big backpack and asked him what was inside.

Q: Who was carrying that big backpack?

A: Venecario.

xxx

Q: You said you asked him what was (sic) the contents of that backpack, can you tell us why did you
(sic) ask him?

A: I asked about that because I observed them to be acting suspiciously as if they were afraid and
different reactions (sic).

Q: They were acting suspiciously?

A: Yes.

Q: That is what you have observed from their faces?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: What did Venecario do when you asked him about the contents of that backpack?

A: He said that it is a mat and passed it on to his companion.

Q: You said he passed it on to his companion, there were two (2) companions, to whom did he pass
it on?

A: He passed it on to Wates and Wates passed it on to Roble.

Q: What did Roble do when Wates passed it to him?

A: Roble returned it back (sic) to Venecario.

Q: So what was your reaction when you saw the three passing the bag from one person to another?

A: My suspicion was it was a bomb and ordered my men to scatter.


Q: Tell us why are you (sic) concerned about explosives was there any incident prior to that
checkpoint?

A: Election was past (sic) approaching and there was a threat that Davao City will be bombed.

Q: Prior to that was there any incident?

xxx

A: In Ipil, Zamboanga on April 4.

Q: If you recall when was that?

A: April 4 of the same year.

Q: You said the bag was passed to Venecario and you told your men to scatter, what happened
next?

A: I ordered Venecario to open the backpack.

Q: What did Venecario do when you ordered him to open?

A: They opened the backpack..41

SPO1 Goc-ong’s testimony was corroborated by PO1 Vicente Carvajal:

Q: At about 10:45 in the evening of that date April 10, 1995 do you recall of any unusual incident
while you were conducting that checkpoint?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: What was that incident all about?

A: At that time, while we were conducting a checkpoint, we saw this motorcycle passing and flagged
them to stop and there were three (3) persons and one was manning and they briefly stopped but
speeded away.

xxx

Q: When these three (3) persons retured (sic) back (sic) what happened?

A: The one riding introduced himself as a member of the army.

xxx

Q: You said these three persons were nervous and one of them introduced himself as an army man,
what did you do?

A: I asked for an ID.


Q: Who among you asked for an ID?

A: Sgt. Goc-ong.

Q: Where were you at that time when Goc-ong asked for his ID?

A: I was behind him because I backed him up.

Q: What was the reaction of Venecario when he was asked to produce an ID?

A: He answered that he has no ID.

Q: What was the reaction of the group when Venecario failed to show any ID that he was an army
man?

A: Our other companion moved closer as security.

Q: Why?

A: We were on alert because on April 4 the one who attacked were (sic) in uniform.

Q: At that time what was Venecario wearing?

A: He was in camouflage and wearing sleepers (sic).

xxx

Q: After that what happened?

A: We were able to observe that he was carrying a bag.

Q: What was the reaction of Venecario when he was asked what was (sic) the contents of the bag?

A: He appeared to be hesitant and he said that it contained clothes.

Q: Before that what did Venecario do?

A: He placed it in (sic) his shoulder.

Q: What did he do with the backpack?

A: When asked he passed it to his other companions.

Q: What did Venecario when he passed it to his companion?

A: Venecario passed it to his companion and that companion passed it to his other companion.

Q: After this companion received the backpack from his companion what did he do?
A: He returned back (sic) to Venecario.

Q: They passed it from one person to another until it was returned to Venecario?

A: Yes, sir.

xxx

Q: You said that backpack was passed from one person to another and when he got hold of that
backpack what happened?

A: He opened the backpack.

Q: Who told him to open the backpack?

A: Sgt. Goc-ong.42

In light then of appellants’ speeding away after noticing the checkpoint and even after having been
flagged down by police officers, their suspicious and nervous gestures when interrogated on the
contents of the backpack which they passed to one another, and the reply of Vinecario, when asked
why he and his co-appellants sped away from the checkpoint, that he was a member of the
Philippine Army, apparently in an attempt to dissuade the policemen from proceeding with their
inspection, there existed probable cause to justify a reasonable belief on the part of the law
enforcers that appellants were offenders of the law or that the contents of the backpack were
instruments of some offense.

As to Vinecario’s allegation that his constitutional rights were violated during the custodial
investigation conducted by the police officers, the same is relevant and material only when an
extrajudicial admission or confession extracted from an accused becomes the basis of his
conviction.43 In the case at bar, the trial court convicted appellants on the basis of the testimonies of
the prosecution witnesses, particularly those of SPO1 Haydenburge Goc-ong and PO1 Vicente
Carvajal.

Finally, Vinecario harps on his defense of denial which he recounted as follows:

Q: After leaving the residence of your brother was there any unusual incident that took place?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: What was that?

A: The moment we arrived there there was a person who blocked us.

Q: Where?

A: Parang Highway.

Q: Coming here to Davao?

A: Yes.
Q: What happened after Crossing Parang?

A: There was a person who blocked us.

Q: A former companion of yours?

A: Yes.

Q: A former soldier?

A: No, sir.

Q: You said your former companion, am I correct?

A: Before I became a soldier, I worked in Emerson Plywood.

Q: So that person who flagged down you were (sic) your former companion?

A: Yes.

Q: You are familiar with him?

A: I know him very well.

Q: He was your close friend?

A: Yes.

Q: What is the name of that person who stopped you?

A: Abdul Karim Datolarta.

Q: He was alone when he stopped you?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: What happened when your friend Abdul Karin (sic) Datolarta stopped you?

A: When he stopped us, I immediately disembarked from the motor vehicle and shook hands with
him.

Q: He was the one who stopped you or you were the one who told the driver to stop?

A: My friend.

Q: You immediately recognized the face of that friend of yours?

A: Not yet.
Q: What else happened aside from shaking hands and greeting?

A: He asked me where I was heading.

Q: What was your answer?

A: I told him that I am going back to Davao.

Q: What else did he tell you?

A: He told me if he can also ride with us.

Q: What did you tell him?

A: I told him we were already three.

Q: What happened next?

A: Since I refused he asked me if I could bring his bag and he mentioned the name of that cousin of
his in Tagum.

Q: He mentioned the name?

A: Yes, Merly.

Q: What is the family name?

A: He just mentioned Merly who is residing in Tagum.

Q: Where in Tagum?

A: Roxas, Tagum.

Q: What did you do when he asked you to bring that bag to his cousin in Tagum?

A: I asked him what was (sic) the contents?

Q: What did he answer you?

A: He answered clothes.

Q: What did you do?

A: Because were (sic) were in a hurry I slung it in (sic) my shoulder.

Q: You did not become suspicious?

A: No more because I trusted the person and I have an emergency to take (sic) that time.44
Vinecario’s account - that in the evening of April 10, 1995, while he and his co-appellants were
cruising along the highway, a person whom he failed to recognize but who turned out to be an
acquaintance, Abdul Karim Datolarta, flagged down45 the motorcycle, and as requested by Datolarta,
he readily agreed to bring a backpack to Datolarta’s cousin without checking its contents - is
incredible, contrary to human experience, and taxes credulity. Datolarta was not even apprehended
nor presented at the trial, thus further eliciting serious doubts on Vinecario’s tale.

The defense of denial, like alibi, has invariably been viewed by the courts with disfavor for it can just
as easily be concocted and is a common and standard defense ploy in most prosecutions of the
Dangerous Drugs Act.46

The categorical and consistent testimonies, and the positive identification by prosecution witnesses
SPO1 Goc-ong and PO1 Carvajal, against whom no ill motive to falsely charge appellants was
shown, must thus then prevail over the unconvincing alibi and unsubstantiated denial of appellants.

As for the challenged finding by the trial court of conspiracy among appellants, the same fails.

Conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a
crime and decide to commit it.47 Where the acts of the accused collectively and individually
demonstrate the existence of a common design towards the accomplishment of the same unlawful
purpose, conspiracy is evident, and all the perpetrators will be liable as principals.48 To exempt
himself from criminal liability, the conspirator must have performed an overt act to dissociate or
detach himself from the unlawful plan to commit the crime.49

In People v. Concepcion,50 this Court held:

x x x Proof of agreement need not rest on direct evidence as the same may be inferred from the
conduct of the parties indicating a common understanding among them with respect to the
commission of the offense. It is not necessary to show that two or more persons met together and
entered into an explicit agreement setting out the details of an unlawful scheme or the details by
which an illegal objective is to be carried out. It may be deduced from the mode and manner in which
the offense was perpetrated or inferred from the acts of the accused evincing a joint or common
purpose and design, concerted action and community of interest.

In the case at bar, as established by the evidence, appellants connived in unlawfully transporting the
subject marijuana. Roble, who was driving the motorcycle at Ulas, did not stop but instead sped
away upon seeing the checkpoint in a clear attempt to avoid inspection by the police officers. When
asked as to the contents of the backpack by SPO1 Goc-ong, appellants passed the same to one
another, indicating that they knew its contents. These circumstances manifest appellants’ concerted
efforts and cooperation towards the attainment of their criminal objective.

Wates and Roble assail the credibility of prosecution witnesses SPO1 Goc-ong and PO1 Carvajal,
they contending that these witnesses contradicted their testimonies-in-chief when they subsequently
testified on rebuttal that appellants were not nervous or apprehensive at all when they were being
inspected by the policemen.

It bears noting, however, that the alleged conflicting observations of SPO1 Goc-ong and PO1
Carvajal referred to by Roble and Wates on their deportment pertain to different stages of the
checkpoint inspection as a scrutiny of the records reveals. Thus, in his direct examination, SPO1
Goc-ong testified as follows:
Q: You said you asked him what was (sic) the contents of that backpack, can you tell us why did you
(sic) ask him?

A: I asked about that because I observed them to be acting suspiciously as if they were afraid and
different reactions (sic).

Q: They were acting suspiciously?

A: Yes.

Q: That is what you observed in their faces?

A: Yes, sir.51

PO1 Carvajal, on cross-examination, echoed Goc-ong’s observations on appellants’


deportment upon returning to the checkpoint:

Q: You said when these three (3) suspects riding the motorcycle returned and stopped you said you
noticed one of them was nervous, did I get you right?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Only one was nervous?

A: All of them.

Q: When you said they appeared to be nervous, could that mean that they were trembling?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: In fact they were pale, is that correct?

A: Yes.

Q: You noticed they were pale despite the fact that it was dark and it was 10:00 o’clock in the
evening?

A: There was light.

Q: The place was well-lighted?

A: Yes, sir.52

On rebuttal, SPO1 Goc-ong stated that appellants were not anxious or apprehensive when he
flagged them down as they crossed the checkpoint.53

PO1 Carvajal, on the other hand, testified on rebuttal that Wates was not nervous as Vinecario’s
backpack was being opened.54
As to the other alleged discrepancies pointed out by Wates and Roble, the following arguments of
the Office of the Solicitor General, which are quoted with approval, should dispose of the same:

It is incorrect to suggest that just because SPO1 Goc-ong testified that other vehicles passed
through the checkpoint before the appellants arrived, the latter could not have sped away from the
checkpoint. SPO1 Goc-ong did not give any testimony that other vehicles were still at the checkpoint
at the time the appellants arrived. On the contrary, he testified there was no other vehicle ahead of
the appellants at the checkpoint when the latter arrived on their motorcycle (TSN, June 17, 1999,
p.7).

It is also incorrect to suggest that appellants may not have noticed the checkpoint just because
SPO1 Goc-ong made no mention of using reflectorized objects at the checkpoint. As described
earlier in his Brief, this witness explained that the checkpoint was visible because it had a sign board
at the middle of the road that read, "COMELEC GUN BAN" (TSN, June 17, 1999, pp. 6 and 8).
There is no way for appellants not to have noticed the checkpoint.55

In fine, appellants’ defenses fail in light of their clearly proven act of delivering or transporting
marijuana.

The evidence shows that accused-appellant was apprehended in the act of delivering or transporting
illegal drugs. "Transport" as used under the Dangerous Drugs Act is defined to mean: "to carry or
convey from one place to another." When accused-appellant used his vehicle to convey the package
containing marijuana to an unknown destination, his act was part of the process of transporting the
said prohibited substance. Inherent in the crime of transporting the prohibited drug is the use of a
motor vehicle. The very act of transporting a prohibited drug, like in the instant case, is a malum
prohibitum since it is punished as an offense under a special law. The mere commission of the act
constitutes the offense and is sufficient to validly charge and convict an individual committing the act,
regardless of criminal intent. Since the appellant was caught transporting marijuana, the crime
being mala prohibita, accused-appellant’s intent, motive, or knowledge, thereof need not be
shown.56 (Underscoring supplied)

A word on the penalty. As provided in Section 4 of the Dangerous Drugs Act, the penalty of reclusion
perpetua to death and a fine ranging from five hundred thousand pesos to ten million pesos shall be
imposed upon any person who, unless authorized by law, shall transport any prohibited drug.
Section 20, Article IV of the same act provides that the penalty imposed in Section 4 shall be applied
if the dangerous drug is, with respect to marijuana, 750 grams or more. In the case at bar, the
marijuana involved weighed 1,700 grams. Since the law prescribes two indivisible penalties, a resort
to Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code57 is necessary. There being no mitigating nor aggravating
circumstance that attended the commission of the offense, the lesser penalty of reclusion
perpetua was properly imposed by the trial court. A fine of P500,000.00 should, however, been
likewise imposed on the appellants in solidum in accordance with the law.

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Davao City, Branch 16, in Criminal Case
No. 35233-95 finding appellants Victor Vinecario, Arnold Roble and Gerlyn Wates guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of illegally transporting marijuana under Section 4, Article II of Republic Act No.
6425, as amended, is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. As modified, appellants are
sentenced to each suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and solidarity pay a fine of P500,000.00.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 81567 July 9, 1990

IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR HABEAS CORPUS OF ROBERTO UMIL, ROLANDO
DURAL and RENATO VILLANUEVA. MANOLITA O. UMIL, and NICANOR P. DURAL,
FELICITAS V. SESE, petitioners,
vs.
FIDEL V. RAMOS, MAJ. GEN. RENATO DE VILLA, BRIG. GEN. RAMON MONTANO, BRIG.
GEN. ALEXANDER AGUIRRE, respondents.

G.R. Nos. 84581-82 July 9, 1990

AMELIA ROQUE and WILFREDO BUENAOBRA, petitioners,


vs.
GEN. RENATO DE VILLA and GEN. RAMON MONTANO, respondents.

G.R. Nos. 84583-84 July 9, 1990

IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR HABEAS CORPUS OF ATTY. DOMINGO T.


ANONUEVO and RAMON CASIPLE. DOMINGO T. ANONUEVO and RAMON
CASIPLE, petitioners,
vs.
HON. FIDEL V. RAMOS, GEN. RENATO S. DE VILLA, COL. EVARISTO CARINO, LT. COL. REX
D. PIAD, T/SGT. CONRADO DE TORRES, S/SGT. ARNOLD DURIAN, and Commanding Officer,
PC-INP Detention Center, Camp Crame, Quezon City, respondents.

G.R. No. 83162 July 9, 1990

IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION FOR HABEAS CORPUS OF VICKY A. OCAYA AND
DANNY RIVERA. VIRGILIO A. OCAYA, petitioner,
vs.
BRIG. GEN. ALEXANDER AGUIRRE, COL. HERCULES CATALUNA, COL. NESTOR
MARIANO, respondents.

G.R. No. 85727 July 9, 1990

IN THE MATTER OF APPLICATION FOR HABEAS CORPUS OF: DEOGRACIAS


ESPIRITU, petitioner,
vs.
BRIG. GEN. ALFREDO S. LIM, COL. RICARDO REYES, respondents.

G.R. No. 86332 July 9, 1990

IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR HABEAS CORPUS OF NARCISO B. NAZARENO.


ALFREDO NAZARENO, petitioner,
vs.
THE STATION COMMANDER OF THE MUNTINGLUPA POLICE STATION, Muntinglupa, Metro
Manila, P/SGT. JACINTO MEDINA, P/SGT. ELADIO TAGLE, P/SGT. LEVI SOLEDAD, and
P/SGT. MAURO AROJADO, respondents.

Efren H. Mercado for petitioners in G.R. No. 81567.

Ricardo C. Valmonte for petitioners in G.R. Nos. 84581-82.

Ramon S. Esguerra, Barbara Anne C. Migallos and Agripino G. Morga for petitioners in G.R. Nos.
84583-84.

Efren H. Mercado for petitioner in G.R. No. 83162.

Banzuela, Flores, Miralles, Raneses, Sy, Taquio & Association for petitioner in G.R. No. 85727.

Josefina G. Campbell-Castillo for petitioners in G.R. No. 86332.

The Solicitor General for the respondents.

PER CURIAM:

The are eight (8) petitioners for habeas corpus filed before the Court, which have been consolidated because of the similarity of issues
raised, praying for the issuance of the writ of habeas corpus, ordering the respective respondents to produce the bodies of the persons
named therein and to explain why they should not be set at liberty without further delay.

In their respective Returns, the respondents uniformly assert that the privilege of the writ of habeas
corpus is not available to the petitioners as they have been legally arrested and are detained by
virtue of valid informations filed in court against them.

The petitioners counter that their detention is unlawful as their arrests were made without
warrant and, that no preliminary investigation was first conducted, so that the informations filed
against them are null and void.

The Court has carefully reviewed the contentions of the parties in their respective pleadings, and it
finds that the persons detained have not been illegally arrested nor arbitrarily deprived of their
constitutional right to liberty, and that the circumstances attending these cases do not warrant their
release on habeas corpus.

The arrest of a person without a warrant of arrest or previous complaint is recognized in law. The
occasions or instances when such an arrest may be effected are clearly spelled out in Section 5,
Rule 113 of the Rules of Court, as amended, which provides:

Sec. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. — A peace officer or 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;

(b) When an offense has in fact just been committed, and he has personal
knowledge of facts indicating 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.

In cases falling under paragraphs (a) and (b) hereof, the person arrested without a
warrant shall be forthwith delivered to the nearest police station or jail, and he shall
be proceeded against in accordance with Rule 112, Section 7.

An arrest without a warrant of arrest, under Section 5 paragraphs (a) and (b) of Rule 113 of the
Rules of Court, as amended, is justified when the person arrested is caught in flagranti delicto, viz.,
in the act of committing an offense; or when an offense has just been committed and the person
making the arrest has personal knowledge of the facts indicating that the person arrested has
committed it. The rationale behind lawful arrests, without warrant, was stated by this Court in the
case of People vs. Kagui Malasugui 1 thus:

To hold that no criminal can, in any case, be arrested and searched for the evidence
and tokens of his crime without a warrant, would be to leave society, to a large
extent, at the mercy of the shrewdest, the most expert, and the most depraved of
criminals, facilitating their escape in many instances.

The record of the instant cases would show that the persons in whose behalf these petitions
for habeas corpus have been filed, had freshly committed or were actually committing an offense,
when apprehended, so that their arrests without a warrant were clearly justified, and that they are,
further, detained by virtue of valid informations filed against them in court.

A brief narration of the facts and events surrounding each of the eight (8) petitions is in order.

In G.R. No. 81567 (Umil vs. Ramos), the record shows that, on 1 February 1988, the Regional
Intelligence Operations Unit of the Capital Command (RIOU-CAPCOM) received confidential
information about a member of the NPA Sparrow Unit (liquidation squad) being treated for a gunshot
wound at the St. Agnes Hospital in Roosevelt Avenue, Quezon City. Upon verification, it was found
that the wounded person, who was listed in the hospital records as Ronnie Javelon, is actually
Rolando Dural, a member of the NPA liquidation squad, responsible for the killing of two (2)
CAPCOM soldiers the day before, or on 31 January 1988, in Macanining Street, Bagong Barrio,
Caloocan City. In view of this verification, Rolando Dural was transferred to the Regional Medical
Services of the CAPCOM, for security reasons. While confined thereat, or on 4 February 1988,
Rolando Dural was positively identified by eyewitnesses as the gunman who went on top of the hood
of the CAPCOM mobile patrol car, and fired at the two (2) CAPCOM soldiers seated inside the car
identified as T/Sgt. Carlos Pabon and CIC Renato Manligot.

As a consequence of this positive identification, Rolando Dural was referred to the Caloocan City
Fiscal who conducted an inquest and thereafter filed with the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City
an information charging Rolando Dural alias Ronnie Javelon with the crime of "Double Murder with
Assault Upon Agents of Persons in Authority." The case was docketed therein as Criminal Case No.
C-30112 and no bail was recommended. On 15 February 1988, the information was amended to
include, as defendant, Bernardo Itucal, Jr. who, at the filing of the original information, was still
unidentified.
Meanwhile, on 6 February 1988, a petition for habeas corpus was filed with this Court on behalf
of Roberto Umil, Rolando Dural, and Renato Villanueva. The Court issued the writ of habeas
corpus on 9 February 1988 and the respondents filed a Return of the Writ on 12 February 1988.
Thereafter, the parties were heard on 15 February 1988.

On 26 February 1988, however, Roberto Umil and Renato Villanueva posted bail before the
Regional Trial Court of Pasay City where charges for violation of the Anti-Subversion Act had been
filed against them, and they were accordingly released. The petition for habeas corpus, insofar as
Umil and Villanueva are concerned, is now moot and academic and is accordingly dismissed, since
the writ of habeas corpus does not lie in favor of an accused in a criminal case who has been
released on bail. 2

As to Rolando Dural, it clearly appears that he was not arrested while in the act of shooting the two
(2) CAPCOM soldiers aforementioned. Nor was he arrested just after the commission of the said
offense for his arrest came a day after the said shooting incident. Seemingly, his arrest without
warrant is unjustified.

However, Rolando Dural was arrested for being a member of the New Peoples Army (NPA), an
outlawed subversive organization. Subversion being a continuing offense, the arrest of Rolando
Dural without warrant is justified as it can be said that he was committing an offense when arrested.
The crimes of rebellion, subversion, conspiracy or proposal to commit such crimes, and crimes or
offenses committed in furtherance thereof or in connection therewith constitute direct assaults
against the State and are in the nature of continuing crimes. As stated by the Court in an earlier
case:

From the facts as above-narrated, the claim of the petitioners that they were initially
arrested illegally is, therefore, without basis in law and in fact. The crimes of
insurrection or rebellion, subversion, conspiracy or proposal to commit such crimes,
and other crimes and offenses committed in the furtherance, on the occasion thereof,
or incident thereto, or in connection therewith under Presidential Proclamation No.
2045, are all in the nature of continuing offenses which set them apart from the
common offenses, aside from their essentially involving a massive conspiracy of
nationwide magnitude. Clearly then, the arrest of the herein detainees was well
within the bounds of the law and existing jurisprudence in our jurisdiction.

2. The arrest of persons involved in the rebellion whether as its fighting armed
elements, or for committing non-violent acts but in furtherance of the rebellion, is
more an act of capturing them in the course of an armed conflict, to quell the
rebellion, than for the purpose of immediately prosecuting them in court for a
statutory offense. The arrest, therefore, need not follow the usual procedure in the
prosecution of offenses which requires the determination by a judge of the existence
of probable cause before the issuance of a judicial warrant of arrest and the granting
of bail if the offense is bailable. Obviously, the absence of a judicial warrant is no
legal impediment to arresting or capturing persons committing overt acts of violence
against government forces, or any other milder acts but equally in pursuance of the
rebellious movement. The arrest or capture is thus impelled by the exigencies of the
situation that involves the very survival of society and its government and duly
constituted authorities. If killing and other acts of violence against the rebels find
justification in the exigencies of armed hostilities which is of the essence of waging a
rebellion or insurrection, most assuredly so in case of invasion, merely seizing their
persons and detaining them while any of these contingencies continues cannot be
less justified. . . . 3
The record, moreover, shows that the criminal case filed against Rolando Dural and Bernardo
Itucal, Jr. for "Double Murder, etc." was tried in the court below and at the conclusion thereof, or on
17 August 1988, Rolando Dural and Bernardo Itucal, Jr. were found guilty of the charge and
sentenced accordingly. Rolando Dural is now serving the sentence imposed upon him by the trial
court. Thus, the writ of habeas corpus is no longer available to him. For, as held in the early case
of U.S. vs. Wilson: 4

In this case, whatever may be said about the manner of his arrest, the fact remains
that the defendant was actually in court in the custody of the law on March 29, when
a complaint sufficient in form and substance was read to him. To this he pleaded not
guilty. The trial followed, in which, and in the judgment of guilty pronounced by the
court, we find no error. Whether, if there were irregularities in bringing him personally
before the court, he could have been released on a writ of habeas corpus or now has
a civil action for damages against the person who arrested him we need not inquire.
It is enough to say that such irregularities are not sufficient to set aside a valid
judgment rendered upon a sufficient complaint and after a trial free from error.

II

In G.R. Nos. 84581-82 (Roque vs. De Villa), the arrest of Amelia Roque and Wilfredo Buenaobra,
without warrant, is also justified. When apprehended at the house of Renato Constantino in Marikina
Heights, Marikina, Metro Manila, Wilfredo Buenaobra admitted that he was an NPA courier and he
had with him letters to Renato Constantino and other members of the rebel group. Amelia Roque,
upon the other hand, was a member of the National United Front Commission, in charge of finance,
and admitted ownership of subversive documents found in the house of her sister in Caloocan City.
She was also in possession of ammunition and a fragmentation grenade for which she had no permit
or authority to possess.

The record of these two (2) cases shows that on 27 June 1988, one Rogelio Ramos y Ibanes, a
member of the NPA, who had surrendered to the military authorities, told military agents about the
operations of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New Peoples Army (NPA) in
Metro Manila. He identified some of his former comrades as "Ka Mong", a staff member of the
Communications and Transportation Bureau; "Ka Nelia", a staff member in charge of finance; "Ka
Miller", an NPA courier from Sorsogon and Lopez, Quezon; "Ka Ted", and "Ka Totoy". He also
pointed to a certain house occupied by Renato Constantino located in the Villaluz Compound,
Molave St., Marikina Heights, Marikina, Metro Manila, which is used as a safehouse of the National
United Front Commission (NUFC) of the CPP-NPA.

In view of these revelations, the Constantino house was placed under military surveillance and on 12
August 1988, pursuant to a search warrant issued by Judge Eutropio Migrino of the Regional Trial
Court of Pasig, a search of the house was conducted at about 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon, by a
combined team of the Criminal Investigation Service, National Capital District (CIS-NCD) and the
Constabulary Security Group (CSG). In the course of the search, the following articles were found
and taken under proper receipt:

a) One (1) Colt M16A1 long rifle with defaced serial number;

b) One (1) Cal. .380 ACT/9mm Model PPK/8 SN: 260577 & 2605778;

c) Two (2) fragmentation hand grenades;

d) Fifty-six (56) live ammunition for Cal. 5.56 mm;


e) Five (5) live ammunition for Cal. .380;

f) One (1) ICOM VHF FM Radio Transciever SN: 14903

g) One (1) Regulated power supply 220V AC;

h) One (1) Antennae (adjustable);

i) One (1) Speaker with cord ALEXAR;

j) Voluminous Subversive documents.

When confronted, Renato Constatino could not produce any permit or authority to possess the
firearms, ammunition, radio and other communications equipment. Hence, he was brought to the
CIS Headquarters for investigation. When questioned, he refused to give a written statement,
although he admitted that he was a staff member of the executive committee of the NUFC and a
ranking member of the International Department of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

At about 8:00 o'clock in the evening of the same day (12 August 1988), Wilfredo Buenaobra arrived
at the house of Renato Constantino in the Villaluz Compound. When accosted, he
readily admitted to the military agents that he is a regular member of the CPP/NPA and that he went
to the place to deliver letters to "Ka Mong", referring to Renato Constatino, and other members of the
rebel group. On further questioning, he also admitted that he is known as "Ka Miller" and that he was
from Barangay San Pedro, Lopez, Quezon. Among the items taken from him were the following:

(1) Handwritten letter addressed to "Ka Bing & Co. from A & Co." dated August 11,
1988;

(2) Handwritten letter addressed to "ROD from VIC (Schell datre)" dated August 11,
1988;

(3) Handwritten letter addressed to "Suzie" from "Vic", dated August 11, 1988.

Also found Buenaobra's possession was a piece of paper containing a written but jumbled telephone
number of Florida M. Roque, sister of Amelia Roque alias "Ka Nelia", at 69 Geronimo St., Caloocan
City. Acting on the lead provided as to the whereabouts of Amelia Roque, the military agents went to
the given address the next day (13 August 1988). They arrived at the place at about 11:00 o'clock in
the morning. After identifying themselves as military agents and after seeking permission to search
the place, which was granted, the military agents conducted a search in the presence of the
occupants of the house and the barangay captain of the place, one Jesus D. Olba.

The military agents found the place to be another safehouse of the NUFC/CPP. They found ledgers,
journals, vouchers, bank deposit books, folders, computer diskettes, and subversive documents as
well as live ammunition for a .38 SPL Winchester, 11 rounds of live ammunition for a cal. .45, 19
rounds of live ammunition for an M16 Rifle, and a fragmentation grenade. As a result, Amelia Roque
and the other occupants of the house were brought to the PC-CIS Headquarters at Camp Crame,
Quezon City, for investigation. Amelia Roque admitted to the investigators that the voluminous
documents belonged to her and that the other occupants of the house had no knowledge of them.
As a result, the said other occupants of the house were released from custody.
On 15 August 1988, Amelia Roque was brought to the Caloocan City Fiscal for inquest after which
an information charging her with violation of PD 1866 was filed with the Regional Trial Court of
Caloocan City. The case is docketed therein as Criminal Case No. C-1196. Another information for
violation of the Anti-Subversion Act was filed against Amelia Roque before the Metropolitan Trial
Court of Caloocan City, which is docketed therein as Criminal Case No. C-150458.

An information for violation of the Anti-Subversion Act was filed against Wilfredo Buenaobra before
the Metropolitan Trial Court of Marikina, Metro Manila. The case is docketed therein as Criminal
Case No. 23715. Bail was set at P4,000.00.

On 24 August 1988, a petition for habeas corpus was filed before this Court on behalf of Amelia
Roque and Wilfredo Buenaobra. At the hearing of the case, however, Wilfredo Buenaobra
manifested his desire to stay in the PC-INP Stockade at Camp Crame, Quezon City. According, the
petition for habeas corpus filed on his behalf is now moot and academic. Only the petition of Amelia
Roque remains for resolution.

The contention of respondents that petitioners Roque and Buenaobra are officers and/or members
of the National United Front Commission (NUFC) of the CPP was not controverted or traversed by
said petitioners. The contention must be deemed admitted. 5 As officers and/or members of the
NUFC-CPP, their arrest, without warrant, was justified for the same reasons earlier stated vis-a-
vis Rolando Dural. The arrest without warrant of Roque was additionally justified as she was, at the
time of apprehension, in possession of ammunitions without license to possess them.

III

In G.R. Nos. 84583-84 (Anonuevo vs. Ramos), the arrest of Domingo Anonuevo and Ramon
Casiple, without warrant, is also justified under the rules. Both are admittedly members of the
standing committee of the NUFC and, when apprehended in the house of Renato Constatino, they
had a bag containing subversive materials, and both carried firearms and ammunition for which they
had no license to possess or carry.

The record of these two (2) cases shows that at about 7:30 o'clock in the evening of 13 August 1988,
Domingo T. Anonuevo and Ramon Casiple arrived at the house of Renato Constatino at Marikina
Heights, Marikina, which was still under surveillance by military agents. The military agents noticed
bulging objects on their waist lines. When frisked, the agents found them to be loaded guns.
Anonuevo and Casiple were asked to show their permit or license to possess or carry firearms and
ammunition, but they could not produce any. Hence, they were brought to PC Headquarters for
investigation. Found in their possession were the following articles:

a) Voluminous subversive documents

b) One (1) Cal. 7.65 MOD 83 2C Pistol SN: 001412 with one (1) magazine for Cal.
7.65 containing ten (10) live ammunition of same caliber;

c) One (1) Cal. 7.65 Pietro Barreta SN; A18868 last digit tampered with one (1)
magazine containing five (5) live ammunition of same caliber.

At the PC Stockade, Domingo Anonuevo was identified as "Ka Ted", and Ramon Casiple as "Ka
Totoy" of the CPP, by their comrades who had previously surrendered to the military.
On 15 August 1988, the record of the investigation and other documentary evidence were forwarded
to the Provincial Fiscal at Pasig, Metro Manila, who conducted an inquest, after which Domingo
Anonuevo and Ramon Casiple were charged with violation of Presidential Decree No. 1866 before
the Regional Trial Court of Pasig, Metro Manila. The cases are docketed therein as Criminal Cases
Nos. 74386 ad 74387, respectively. No bail was recommended.

On 24 August 1988, a petition for habeas corpus was filed with this Court on behalf of Domingo
Anonuevo and Ramon Casiple, alleging that the said Anonuevo and Casiple were unlawfully
arrested without a warrant and that the informations filed against them are null and void for having
been filed without prior hearing and preliminary investigation. On 30 August 1988, the Court issued
the writ of habeas corpus, and after the respondents had filed a Return of the Writ, the parties were
heard.

The petitioners' (Anonuevo and Casiple) claim that they were unlawfully arrested because there was
no previous warrant of arrest, is without merit The record shows that Domingo Anonuevo and
Ramon Casiple were carrying unlicensed firearms and ammunition in their person when they were
apprehended.

There is also no merit in the contention that the informations filed against them are null and void for
want of a preliminary investigation. The filing of an information, without a preliminary investigation
having been first conducted, is sanctioned by the Rules. Sec. 7, Rule 112 of the Rules of Court, as
amended, reads:

Sec. 7. When accused lawfully arrested without a warrant. — When a person is


lawfully arrested without a warrant for an offense cognizable by the Regional Trial
Court the complaint or information may be filed by the offended party, peace officer
or fiscal without a preliminary investigation having been first conducted, on the basis
of the affidavit of the offended party or arresting officer or person.

However, before the filing of such complaint or information, the person arrested may
ask for a preliminary investigation by a proper officer in accordance with this Rule,
but he must sign a waiver of the provisions of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code,
as amended, with the assistance of a lawyer and in case of non-availability of a
lawyer, a responsible person of his choice. Notwithstanding such waiver, he may
apply for bail as provided in the corresponding rule and the investigation must be
terminated within fifteen (15) days from its inception.

If the case has been filed in court without a preliminary investigation having been first
conducted, the accused may within five (5) days from the time he learns of the filing
of the information, ask for a preliminary investigation with the same right to adduced
evidence in his favor in the manner prescribed in this Rule.

The petitioners Domingo Anonuevo and Ramon Casiple, however, refused to sign a waiver of the
provisions of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended. In the informations filed against
them, the prosecutor made identical certifications, as follows:

This is to certify that the accused has been charged in accordance with Sec. 7, Rule
112 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure, that no preliminary investigation was
conducted because the accused has not made and signed a waiver of the provisions
of Art. 125 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended; that based on the evidence
presented, there is reasonable ground to believe that the crime has been committed,
and that the accused is probably guilty thereof.
Nor did petitioners ask for a preliminary investigation after the informations had been filed against
them in court. Petitioners cannot now claim that they have been deprived of their constitutional right
to due process.

IV

In G.R. No. 83162 (Ocaya vs. Aguirre), the arrest without warrant, of Vicky Ocaya is justified under
the Rules, since she had with her unlicensed ammunition when she was arrested. The record of this
case shows that on 12 May 1988, agents of the PC Intelligence and Investigation of the Rizal PC-
INP Command, armed with a search warrant issued by Judge Eutropio Migrino of the Regional Trial
Court of Pasig, Metro Manila, conducted a search of a house located at Block 19, Phase II, Marikina
Green Heights, Marikina, Metro Manila, believed to be occupied by Benito Tiamson, head of the
CPP-NPA. In the course of the search, Vicky Ocaya arrived in a car driven by Danny Rivera.
Subversive documents and several rounds of ammunition for a .45 cal. pistol were found in the car
of Vicky Ocaya. As a result, Vicky Ocaya and Danny Rivera were brought to the PC Headquarters
for investigation. When Vicky Ocaya could not produce any permit or authorization to possess the
ammunition, an information charging her with violation of PD 1866 was filed with the Regional Trial
Court of Pasig, Metro Manila. The case is docketed therein as Criminal Case No. 73447. Danny
Rivera, on the other hand, was released from custody.

On 17 May 1988, a petition for habeas corpus was filed, with this Court on behalf of Vicky Ocaya
and Danny Rivera. It was alleged therein that Vicky Ocaya was illegally arrested and detained, and
denied the right to a preliminary investigation.

It would appear, however, that Vicky Ocaya was arrested in flagranti delicto so that her arrest
without a warrant is justified. No preliminary investigation was conducted because she was arrested
without a warrant and she refused to waive the provisions of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code,
pursuant to Sec. 7, Rule 112 of the Rule of Court, as amended.

The petitioners Vicky Ocaya, Domingo Anonuevo, Ramon Casiple, and Amelia Roque claim that the
firearms, ammunition and subversive documents alleged to have been found in their possession
when they were arrested, did not belong to them, but were "planted" by the military agents to justify
their illegal arrest.

The petitioners, however, have not introduced any evidence to support their aforesaid claim. On the
other hand, no evil motive or ill-will on the part of the arresting officers that would cause the said
arresting officers in these cases to accuse the petitioners falsely, has been shown. Besides, the
arresting officers in these cases do not appear to be seekers of glory and bounty hunters for, as
counsel for the petitioners Anonuevo and Casiple say, "there is absolutely nothing in the evidence
submitted during the inquest that petitioners are on the 'AFP Order of Battle with a reward of
P150,000.00 each on their heads.'" 6 On the other hand, as pointed out by the Solicitor General, the
arrest of the petitioners is not a product of a witch hunt or a fishing expedition, but the result of an in-
depth surveillance of NPA safehouses pointed to by no less than former comrades of the petitioners
in the rebel movement.

The Solicitor General, in his Consolidated Memorandum, aptly observes:

. . . . To reiterate, the focal point in the case of petitioners Roque, Buenaobra,


Anonuevo and Casiple, was the lawful search and seizure conducted by the military
at the residence of Renato Constantino at Villaluz Compound, Molave St., Marikina
Heights, Marikina, Metro Manila. The raid at Constantino's residence, was not a witch
hunting or fishing expedition on the part of the military. It was a result of an in-depth
military surveillance coupled with the leads provided by former members of the
underground subversive organizations. That raid produced positive results. to date,
nobody has disputed the fact that the residence of Constantino when raided yielded
communication equipment, firearms and ammunitions, as well as subversive
documents.

The military agents working on the information provided by Constantino that other
members of his group were coming to his place, reasonably conducted a "stake-out"
operation whereby some members of the raiding team were left behind the place.
True enough, barely two hours after the raid and Constantino's arrest, petitioner
Buenaobra arrived at Constantino's residence. He acted suspiciously and when
frisked and searched by the military authorities, found in his person were letters.
They are no ordinary letters, as even a cursory reading would show. Not only that,
Buenaobra admitted that he is a NPA courier and was there to deliver the letters to
Constantino.

Subsequently, less than twenty four hours after the arrest of Constantino and
Buenaobra, petitioners Anonuevo and Casiple arrived at Constantino's place. Would
it be unreasonable for the military agents to believe that petitioners Anonuevo and
Casiple are among those expected to visit Constantino's residence considering that
Constatino's information was true, in that Buenaobra did come to that place? Was it
unreasonable under the circumstances, on the part of the military agents, not to frisk
and search anyone who should visit the residence of Constantino, such as
petitioners Anonuevo and Casiple? Must this Honorable Court yield to Anonuevo and
Casiple's flimsy and bare assertion that they went to visit Constantino, who was to
leave for Saudi Arabia on the day they were arrested thereat?

As to petitioner Roque, was it unreasonable for the military authorities to effect her
arrest without warrant considering that it was Buenaobra who provided the leads on
her identity? It cannot be denied that Buenaobra had connection with Roque.
Because the former has the phone number of the latter. Why the necessity of
jumbling Roque's telephone number as written on a piece of paper taken from
Buenaobra's possession? Petitioners Roque and Buenaobra have not offered any
plausible reason so far.

In all the above incidents, respondents maintain that they acted reasonably, under
the time, place and circumstances of the events in question, especially considering
that at the time of petitioner's arrest, incriminatory evidence, i.e, firearms,
ammunitions and/or subversive documents were found in their possession.

Petitioners, when arrested, were neither taking their snacks nor innocently visiting a
camp, but were arrested in such time, place and circumstances, from which one can
reasonably conclude tat they were up to a sinister plot, involving utmost secrecy and
comprehensive conspiracy.

IV

In. G.R. No. 85727 (Espiritu vs. Lim), the release on habeas corpus of the petitioner Deogracias
Espiritu, who is detained by virtue of an Information for Violation of Article 142 of the Revised Penal
Code (Inciting to Sedition) filed with the Regional Trial Court of Manila, is similarly not warranted.
The record of the case shows that the said petitioner is the General Secretary of the Pinagkaisahang
Samahan ng Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON), an association of drivers and operators of
public service vehicles in the Philippines, organized for their mutual aid and protection.

Petitioner claims that at about 5:00 o'clock in the morning of 23 November 1988, while he was
sleeping in his home located at 363 Valencia St., Sta. Mesa, Manila, he was awakened by his sister
Maria Paz Lalic who told him that a group of persons wanted to hire his jeepney. When he went
down to talk to them, he was immediately put under arrest. When he asked for the warrant of arrest,
the men, headed by Col. Ricardo Reyes, bodily lifted him and placed him in their owner-type
jeepney. He demanded that his sister, Maria Paz Lalic, be allowed to accompany him, but the men
did not accede to his request and hurriedly sped away.

He was brought to Police Station No. 8 of the Western Police District at Blumentritt, Manila where he
was interrogated and detained. Then, at about 9:00 o'clock of the same morning, he was brought
before the respondent Lim and, there and then, the said respondent ordered his arrest and
detention. He was thereafter brought to the General Assignment Section, Investigation Division of
the Western Police District under Police Capt. Cresenciano A. Cabasal where he was detained,
restrained and deprived of his liberty. 7

The respondents claim however, that the detention of the petitioner is justified in view of the
Information filed against him before the Regional Trial Court of Manila, docketed therein as Criminal
Case No. 88-683-85, charging him with violation of Art. 142 of the Revised Penal Code (Inciting to
Sedition).

The respondents also claim that the petitioner was lawfully arrested without a judicial warrant of
arrest since petitioner when arrested had in fact just committed an offense in that in the afternoon of
22 November 1988, during a press conference at the National Press Club.

Deogracias Espiritu through tri-media was heard urging all drivers and operators to
go on nationwide strike on November 23, 1988, to force the government to give into
their demands to lower the prices of spare parts, commodities, water and the
immediate release from detention of the president of the PISTON (Pinag-isang
Samahan ng Tsuper Operators Nationwide). Further, we heard Deogracias Espiritu
taking the place of PISTON president Medardo Roda and also announced the
formation of the Alliance Drivers Association to go on nationwide strike on November
23, 1988. 8

Policemen waited for petitioner outside the National Pres Club in order to investigate him, but he
gave the lawmen the slip. 9 He was next seen at about 5:00 o'clock that afternoon at a gathering of
drivers and symphatizers at the corner of Magsaysay Blvd. and Valencia Street, Sta. Mesa, Manila
where he was heard to say:

Bukas tuloy ang welga natin, sumagot na ang Cebu at Bicol na kasali sila, at hindi
tayo titigil hanggang hindi binibigay ng gobyerno ni Cory ang gusto nating pagbaba
ng halaga ng spare parts, bilihin at and pagpapalaya sa ating pinuno na si Ka
Roda hanggang sa magkagulo na. 10 (emphasis supplied)

The police finally caught up with the petitioner on 23 November 1988. He was invited for questioning
and brought to police headquarters after which an Information for violation of Art. 142 of the Revised
Penal Code was filed against him before the Regional Trial Court of Manila. 11
Since the arrest of the petitioner without a warrant was in accordance with the provisions of Rule
113, Sec. 5(b) of the Rules of Court and that the petitioner is detained by virtue of a valid information
filed with the competent court, he may not be released on habeas corpus. He may, however be
released upon posting bail as recommended. However, we find the amount of the recommended bail
(P60,000.00) excessive and we reduce it to P10,000.00 only.

VII

In G.R. No. 86332 (Nazareno vs. Station Commander), we also find no merit in the submission
of Narciso Nazarenothat he was illegally arrested and is unlawfully detained. The record of this case
shows that at about 8:30 o'clock in the morning of 14 December 1988, one Romulo Bunye II was
killed by a group of men near the corner of T. Molina and Mendiola Streets in Alabang, Muntinglupa,
Metro Manila. One of the suspects in the killing was Ramil Regal who was arrested by the police on
28 December 1988. Upon questioning, Regal pointed to Narciso Nazareno as on of his companions
in the killing of the said Romulo Bunye II. In view thereof, the police officers, without warrant, picked
up Narciso Nazareno and brought him to the police headquarters for questioning. Obviously, the
evidence of petitioner's guilt is strong because on 3 January 1989, an information charging Narciso
Nazareno, Ramil Regala, and two (2) others, with the killing of Romulo Bunye II was filed with the
Regional Trial Court of Makati, Metro Manila. The case is docketed therein as Criminal Case No.
731.

On 7 January 1989, Narciso Nazareno filed a motion to post bail, but the motion was denied by the
trial court in an order dated 10 January 1989, even as the motion to post bail, earlier filed by his co-
accused, Manuel Laureaga, was granted by the same trial court.

On 13 January 1989, a petition for habeas corpus was filed with this Court on behalf of Narciso
Nazareno and on 13 January 1989, the Court issued the writ of habeas corpus, returnable to the
Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Biñan, Laguna, Branch 24, ordering said court to hear
the case on 30 January 1989 and thereafter resolve the petition.

At the conclusion of the hearing, or on 1 February 1989, the Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial
Court of Biñan, Laguna issued a resolution denying the petition for habeas corpus, it appearing that
the said Narciso Nazareno is in the custody of the respondents by reason of an information filed
against him with the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Metro Manila which had taken cognizance of
said case and had, in fact, denied the motion for bail filed by said Narciso Nazareno (presumably
because of the strength of the evidence against him).

The findings of the Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Biñan, Laguna are based upon the
facts and the law. Consequently, we will not disturb the same. Evidently, the arrest of Nazareno was
effected by the police without warrant pursuant to Sec. 5(b), Rule 113, Rules of Court after he was
positively implicated by his co-accused Ramil Regala in the killing of Romulo Bunye
II; and after investigation by the police authorities. As held in People vs. Ancheta: 12

The obligation of an agent of authority to make an arrest by reason of a crime, does


not presuppose as a necessary requisite for the fulfillment thereof, the indubitable
existence of a crime. For the detention to be perfectly legal, it is sufficient that the
agent or person in authority making the arrest has reasonably sufficient grounds to
believe the existence of an act having the characteristics of a crime and that the
same grounds exist to believe that the person sought to be detained participated
therein.

VIII
It is to be noted that, in all the petitions here considered, criminal charges have been filed in the
proper courts against the petitioners. The rule is, that if a person alleged to be restrained of his
liberty is in the custody of an officer under process issued by a court judge, and that the court or
judge had jurisdiction to issue the process or make the order, of if such person is charged before any
court, the writ of habeas corpus will not be allowed. Section 4, Rule 102, Rules of Court, as
amended is quite explicit in providing that:

Sec. 4. When writ is allowed or discharge authorized. — If it appears that the person
alleged to be restrained of his liberty is in the custody of an officer under process
issued by a court or judge or by virtue of a judgment or order of a court of record, and
that the court or judge had jurisdiction to issue the process, render the judgment, or
make the order, the writ shall not be allowed; or if the jurisdiction appears after the
writ is allowed, the person shall not be discharged by reason of any informality or
defect in the process, judgment, or order. Nor shall anything in this rule be held to
authorize the discharge of a person charged with a convicted of an offense in the
Philippines or of a person suffering imprisonment under lawful judgment. (emphasis
supplied)

At this point, we refer to petitioner's plea for the Court of re-examine and, thereafter, abandon its
pronouncement in Ilagan vs. Enrile, 13 that a writ of habeas corpus is no longer available after an
information is filed against the person detained and a warrant of arrest or an order of commitment, is
issued by the court where said information has been filed. 14 The petitioners claim that the said ruling,
which was handed down during the past dictatorial regime to enforce and strengthen said regime,
has no place under the present democratic dispensation and collides with the basic, fundamental,
and constitutional rights of the people. Petitioners point out that the said doctrine makes possible the
arrest and detention of innocent persons despite lack of evidence against them, and, most often, it is
only after a petition for habeas corpus is filed before the court that the military authorities file the
criminal information in the courts of law to be able to hide behind the protective mantle of the said
doctrine. This, petitioners assert, stands as an obstacle to the freedom and liberty of the people and
permits lawless and arbitrary State action.

We find, however, no compelling reason to abandon the said doctrine. It is based upon express
provision of the Rules of Court and the exigencies served by the law. The fears expressed by the
petitioners are not really unremediable. As the Court sees it, re-examination or reappraisal, with a
view to its abandonment, of the Ilagan case doctrine is not the answer. The answer and the better
practice would be, not to limit the function of the habeas corpus to a mere inquiry as to whether or
not the court which issued the process, judgment or order of commitment or before whom the
detained person is charged, had jurisdiction or not to issue the process, judgment or order or to take
cognizance of the case, but rather, as the Court itself states in Morales, Jr. vs. Enrile, 15 "in all
petitions for habeas corpus the court must inquire into every phase and aspect of petitioner's
detention-from the moment petition was taken into custody up to the moment the court passes upon
the merits of the petition;" and "only after such a scrutiny can the court satisfy itself that the due
process clause of our Constitution has in fact been satisfied." This is exactly what the Court has
done in the petitions at bar. This is what should henceforth be done in all future cases of habeas
corpus. In Short, all cases involving deprivation of individual liberty should be promptly brought to the
courts for their immediate scrutiny and disposition.

WHEREFORE, the petitions are hereby DISMISSED, except that in G.R. No. 85727 (Espiritu vs.
Lim), the bail bond for petitioner's provisional liberty is hereby ordered reduced from P60,000.00 to
P10,000.00. No costs.

SO ORDERED.