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PRESIDENTIAL DECREE No.

1829

outcome of the investigation of, or official


proceedings in, criminal cases;

PENALIZING OBSTRUCTION OF APPREHENSION


AND PROSECUTION OF CRIMINAL OFFENDERS

(g) soliciting, accepting, or agreeing to accept


any benefit in consideration of abstaining from,
discounting, or impeding the prosecution of a
criminal offender;

WHEREAS, crime and violence continue to proliferate


despite the sustained vigorous efforts of the government
to effectively contain them;

(h) threatening directly or indirectly another with


the infliction of any wrong upon his person,
honor or property or that of any immediate
member or members of his family in order to
prevent such person from appearing in the
investigation of, or official proceedings in,
criminal cases, or imposing a condition, whether
lawful or unlawful, in order to prevent a person
from appearing in the investigation of or in
official proceedings in, criminal cases;

WHEREAS, to discourage public indifference or apathy


towards the apprehension and prosecution of criminal
offenders, it is necessary to penalize acts which obstruct
or frustrate or tend to obstruct or frustrate the successful
apprehension and prosecution of criminal offenders;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND, E. MARCOS,
President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers
vested in me by law do hereby decree and order the
following:

(i) giving of false or fabricated information to


mislead or prevent the law enforcement
agencies from apprehending the offender or
from protecting the life or property of the victim;
or fabricating information from the data gathered
in confidence by investigating authorities for
purposes of background information and not for
publication and publishing or disseminating the
same to mislead the investigator or to the court.

Section 1. The penalty of prision correccional in its


maximum period, or a fine ranging from 1,000 to 6,000
pesos, or both, shall be imposed upon any person who
knowingly or willfully obstructs, impedes, frustrates or
delays the apprehension of suspects and the
investigation and prosecution of criminal cases by
committing any of the following acts:
(a) preventing witnesses from testifying in any
criminal proceeding or from reporting the
commission of any offense or the identity of any
offender/s by means of bribery,
misrepresentation, deceit, intimidation, force or
threats;

If any of the acts mentioned herein is penalized by any


other law with a higher penalty, the higher penalty shall
be imposed.
Section 2. If any of the foregoing acts is committed by a
public official or employee, he shall in addition to the
penalties provided thereunder, suffer perpetual
disqualification from holding public office.

(b) altering, destroying, suppressing or


concealing any paper, record, document, or
object, with intent to impair its verity, authenticity,
legibility, availability, or admissibility as evidence
in any investigation of or official proceedings in,
criminal cases, or to be used in the investigation
of, or official proceedings in, criminal cases;

Section 3. This Decree shall take effect immediately.


Done in the City of Manila, this 16th day of January, in
the year of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and eighty-one.

(c) harboring or concealing, or facilitating the


escape of, any person he knows, or has
reasonable ground to believe or suspect, has
committed any offense under existing penal laws
in order to prevent his arrest prosecution and
conviction;

Republic Act No. 7438

April 27, 1992

AN ACT DEFINING CERTAIN RIGHTS OF PERSON


ARRESTED, DETAINED OR UNDER CUSTODIAL
INVESTIGATION AS WELL AS THE DUTIES OF THE
ARRESTING, DETAINING AND INVESTIGATING
OFFICERS, AND PROVIDING PENALTIES FOR
VIOLATIONS THEREOF

(d) publicly using a fictitious name for the


purpose of concealing a crime, evading
prosecution or the execution of a judgment, or
concealing his true name and other personal
circumstances for the same purpose or
purposes;

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of


Representatives of the Philippines in Congress
assembled::
Section 1. Statement of Policy. It is the policy of the
Senate to value the dignity of every human being and
guarantee full respect for human rights.

(e) delaying the prosecution of criminal cases by


obstructing the service of process or court
orders or disturbing proceedings in the fiscal's
offices, in Tanodbayan, or in the courts;

Section 2. Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained or


Under Custodial Investigation; Duties of Public
Officers.

(f) making, presenting or using any record,


document, paper or object with knowledge of its
falsity and with intent to affect the course or

(a) Any person arrested detained or under


custodial investigation shall at all times be
assisted by counsel.

uncle or aunt, nephew or niece, and guardian or


ward.
As used in this Act, "custodial investigation" shall include
the practice of issuing an "invitation" to a person who is
investigated in connection with an offense he is
suspected to have committed, without prejudice to the
liability of the "inviting" officer for any violation of law.

(b) Any public officer or employee, or anyone


acting under his order or his place, who arrests,
detains or investigates any person for the
commission of an offense shall inform the latter,
in a language known to and understood by him,
of his rights to remain silent and to have
competent and independent counsel, preferably
of his own choice, who shall at all times be
allowed to confer privately with the person
arrested, detained or under custodial
investigation. If such person cannot afford the
services of his own counsel, he must be
provided with a competent and independent
counsel by the investigating officer.lawphi1

Section 3. Assisting Counsel. Assisting counsel is


any lawyer, except those directly affected by the case,
those charged with conducting preliminary investigation
or those charged with the prosecution of crimes.
The assisting counsel other than the government
lawyers shall be entitled to the following fees;
(a) The amount of One hundred fifty pesos
(P150.00) if the suspected person is chargeable
with light felonies;lawphi1alf

(c) The custodial investigation report shall be


reduced to writing by the investigating officer,
provided that before such report is signed, or
thumbmarked if the person arrested or detained
does not know how to read and write, it shall be
read and adequately explained to him by his
counsel or by the assisting counsel provided by
the investigating officer in the language or
dialect known to such arrested or detained
person, otherwise, such investigation report
shall be null and void and of no effect
whatsoever.

(b) The amount of Two hundred fifty pesos


(P250.00) if the suspected person is chargeable
with less grave or grave felonies;
(c) The amount of Three hundred fifty pesos
(P350.00) if the suspected person is chargeable
with a capital offense.
The fee for the assisting counsel shall be paid
by the city or municipality where the custodial
investigation is conducted, provided that if the
municipality of city cannot pay such fee, the
province comprising such municipality or city
shall pay the fee: Provided, That the Municipal
or City Treasurer must certify that no funds are
available to pay the fees of assisting counsel
before the province pays said fees.

(d) Any extrajudicial confession made by a


person arrested, detained or under custodial
investigation shall be in writing and signed by
such person in the presence of his counsel or in
the latter's absence, upon a valid waiver, and in
the presence of any of the parents, elder
brothers and sisters, his spouse, the municipal
mayor, the municipal judge, district school
supervisor, or priest or minister of the gospel as
chosen by him; otherwise, such extrajudicial
confession shall be inadmissible as evidence in
any proceeding.

In the absence of any lawyer, no custodial investigation


shall be conducted and the suspected person can only
be detained by the investigating officer in accordance
with the provisions of Article 125 of the Revised Penal
Code.

(e) Any waiver by a person arrested or detained


under the provisions of Article 125 of the
Revised Penal Code, or under custodial
investigation, shall be in writing and signed by
such person in the presence of his counsel;
otherwise the waiver shall be null and void and
of no effect.

Section 4. Penalty Clause. (a) Any arresting public


officer or employee, or any investigating officer, who fails
to inform any person arrested, detained or under
custodial investigation of his right to remain silent and to
have competent and independent counsel preferably of
his own choice, shall suffer a fine of Six thousand pesos
(P6,000.00) or a penalty of imprisonment of not less than
eight (8) years but not more than ten (10) years, or both.
The penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification shall
also be imposed upon the investigating officer who has
been previously convicted of a similar offense.

(f) Any person arrested or detained or under


custodial investigation shall be allowed visits by
or conferences with any member of his
immediate family, or any medical doctor or priest
or religious minister chosen by him or by any
member of his immediate family or by his
counsel, or by any national non-governmental
organization duly accredited by the Commission
on Human Rights of by any international nongovernmental organization duly accredited by
the Office of the President. The person's
"immediate family" shall include his or her
spouse, fianc or fiance, parent or child,
brother or sister, grandparent or grandchild,

The same penalties shall be imposed upon a


public officer or employee, or anyone acting
upon orders of such investigating officer or in his
place, who fails to provide a competent and
independent counsel to a person arrested,
detained or under custodial investigation for the
commission of an offense if the latter cannot
afford the services of his own counsel.

(b) Any person who obstructs, prevents or


prohibits any lawyer, any member of the
immediate family of a person arrested, detained
or under custodial investigation, or any medical
doctor or priest or religious minister chosen by
him or by any member of his immediate family or
by his counsel, from visiting and conferring
privately with him, or from examining and
treating him, or from ministering to his spiritual
needs, at any hour of the day or, in urgent
cases, of the night shall suffer the penalty of
imprisonment of not less than four (4) years nor
more than six (6) years, and a fine of four
thousand pesos (P4,000.00).lawphi1

Statement of the Facts and of the Case


The facts, as found by the Regional Trial Court
(RTC), which sustained the version of the prosecution,
are as follows:

PO2 Emmanuel L. Alteza, who


was then assigned at the Sub-Station 1
of the Naga City Police Station as a
traffic enforcer, substantially testified
that on March 10, 2003 at around 3:00
The provisions of the above Section notwithstanding,
oclock in the morning, he saw the
accused, who was coming from the
any security officer with custodial responsibility over any
direction of Panganiban Drive and going
detainee or prisoner may undertake such reasonable
to Diversion Road, Naga City, driving a
measures as may be necessary to secure his safety and
motorcycle without a helmet; that this
prevent his escape.
prompted him to flag down the accused
for violating a municipal ordinance which
Section 5. Repealing Clause. Republic Act No. No.
requires all motorcycle drivers to wear
857, as amended, is hereby repealed. Other laws,
helmet (sic) while driving said motor
presidential decrees, executive orders or rules and
vehicle; that he invited the accused to
regulations, or parts thereof inconsistent with the
come inside their sub-station since the
provisions of this Act are repealed or modified
place where he flagged down the
accordingly.
accused is almost in front of the said
sub-station; that while he and SPO1
Rayford Brillante were issuing a citation
Section 6. Effectivity. This Act shall take effect fifteen
ticket for violation of municipal
(15) days following its publication in the Official Gazette
ordinance, he noticed that the accused
or in any daily newspapers of general circulation in the
was uneasy and kept on getting
Philippines.
something from his jacket; that he was
alerted and so, he told the accused to
Approved: April 27, 1992.lawphi1
take out the contents of the pocket of his
jacket as the latter may have a weapon
inside it; that the accused obliged and
RODEL LUZ y ONG,
G. R. No. 197788
slowly put out the contents of the pocket
Petitioner,
of his jacket which was a nickel-like tin
or metal container about two (2) to three
Present:
(3) inches in size, including two (2)
cellphones, one (1) pair of scissors and
CARPIO,
one (1) Swiss knife; that upon seeing
- versus BRION,
the said container, he asked the
PEREZ,
SERENO, and accused to open it; that after the
accused opened the container, he
REYES,
noticed a cartoon cover and something
beneath it; and that upon his instruction,
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,[1]
Promulgated: the accused spilled out the contents of
the container on the table which turned
Respondent.
out to be four (4) plastic sachets, the two
February 29, 2012
(2) of which were empty while the other
two (2) contained suspected shabu.[3]
x-------------------------------------------------x

Arraigned on 2 July 2003, petitioner, assisted by


counsel, entered a plea of Not guilty to the charge of

DECISION

illegal possession of dangerous drugs. Pretrial was


terminated on 24 September 2003, after which, trial

SERENO, J.:

ensued.

This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under


During trial, Police Officer 3 (PO3) Emmanuel

Rule 45 seeking to set aside the Court of Appeals (CA)


Alteza

Decision in CA-G.R. CR No. 32516 dated 18 February

and

forensic

chemist

testified

for

the

prosecution. On the other hand, petitioner testified for

[2]

2011 and Resolution dated 8 July 2011.

CANNOT BE RELIED UPON IN


THIS CASE.

himself and raised the defense of planting of evidence


and extortion.
(iii)

THE
INTEGRITY
AND
EVIDENTIARY VALUE OF THE
ALLEGED
SUBJECT
SPECIMEN
HAS
BEEN
COMPROMISED.

(iv)

THE
GUILT OF
THE
ACCUSED-PETITIONER WAS
NOT PROVEN BEYOND THE
REASONABLE DOUBT (sic).[7]

In its 19 February 2009 Decision, [4] the RTC


convicted petitioner of illegal possession of dangerous
drugs[5] committed on 10 March 2003. It found the
prosecution evidence sufficient to show that he had been
lawfully arrested for a traffic violation and then subjected
to a valid search, which led to the discovery on his
person

of

two

plastic

sachets

later

found

to

contain shabu. The RTC also found his defense of


frame-up and extortion to be weak, self-serving and

Petitioner claims that there was no lawful search and

unsubstantiated. The dispositive portion of its Decision

seizure, because there was no lawful arrest. He claims

held:

that the finding that there was a lawful arrest was


erroneous, since he was not even issued a citation ticket
or charged with violation of the city ordinance. Even

WHEREFORE, judgment is
hereby rendered, finding accused
RODEL LUZ y ONG GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt for the crime of
violation of Section 11, Article II of
Republic Act No. 9165 and sentencing
him to suffer the indeterminate penalty
of imprisonment ranging from twelve
(12) years and (1) day, as minimum, to
thirteen (13) years, as maximum, and to
pay a fine of Three Hundred Thousand
Pesos (300,000.00).

assuming there was a valid arrest, he claims that he had


never consented to the search conducted upon him.
On the other hand, finding that petitioner had been
lawfully arrested, the RTC held thus:
It is beyond dispute that the accused
was flagged down and apprehended in
this case by Police Officers Alteza and
Brillante for violation of City Ordinance
No. 98-012, an ordinance requiring the
use of crash helmet by motorcycle
drivers and riders thereon in the City of
Naga and prescribing penalties for
violation thereof. The accused himself
admitted that he was not wearing a
helmet at the time when he was flagged
down by the said police officers, albeit
he
had
a
helmet
in
his
possession. Obviously, there is legal
basis on the part of the apprehending
officers to flag down and arrest the
accused because the latter was actually
committing a crime in their presence,
that is, a violation of City Ordinance No.
98-012. In other words, the accused,
being caught inflagrante delicto violating
the said Ordinance, he could therefore
be lawfully stopped or arrested by the
apprehending officers. x x x.[8]

The subject shabu is hereby


confiscated for turn over to the
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for
its proper disposition and destruction in
accordance with law.
SO ORDERED.[6]

Upon review, the CA affirmed the RTCs


Decision.
On 12 September 2011, petitioner filed under
Rule 45 the instant Petition for Review on Certiorari
dated 1 September 2011. In a Resolution dated 12
October 2011, this Court required respondent to file a
comment on the Petition. On 4 January 2012, the latter
filed its Comment dated 3 January 2012.
Petitioner raised the

We find the Petition to be impressed with merit, but not

following grounds in

for the particular reasons alleged. In criminal cases, an

support of his Petition:


(i)

(ii)

appeal throws the entire case wide open for review and
the reviewing tribunal can correct errors, though

THE
SEARCH
AND
SEIZURE OF THE ALLEGED
SUBJECT SHABU IS INVALID.

unassigned in the appealed judgment, or even reverse


the trial courts decision based on grounds other than
those that the parties raised as errors.[9]

THE PRESUMPTION OF
REGULARITY
IN
THE
PERFORMANCE OF DUTY OF
THE
POLICE
OFFICER

m. If

First, there was no valid arrest of petitioner. When he


was flagged down for committing a traffic violation, he
was not, ipso facto and solely for this reason, arrested.
Arrest is the taking of a person into custody in
order that he or she may be bound to answer for the

it concerns traffic violations,


immediately issue a Traffic
Citation Ticket (TCT) or Traffic
Violation Report (TVR). Never
indulge
in
prolonged,
unnecessary conversation or
argument with the driver or any
of the vehicles occupants;

commission of an offense.[10] It is effected by an actual


restraint of the person to be arrested or by that persons

At the time that he was waiting for PO3 Alteza to

voluntary submission to the custody of the one making

write his citation ticket, petitioner could not be said to

the arrest. Neither the application of actual force, manual

have been under arrest. There was no intention on the

touching of the body, or physical restraint, nor a formal

part of PO3 Alteza to arrest him, deprive him of his

declaration of arrest, is required. It is enough that there

liberty, or take him into custody. Prior to the issuance of

be an intention on the part of one of the parties to arrest

the ticket, the period during which petitioner was at the

the other, and that there be an intent on the part of the

police station may be characterized merely as waiting

other to submit, under the belief and impression that

time. In fact, as found by the trial court, PO3 Alteza

submission is necessary.[11]

himself testified that the only reason they went to the


police sub-station was that petitioner had been flagged

Under R.A. 4136, or the Land Transportation

down almost in front of that place. Hence, it was only for

and Traffic Code, the general procedure for dealing with

the sake of convenience that they were waiting there.

a traffic violation is not the arrest of the offender, but the

There was no intention to take petitioner into custody.

confiscation of the drivers license of the latter:


In Berkemer v. McCarty,[13] the United States

SECTION 29. Confiscation of


Driver's License. Law enforcement and
peace officers of other agencies duly
deputized by the Director shall, in
apprehending a driver for any violation
of this Act or any regulations issued
pursuant thereto, or of local traffic rules
and regulations not contrary to any
provisions of this Act, confiscate the
license of the driver concerned and
issue a receipt prescribed and issued by
the
Bureau therefor
which
shall
authorize the driver to operate a motor
vehicle for a period not exceeding
seventy-two hours from the time and
date of issue of said receipt. The period
so fixed in the receipt shall not be
extended, and shall become invalid
thereafter. Failure of the driver to settle
his case within fifteen days from the
date of apprehension will be a ground
for the suspension and/or revocation of
his license.

Similarly,

the

Philippine

National

Police

(U.S.) Supreme Court discussed at length whether the


roadside questioning of a motorist detained pursuant to
a routine traffic stop should be considered custodial
interrogation. The Court held that, such questioning does
not fall under custodial interrogation, nor can it be
considered a formal arrest, by virtue of the nature of the
questioning, the expectations of the motorist and the
officer, and the length of time the procedure is
conducted. It ruled as follows:
It must be acknowledged at the
outset that a traffic stop significantly
curtails the freedom of action of the
driver and the passengers, if any, of the
detained vehicle. Under the law of most
States, it is a crime either to ignore a
policemans signal to stop ones car or,
once having stopped, to drive away
without permission. x x x
However, we decline to accord
talismanic power to the phrase in the
Miranda
opinion
emphasized
by
respondent. Fidelity to the doctrine
announced in Miranda requires that it be
enforced strictly, but only in those types
of situations in which the concerns that
powered the decision are implicated.
Thus, we must decide whether a traffic
stop exerts upon a detained person
pressures that sufficiently impair his free
exercise of his privilege against selfincrimination to require that he be
warned of his constitutional rights.

(PNP)

Operations Manual[12] provides the following procedure


for flagging down vehicles during the conduct of
checkpoints:
SECTION
7. Procedure
in
Flagging Down or Accosting Vehicles
While in Mobile Car. This rule is a
general concept and will not apply in hot
pursuit operations. The mobile car crew
shall undertake the following, when
applicable: x x x

Two features of an ordinary


traffic stop mitigate the danger that a
person questioned will be induced to
speak where he would not otherwise do
so freely, Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U. S.,
at 467. First, detention of a motorist
pursuant to a traffic stop is
presumptively
temporary
and
brief. The vast majority of roadside
detentions last only a few minutes. A
motorists expectations, when he sees a
policemans light flashing behind him,
are that he will be obliged to spend a
short period of time answering questions
and waiting while the officer checks his
license and registration, that he may
then be given a citation, but that in the
end he most likely will be allowed to
continue on his way. In this respect,
questioning incident to an ordinary traffic
stop is quite different from stationhouse
interrogation,
which
frequently is
prolonged, and in which the detainee
often is aware that questioning will
continue
until
he
provides
his
interrogators the answers they seek.
See id., at 451.

subjected to treatment that renders him


in custody for practical purposes, he will
be entitled to the full panoply of
protections prescribed by Miranda. See
Oregon v. Mathiason, 429 U. S. 492,
495 (1977) (per curiam). (Emphasis
supplied.)

The U.S. Court in Berkemer thus ruled that, since the


motorist therein was only subjected to modest questions
while still at the scene of the traffic stop, he was not at
that moment placed under custody (such that he should
have been apprised of his Miranda rights), and neither
can treatment of this sort be fairly characterized as the
functional equivalent of a formal arrest. Similarly, neither
can petitioner here be considered under arrest at the
time that his traffic citation was being made.
It also appears that, according to City Ordinance No. 98012, which was violated by petitioner, the failure to wear
a crash helmet while riding a motorcycle is penalized by

Second, circumstances
associated with the typical traffic
stop are not such that the motorist
feels completely at the mercy of the
police. To be sure, the aura of authority
surrounding an armed, uniformed officer
and the knowledge that the officer has
some discretion in deciding whether to
issue a citation, in combination, exert
some pressure on the detainee to
respond to questions. But other aspects
of the situation substantially offset these
forces. Perhaps most importantly, the
typical traffic stop is public, at least to
some degree. x x x

a fine only. Under the Rules of Court, a warrant of arrest


need not be issued if the information or charge was filed
for an offense penalized by a fine only. It may be stated
as a corollary that neither can a warrantless arrest be
made for such an offense.
This ruling does not imply that there can be no arrest for
a traffic violation. Certainly, when there is an intent on
the part of the police officer to deprive the motorist of
liberty, or to take the latter into custody, the former may
be deemed to have arrested the motorist. In this case,

In both of these respects, the


usual traffic stop is more analogous
to a so-called Terry stop, see Terry v.
Ohio, 392 U. S. 1 (1968), than to a
formal arrest. x x x The comparatively
nonthreatening character of detentions
of this sort explains the absence of any
suggestion in our opinions that Terry
stops are subject to the dictates of
Miranda. The similarly noncoercive
aspect of ordinary traffic stops prompts
us to hold that persons temporarily
detained pursuant to such stops are not
in custody for the purposes of Miranda.

however, the officers issuance (or intent to issue) a traffic


citation ticket negates the possibility of an arrest for the
same violation.
Even if one were to work under the assumption that
petitioner was deemed arrested upon being flagged
down for a traffic violation and while awaiting the
issuance of his ticket, then the requirements for a
valid arrest were not complied with.

xxxxxxxxx

This Court has held that at the time a person is


arrested, it shall be the duty of the arresting officer to

We are confident that the state


of affairs projected by respondent will
not come to pass. It is settled that the
safeguards prescribed by Miranda
become applicable as soon as a
suspects freedom of action is curtailed
to a degree associated with formal
arrest. California v. Beheler, 463 U. S.
1121, 1125 (1983) (per curiam). If a
motorist who has been detained
pursuant to a traffic stop thereafter is

inform the latter of the reason for the arrest and must
show that person the warrant of arrest, if any. Persons
shall be informed of their constitutional rights to remain
silent and to counsel, and that any statement they might
make could be used against them. [14] It may also be
noted that in this case, these constitutional requirements
were

complied

with

by

the

police

officers

only after petitioner

had

been

arrested

for

illegal

that is, the consent must be unequivocal, specific,

possession of dangerous drugs.

intelligently given and uncontaminated by any duress or


coercion. While the prosecution claims that petitioner

In Berkemer, the U.S. Court also noted that

acceded to the instruction of PO3 Alteza, this alleged

the Miranda warnings must also be given to a person

accession does not suffice to prove valid and intelligent

apprehended due to a traffic violation:

consent. In fact, the RTC found that petitioner was


merely told to take out the contents of his pocket. [18]

The purposes of the safeguards


prescribed by Miranda are to ensure
that the police do not coerce or trick
captive suspects into confessing, to
relieve
the
inherently
compelling
pressures generated by the custodial
setting itself, which work to undermine
the individuals will to resist, and as
much as possible to free courts from the
task of scrutinizing individual cases to
try to determine, after the fact, whether
particular confessions were voluntary.
Those purposes are implicated as much
by in-custody questioning of persons
suspected of misdemeanors as they are
by questioning of persons suspected of
felonies.

Whether consent to the search was in fact


voluntary is a question of fact to be determined from the
totality of all the circumstances. Relevant to this
determination are the following characteristics of the
person giving consent and the environment in which
consent is given: (1) the age of the defendant; (2)
whether the defendant was in a public or a secluded
location; (3) whether the defendant objected to the
search or passively looked on; (4) the education and
intelligence of the defendant; (5) the presence of
coercive police procedures; (6) the defendants belief that
no incriminating evidence would be found; (7) the nature
of the police questioning; (8) the environment in which

If it were true that petitioner was already deemed

the questioning took place; and (9) the possibly

arrested when he was flagged down for a traffic violation

vulnerable subjective state of the person consenting. It is

and while he waiting for his ticket, then there would have

the State that has the burden of proving, by clear and

been no need for him to be arrested for a second

positive testimony, that the necessary consent was

timeafter the police officers allegedly discovered the

obtained, and was freely and voluntarily given. [19] In this

drugsas he was already in their custody.

case, all that was alleged was that petitioner was alone
at

the

police

station

at

three

in

the

morning,

Second, there being no valid arrest, the warrantless

accompanied

search that resulted from it was likewise illegal.

circumstances weigh heavily against a finding of valid

by

several

police

officers.

These

consent to a warrantless search.


The following are the instances when a warrantless
search is allowed: (i) a warrantless search incidental to a

Neither does the search qualify under the stop and frisk

lawful arrest; (ii) search of evidence in plain view; (iii)

rule. While the rule normally applies when a police

search of a moving vehicle; (iv) consented warrantless

officer observes suspicious or unusual conduct, which

search; (v) customs search; (vi) a stop and frisk search;

may lead him to believe that a criminal act may be afoot,

and (vii) exigent and emergency circumstances.

[15]

None

the stop and frisk is merely a limited protective search of

of the above-mentioned instances, especially a search

outer clothing for weapons.[20]

incident to a lawful arrest, are applicable to this case.


In Knowles v. Iowa,[21] the U.S. Supreme Court held that
It must be noted that the evidence seized, although

when a police officer stops a person for speeding and

alleged to be inadvertently discovered, was not in plain

correspondingly issues a citation instead of arresting the

view. It was actually concealed inside a metal container

latter, this procedure does not authorize the officer to

inside petitioners pocket. Clearly, the evidence was not

conduct a full search of the car. The Court therein held

immediately apparent.[16]

that there was no justification for a full-blown search


when the officer does not arrest the motorist. Instead,

Neither was there a consented warrantless search.

police officers may only conduct minimal intrusions, such

Consent to a search is not to be lightly inferred, but

as ordering the motorist to alight from the car or doing a

shown by clear and convincing evidence.

[17]

It must be

patdown:

voluntary in order to validate an otherwise illegal search;

In Robinson, supra, we noted


the two historical rationales for the
search incident to arrest exception: (1)
the need to disarm the suspect in order
to take him into custody, and (2) the
need to preserve evidence for later use
at trial. x x x But neither of these
underlying rationales for the search
incident to arrest exception is sufficient
to justify the search in the present case.

of
the
passenger
compartment,
including
any containers therein,
pursuant to a custodial arrest, New York
v. Belton, 453 U. S. 454, 460 (1981).
Nor has Iowa shown the second
justification for the authority to search
incident to arrestthe need to discover
and preserve evidence. Once Knowles
was stopped for speeding and issued a
citation, all the evidence necessary to
prosecute that offense had been
obtained. No further evidence of
excessive speed was going to be found
either on the person of the offender or in
the passenger compartment of the car.
(Emphasis supplied.)

We have recognized that the


first
rationaleofficer
safetyis
both
legitimate and weighty, x x x The threat
to officer safety from issuing a traffic
citation, however, is a good deal less
than in the case of a custodial arrest. In
Robinson, we stated that a custodial
arrest involves danger to an officer
because of the extended exposure
which follows the taking of a suspect
into custody and transporting him to the
police station. 414 U. S., at 234-235. We
recognized that [t]he danger to the
police officer flows from the fact of the
arrest, and its attendant proximity,
stress, and uncertainty, and not from the
grounds for arrest. Id., at 234, n. 5. A
routine traffic stop, on the other
hand, is a relatively brief encounter
and is more analogous to a so-called
Terry stop . . . than to a formal
arrest. Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U. S.
420, 439 (1984). See also Cupp v.
Murphy, 412 U. S. 291, 296 (1973)
(Where there is no formal arrest . . . a
person might well be less hostile to the
police and less likely to take
conspicuous, immediate steps to
destroy incriminating evidence).

The foregoing considered, petitioner must be acquitted.


While he may have failed to object to the illegality of his
arrest at the earliest opportunity, a waiver of an illegal
warrantless arrest does not, however, mean a waiver of
the inadmissibility of evidence seized during the illegal
warrantless arrest.[22]
The Constitution guarantees the right of the
people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers
and

effects

seizures.

[23]

against

unreasonable

searches

and

Any evidence obtained in violation of said

right shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any


proceeding. While the power to search and seize may at
times be necessary to the public welfare, still it must be
exercised and the law implemented without contravening
the constitutional rights of citizens, for the enforcement

This is not to say that the


concern for officer safety is absent in
the case of a routine traffic stop. It
plainly is not. See Mimms, supra, at 110;
Wilson, supra, at 413-414. But while
the concern for officer safety in this
context may justify the minimal
additional intrusion of ordering a
driver and passengers out of the car,
it does not by itself justify the often
considerably
greater
intrusion
attending a full fieldtype search. Even
without the search authority Iowa urges,
officers have other, independent bases
to search for weapons and protect
themselves from danger. For example,
they may order out of a vehicle both the
driver, Mimms, supra, at 111, and any
passengers, Wilson, supra, at 414;
perform a patdown of a driver and any
passengers upon reasonable suspicion
that they may be armed and dangerous,
Terry v. Ohio, 392 U. S. 1 (1968);
conduct a Terry patdown of the
passenger compartment of a vehicle
upon reasonable suspicion that an
occupant is dangerous and may gain
immediate control of a weapon,
Michigan v. Long, 463 U. S. 1032, 1049
(1983); and even conduct a full search

of no statute is of sufficient importance to justify


indifference to the basic principles of government. [24]
The subject items seized during the illegal arrest
are inadmissible.[25] The drugs are the very corpus
delicti of the crime of illegal possession of dangerous
drugs. Thus, their inadmissibility precludes conviction
and calls for the acquittal of the accused.[26]
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The
18 February 2011 Decision of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CR No. 32516 affirming the judgment of
conviction dated 19 February 2009 of the Regional Trial
Court, 5th Judicial Region, Naga City, Branch 21, in
Criminal

Case

No.

RTC

2003-0087,

is

hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner Rodel


Luz y Ong

is

hereby ACQUITTED and

immediately

released

from

detention,

ordered

unless

his

continued confinement is warranted by some other


cause or ground.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 182601

another, with intent to kill, qualified with evident


premeditation, treachery and taking advantage of
superior strength, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously commence the commission of the crime
of Murder directly by overt acts, by then and there
stabbing one Atty. MORENO GENEROSO y FRANCO,
with a bladed weapon, but said accused were not able to
perform all the acts of execution which would produce
the crime of Murder by reason of some cause/s or
accident other than their own spontaneous desistance,
that is, said complainant was able to parry the attack, to
his damage and prejudice.

November 10, 2014

JOEY M. PESTILOS, DWIGHT MACAPANAS, MIGUEL


GACES, JERRY FERNANDEZ and RONALD
MUNOZ,Petitioners,
vs.
MORENO GENEROSO and PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, Respondents.
DECISION
BRION, J.:

CONTRARY TO LAW.11

We resolve the petition for review on certiorari under


Rule 45 of the Rules of Court challenging the
decision1dated January 21, 2008 and the
resolution2 dated April 17, 2008 of the Court of Appeals
(CA) in CAG.R. SP No. 91541.

On March 7, 2005, the petitioners filed an Urgent Motion


for Regular Preliminary Investigation12 on the ground that
they had not been lawfully arrested. They alleged that no
valid warrantless arrest took place since the police
officers had no personal knowledge that they were the
perpetrators of the crime. They also claimed that they
were just "invited" to the police station. Thus, the inquest
proceeding was improper, and a regular procedure for
preliminary investigation should have been performed
pursuant to Rule 112 of the Rules of Court.13

The appealed decision affirmed the Order dated March


16, 2005 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 96,
Quezon City, denying Joey M. Pestilos, Dwight
Macapanas, Miguel Gaces, Jerry Fernandez, and
Ronald Munoz's (petitioners) Urgent Motion for Regular
Preliminary Investigation, as well as their subsequent
motion for reconsideration.

On March 16, 2005, the RTC issued its order denying


the petitioners' Urgent Motion for Regular Preliminary
Investigation.14 The court likewise denied the petitioners'
motion for reconsideration.15

The Antecedent Facts


The records of the case reveal that on February 20,
2005, at around 3: 15 in the morning, an altercation
ensued between the petitioners and Atty. Moreno
Generoso (Atty. Generoso) at Kasiyahan Street,
Barangay Holy Spirit, Quezon City where the petitioners
and Atty. Generoso reside.3

The petitioners challenged the lower court's ruling before


the CA on a Rule 65 petition for certiorari. They
attributed grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction, on the R TC for the denial of their
motion for preliminary investigation.16
The Assailed CA Decision

Atty. Generoso called the Central Police District, Station


6 (Batas an Hills Police Station) to report the
incident.4Acting on this report, Desk Officer SPOl
Primitivo Monsalve (SPOJ Monsalve) dispatched SP02
Dominador Javier (SP02 Javier) to go to the scene of the
crime and to render assistance.5 SP02 Javier, together
with augmentation personnel from the Airforce, A2C
Alano Sayson and Airman Ruel Galvez, arrived at the
scene of the crime less than one hour after the alleged
altercation6 and they saw Atty. Generoso badly beaten.7

On January 21, 2008, the CA issued its decision


dismissing the petition for lack of merit.17 The CA ruled
that the word "invited" in the Affidavit of Arrest executed
by SP02 Javier carried the meaning of a command. The
arresting officer clearly meant to arrest the petitioners to
answer for the mauling of Atty. Generoso. The CA also
recognized that the arrest was pursuant to a valid
warrantless arrest so that an inquest proceeding was
called for as a consequence. Thus, the R TC did not
commit any grave abuse of discretion in denying the
Urgent Motion for Regular Preliminary Investigation.

Atty. Generoso then pointed to the petitioners as those


who mauled him. This prompted the police officers to
"invite" the petitioners to go to Batasan Hills Police
Station for investigation.8 The petitioners went with the
police officers to Batasan Hills Police Station.9 At the
inquest proceeding, the City Prosecutor of Quezon City
found that the petitioners stabbed Atty. Generoso with a
bladed weapon. Atty. Generoso fortunately survived the
attack.10

The CA saw no merit in the petitioners' argument that the


order denying the Urgent Motion for Regular Preliminary
Investigation is void for failure to clearly state the facts
and the law upon which it was based, pursuant to Rule
16, Section 3 of the Revised Rules of Court. The CA
found that the RTC had sufficiently explained the
grounds for the denial of the motion.

In an Information dated February 22, 2005, the


petitioners were indicted for attempted murder allegedly
committed as follows:

The petitioners moved for reconsideration, but the CA


denied the motion in its Resolution of April 17,
2008;18hence, the present petition.

That on or about the 20th h day of February, 2005, in


Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused, conspiring
together, confederating with and mutually helping one

The Issues
The petitioners cited the following assignment of errors:

198722Constitutions all protect the right of the people to


be secure in their persons against unreasonable
searches and seizures. Arrest falls under the term
"seizure. "23

I.
WHETHER OR NOT THE PETITIONERS
WERE VALIDLY ARRESTED WITHOUT A
WARRANT.

This constitutional mandate is identical with the Fourth


Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The
Fourth Amendment traces its origins to the writings of Sir
Edward Coke24 and The Great Charter of the Liberties of
England (Magna Carta Libertatum), sealed under oath
by King John on the bank of the River Thames near
Windsor, England on June 15, 1215.25 The Magna Carta
Libertatum limited the King of England's powers and
required the Crown to proclaim certain liberties26 under
the feudal vassals' threat of civil war.27 The declarations
in Chapter 29 of the Magna Carta Libertatum later
became the foundational component of the Fourth
Amendment of the United States Constitution.28 It
provides:

II.
WHETHER OR NOT THE PETITIONERS
WERE LAWFULLY ARRESTED WHEN THEY
WERE MERELY INVITED TO THE POLICE
PRECINCT.
III.
WHETHER OR NOT THE ORDER DENYING
THE MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY
INVESTIGATION IS VOID FOR FAILURE TO
STATE THE FACTS AND THE LAW UPON
WHICH IT WAS BASED.

No freeman shall be taken, or imprisoned, or be


disseised29 of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs,
or be outlawed, or exiled, or any otherwise destroyed;
nor will we not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by
lawful Judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the Land,
We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any
man either Justice or Right.30 [Emphasis supplied]

The petitioners primarily argue that they were not


lawfully arrested. No arrest warrant was ever issued;
they went to the police station only as a response to the
arresting officers' invitation. They even cited the Affidavit
of Arrest, which actually used the word "invited. "
The petitioners also claim that no valid warrantless
arrest took place under the terms of Rule 112, Section 7
of the Revised Rules of Court. The incident happened
two (2) hours before the police officers actually arrived at
the crime scene. The police officers could not have
undertaken a valid warrantless arrest as they had no
personal knowledge that the petitioners were the authors
of the crime.

In United States v. Snyder,31 the United States Supreme


Court held that this constitutional provision does not
prohibit arrests, searches and seizures without judicial
warrant, but only those that are unreasonable.32 With
regard to an arrest, it is considered a seizure, which
must also satisfy the test of reasonableness.33
In our jurisdiction, early rulings of the Court have
acknowledged the validity of warrantless arrests. The
Court based these rulings on the common law of
America and England that, according to the Court, were
not different from the Spanish laws.34 These court rulings
likewise justified warrantless arrests based on the
provisions of separate laws then existing in the
Philippines.35

The petitioners additionally argue that the R TC' s Order


denying the Urgent Motion for Regular Preliminary
Investigation is void because it was not properly issued.
The Court's Ruling
We find the petition unmeritorious and thus uphold the
RTC Order. The criminal proceedings against the
petitioners should now proceed.

In 1905, the Court held in The United States v.


Wilson36 that Section 3737 of Act No. 183, or the Charter
of Manila, defined the arresting officer's power to arrest
without a warrant, at least insofar as the City of Manila
was concerned.

It is unfortunate that the kind of motion that the


petitioners filed has to reach this Court for its resolution.
The thought is very tempting that the motion was
employed simply to delay the proceedings and that the
use of Rule 65 petition has been abused.

In The United States v. Vallejo, et al.,38 the Court held


that in the absence of any provisions under statutes or
local ordinances, a police officer who held similar
functions as those of the officers established under the
common law of England and America, also had the
power to arrest without a warrant in the Philippines.

But accepting things as they are, this delay can be more


than compensated by fully examining in this case the
legalities surrounding warrantless warrants and
establishing the proper interpretation of the Rules for the
guidance of the bench and the bar. These Rules have
evolved over time, and the present case presents to us
the opportunity to re-trace their origins, development and
the current applicable interpretation.

The Court also ruled in The United States v.


Santos39 that the rules on warrantless arrest were based
on common sense and reason.40 It further held that
warrantless arrest found support under the then
Administrative Code41which directed municipal
policemen to exercise vigilance in the prevention of
public offenses.

I. Brief history on warrantless arrests


The organic laws of the Philippines, specifically, the
Philippine Bill of 1902,19 and the 1935,20 197321 and

10

In The United States v. Fortaleza,42 the Court applied


Rules 27, 28, 29 and 3043 of the Provisional Law for the
Application of the Penal Code which were provisions
taken from the Spanish Law.

is reasonable ground to believe guilty of some offense. It


will be the duty of the authorities, as well as of their
agents, to arrest:
First. Such persons as may be arrested under the
provisions of rule 27.

These rules were subsequently established and


incorporated in our Rules of Court and jurisprudence.
Presently, the requirements of a warrantless arrest are
now summarized in Rule 113, Section 5 which states
that: Section 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. - A
peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant,
arrest a person:

Second. A person charged with a crime for which the


code provides a penalty greater than that of
confinamiento.
Third. A person charged with a crime for which the code
provides a penalty less than that of confinamiento, if his
antecedents or the circumstances of the case would
warrant the presumption that he would fail to appear
when summoned by the judicial authorities.

(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

The provisions of the preceding paragraph shall not


apply, however, to a defendant who gives sufficient
bond, to the satisfaction of the authority or agent who
may arrest him, and who it may reasonably be presumed
will appear whenever summoned by the judge or court
competent to try him.

(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.

Fourth. A person coining under the provisions of the


preceding paragraph may be arrested, although no
formal complaint has been filed against him, provided
the following circumstances are present:
First. That the authority or agent had reasonable cause
to believe that an unlawful act, amounting to a crime had
been committed.

In cases falling under paragraph (a) and (b) above, the


person arrested without a warrant shall be forth with
delivered to the nearest police station or jail and shall be
proceeded against in accordance with section 7 of Rule
112.

Second. That the authority or agent had sufficient reason


to believe that the person arrested participated in the
commission of such unlawful act or crime." [Emphasis
and underscoring supplied]

A warrantless arrest under the circumstances


contemplated under Section 5(a) above has been
denominated as one "in flagrante delicto," while that
under Section 5(b) has been described as a "hot pursuit"
arrest.44

In the same decision, the Court likewise cited Section 3


7 of the Charter of Manila, which provided that certain
officials, including police officers may, within the territory
defined in the law, pursue and arrest without warrant,
any person found in suspicious places or under
suspicious circumstances, reasonably tending to show
that such person has committed, or is about to commit
any crime or breach of the peace.

For purposes of this case, we shall focus on Section 5(b)


the provision applicable in the present case. This
provision has undergone changes through the years not
just in its phraseology but also in its interpretation in our
jurisprudence.

In Santos,46 the Court cited Miles v. Weston,47 which


ruled that a peace officer may arrest persons walking in
the street at night when there is reasonable ground to
suspect the commission of a crime, although there is no
proof of a felony having been committed.

We shall first trace the evolution of Section 5(b) and


examine the applicable American and Philippine
jurisprudence to fully understand its roots and its
appropriate present application.
II. Evolution of Section 5(b), Rule 113

The Court ruled in Santos that the arresting officer must


justify that there was a probable cause for an arrest
without a warrant. The Court defined probable cause as
a reasonable ground of suspicion, supported by
circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves as to
warrant a reasonable man in believing that the accused
is guilty. Besides reasonable ground of suspicion, action
in good faith is another requirement. Once these
conditions are complied with, the peace officer is not
liable even if the arrested person turned out to be
innocent.

A. Prior to the 1940 Rules of Court


Prior to 1940, the Court based its rulings not just on
American and English common law principle on
warrantless arrests but also on laws then existing in the
Philippines. In Fortaleza,45 the Court cited Rule 28 of the
Provisional Law for the Application of the Penal Code
which provided that:
Judicial and administrative authorities have power to
detain, or to cause to be detained, persons whom there

11

Based on these discussions, it appears clear that prior to


the 1940 Rules of Court, it was not necessary for the
arresting officer to first have knowledge that a crime was
actually committed. What was necessary was the
presence of 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 in it. In
addition, it was also established under the old court
rulings that the phrase "reasonable suspicion" was
tantamount to probable cause without which, the
warrantless arrest would be invalid and the arresting
officer may be held liable for its breach.48

determination of probable cause (or reasonable


suspicion) applied both as to whether a crime has been
committed and whether the person to be arrested has
committed it.
However, under the 1940 and the 1964 Rules of Court,
the Rules required that there should be actual
commission of an offense, thus, removing the element of
the arresting officer's "reasonable suspicion of the
commission of an offense." Additionally, the
determination of probable cause, or reasonable
suspicion, was limited only to the determination of
whether the person to be arrested has committed the
offense. In other words, the 1940 and 1964 Rules of
Court restricted the arresting officer's discretion in
warrantless arrests under Section 6(b), Rule 113 of the
1964 Rules of Court.

In The US. v. Hachaw,49 the Court invalidated the


warrantless arrest of a Chinaman because the arresting
person did not state in what way the Chinaman was
acting suspiciously or the particular act or circumstance
which aroused the arresting person's curiosity.

C. The more restrictive 1985 Rules of Criminal


Procedure

It appears, therefore, that prior to the establishment in


our Rules of Court of the rules on warrantless arrests,
the gauge for a valid warrantless arrest was the arresting
officer's reasonable suspicion (probable cause) that a
crime was committed and the person sought to be
arrested has participated in its commission. This
principle left so much discretion and leeway on the part
of the arresting officer. However, the 1940 Rules of Court
has limited this discretion.

Section 6, Rule 113 of the 1964 Rules of Court again


underwent substantial changes and was re-worded and
re-numbered when it became Section 5, Rule 113 of the
1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure, to wit:
Sec. 5. Arrest without warrant; when. lawful. - A peace
officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest
a person:

B. The 1940 Rules of Court


(Restricting the arresting
officer's determination of
probable cause)

(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

Rules 27 and 28 of the Provisional Law for the


Application of the Penal Code were substantially
incorporated in Section 6, Rule 109 of the 1940 Rules of
Court as follows:50

(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. [Emphasis and
underscoring supplied]

SEC. 6. Arrest without warrant - When lawful. - A peace


officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest
a person:
(a) When the person to be arrested has
committed, is actually committing, or is about to
commit an offense in his presence;
(b) When an offense has in fact been committed,
and he has reasonable ground to believe that
the person to be arrested has committed it;
(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. [Emphasis and
underscoring supplied]

As amended, Section 5(b ), Rule 113 of the 1985 Rules


of Court retained the restrictions introduced under the
1964 Rules of Court. More importantly, however, it
added a qualification that the commission of the offense
should not only have been "committed" but should have
been "just committed." This limited the arresting officer's
time frame for conducting an investigation for purposes
of gathering information indicating that the person
sought to be arrested has committed the crime.

These provisions were adopted in toto in Section 6, Rule


113 of the 1964 Rules of Court. Notably, the 1940 and
1964 Rules have deviated from the old rulings of the
Court. Prior to the 1940 Rules, the actual commission of
the offense was not necessary in determining the validity
of the warrantless arrest. Too, the arresting officer's

D. The Present Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure


Section 5(b ), Rule 113 of the 1985 Rules of Criminal
Procedure was further amended with the incorporation of

12

the word "probable cause" as the basis of the arresting


officer's determination on whether the person to be
arrested has committed the crime.

The U.S. Supreme Court, however indicated in Henry v.


United States54 that the Fourth Amendment limited the
circumstances under which warrantless arrests may be
made. The necessary inquiry is not whether there was a
warrant or whether there was time to get one, but
whether at the time of the arrest probable cause existed.
The term probable cause is synonymous to "reasonable
cause" and "reasonable grounds."55

Hence, as presently worded, Section 5(b), Rule 113 of


the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that:
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.

In determining the existence of probable cause, the


arresting officer should make a thorough investigation
and exercise reasonable judgment. The standards for
evaluating the factual basis supporting a probable cause
assessment are not less stringent in warrantless arrest
situation than in a case where a warrant is sought from a
judicial officer. The probable cause determination of a
warrantless arrest is based on information that the
arresting officer possesses at the time of the arrest and
not on the information acquired later.56

From the current phraseology of the rules on warrantless


arrest, it appears that for purposes of Section S(b ), the
following are the notable changes: first, the
contemplated offense was qualified by the word "just,"
connoting immediacy; and second, the warrantless
arrest of a person sought to be arrested should be based
on probable cause to be determined by the arresting
officer based on his personal knowledge of facts and
circumstances that the person to be arrested has
committed it.

In evaluating probable cause, probability and not


certainty is the determinant of reasonableness under the
Fourth Amendment. Probable cause involves
probabilities similar to the factual and practical questions
of everyday life upon which reasonable and prudent
persons act. It is a pragmatic question to be determined
in each case in light of the particular circumstances and
the particular offense involved.57

It is clear that the present rules have "objectified" the


previously subjective determination of the arresting
officer as to the (1) commission of the crime; and (2)
whether the person sought to be arrested committed the
crime. According to Feria, these changes were adopted
to minimize arrests based on mere suspicion or
hearsay.51

In determining probable cause, the arresting officer may


rely on all the information in his possession, his fair
inferences therefrom, including his observations. Mere
suspicion does not meet the requirements of showing
probable cause to arrest without warrant especially if it is
a mere general suspicion. Probable cause may rest on
reasonably trustworthy information as well as personal
knowledge. Thus, the arresting officer may rely on
information supplied by a witness or a victim of a crime;
and under the circumstances, the arresting officer need
not verify such information.58

As presently worded, the elements under Section 5(b),


Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure
are: first, an offense has just been committed; and
second, the arresting officer has probable cause to
believe based on personal knowledge of facts or
circumstances that the person to be arrested has
committed it.
For purposes of this case, we shall discuss these
elements separately below, starting with the element of
probable cause, followed by the elements that the
offense has just been committed, and the arresting
officer's personal knowledge of facts or circumstances
that the person to be arrested has committed the crime.

In our jurisdiction, the Court has likewise defined


probable cause in the context of Section 5(b), Rule 113
of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure.
In Abelita Ill v. Doria et al.,59 the Court held that personal
knowledge of facts must be based on probable cause,
which means an actual belief or reasonable grounds of
suspicion. 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.

i) First Element of Section 5(b), Rule 113 of the Revised


Rules of Criminal Procedure: Probable cause
The existence of "probable cause" is now the "objectifier"
or the determinant on how the arresting officer shall
proceed on the facts and circumstances, within his
personal knowledge, for purposes of determining
whether the person to be arrested has committed the
crime.
i.a) U.S. jurisprudence on probable cause in warrantless
arrests

i.b) Probable cause under Section 5(b), Rule 113 of the


Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, distinguished from
probable cause in preliminary investigations and the
judicial proceeding for the issuance of a warrant of arrest

In Payton v. New York,52 the U.S. Supreme Court held


that the Fourth Amendment of the Federal Constitution
does not prohibit arrests without a warrant although such
arrests must be reasonable. According to State v.
Quinn,53 the warrantless arrest of a person who was
discovered in the act of violating the law is not a violation
of due process.

The purpose of a preliminary investigation is to


determine whether a crime has been committed and

13

whether there is probable cause to believe that the


accused is guilty of the crime and should be held for
triat.60 In Buchanan v. Viuda de Esteban,61 we defined
probable cause as the existence of facts and
circumstances as would excite the belief in a reasonable
mind, acting on the facts within the knowledge of the
prosecutor, that the person charged was guilty of the
crime for which he was prosecuted.

these officers use the same standard of a reasonable


man, they possess dissimilar quantity of facts or
circumstances, as set by the rules, upon which they
must determine probable cause.
Thus, under the present rules and jurisprudence, the
arresting officer should base his determination of
probable cause on his personal knowledge of facts and
circumstances that the person sought to be arrested has
committed the crime; the public prosecutor and the judge
must base their determination on the evidence submitted
by the parties.

In this particular proceeding, the finding of the existence


of probable cause as to the guilt of the respondent was
based on the submitted documents of the complainant,
the respondent and his witnesses.62

In other words, the arresting officer operates on the


basis of more limited facts, evidence or available
information that he must personally gather within a
limited time frame.

On the other hand, probable cause in judicial


proceedings for the issuance of a warrant of arrest is
defined as the existence of such facts and
circumstances that would lead a reasonably discreet and
prudent person to believe that an offense has been
committed by the person sought to be arrested.

Hence, in Santos,66 the Court acknowledged the inherent


limitations of determining probable cause in warrantless
arrests due to the urgency of its determination in these
instances. The Court held that one should not expect too
much of an ordinary policeman. He is not presumed to
exercise the subtle reasoning of a judicial officer.
Oftentimes, he has no opportunity to make proper
investigation but must act in haste on his own belief to
prevent the escape of the criminal.67

Hence, before issuing a warrant of arrest, the judge must


be satisfied that based on the evidence submitted, there
is sufficient proof that a crime has been committed and
that the person to be arrested is probably guilty thereof.
At this stage of the criminal proceeding, the judge is not
yet tasked to review in detail the evidence submitted
during the preliminary investigation. It is sufficient that he
personally evaluates the evidence in determining
probable cause63 to issue a warrant of arrest.

ii) Second and Third Elements of Section 5(b), Rule 113:


The crime has just been committed/personal
knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person
to be arrested has committed it

In contrast, the arresting officer's determination of


probable cause under Section 5(b), Rule 113 of the
Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure is based on his
personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the
person sought to be arrested has committed the crime.
These facts or circumstances pertain to actual facts or
raw evidence, 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.

We deem it necessary to combine the discussions of


these two elements as our jurisprudence shows that
these were usually taken together in the Court's
determination of the validity of the warrantless arrests
that were made pursuant to Section 5(b), Rule 113 of the
Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure.
In Posadas v. Ombudsman,68 the killing of Dennis
Venturina happened on December 8, 1994. It was only
on December 11, 1994 that Chancellor Posadas
requested the NBI's assistance. On the basis of the
supposed identification of two (2) witnesses, the NBI
attempted to arrest Francis Carlo Taparan and
Raymundo Narag three (3) days after the commission of
the crime. With this set of facts, it cannot be said that the
officers have personal knowledge of facts or
circumstances that the persons sought to be arrested
committed the crime. Hence, the Court invalidated the
warrantless arrest.

The probable cause to justify warrantless arrest


ordinarily signifies a reasonable ground of suspicion
supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in
themselves to warrant a cautious man to believe that the
person accused is guilty of the offense with which he is
charged,64 or an actual belief or reasonable ground of
suspicion, based on actual facts.65
It is clear therefore that the standard for determining
"probable cause" is invariable for the officer arresting
without a warrant, the public prosecutor, and the judge
issuing a warrant of arrest. It is the existence of such
facts and circumstances that would lead a reasonably
discreet and prudent person to believe that an offense
has been committed by the person sought to be arrested
or held for trial, as the case may be.

Similarly, in People v. Burgos,69 one Cesar Masamlok


personally and voluntarily surrendered to the authorities,
stating that Ruben Burgos forcibly recruited him to
become a member of the NPA, with a threat of physical
harm. Upon receipt of this information, a joint team of
PC-INP units was dispatched to arrest Burgos who was
then plowing the field. Indeed, the arrest was invalid
considering that the only information that the police
officers had in effecting the arrest was the information
from a third person. It cannot be also said in this case
that there was certainty as regards the commission of a
crime.

However, while the arresting officer, the public


prosecutor and the judge all determine "probable cause,"
within the spheres of their respective functions, its
existence is influenced heavily by the available facts and
circumstance within their possession. In short, although

14

In People v. del Rosario,70 the Court held that the


requirement that an offense has just been committed
means that there must be a large measure of immediacy
between the time the offense was committed and the
time of the arrest. If there was an appreciable lapse of
time between the arrest and the commission of the
crime, a warrant of arrest must be secured.

indicating that the accused was the assailant. Thus, the


warrantless arrest was held valid.
In People v. Acol,77 a group held up the passengers in a
jeepney and the policemen immediately responded to
the report of the crime. One of the victims saw four
persons walking towards Fort Bonifacio, one of whom
was wearing his jacket. The victim pointed them to the
policemen. When the group saw the policemen coming,
they ran in different directions. The Court held that the
arrest was valid.

The Court held that the arrest of del Rosario did not
comply with these requirements because he was
arrested only a day after the commission of the crime
and not immediately thereafter. Additionally, the arresting
officers were not present and were not actual
eyewitnesses to the crime. Hence, they had no personal
knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be
arrested had committed the offense. They became
aware of del Rosario's identity as the driver of the
getaway tricycle only during the custodial investigation.

In Cadua v. CA,78 there was an initial report to the police


concerning a robbery. A radio dispatch was then given to
the arresting officers, who proceeded to Alden Street to
verify the authenticity of the radio message. When they
reached the place, they met with the complainants who
initiated the report about the robbery. Upon the officers'
invitation, the victims joined them in conducting a search
of the nearby area where the accused was spotted in the
vicinity. Based on the reported statements of the
complainants, he was identified as a logical suspect in
the offense just committed. Hence, the arrest was held
valid.

In People v. Cendana,71 the accused was arrested one


(1) day after the killing of the victim and only on the basis
of information obtained from unnamed sources. The
unlawful arrest was held invalid.
In Rolito Go v. CA,72 the arrest of the accused six ( 6)
days after the commission of the crime was held invalid
because the crime had not just been committed.
Moreover, the "arresting" officers had no "personal
knowledge" of facts indicating that the accused was the
gunman who had shot the victim. The information upon
which the police acted came from statements made by
alleged eyewitnesses to the shooting; one stated that the
accused was the gunman; another was able to take
down the alleged gunman's car's plate number which
turned out to be registered in the name of the accused's
wife. That information did not constitute "personal
knowledge."

In Doria,79 the Court held that Section S(b ), Rule 113 of


the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure does not require
the arresting officers to personally witness the
commission of the offense.
In this case, P/Supt. Doria alleged that his office
received a telephone call from a relative of Rosa Sia
about a shooting incident. He dispatched a team headed
by SP03 Ramirez to investigate the incident. SP03
Ramirez later reported that a certain William Sia was
wounded while Judge Abelita III, who was implicated in
the incident, and his wife just left the place of the
incident. P/Supt. Doria looked for Abelita III and when he
found him, he informed him of the incident report.
P/Supt. Doria requested Abelita III to go with him to the
police headquarters as he had been reported to be
involved in the incident. Abelita III agreed but suddenly
sped up his vehicle and proceeded to his residence
where P/Supt. Doria caught him up as he was about to
run towards his house.

In People v. Tonog, Jr.,73 the warrantless arrest which


was done on the same day was held valid. In this case,
the arresting officer had knowledge of facts which he
personally gathered in the course of his investigation,
indicating that the accused was one of the perpetrators.
In People v. Gerente,74 the policemen arrested Gerente
only about three (3) hours after Gerente and his
companions had killed the victim. The Court held that the
policemen had personal knowledge of the violent death
of the victim and of facts indicating that Gerente and two
others had killed him. The warrantless arrest was held
valid.

The police officers saw a gun in the front seat of the


vehicle beside the driver's seat as Abelita III opened the
door. They also saw a shotgun at the back of the driver's
seat. The police officers confiscated the firearms and
arrested Abelita III. The Court held that the petitioner's
act of trying to get away, coupled with the incident report
which they investigated, were enough to raise a
reasonable suspicion on the part of the police authorities
as to the existence of probable cause. Based on these
discussions, it appears that the Court's appreciation of
the elements that "the offense has just been committed"
and ''personal knowledge of facts and circumstances
that the person to be arrested committed it" depended
on the particular circumstances of the case. However,
we note that the element of ''personal knowledge of facts
or circumstances" under Section S(b ), Rule 113 of the
Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure requires
clarification.

In People v. Alvario,75 the warrantless arrest came


immediately after the arresting officers received
information from the victim of the crime. The Court held
that the personal knowledge of the arresting officers was
derived from the information supplied by the victim
herself who pointed to Alvario as the man who raped her
at the time of his arrest. The Court upheld the
warrantless arrest. In People v. Jayson,76 there was a
shooting incident. The policemen who were summoned
to the scene of the crime found the victim. The
informants pointed to the accused as the assailant only
moments after the shooting. The Court held that the
arresting officers acted on the basis of personal
knowledge of the death of the victim and of facts

15

The phrase covers facts or, in the alternative,


circumstances. According to the Black's Law
Dictionary,80"circumstances are attendant or
accompanying facts, events or conditions. "
Circumstances may pertain to events or actions within
the actual perception, personal evaluation or observation
of the police officer at the scene of the crime. Thus, even
though the police officer has not seen someone actually
fleeing, he could still make a warrantless arrest if, based
on his personal evaluation of the circumstances at the
scene of the crime, he could determine the existence of
probable cause that the person sought to be arrested
has committed the crime. However, the determination of
probable cause and the gathering of facts or
circumstances should be made immediately after the
commission of the crime in order to comply with the
element of immediacy.

circumstances that the petitioners committed the crime?


and 3) based on these facts and circumstances that the
arresting officer possessed at the time of the petitioners'
arrest, would a reasonably discreet and prudent person
believe that the attempted murder of Atty. Generoso was
committed by the petitioners? We rule in the affirmative.
III. Application of Section S(b), Rule 113 of the Revised
Rules
of Criminal Procedure in the present case: there was a
valid warrantless arrest
We deem it necessary to review the records of the CA
because it has misapprehended the facts in its
decision.81From a review of the records, we conclude
that the police officers had personal knowledge of facts
or circumstances upon which they had properly
determined probable cause in effecting a warrantless
arrest against the petitioners. We note, however, that the
determination of the facts in the present case is purely
limited to the resolution of the issue on the validity of the
warrantless arrests of the petitioners.

In other words, the clincher in the element of ''personal


knowledge of facts or circumstances" is the required
element of immediacy within which these facts or
circumstances should be gathered. This required time
element acts as a safeguard to ensure that the police
officers have gathered the facts or perceived the
circumstances within a very limited time frame. This
guarantees that the police officers would have no time to
base their probable cause finding on facts or
circumstances obtained after an exhaustive
investigation.

Based on the police blotter82 entry taken at 4:15 a.m. on


February 20, 2005, the date that the alleged crime was
committed, the petitioners were brought in for
investigation at the Batasan Hills Police Station. The
police blotter stated that the alleged crime was
committed at 3:15 a.m. on February 20, 2005, along
Kasiyahan St., Brgy. Holy Spirit, Quezon City.

The reason for the element of the immediacy is this - as


the time gap from the commission of the crime to the
arrest widens, the pieces of information gathered are
prone to become contaminated and subjected to
external factors, interpretations and hearsay. On the
other hand, with the element of immediacy imposed
under Section 5(b), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of
Criminal Procedure, the police officer's determination of
probable cause would necessarily be limited to raw or
uncontaminated facts or circumstances, gathered as
they were within a very limited period of time. The same
provision adds another safeguard with the requirement
of probable cause as the standard for evaluating these
facts of circumstances before the police officer could
effect a valid warrantless arrest.

The time of the entry of the complaint in the police blotter


at 4:15 a.m., with Atty. Generoso and the petitioners
already inside the police station, would connote that the
arrest took place less than one hour from the time of the
occurrence of the crime. Hence, the CA finding that the
arrest took place two (2) hours after the commission of
the crime is unfounded.
The arresting officers' personal observation of Atty.
Generoso's bruises when they arrived at the scene of
the crime is corroborated by the petitioners' admissions
that Atty: Generoso indeed suffered blows from
petitioner Macapanas and his brother Joseph
Macapanas,83 although they asserted that they did it in
self-defense against Atty. Generoso.

In light of the discussion above on the developments of


Section 5(b), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure and our jurisprudence on the matter, we hold
that the following must be present for a valid warrantless
arrest: 1) the crime should have been just committed;
and 2) the arresting officer's exercise of discretion is
limited by the standard of probable cause to be
determined from the facts and circumstances within his
personal knowledge. The requirement of the existence of
probable cause objectifies the reasonableness of the
warrantless arrest for purposes of compliance with the
Constitutional mandate against unreasonable arrests.

Atty. Generoso's bruises were also corroborated by the


Medico-Legal Certificate84 that was issued by East
Avenue Medical Center on the same date of the alleged
mauling. The medical check-up of Atty. Generoso that
was made about 8:10 a.m. on the date of the incident,
showed the following findings: "Contusion Hematoma,
Left Frontal Area; Abrasion, T6 area, right midclavicular
line periorbital hematoma, left eye; Abrasion, distal 3rd
posterolateral aspect of right forearm; Abrasion, 4th and
fifth digit, right hand; Abrasion on area of ih rib (L ant.
Chest wall), tenderness on L peripheral area, no visible
abrasion. In addition, the attending physician, Dr. Eva P.
Javier, diagnosed Atty. Generoso of contusion
hematoma, periorbital L., and traumatic conjunctivitis,
o.s.

Hence, for purposes of resolving the issue on the validity


of the warrantless arrest of the present petitioners, the
question to be resolved is whether the requirements for
a valid warrantless arrest under Section 5(b), Rule 113
of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure were
complied with, namely: 1) has the crime just been
committed when they were arrested? 2) did the arresting
officer have personal knowledge of facts and

To summarize, the arresting officers went to the scene of


the crime upon the complaint of Atty. Generoso of his
alleged mauling; the police officers responded to the

16

scene of the crime less than one (1) hour after the
alleged mauling; the alleged crime transpired in a
community where Atty. Generoso and the petitioners
reside; Atty. Generoso positively identified the petitioners
as those responsible for his mauling and, notably, the
petitioners85and Atty. Generoso86 lived almost in the
same neighborhood; more importantly, when the
petitioners were confronted by the arresting officers, they
did not deny their participation in the incident with Atty.
Generoso, although they narrated a different version of
what transpired.87

case) and the police officer has probable cause to


believe based on personal knowledge of facts or
circumstances, that the person to be arrested has
recently committed the crime.
Considering the circumstances of the stabbing,
particularly the locality where it took place, its occasion,
the personal circumstances of the parties, and the
immediate on-the-spot investigation that took place, the
immediate and warrantless arrests of the perpetrators
were proper. Consequently, the inquest proceeding that
the City Prosecutor conducted was appropriate under
the circumstances.

With these facts and circumstances that the police


officers gathered and which they have personally
observed less than one hour from the time that they
have arrived at the scene of the crime until the time of
the arrest of the petitioners, we deem it reasonable to
conclude that the police officers had personal knowledge
of facts or circumstances justifying the petitioners'
warrantless arrests. These circumstances were well
within the police officers' observation, perception and
evaluation at the time of the arrest. These circumstances
qualify as the police officers' personal observation, which
are within their personal knowledge, prompting them to
make the warrantless arrests.

IV. The term "invited" in the Affidavit of Arrest is


construed to
mean as an authoritative command
After the resolution of the validity of the warrantless
arrest, the discussion of the petitioners' second issue is
largely academic. Arrest is defined as the taking of a
person into custody in order that he may be bound to
answer for the commission of an offense. An arrest is
made by an actual restraint of the person to be arrested,
or by his submission to the custody of the person making
the arrest.91 Thus, application of actual force, manual
touching of the body, physical restraint or a formal
declaration of arrest is not required. It is enough that
there be an intention on the part of one of the parties to
arrest the other and the intent of the other to submit,
under the belief and impression that submission is
necessary.92

Similar to the factual antecedents in Jayson,88 the police


officers in the present case saw Atty. Generoso in his
sorry bloodied state. As the victim, he positively
identified the petitioners as the persons who mauled
him; however, instead of fleeing like what happened in
Jayson, the petitioners agreed to go with the police
officers.

Notwithstanding the term "invited" in the Affidavit of


Arrest,93 SP02 Javier could not but have the intention of
arresting the petitioners following Atty. Generoso' s
account. SP02 Javier did not need to apply violent
physical restraint when a simple directive to the
petitioners to follow him to the police station would
produce a similar effect. In other words, the application
of actual force would only be an alternative if the
petitioners had exhibited resistance.

This is also similar to what happened in People v. Tonog,


Jr.89 where Tonog did not flee but voluntarily went with
the police officers. More than this, the petitioners in the
present case even admitted to have been involved in the
incident with Atty. Generoso, although they had another
version of what transpired.
In determining the reasonableness of the warrantless
arrests, it is incumbent upon the courts to consider if the
police officers have complied with the requirements set
under Section 5(b), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of
Criminal Procedure, specifically, the requirement of
immediacy; the police officer's personal knowledge of
facts or circumstances; and lastly, the propriety of the
determination of probable cause that the person sought
to be arrested committed the crime.

To be sure, after a crime had just been committed and


the attending policemen have acquired personal
knowledge of the incidents of the crime, including the
alleged perpetrators, the arrest of the petitioners as the
perpetrators pointed to by the victim, was not a mere
random act but was in connection with a particular
offense. Furthermore, SP02 Javier had informed the
petitioners, at the time of their arrest, of the charges
against them before taking them to Batasan Hills Police
Station for investigation.94

The records show that soon after the report of the


incident occurred, SPOl Monsalve immediately
dispatched the arresting officer, SP02 Javier, to render
personal assistance to the victim.90 This fact alone
negates the petitioners' argument that the police officers
did not have personal knowledge that a crime had been
committed - the police immediately responded and had
personal knowledge that a crime had been
committed.1wphi1

V. The Order denying the motion for preliminary


investigation is valid
In their last ditch attempt at avoidance, the petitioners
attack the R TC Order denying the petitioners' urgent
motion for regular preliminary investigation for allegedly
having been issued in violation of Article VIII, Section 14
of the 1987 Constitution95 and Rule 16, Section 3 of the
Revised Rules of Court.96

To reiterate, personal knowledge of a crime just


committed under the terms of the above-cited provision,
does not require actual presence at the scene while a
crime was being committed; it is enough that evidence of
the recent commission of the crime is patent (as in this

The RTC, in its Order dismissing the motion, clearly


states that the Court is not persuaded by the evidentiary

17

nature of the allegations in the said motion of the


accused. Aside from lack of clear and convincing proof,
the Court, in the exercise of its sound discretion on the
matter, is legally bound to pursue and hereby gives
preference to the speedy disposition of the case."

and JOEL DE JESUS y VALDEZ,


Accused-Appellants.

PEREZ,
MENDOZA,
SERENO, JJ

Promulgated
September 7
x----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

We do not see any taint of impropriety or grave abuse of


discretion in this Order. The RTC, in resolving the
motion, is not required to state all the facts found in the
record of the case. Detailed evidentiary matters, as the
RTC decreed, is best reserved for the full-blown trial of
the case, not in the preliminary incidents leading up to
the trial.

DECISION
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
For review is the Decision[1] dated April 1, 2008 of the

Additionally, no less than the Constitution itself provides


that it is the decision that should state clearly and
distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based. In
resolving a motion, the court is only required to state
clearly and distinctly the reasons therefor. A contrary
system would only prolong the proceedings, which was
precisely what happened to this case. Hence, we uphold
the validity of the RTC's order as it correctly stated the
reason for its denial of the petitioners' Urgent Motion for
Regular Preliminary Investigation. WHEREFORE,
premises considered, we hereby DENY the petition, and
hereby AFFIRM the decision dated January 21, 2008
and the resolution dated April 17, 2008 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 91541. The City Prosecutor
of Quezon City is hereby ORDERED to proceed with the
criminal proceedings against the petitioners.

Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 00667


which

affirmed

with

modification

the

Joint

Decision[2] dated July 30, 1999 of the Regional Trial


Court of Quezon City, Branch 103 in Criminal Case Nos.
Q-96-66679, Q-96-66680, Q-96-66682, Q-96-66683 and
Q-96-66684.
The consolidated cases arose in connection with the
killing of former Chief of the Metropolitan Command
Intelligence and Security Group of the Philippine
Constabulary, now the Philippine National Police (PNP),
Colonel Rolando N. Abadilla (Abadilla), who was

SO ORDERED.

ambushed in broad daylight while driving his car along


EN BANC
LENIDO LUMANOG and AUGUSTO SANTOS,
Petitioners,

Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City.


G.R. No. 182555
The Facts

- versus PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


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

On June 13, 1996, at around 8:00 oclock in the morning,


G.R. No.

CESAR FORTUNA,
Petitioner,

left, his wife Susan Abadilla received a phone call from


him and they briefly talked. Just a few minutes after their

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


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

- versus -

SPO2 CESAR FORTUNA y ABUDO, RAMESES


DE JESUS y CALMA, LENIDO LUMANOG y
LUISTRO, JOEL DE JESUS y VALDEZ and
AUGUSTO SANTOS y GALANG,
Accused,
RAMESES DE JESUS y CALMA

Loyola Heights, Quezon City and drove his car, a black


Honda Accord with Plate No. RNA-777. Soon after he

- versus -

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


Plaintiff-Appellee,

Abadilla left his house at Soliven I, Loyola Grand Villas,

conversation, she received another phone call from


Abadillas tailor who was asking about her husband
G.R. No.

because, according to him, he heard a radio broadcast

Present:

report that Abadilla met an accident.[3]

CORONA,
CARPIO, Meanwhile, at about 8:40 a.m., Senior Police Officer
CARPIO MORALES,
(SPO) 2 Arthur Ortiz, the desk officer on duty at Station 8
VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA, of the Central Police District Command (CPDC) located
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
at P. Tuazon Blvd., Project 4, Quezon City, answered a
BRION,*
PERALTA, telephone call from a male person who reported a
BERSAMIN,
shooting incident along Katipunan Avenue. Station
DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD,
Commander Police Chief Inspector (Insp.) Edward
VILLARAMA, JR.,

18

Villena, together with his investigators SPO2 Wahab

National Capital Region (NCR) at Camp Karingal,

Magundacan, Police Officer (PO) 2 Gerardo Daganta

Sikatuna Village, Quezon City, while the statement of

and PO1 Ronald Francisco immediately boarded a PNP

Merlito Herbas (security guard posted at the Blue Ridge

marked vehicle and headed towards Katipunan Avenue.

Realty Corporation located at No. 219 Katipunan

[4]

Avenue, Quezon City) was taken at Station No. 8, CPDC


at P. Tuazon Blvd., Proj. 4, Quezon City.[10]

Upon reaching the area at 8:45 a.m., they saw several


onlookers around and near a black Honda Accord with

Based on their accounts, the black Honda Accord with

Plate No. RNA-777 on a stop position in the middle lane

Plate Number RNA-777 was caught in traffic while

of Katipunan Avenue facing south going to Libis. They

traversing Katipunan Avenue going to Santolan at past

found the victims bloodied and bullet-riddled body partly

8:00 oclock on the morning of June 13, 1996. While on a

slumped onto the pavement at the cars left door, which

stop position, four (4) men armed with handguns

was open.The front windshield and sliding glass

surrounded the said car and fired several successive

windows on the left and right side were shattered; a hole

shots at the man inside it. One (1) of the men who were

was seen on the glass window of the left rear door,

positioned at the left side of the car opened its door and

apparently pierced by a bullet.Glass splinters were

took something inside. He grabbed the victim by the

scattered inside the car and on the pavement at both

neck and dropped his body down towards the pavement

sides of the car. On orders of Chief Insp. Villena, PO2

at the left door. When there were already several people

Daganta and PO1 Francisco assisted by a certain Cesar

who had come out to see what was happening, one of

Espiritu, immediately brought the victim to the Quirino

the suspects shouted, Walang gagalawDapa!

Memorial Hospital in Project 4, Quezon City. SPO2


Magundacan was instructed to stay behind to cordon the

Minella Alarcon, who was then with her son-in-law on

area for the start of the investigation while Chief Insp.

board her white KIA Pride, was following the victims car

Villena went to their station to get his camera. [5] After ten

(at other side or diagonal line) at the time of the

(10) minutes, Chief Insp. Villena returned and took

incident. After the shooting, two (2) of the armed men

pictures of the crime scene, and also of the victim at the

who fired at the victims car approached their car and

hospital.[6] SPO2 Magundacan was able to pick up

pounded at it saying BabaBaba! Terrified, she and her

several spent shells and two (2) slugs, apparently fired

son-in-law got off and crawled towards the side of the

from .45 and 9 mm. pistols.[7] A sketch was prepared by

street. The assailants then boarded the KIA Pride and

PO2 Daganta who also interviewed some of the

went away to the direction of an alley along Katipunan

witnesses present at the crime scene.[8] The spot report

Avenue. Her car was later recovered, as it was found

and list of recovered items (including a Philippine Military

abandoned along Aguinaldo Street near the corner of

Academy gold ring on which was engraved the name

J.P. Rizal Street, Project 4, Quezon City, still with

Rolando N. Abadilla) were later prepared by SPO2

bloodstains on the car door.[11]

Magundacan at the police station.[9]


The victim was pronounced dead on arrival at the
hospital. The victims identity was confirmed by Susan
On the same day, witnesses Cesar F. Espiritu

Abadilla who had rushed to the hospital. Chief Insp.

(who was driving his car ahead of the victim), Aurora

Villena escorted her in bringing the victims body to the

Urbano (Metro Aide), Ani C. Icot (house gardener of the

PNP Crime Laboratory in Camp Crame for the autopsy

Abadilla family, Freddie Alejo (security guard posted at

requested by the CPDC, PNP-NCR, Camp Karingal.

Eliscon Electrical Supply store located at 211 Katipunan

[12]

Avenue) and Minella Alarcon (college professor at

Jesusa N. Vergara, it was disclosed that the victim died

Ateneo de Manila University) gave their respective

of hemorrhage as a result of multiple gunshot wounds,

statements before the Criminal Investigation Division of

mostly in the head and chest, and also sustained

the Central Police District Command (CID-CPDC), PNP-

abrasions, contusions, lacerated skin, hematoma and

19

From the testimony and medico-legal report of Dr.

incised wounds or cuts in the skin caused by glass

Joel further stated that the ambush-slay of

splinters.[13]

Abadilla was planned by the group three (3) days before,


when they met at the house of Ram de Jesus also in

Records indicate that immediately after the incident,

Fairview near his house. Although he did not know the

elements of the CPDC, PNP-NCR at Camp Karingal

identity of the person who masterminded the ambush-

were already coordinating with investigators of Station 8-

slay of Abadilla, he described the mastermind as the one

CPDC who had turned over to said office the evidence

(1) who opened Abadillas car and pulled Abadilla from

gathered and referred the witnesses present at the crime

the inside of the car, and he was also the one (1) who

scene.[14] As a result of follow-up operations, Joel de

drove the L-300 van. Lorenzo told him he should not

Jesus, alias Tabong, was apprehended on June 19,

worry because Lorenzo would take care that he would

1996 at his house at Dahlia St., Fairview, Quezon

be

City. He executed his Sinumpaang Salaysay dated June

reached Katipunan Avenue, they alighted from their

20, 1996 and Karagdagang Sinumpaang Salaysay dated

respective vehicles to wait for Abadilla. The L-300 van

June 21, 1996.[15]

where the mastermind and Cesar rode was just behind

compensated

for

his

participation. When

they

Abadillas car. There was no more order given to fire


In his first statement, Joel de Jesus narrated that

because when traffic stopped the vehicles on the road,

on June 13, 1996 at 6:30 in the morning after parking his

those in the L-300 van just got down, positioned

tricycle at the corner of Regalado and Camaro Streets,

themselves and fired upon Abadilla. The mastermind not

Fairview, he was fetched by Lorenzo Larry delos Santos

only fired at Abadilla from outside the latters car, he even

who

was

made sure Abadilla was dead, as half of his body went

accompanied by his nephew Ogie, and a certain Tisoy

inside the car, firing again at Abadilla before finally

who drove the owner-type jeep.Larry told him they were

dropping him to the ground. Joel added that he just

going to kill a big-time personality (may titirahin na

remained silent after the incident, for which he did not

malaking tao), whose name was Abadilla, and that they

earn anything and was threatened by one (1) of those

were going to ambush the latter at Katipunan Avenue.

who were in the L-300 van whose name he did not know.

The ambush would be carried out by Joel, Larry, Tisoy,

[17]

was

his

neighbor

at

Ruby

St. Larry

Ram (de Jesus), Cesar who was a policeman, and four


(4) others. That same morning, they proceeded to

In his second statement, Joel pointed to his

Katipunan Avenue on board Larrys owner-type jeep

cohorts in a police line-up inside the CID-CPDC, PNP-

without a plate and a Mitsubishi L-300 van. They

NCR, Camp Karingal, Quezon City where he positively

carried .45 and 9 mm. pistols; Joel used a .38 caliber

identified Rameses de Jesus (Ram), Cesar Fortuna,

revolver. According to Joel, he only acted as lookout;

Lenido Lumanog and PO2 Romeo Costibolo as among

Lorenzo, Ram and Cesar were the ones who fired shots,

those who participated in the ambush-slaying of Abadilla

while Tisoy focused on a security guard at a store. After

on June 13, 1996.[18]

the shooting, they separated ways: the owner-type jeep


he was riding in headed towards Santolan; Cesars group

The afore-named suspects identified by Joel

split so that three (3) of them rode the L-300 van and the

were apprehended during further follow-up operations

three (3) others boarded a car stolen from a woman

conducted on June 20, 1996 by Task Force Rolly

driver. Upon

and

subsequently formed by the PNP after the lead initially

Tandang Sora, they stopped at Glori Supermarket where

provided by him. As mentioned in the Joint Affidavit

all the firearms used were returned to the group,

executed by Police Senior Inspector (P/Sr. Insp.) Ronello

including the revolver earlier given to Joel. It was already

N. Navarro, Police Inspector (P/Insp.) Ferdinand A.

dusk when Lorenzo dropped him off at the tricycle

Marticio, SPO4 Wilfredo G. Galvan and SPO1 Allan dela

parking area at Camaro St.[16]

Cruz dated June 21, 1996, as early as June 15, 1996, or

reaching

Commonwealth Avenue

two (2) days after the ambush-slay of Abadilla, their


investigation already established the identities of a

20

number of suspects through photo files and forensic

Jesus alias Tabong, Cesar Fortuna and four (4) others

sketches of suspects provided by eyewitnesses. [19] Said

whom he did not know. He said that he was just brought

arresting officers were also able to seize certain firearms

along by Rameses de Jesus and was further threatened

and other pieces of evidence, to wit:

that if he would not go with them, they would kill his


family. He claimed that he merely acted as a lookout. As

4. That after SPO2 cesar


Fortuna revealed the whereabouts of
the slain victims stolen cal .45 pistol, we
conducted a follow up in a gunsmith
located at Sampaloc, Manila on 21 June
1996, from where we held for
investigation, one

similarly recounted by Joel, Lorenzo stated that the


group used an L-300 van, a car and a jeep in going to
Katipunan Avenue in the morning of June 13, 1996. Joel
had a .45 cal pistol, Cesar a .38 revolver, Lenido a 9
mm., a certain Manuel dela Rosa who did not get out of

DANTE
MONTEVIRGEN
y
VILLANUEVA, 37 years old,
married,
selfemployed/gunsmith, native of
Pula, Oriental Mindoro and with
given address at 1412 Riverside
Street, Commonwealth Avenue,
Bgy. Holy Spirit, Quezon City.

the vehicle, carried a .38 cal revolver, and Lorenzo, also


a .38 cal revolver. Rameses, Joel, Cesar and Lenido
were the ones who shot Abadilla. After the shooting, the
group left him behind and he just walked on the street
before taking a taxi ride to the Bureau of Customs.
Lorenzo maintained that he was not given any

5. That upon confrontation said


subject person surrendered two (2) cal .
45 pistols whom suspect Cesar Fortuna
allegedly
brought
to
him
for
repair/tampering of serial numbers, to
wit:

money. He was just picked up from his house at Ruby


St., Fairview Subdivision by Rameses, Lenido, Cesar
and Joel. He was made to board Rameses car with a
warning that if he did not join the group, they would

(a) 1- COLT MARK IV cal .45


pistol Govt Model
SN-66B5574; and
(b) 1-COLT MARK IV cal .45
pistol Series 70
SN-647048.

throw a hand grenade at his family.[21]


In his Karagdagang Salaysay dated June 21, 1996,
security guard Freddie Alejo positively identified Joel and
Lorenzo during a police line-up. Alejo confirmed these

6. On the same day, 21 June


1996, after SPO2 Cesar Fortuna
expressed willingness to surrender the
motorcycle allegedly used in casing and
surveillance upon the deceased victim,
we took said motorcycle at Gate 2 of
Camp Crame along Santolan Road (Col
Bony Serrano Avenue), Quezon City, to
wit:
1-

two (2) as the persons he saw from his guard post


walking to and fro before the shooting incident. They
were also the ones who shouted that no one (1) should
interfere at the time the four (4) armed men were firing
shots at Abadilla.[22]

Unit, KAWASAKI motorcycle


without license plate, chassis No.
C-5121696, Motor No. 658
122951

SPO2 Cesar Fortuna y Abudo, Rameses de Jesus y


Calma, Lorenzo delos Santos y Dela Cruz, Lenido
Lumanog y Luistro, Joel de Jesus y Valdez and Arturo

7. That the aforenamed subject


person
together
with
the
property/articles recovered were turned
over to the Police Headquarters for
investigation and appropriate action;

Napolitano y Caburnay were charged in Criminal Case


No. Q-96-66679 with theft of the alleged gun owned by
the late Abadilla (Colt Mark IV cal .45 pistol SN66BS574), a gold-plated Omega wristwatch and a wallet

x x x[20]

containing an undetermined amount of cash plus calling


cards and other important papers, all of which were

With respect to Lorenzo delos Santos, he also executed

supposedly stolen by them after killing Abadilla.[23]

a statement dated June 21, 1996 admitting his


participation in the ambush-slay of Abadilla on June 13,

On the other hand, Lorenzo delos Santos y Dela Cruz,

1996, and pointing to Rameses de Jesus as the

SPO2 Cesar Fortuna y Abudo and Rameses de Jesus y

mastermind and also named the following suspects:

Calma were respectively charged with illegal possession

POGS whose real name was Lenido Lumanog, Joel de

21

of firearms (Presidential Decree No. 1866) in Criminal

The testimonies of P/Insp. Castillo, SPO2 Garcia, SPO2

Case Nos. Q-96-66680, Q-96-66682 and Q-96-66683.[24]

Tarala, Atty. Rous and P/Sr. Insp. Macanas were given in


court in the light of serious allegations of torture, forced

All the seven (7) named accused in Criminal Case No.

confessions and violations of constitutional rights raised

Q-96-66684 were indicted for Murder under the following

by the accused, which were widely reported in the media

Information:

and brought before the Commission of Human Rights


(CHR) and eventually to Amnesty International-USA.

That on or about the 13th day of


June, 1996 in Quezon City, Philippines,
the above-named accused, conspiring
together, confederating with several
other persons whose true names,
identities, whereabouts have not as yet
been ascertained and mutually helping
with one another, did then and there,
wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously with
intent to kill, with evident premeditation,
treachery, in consideration of a price,
reward or promise, and taking
advantage of superior strength, attack
and employ personal violence upon the
person of COL. ROLANDO ABADILLA y
NOLASCO by then and there shooting
the latter with the use of different kinds
of firearms, hitting him on the different
parts of his body, thereby causing the
instant and immediate cause of his
death, to the damage and prejudice of
the heirs of the said COL. ROLANDO
ABADILLA y NOLASCO.

P/Insp.

Castillo,

testifying

on

cross-examination,

admitted that accused Joel de Jesus was apprehended


by members of his squad led by Lt. Rodolfo on June 19,
1996, but said suspect was not presented to him until
noontime of the next day, June 20, 1996. He did not ask
his men if Joel had been subjected to investigation and if
he was, whether he was assisted by counsel. He
explained that there were still then follow-up operations
in which they needed Joel. As for the press conference
wherein Joel was presented together with then Secretary
Barbers and General Recaredo Sarmiento, he learned
about it only later.[27]
The witness declared that the constitutional mandate

Contrary to law.[25]

and requirements under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7438


had been complied with because he secured the

When arraigned, all the accused pleaded not guilty to

services of a counsel during the interrogation of then

the murder charge.

suspect Joel de Jesus when his sworn statement was


taken on June 20, 1996. He had informed the said

In view of the dismissal of the criminal cases for illegal

suspect of his right to counsel in the presence of CID

possession of firearms (P.D. No. 1866) and theft

personnel and when he brought him to the office of Atty.

(Criminal Case Nos. Q-96-66679, Q-96-66680, Q-96-

Confesor R. Sansano of the Integrated Bar of the

66682

and

Q-96-66683),

[26]

our

discussion

of

the

Philippines (IBP) located at the second floor of the Hall

proceedings before the trial court will be confined to the

of Justice, Quezon City Hall. Asked why it occurred to

case for murder against Fortuna, Lumanog, Joel de

him to bring the suspect to the IBP, the witness replied

Jesus, Rameses de Jesus and Santos.

that he believed IBP was a private, not a government,


institution. He also asked Joel -- who was allowed to
make a telephone call, although he was not aware if Joel

Evidence for the Prosecution

made any such call -- whether he had his own


lawyer. He recalled asking Joel if he was willing to go
The prosecution presented the testimonies of police

with them to the City Hall, because he had asked to

officers who conducted the investigation and follow-up

secure the services of counsel. There had been

operations up to the actual apprehension of suspects in

instances when the IBP lawyers assisted some suspects

the killing of Abadilla: SPO2 Wahab Magundacan, PO2

brought

Gerardo Daganta, Maj. Edward Villena, P/Insp. Rogelio

by

the

CPDC. The

CPDC

provided

the

typewriter and papers to be used and in this case, Atty.

Castillo, SPO2 Jose Garcia, Jr., SPO3 Romeo De

Sansano accommodated them in using the facilities of

Guzman, SPO2 Pio Tarala, Atty. Florimond Rous, P/Sr.

the IBP Chapter office. Joel executed his statement, with

Insp. Jose B. Macanas and P/Insp. Ferdinand Marticio.

SPO2

22

Jose

L.

Garcia,

Jr.

propounding

the

questions. They started taking his statement at 1:10 p.m.

SPO2 Garcia, Jr. testified that he was a

of June 20, 1996 at Room 235, IBP Office, Quezon City

member of the CID-CPDC at Camp Karingal. On June

Hall of Justice in the presence of Atty. Sansano and a

20, 1996 when he reported for duty, he was assigned by

number of people inside said office.[28] He was apprised

P/Insp. Castillo to take down the statement of Joel de

for the first time about a suspect (Joel) who was just

Jesus. While still inside the office of P/Insp. Castillo, he

apprehended when he called their office upon arriving

asked Joel if his statement was voluntary and what kind

home on the night of June 19, 1996. The information

of statement he was going to give. Joel answered that

was given to him by the desk sergeant and thereupon he

his statement was voluntary and he wanted to be

gave instruction to contact the witness and include that

included as state witness in the Abadilla case. Together

suspect in a line-up. He then informed their Chief

with Joel, SPO2 Tarala and SPO1 Edilberto Nicanor, he

regarding this development. When he asked for the

took lunch at the back of their office before proceeding to

whereabouts of this suspect, he was given the reply that

the Quezon City Hall at around 12:00 oclock noon, with

the suspect was still with their squad conducting follow-

P/Insp. Castillo who said that Joels statement would be

up operations.[29]

taken infront of a counsel. At the Hall of Justice lobby,


P/Insp. Castillo instructed them to guard Joel as he

P/Insp. Castillo recounted that he reported to the

would look for a counsel. After more or less 25 to 30

office at 8:00 oclock in the morning of June 20, 1996 and

minutes, P/Insp. Castillo came back and they proceeded

Joel was actually presented to him by Lt. Rodolfo at

to the second floor of the office of the IBP chapter. They

10:00 oclock that same morning, in the presence of CID

were met by a lady secretary, and afterwards he saw

men. He told Joel he was being implicated in the case,

P/Insp. Castillo talking to a lawyer whom he came to

to which Joel replied Sir, lookout lang naman ako,

know as Atty. Rous. It seemed Atty. Rous could not

sir. This initial questioning of Joel took place at the

decide on what P/Insp. Castillo told him and said he

investigation room of the CID, where there were other

(Atty. Rous) would first ask the permission of Atty.

private complainants talking to investigators, and there

Sansano. They waited for Atty. Sansano, who arrived in

were a number of policemen around who were not in

about twenty (20) to twenty-five (25) minutes. Atty.

uniform. He advised Joel that he was free to use the

Sansano and P/Insp. Castillo talked for about five (5)

telephone, and although Joel had no relatives present at

minutes and thereafter, Atty. Sansano requested them to

that time, he warned Joel that his case was serious and

leave, because he would talk personally to Joel. Atty.

he must seek the services of counsel. He first thought of

Sansano and Joel talked inside the room for five (5) to

the legal assistance provided by the City Attorney, then

ten (10) minutes. Thereafter, he, P/Insp. Castillo, SPO2

that by the Public Attorneys Office (PAO), and lastly by

Tarala and SPO1 Edilberto Nicanor went inside the room

the IBP. Between 12:30 and 1:00 p.m., he and his men,

and that was the time Atty. Sansano announced that Joel

together with Joel in a separate vehicle, left the CID to

was ready for the taking of his statement.[31]

go to the Quezon City Hall. They scouted for a lawyer


and inquired from the IBP chapter office. They found

SPO2 Garcia, Jr. further testified that he took

Atty. Florimond Rous and the lady counsel at a hearing

down the statement of Joel using a typewriter in the

in a courtroom. Atty. Rous advised them to wait for Atty.

office of Atty. Sansano. He brought said typewriter near

Sansano, who apparently was the head of the IBP

the table of Atty. Sansano and a chair to sit on beside

chapter office. He was moving in and out of the office

Joel. Joel was seated infront of the desk where Atty.

while the statement of Joel was being taken in the

Sansano was sitting. After completing the taking down of

presence of Atty. Sansano. Before that, Atty. Sansano

the statement, he gave it to Joel and asked the latter to

talked to Joel alone, after which they were called in

read it. Joel read the typewritten statement and when he

again for the taking of the statement at 2:00 p.m. They

finished reading, he gave the same to Atty. Sansano.

left City Hall at past 4:00 or 5:00 that afternoon. [30]

Atty. Sansano read all the contents of the document and


asked Joel if he understood it, to which he answered
Yes, sir. Atty. Sansano then asked Joel if he was willing

23

to sign the statement, to which the latter again replied in

did not ask Joel if he already had a counsel, or if Joel

the

his

already knew Atty. Sansano. Another lawyer, Atty. Rous,

presence and also that of Atty. Sansano, who likewise

was actually present when he was taking Joels

signed it in his presence. SPO2 Garcia, Jr. also identified

statement at the office of Atty. Sansano, who was also

his own signature and that of SPO1 Nicanor who signed

present throughout the time he was taking down the

the statement in his presence. From the office of Atty.

statement of Joel. He did not hear Joel mention the

Sansano, they proceeded to the fourth floor in the office

name of another lawyer to Atty. Sansano, specifically

of Prosecutor Ramon Gerona before whom Joel

that of Atty. David as suggested by defense counsel.[34]

affirmative. Joel

signed

the

statement

in

subscribed his statement. After reading the statement,


Fiscal Gerona explained to Joel in Tagalog the

SPO2 Tarala testified that as a member of the

consequences of the statement he executed. Joel was

PNP Station in Kamuning, Quezon City, assigned at the

calm and said he was only a lookout in the crime. Earlier,

CID, he came to investigate accused Lorenzo delos

before propounding questions to Joel at the office of Atty.

Santos on June 21, 1996. On that day, after lunch, he

Sansano, the latter addressed Joel in Tagalog: Joel

was instructed by P/Insp. Castillo to proceed to the

naiintindihan mo na ang mga itinatanong sa iyo ng mga

Public Assistance and Reaction Against Crime (PARAC),

pulis? Ito ba sarili mo o boluntaryo ba tong statement

Dallas Bldg. in Tomas Morato Avenue, because one (1)

mo na ito hindi ka ba nila tinakot, sinaktan o

of the suspects in the Abadilla slaying was apprehended

anupaman? While Joel was answering his questions,

by the PARAC follow-up team and was supposed to give

Atty. Sansano halted him from typing the answer given

his statement. So he went there together with SPO1

by Joel to ask the latter if he could understand the

Primo Borito and PO3 Ramil Hatchero. Upon arriving at

question propounded to him. The witness was also

said office, he met P/Sr. Insp. Macanas, who called a

asked to identify Joel de Jesus inside the courtroom.[32]

person he introduced as Lorenzo delos Santos.Before


taking down the statement of Lorenzo, he advised the

On

cross-examination,

SPO2

Garcia,

Jr.

latter of his rights under the law, warning that any

affirmed that before the taking down of the statement, he

statement he would make could be used against him in

had explained to Joel the consequences of his being a

any court of law, so that he had the right not to answer

state witness, in accordance with the instruction of

any question which to his mind would incriminate

P/Insp. Castillo. He specifically explained to Joel: Itong

him. Lorenzo responded by saying that he wanted to

statement na ito ay puwedeng gamitin laban o panig sa

give a statement and to be a state witness. When

yo sa alinmang hukuman dito sa Pilipinas. Ikaw ba ay

Lorenzo asked if he could use a telephone at the

nakahandang tumestigo sa mga sasabihin ng tao dito sa

information table, he said yes. Lorenzo then called his

statement mo na ito na magiging laban sa kanila. Joel

office because he was a customs broker, and also called

told him, Yes, sir. P/Insp. Castillo had told him that Joel

up a relative who was a certain Col. Sala (Col. Milagros

was to turn state witness before the latter was brought to

Sala), a Quezon City police official. He told Lorenzo that

the IBP Office. When P/Insp. Castillo had returned to the

he should have a lawyer of his choice during the taking

lobby of the Hall of Justice, he told them that the only

down of his statement. He prodded Lorenzo to call the

person present who would act as Joels counsel would

lawyer, whom Lorenzo knew to be always at the City

be located at the IBP Office, and Joel would be brought

Hall. They then proceeded to the Quezon City Hall to

there. It was his first time to meet Atty. Sansano. As to

look for that lawyer at the Office of the City

whether Joel was also assisted by Atty. Rous when he

Attorney. However, Lorenzo was not able to find said

was investigated on June 21, 1996, the witness said he

lawyer; he asked somebody (a woman) who referred

did not know.[33] Regarding the portion of the statement

them to the Hall of Justice. After failing to find the person

dated June 20, 1996 wherein he asked Joel about a

Lorenzo was looking for to be his counsel, an old man, a

pending case against him, which Joel identified as a

vendor suggested to them to go upstairs at the IBP

rape case, he denied having knowledge of any such

Office. The lady secretary of the IBP chapter office

pending case before the taking of the statement. He also

introduced them to Atty. Florimond Rous, who then

24

asked him and his companions to step out of the room

from this, they were also tasked to assist the various

so Atty. Rous could talk to Lorenzo. Atty. Rous and

suspects during custodial investigations in the various

Lorenzo talked for ten (10) to fifteen (15) minutes, after

investigations of different agencies, such as the CIS and

which they were called again to enter the office. His two

PNP. He recalled handling at least ten (10) to fifteen (15)

(2) companions were left outside and he was told by

of such custodial investigations. On June 21, 1996, he

Atty. Rous that he had already apprised Lorenzo of his

assisted a person by the name ofLorenzo delos Santos

rights, but Lorenzo still wanted to give a statement. [35]

accompanied by a police investigator (whose name he


could no longer remember) from the Central Police

Upon the instruction of Atty. Rous, he took down

District, who told him that the said suspect was willing to

the statement of Lorenzo, the three (3) of them in one (1)

make a confession and asked if he could assist him

corner of the room while over at the receiving area there

during his custodial investigation. He identified Lorenzo

were the secretary and a lady lawyer. The statement of

inside the courtroom.[39] The police investigator had

Lorenzo was in Tagalog, typewritten in question-and-

informed him of the charge against Lorenzo, which was

answer form. Each time after he had asked a question,

the killing of Abadilla.[40]

Atty. Rous would in turn ask Lorenzo if he wanted to


answer it, and Lorenzo would answer yes. He was at the

Before the start of the investigation of Lorenzo,

typewriter, and the two (2) (Atty. Rous and Lorenzo)

Atty. Rous related that he asked the policeman to leave

were infront of him, seated across each other. The taking

him and Lorenzo. When the investigators were gone, he

of the statement started at about 3:10 in the afternoon

asked Lorenzo to remove his shirt so he could see if

and was finished in more than one (1) hour. He asked

there were any tell-tale marks of any harm or specific

Lorenzo to read first his statement, and then Atty. Rous

mark upon him. Having satisfied himself that there were

read it also. Next, they went up to the office of Fiscal

no such mark on the suspects body, Atty. Rous began

Refuerzo, but was referred by the secretary to the

interviewing him. He asked Lorenzo if he was willing to

inquest fiscal on duty, Fiscal Ben dela Cruz. At his office,

execute a confession, and Lorenzo answered he was

Fiscal dela Cruz asked Lorenzo to stand infront of him

willing to do so. He then asked Lorenzo if he was willing

and asked if the statement was voluntarily given by him,

to have him as his counsel. Evidently, Lorenzo wanted

if what was contained therein was true, and if he was

him to be his counsel during the custodial investigation

ready to swear before him. Lorenzo answered yes, and

for the taking of his statement. Convinced that Lorenzo

the subscribing of his statement before Fiscal dela Cruz

was giving his statement without any pressure or force,

was also witnessed by Atty. Rous.[36] Lorenzo had earlier

they

told him and his companions at the PARAC office that

investigator who accompanied Lorenzo to their office

his participation in the ambush-slay of Abadilla was that

was the one (1) who had propounded questions in

of a lookout, and that he was only forced to join the

Tagalog and typed the answers given by Lorenzo also in

group because of the threat to his family.[37]

Tagalog. He was just within hearing distance and was

started

the

investigation

proper. The

police

present during the entire time of the taking of Lorenzos


SPO2 Tarala admitted that the first time he went

statement. Afterwards,

he

let

Lorenzo

read

the

to the IBP Office at the Hall of Justice was on June 20,

typewritten statement, and he asked Lorenzo if those

1996 when SPO2 Garcia, Jr. took the statement of Joel

were the questions given to him and the answers he had

de Jesus.Since only SPO2 Garcia, Jr. and Joel stayed

given, to which he replied in the affirmative. He further

inside the room, he and his companion just walked

asked Lorenzo if he was willing to sign the statement

around.[38]

without pressure, and Lorenzo said he was willing to


sign the same. He asked Lorenzo to sign his statement

Atty. Rous testified that he was one (1) of the

before

the

office

of

Prosecutor

Ben

dela

free legal aid counsels of the Free Legal Aid Committee

Cruz. Prosecutor dela Cruz first read the statement and

of the IBP-Quezon City Chapter. One (1) of their primary

then asked Lorenzo if he was willing to sign the same,

duties was to assist indigents in their cases, and aside

and he answered in the affirmative. Lorenzo signed the

25

statement in their presence; he and Prosecutor dela

Cesar, could be found. Joel first pointed to the house of

Cruz also signed it.[41]

Ram (Rameses de Jesus), but they did not find him


there; instead they found a man named Cesar Fortuna,

Atty. Rous further testified on cross-examination,

whom Joel pointed to infront of said house. They

that after the police investigator and Lorenzo had left, a

immediately

apprehended

Fortuna

and

identified

few minutes later, some other investigators arrived at

themselves. He informed Fortuna that he was being

their office, bringing along Joel de Jesus. This Joel de

implicated by Joel in the killing of Col. Abadilla. Fortuna

Jesus had given a statement the previous day, June 20,

introduced himself as a policeman assigned with the

1996, and he was told that Joel would be giving this time

Traffic Management Command (TMC). As a standard

a supplemental statement. The investigators apprised

procedure, they informed Fortuna of his constitutional

Joel of his constitutional rights before the taking down of

rights and then brought him to the CPDC for

his statement. He was not sure if Lorenzo and the police

investigation. At the time, Fortuna had a gun (caliber .38)

investigator had actually left already, and he could not

tucked in his waist, which they confiscated.[43]

remember exactly what transpired at this point. The


defense counsel noted the absence of the word

P/Sr. Insp. Macanas further testified that in the

competent to qualify the word counsel in the preliminary

course of their follow-up operations, with information

portion of Lorenzos statement. Atty. Rous described the

being provided by Joel, they were also able to arrest

answers given by Lorenzo as spontaneous, and he did

another suspect alias Larry, whom they met at a dark

not recall any hesitancy on the part of the latter. He

alley. Upon being pointed to by Joel, they apprehended

maintained that he found no contusions or abrasions on

Larry who was later identified as Lorenzo delos Santos,

Lorenzos body.[42]

frisked him and found in his possession a cal .38 Smith


and Wesson, for which he could not present any license

P/Sr. Insp. Macanas testified that he was then

or document. They brought Lorenzo to the CID-

assigned at the PARAC as its operations officer. They

CPDC. He identified both Lorenzo and Fortuna inside

were closely coordinating with and sharing evidence for

the courtroom.[44] On cross-examination, the witness

case build-up operations with the CPDC in the

admitted they had no warrant of arrest when they went

investigation of the killing of Abadilla. On June 19, 1996,

to Fairview to locate the suspects, as it was a hot person

at around 3:00 oclock in the afternoon, they were

case ordered by their superior and requiring the

directed to proceed to the CPDC headquarters in view of

immediate arrest of suspects identified by witnesses like,

an information that a certain suspect alias Tabong was

in this case, Joel. Joel had admitted to the CID-CPDC

already located while repairing his tricycle somewhere in

investigators his participation in the Abadilla killing. After

Fairview, during which he was identified by an

accosting Joel at Camaro St., whom they identified

eyewitness, security guard Alejo who went there with

through a photograph, and before taking him to the CID-

CPDC operatives. At the time this radio message was

CPDC, he informed Joel that he was identified as one

received, they were within the vicinity of Fairview, and

(1) of the suspects in the killing of Col. Abadilla; that he

the CPDC gave the signal for them to accost said

had a right to remain silent; that anything he will say

suspect. He was present when Tabong, who was later

could be used against him; he had the right to counsel of

identified as Joel de Jesus, was arrested by the joint

his own choice, and if he could not afford one, the

elements of the CPDC and PARAC. Joel was turned

government would provide him. As to Lorenzo, he was

over

4:00

arrested past midnight of June 20, 1996; they had

p.m. Subsequently, their superior, P/Sr. Supt. Bartolome

brought Joel along while moving to locate Lorenzo. [45] He

Baluyot, informed them of revelations given by Joel, for

was just at the back of those operatives who actually

which they were called in again for joint follow-up

arrested Lorenzo.[46]

to

the

CID-CPDC

at

about

past

operations. They brought Joel to Fairview along Ruby St.


where Joels supposed companions, namely: one alias

The

Ram, Lorenzo delos Santos, Ogie and one (1) alias

principal

witness

for

the

prosecution

was Freddie Alejo, who testified that as a security guard

26

employed by Provider Security Agency, he was then

the driver and holding a short gun. It was probably less

assigned at 211 Katipunan Avenue, Blue Ridge, Quezon

than a minute when the gunfire stopped, and he stood

City. On June 13, 1996, he reported for duty at 7:00

up at his guard post. The assailants were no longer in

oclock in the morning. By 7:30 a.m., he noticed two (2)

sight and he saw the cars window shattered. He

men walking back and forth infront of his post. He was

identified the victims black car as shown in photographs

shown by the prosecutor some photographs taken of the

(Exhibits A-1 to A-4[54]).[55]

parking area he was then guarding, his guard post


beside the building and the street infront of said building

Alejo further testified that he was one (1) of

(Exhibits G, H, I and J[47]).

those asked by the policemen who arrived regarding the


incident. He was told to go to Station 8, which was just

Alejo recounted that there was a man riding in a

near the place.At Station 8, another security guard of an

black car who was shot by four (4) persons infront of the

adjacent

building

was

also

being

building he was guarding. The car was in the middle lane

investigated. Thereafter, the police officers brought him

of the road, and the cars specific location was found in

to Camp Karingal, along with the other security guard. [56]

one (1) of the photographs (Exhibit H-4 [48]). One (1) of


the two (2) persons he earlier saw walking back and

On cross-examination, Alejo described his guard

forth in front of him pointed a gun at him (the position of

post as elevated; and two (2) arms length on the left and

said man was marked as Exhibit H-5[49]). That man was

right side, there was an alley just beside the guard post

holding a short gun and he told Alejo to come down

which was at the corner.[57] The victims car was infront of

(Baba!), but he did not budge. He then saw one (1) of

the building he was guarding, at a slightly slanted

the assailants (No. 1 in Exhibit H[50]), the one (1)

direction from it (Lihis po ng konti). His view was toward

standing on the left side of the car (left front door), grab

the direction of the front door of the car (rear end). From

the victim by the neck, get the clutch bag of the victim

where he was at the time, the car was at a distance of

inside the car, pull said victim out of the car, and drop

more or less ten (10) meters. The first time one (1) of the

him on the road. He then heard another shot coming

suspects pointed a gun at him, he was not scared. He

from said attacker (No. 1). Another man (No. 5 in Exhibit

saw four (4) men standing around the victims car, two (2)

H[51]) shouted: Dapawalang makikialam! and the rest of

on the left side, and two (2) on the right side. He saw

the four (4) men (marked as Nos. 2, 3 and 4 in Exhibit

only two (2) of them (the ones at the front left and right

H[52]) faced him (witness Alejo). Next, the companion of

sides of the car) shooting at the car; they were carrying

No. 5, who was earlier walking back and forth infront of

short firearms. One (1) of these two (2) got the clutch

him (marked as No. 6 in Exhibit H[53]), pointed a gun at

bag (at the left front side of the car), grabbed the victim

him. This time, he did come down, lowering his body and

by the neck and shot him once before dropping him

bowing his head inside the guardhouse. The witness

down the road. Even if he could not see the gun when

identified the suspects inside the courtroom as the

that assailant pulled the victim from the car, he knew that

persons he saw and marked as No. 5 (Joel de Jesus)

the victim was shot again, because he saw a gun smoke

the first one who pointed a gun at him shouting Baba

just beside the left side of the car where the victim was

ka!; No. 1 who grabbed the victim, got his clutch bag and

dropped. The second man who pointed a gun at him

pulled him out of the car (Lenido Lumanog); No. 2

shouted Dapa!and thereupon his companions (the ones

(Rameses de Jesus); No. 6 the second person who

at the right rear side, left rear side, and front right side)

pointed a gun at him (Lorenzo delos Santos); No. 4

faced him for less than a minute. Because at that precise

(Augusto Santos) and No. 3 who was positioned at the

moment the gun was not yet poked at him, he was able

right front door of the victims car (Cesar Fortuna). Nos.

to recognize their faces. When finally the gun was

1 and 3 (Lumanog and Fortuna) were the ones who shot

pointed at him, he became nervous and bowed down his

the victim with short firearms, while No. 2 (Rameses)

head inside the guard house. The color of the clutch bag

was just standing and facing the victim with a gun in his

taken from the victim was black. He could see the inside

hand, and No. 4 (Augusto) was also just standing facing

of the car from his guard post because the cars glass

27

moved back per the directive of


Major Villena.

window was not tinted and, besides, his position was


elevated or higher than the height of the car.[58] He
confirmed

the

contents

of

xxx

his Sinumpaang

Salaysay (Exhibit L) before policeman Edilberto Nicanor

COURT:

on June 13, 1996 taken at the CID-PNP, Camp Karingal

The Court adds that from the position of


the witness, Freddie Alejo, the
Court can still see faces behind
the car which can accommodate
another car.

at 1:55 p.m. or barely four (4) hours after the shooting


incident.[59]
Alejo further testified on cross-examination that

xxx

on June 19, 1996 at around 2:00 oclock in the afternoon,

COURT:

he was fetched by four (4) policemen at his agency in


The front right window has been rolled
down and also the back right
window of the car have been
rolled down with the left front
door opened, the Court can
observed the two (2) front seats
particularly the upper portion,
meaning the head rest and the
back rest, half of the back rest,
all the head rest can be seen.

Monumento and they told him they were going to


Fairview. Before this, in the afternoon of June 18, 1996,
they showed him a picture of a man wearing eyeglasses,
but he told them he would not point a man in
photographs, but would like to see the man in
person. That was the second time he saw Joel de Jesus
since the shooting incident on June 13, 1996. He
executed a supplemental statement on June 21, 1996

xxx

when he identified said suspect in a police line-up. [60]

INTERPRETER:

On

September

26,

1996,

the

trial

(measuring the distance from the


guardhouse to the black car).

court

conducted an ocular inspection of the place where the

The measurement from the foot of the


guardpost up to the right front
door of the black car is fifteen
(15) meters.

shooting incident took place, in the presence of the


prosecutors,

defense

counsel,

Alejo

and

Maj.

Villena. Alejo was asked to demonstrate his exact

xxx

location, the relative positions of the assailants and the


victims car, and the entire incident he had witnessed in

INTERPRETER:

the morning of June 13, 1996. The Presiding Judge who

(Measuring the distance between the


bodega to the black car)

took the same position of Alejo in the guardhouse made


the following observations:

The measurement from the front


portion of the bodega (papaya)
to the side of the black car is
11.8 meters.

COURT:
From this position, the Presiding Judge
can see the car very clearly
even if the car would be moved
back by another segment of the
cement or even if it is forwarded
by another segment also, as
segment can accommodate one
car of the likes of Honda Accord
and the Court observes that
from the guard post the faces of
the persons beside the car are
very clear.

xxx
INTERPRETER:
The

measurementthe distance from


where suspect No. 6 was
standing to the guard house
when measured is 7.34 meters,
your Honor.

xxx

xxx

INTERPRETER:

COURT:

The distance from where suspect No. 5


was standing up to the guard
house is 5.17 meters.

The Court observed that from where the


witness Alejo was he can still
see the whole car as it has been

xxx

28

COURT:

Abadilla, totaling P30,000.00 in support of his claim that

After the demonstration while witness


Alejo was demonstrating how
[suspect No. 2] got the clutch
bag and how [suspect No.
2] grabbed the neck of the driver
of the black car, the Judge was
at the guard post and saw for
himself that [Alejo] clearly saw
the taking of the clutch bag even
if the untinted windows were
closed and the pulling of the
driver of the black car.[61]

Mayor Abadilla did not fulfill his promise to give him


exactly the same salary he was receiving as security
guard (P6,000.00 monthly only instead of the P8,000.00
he used to receive as monthly pay), although he
admitted having stayed for free inside the Abadilla
compound from July 11, 1996 up to November 26,
1996. He was later told that he would no longer be
presented as witness because the testimony of Alejo
would be sufficient.[65]

P/Insp.

Castillo,

on

re-direct

examination

testified that Atty. Sansano actively assisted Joel de


Jesus

during

the

time

the

Defense Evidence

latters Sinumpaang

Salaysay was being taken by SPO2 Garcia, Jr. There

All the accused raised the defense of alibi,

were questions propounded to Joel which Atty. Sansano

highlighted the negative findings of

had told Joel not to answer, and advice was given by

ballistic and

fingerprint examinations, and further alleged torture in

said counsel. They left Quezon City Hall at about 5:00

the hands of police officers and denial of constitutional

oclock in the afternoon and returned to the CPDC

rights during custodial investigation.

headquarters. He maintained that all the accused were


brought

before

the

City

Prosecutor

for

inquest

P/Insp. Reynaldo D. de Guzman, firearms

proceedings prior to the filing of the information in court.

examiner and Chief of the Firearms Division of the PNP

[62]

Crime Laboratory, testified that he conducted an


examination of the slug recovered from the body of Col.
Susan Samonte-Abadilla testified that their

Abadilla, as per request of the CPDC for cross-matching

family incurred expenses for the burial of her husband,

with a bullet also recovered from the body of another

repair of the Honda Accord and loss of the .45 cal gold

shooting victim, Suseso de Dios, i.e., whether or not they

cup pistol and Omega watch during the shooting of her

were fired from one (1) and the same firearm. [66] The

husband. She further testified that she was very shocked


and

saddened

by

the

tragic

death

of

result of their microscopic examination was that the

her

aforesaid bullets were fired from the same firearm.[67]

husband. Because she led a practically sheltered life, it


was difficult for her, as it was the older children who

Dr. Jesse Rey Cruel, medico-legal officer of the

were now taking care of their businesses, which were

CHR, testified that he examined accused Cesar

attended to by her husband when he was still

Fortuna, Rameses de Jesus, Lenido Lumanog on June

alive.Three (3) of her eight (8) children were still studying

25, 1996 and Lorenzo delos Santos on July 3, 1996. His

(Ana, 14; Nico, 13; and BJ, 10), and one had just

findings showed that their bodies bore the following

graduated last March 1997.[63]

injuries: (1) Fortuna - abrasions on forearm, elbow and


knee; contusions on chest area; and incised wounds on

Merlito

Herbas,

in

his Karagdagang

the waist and legs[68]; (2) Rameses - contusions on

Salaysay dated June 21, 1996, identified Joel de Jesus

chest, abdomen, knee and thigh areas[69]; (3) Lumanog -

in a police line-up at the CID-CPDC, Camp Karingal, as

contusions on abdomen and lumbar region, and a

one (1) of those men who shot the victim on June 13,

horizontal lacerated wound on the forehead [70]; and (4)

1996.[64] However, not having been presented by the

Lorenzo - abrasions on the arms, contusions in thigh and

prosecution as witness, he testified for the defense

knee, petechia marks (minute hemorrhages) between

declaring that none of those whom he saw during the

chest/abdomen and the penis, discoloration on right arm,

shooting incident was present inside the courtroom. He

and new scars on left arm, right foot and second toe.

produced a list of amounts he had received from Mayor

29

[71]

All said wounds required not more than nine (9) days

Sales, Lt. Castillo, Bartolome Baluyot, Major Reyes and

of medical attendance. The defense also presented

Catalua. After he denied having anything to do with the

pictures taken at the time of the examination. [72] On

killing, PO2 Tarala tried to suffocate him with a plastic

cross-examination, Dr. Cruel opined that it was possible

bag. He

the injuries could have been self-inflicted and pointed out

consciousness. Recounting his ordeal in tears, the

that the injury on the forehead of Lumanog was not

witness said that for one (1) hour his captors repeatedly

complained of.[73]

inserted a plastic bag and boxed him. A younger looking

could

not

breathe

and

lost

man then slapped him saying that they had ambushed


Remedios Dedicatoria, a fingerprint examiner

his father. While detained, he was only given water to

at the PNP Crime Laboratory testified on the results

drink and not allowed to contact his relatives. He was

stated

F-086-96

asked to sign by Lt. Castillo a seven (7)-page document,

comparison of the latent prints lifted from the Honda

torturing him if he refused to do so. There were already

Accord with Plate No. RNA-777, Kia Pride PTZ-401 and

other signatures on the edge and every page of said

Mitsubishi Lancer car with the standard fingerprints of

document

the accused. The only match was found in the specimen

1996). He denied the contents of this statement but

fingerprint of Rameses de Jesus with respect to the

admitted that he was brought to the IBP Office, Quezon

fragmentary prints lifted from the Mitsubishi Lancer

City Hall. After signing, he heard Lt. Castillo call

car. None of the fingerprints of the accused is identical

somebody saying, Parating na kami dyan. He was then

with the latent prints lifted from the Honda Accord and

made to board a vehicle and was taken to the Quezon

Kia Pride.[74] On cross-examination, the witness stated

City Hall where a man wearingbarong tagalog was

that if a person had touched the car and rubbed it, there

waiting, asking if he was Joel de Jesus. When Lt.

would

lifted

Castillo answered in the affirmative, the man just signed

therefrom. She also admitted that no latent print was

the document. He denied having met Atty. Confesor

taken from inside the Honda Accord nor was there any

Sansano, nor was he told of his right to the assistance of

fingerprint taken of the late Rolando Abadilla (only two

counsel; he even told them the name of his lawyer at

[2] fingerprints were taken from his car). When asked if a

that time, but they just said, Mas marunong ka pa sa

person opened the car holding only the back portion of

amin.[76]

in

be

no

Dactyloscopy

fingerprint

Report

that

No.

could

be

(Sinumpaang

Salaysay dated

June

20,

the handle, the witness answered that there would


likewise be no fingerprint on the outside of the car.[75]

Testifying on cross-examination, Joel insisted


that on June 13, 1996, he went home at around 10:00

Joel de Jesus testified that on June 19, 1996,

oclock in the evening. He started plying his route at 6:00

at around 3:00 oclock in the afternoon, he was at their

oclock in the morning; he was hired (inarkila) by a

street corner fixing his tricycle and was with Arturo

passenger who asked him to bring her to an albularyo in

Napolitano and Felicisimo Herrera. A van stopped and

Roosevelt Avenue, Novaliches. He admitted this was the

six (6) armed men alighted from it, among whom he

first time he mentioned this, as it was not mentioned in

recognized Antonio Rodolfo, Pio Tarala and Dario Aasco

his Affidavits[77] which were prepared by the police. Atty.

(whom he came to know when they charged him with

Lupino Lazaro assisted him in filing charges against the

rape on January 17, 1994, from which charge he was

police officers and Atty. Hector Corpuz before the

acquitted on June 19, 1996). He even greeted said cops,

Department of Justice (DOJ). He admitted that he did

but they forced him into the van, and handcuffed and

not say anything about the illegality of his arrest and the

blindfolded the three (3) of them. They were brought to a

torture he suffered prior to his arraignment. [78] On re-

certain house where they were boxed, kicked and

direct

slammed on the wall. When his blindfold was removed,

the Karagdagang Salaysay dated June 21, 1996 before

the police officers were forcing him to admit that he killed

the IBP lawyer, because at this time he was still detained

Abadilla. Capt. Rodolfo was also there and he later

in a safehouse where he remained until June 25,

identified the rest of those who picked him up as Romulo

1996. He was just forced to sign said document; after

30

examination,

he

denied

having

executed

signing it, he heard Lt. Castillo say to one (1) Fiscal

at a place which he was told was the office of

Soler, Fiscal, salamat. Thereafter, he and the other

PARAC. Somebody approached him and he felt a

accused were presented in a press conference as

lighters flame touch his chin. He then identified himself

suspects

Camp

as a policeman, but was only told: Walang pulis pulis

Crame. During this time, he pointed to Lorenzo delos

dito. They kept on asking him where Rameses could be

Santos and Augusto Santos, because they were his

found. Still

enemies at their place. He only pointed to them out of

Subdivision where he knew Rameses had another

fear that he might be salvaged by the police and

house. Upon reaching Palmera, his blindfold was

because of the torture. He really did not know Abadilla

removed, but he was unable to locate the house until

nor was he at any time within the vicinity of Katipunan

they went home at 5:00 p.m. In the morning of June 20,

Avenue on June 13, 1996. He knew Rameses de Jesus,

1996, the policemen told him that he was just confusing

being his longtime neighbor, and also Lumanog who ran

them (nililito), but he explained that he had been to that

for councilor in their place. All he knows was that his co-

house only once. The driver of the Honda Civic was

accused were picked up from their place, and he saw

already angry at him and inserted a .45 cal pistol in his

them only during the press conference. He affirmed the

mouth. They went back to the PARAC office, and he was

contents of the Sinumpaang Salaysay he executed

interrogated about the Abadilla killing. He was informed

before Police Major (Pol. Maj.) Escote with the

that he was being implicated as somebody had pointed

assistance of Atty. Lazaro.[79]

at him. When he still denied having any knowledge

in

the

Abadilla

slaying

inside

blindfolded,

he

led

them

to

Palmera

about the ambush-slay, he was repeatedly suffocated


Joel admitted that he was the one (1) who

with a plastic bag placed on his head while he was

pointed out Cesar Fortuna and Rameses de Jesus to the

handcuffed and blindfolded. After one (1) hour and due

PARAC investigators. He confirmed that he was known

to hardship he suffered, he just told them he would admit

as Tabong in their locality. He also filed a complaint

whatever it was they wanted him to admit. He said that

before the CHR against the same police officers.[80]

he acted as a look-out. They had him copy a prepared


sketch and when his blindfold was finally removed,

Cesar Fortuna testified that he was a member

someone introduced himself as Col. Bartolome Baluyot

of the PNP assigned at Cagayan de Oro City. He came

who told him he just had to obey and he would not be

to Manila on June 7, 1996, as he was ordered by his

hurt. Maj. George Reyes arrived, looked at the sketch

superior, Col. Roberto Sacramento, to attend to the

and said it was not the place where Col. Abadilla was

documents required for reassignment of some of their

ambushed. He was blamed for that fiasco even as he

companions (as evidenced by a used Super Ferry ticket

said it was they who prepared the sketch. After an hour,

and an unused return ticket for June 20, 1996). On June

they returned to Palmera Subdivision, Novaliches and

11, 1996, he went to the PNP Directorate for Personnel

this was already between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. After

at the office of Insp. Oscar Alcala. However, on the night

rounding the area, he found the house, but Rameses

of June 19, 1996, he was arrested by PARAC operatives

was not there. He was made to sit the whole night in the

while he was at the house of an acquaintance, Rameses

kitchen.[81]

de Jesus, in Ruby St., Fairview. He had brought for


repair a Ford Maverick Model 69 registered in the name

Fortuna continued to narrate that on June 21,

of Col. Sacramento. At 11:00 oclock in the evening, his

1996, he was made to lie down on a bench covered with

mechanic road-tested the car, but since he was left

a GI sheet and was asked where the firearm of Col.

alone, he decided to go to the house of Rameses which

Abadilla was.When he answered that he really did not

was near the shop. Several armed policemen arrived

know about it, they electrocuted him and poured cold

and entered the house of Rameses. Not finding

water on his body. He told them that if they needed a

Rameses there, they asked him instead to go along with

gun, he had a gun in Sampaloc, a .45 cal licensed

them. He was made to board an owner-type jeep and

firearm. Thereupon, they asked him to go to that place

immediately blindfolded. After one (1) hour, they arrived

where Dante Montevirgen was the gunsmith. Only the

31

policemen alighted from the vehicle and talked to

car, he left it at Pier 2. He admitted that he was the same

Montevirgen. He saw that Montevirgen gave them two

person charged with kidnapping and serious illegal

(2) firearms, after which they went back to the PARAC

detention with ransom in Criminal Case No. 96-312,

office. On his licensed firearm, he just brought this for

which was filed on July 15, 1996 in Mabalacat,

repair

mag-

Pampanga against him, Lumanog and Rameses by a

automatic, while the other gun belonged to Capt. Regis,

certain Dr. Jesusa dela Cruz. Said case was transferred

and these were covered by receipts. Next, they asked

to the Quezon City RTC in the same sala of the

him about the Rolex watch of Col. Abadilla. When he

presiding judge in this case. The filing of this case

denied having any knowledge about it, he was again

destroyed his reputation as a police officer and affected

electrocuted. He had filed a complaint before the CHR

his children, who stopped going to school. He admitted

for the injuries inflicted on him and the violation of his

though that he had once been dishonorably discharged

rights. Aside from this case and the charge of illegal

from the service as a result of an extortion case filed

possession of firearms, he was also charged with an

against him. He had appealed his case and he was

administrative case and a criminal complaint for

reinstated on August 20, 1983. A memorandum dated

carnapping (of the KIA Pride). The carnapping complaint

June 25, 1996 was issued by Col. Sacramento to attest

was dismissed by Assistant Prosecutor Amolin on

to his moral character and loyalty to the service. [83] He

September 23, 1996. The Decision issued by P/Sr. Supt.

admitted that he never raised the issue of the legality of

Rodolfo N. Caisip of the PNP Headquarters Traffic

his arrest or the torture he suffered while in detention,

Management Group also dismissed Administrative Case

during his arraignment. When confronted with his sworn

No. 96-09-03. He insisted that on the morning of June

statement submitted to the CHR, he admitted that he did

13, 1996, he was at Camp Crame following up the

not mention therein the pouring of cold water on his

reassignment papers of his colleagues, showing the

body, that he was asked to make a sketch of Katipunan

letter-order issued by Col. Sacramento. He saw PO3

Avenue, that a .45 cal pistol was inserted into his mouth

Ramon Manzano at the Office of the Directorate for

and that there was no firearm confiscated from him at

Personnel at about 9:00 oclock in the morning. He left

the time of his arrest. When he was apprehended on the

said office as soon as he got the folder, signed their

night of June 19, 1996 at the house of Rameses at Ruby

logbook, gave it to SPO4 Mercado of the Office of PNP

St., he was half-naked standing outside at the

Personnel Highway Patrol. Then he went home to eat

balcony. He saw someones hand, but not the whole

before proceeding to the Metro Traffic Force, Central

body of that person to whom he was shown that night,

District at the office of Col. Juanito de Guzman at Roces

and he just heard from the policemen he had been

St., Quezon City, at around 2:00 oclock in the afternoon,

positively identified.[84]

on

May

10,

1996,

saying ayaw

for the renewal of the license of Col. Sacramentos driver.


[82]

He also filed with the CHR an administrative

Fortunas claim that he was at Camp Crame

complaint against those police officers who had illegally

following up papers in the morning of June 13, 1996 was

arrested, detained and tortured him.

corroborated by Oscar Alcala (Chief Clerk of the


Recruitment and Selection Division) and SPO2 Ramon

Fortuna further testified that PARAC operatives

Manzano (Office of the Directorate for Personnel and

seized his Kawasaki motorcycle which he had left inside

Recruitment). However, Alcala could not present the

Camp Crame because it had no fender. However, the

particular

certificate of registration was lost since it had been in

documents and transaction with Fortuna, as it could not

custody of the police; the Land Transportation Office

be located, as it got lost after the office renovation in the

(LTO) registration paper was locked inside, and he forgot

early part of 1997. A xerox copy of the logbook entry was

what its plate number was. He admitted that he was able

presented in court (Exhibit 70).[85] However, said witness

to use said motorcycle in June 1996 even with the

admitted he was not the custodian of the said logbook,

missing fender. He left the motorcycle at Gate 2, Camp

and he did not have personal knowledge of the date and

Crame before leaving for Cagayan de Oro City; as to his

time of the entries in Exhibit 70; it was also SPO2

32

logbook

containing

the

record

of

the

Manzano

entry.

accused. He told them that he used to see Rameses

Manzano confirmed that he personally saw Fortuna in

when he brings his children to school and came to know

the morning of June 13, 1996, between 9:00 and 9:30,

Lumanog when he ran as city councilor, while he did not

when Fortuna retrieved the papers he earlier submitted

know Fortuna. After the interrogation, he was again

in May 1996.[87]

subjected to torture and he felt weak; this lasted up to

[86]

who

xeroxed

the

said

logbook

June 21, 1996. On June 21, 1996, he was brought to a


On further cross-examination, Fortuna admitted

field (bukid) where he was forced to sign a paper. He

that he never told his lawyer (Atty. Ramonito M. Delfin)

was then brought to the Quezon City Hall of Justice at

when they brought his complaint before the CHR that he

the second floor and instructed that he should just walk

had documents to prove he was at Camp Crame in the

along. There were two (2) women inside aside from

morning of June 13, 1996. He explained that the matter

policemen, and he was elbowed by a policeman to sign

did not enter his mind because he had no food and no

a document. He signed it out of fear, and the document

sleep for several days: At the time my salaysay was

was handed by the policemen to a man who entered the

taken from me, everything was still fresh and there were

room, whom he later came to know as Atty. Florimond

so many things that I wanted to say but I was not able to

Rous. He was brought to another floor at the Fiscals

say

aking

Office while he was still limping. Somebody there asked

he mention it to Fiscal

why he was in that condition, but one (1) of his police

because masama

pakiramdam. Neither did


Refuerzo

who

pa

interviewed

him

ang
after

the

press

companions elbowed him so he just said it was nothing.

conference, as they did not ask him about it. [88] He had

A man who was probably the Fiscal signed the

brought up such matter with his lawyer in another case

document, and they left at around 5:00 in the afternoon.

not before the sala of the presiding judge in this case.[89]

[91]

Lorenzo admitted he had an owner-type jeep, which

was registered in his own name, but said jeep had been
mortgaged to Danilo Lintag since May 27, 1996.[92]

Lorenzo delos Santos testified that on June 13,


1996, he left his house at Fairview and boarded a bus
bound for Quiapo. Upon reaching Quiapo, he heard

Lorenzo presented as witness Edith Lingan, an

mass in Quiapo Church until around 8:30 a.m. He

employee of Felipe M. Santos, who corroborated his

arrived in their office at Binondo on June 13, 1996 at

alibi.[93]

9:30 a.m. He remembered going to the office of the


Felipe Santos Brokerage in the same building to check

Augusto Santos testified that on June 13, 1996

on the date of arrival of a certain shipment. Thereafter,

at around 7:00 oclock in the morning, he accompanied

he went back to his office and stayed there until 2:30

his brother-in-law Jonas Ayhon whose wife, his sister,

p.m. He left his place of work about 4:30 in the afternoon

gave birth on June 11, 1996 at the Jose Fabella Hospital

and went to a client who invited him to drink at the house

at Sta. Cruz, Manila. He stayed there until 2:00 oclock in

of his brother somewhere in Quezon City. On June 19,

the afternoon. On June 26, 1996, five (5) men suddenly

1996, at around 11:00 olock in the evening, several

barged into their house. He was hit in the neck with a .45

persons suddenly barged into his house while he and his

cal. pistol, blindfolded and brought outside where he was

wife were sleeping. Sgt. Bela introduced himself, and he

beaten. They had no warrant of arrest but were forcing

was slapped and handcuffed and the house was

him to admit that Joel de Jesus gave him big money and

searched. They took his .38 cal revolver which was

that he knew what it was. He told them that he did not

licensed. He was blindfolded, made to board a car and

know anything, and that Joel was his enemy, as

taken to a safehouse where he was tied and tortured

his Tito Lorenzo had a quarrel with Joel in which he

(suffocation with plastic bag and electrocution). He was

helped

told that he was pointed to by Joel, but he explained to

the Sinumpaang Salaysay dated July 3, 1996 which he

them that Joel was his opponent in a court case (for

executed at Camp Crame, and also presented a copy of

grave threats, physical injuries and trespassing). [90] He

the birth certificate of the baby delivered by his sister at

also answered their questions regarding his co-

Fabella Hospital.[94]

33

his Tito. He

confirmed

the

contents

of

Jonas Padel Ayhon corroborated the foregoing

an owner-type jeep and two (2) other persons, and that

testimony of his brother-in-law, Augusto Ogie Santos,

they rode to Dau, Pampanga and headed to Tarlac, on

whose half-sister was his wife.[95]

their way to Ilocos to kill Abadilla. Insp. Castillo got


angry, saying that he was just fooling them and he was
again hit.[96]

Rameses de Jesus testified that on June 12,


1996 at 7:00 oclock in the evening, he and Lumanog left
for Mabalacat, Pampanga on board the latters brand

Rameses continued to narrate that after two (2)

new Mitsubishi Lancer, together with Romeo Costibollo,

or three (3) days stay at Camp Karingal, he and the

Manny dela Rosa and Boni Mandaro. They arrived in

other

Mabalacat at about 10:00 oclock in the evening and after

conference. During the inquest conducted by Fiscal

resting they started digging infront of the church, inside

Refuerzo, he saw Freddie Alejo for the first time, and

the compound of the Tiglao family, Lumanogs in-

also his co-accused Lumanog, Fortuna, Lorenzo, Joel

laws. They dug until 4:00 oclock in the morning of June

and Augusto. As far as he knew, they had brought the

13, 1996. Thereafter, they slept and woke up at around

matter of the torture they suffered in the hands of

10:00 oclock in the morning. They helped in the

policemen to the DOJ.[97]

preparations

for

the

celebration

of

the

accused

were

presented

at

press

wedding

anniversary of the Tiglaos. After eating lunch, they drank

On cross-examination, Rameses was shown a

liquor. They returned to Manila only on June 14, 1996 at

medical certificate issued by Dr. Servillano B. Ritualo III

7:00 p.m.. On June 19, 1996, they went back to

at the PNP General Hospital, Camp Crame, but he said

Pampanga and returned to Manila on June 20, 1996. At

he could no longer remember the date he was examined

around 10:00 p.m., they proceeded to Fairview, Quezon

by said doctor. He confirmed that Fortuna was renting a

City to visit the sick child of Romeo Costibollo who was

room in his house together with his mistress Baby. When

then confined at Fairview Polymedic Hospital. After

confronted with hisSinumpaang Salaysay dated June 26,

Costibollo and Lumanog alighted from their car and

1996 he executed before the CHR, he admitted that

while he was parking infront of the hospital, several

there was no mention therein of their treasure-hunting

armed men came. Two (2) men approached him from

trip to Pampanga on June 12 to 15, 1996. He said he

behind and asked him if Costibollo and Lumanog were

was never asked about it. He likewise admitted that he

his companions. When he replied yes, he was pushed

was

inside

were

Mabalacat,

were

(Ipinatong po sa akin yan ni Col. Baluyot).[98]

the

car;

handcuffed. Without

Costibollo

and

any

warrant,

Lumanog
they

included

in

but

the

kidnapping

asserted

that

it

charge

filed

in

was trumped-up

apprehended, blindfolded and taken to a place where he


was tortured. They were forcing him to admit that he and

The Trial Courts Verdict

his companions killed Kabise who was the ex-governor


of Ilocos Norte.Despite his denials they continued to
On August 11, 1999, the trial court promulgated

torture him by electrocution and suffocation with a plastic

a Joint Decision dated July 30, 1999, the dispositive

bag. A policeman arrived with Fortuna, who was asked


how

much

Ram

gave

them,

to

which

portion of which reads:

Fortuna

ACCORDINGLY, judgment
hereby rendered as follows:

replied P10,000.00. He got mad at Fortuna and cursed


him for telling such a lie. After two (2) days, he was

is

xxx

brought to Camp Karingal still blindfolded. He was again

V. In Criminal Case No. Q-9666684, for Murder,:

tortured for two (2) days, the policemen forcing him to


admit he participated in the killing of Col. Abadilla. When

1. Accused Arturo Napolitano y


Caburnay is hereby ACQUITTED;

he could no longer bear the torture, he finally admitted to


Insp. Castillo that he took part in the Abadilla ambush-

2. Accused
SPO2
Cesar
Fortuna y Abudo, Rameses de Jesus y
Calma, Leonardo Lumanog y Luistro
(a.k.a. Leonido or Lenido), Joel de

slay. When the one (1) interviewing him asked how he


did it, he just said that Fortuna came to his house with

34

Jesus y Valdez, and Augusto Santos y


Galang are hereby found GUILTY
beyond reasonable doubt as coprincipals of the crime of MURDER as
defined and penalized in the Revised
Penal Code for the death of ex-Col.
Rolando Abadilla y Nolasco with the
aggravating circumstances of treachery
(absorbing abuse of superior strength)
and evident premeditation and they are
hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty
of DEATH;
3. Accused
Lorenzo
Santos y dela Cruz is
ACQUITTED.

Rameses, Lumanog, Fortuna and Augusto as the


perpetrators in the fatal shooting of Abadilla in the
morning of June 13, 1996. It found that both security
guards Alejo and Herbas confirmed the presence of Joel
de Jesus in the crime scene.However, with respect to
the positive identification of all the five (5) accused,
namely, Joel de Jesus, Rameses de Jesus, Cesar
Fortuna, Lenido Lumanog and Augusto Santos, the trial

delos
hereby

court gave more credence to the testimony of Alejo than


the declaration on the witness stand of Herbas who had
backtracked on his earlier statement dated June 21,

On the civil aspect, accused


SPO2 Cesar Fortuna y Abudo,
Rameses de Jesus y Calma, Leonardo
Lumanog y Luistron (a.k.a. Leonido or
Lenido), Joel de Jesus y Valdez and
Augusto Santos y Galang are hereby
ordered jointly and solidarily to pay the
heirs of the deceased ex-Col. Rolando
Abadilla y Nolasco the following:

1996 wherein he pointed to Joel as one (1) of those


participants in the shooting incident.
In doubting the credibility of Herbas, the trial
court stressed that Herbas was obviously disgruntled at
the Abadilla familys failure to give him the promised

1. As actual damages, the sum


of P294,058.86;

salary, and circumstances showed that his need for job


and money colored his perception and attitude in

2. As indemnity damages, the


sum of P50,000.00;

testifying

for

the

defense. Moreover,

despite

the

impression he had given to the police and the Abadilla

3. As moral damages, the sum


of P500,000.00;

family that he could identify the four (4) persons who

4. As exemplary damages, the


sum of P500,000.00.

surrounded Col. Abadillas car, Herbas could not have

The firearm, one (1) Smith &


Wesson .38 caliber revolver with Serial
No. 980974, subject of Case No. Q-9666680 is hereby ordered returned to
Lorenzo delos Santos y dela Cruz.

for three (3) reasons: (1) he was on the ground when he

The firearm, one (1) Amscor .38


caliber revolver with Serial No. 21907,
subject of Case No. Q-96-66683 is
hereby ordered forwarded to the PNP
Firearms and Explosives Division, Camp
Crame, Quezon City for safekeeping in
accordance with law and as said firearm
belongs and is licensed to accused
Leonardo Lumanog y Luistro (a.k.a.
Leonido or Lenido) who has been
sentenced in Case No. Q-96-66684 for
Murder, until further orders from this
court.

Herbas observed, happened in seconds only; and (3)

really been able to recognize the faces of the ambushers


turned his head (lumingon) towards where the gunshots
were being fired and quite a lot of vehicles in traffic
stopped at the time; (2) the whole incident, as far as
Herbas was three (3) Meralco posts away from the
ambush site. All these factors combined, according to
the trial court, could not have given Herbas enough time
and opportunity to clearly see those who ambushed
Abadilla, and hence he was really a poor and inadequate
witness either for the prosecution or the defense. [100]
Compared to Herbas, the trial court found the

Costs against the accused.

eyewitness testimony of Alejo more credible due to his

Let the entire records of these


cases be transmitted forthwith to the
Honorable Supreme Court for automatic
review, in accordance with law and the
Rules of Court.

elevated position at his guard post and the fact that the
ambush had taken place before his very eyes, so near
that one (1) of the conspirators had to order him to lie flat
(which obviously he could not do because of the narrow

SO ORDERED.[99]

space inside his guard house), and which appeared to


be the reason why a second order came for him to get

The trial court was firmly convinced that the prosecution

down from the guard house, to which he nervously

succeeded in establishing the identities of accused Joel,

complied. From his vantage point, Alejo sufficiently and

35

in a detailed manner recognized the relative positions

Motion for Reconsideration, Lumanog assailed the

and participations of the ambushers, each of whom he

inconsistencies in the declarations of Alejo, and the non-

had identified as Rameses, Fortuna, Lumanog, Augusto

presentation of eyewitnesses Minella Alarcon and Metro

and Joel, both in the police line-up and again inside the

Aide Aurora Urbano. In addition, Lumanog pointed to

courtroom during the trial.[101]

well-publicized statements of the Alex Boncayao Brigade


(ABB), which claimed responsibility for the killing of

The trial court also found that the statements of

Abadilla, but the investigation got sidetracked by another

Joel, in which he admitted his participation in the crime

angle -- that a political rival of Abadilla paid money for a

assisted by Atty. Sansano and in the presence of the IBP

contract assassination. He contended that the police

personnel and police investigators, were not flawed by

opted for the path of least resistance by rounding up the

intimidation or violence when obtained and sworn to

usual suspects, indeed another glaring example of our

before the fiscal. The common defense of alibi put up by

law enforcers strategy of instituting trumped-up charges

all the accused was rejected by the trial court,

against innocent people just to comply with their

holding that (1) the alleged treasure-hunting trip made by

superiors directive to accelerate solving an ambush-slay

Lumanog

and

case.[106] In additional pleadings filed by his new counsel,

unpersuasive, as it was contrary to ordinary human

Lumanog reiterated the ABBs assassination theory in the

experience; (2) Fortunas claim was weak, the logbook

light of more recent press statements issued by said

entry on his supposed transaction in the Office of the

group describing the accused as mere fall guys of the

Directorate for Personnel and Recruitment at Camp

police to project an image of efficiency.[107]

and

Rameses

was

incredible

Crame was a mere photocopy, and also, as in the case


of Rameses, he never mentioned such digging activity in

On January 25, 2000, the trial court issued an Order

Pampanga in the sworn complaint he had filed before

ruling on the pending motions:

the CHR; (3) Augustos alibi was supported only by his

WHEREFORE,
premises
considered, the court resolves:

brother-in-law, and it was simply not usual for menfolk,


instead of women, in our family culture, to fetch a

1. to DENY the Motion for


Reconsideration by accused
Lenido Lumanog;

woman who had just given birth at the hospital, aside


from the observation that Augusto could have gone

2. to DENY the Motion for New


Trial by accused Joel de
Jesus;

straight to Fabella Hospital in Sta. Cruz, Manila instead


of going first to Buendia, Makati before 7:00 a.m. to fetch
his brother-in-law. With respect to Lumanog, the trial

3. to consider the Motion for


New Trial by accused
Lenido
Lumanog
as
abandoned
and/or
withdrawn;

court pointed out that his silence and failure to testify in


court, despite the evidence implicating him in the murder
of Abadilla, justified an inference that he was not
innocent.[102]

4. to DENY the Supplement to


the
Motion
for
Reconsideration by accused
Lenido Lumanog as well as
his addendum thereto and
his
Manifestation
and
Motion dated December 15,
1999 to allow him to
introduce
additional
evidence in support of his
Supplement to the Motion
for Reconsideration;

On August 25, 1999, Lumanog filed a motion for


reconsideration.[103] On September 2, 1999, Joel filed a
motion for new trial based on newly discovered evidence
to present two witnesses, Merevic S. Torrefranca and
Rosemarie P. Caguioa, who offered to testify on the
whereabouts of Joel on the day of the incident.
[104]

Lumanog likewise filed a motion for new trial for the

5. to DENY the Manifestation


and
Submission
dated
December 14, 1999 by
accused Lenido Lumanog;

presentation of a new witness, who was allegedly on


board a taxi immediately behind Abadillas car, and who
clearly saw that those who perpetrated the gruesome

6. and to ORDER the immediate


transmittal of the records of

crime were not the accused.[105] In his Supplement to the

36

these
cases
to
the
Honorable Supreme Court
for
automatic
review
pursuant to law, the Rules
of Court and the Joint
Decision of this court dated
July 30, 1999.
SO ORDERED.

records of the case as part of the offer of proof of the


defense.
Two (2) more pleadings were filed by Lumanogs
counsel just before the records of Criminal Case No. Q-

[108]

96-66684 were transmitted to this Court for automatic


review, namely, a Final Submission to This Court dated

On January 19, 2000, Fr. Roberto P. Reyes,

February 8, 2000, together with an attached copy of the

parish priest of the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice,

letter of Lt. Gen Jose M. Calimlim of the Armed Forces of

University of the Philippines at Diliman, Quezon City,

the Philippines (AFP) Intelligence Service regarding an

assisted by Atty. Neri J. Colmenares, filed an Urgent

unsuccessful operation of the ABB to kill Col. Abadilla,

Independent Motion for Leave of Court to Present Vital

and Final Manifestation to This Court dated February 9,

Evidence. Fr. Reyes claimed that an ABB personality

2000.[111]

came to him confessing that the ABB was responsible


for the killing of Abadilla and gave him an object (Omega

Lumanog challenged before this Court the

gold wristwatch) taken from said victim, which can be

validity of the Orders dated January 25, 26, and 28,

presented as evidence in this case to prove the

2000 allegedly issued with grave abuse of discretion on

innocence of the accused who were erroneously

the part of the trial judge who thereby denied the

convicted by the trial court and save them from the

accused the opportunity to introduce evidence on the

penalty of death.[109]

alleged role of the ABB in the ambush-slay of Col.


Abadilla. On September 7, 2001, we denied his petition
for certiorari in G.R. No. 142065,[112] as we thus held:
A perusal of the pieces of
evidence, except the Omega wristwatch,
which are sought to be presented by the
petitioners in a new trial are not newly
discovered evidence because they were
either available and could have been
presented by the defense during the trial
of the case with the exercise of due
diligence, such as the alleged
newspaper reports and AFP/PNP
intelligence
materials
on
Col.
Abadilla. The
wristwatch
allegedly
belonging to the late Col. Abadilla is
immaterial to the case of murder while
the testimony of F. Roberto Reyes on
the turn over of the said wristwatch by
an alleged member of the ABB who
purportedly knows certain facts about
the killing of Col. Abadilla would be
hearsay without the testimony in court of
the said alleged member of the
ABB. The document which granted
amnesty to Wilfredo Batongbakal is
irrelevant to the killing of Col. Abadilla
inasmuch as Batongbakal does not
appear privy to the actual commission of
the crime of murder in the case at bar. If
at all, those pieces of additional
evidence will at most be merely
corroborative to the defense of alibi and
denial of herein petitioners. Petitioners
alternative prayer that this Court itself
conduct hearings and receive evidence
on the ABB angle is not well taken for
the reason that the Supreme Court is
not a trier of facts.[113]

After due hearing, the trial court denied the said


motion of Fr. Reyes, holding that the latters proposed
testimony could not be considered an exception to the
hearsay rule, considering that: (1) it cannot be said that
the person who allegedly approached Fr. Reyes was
unable to testify, as said person was simply unwilling to
face in a court of law the legal consequences of
whatever admissions he made to Fr. Reyes; (2) the
alleged admission was made long after trial had ended
and long after the court had promulgated its decision, at
which time the public and persons interested in the
outcome of the case knew already what were the courts
findings and conclusions of fact; and (3) going by the
advertised image of the ABB as an ideologically
motivated group that would shoot to death public officers
and private individuals perceived by its ranking cadres
as corrupt, the court found it hard to believe that ABB
gunman would in full view of idealist comrades and
everybody else, would open Abadillas car and steal that
watch, and remain unscathed for his unproletarian act by
his peers in the organization. [110] The trial court, however,
ordered that the Omega wristwatch allegedly belonging
to the late Col. Abadilla, the copy of the motion for leave
to present vital evidence and the transcript of the
proceedings on January 26, 2000 be attached to the

37

assailants, more so because the crime


happened in clear and broad daylight.

Accused-petitioners motion for reconsideration of the


above decision was denied with finality on November 20,

Even standing alone, Alejos


positive and unequivocal declaration is
sufficient to support a conviction for
murder against appellants. Indeed, the
testimony of a single witness, when
positive and credible, is sufficient to
support
a
conviction
even
for
murder. For there is no law requiring
that
the
testimony
of
a
simple [sic] witness
should
be
corroborated for it to be accorded full
faith and credit. The credible testimony
of a lone witness(es) assumes more
weight when there is no showing that he
was actuated by improper motive to
testify falsely against the accused, as in
the case of Freddie Alejo.

2001.[114] On September 17, 2002, this Court likewise


denied for lack of merit the motion for new trial and
related relief dated April 26, 2002 filed by counsel for
said accused-petitioner.[115]
Pursuant to our decision in People v. Mateo,[116] this case
was transferred to the Court of Appeals for intermediate
review on January 18, 2005.[117]

Ruling of the CA

xxx
On April 1, 2008, the CA rendered the assailed decision,

appellants failed to prove that it


was physically impossible for them to be
at the locus delicti or within its
immediate vicinity at the time the crime
was committed.

thus:
WHEREFORE, in the light of the
foregoing, the impugned decision is
AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION
that
the
accused-appellants
are
sentenced each to suffer reclusion
perpetua without the benefit of parole.

In the case of Joel de Jesus, he


maintains that he was driving his tricycle
on a special chartered trip for a
passenger
going
to
Roosevelt,
Novalichez, Quezon City. But, it was not
impossible for him to have also gone to
Katipunan Avenue, which is also part of
Quezon City; not to mention the fact that
with his tricycle, he could have easily
moved from one place to another.

In all other respects, the lower


courts decision is AFFIRMED.
Costs against appellants.
SO ORDERED.[118]

The testimonies of Rameses de


Jesus and Leonido Lumanog that they
were treasure hunting in Mabalacat,
Pampanga on the day in question, lack
credence as they are unsupported by
the
testimonies
of
independent
witnesses. At any rate, Rameses de
Jesus admitted that they were using the
new car of Leonido Lumanog. Hence, it
was not physically impossible for them
to travel to Quezon City via the North
Expressway at the time the crime took
place.

The CA upheld the conviction of the accusedappellants based on the credible eyewitness testimony
of Alejo, who vividly recounted before the trial court their
respective positions and participation in the fatal
shooting of Abadilla, having been able to witness closely
how they committed the crime. On the sufficiency of
prosecution evidence to establish appellants guilt
beyond reasonable doubt and the scant weight of their

Augusto claims that he was at


the Fabella Hospital in Sta. Cruz,
Manila, and his alibi was corroborated
by his brother-in-law, Jonas Padel
Ayhon, who is not an impartial
witness. Where nothing supports the
alibi except the testimony of a relative, it
deserves scant consideration.

defense of alibi, as well as the allegations of torture and


intimidation in the hands of the police investigator and
negative results of ballistic and fingerprint tests, the CA
ruled as follows:
Despite
a
lengthy
and
exhaustive cross-examination by the
defense counsel, eyewitness Alejo stuck
to the essentials of his story, including
the identification of the persons who
killed Col. Abadilla. He was only ten (10)
meters
away
from
the locus
crimini. Standing
on
an
elevated
guardhouse, he had a close and
unobstructed view of the whole
incident. He was in a vantage position to
clearly
recognize
Col.
Abadillas

xxx
Finally, Cesar Fortuna claims
that he was in Camp Crame on the day
the murder took place. But it was not
impossible for him to have gone to
Katipunan Road, Blue Ridge, which is
relatively near Camp Crame when the
shooting happened around 8:40 in the
morning. After the shooting, he could

38

have easily and quickly transferred to


Camp Crame between 9:00 and 9:30 in
the morning of the same day.

In its Resolution[120] dated October 28, 2008, the


CA denied the motions for reconsideration respectively
filed by Fortuna and Joel de Jesus.[121]

In any event, appellants alibis


were belied by the positive identification
made by prosecution eyewitness
Freddie Alejo.

Rameses de Jesus and Joel de Jesus filed


notices of appeal[122] (G.R. No. 187745), while Fortuna

xxx

(G.R. No. 185123), and Lumanog and Augusto Santos

Further, appellants allegations


that the police authorities maltreated
them, and forcibly extracted their extrajudicial confessions do not exculpate
them from criminal liability. For one, their
conviction was not based on their extrajudicial confessions, but on their positive
identification of Freddie Alejo as the
authors of the crime. Such positive
identification is totally independent of
their
extra-judicial
confessions. For
another, the Constitutional guarantees
contained in the Bill of Rights cannot be
used as a shield whereby a person
guilty of a crime may escape
punishment. Thus, the Supreme Court
in Draculan vs. Donato, held:

(G.R. No. 182555) filed their respective petitions for


review. On August 6, 2009, G.R. No. 187745 was
ordered consolidated with the already consolidated
petitions in G.R. Nos. 182555 and 185123. [123] In view of
the judgment of the CA imposing the penalty of reclusion
perpetua, said petitions for review are treated as
appeals,

in accordance

with

A.M.

No.

00-5-03-

SC (Amendments to the Revised Rules of Criminal


Procedure to Govern Death Penalty Cases)[124] which
provides under Rule 124 (c):
(c) In cases where the Court of
Appeals imposes reclusion perpetua, life
imprisonment or a lesser penalty, it shall
render and enter judgment imposing
such penalty. The judgment may be
appealed to the Supreme Court by
notice of appeal filed with the Court of
Appeals.

x x x. Pangalawa, ang
mga
karapatan
ng
mga
mamamayan na natatala sa
Saligang Batas (sa Bill of
Rights) ay hindi mga paraan
upang ang isang tunay na may
pagkakasala na labag sa batas,
ay makaligtas sa nararapat na
pagdurusa. Ang
tunay
na
layunin ng mga tadhanang iyon
ng Saligang Batas ay walang
iba kundi tiyakin na sinumang
nililitis ay magkaroon ng sapat
na pagkakataon at paraan na
maipagtanggol ang sarili, bukod
sa pagbabawal ng pagtanggap
ng katibayan (evidence) laban
sa kanya na bunga ng pagpipilit,
dahas at iba pang paraang
labag sa kanyang kalooban.

Appellants Arguments

Lenido Lumanog and Augusto Santos set forth the


following arguments in their memorandum, which
basically reflect the same issues raised by appellants in
the memorandum filed in G.R. No. 182555:
1. The Court of Appeals did not make a
real and honest review of the appealed
case. There was a failure of appellate
review, rendering its decision void.

To repeat, assuming that


appellants allegations of torture were
true, the same do not exculpate them
from liability for the crime which the
People had adequately established by
independent evidence, neither was their
claim that the results of the ballistics test
purportedly showing that the bullets and
bullet shells found in the crime scene
did not match with any of the firearms
supposedly in their possession. But
these ballistic results are inconclusive
and can never prevail over appellants
positive identification by eyewitness
Freddie Alejo as the persons who
perpetrated the ambush-slay of Col.
Abadilla. Besides, there is no showing
that the firearms supposedly found in
appellants possession long after the
incident were the same ones they used
in the ambush-slay.[119]

2. The affirmation of the conviction overrelies on the testimony of one alleged


eyewitness, Freddie Alejo.
3. The affirmation of the conviction
misappreciates the alibi evidence for the
defense.
4. The affirmation of conviction gravely
erred when it unduly disregarded other
pieces of vital evidence.
5. The penalty imposed by the Court of
Appeals is unconstitutional.[125]
On his part, Fortuna alleges that:

39

I. The Honorable Court of Appeals


committed serious error and gravely
abused its discretion when it affirmed
the conviction of the petitioner and his
co-accused based solely on the
incredible and contradicted eyewitness
account of Security Guard (S/G) Alejo.

test. They also fault the CA for misappreciating their


common defense of alibi, thus disregarding exculpatory
documentary evidence including negative results of
ballistic and fingerprint examinations, and evidence of
torture which appellants had suffered in the hands of

II. The Honorable Court of Appeals


seriously erred and gravely abused its
discretion in not considering the defense
of petitioner herein despite the
weakness of the evidence of the
prosecution.

police investigators. Equally deplorable is the trial and

III. The Honorable Court seriously erred


in favoring the prosecution on the
ballistic test showing that the bullets and
bullet shells found in the crime scene
did not match with any firearms
supposedly in petitioners possession;
evidence which was supposed to
support
the
theory
of
the
prosecution. When
such
physical
evidence did not favor the prosecutions
theory the same was still taken against
the petitioner.

Abadilla, a notorious military henchman during the

appellate courts refusal to admit evidence coming from


underground revolutionary forces, in particular the ABB
which claimed responsibility for the killing of Col.
martial law era.Appellants maintain that violations of
constitutional rights have been held as a ground for
acquittal or dismissal in certain cases. In one (1) case,
the long delay in the termination of preliminary
investigation was found to be violative of the accuseds
constitutional rights to procedural due process and
speedy disposition of cases and was cause for the
dismissal of the case by this Court as a matter of radical

IV. The Honorable Court of Appeals


seriously
erred
in
disregarding
allegations and proof of torture and
maltreatment by police officers against
the petitioner in affirming his conviction.

relief.
Finally, the appellants argue that the penalty of reclusion

[126]

perpetua without the benefit of parole meted by the CA


pursuant

to

Sec.

of

R.A.

No.

9346

is

Appellants assail the wholesale adoption, if not verbatim

unconstitutional. Article III, Section 19 (1) of the 1987

copying, by the CA of the factual narration, as well as the

Constitution provides that any death penalty imposed

arguments for and disposition of the merits of the case

shall be reduced to reclusion perpetua. There is no

from the Consolidated Brief for the Appellees, which in

mention of without the benefit of parole or shall not be

turn is based on the memorandum submitted by the

eligible for parole therein.

private prosecutors to the trial court. This anomaly,


Appellants

according to the appellants, which was aggravated by

contend

that

the

questioned

the insufficient findings of fact and absence of actual

provisions of R.A. No. 9346 constitute encroachments or

discussion of the assignment of errors raised by each

dilutions of the Presidents broad, if not near absolute,

appellant before the CA, resulted in the failure of

constitutional power of executive clemency, based not

intermediate review without any independent findings

only on Article VII, Sec. 19, but also on constitutional

and resolution of important issues of the case, thus

tradition and jurisprudence. Although the said section

rendering the CA decision void. Hence, appellants seek

does not explicitly mention parole as a form of executive

not just to overturn or reverse the CA decision but also to

clemency, constitutional tradition and jurisprudence

declare it null and void, by way of radical relief from this

indicate it to be such. In Tesoro v. Director of Prisons,

Court.

[127]

for instance, it was held that the power to pardon

given to the President by the Constitution includes the


On the merits, appellants principally contend that the CA

power to grant and revoke paroles. The aforesaid

gravely erred in its over-reliance on the problematic

provision of R.A. No. 9346 also inflicts an inhuman

identification

lone

punishment, which is prohibited by the Constitution, and

eyewitness, security guard Alejo. The CA simply did not

also violates the equal protection clause of the Bill of

rule on questions concerning the credibility of said

Rights.

eyewitness

provided

through

by

the

the

totality

prosecutions

of

circumstances

40

Our Ruling

they eventually set out the facts and the law on which
they were based, as when they stated the legal
qualifications of the offense constituted by the facts

Once again, this Court upholds the constitutional

proved, the modifying circumstances, the participation of

mandate protecting the rights of persons under custodial

the accused, the penalty imposed and the civil liability; or

investigation. But while we strike down the extrajudicial

discussed the facts comprising the elements of the

confession extracted in violation of constitutionally

offense that was charged in the information, and

enshrined rights and declare it inadmissible in evidence,

accordingly rendered a verdict and imposed the

appellants are not entitled to an acquittal because their

corresponding penalty; or quoted the facts narrated in

conviction was not based on the evidence obtained

the prosecutions memorandum, but made their own

during such custodial investigation. Even without the

findings and assessment of evidence, before finally

extrajudicial confession of appellant Joel de Jesus who

agreeing with the prosecutions evaluation of the case. [130]

was the first to have been arrested, the trial courts


judgment

is

affirmed,

as

the

testimonial

and
In the same vein, we have expressed concern

documentary evidence on record have established the

over the possible denial of due process when an

guilt of appellants beyond reasonable doubt.

appellate court failed to provide the appeal the attention


it rightfully deserved, thus depriving the appellant of a
CA Decision meets constitutional standard.

fair opportunity to be heard by a fair and responsible


magistrate. This situation becomes more ominous in

The Constitution commands that [n]o decision shall be

criminal cases, as in this case, where not only property

rendered by any court without expressing therein clearly

rights are at stake but also the liberty if not the life of a

and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based.


[128]

human being.[131] The parties to a litigation should be

Judges are expected to make complete findings of

informed of how it was decided, with an explanation of

fact in their decisions and scrutinize closely the legal

the factual and legal reasons that led to the conclusions

aspects of the case in the light of the evidence

of the trial court. The losing party is entitled to know why

presented. They should avoid the tendency to generalize

he lost, so he may appeal to the higher court, if

and form conclusions without detailing the facts from

permitted, should he believe that the decision should be

which such conclusions are deduced. [129]

reversed. A decision that does not clearly and distinctly


state the facts and the law on which it is based leaves

Section 2, Rule 120 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal

the parties in the dark as to how it was reached and is

Procedure, as amended, likewise provides:

precisely prejudicial to the losing party, who is unable to

Sec. 2. Form and contents of


judgments. -- The judgment must be
written in the official language,
personally and directly prepared by the
judge and signed by him and shall
contain
clearly
and
distinctly a
statement of the facts proved or
admitted by the accused and the law
upon which the judgment is based.

pinpoint the possible errors of the court for review by a


higher tribunal.[132]
In Bank of the Philippine Islands v. Leobrera,
[133]

we held that though it is not a good practice, we see

nothing illegal in the act of the trial court completely


copying the memorandum submitted by a party, provided

x x x x x x x x x. [EMPHASIS
SUPPLIED.]

that the decision clearly and distinctly states sufficient


findings of fact and the law on which they are based.
[134]

We have sustained decisions of lower courts as having


substantially

or

sufficiently

complied

with

In another case where we upheld the validity of

memorandum decisions, we nevertheless took occasion

the

to remind judges that it is still desirable for an appellate

constitutional injunction, notwithstanding the laconic and

judge to endeavor to make the issues clearer and use

terse manner in which they were written; and even if

his own perceptiveness in unraveling the rollo and his

there (was left) much to be desired in terms of (their)

own discernment in discovering the law. No less

clarity, coherence and comprehensibility, provided that

41

(3) Any confession or admission


obtained in violation of this or section 17
hereof (right against self-incrimination)
shall be inadmissible in evidence
against him.

importantly, he must use his own language in laying


down his judgment.[135]
Perusing the CA decision, we hold that it cannot

(4) The law shall provide for


penal and civil sanctions for violation of
this section as well as compensation for
the rehabilitation of victims of tortures or
similar
practices,
and
their
families. [EMPHASIS SUPPLIED.]

be deemed constitutionally infirm, as it clearly stated the


facts and law on which the ruling was based, and while it
did not specifically address each and every assigned
error raised by appellants, it cannot be said that the
appellants were left in the dark as to how the CA
E
x
t
r
a
j
u
d
i
c
i
a
l

reached its ruling affirming the trial courts judgment of


conviction. The principal arguments raised in their
Memorandum submitted before this Court actually
referred to the main points of the CA rulings, such as the
alleged

sufficiency

of

prosecution

evidence,

their

common defense of alibi, allegations of torture, probative


value

of

ballistic

and

fingerprint

test

results,

circumstances qualifying the offense and modification of


penalty imposed by the trial court. What appellants

C
o
n
f
e
s
s
i
o
n
o
f

essentially assail is the verbatim copying by the CA of


not only the facts narrated, but also the arguments and
discussion including the legal authorities, in disposing of
the appeal. On such wholesale adoption of the Office of
the Solicitor Generals position, as well as the trial courts
insufficient findings of fact, appellants anchor their claim
of failure of intermediate review by the CA.
We now proceed to the other substantive issues

J
o
e
l

presented by appellants.
Rights of Accused During
Custodial Investigation

d
e

The rights of persons under custodial investigation are


enshrined

in Article

III,

Section

12

of

J
e
s
u
s

the 1987

Constitution, which provides:


Sec. 12 (1) Any person under
investigation for the commission of an
offense shall have the right to be
informed of his right to remain silent
and to
have
competent
and
independent counsel preferably of
his own choice. If the person cannot
afford the services of counsel, he must
be provided with one. These rights
cannot be waived except in writing and
in the presence of counsel.

N
o
t
V
a
l
i
d

(2) No torture, force, violence,


threat, intimidation or any other means
which vitiate the free will shall be used
against him. Secret detention places,
solitary, incommunicado, or other similar
forms of detention are prohibited.

Custodial investigation refers to the critical pretrial stage when the investigation is no longer a general
inquiry into an unsolved crime, but has begun to focus
on a particular person as a suspect. [136] Police officers

42

claimed that appellants were apprehended as a result of

only be waived in writing and with the assistance of

hot pursuit activities on the days following the ambush-

counsel, there could not have been such a valid waiver

slay of Abadilla. There is no question, however, that

by Joel, who was presented to Atty. Sansano at the IBP

when appellants were arrested they were already

Office, Quezon City Hall only the following day and

considered suspects: Joel was pinpointed by security

stayed overnight at the police station before he was

guard Alejo who went along with the PARAC squad to

brought to said counsel.

Fairview on June 19, 1996, while the rest of appellants


were taken by the same operatives in follow-up

P/Insp.

Castillo

admitted

that

the

initial

operations after Joel provided them with the identities of

questioning of Joel began in the morning of June 20,

his conspirators and where they could be found.

1996, the first time said suspect was presented to him at


the CPDC station, even before he was brought to the

R.A. No. 7438,

[137]

approved on May 15, 1992,

IBP Office for the taking of his formal statement. Thus,

has reinforced the constitutional mandate protecting the

the possibility of appellant Joel having been subjected to

rights of persons under custodial investigation. The

intimidation

pertinent provisions read:

investigators as he claims, cannot be discounted. The

or

violence

in

the

hands

of

police

constitutional requirement obviously had not been

SEC. 2. Rights of Persons


Arrested, Detained or under Custodial
Investigation; Duties of Public Officers.

observed. Settled is the rule that the moment a police


officer tries to elicit admissions or confessions or even

a. Any
person
arrested,
detained
or
under custodial
investigation shall at all times be
assisted by counsel.

plain information from a suspect, the latter should, at that

b. Any
public
officer
or
employee, or anyone acting under his
order or his place, who arrests, detains
or investigates any person for the
commission of an offense shall inform
the latter, in a language known to and
understood by him, of his rights to
remain silent and to have competent
and independent counsel, preferably of
his own choice, who shall at all times be
allowed to confer private with the person
arrested, detained or under custodial
investigation. If such person cannot
afford the services of his own counsel,
he must be provided by with a
competent and independent counsel.

investigation is to curb the police-state practice of

juncture, be assisted by counsel, unless he waives this


right in writing and in the presence of counsel. [138] The
purpose of providing counsel to a person under custodial
extracting a confession that leads appellant to make selfincriminating statements.[139]
Even

assuming

that

custodial

investigation

started only during Joels execution of his statement


before Atty. Sansano on June 20, 1996, still the said
confession must be invalidated. To be acceptable,
extrajudicial confessions must conform to constitutional
requirements. A confession

is

not

valid

and

not

admissible in evidence when it is obtained in violation of


any

xxxx

of

the

investigation.

f. As used in this Act, custodial


investigation shall include the practice of
issuing an invitation to a person who is
investigated in connection with an
offense he is suspected to have
committed, without prejudice to the
liability of the inviting officer for any
violation
of
law. [EMPHASIS
SUPPLIED.]

rights

of

persons

under

custodial

[140]

Since Joel was provided with a lawyer secured by


CPDC investigators from the IBP-Quezon City chapter, it
cannot be said that his right to a counsel preferably of
his own choice was not complied with, particularly as he
never objected to Atty. Sansano when the latter was
presented to him to be his counsel for the taking down of
his

statement. The

phrase preferably

of

his

own

Police officers claimed that upon arresting Joel,

choice does not convey the message that the choice of a

they informed him of his constitutional rights to remain

lawyer by a person under investigation is exclusive as to

silent, that any information he would give could be used

preclude other equally competent and independent

against him, and that he had the right to a competent

attorneys from handling the defense; otherwise the

and independent counsel, preferably, of his own choice,

tempo of custodial investigation would be solely in the

and if he cannot afford the services of counsel he will be

hands of the accused who can impede, nay, obstruct the

provided with one (1). However, since these rights can

progress of the interrogation by simply selecting a lawyer

43

who, for one reason or another, is not available to


protect his interest.

[141]

The right to counsel has been written into our

Thus, while the choice of a lawyer

Constitution in order to prevent the use of duress and

in cases where the person under custodial interrogation

other undue influence in extracting confessions from a

cannot afford the services of counsel or where the

suspect in a crime. The lawyers role cannot be reduced

preferred lawyer is not available is naturally lodged in the

to being that of a mere witness to the signing of a pre-

police investigators, the suspect has the final choice, as

prepared confession, even if it indicated compliance with

he may reject the counsel chosen for him and ask for

the constitutional rights of the accused. The accused is

another one. A lawyer provided by the investigators is

entitled to effective, vigilant and independent counsel.

deemed engaged by the accused when he does not

[145]

raise any objection against the counsels appointment

Where the prosecution failed to discharge the States

during the course of the investigation, and the accused

burden of proving with clear and convincing evidence

thereafter subscribes to the veracity of the statement

that the accused had enjoyed effective and vigilant

before the swearing officer.[142]

counsel before he extrajudicially admitted his guilt,

The question really is whether or not Atty.

the extrajudicial confession cannot be given any

Sansano was an independent and competent counsel as

probative value.[146]

to satisfy the constitutional requirement. We held that the


modifiercompetent

and

independent in

the

1987

With respect to the other appellants, they were likewise

Constitution is not an empty rhetoric. It stresses the

entitled to the rights guaranteed by the Constitution

need to accord the accused, under the uniquely stressful

when they were brought to the police station as suspects

conditions of a custodial investigation, an informed

and were, therefore under custodial investigation.

judgment on the choices explained to him by a diligent

[147]

and capable lawyer.[143] An effective and vigilant counsel

of constitutional rights during custodial investigation,

necessarily and logically requires that the lawyer be

which are relevant only when the conviction of the

present and able to advise and assist his client from the

accused by the trial court is based on the evidence

time the confessant answers the first question asked by

obtained during such investigation. [148] As for the matters

the investigating officer until the signing of the

stated in the extrajudicial confession of appellant Joel,

extrajudicial confession. Moreover, the lawyer should

these were not the basis for appellants conviction. It has

ascertain that the confession is made voluntarily and that

to be stressed further that no confession or statement by

the person under investigation fully understands the


nature and the consequence of

However, they cannot simply rely on those violations

appellants Fortuna, Lumanog, Augusto and Rameses

his extrajudicial

was used as evidence by the prosecution at the trial.

confession in relation to his constitutional rights. A


contrary rule would undoubtedly be antagonistic to the

After a thorough and careful review, we hold that

constitutional rights to remain silent, to counsel and to be

there exists sufficient evidence on record to sustain

presumed innocent.[144]

appellants conviction even without the extrajudicial


confession of appellant Joel de Jesus.

Atty. Sansano, who supposedly interviewed Joel and


assisted the latter while responding to questions

Allegations of Torture and Intimidation

propounded by SPO2 Garcia, Jr., did not testify on


whether he had properly discharged his duties to said

The Court notes with utmost concern the serious

client. While SPO2 Garcia, Jr. testified that Atty.

allegations of torture of appellants who were dubbed by

Sansano had asked Joel if he understood his answers to

the media as the Abadilla 5. This was brought by

the questions of the investigating officer and sometimes

appellants before the CHR which, in its Resolution dated

stopped Joel from answering certain questions, SPO2

July 26, 1996, did not make any categorical finding of

Garcia, Jr. did not say if Atty. Sansano, in the first place,

physical violence inflicted on the appellants by the police

verified from them the date and time of Joels arrest and

authorities. The

the circumstances thereof, or any previous information

CHR,

however,

found prima

facie evidence that respondent police officers could have

elicited from him by the investigators at the station, and

violated R.A. No. 7438, particularly on visitorial rights

if said counsel inspected Joels body for any sign or mark

and the right to counsel, including the law on arbitrary

of physical torture.

detention, and accordingly forwarded its resolution

44

together with records of the case to the Secretary of

for Early Decision. On December 13, 2004, they filed a

Justice, Secretary of the Department of Interior and

Motion for Early Decision.[155]

Local Government, the PNP Director General and the


Ombudsman to file the appropriate criminal and/or

By

resolution

of

January

18,

2005,

we

administrative actions against the person or persons

transferred this case to the CA for intermediate review,

responsible for violating the human rights of the

conformably with our pronouncement in People v.

suspects as the evidence may warrant.

[149]

As per the

Mateo decided on July 7, 2004. Appellants Urgent

manifestation of appellants, the DOJ, after conducting a

Motion for Reconsideration of Transfer to the Court of

preliminary investigation, referred the matter to the

Appeals filed on February 24, 2005 was denied on

Ombudsman in 2004. As of July 2007, the case before

March 29, 2005. A similar request filed on June 2, 2005

the Ombudsman docketed as OMB-P-C-04-1269/CPL-

was likewise denied by our Resolution dated July 12,

C-04-1965 was still pending preliminary investigation.[150]

2005.[156] At the CA, appellants also moved for early


resolution of their appeal after the case was submitted

Rights to speedy disposition of cases

for decision on November 29, 2006. The case remained


unresolved due to a number of factors, such as the CA
internal reorganization and inhibition of some Justices to

Appellants further cite the comment made by the


its

whom the case was re-raffled. [157] Before the retirement

the

of the ponente, Justice Agustin S. Dizon, the CAs

circumstances, there was, insofar as the eight (8)-year

Sixteenth Division finally rendered its decision on April 1,

delay in the disposition of their appeal in the CA was

2008. Appellants motion for reconsideration was denied

concerned, a violation of Article 14, paragraph 3 (c) of

by the Special Former Sixteenth Division on October 28,

the International

2008.

United

Nations

Communication

Human
No.

Rights

Committee

1466/2006

Covenant

on

that

Civil

in

under

and

Political

Rights (1966). It provides that in the determination of any


criminal charge against him, everyone shall be entitled,

It must be stressed that in the determination of

as among the minimum guarantees provided therein, to

whether the right to speedy disposition of cases has

[151]

be tried without undue delay.

been violated, particular regard must be taken of the


facts and circumstances peculiar to each case. A mere
the 1987

mathematical reckoning of the time involved would not

Constitution provides that all persons shall have the right

be sufficient.[158] Under the circumstances, we hold that

to a speedy disposition of their cases before all judicial,

the delay of (4) four years during which the case

bodies. [152] This

remained pending with the CA and this Court was not

Section

quasi-judicial,

16,

or

Article

III

administrative

of

unreasonable, arbitrary or oppressive.

protection extends to all citizens and covers the periods


before, during and after trial, affording broader protection
than Section 14(2), which guarantees merely the right to

In several cases where it was manifest that due process

a speedy trial.[153] However, just like the constitutional

of law or other rights guaranteed by the Constitution or

guarantee of speedy trial, speedy disposition of cases is

statutes have been denied, this Court has not faltered to

a flexible concept. It is consistent with delays and

accord the so-called radical relief to keep accused from

depends upon the circumstances. What the Constitution

enduring the rigors and expense of a full-blown trial.

prohibits are unreasonable, arbitrary and oppressive

[159]

[154]

delays, which render rights nugatory.

In this case, however, appellants are not entitled to

the same relief in the absence of clear and convincing


showing that the delay in the resolution of their appeal
was unreasonable or arbitrary.

In this case, the records of Criminal Case No. Q96-66684 were transmitted to this Court for automatic
review on February 11, 2000. On September 7, 2001,

Credibility of Eyewitness Testimony

this Court rendered a decision dismissing the Petition for


Certiorari (Rule 65) and for Extraordinary Legal and
Equitable Relief (G.R. No. 142065). By June 2004, all

Time and again, we have held that the testimony of a

appeal briefs for the present review had been filed and

sole eyewitness is sufficient to support a conviction so

on July 6, 2004, appellants filed a Consolidated Motion

long as it is clear, straightforward and worthy of


credence by the trial court.[160] Indeed, when it comes to

45

credibility of witnesses, this Court accords the highest

view that Alejo had at the time of the incident was

respect, even finality, to the evaluation made by the

verified by Judge Jose Catral Mendoza (now an

lower court of the testimonies of the witnesses presented

Associate Justice of this Court) during the ocular

before it. This holds true notwithstanding that it was

inspection conducted in the presence of the prosecutors,

another judge who presided at the trial and Judge Jaime

defense counsel, court personnel, and witnesses Alejo

N. Salazar, Jr. who penned the decision in this case

and Maj. Villena.

heard only some witnesses for the defense. It is


axiomatic that the fact alone that the judge who heard

The trial judge also found that Alejo did not

the evidence was not the one who rendered the

waver in his detailed account of how the assailants shot

judgment, but merely relied on the record of the case,

Abadilla who was inside his car, the relative positions of

does not render his judgment erroneous or irregular.

the gunmen and lookouts, and his opportunity to look at

This is so even if the judge did not have the fullest

them in the face. Alejo immediately gave his statement

opportunity to weigh the testimonies, not having heard

before the police authorities just hours after the incident

all the witnesses speak or observed their deportment

took

and manner of testifying.[161]

inconsistencies in his statement and testimony, with

place.

Appellants

make

much

of

few

respect to the number of assailants and his reaction


Verily, a judge who was not present during the

when he was ordered to get down in his guard post. But

trial can rely on the transcript of stenographic notes

such inconsistencies have already been explained by

taken during the trial as basis of his decision. Such

Alejo during cross-examination by correcting his earlier

reliance does not violate substantive and procedural due

statement in using number four (4) to refer to those

process.[162] We have ruled in People v. Rayray[163] that

persons actually standing around the car and two (2)

the fact that the judge who heard the evidence was not

more persons as lookouts, and that he got nervous only

himself the one who prepared, signed and promulgated

when the second lookout shouted at him to get down,

the decision constitutes no compelling reason to jettison

because the latter actually poked a gun at him. It is

his findings and conclusions, and does not per se render

settled that affidavits, being ex-parte, are almost always

his decision void. The validity of a decision is not

incomplete and often inaccurate, but do not really detract

necessarily impaired by the fact that its ponente only

from the credibility of witnesses. [165] The discrepancies

took over from a colleague who had earlier presided at

between a sworn statement and testimony in court do

the trial. This circumstance alone cannot be the basis for

not outrightly justify the acquittal of an accused, [166] as

the reversal of the trial courts decision.[164]

testimonial evidence carries more weight than an


affidavit.[167]

In giving full credence to the eyewitness


testimony of security guard Alejo, the trial judge took into

As to appellants attempt to discredit Alejo by

account his proximity to the spot where the shooting

reason of the latters acceptance of benefits from the

occurred, his elevated position from his guardhouse, his

Abadilla family, the same is puerile, considering that the

opportunity to view frontally all the perpetrators for a

trial court even verified for itself how Alejo could have

brief time -- enough for him to remember their faces

witnessed the shooting incident and after he withstood

(when the two [2] lookouts he had earlier noticed

intense grilling from defense lawyers. Case law has it

walking back and forth infront of his guard post pointed

that where there is no evidence that the principal witness

their guns at him one [1] after the other, and later when

for the prosecution was actuated by improper motive, the

the four [4] armed men standing around the victims car

presumption is that he was not so actuated and his

momentarily looked at him as he was approached at

testimony is entitled to full faith and credit.[168]

the guardhouse by the second lookout), and his


positive identification in the courtroom of appellants as

The trial judge also correctly rejected appellants

the six (6) persons whom he saw acting together in the

proposition that the eyewitness testimony of security

fatal shooting of Abadilla on June 13, 1996. The clear

guard Herbas should have been given due weight and

46

and the identification; and, (6) the


suggestiveness of the identification
procedure.[171] [EMPHASIS
SUPPLIED.]

that other eyewitnesses should have been presented by


the prosecution, specifically Cesar Espiritu and Minella
Alarcon, who allegedly had better opportunity to
recognize Abadillas attackers. As correctly pointed out
by the trial judge, Herbas could not have really seen at

Examining the records, we find nothing irregular

close range the perpetrators from his position at a

in the identification made by Alejo at the police station for

nearby building, which is several meters away from the

which

ambush site, as confirmed by photographs submitted by

Salaysaydated June 21, 1996, during which he positively

the prosecution, which Herbas failed to refute. The same

identified Joel de Jesus and Lorenzo delos Santos as

thing can be said of Espiritu who admitted in

those lookouts who had pointed their guns at him

his Sinumpaang Salaysay that his car was ahead of the

demanding that he buck down at his guardhouse. In any

Honda Accord driven by Abadilla, and that he had

case, the trial court did not rely solely on said out-of-

already alighted from his car some houses away from

court identification considering that Alejo also positively

the exact spot where Abadilla was ambushed while his

identified appellants during the trial. Thus, even

car was in the stop position.[169]

assuming arguendo that Alejos out-of-court identification

he

executed

the Karagdagang

Sinumpaang

was tainted with irregularity, his subsequent identification


in court cured any flaw that may have attended it. [172] We

Positive Identification of Appellants

have held that the inadmissibility of a police line-up


identification should not necessarily foreclose the

Appellants assail the out-of-court identification made by

admissibility of an independent in-court identification.[173]

Alejo who pointed to appellant Joel de Jesus and


Lorenzo delos Santos in a line-up at the police station

We also found none of the danger signals

together with police officers. However, appellants claim

enumerated by Patrick M. Wall, a well-known authority in

that the police officers who joined the line-up were

eyewitness identification, which give warning that the

actually in their police uniforms at the time, as to make

identification may be erroneous even though the method

the identification process suggestive and hence not

used is proper. The danger signals contained in the list,

valid, was unsubstantiated.


In People

v. Teehankee,

which is not exhaustive, are:


Jr.,[170] we

explained

the

(1)

the witness originally stated that


he could not identify anyone;

(2)

the identifying witness knew the


accused before the crime, but
made no accusation against him
when questioned by the police;

(3)

a serious discrepancy exists


between the identifying witness
original description and the actual
description of the accused;

(4)

before identifying the accused at


the trial, the witness erroneously
identified some other person;

(5)

other witnesses to the crime fail to


identify the accused;

(6)

before trial, the witness sees the


accused but fails to identify him;

(7)

before the commission of the


crime, the witness had limited
opportunity to see the accused;

procedure for out-of-court identification and the test to


determine the admissibility of such identification, thus:
Out-of-court identification is
conducted by the police in various
ways. It is done thru show-ups where
the suspect alone is brought face to face
with the witness for identification. It is
done thru mug shots where photographs
are shown to the witness to identify the
suspect. It is also done thru lineups where a witness identifies the
suspect from a group of persons lined
up for the purpose. . . In resolving the
admissibility of and relying on out-ofcourt identification of suspects, courts
have
adopted
the totality
of
circumstances
test where
they
consider the following factors, viz: (1)
the witness opportunity to view the
criminal at the time of the crime; (2) the
witness degree of attention at that
time; (3) the accuracy of any prior
description given by the witness; (4)
the level of certainty demonstrated by
the witness at the identification; (5)
the length of time between the crime

47

(8)

(9)

the witness and the person


identified are of different racial
groups;

he was again asked to identify him in court. When


defense counsel posed the question of the discrepancy
in Alejos description of Lumanog who was then

during his original observation of


the perpetrator of the crime, the
witness was unaware that a crime
was involved;

presented as having a fair complexion and was 40 years


old, the private prosecutor manifested the possible effect
of Lumanogs incarceration for such length of time as to
make his appearance different at the time of trial.

(10) a considerable time elapsed


between the witness view of the
criminal and his identification of
the accused;

Applying

totality-of-circumstances

test,

we thus reiterate that Alejos out-court-identification is

(11) several persons committed the


crime; and
(12) the witness fails to make
positive trial identification.[174]

the

reliable, for reasons that, first, he was very near the


place where Abadilla was shot and thus had a good view

of the gunmen, not to mention that the two (2) lookouts


directly approached him and pointed their guns at
them; second, no competing event took place to draw

Appellants nonetheless point out the allegedly

his attention from the event; third, Alejo immediately

doubtful prior descriptions given by Alejo, who was able

gave his descriptions of at least two (2) of the

to describe the physical appearance of only two (2)

perpetrators, while affirming he could possibly identify

suspects in his statement:

the others if he would see them again, and the entire


happening that he witnessed; and finally, there was no

Iyong tumutok sa akin ay nakaasul na t-shirt, edad 30-35, 55-56 ang


taas, katamtaman ang katawan, maikli
ang buhok, kayumanggi. Ang baril niya
ay tipong 45 o 9 mm na pistola. Iyong
sumakal sa biktima at nang-agaw ng
clutch bag nito ay 25-30 ang edad,
payat,
mahaba
ang
buhok
na
nakatali, maitim, may taas na 55-56,
maiksi din ang baril niya at naka-puting
polo.Iyong iba ay maaring makilala ko
kung makikita ko uli.[175]

evidence that the police had supplied or even suggested


to Alejo that appellants were the suspects, except for
Joel de Jesus whom he refused to just pinpoint on the
basis of a photograph shown to him by the police
officers, insisting that he would like to see said suspect
in person. More importantly, Alejo during the trial had
positively

identified

appellant

Joel

de

Jesus

independently of the previous identification made at the


police station. Such in-court identification was positive,
straightforward and categorical.

Appellants claimed that if Alejo was referring to


appellant Joel de Jesus who pointed a gun at him, his
description did not jibe at all since Joel de Jesus was

Appellants contend that the subsequent acquittal

just 22 years old and not 30-35 years of age, and who

of Lorenzo delos Santos, whom Alejo had categorically

stands 59 and not 55-56. And if indeed it was appellant

pointed to as one (1) of the two (2) men whom he saw

Lenido Lumanog whom Alejo saw as the gunman who

walking to and fro infront of his guard post prior to the

had grabbed the victim by the neck after opening the

shooting incident, and as one (1) of the two (2) men who

cars left front door, his description again failed because

pointed a gun at him and ordered him to get down,

far from being maitim, Lumanog was in fact fair-

totally destroyed said witness credibility and eroded the

complexioned.

trustworthiness of each and every uncorroborated


testimony

he

gave

in

court. This

assertion

is

We are not persuaded. Alejo positively identified

untenable. A verdict of acquittal is immediately final;

Joel de Jesus in a line-up at the police station and again

hence, we may no longer review the acquittal of accused

inside the courtroom as the first lookout who pointed a

Lorenzo delos Santos.[176] However, the acquittal of their

gun at him. Though his estimate of Joels age was not

co-accused

precise, it was not that far from his true age, especially if

appellants.We have ruled that accused-appellant may

we consider that being a tricycle driver who was

not invoke the acquittal of the other conspirators to merit

exposed daily to sunlight, Joels looks may give a first

the reversal of his conviction for murder.[177]

does

not

necessarily

benefit

the

impression that he is older than his actual age. Moreover


Alejos description of Lumanog as dark-skinned was

Ballistic and fingerprint examination results

made two (2) months prior to the dates of the trial when

are inconclusive and not indispensable. Appellants

48

presentation of weapons or the slugs


and bullets used and ballistic
examination are not prerequisites for
conviction. The corpus delicti and the
positive identification of accusedappellant as the perpetrator of the crime
are more than enough to sustain his
conviction. Even without a ballistic
report, the positive identification by
prosecution witnesses is more than
sufficient to prove accuseds guilt beyond
reasonable
doubt. In
the
instant
case, since the identity of the
assailant has been sufficiently
established, a ballistic report on the
slugs can be dispensed with in
proving petitioners guilt beyond
reasonable
doubt. [EMPHASIS
SUPPLIED.]

deplore the trial courts disregard of the results of the


ballistic and fingerprint tests, which they claim should
exonerate

them

from

liability

for

the

killing

of

Abadilla.These pieces of evidence were presented by


the defense to prove that the empty shells recovered
from the crime scene and deformed slug taken from the
body of Abadilla were not fired from any of the firearms
seized from appellants. Instead, they matched the same
firearm used in the killings of Suseso de Dios and other
supposed

victims

of

ambush-slay

perpetrated

by

suspected members of the ABB. Further, none of the


fingerprints lifted from the KIA Pride, used by the
gunmen as getaway vehicle, matched any of the
specimens taken from the appellants.

The negative result of the fingerprint tests conducted by

We are not persuaded. As correctly held by the CA, the

fingerprint examiner Remedios is likewise inconclusive

negative result of ballistic examination was inconclusive,

and unreliable. Said witness admitted that no prints had

for there is no showing that the firearms supposedly

been lifted from inside the KIA Pride and only two (2)

found in appellants possession were the same ones

fingerprints were taken from the car of AbadillDefense

used in the ambush-slay of Abadilla. The fact that

of Alibi Cannot prevail over positive identification.

ballistic examination revealed that the empty shells and


slug were fired from another firearm does not disprove
appellants guilt, as it was possible that different firearms

Alibi is the weakest of all defenses, for it is easy

were used by them in shooting Abadilla. [178] Neither will

to fabricate and difficult to disprove, and it is for this

the finding that the empty shells and slug matched those

reason

that

it

cannot

prevail

over

the

positive
[181]

in another criminal case allegedly involving ABB

identification of the accused by the witnesses.

To be

members, such that they could have been fired from the

valid for purposes of exoneration from a criminal charge,

same firearms belonging to said rebel group, exonerate

the defense of alibi must be such that it would have been

the appellants who are on trial in this case and not the

physically impossible for the person charged with the

suspects in another case. To begin with, the prosecution

crime to be at the locus criminis at the time of its

never claimed that the firearms confiscated from

commission, the reason being that no person can be in

appellants, which were the subject of separate charges

two places at the same time. The excuse must be so

for illegal possession of firearms, were the same

airtight that it would admit of no exception. Where there

firearms used in the ambush-slay of Abadilla. A ballistic

is the least possibility of accuseds presence at the crime

examination is not indispensable in this case. Even if

scene, the alibi will not hold water.[182]

another weapon was in fact actually used in killing the


victim, still, appellants Fortuna and Lumanog cannot

Deeply embedded in our jurisprudence is the

escape criminal liability therefor, as they were positively

rule that positive identification of the accused, where

identified by eyewitness Freddie Alejo as the ones who

categorical and consistent, without any showing of ill

shot Abadilla to death.[179]

motive on the part of the eyewitness testifying, should


prevail over the alibi and denial of appellants, whose
testimonies

As this Court held in Velasco v. People[180] --

are

not

convincing evidence.
As regards the failure of the
police to present a ballistic report on the
seven spent shells recovered from the
crime scene, the same does not
constitute suppression of evidence. A
ballistic report serves only as a guide for
the courts in considering the ultimate
facts of the case. It would be
indispensable if there are no credible
eyewitnesses to the crime inasmuch as
it is corroborative in nature. The

[183]

substantiated

by

clear

and

However, none of the appellants

presented clear and convincing excuses showing the


physical impossibility of their being at the crime scene
between 8:00 oclock and 9:00 oclock in the morning of
June 13, 1996. Hence, the trial court and CA did not err
in rejecting their common defense of alibi.

49

As to the failure of appellant Lumanog to take

victim by the perpetrator of the crime, depriving the

the witness stand, indeed the grave charges of murder

victim of any chance to defend himself or to repel the

and illegal possession of firearms would have normally

aggression, thus insuring its commission without risk to

impelled an accused to testify in his defense, particularly

the aggressor and without any provocation on the part of

when his life is at stake. As this Court observed

the victim.[186]

in People v. Delmendo:[184]
Evident premeditation was likewise properly appreciated

An adverse inference may also


be deduced from appellant's failure to
take the witness stand. While his failure
to testify cannot be considered against
him, it may however help in determining
his guilt. The unexplained failure of
the accused to testify, under a
circumstance
where the
crime
imputed to him is so serious that
places in the balance his very life and
that his testimony might at least help
in advancing his defense, gives rise
to an inference that he did not want
to testify because he did not want to
betray himself.

by the trial court, notwithstanding the inadmissibility of


Joel de Jesuss extrajudicial confession disclosing in
detail the pre-planned ambush of Abadilla, apparently a
contract killing in which the perpetrators were paid or
expected to receive payment for the job. As correctly
pointed out by the CA, Alejo had stressed that as early
as 7:30 in the morning of June 13, 1996, he already
noticed something unusual going on upon seeing the
two (2) lookouts (appellants Joel de Jesus and Lorenzo
delos Santos) walking to and fro along Katipunan
Avenue infront of the building he was guarding. True

An innocent person will at once


naturally and emphatically repel an
accusation of crime, as a matter of selfpreservation, and as a precaution
against prejudicing himself. A persons
silence, therefore, particularly when it is
persistent, may justify an inference that
he is not innocent. Thus, we have the
general principle that when an accused
is silent when he should speak, in
circumstances where an innocent
person so situated would have spoken,
on being accused of a crime, his silence
and omission are admissible in evidence
against him. Accordingly, it has been
aptly said that silence may be assent as
well as consent, and may, where a direct
and specific accusation of crime is
made, be regarded under some
circumstances as a quasi-confession.[185]

enough, they were expecting somebody to pass that


way, who was no other than Abadilla driving his Honda
Accord. After the lapse of more or less one (1) hour, he
already heard successive gunshots, while in his guard
post, from the direction of the middle lane where
Abadillas car was surrounded by four (4) men carrying
short firearms. All the foregoing disclosed the execution
of a pre-conceived plan to kill Abadilla. The essence of
evident premeditation is that the execution of the
criminal act is preceded by cool thought and reflection
upon the resolution to carry out criminal intent within a
span of time sufficient to arrive at a calm judgment. [187]
The trial court and CA were therefore correct in declaring
the appellants guilty as conspirators in the ambush-slay

Treachery and Evident Premeditation


Attended the Commission of the Crime

of Abadilla, the presence of treachery and evident


premeditation qualifying the killing to murder under Art.
248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended.

As regards the presence of treachery as a qualifying


circumstance, the evidence clearly showed that the

Proper Penalty

attack on the unsuspecting victim -- who was inside his


car on a stop position in the middle of early morning
traffic when he was suddenly fired upon by the

The CA correctly modified the death penalty imposed by

appellants

and

the trial court. At the time the crime was committed, the

unexpected. There was simply no chance for Abadilla to

penalty for murder was reclusion perpetua to death.

survive the ambush-slay, with successive shots quickly

Since the penalty is composed of two (2) indivisible

fired at close range by two (2) armed men on both sides

penalties, then for the purpose of determining the

of his car; and much less to retaliate by using his own

imposable penalty, Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code,

gun, as no less than 23 gunshot wounds on his head

as amended, must be considered. It provides in part:

--

was

deliberate,

sudden

and chest caused his instantaneous death. As we have

1. When in the commission of the deed


there is present only one aggravating
circumstance, the greater penalty shall
be applied.

consistently ruled, the essence of treachery is the


sudden and unexpected attack on an unsuspecting

50

With

the

presence

of

the

of reclusion perpetua such as Gardon,


the Court has consistently held that the
Indeterminate Sentence Law likewise
does not apply to persons sentenced
to reclusion
perpetua. In People
v.
Enriquez, we declared:

aggravating

circumstance of treachery and there being no mitigating


circumstance, the higher penalty of death should be
imposed.[188]

[R]eclusion perpetua is
the only penalty that can be
imposed against the appellants.
As correctly argued by the
Solicitor General, Act No. 4103,
otherwise
known
as
theIndeterminate Sentence Law,
cannot be applied in the case of
appellants
considering
the
proscription
in
Sec.
2
thereof, viz:

In view, however, of the passage of Republic Act


No. 9346 entitled, An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of
Death Penalty in the Philippines, which was signed into
law on June 24, 2006, the imposition of the death
penalty has been prohibited. Pursuant to Section 2
thereof, the penalty to be meted to appellants shall
be reclusion perpetua. Said section reads:
SECTION 2. In lieu of the death
penalty, the following shall be imposed:

xxxx
Indeed, in People v.
Asturias, Serrano v. Court of
Appeals,
People
v.
Lampaza and People v. Tan, to
name a few cases, we in effect
equated the penalty of reclusion
perpetua as synonymous to lifeimprisonment for purposes of
the Indeterminate Sentence
Law, and ruled that the latter law
does not apply to persons
convicted
of
offenses
punishable with the said penalty.
Consequently, we affirm the
Court of Appeals in not applying
the Indeterminate Sentence
Law, and in imposing upon
appellants
the
penalty
of reclusion perpetua instead.

(a) the penalty of reclusion


perpetua, when the law violated makes
use of the nomenclature of the penalties
of the Revised Penal Code; or
(b)
the
penalty
of
life
imprisonment, when the law violated
does not make use of the nomenclature
of the penalties of the Revised Penal
Code.

Notwithstanding the reduction of the penalty


imposed on appellants, they are not eligible for parole
following Section 3 of said law which provides:[189]
SECTION 3. Persons convicted
of offenses punished with reclusion
perpetua, or whose sentences will be
reduced
to reclusion perpetua,
by
reason of this Act, shall not be eligible
for parole under Act No. 4103, otherwise
known as the Indeterminate Sentence
Law, as amended.

Reclusion
perpetua is
an
indivisible penalty without a minimum or
maximum period. Parole, on the other
hand, is extended only to those
sentenced to divisible penalties as is
evident from Sec. 5 of the Indeterminate
Sentence Law, which provides that it is
only after any prisoner shall have served
the minimum penalty imposed on him
that the Board of Indeterminate
Sentence may consider whether such
prisoner may be granted parole.[191]

Appellants attack on the constitutionality of the above


provision on grounds of curtailment of the Presidents
absolute power to grant executive clemency, imposition
of an inhuman punishment and violation of equal
protection clause, is utterly misplaced.

Further, we cite the concurring opinion of Mr.


Justice

As

succinctly

v. Gardon

explained

by

this

Court

[192]

in People

Dante

Tinga

in People

v.

Tubongbanua,

addressing the issue herein raised by appellants, to

wit:

[190]

No constitutional sanctities will


be offended if persons previously
sentenced to death, or persons
sentenced to reclusion perpetua, are
denied the benefit of parole conformably
to Section 3 of Rep. Act No. 9346. As to
persons previously sentenced to
death, it should be remembered that
at the time of the commission of the
crime, the penalty attached to the
crime was death.To their benefit, Rep.

We should point out that the


benefit of parole cannot be extended to
Gardon even if he committed the crimes
for which he is now convicted prior to
the effectivity of R.A. No. 9346. Sec. 2 of
the Indeterminate Sentence Law
provides that the law shall not apply to
persons convicted of offenses punished
with death penalty or life- imprisonment.
Although the law makes no reference to
persons convicted to suffer the penalty

51

Act No. 9346 reduced the penalty


attached to the crime to reclusion
perpetua. Yet such persons cannot claim
the benefit of parole on the basis of
the ex post
facto clause
of
the
Constitution, since an ex post facto law is
one which, among others, changes
punishment, and inflicts a greater
punishment than the law annexed to the
crime when committed. Rep. Act No.
9346 had the effect of inflicting a lighter
punishment, not a greater punishment,
than what the law annexed to the crime
when
committed.[193] [EMPHASIS
SUPPLIED.]

exemplary damages, the same is justified under Article


2230 of the New Civil Code when a crime is committed
with an aggravating circumstance, either qualifying or
generic.[200]
WHEREFORE, the consolidated petitions and
appeal are hereby DISMISSED. The Decision dated April
1, 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No.
00667 is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS in that
the civil indemnity for the death of Col. Rolando N.
Abadilla is hereby increased to P75,000.00, and the
amounts of moral and exemplary damages awarded to

Civil Liability

his heirs are reduced to P75,000.00 and P30,000.00,


respectively.

When death occurs due to a crime, the following


damages may be awarded: (1) civil indemnity ex

With costs against the accused-appellants.

delicto for the death of the victim; (2) actual or


compensatory

damages;

(3)

moral

damages;

exemplary damages; and (5) temperate damages.

(4)

SO ORDERED.

[194]

G.R. No. 198024, March 16, 2015


Civil indemnity is mandatory and granted to the

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PlaintiffAppellee, v. RAFAEL CUNANAN Y DAVID ALIAS


PAENG PUTOL, Accused-Appellant.

heirs of the victim without need of proof other than the


commission of the crime.[195] We have ruled that even if
the penalty of death is not to be imposed because of the

RESOLUTION

prohibition in R.A. No. 9346, the civil indemnity


of P75,000.00 is proper, because it is not dependent on

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

the actual imposition of the death penalty but on the fact

On appeal is the January 27, 2011 Decision1 of the Court


of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 04062, which
affirmed the July 1, 2009 Decision2 of the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Pasig City, Branch 164 in Criminal Case
No. 15143-D finding appellant Rafael
Cunanan y David alias Paeng Putol (appellant) guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 5, Article
II of Republic Act (RA) No. 9165 or the Comprehensive
Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and sentencing him to
suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine
of P500,000.00 and the costs.

that qualifying circumstances warranting the imposition


of the death penalty attended the commission of the
offense.[196] As explained inPeople v. Salome,[197] while
R.A. No. 9346 prohibits the imposition of the death
penalty, the fact remains that the penalty provided for by
the law for a heinous offense is still death, and the
offense is still heinous. Accordingly, the heirs of Col.
Rolando N. Abadilla is entitled to civil indemnity in the

Antecedent Facts

amount of P75,000.00. The grant of actual damages


representing burial expenses, funeral services and cost

On October 19, 2006, an Information3 was filed charging


appellant with the crime of illegal sale of dangerous
drugs, the accusatory portion of which
reads:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

of repair of the Honda car, is likewise in order, being duly


supported by receipts.[198]

On or about October 14, 2006, in Pasig City, and within


the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused, not
being lawfully authorized by law, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously sell, deliver and give
away to PO1 Dario Gunda, Jr., a police poseur-buyer,
one (1) heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet containing
two centigrams (0.02gram), of white crystalline
substance, which was found positive to the test for
methamphetamine hydrochloride, a dangerous drug, in
violation of the said law.

With regard to moral and exemplary damages,


we find the amounts awarded by the trial court excessive
and the same are hereby reduced to P75,000.00
and P30,000.00, respectively. It must again be stressed
that moral damages are emphatically not intended to
enrich a plaintiff at the expense of the defendant. When
awarded, moral damages must not be palpably and
scandalously excessive as to indicate that it was the

Contrary to law.4cralawred
cralawlawlibrary

result of passion, prejudice or corruption on the part of


the trial judge or appellate court justices.[199] As to

Appellant pleaded not guilty upon his arraignment on

52

April 30, 2007. Trial on the merits immediately followed.


In the course thereof, the testimony of prosecution
witness P/Sr. Insp. Lourdeliza G. Cejes (PSI Cejes), the
Forensic Chemist of the Eastern Police District (EPD)
Crime Laboratory Office, was dispensed with after the
prosecution and the defense stipulated on the following:

PO1 Gunda was introduced to appellant as a drug user


who wanted to buy shabu worth P200.00. After
receiving the marked money from PO1 Gunda, appellant
entered a narrow alley and came back with a small
plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance
which he handed to PO1 Gunda. Thereupon, PO1
Gunda gave the pre-arranged signal to inform the buybust team of the consummated transaction and arrested
appellant. When asked to empty his pocket, recovered
from appellant were the two marked 100-peso bills used
as buy-bust money. Appellant was then informed of his
constitutional rights and the nature of the accusation
against him and brought to the EPD Headquarters. PO1
Gunda stapled the marked money on a bond paper and
wrote thereon recovered pre-marked buy-bust money
dated October 13, 2006. He also marked the plastic
sachet with Exh-A RCD/DG 10/13/06. The said items
were likewise brought to the EPD Headquarters and
turned over to PO2 Familara for further investigation.
Later, the seized substance were inventoried and
photographed. After this, PO1 Gunda and PO2 Familara
brought appellant, together with a request for his drug
testing,8 and the seized substance, as well as a request
for its laboratory examination,9 to the EPD Crime
Laboratory. The substance with the corresponding
marking Exh-A RCD/DG 10/13/06 on its plastic sachet
was received by PSI Cejes in the morning of October 14,
2006. Per Physical Sciences Report No. D-452-2006E
issued by PSI Cejes,10 the substance weighing 0.02
gram was found positive for methamphetamine
hydrochloride or shabu, a dangerous drug.

1. That in relation to the arrest of appellant, a


request for laboratory examination was made on
October 14, 2006 by P/Sr. Insp. Bernouli D.
Abalos (PSI Abalos) of the EPD Anti-Illegal
Drugs Special Operation Task Force to the Chief
of the EPD Crime Laboratory
Service;ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
2. That attached to the request is one heat-sealed
transparent plastic sachet containing an
undetermined amount of white crystalline
substance suspected to be shabu with markings
Exh-A RCD/DG dated October 13, 2006, but not
as to the source of the
specimen;ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
3. That the request together with the specimen
were delivered by PO2 Michael Familara (PO2
Familara), recorded by PO1 Menese and
received by PSI
Cejes;ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
4. That a qualitative examination on the specimen
was conducted by PSI Cejes which gave
positive result for the presence of
methamphetamine hydrochloride, a dangerous
drug, as shown in Physical Sciences Report No.
D-452-2006E; and

Version of the Defense


Appellant denied the charge and interposed the
defenses of denial and frame-up/extortion. He alleged
that after eating dinner on October 13, 2006, he was
watching a bingo game when three men arrived and held
him by both hands. They introduced themselves as
policemen and told him that they have a warrant for his
arrest. They then handcuffed and frisked him and took
away his wallet and cellphone. The men brought him to
a police station where PO2 Familara threatened to file a
case against him unless he gives the police P50,000.00
as settlement. He failed to give the said amount.

5. The regularity and due execution of the Physical


Sciences Report.5

Version of the Prosecution


The prosecutions version of the event as derived from
the combined testimonies of PO1 Dario Gunda, Jr. (PO1
Gunda) and PO2 Familara is summarized as follows:

Another witness for the defense, Genedina Guevarra


Ignacio, testified that she was outside her house
between 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. of October 13, 2006
when she noticed three men passed by her in haste.
The men approached appellant who was then watching
a bingo game across the street and suddenly handcuffed
him. She heard appellant asking the reason for his
arrest. She did not know what happened next since she
already went inside her house.

At about 6:00 p.m. on October 13, 2006, a confidential


informant (CI) went to the EPD-District Intelligence
Investigation Division (EPD-DIID) Headquarters of Pasig
City and informed PSI Abalos that a certain Paeng
Putol, later identified as the appellant, was engaged in
selling illegal drugs inPurok 4, Barangay Pineda, Pasig
City. Acting on the information, PSI Abalos organized a
buy-bust team composed of himself, PO1 Gunda, PO1
Daniel Robiene, PO2 Familara, SPO1 Jessie Bautista,
and PO1 Ambrosio Gam, among others, to entrap
appellant. PO1 Gunda was designated as the poseurbuyer and was thus given two 100-peso bills6 which he
marked with his initials DG, while the rest of the team
would act as back-ups. After a short briefing, PSI Abalos
prepared a Pre-Operation Report/Coordination
Sheet7 and coordinated the buy-bust operation with the
Pasig City Police Station and the Philippine Drug
Enforcement Agency (PDEA). Thereafter, the team
proceeded to and arrived at the target area at 9:20 p.m.
PO1 Gunda and the CI walked towards a store along an
alley while the others strategically positioned themselves
some five to seven meters away. The CI saw a man
wearing gloves standing beside the store and informed
PO1 Gunda that the man was the appellant. Together,
they approached appellant who is familiar to the CI.

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court


In its July 1, 2009 Decision,11 the trial court adjudged
appellant guilty of the crime charged,
thus:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused Rafael Cunanan
y David alias Paeng Putol GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt of violation of Section 5, Article II of R.A. 9165 and
hereby imposes upon him the penalty of life
imprisonment and a fine of Five Hundred Thousand
Pesos (Php500,000.00) with the accessory penalties
provided for under Section 35 of said R.A. 9165.
The plastic sachet containing shabu (Exhibit I) is
hereby ordered confiscated in favor of the government

53

and turned over to the Philippine Drug Enforcement


Agency for destruction.

QA-

With costs against the accused.


SO ORDERED.12cralawlawlibrary

QA-

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

Q-

On appeal, the CA affirmed appellants conviction in its


January 27, 2011
Decision,13viz:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

A-

xxx
x
Q- What happened?
AHinawakan ko siya. Tapos pinakuha ko kung ano
iyong laman ng bulsa niya. Ayun na recover ko sa
kanyang possession iyong dalawang daan.15
cralawlawlibrary

WHEREFORE, there being no reversible error


committed by the trial court, the appeal is dismissed.
The assailed Decision dated July 1, 2009 of the RTC,
Branch 164, Pasig City, in Criminal Case No. 15143-D,
is AFFIRMED.

It is crystal clear from the foregoing that a sale


transaction took place between appellant and PO1
Gunda. That the said transaction involved the illegal
sale of dangerous drug was sufficiently shown by the
prosecution through its establishment of the following
elements of the offense: (1) the identity of the buyer and
the seller, object and consideration; and (2) the delivery
of the thing sold and the payment therefor.16
Undoubtedly, appellant was lawfully arrested after he
was caught in flagrante delicto selling shabu in a buybust operation.

SO ORDERED.14cralawlawlibrary
Hence, this appeal where appellant points out that: (1)
there was no in flagrante delicto arrest as he was not
committing any crime at the time he was apprehended
but was merely watching a bingo game; (2) it was
inconceivable for him to openly sell illegal drugs as PO1
Gunda himself testified that at the time of the alleged
sale transaction there were many people around the
target area; (3) the apprehending officers failed to
comply with the guidelines on the proper custody of the
seized dangerous drug, specifically with respect to its
inventory and taking of photograph, and this casts doubt
on whether the plastic sachet with white crystalline
substance identified in court was the same item
allegedly seized and confiscated from him; and (4) the
testimonies of PO1 Gunda and PO2 Familara as to who
was in possession of the seized item from the target
area up to the police station were
conflicting.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

In any event, jurisprudence is settled that any


irregularity attending the arrest of an accused should be
timely raised in a motion to quash the Information at any
time before arraignment, failing [in] which, he is deemed
to have waived17 his right to question the regularity of
his arrest. As the records show, except during the
inquest proceedings before the prosecutors office,
appellant never objected to the regularity of his arrest
before his arraignment. In fact, he even actively
participated in the trial of the case. With these lapses,
he is estopped from raising any question regarding the
same.18cralawred

Our Ruling
The appeal is without merit.

Also not persuasive is appellants argument that it is


inconceivable that he would openly sell an illegal drug in
a place where there were many people. The Court has
already stated that drug pushers now sell their prohibited
articles to any prospective customer, be he a stranger or
not, in private as well as in public places, and even in
daytime.19cralawred

Appellant was lawfully arrested after he


was caught in flagrante delicto selling an
illegal drug in a buy-bust operation; contrary
to his contention, it was not inconceivable
that he would openly sell an illegal drug
in public.
Appellant assails the legality of his arrest contending that
he was not caught in flagrante delicto. Appellants
contention fails to convince. The testimony of PO1
Gunda who acted as the poseur-buyer in the buy-bust
operation clearly recounts how the sale transaction
between him and appellant
transpired, viz:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Q-

The identity and evidentiary value of the


seized item have been preserved.
Appellant assails the proof of the corpus delicti by
pointing out the arresting officers non compliance with
the procedure on the proper custody and disposition of
the seized item under Section 21 of RA 9165 and its
Implementing Rules and Regulations, particularly with
respect to the inventory and taking of photograph of the
seized item. He contends that while PO1 Gunda
testified that an inventory of the seized item was made
and a photograph thereof was taken, such inventory and
photograph were not offered as evidence.

After you were introduced by this confidential


informant to Paeng Putol that you are user of
illegal drugs, what was the reaction of the target
person, this Paeng Putol?

AQAQA-

What happened?
Sinabi niya na antayin ninyo ako diyan. Pumasok
siya sa eskinita, hindi kalayuan, mga two to three
meters.
What did he do?
He returned and gave me one plastic sachet
containing suspected shabu.
After he handed to you that plastic sachet, what did
you do next?
Nag pre-arranged signal ako para tulungan ako sa
paghuli kay alias Paeng Putol.

The confidential [informant] asked him, Paeng,


halagang dos, meron ka ba[?], kukuha kami.
What was the reply of this alias Paeng Putol?
Akina iyong pera, sabi niya.
What did you do?
I gave to him the two pieces of one[-]hundred peso
bill[s].

Appellants contention is untenable. This Court has


consistently ruled that non-compliance with the
requirements of Section 21 of [RA] 9165 will not
necessarily render the [item] seized or confiscated in a
buy-bust operation inadmissible. Strict compliance with
the letter of Section 21 is not required if there is a clear

54

showing that the integrity and evidentiary value of the


seized [item] have been preserved, i.e., the [item] being
offered in court as [exhibit is], without a specter of doubt,
the very same [one] recovered in the buy-bust
operation.20 Thus, the primordial concern is the
preservation of the integrity and evidentiary value of the
seized items as the same would be utilized in the
determination of the guilt or innocence of the
accused.21cralawred

upon appellant by the RTC and affirmed by the CA are in


order. It must be added, however, that appellant shall
not be eligible for parole.24cralawred
WHEREFORE, the January 27, 2011 Decision of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 04062, which
affirmed the July 1, 2009 Decision of the Regional Trial
Court of Pasig City, Branch 164 in Criminal Case No.
15143-D finding appellant Rafael Cunanan y David guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 5, Article
II of Republic Act No. 9165 and sentencing him to suffer
the penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine of
P500,000.00, is AFFIRMED with the modification that
appellant shall not be eligible for parole.

Here, the records reveal that after the consummation of


the sale and the consequent arrest of appellant, the
plastic sachet sold by appellant was marked with Exh-A
RCD/DG/10/13/0622 by PO1 Gunda at the place where
it was confiscated. Thereafter, appellant and the seized
drug were brought to the police station. And as
stipulated by the parties, a request for laboratory
examination of a plastic sachet containing white
crystalline substance with marking Exh-A
RCD/DG/10/13/06 was prepared; the said request and
specimen were delivered by PO2 Familara and PO1
Menese to EPD Crime Laboratory and received by PSI
Cejes; and, a qualitative examination of the specimen by
PSI Cejes revealed that the same is positive for
metamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, a dangerous
drug. During trial, the marked plastic sachet was
presented and identified by PO1 Gunda as the same
item sold to him by appellant.

SO ORDERED.cralawlawlibrary
G.R. No. 177158 : February 06, 2013
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v. LINDA ALVIZ y YATCO and ELIZABETH DE LA
VEGA y BAUTISTA, Accused-Appellants.
DECISION
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
On appeal is the Decision 1 dated September 2 7, 2006
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 00489,
which affirmed the Decision2 dated December 7, 2004 of
the Regional Trial Court (RTC), National Capital Judicial
Region, Branch 103, Quezon City, in Criminal Case No.
Q-03- 114964, finding accused-appellants Linda Y.
Alviz aka "Peking" (Linda) and Elizabeth B. de la
Vega aka "Beth" (Elizabeth) guilty of violating Section 5,
Article II of Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise known as
The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

From this sequence of events, the prosecution was able


to show an unbroken link in the chain of custody of the
subject item which is the proof of the corpus delicti. Its
integrity and evidentiary value were shown not to have
been compromised notwithstanding the fact that the
inventory and photograph thereof which PO1 Gunda
claimed to have been made were not offered in
evidence. Besides, [t]he integrity of the evidence is
presumed to have been preserved unless there is a
showing of bad faith, ill will or proof that the evidence
has been tampered with.23 In this case, the defense
failed to prove ill motive on the part of the apprehending
officers that would have impelled them to fabricate a
serious crime against appellant. Also, the alleged
inconsistency in the testimonies of PO1 Gunda and PO2
Familara as to who was in possession of the item from
the police station to the EPD crime laboratory did not
create any doubt that what was submitted for laboratory
examination and later presented in court as evidence
was the same drug actually sold by the appellant.

The Information3 charging both Linda and Elizabeth, filed


before the RTC, reads:cralawlibrary
That on or about the 4th day of Feb., 2003, in Quezon
City, Philippines, the said accused, conspiring together,
confederating with and mutually helping each other, not
being authorized by law to sell, dispense, deliver,
transport or distribute any dangerous drug, did, then and
there, willfully and unlawfully sell, dispense, deliver,
transport, distribute or act as broker in the said
transaction, zero point zero two (0.02) gram of
methylamphetamine hydrochloride, a dangerous
drug. ???r?bl? ??r??l l?? l?br?r

Appellants defenses of denial and


frame-up/extortion must fail.
Appellants defenses of denial and frame-up/extortion
must fail in light of the positive testimony of PO1 Gunda,
the poseur-buyer, that appellant sold to him the illegal
drug. Moreover, it was not shown that appellant filed any
criminal or administrative charges against the
apprehending officers, thus clearly belying his claim of
frame-up/extortion against them.

When arraigned on March 21, 2003, both Linda and


Elizabeth pleaded not guilty to the crime charged and
stipulated that they were arrested without a warrant of
arrest.4?r?l1
At the trial, the prosecution presented as witnesses
Police Officer (PO) 2 Edsel Ibasco (Ibasco), the poseurbuyer, and Senior Police Officer (SPO) 4 Edgardo
Reburiano (Reburiano), a member of the buy-bust team.
The prosecution dispensed with the testimony of
Forensic Analyst Leonard Jabonillo (Jabonillo), Chemist
II of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Central Police
District Crime Laboratory Office (CPDCLO), as the
defense already admitted (1) the Memorandum 5 dated
February 4, 2003 of Police Inspector (P/Insp.) Oliver
Magtibay Villanueva (Villanueva) requesting laboratory
examination of a small heat-sealed transparent plastic
sachet, containing an undetermined quantity of white

All told, appellants violation of Section 5, Article II of RA


9165 was duly established beyond reasonable doubt by
the prosecution. Hence, the Court affirms his conviction.
Penalty
Under RA 9165, the unauthorized sale of shabu,
regardless of its quantity and purity, carries with it the
penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging
from P500,000.00 to P10 million. Here, the penalty of
life imprisonment and a fine of P500,000.00 imposed

55

crystalline substance, suspected as shabu; and (2)


Chemistry Report No. D-198-20036 prepared by
Forensic Analyst Jabonillo stating that the examined
specimen positively tested for methylamphetamine
hydrochloride, a dangerous drug.7?r?l1

M. Jabonillo submitted a Report stating that the


qualitative examination conducted on the specimen gave
positive result to methylamphetamine hydrochloride, a
dangerous drug. The defense admitted the request for
examination, the Report and the specimen, for which
reason, the prosecution dispensed with the testimony of
the Forensic Analyst.9 (Citations omitted.) ???r?bl? ??
r??l l?? l?br?r

Accused-appellants Linda and Elizabeth and Lindas


daughter, Ronalyn Alviz (Ronalyn), took the witness
stand for the defense.

The appellate court similarly summed up the evidence


for the defense, to wit:cralawlibrary

The RTC promulgated its Decision on December 7,


2004, convicting and sentencing Linda and Elizabeth as
follows:cralawlibrary

Linda Alviz and Elizabeth dela Vega are sisters-in-law


and reside in the same house at 17 Isarog Street, Sta.
Teresita, Quezon City. They denied the accusations
against them, claiming that they are vendors of native
baskets.

ACCORDINGLY, judgment is hereby rendered finding


both accused Linda Alviz y Yatco and Elizabeth dela
Vega y Bautista GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt for
drug pushing penalized under Section 5, Article II, R.A.
9165 and each is hereby sentenced to sufferLIFE
IMPRISONMENT and to pay a fine of Five Hundred
Thousand (P500,000.00) Pesos.

Linda and Elizabeth tried to show that they and their


children were on board a passenger jeepney on their
way to Quintos Street to see a magtatawas because
Lindas daughter was sick. Upon reaching Dr. Alejos
Street, the jeepney was flagged down by two men in
civilian clothes who asked them to alight. However, the
jeepney driver and two (2) other passengers were not
bothered by the two men. Linda, Elizabeth and their
three children were asked to board a Ford Fiera and
were taken to the police station. Linda and Elizabeth
were frisked and Lindas P500.00, which was meant as
payment to the magtatawas, and Elizabeths P200.00
were taken by the two men, who turned out to be PO2
Ibasco and SPO4 Rebu[r]iano. PO2 Ibasco and SPO4
Rebu[r]iano told Linda and Elizabeth that they
have shabu, which the two denied. Linda and Elizabeth
were then brought to the Prosecutors Office for inquest.

The drug involved in this case weighing zero point zero


two (0.02) gram is ordered transmitted to the Philippine
Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) thru the Dangerous
Drugs Board for proper disposition.8?r?l1 ???r?bl? ??
r??l l?? l?br?r
Linda and Elizabeth appealed to the Court of Appeals
which reviewed the parties conflicting versions of the
events of February 4, 2003, when Linda and Elizabeth
were arrested.
The Court of Appeals summarized the evidence for the
prosecution, as follows:cralawlibrary

Ronalyn Alviz, the ten-year old daughter of Linda Alviz,


corroborated the testimonies of her mother, Linda, and
aunt, Elizabeth, that they were asked by two (2) men to
alight from the passenger jeepney, boarded in another
vehicle and brought to the police station. Linda and
Elizabeth were detained while she, her younger brother,
Allan, and cousin, Marlyn, were allowed to go home. 10?
r?l1 ???r?bl? ??r??l l?? l?br?r

The evidence for the prosecution shows that at about


4:00 oclock in the afternoon of February 4, 2003, a
confidential informant arrived at Police Station 1, La
Loma, Quezon City and talked to the Officer-in- Charge.
Thereafter, the Officer-in-Charge formed a team to
conduct surveillance and buy-bust operations at Isarog
Street, Sta. Teresita, Quezon City. PO2 Edsel Ibasco
was designated as the poseur-buyer with SPO4 Edgardo
Rebu[r]iano and other policemen as back-up.

In its Decision dated September 27, 2006, the Court of


Appeals affirmed in toto the judgment of conviction of the
RTC against Linda and Elizabeth. The appellate court
found that the testimonies of PO2 Ibasco and SPO4
Reburiano were credible and deserved full faith and
credit; that the defenses of denial and frame-up of Linda
and Elizabeth could not prevail over their positive
identification as the persons who sold a sachet
of shabu for P100.00 to PO2 Ibasco during the buy-bust
operation; that the defense failed to overcome the
presumption of regularity in the police officers
performance of official duty as there was no proof
establishing improper motive on the part of said police
officers in effecting the arrest of Linda and Elizabeth,
with the latter two even admitting that they did not know
the police officers prior to their arrest; and that the police
team properly observed the procedure outlined by
Section 21 of Republic Act No. 9165.

Upon arrival at Isarog Street, PO2 Ibasco and the


confidential informant approached Linda Alviz outside
her house. The confidential informant told Linda that
PO2 Ibasco was deeply in need of shabu. Linda asked
for the money and PO2 Ibasco gave aP100.00 bill on
which he earlier placed his initials "EI." Linda called for
Elizabeth dela Vega, who was inside the house, and the
two talked. Elizabeth then went inside the house. After a
while, Elizabeth came out and handed a plastic sachet to
Linda. Linda gave the P100.00 bill to Elizabeth and the
plastic sachet to PO2 Ibasco. PO2 Ibasco then gave the
pre-arranged signal by scratching his head. SPO4
Rebu[r]iano, who was only two (2) meters away, rushed
to the group, arrested Elizabeth and recovered from the
latter the buy-bust money, while PO2 Ibasco arrested
Linda. The police officers brought Linda and Elizabeth to
the police station. PO2 [Ibasco] placed the letters "EVLA" on the plastic sachet containing white crystalline
substance.

Initially, both Linda and Elizabeth appealed before the


Court. However, Linda executed a Motion for Withdrawal
of Appeal on August 14, 2007.

A request for laboratory examination of the white


crystalline substance was made by the La Loma Police
Station 1 to the PNP Central Police District Crime
Laboratory Office (CPDCLO). Forensic Analyst Leonard

The Resolution dated September 3, 200711 granted


Lindas Motion for Withdrawal of Appeal, and the case
insofar as she was concerned was considered closed

56

and terminated. The judgment against Linda was


accordingly recorded in the Book of Entries of
Judgments on October 24, 2007.12?r?l1

Jurisprudence has identified the elements that must be


established for the successful prosecution of illegal sale
of dangerous drugs, viz: (1) the identity of the buyer and
the seller, the object, and consideration; and (2) the
delivery of the thing sold and the payment for the same.
What is material is the proof that the transaction or sale
actually took place, coupled with the presentation in
court of the corpus delicti. The delivery of the contraband
to the poseur-buyer and the receipt of the marked
money consummate the buy-bust transaction between
the entrapping officers and the accused. In other words,
the commission of the offense of illegal sale of
dangerous drugs, like shabu, merely requires the
consummation of the selling transaction, which happens
the moment the exchange of money and drugs between
the buyer and the seller takes place.17?r?l1

Now, only Elizabeths appeal is left for consideration by


the Court. In her Brief13 filed before the Court of Appeals,
Elizabeth assigned the following errors purportedly
committed by the RTC:cralawlibrary
I
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT
FINDING THAT THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS WERE
ILLEGALLY ARRESTED.
II

The RTC found, and the Court of Appeals eventually


affirmed, that all these elements have been amply
proven by the prosecution. The prosecution, through the
detailed testimonies of PO2 Ibasco and SPO4
Reburiano, established that there was a consummated
sale of shabu by Linda and Elizabeth to PO2 Ibasco
during the buy-bust operation. The police officers
testimonies reveal that the buy-bust operation was
planned and conducted following a report from a
confidential informant (CI);18 PO2 Ibasco, accompanied
by the CI, approached Linda outside the latters house at
Isarog St., Sta. Teresita, Quezon City; PO2 Ibasco
pretended that he was looking for a "score;" Linda
immediately demanded payment and PO2 Ibasco
handed to her the P100.00 marked money; Linda called
Elizabeth, who stepped out of the house; after a brief
conversation between the two women, Elizabeth went
inside the house to return with a plastic sachet of shabu;
Elizabeth handed the sachet to Linda, who, in turn,
handed the same to PO2 Ibasco; upon PO2 Ibascos
signal, the other members of the buy-bust team came
forward and arrested Linda and Elizabeth; and SPO4
Reburiano recovered the marked money from Elizabeth.
Forensic testing would subsequently confirm that the
contents of the sachet from Linda and Elizabeth were
indeed shabu. The defense was not able to impeach the
police officers testimonies.

THE LOWER COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN GIVING


CREDENCE TO THE INCONSISTENT STATEMENTS
OF THE POLICE OFFICERS.
III
THE LOWER COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING
THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS GUILTY BEYOND
REASONABLE DOUBT FOR VIOLATION OF SECTION
5, ARTICLE II OF REPUBLIC ACT 9165.14?r?l1 ???r?
bl? ??r??l l?? l?br?r
There is no merit in the instant appeal.
Elizabeth insists that there was no buy-bust operation
and what actually took place was an unlawful
warrantless arrest. She claims that none of the
circumstances justifying an arrest without a warrant
under Rule 113, Section 5 of the Rules of Court15 was
present. When she was arrested, she was neither
committing nor was about to commit any crime, and she
was not acting in any manner that would engender a
reasonable ground to believe that she was committing a
crime. Elizabeth argues that whatever evidence was
obtained from her and Linda on occasion of their arrest
is inadmissible being the fruit of a poisonous tree.

There is little credence in Elizabeths assertion that she


and Linda were mere victims of a frame-up. As the Court
declared in People v. Capalad19:cralawlibrary

The People, represented by the Office of the Solicitor


General (OSG), asserts that the warrantless arrest of
Linda and Elizabeth was lawful because the police
officers caught them in flagrante delictoselling shabu to
PO2 Ibasco in exchange for P100.00.

Charges of extortion and frame-up are frequently made


in this jurisdiction. Courts are, thus, cautious in dealing
with such accusations, which are quite difficult to prove
in light of the presumption of regularity in the
performance of the police officers duties. To substantiate
such defense, which can be easily concocted, the
evidence must be clear and convincing and should show
that the members of the buy-bust team were inspired by
any improper motive or were not properly performing
their duty. Otherwise, the police officers testimonies on
the operation deserve full faith and credit. (Citations
omitted.)

As to which of the foregoing versions is more credible,


given the evidence presented at trial by both parties,
especially the witnesses testimonies, the Court generally
relies upon the assessment and factual findings of the
RTC.
It is a fundamental rule that factual findings of the trial
courts involving credibility are accorded respect when no
glaring errors, gross misapprehension of facts, and
speculative, arbitrary, and unsupported conclusions can
be gathered from such findings. The reason for this is
that the trial court is in a better position to decide the
credibility of witnesses having heard their testimonies
and observed their deportment and manner of testifying
during the trial. The rule finds an even more stringent
application where said findings are sustained by the
Court of Appeals,16 such as in this case. The Court,
therefore, has no reason to deviate from this rule.

In this case, there is absolute lack of evidence that the


members of the buy-bust team were stirred by illicit
motive or had improperly performed their duties in
arresting Linda and Elizabeth. Both Linda and Elizabeth
admitted that they did not know the police officers prior
to their arrest. Hence, there could not have been any
bad blood between them and said police officers. 20 The
Court further quotes with approval the following
observations of the RTC on the matter:cralawlibrary

57

It is (sic) appears remote that the police officers, in so far


as the circumstances obtaining in this case, could openly
do the act being attributed to them by the accused. That,
Ibasco and Reburiano, for no reason at all, would
instantly flagged (sic) down a passenger jeepney and
forcibly drag and then frisked (sic) some of its
passengers, herein accused and their children, and
thereafter, transferred them into another vehicle.

SPO4 Reburiano, specifically, as to: (1) the composition


of the buy-bust team; (2) the existence of a preoperation
report and coordination with the Philippine Drug
Enforcement Agency (PDEA); and (3) the markings
made by PO2 Ibasco on the sachet of shabu.
The Court is not swayed. The inconsistencies adverted
to by Elizabeth are trivial and insignificant and refer only
to minor details. Time and again, the Court has
steadfastly ruled that inconsistencies on minor and trivial
matters only serve to strengthen rather than weaken the
credibility of witnesses for they erase the suspicion of
rehearsed testimony. Furthermore, the Court cannot
expect the testimonies of different witnesses to be
completely identical and to coincide with each other
since they have different impressions and recollections
of the incident. Hence, it is only natural that their
testimonies are at variance on some minor details. 23 As
this Court ruled in People v. Madriaga24:cralawlibrary

According to the accused, the incident happened at


Alejos St., along Dapitan and it was about 4:00 p.m.
while they were on their way to a "magtatawas" together
with their children, on board a jeepney. They were
together with three (3) other passengers and the driver.
Considering the scenario described by the accused, the
rest of the passengers who were likewise innocently
seated would have also been the victim of the
indiscriminate and rampant arrest of the police. But, to
the courts surprise, these police officers, from the very
own testimonies of the accused, spared their fellow
passengers by allowing them to leave the area. This vital
circumstance renders unbelievable the defense version
in this case.

Settled is the rule that discrepancies on minor matters


do not impair the essential integrity of the prosecutions
evidence as a whole or reflect on the witnesses honesty.
These inconsistencies, which may be caused by the
natural fickleness of memory, even tend to strengthen
rather than weaken the credibility of the prosecution
witnesses because they erase any suspicion of
rehearsed testimony. What is important is that the
testimonies agree on the essential facts and that the
respective versions corroborate and substantially
coincide with each other to make a consistent and
coherent whole. (Citations omitted.)

It is also the courts observation that if indeed the incident


happened as it was demonstrated by the accused,
certainly, a commotion should have taken place right
there and then. The other passengers of the jeepney
should have panicked or at least have sought the help of
others but unfortunately, there was none. In fact, even
Linda herself admitted that she did not bother to ask the
reason why the police who were in civilian clothes,
suddenly flagged down their vehicle. The speculation of
Linda that the jeepney will be hired by those policemen
is, to the mind of the court, an afterthought of a cockand-bull story.

Indeed, in a prosecution for illegal sale of dangerous


drugs, what is material is the proof that the accused
peddled illicit drugs, coupled with the presentation in
court of the corpus delicti,25 both of which were
satisfactorily complied with by the prosecution in this
case.

Aside from the incredulity of the testimonies of the


accused, both accused made inconsistent statements,
which are significant and material in nature. Accused
Linda denied that the police conducted an investigation
but according to Beth, both of them were asked
questions by the police. Also, according to Beth, her
daughter was crying when the police were arresting
them but Linda made no allegation about it, which is very
unusual and unnatural.21?r?l1

Finally, Elizabeth argues that the police officers blatantly


ignored the mandatory provisions of Section 21,
paragraph 1 of Republic Act No. 9165, particularly, the
requirements on making an inventory report and taking
photographs of the seized drugs in the presence of the
accused or the latters representative or counsel.

The only other witness for the defense, presented to


corroborate the testimonies of Linda and Elizabeth, was
Ronalyn, Lindas daughter and Elizabeths niece.
However, the RTC did not give much weight to her
testimony for the following reasons:cralawlibrary

Once more, the Court is not swayed.


Article II, Section 21, paragraph 1 of Republic Act No.
9165 provides:cralawlibrary
Sec. 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:cralawlibrary

The Court finds the testimony of Ronalyn to be a mere


sounding board of the testimonies of her mother and her
auntie. The Court finds her testimony to be a rehearsed
one in view of Ronalyns demeanor while testifying. Her
manner of testifying was significantly mechanical and
unfeeling. There was no touch at all of a hurt emotion or
color of disgust in her, were her version true.22?r?l1
As a result of the finding that a buy-bust operation
actually took place and that Linda and Elizabeth were
apprehended in flagrante delicto, the evidence gathered
and presented by the prosecution on the occasion of
their lawful arrest without warrant cannot be deemed as
the "fruits of a poisonous tree," but are admissible and
competent proof of their guilt.

(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

Elizabeth also harps on purported contradictions and


improbabilities in the testimonies of PO2 Ibasco and

58

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[.] (Emphases
supplied.)

the item and no opportunity for someone not in the chain


to have possession of the same. (Citations omitted.)
In several cases, the Court found that the chain of
custody of the seized drugs in a buy-bust operation had
been sufficiently established when there was proof of the
following: first, the seizure and marking, if practicable, of
the illegal drug recovered from the accused by the
apprehending officer; second, the turnover of the illegal
drug seized by the apprehending officer to the
investigating officer; third, the turnover by the
investigating officer of the illegal drug to the forensic
chemist for laboratory examination; and fourth, the
turnover and submission of the marked illegal drug
seized from the forensic chemist to the court.27?r?l1

The above rule is implemented by Section 21(a) of the


Implementing Rules and Regulations which expounds on
how it is to be applied, and notably, also provides for a
saving mechanism in case the procedure laid down in
the law was not strictly complied with:cralawlibrary
(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
item[.] (Emphasis ours).

Given the law, rules, and jurisprudence, the failure of the


police officers to make an inventory report and to
photograph the drugs seized from Linda and Elizabeth,
as required by Article II, Section 21, paragraph 1 of
Republic Act No. 9165, are not automatically fatal to the
prosecution's case, as it was able to trace and prove the
chain of custody of the same: after arresting Linda and
Elizabeth during the buy-bust operation, the police
officers brought the two women to the police station; at
the police station, P02 lbasco, who acted as the poseurbuyer, marked the sachet of suspected shabu he
received from Linda and Elizabeth during the buy-bust
with his initials "EV -LA" and turned over the same to
P/Insp. Villanueva; P/Insp. Villanueva prepared the
Request for Laboratory Examination of the contents of
the sachet; P02 Ibasco delivered the Request for
Laboratory Examination and the sachet of
suspected shabu to the PNP Crime Laboratory,
CPDCLO, Quezon City, where the Request and
specimen were received by P02 Piau; the contents of
the sachet were examined by Forensic Analyst Jabonillo,
who prepared Chemistry Report No. D-198-2003,
confirming that the specimen tested positive
for shabu28 and lastly, during the trial, the marked sachet
of shabu, as well as the marked money used in
purchasing the same, were presented as evidence and
identified by P02 Ibasco and SP04 Reburiano.

The integrity and evidentiary value of seized items are


properly preserved for as long as the chain of custody of
the same are duly established. Section 1(b) of
Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 1, Series of
2002, implementing Republic Act No. 9165, defines
chain of custody as follows:cralawlibrary
Chain of Custody means the duly recorded authorized
movements and custody of seized drugs or controlled
chemicals or plant sources of dangerous drugs or
laboratory equipment of each stage, from the time of
seizure/confiscation to receipt in the forensic laboratory
to safekeeping to presentation in court for destruction.
Such record of movements and custody of seized item
shall include the identity and signature of the person who
held temporary custody of the seized item, the date and
time when such transfer of custody were made in the
course of safekeeping and use in court as evidence, and
the final disposition.

All told, there is no reason for the Court to disturb the


findings of the RTC, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals,
that Elizabeth is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal
sale of dangerous drug, as defined and penalized under
Article II, Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9165. According
to said provision, "[t]he penalty of life imprisonment to
death and a fine ranging from Five hundred thousand
pesos (P500,000.00) to Ten million pesos (PI
0,000,000.00) 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 broker
in any such transactions." Consequently, the penalty of
life imprisonment and a fine of P500,000.00 imposed
upon Elizabeth by the RTC and affirmed by the Court of
Appeals are in accordance with law.

In Malillin v. People,26 the Court discussed how the chain


of custody of seized items should be established,
thus:cralawlibrary
As a method of authenticating evidence, the chain of
custody rule requires that the admission of an exhibit be
preceded by evidence sufficient to support a finding that
the matter in question is what the proponent claims it to
be. It would include testimony about every link in the
chain, from the moment the item was picked up to the
time it is offered into evidence, in such a way that every
person who touched the exhibit would describe how and
from whom it was received, where it was and what
happened to it while in the witness possession, the
condition in which it was received and the condition in
which it was delivered to the next link in the chain. These
witnesses would then describe the precautions taken to
ensure that there had been no change in the condition of

WHEREFORE, the instant appeal- of Elizabeth de Ia


Vega is DENIED and the Decision dated September 27,
2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No.
00489 convicting her for violation of Article II, Section 5
of Republic Act No. 9165 is AFFIRMED in toto.
SO ORDERED.

59

G.R. No. 173474

August 29, 2012

On March 22, 1999, at 11 oclock in the morning, Chief


Insp. Divina was in his office in the headquarters of the
Western Police District (WPD) on United Nations Avenue
in Manila when he received a call from a male person
who refused to identify himself for fear of reprisal. The
caller tipped him off about a robbery to be staged along
Lopez Street, Tondo, Manila. After relaying the tip to his
superior officer, he was immediately ordered to form a
team composed of operatives of the District Intelligence
Group and to coordinate with the Special Weapons and
Attack Team (SWAT) and the Mobile Patrol of the WPD.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
REYNALDO BELOCURA y PEREZ, Accused-Appellant.
DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:
The credibility of the evidence of the corpus delicti in a
prosecution for illegal possession of marij11ana under
Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, depends on the
integrity of the chain of custody of the marijuana from the
time of its seizure until the time of its presentation as
evidence in court. Short of that, the accused is entitled to
an acquittal because the State fails to establish the guilt
of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.

After a briefing, Chief Insp. Divina and the other


operatives proceeded to Lopez Street, reaching the site
before 1:00 pm. Chief Insp. Divina and PO2 Eraldo
Santos positioned themselves along Vitas Street. At
around 2:00 pm, Chief Insp. Divina spotted an ownertype jeep bearing a spurious government plate (SBM510) cruising along Vitas Street and told the rest of the
team about it. The numbers of the car plate were painted
white. The driver was later identified as Belocura. Chief
Insp. Divina signaled for Belocura to stop for verification
but the latter ignored the signal and sped off towards
Balut, Tondo. The team pursued Belocuras jeep until
they blocked its path with their Tamaraw FX vehicle,
forcing Belocura to stop. At this point, Chief Insp. Divina
and the rest of the team approached the jeep and
introduced themselves to Belocura as policemen. Chief
Insp. Divina queried Belocura on the government plate.
SPO1 Rojas confiscated Belocuras Berreta 9 mm. pistol
(Serial Number M13086Z) that was tucked in his waist
and its fully loaded magazine when he could not produce
the appropriate documents for the pistol and the
government plate. They arrested him.

The Case
Reynaldo Belocura y Perez, a police officer charged with
illegal possession of 1,789.823 grams of marijuana in
violation of Republic Act No. 6425 (Dangerous Drugs Act
of 1972), as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, was
found guilty of the crime charged on April 22, 2003 by
the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Manila, and sentenced
to suffer reclusion perpetua and to pay a fine
of P 500,000.00.1
On appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the
conviction on January 23, 2006.2 Hence, this final appeal
for his acquittal.

PO2 Santos searched Belocuras jeep, and recovered a


red plastic bag under the drivers seat. Chief Insp. Divina
directed PO2 Santos to inspect the contents of the red
plastic bag, which turned out to be two bricks
of marijuanawrapped in newspaper.

Antecedents
Belocura was charged on April 13, 1999 by the Office of
the City Prosecutor of Manila with a violation of Section
8 of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended by Republic Act
No. 7659, in the Manila RTC through the information:

Afterwards, the team returned with Belocura to the WPD


Headquarters on board the Tamaraw FX. The team
turned over the jeep and the red plastic bag with its
contents to the General Assignment Section for proper
disposition.5

That on or about March 22, 1999, in the City of Manila,


Philippines, the said accused did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and knowingly have in his possession and
under his custody and control one (1) plastic bag colored
red and white, with label "SHIN TON YON", containing
the following:

Chief Insp. Divina said that the caller did not mention
anything about any vehicle; that he and his men were in
civilian clothes at the time; that it was PO2 Santos who
recovered the red plastic bag containing
the marijuanabricks; and that SPO1 Rojas examined the
contents of the bag in his presence.6

One (1) newspaper leaf used to wrap one (1) brick of


dried marijuana fruiting tops weighing 830.532 grams;
One (1) newspaper leaf used to wrap one (1) brick of
dried marijuana fruiting tops weighing 959.291 grams.

SPO1 Rojas confirmed his part in the operation. 7 He


conceded that he was not present when the red plastic
bag containing the bricks of marijuana was seized, and
saw the marijuana bricks for the first time only at the
police station.8

With a total weight of 1,789.823 grams, a prohibited


drug.
Contrary to law.3

Forensic Chemist Insp. Coronel attested that her office


received from the General Assignment Section of the
WPD one red plastic bag labeled "SHIN TON YON"
containing two bricks of dried
suspected marijuana fruiting tops individually wrapped in
newspaper at about 12:30 pm of March

After Belocura pleaded not guilty,4 the State presented


three witnesses, namely: Insp. Arlene Valdez Coronel,
Chief Insp. Ferdinand Ortales Divina, and SPO1
Gregorio P. Rojas. On the other hand, the Defense
presented Belocura as its sole witness.
I
The States Evidence

23, 1999. The first brick bore the marking "RB-1" and
weighed 830.532 grams while the other bore the
marking "RB-2" and weighed 959.291 grams, for a total
weight of 1,789.823 grams. She conducted a chemical

60

examination of the marijuana bricks pursuant to the


request for laboratory examination from Chief Insp.
Nelson Yabut of the WPD; and concluded as the result of
three qualitative examinations that the submitted
specimen tested positive for marijuana, a prohibited
drug.9

drivers seat only if pressed hard enough, but in that


case the wrappings would get torn because the wirings
of the car underneath the seat were exposed. He
recalled that the wrappings of the bricks
of marijuana were intact.13
On April 22, 2003, the RTC convicted Belocura of the
crime charged and sentenced him to suffer reclusion
perpetua and to pay the fine of P 500,000.00.14

II
Evidence of the Defense

As already stated, the CA affirmed the conviction.15

Belocura denied the charge. His version, which differed


from that of the Prosecution, was as follows.

Issues
On March 22, 1999, Belocura was a police officer
assigned in Police Station 6 of the WPD with a tour of
duty from 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm. At 2:00 pm of that day,
he was on his way to work on board his owner-type jeep
when about thirty police officers blocked his path. He
introduced himself to them as a police officer, but they
ignored him. Instead, they disarmed and handcuffed
him, and confiscated the memorandum receipt covering
his firearm, his money and his police ID card. He
recognized some of his arrestors as former members of
the CIS. They forced him into their jeep, and brought him
to the WPD headquarters, where they locked him up in a
room that looked like a bodega. They subjected him to
interrogation on his alleged involvement in a robbery
hold-up. They informed him of the drug-related charge to
be filed against him only three days later.

Belocura now submits that:16


I.
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN
CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF THE
CRIME CHARGED NOTWITHSTANDING THE
PHYSICIAL IMPOSSIBILITY FOR THE DRIED BRICKS
OF MARIJUANA PLACED UNDER THE DRIVERS
SEAT (sic).
II.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE
ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF THE CRIME CHARGED
BASED ON THE INCONSISTENT AND
CONTRADICTORY STATEMENTS OF THE
PROSECUTION WITNESS.

Belocura denied owning or possessing the bricks


of marijuana, saying that he saw the bricks
of marijuana for the first time only in court. He insisted
that it was physically impossible for the bricks
of marijuana to be found under the drivers seat of his
jeep on account of the clearance from the flooring being
only about three inches. At the time of his arrest, he was
in Type-B uniform (i.e., blue pants with white side piping
and blue T-shirt) because he was reporting to work that
afternoon. Belocura said that his arrest was effected
possibly because he had incurred the ire of a superior;
that it was not unusual for a policeman like him to incur
the ire of a superior officer or a fellow policeman; that he
had arrested a suspect for drug pushing and had
detained him in Police Precinct 2, but the suspect turned
out to be the nephew of Captain Sukila of Precinct 2 who
admitted to him that Captain Sukila owned the drugs;
that on the day following the arrest of the suspect,
Captain Sukila called Belocura to request the release of
the suspect (ina-arbor ang huli ko); that he told Captain
Sukila that they should meet the next day so that he
could turn over the suspect; and that on the next day, he
was surprised to learn that the suspect had already been
released.10

III.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING IN
EVIDENCE THE MARIJUANA DESPITE THE
ILLEGALITY OF ITS SEIZURE DUE TO THE ABSENSE
(sic) OF A VALID SEARCH WARRANT.
IV.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE
ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF THE CRIME CHARGED
WHEN HIS GUILT WAS NOT PROVEN BEYOND
REASONABLE DOUBT.
Belocura argues that the Prosecution did not establish
his guilt for the crime charged beyond reasonable doubt;
that his warrantless arrest was unlawful considering that
his only violation was only a breach of traffic rules and
regulations involving the illegal use of a government
plate on his newly-assembled jeep; that the warrantless
search of his jeep was contrary to law for violating his
right against illegal search and seizure protected under
Section 17, Article III (Bill of Rights) of the 1987
Constitution;17 and that the bricks
of marijuana supposedly seized from him, being the fruit
of a poisonous tree, were inadmissible against him.

Belocura did not personally know Chief Insp. Divina prior


to his arrest,11 or the other arresting policemen. He
mentioned that his owner-type jeep had been assembled
in 1995, and that he had attached the plate number
assigned to his old vehicle pending the registration of the
jeep despite knowing that doing so was a violation of
law; and that the incident involving the arrest of the
nephew of Captain Sukila was the only reason he could
think of why charges were filed against him.12

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) counters that


Belocuras arrest and the ensuing search of the jeep
were valid, the search being incidental to a valid, albeit
warrantless, arrest; that the arresting policemen had a
reasonable ground to effect his warrantless arrest; that it
became their duty following the lawful arrest to conduct
the warrantless search not only of the person of
Belocura as the arrestee but also of the areas within his
reach, which then resulted in the recovery of the dried

On re-direct examination, Belocura replied that he did


not see the bricks of marijuana whether at the time of his
arrest, or at the police precinct, or during the inquest
proceedings. On re-cross, he clarified that while the
drivers seat were fixed to the jeep, the bricks
of marijuana could nevertheless be placed under the

61

bricks of marijuana from under the drivers seat; and that


any irregularity attendant to the arrest was cured by
Belocuras failure to object to the validity of his arrest
before entering his plea and by his submission to the
jurisdiction of the RTC when he entered his plea and
participated in the trial.18

following exceptions, namely: (a) warrantless search


incidental to a lawful arrest recognized under Section 13,
Rule 126 of the Rules of Court;19 (b) seizure of evidence
under plain view; (c) search of a moving vehicle; (d)
consented warrantless search; (e) customs search; (f)
stop-and-frisk situations (Terry search); and (g) exigent
and emergency circumstances.20 In these exceptional
situations, the necessity for a search warrant is
dispensed with.

Ruling
After a meticulous examination of the records, the Court
concludes that a reversal of the conviction is justified
and called for.

Belocura argues that his arrest and the ensuing search


of his vehicle and recovery of the incriminating bricks
ofmarijuana were in violation of his aforementioned
rights under the Constitution because he was then
violating only a simple traffic rule on the illegal use of a
government plate. He claims that the arresting
policemen had no probable cause to search his vehicle
for anything.

No arrest, search and seizure can be made without a


valid warrant issued by a competent judicial authority. So
sacred are the right of personal security and privacy and
the right from unreasonable searches and seizures that
no less than the Constitution ordains in Section 2 of its
Article III, viz:

The argument of Belocura does not persuade.

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.

Belocura was caught in flagrante delicto violating


Section 31 of Republic Act No. 4139 (The Land
Transportation and Traffic Code).21 In flagrante delicto
means in the very act of committing the crime. To be
caught in flagrante delicto necessarily implies the
positive identification of the culprit by an eyewitness or
eyewitnesses. Such identification is a direct evidence of
culpability, because it "proves the fact in dispute without
the aid of any inference or presumption." 22 Even by his
own admission, he was actually committing a crime in
the presence or within the view of the arresting
policemen. Such manner by which Belocura was
apprehended fell under the first category in Section 5,
Rule 113 of the Rules of Court. The arrest was valid,
therefore, and the arresting policemen thereby became
cloaked with the authority to validly search his person
and effects for weapons or any other article he might use
in the commission of the crime or was the fruit of the
crime or might be used as evidence in the trial of the
case, and to seize from him and the area within his
reach or under his control, like the jeep, such weapon or
other article. The evident purpose of the incidental
search was to protect the arresting policemen from being
harmed by him with the use of a concealed weapon.
Accordingly, the warrantless character of the arrest could
not by itself be the basis of his acquittal.23

The consequence of a violation of the guarantees


against a violation of personal security and privacy and
against unreasonable searches and seizures is the
exclusion of the evidence thereby obtained. This rule of
exclusion is set down in Section 3(2), Article III of the
Constitution, to wit:
Section 3. xxx
(2) Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the
preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose
in any proceeding.
Even so, the right against warrantless arrest, and the
right against warrantless search and seizure are not
absolute. There are circumstances in which the arrest, or
search and seizure, although warrantless, are
nonetheless valid or reasonable. Among the
circumstances are those mentioned in Section 5, Rule
113 of the Rules of Court, which lists down when a
warrantless arrest may be lawfully made by a peace
officer or a private person, namely:

In convicting Belocura as charged, the RTC relied on the


testimonies of Chief Insp. Divina and SPO1 Rojas to
establish the fact of possession of the marijuana bricks.
An evaluation of the totality of the evidence on record
indicates, however, that the corpus delicti of the crime
charged was not established beyond reasonable doubt.

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


committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to
commit an offense;

The elements of illegal possession of marijuana under


Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, are that: (a) the
accused is in possession of an item or object that is
identified to be marijuana, a prohibited drug; (b) such
possession is not authorized by law; and (c) the accused
freely and consciously possessed the said drug.24 What
must be proved beyond reasonable doubt is the fact of
possession of the prohibited drug itself. This may be
done by presenting the police officer who actually
recovered the prohibited drugs as a witness, being the
person who has the direct knowledge of the possession.

(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.

Chief Insp. Divina who headed the team of policemen


disclosed that it was PO2 Santos, a member of the
team, who had discovered and had actually recovered
the red plastic bag containing the bricks

On the other hand, the constitutional proscription against


warrantless searches and seizures admits of the

62

of marijuana from the jeep. Excerpts of Chief Insp.


Divinas relevant declarations follow:

ATTY LEE:
q And after that, you never had the chance to see that
bag again. Is that correct?

ATTY LEE:

a Not anymore Sir.25

q Mr. Witness, it was SPO1 Rojas who examined the


contents of the plastic bag. That is correct?

q Okay, it was Mr. Rojas who retrieved the plastic bag?


Is that correct?

The Prosecution also presented SPO1 Rojas, another


member of the team, but he provided no direct evidence
about the possession by Belocura of the
confiscated marijuana bricks, and actually stated that he
did not witness the recovery of the marijuana bricks from
Belocura, viz:

a No sir, It was not SPO1 Rojas.

PUB. PROS. TAN, JR:

q It was not you who retrieved that plastic bag from the
jeep?

q While you were taking the gun of this accused what


were your other companion specifically Major Divina
doing?

a I had testified that it was SPO1 Rojas who examined


the contents.

a No, Sir. I was not the one.

WITNESS:

q It was Dela Cruz?

a Since I was the first one who approached Reynaldo


Belocura I was the one who took the gun from his
waistline and I informed Major Divina that I already took
the gun and place it inside the Tamaraw FX and when I
left the members of the SWAT arrive at the scene and I
dont know what transpired.

a No, Sir.
q Who retrieved the plastic bag from the jeep?
WITNESS:

PUB. PROS. TAN, JR:

A It was PO2 Reynaldo Santos, Sir.

q And where was Major Divina then?

ATTY LEE :

a Beside the owner type jeep, sir.

q It was Santos who brought the plastic bag to the


headquarters. Is that correct?

q You are referring to the owner type jeep of the


accused?

A Yes, Sir.

a Yes, sir.

q And you never had a chance to examine that plastic


bag, the contents of that plastic bag is that correct?

q Did you go back to the said jeep?

a I had a chance to see it at the place where we had


flagged down a vehicle.

a I did not return there anymore sir because the


members of the other group surrounded the place, sir.

q You saw only the plastic bag. Is that correct?

q Since you were then at that scene did you come to


know if there is any other thing that was retrieved from
the herein accused in the said vehicle?26

a No, Sir. When the bag was recovered from under the
drivers seat and when it was opened, I had the chance
to see it.

xxx

THE COURT:

WITNESS:

q Including the contents?

a Yes. When I was there according to


them marijuana was taken from the owner type jeep.

WITNESS:

PUB. PROS. TAN, JR:

a Yes, your Honor.

q Who said that?27

ATTY LEE:

xxx

q It was not you who bring that bag to xxx

WITNESS:

THE COURT:

a The member of the SWAT and other team, sir were


there.

Already answered.

63

q And then what else happen after such recovery?

a Yes sir.

a Actually sir at the scene I did not see anything


recovered but it was only in the office that I heard their
conversation about it.

q You mean to say that was the first time that you saw
the marijuana?
a Yes, sir.30

q What did you see or observe while in your office?


The Prosecution presented no other witnesses to
establish the seizure of the marijuana bricks from
Belocura.

a He was investigated.
q Investigated for what?

Based on the foregoing, Chief Insp. Divina and SPO1


Rojas declarations were insufficient to incriminate
Belocura, much less to convict him. If neither of them
was personally competent to be an eyewitness regarding
the seizure of the marijuana bricks from Belocura, their
testimonies could not be accorded probative value,
considering that the Rules of Court requires that a
witness could testify only to facts that he knew of his
own knowledge, that is, only to those facts derived from
his own perception.31

a According to them the recovery of the plate number


and the expired MR of the gun and
themarijuana recovered.
PUB. PROS. TAN, JR:
q Before whom was he investigated?
WITNESS:

Indeed, only PO2 Santos could reliably establish


Belocuras illegal possession of the marijuana bricks, if
Chief Insp. Divinas account was to be believed.
Surprisingly, the RTC did not give due and proper
significance to the failure to present PO2 Santos as a
witness against Belocura.

a General Assignment Section, sir.28


xxx
On further examination, SPO1 Rojas reiterated that he
did not actually witness the seizure of
the marijuana bricks from Belocuras possession, to wit:

Nonetheless, the OSG contends that the State had no


need to present PO2 Santos because his testimony
would only be corroborative; and that the testimonies of
Chief Insp. Divina and SPO1 Rojas sufficed to establish
Belocuras guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

ATTY LEE:
q Mr. Witness, so you did not see the actual the alleged
recovery of marijuana, is that correct?

The OSGs contention is grossly erroneous.

WITNESS:

As the arresting officer who alone actually seized


the marijuana bricks from Belocuras vehicle beyond the
viewing distance of his fellow arresting officers, PO2
Santos was the Prosecutions only witness who could
have reliably established the recovery from Belocura of
the marijuana bricks contained in the red plastic bag
labeled as "SHIN TON YON." Without PO2 Santos
testimony, Chief Insp. Divinas declaration of seeing PO2
Santos recover the red plastic bag from under the
drivers seat of Belocuras jeep was worthless. The
explanation why none of the other police officers could
credibly attest to Belocuras possession of
the marijuana bricks was that they were at the time
supposedly performing different tasks during the
operation. Under the circumstances, only PO2 Santos
was competent to prove Belocuras possession.

a Yes sir.
ATTY LEE:
q And you have never that marijuana?
WITNESS:
a Yes sir. But only in the office.
q What do you only took from the accused is a gun, is
that correct?
a Yes sir.

Worse, the Prosecution failed to establish the identity of


the prohibited drug that constituted the corpus delicti
itself. The omission naturally raises grave doubt about
any search being actually conducted and warrants the
suspicion that the prohibited drugs were planted
evidence.

q So you cannot say positively that there was


a marijuana recovered from the accused because you
did not see?
a I just got the information from my co-police officer, sir.29

In every criminal prosecution for possession of illegal


drugs, the Prosecution must account for the custody of
the incriminating evidence from the moment of seizure
and confiscation until the moment it is offered in
evidence. That account goes to the weight of
evidence.32 It is not enough that the evidence offered has
probative value on the issues, for the evidence must also
be sufficiently connected to and tied with the facts in
issue. The evidence is not relevant merely because it is

xxx
PUB. PROS TAN, JR:
q Were you able to see the marijuana in the police
station?
WITNESS:

64

available but that it has an actual connection with the


transaction involved and with the parties thereto. This is
the reason why authentication and laying a foundation
for the introduction of evidence are important. 33

The Prosecution thereby failed to establish the linkage


between the bricks of marijuana supposedly seized by
PO2 Santos from Belocuras jeep following his arrest
and the bricks of marijuana that the Prosecution later
presented as evidence in court. That linkage was not
dispensable, because the failure to prove that the
specimens of marijuana submitted to the forensic
chemist for examination were the
same marijuana allegedly seized from Belocura
irreparably broke the chain of custody that linked the
confiscated marijuana to the marijuanaultimately
presented as evidence against Belocura during the trial.
Proof beyond reasonable doubt demanded that
unwavering exactitude must be observed in establishing
the corpus delicti the body of the crime whose core
was the confiscated prohibited substances. Thus, every
fact necessary to constitute the crime must be
established.371wphi1

Yet, no such accounting was made herein, as the


following excerpts from the testimony of Chief Insp.
Divina bear out, to wit:
PUB. PROS TAN, JR:
q How about the plastic bag containing the suspected
stuff, what did you do with the same? You did not know?
WITNESS:
a I think it was turned over to the investigator of the
General Assignment Section who made the proper
disposition.

The chain-of-custody requirement ensures that all


doubts concerning the identity of the evidence are
removed.38The requirement has come to be associated
with prosecutions for violations of Republic Act No. 9165
(Comprehensive Drugs Act of 2002),39 by reason of
Section 2140 of Republic Act No. 9165 expressly
regulating the actual custody and disposition of
confiscated and surrendered dangerous drugs,
controlled precursors, essential chemicals, instruments,
paraphernalia, and laboratory equipment. Section 21(a)
of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic
Act No. 9165 issued by the Dangerous Drugs Board
pursuant to its mandate under Section 94 of Republic
Act No. 9165 reiterates the requirement, stating:

q Who is the investigator again, Mr. witness?


a I remember SPO4 Boy Guzman
q Did you know what SPO4 Boy Guzman did with the
accused as well as the confiscated stuff?
xxx
WITNESS:
a The items upon turn over to the investigator on case
were handed to the custodian with proper receipt and
after those disposition, there were case filed against the
subject.

xxx
(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.

PUB. PROS. TAN, JR:


q Were you able to know what did they do with the
accused as well as the confiscated stuff if you know?
a I remember appearing in the MTC court Br, 20, I saw
the exhibits, firearm and plate number, two blocks
of marijuana. I dont have any idea where did the
investigator brought them or have done.34
xxx
q You never had a knowledge of what happened to that
bag and the contents thereof?
a I learned later that the items that were confiscated
were turned over to the General Assignment Section
which held the investigation.

xxx
q So, it was not your group who conducted the
examination and the alleged things that were recovered
from the alleged accused?35

That this case was a prosecution brought under


Republic Act No. 6425 (Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972),
as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, did not matter.
The chain-of-custody requirement applied under both
laws by virtue of the universal need to competently and
sufficiently establish the corpus delicti. It is basic under
the Rules of Court, indeed, that evidence, to be relevant,
must throw light upon, or have a logical relation to, the
facts in issue to be established by one party or disproved
by the other.41 The test of relevancy is whether an item
of evidence will have any value, as determined by logic
and experience, in proving the proposition for which it is

xxx
a No, Sir.
q How about the things that were allegedly recovered
from the accused?
a I just said that it was the General Assignment Section
who handled the investigation.36

65

offered, or whether it would reasonably and actually tend


to prove or disprove any matter of fact in issue, or
corroborate other relevant evidence. The test is satisfied
if there is some logical connection either directly or by
inference between the fact offered and the fact to be
proved.42

were thereafter examined by Forensic Chemist Valdez,


the records did not show if Chief Insp. Yabut was the
officer who had received the marijuana bricks from the
arresting team. The request for laboratory examination
was dated March 23, 1999, or the day following
Belocuras arrest and the seizure of the marijuana bricks
from his jeep; however, the Prosecution did not identify
the person from whom Chief Insp. Yabut had received
themarijuana bricks.

The chain of custody is essential in establishing the link


between the article confiscated from the accused to the
evidence that is ultimately presented to the court for its
appreciation. As the Court said in Mallillin v. People:43

Sadly, the Prosecution did not establish the links in the


chain of custody. This meant that the corpus delicti was
not credibly proved. This further meant that the seizure
and confiscation of the marijuana bricks might easily be
open to doubt and suspicion, and thus the incriminatory
evidence would not stand judicial scrutiny.

As a method of authenticating evidence, the chain of


custody rule requires that the admission of an exhibit be
preceded by evidence sufficient to support a finding that
the matter in question is what the proponent claims it to
be. It would include testimony about every link in the
chain, from the moment the item was picked up to the
time it is offered into evidence, in such a way that every
person who touched the exhibit would describe how and
from whom it was received, where it was and what
happened to it while in the witness possession, the
condition in which it was received and the condition in
which it was delivered to the next link in the chain. These
witnesses would then describe the precautions taken to
ensure that there had been no change in the condition of
the item and no opportunity for someone not in the chain
to have possession of the same.

Thirdly, Belocuras denial assumed strength in the face


of the Prosecutions weak incriminating evidence. In that
regard, Belocura denied possession of
the marijuana bricks and knowledge of them as well, to
wit:
q Were you able to view the alleged marijuana that were
confiscated from you?
a: I saw it for the first time when it was presented in
Court, Sir.

While testimony about a perfect chain is not always the


standard because it is almost always impossible to
obtain, an unbroken chain of custody becomes
indispensable and essential when the item of real
evidence is not distinctive and is not readily identifiable,
or when its condition at the time of testing or trial is
critical, or when a witness has failed to observe its
uniqueness. The same standard likewise obtains in case
the evidence is susceptible to alteration, tampering,
contamination and even substitution and exchange. In
other words, the exhibits level of susceptibility to
fungibility, alteration or tamperingwithout regard to
whether the same is advertent or otherwise not
dictates the level of strictness in the application of the
chain of custody rule.44

q: Now, according to Inspector Divina, it was police


officer Santos who was able to recover from your vehicle
these two bricks of marijuana. What can you say about
this?
a: At first, I did not see this marijuana, Sir, that they are
saying because they immediately handcuffed me and
disarmed me even before I could board my owner type
jeepney.47
The Court holds that the guilt of Belocura for the crime
charged was not proved beyond reasonable doubt. Mere
suspicion of his guilt, no matter how strong, should not
sway judgment against him. Every evidence favoring him
must be duly considered. Indeed, the presumption of
innocence in his favor was not overcome. Hence, his
acquittal should follow, for, as the Court fittingly said
in Patula v. People:48

The first link in the chain of custody started with the


seizure from the jeep of Belocura of the red plastic bag
said to contain the marijuana bricks. The first link was
immediately missing because the Prosecution did not
present PO2 Santos, the only person with direct
knowledge of the seizure and confiscation of
the marijuana bricks. Without his testimony, proof that
the marijuana bricks were really taken from the jeep of
Belocura did not exist. The second link was the turnover
of the marijuana bricks by PO2 Santos to another officer
back at the WPD Headquarters. As to this, Chief Insp.
Divina stated that he learned following the seizure by
PO2 Santos that themarijuana bricks were turned over to
the General Assignment Section for investigation. That
was all. On the other hand, SPO1 Rojas testimony
contributed nothing to the establishment of the second
link because he had immediately left after seizing the
gun from Belocura. As for the subsequent links, the
records45 showed that themarijuana bricks were
forwarded to the General Assignment Section on March
22, 1999, but the Prosecution did not prove the identities
of the officer from the General Assignment Section who
received the red plastic bag containing
the marijuana bricks, and the officer from whom the
receiving officer received the marijuana bricks. Although
Chief Insp. Nelson Yabut prepared the request for
laboratory examination of the marijuana bricks,46which

xxx in all criminal prosecutions, the Prosecution bears


the burden to establish the guilt of the accused beyond
reasonable doubt. In discharging this burden, the
Prosecutions duty is to prove each and every element of
the crime charged in the information to warrant a finding
of guilt for that crime or for any other crime necessarily
included therein. The Prosecution must further prove the
participation of the accused in the commission of the
offense. In doing all these, the Prosecution must rely on
the strength of its own evidence, and not anchor its
success upon the weakness of the evidence of the
accused. The burden of proof placed on the Prosecution
arises from the presumption of innocence in favor of the
accused that no less than the Constitution has
guaranteed. Conversely, as to his innocence, the
accused has no burden of proof, that he must then be
acquitted and set free should the Prosecution not
overcome the presumption of innocence in his favor. In
other words, the weakness of the defense put up by the
accused is inconsequential in the proceedings for as
long as the Prosecution has not discharged its burden of
proof in establishing the commission of the crime

66

charged and in identifying the accused as the malefactor


responsible for it.49

On July 31, 2000, an Information was filed charging petitioner


Salvador V. Rebellion with violation of Section 16, Article III of

WHEREFORE, we REVERSE and SET ASIDE the


decision promulgated on January 23,
2006; ACQUIT accusedREYNALDO BELOCURA y
PEREZ for failure of the Prosecution to prove his guilt
beyond reasonable doubt;DIRECT the immediate
release from detention of REYNALDO BELOCURA y
PEREZ, unless he is also detained for some other lawful
cause; and ORDER the Director of the Bureau of
Corrections to forthwith implement this decision upon
receipt and to report his action hereon to this Court
within 10 days from receipt. No pronouncement on costs
of suit.

RA 6425, as amended, the accusatory portion thereof reads:

SO ORDERED.

FIRST DIVISION
SALVADOR V. REBELLION,
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 175700

Contrary to law.[3]

Present:
- versus -

That on or about the 27th day of July 2000,


in the City of Mandaluyong, Philippines, a
place within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, not
having been lawfully authorized to possess
or otherwise use any regulated drug, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and
knowingly have in his possession and under
his custody and control one (1) heat-sealed
transparent plastic sachet containing 0.03
gram of white crystalline substance and one
(1) piece of aluminum foil strip with trace of
white crystalline substance, which were
found positive [for] Methamphetamine
Hydrochloride, commonly known as shabu,
a regulated drug, without the corresponding
license and prescription, in violation of the
above cited law.

CORONA,
VELASCO,When
JR., arraigned on September 6, 2000, petitioner entered a
LEONARDO-DE
plea ofCASTRO,
not guilty. After pre-trial, trial on the merits forthwith
DEL CASTILLO,
PEREZ, commenced.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


Promulgated:
Respondent.
July 5, 2010
At about 4:40 in the afternoon of July 27, 2000, PO3 George
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Garcia (PO3 Garcia) and PO3 Romeo Sotomayor, Jr. (PO3
- - - - - - - - - - -x
Sotomayor), together with Michael Fermin and Joseph
Apologista, all members of the Mayors Action Command

DECISION

(MAC) of Mandaluyong City, were on routine patrol along M.


Cruz St., Barangay Mauway, when they chanced upon two

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

individuals chanting and in the act of exchanging something.


The threshold issue confronting us is whether the facts

The police officers introduced themselves and then inquired

presented in this case make out a legitimate instance of a

from petitioner what he was holding. Petitioner took out from

warrantless arrest, i.e. under circumstances sufficient to

his possession three strips of aluminum foil which PO3 Garcia

engender a reasonable belief that some crime was being or

confiscated. PO3 Sotomayor also found on petitioner a plastic

about to be committed or had just been committed.

sachet which contained white crystalline substance which


looked like tawas. Suspecting that the substance was shabu,

This petition for review assails the September 26, 2006

he confiscated the plastic sachet. Petitioner and his

Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No.

companion, who was later identified as Clarito Yanson

29248 which affirmed with modification the December 8, 2004

(Clarito), were brought to the MAC station at the Criminal

Decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Mandaluyong

Investigation Division (CID) for investigation. After laboratory

City, Branch 209, finding petitioner guilty of violation of Section

examination, the contents of the plastic sachet weighing 0.03

16, Article III of Republic Act (RA) No. 6425, as amended

gram

(otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as

Hydrochloride or shabu, a regulated drug. The test on the

amended).

three strips of aluminum foil also yielded positive for traces

were

of shabu.
Factual Antecedents

67

found

positive

for

Methamphetamine

On the basis thereof, petitioner was correspondingly charged


WHETHER THE COURT OF APPEALS
ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION
OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT
FINDING THE PETITIONER GUILTY
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE
CRIME CHARGED.

with illegal possession of dangerous drugs. Clarito, on the


other hand, was further investigated by the City Prosecutors
Office.
Petitioner denied the charge against him. He claimed that he
was merely standing in front of a store waiting for the change

Petitioner challenges the legality of his warrantless arrest by

of his P500.00 bill when he was suddenly accosted by the

asserting that at the time he was apprehended, he was not

MAC team.

committing or attempting to commit an offense. Petitioner


argues that since his arrest was illegal, the eventual search on

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

his person was also unlawful. Thus, the illicit items confiscated
from him are inadmissible in evidence for being violative of his

The trial court found petitioner guilty as charged and

constitutional right against unreasonable searches and

sentenced him to suffer an indeterminate penalty of six

seizure.

months of arresto mayor as minimum to two years and four


months of prision correccional as maximum. The trial court

Our Ruling

gave credence to the straightforward testimonies of the


prosecution witnesses and ruled that the elements of the

We sustain the appellate court in affirming petitioners

offense charged were duly established.

conviction by the trial court.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

Petitioners claim that his warrantless arrest is illegal lacks


merit. We note that nowhere in the records did we find any

On appeal, petitioner insisted that his warrantless arrest was

objection interposed by petitioner to the irregularity of his

unlawful since he was not committing any crime when he was

arrest prior to his arraignment. It has been consistently ruled

arrested.

that an accused is estopped from assailing any irregularity of


his arrest if he fails to raise this issue or to move for the

On September 26, 2006, the CA affirmed the judgment of the

quashal of the information against him on this ground before

RTC with modification. The appellate court sustained the

arraignment. Any objection involving a warrant of arrest or the

validity of the warrantless arrest of petitioner holding that the

procedure by which the court acquired jurisdiction over the

latter was caught by the MAC team in flagrante delicto or

person of the accused must be made before he enters his

while he was in the act of giving to Clarito a plastic sachet

plea; otherwise, the objection is deemed waived.[5] In this

of shabu. The CA brushed aside the self-serving version of

case, petitioner was duly arraigned, entered a negative plea

petitioner. The dispositive portion of the Decision provides:

and actively participated during the trial. Thus, he is deemed


to have waived any perceived defect in his arrest and

WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision


dated December 8, 2004 of the trial court is
affirmed, subject to the modification of
accused-appellants imprisonment sentence
which should be six (6) months of arresto
mayor maximum, as the minimum penalty,
to two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1)
day of prision correccional medium, as the
maximum penalty.

effectively submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court


trying his case. At any rate, the illegal arrest of an accused is
not sufficient cause for setting aside a valid judgment rendered
upon a sufficient complaint after a trial free from error. It will not
even negate the validity of the conviction of the accused.[6]

SO ORDERED.[4]

A lawful arrest without a warrant may be made by a peace


officer or a private individual under any of the following

Issue

circumstances:[7]
Sec 5. Arrest without warrant, when lawful A
peace officer or a private person may,
without a warrant, arrest a person:

Reconsideration having been denied, petitioner is now before


us raising a singular issue on:

68

appellate court in addressing the matter of the purportedly

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

invalid warrantless arrest:

(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 any event, the warrantless arrest


of accused-appellant was lawful because he
was caught by the police officers
in flagrante delicto or while he was in the act
of handing to Clarito Yanson a plastic sachet
of shabu. Upon seeing the exchange, PO3
Sotomayor and PO3 Garcia approached
accused-appellant and Clarito Yanson and
introduced themselves as members of the
MAC. PO3 Sotomayor confiscated from
accused-appellant the plastic sachet of
shabu while PO3 Garcia confiscated the
aluminum foil strips which accusedappellant was also holding in his other hand.

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
Section 7, Rule 112.

Jurisprudence is settled that the


arresting officer in a legitimate warrantless
arrest has the authority to search on the
belongings of the offender and confiscate
those that may be used to prove the
commission of the offense. x x x

(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

Our own review discloses sufficient evidence that the

Petitioners version, on the other hand, cannot stand

warrantless arrest of petitioner was effected under Section

against the positive evidence of the prosecution. It strains our

5(a), or the arrest of a suspect in flagrante delicto. The MAC

credulity to believe his version that at the time of his arrest, he

team witnessed petitioner handing a piece of plastic sachet to

was merely standing in front of the store waiting for the

Clarito. Arousing

sachet

change of his P500.00 bill and that the small plastic sachet

contains shabu, team members PO3 Garcia and PO3

was in fact recovered from another male individual standing in

Sotomayor alighted from their motorcycles and approached

front of him.Petitioner is thus suggesting that he was arrested

them. Clarito was not able to completely get hold of the plastic

for no cause at all. We are not swayed by his account. His

sachet because of their arrival. At the first opportunity, the

version of the incident is simply incredible. Moreover, he was

team members introduced themselves. Upon inquiry by PO3

positively, categorically and consistently identified by the

Garcia what petitioner was holding, the latter presented three

prosecution witnesses who were shown to have no ill motive

strips of aluminum foil which the former confiscated. At a

on their part in testifying against him. Consequently, their

distance, PO3 Sotomayor saw petitioner in possession of the

testimonies should prevail over the alibi and denial of

plastic

petitioner whose testimony is not substantiated by clear and

sachet

their

which

suspicion

contains

that

white

the

crystalline

convincing evidence.[8]

substance. There and then, petitioner and Clarito were


apprehended and brought to the CID for investigation. After

In fine, we defer to the findings of the trial court which

laboratory examination, the white crystalline substance placed


inside

the

plastic

sachet

was

found

positive

were affirmed by the appellate court, there being no cogent

for

reason to veer away from such findings. Well-settled is the

methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, a regulated drug.

rule that the factual findings and conclusions of the trial court
Under these circumstances, we entertain no doubt that

and the CA are entitled to great weight and respect and will

petitioner was arrested in flagrante delicto as he was then

not be disturbed on appeal in the absence of any clear

committing a crime, violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act,

showing that the trial court overlooked certain facts or

within the view of the arresting team. Thus, his case comes

circumstance which would substantially affect the disposition

under the exception to the rule requiring a warrant before

of the case.[9]

effecting an arrest. Consequently, the results of the attendant


search and seizure were admissible in evidence to prove his

The essential elements in illegal possession of

guilt of the offense charged. As correctly pointed out by the

dangerous drugs are (1) the accused is in possession of an

69

xxxx

item or object that is identified to be a prohibited drug; (2) such

3. 200 grams or
more of shabu or
methylamphetamine
hydrochloride

possession is not authorized by law; and (3) the accused


freely and consciously possess the said drug. All these
elements are obtaining and duly established in this case.
We now proceed to determine the propriety of the

xxxx

penalty imposed upon petitioner.

Otherwise, if the quantity involved is less


than the foregoing quantities, the penalty
shall
range
from prision
correcional to reclusion
perpetua depending upon the quantity.

Petitioner was charged with and convicted for


violation of Section 16, Article III of RA 6425, as amended, for
having possessed a sachet of shabu with a weight of 0.03
gram. Section 16 provides a penalty of imprisonment ranging

Thus, in People v. Tira,[11] we classified the penalties

from six months and one day to four years and a fine ranging

and graduated the same by degree where the quantity of

from P600.00 to P4,000.00 on any person found in

the shabu or methylamphetamine hydrochloride involved is

possession or use of any regulated drug without the

less than 200 grams, viz:

corresponding license or prescription, irrespective of the


Under Section 16, Article III of RA
6425, as amended, the imposable penalty
of possession of a regulated drug, less than
200 grams, in this case, shabu, is prision
correccional to reclusion perpetua.Based
on the quantity of the regulated drug subject
of the offense, the imposable penalty shall
be as follows:

volume or amount of the drug involved. However, said Section


16 was amended by RA 7659[10] which took effect
on December 31, 1993. As amended, Section 16 now
provides:
Section 16. Possession or Use of
Regulated Drugs. 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 shall possess or use any
regulated drug without the corresponding
license or prescription, subject to the
provisions of Section 20 hereof.

QUANTITY
less than one (1) gram to 49-25 grams
49.26 grams to 98-50 grams
98.51 grams to 147.75 grams
147.76 grams to 199 grams
Following

the

above

illustration

and

IMPOSABL
prision corre
prision may
reclusion tem
reclusion pe
considering

the shabu found in the possession of the petitioner is only


0.03

Section 20 of RA 6425 was likewise amended by

gram,

the

imposable

penalty

for

the

crime

Section 17 of RA 7659 where the imposable penalty now

is prision correccional. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence

depends

drugs

Law, the appellate court correctly sentenced petitioner to

involved. Thus, as amended by Section 17, the pertinent

suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of six months

provision of Section 20, Article IV of RA 6425 now reads:

of arresto mayor as minimum to two years, four months and

on

the

quantity

of

the

dangerous

one day of prision correccional as maximum.


Section 17. Section 20, Article IV of
Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, known
as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, is
hereby amended to read as follows:

RA 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous


Drugs Act of 2002, increased the penalty for illegal possession
of less than five grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride

Section
20. Application
of
Penalties,
Confiscation
and Forfeiture of the
Proceeds or Instruments
of the Crime. The
penalties for offenses
under Sections 3, 4, 7, 8
and 9 of Article II and
Sections 14-A, 15 and 16
of Article III of this Act shall
be
applied
if
the
dangerous drugs involved
is in any of the following
quantities:

orshabu to an imprisonment of 12 years and one day to 20


years

and

fine

ranging

from P300,000.00

to P400,000.00. Said law, however, not being favorable to the


petitioner, cannot be given retroactive application in this case.
WHEREFORE,

premises

considered,

the

September 26, 2006 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. CR No. 29248 affirming the conviction of petitioner
Salvador V. Rebellion for the unlawful possession of 0.03

70

be shabu. PO1 Talacca immediately seized said sachet


and brought Araza and his companions to the police
station. He turned over the said sachet to the chief
investigator, Larry Cabrera (Cabrera), who marked the
same with the initials "RSA" in his presence.

gram of shabu and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of six


months of arresto mayor as minimum to two years, four
months and one day ofprision correccional as maximum
is AFFIRMED.

The prosecution was supposed to alsopresent Police


Senior Inspector Donna Villa Huelgas (P/Sr. Insp.
Huelgas), the Forensic Chemist who examined the
confiscated white crystalline substance, but her
testimony was dispensed with after the defense agreed
to the following stipulations: 1) Chemistry Report No. D2028-02 as Exhibit "B"; 2) the name of suspect Rommel
Araza ySagun as Exhibit "B-1"; 3) the specimen
submitted as Exhibit "B-2"; 4) findingsas Exhibit "B-3"; 5)
conclusion as Exhibit "B-4"; 6) the name and signature
of P/Sr. Insp. Huelgas as Exhibits "B-5"; 7) the request
for laboratory examination as Exhibit "C"; 8) the name of
suspect Rommel Araza ySagun as Exhibit "C-1"; 9) the
evidence submitted as Exhibit "C-2"; 10) the stamp mark
as Exhibit "C-3"; 11) the half-size white envelope as
Exhibit "D"; 12) the plastic sachet as Exhibit "D-1"; and
13) the small heat-sealed plastic sachets as Exhibit "D1-A."6

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 190623

November 17, 2014

PEOPLE OF THE PIDLIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
ROMMEL ARAZA y SAGUN, Accused-Appellant.
DECISION
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
In this appeal, appellant Rommel Araza y Sagun (Araza)
assails the October 14, 2009 Decision1 of the Court of
Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 03164 which
affirmed the December 11, 2007 Decision2 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 93, San Pedro,
Laguna in Criminal Case No. 3829-SPL finding him guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of illegal possession of shabu.

Version of the Defense


The defense presented a completely different version of
the incident. Araza testified that he was sleeping inside a
room in the house of Sacdo when PO1 Talacca suddenly
woke him up and frisked him. PO1 Talacca confiscated
his wallet that contained coins then took him to the
police station and charged him with illegal possession of
prohibited drugs.

Factual Antecedents
On August 15, 2003, an Information3 for violation of
Section 11, Article II, Republic Act No. 9165 (RA 9165)
otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous
Drugs Act of 2002 was filed against Araza, the
accusatory portion of which reads as follows:

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court


The RTC ruled thatthe prosecution was able toestablish
the guilt of Araza beyond reasonable doubt. It gave
credence to the testimony of PO1 Talacca since he is
presumed to have regularly performed his duties and
there was no evidence that he had any motive to falsely
testify against Araza. The RTC rejected Arazas alibi as a
feeble defense that cannot prevail over the positive
testimony of PO1 Talacca. The dispositive portion of the
December 11, 2007 Decision7 of the RTC reads:

That on or about August 28, 2002, inthe Municipality of


San Pedro, Province of Laguna, Philippines and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court the said accused,
not being authorized by law, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously have in his possession,
control and custody one (1) small heat-sealed
transparent plasticsachet containing
METHAMPHETAMINE HYDROCHLORIDE commonly
known as "shabu," a dangerous drug, weighing zero
point zero six (0.06) gram.

WHEREFORE, the Court herebysentences accused


ROMMEL ARAZA y SAGUN to suffer an indeterminate
penalty of imprisonment from twelve (12) years and one
(1) day as minimum to fifteen (15)years as maximum
and to pay a fine in the amount of P300,000.00.

CONTRARY TO LAW.4
During arraignment, Araza pleaded "not
guilty."5 Thereafter, trial ensued.

The 0.06 gram of Methamphetamine Hydrochloride


"shabu" which constitutes the instrument in the
commission of the crime is confiscated and forfeited in
favor of the government. Atty. Jaarmy Bolus-Romero,
Branch Clerk of Court, is hereby directed to immediately
transmit the 0.06 [gram] of Methamphetamine
Hydrochloride "shabu"to the Dangerous Drugs Board for
proper disposition.

Version of the Prosecution


The prosecution presented Police Officer 1 Edmund
Talacca (PO1 Talacca) who testified as follows:
At around 8:00 p.m. of August 28, 2002,PO1 Talacca
accompanied the Barangay Chairman, BarangayTanods
and several members of the barangay council in
confiscating a video karera machine inside the house of
a certain Alejandro Sacdo (Sacdo). While confiscating
said machine, PO1 Talacca saw nine persons, including
Araza, sniffing shabuor engaging in a pot session inside
the house of Sacdo. He arrested and frisked them.
Recovered from the pocket of Araza was a small heatsealed transparent plastic sachet containing white
crystalline substance which PO1 Talacca suspected to

Costs against accused.


SO ORDERED.8
Araza filed a notice of appeal9 which was approved
bythe RTC. Hence, the entire records of the casewere
forwarded to the CA.10

71

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

shabuwas validly confiscated after Araza was arrested in


flagrante delicto sniffing shabuin the company of other
people. Relevant portions of his testimony are as
follows:

In his brief,11 Araza highlighted PO1 Talaccas admission


under oath that the shabuwas confiscated from his
pocket and not in plain view. He posited that the shabu is
inadmissible in evidence since it was illegally seized,
having been taken from his pocket and not as an
incident of an arrest in flagrante delicto. Araza likewise
argued that the rule on chain of custody was not properly
adhered to since there was no evidence that a physical
inventory of the shabu was conducted in the presence
ofany elected local government official and the media.
He claimed that the possibility of tampering, alteration or
substitution of the substance may have been present
since the investigating officer who marked the seized
shabuin the police station and the person who delivered
the same to the crime laboratory were not presented
during the trial.

Q Do you recall where you were on August 28, 2002 at


around 8:00 oclock in the evening?
A Yes, maam, I was with the barangay chairman of Brgy.
Langgam, San Pedro, Laguna, Police Officer Mendoza,
some members of the barangay council and members of
the barangay tanod. [W]e went to Brgy. Langgam to
conduct a confiscation of video karera in the house of
Alejandro Sacdo.
xxxx
Q When you arrived at the house ofAlejandro Sacdo,
what happened?

The CA, however, was not impressed. It ruled that Araza


was estopped from assailing the legality of his arrest for
his failure to move to quash the Information against him
prior to arraignment.It also held that he could no longer
question the chain of custody for failing to raise the
same during trial. Besides, the prosecution was able to
establish the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized
item. Thus, the CA issued its assailed Decision12 with the
following dispositive portion:

A We [went directly] to the house ofAlejandro Sacdo


[where] we found a video karera.
Q What did you do when you saw that there was a video
karera machine inside the house?
A The barangay chairman and [the] members of our
group immediately confiscated the video karera
machine.

WHEREFORE, the assailed Decisiondated 11


December 2007 of the Regional Trial Court, Fourth
Judicial Region, San Pedro, Laguna, Branch 93, in
Criminal Case No. 3829-SPL, is hereby AFFIRMED.

Q Was Alejandro Sacdo inside his house then?


A Yes, maam, he was present.

SO ORDERED.13

xxxx

Hence, this appeal where Araza seeks for his acquittal.

Q Aside from Alejandro Sacdo, who else, if any, was


inside that house?

Issues
On February 15, 2010, the parties weredirected to file
their respective supplemental briefs but both of them
opted to just adopt the brief they submitted before the
CA.

A There were all in all nine persons, including Alejandro


Sacdo.

Araza imputes error upon the RTC and CA in upholding


the validity of his warrantless arrest and in finding that
the procedure for the custody and control of prohibited
drugs was complied with.14

A They were inside the house of Alejandro Sacdo sniffing


shabu.

Q What were they doing?

Q After that, what did you do?

Our Ruling
The appeal is unmeritorious.

A I called the attention of our companions, the barangay


officials and the tanods and we immediately [entered]
the house and arrested these nine people.

The offense of illegal possession of dangerous drugs


has been established.

Q After you arrested the nine people,including Alejandro


Sacdo, what happened next?

The elements that must be established in the successful


prosecution of a dangerous drugs case are: "(1) the
accused is in possession of an item or object which is
identified to be a prohibited drug; (2) such possession is
not authorized by law; and (3) the accused freely and
consciously possessed the drug."15 "Mere possession x x
x of a prohibited drug, without legal authority, is
punishable under [RA 9165]."16

A When we arrested the nine persons, it is our standard


operating procedure to search each suspect and when I
searched Mr. Araza, I found one small heat[-]sealed
plastic sachet [on] him. Q You referred to Mr. Rommel
Araza y Sagun as the one from whom you were able to
confiscate a small heat[-]sealed plastic [sachet], if he is
in court right now, will you beable to identify him?
A Yes, maam, there he is (witness pointing to a man
seated inside the courtroom who identified himself as
Rommel Araza y Sagun)

The prosecution satisfied the foregoing elements during


trial. The arresting officer, PO1 Talacca, positively
identified Arazaas the person caught in possession of
the shabu presented in court. He stated that the

72

Q After you arrested the nine persons including


Alejandro Sacdo and herein accused Araza and after
confiscating from him the small heat[-] sealed plastic
sachet, what did you do next?

Here, Araza did not object to the alleged irregularity of


his arrest before or during his arraignment. He even
actively participated in the proceedings before the RTC.
He is, therefore, deemed to have waived any defect he
believes to have existed during his arrest and effectively
submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the RTC. In other
words, Arazais already estopped from assailing any
irregularity in his arrest after he failed to raise this issue
or to move for the quashal of the Information on this
ground before his arraignment.

A We brought them to the barangay hall of Brgy.


Langgam.
Q What did you do next?
A After we [took down their names and pertinent details]
in the blotter, all of them were brought to the police
station for investigation and proper filing of case against
them.

Circumstances when warrantless search and


subsequent seizure are valid.
As to the admissibility of the shabuseized from Araza, it
is crucial to ascertain whether the search that yielded the
alleged contraband was lawful.23 The Constitution states
that failureto secure a judicial warrant prior to the actual
search and consequent seizure would render it
unreasonable and any evidence obtained therefrom shall
be inadmissible for any purpose in any
proceeding.24 This constitutional prohibition,however,
admits of the following exceptions:

Q What did you do with the specimen you confiscated


from Araza?
A I gave it to our chief investigator, Officer Larry Cabrera,
for proper [marking] of the specimen and for them to
deliver the same to the crime laboratory for examination.
Q Where were you then when the police investigator put
the markings on the specimen?

1. Warrantless search incidental to a lawful


arrest;

A I was in front of him, maam.

2. Search of evidence in "plain view";

Q Did you see what markings were placed on the


specimen?

3. Search of a moving vehicle;

A Yes, maam, it was RSA which stands for the name of


Rommel Araza y Sagun.17 Chemistry Report No. D2028-02 confirmed that a qualitative examination
conducted on the specimen inside the plastic sachet
seized from Araza yielded positive result for
methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.18

4. Consented warrantless search;

We find the statement of PO1 Talacca tobe credible. The


narration of the incident by a police officer, "buttressed
by the presumption that they have regularly performed
their duties in the absence of convincing proof to the
contrary, must be given weight."19 His testimony, the
physical evidence and the facts stipulated upon during
trial wereconsistent with each other. Araza also failed to
adduce evidence showing thathe had legal authority to
possess the seized drugs. Thus, there is no reason to
disturb the findings of the RTC as affirmed by the CA.

7. Exigent and emergency circumstances.25

5. Customs search;
6. Stop and Frisk; and

In this case, there is sufficient evidence to prove that the


warrantless search of Araza was effected as an incident
to a lawful arrest. Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of
Court provides in part:
Sec. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. A peace
officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest
a person:

An accused cannot assail any irregularity in the manner


of his arrest after arraignment.

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


arrested has committed, is actually committing,
or is attempting to commit an offense;

Araza calls attention to the admission of PO1 Talacca


that the shabuwas confiscated from his pocket and was
not in plain view. Hetherefore posits that he was not
apprehended in flagrante delicto and the ensuing
warrantless arrest was invalid. Moreover, the sachet
allegedly seized from him isnot admissible in evidence
against him being the fruit of a poisonous tree.

(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 isserving final judgment or
temporarily confined while his case is pending,
or has escaped while being transferred from one
confinement to another.

Such an argument is unworthy of credence since


objections to a warrant of arrest or the procedure by
which the court acquired jurisdiction over the person of
the accused must be manifested prior to entering his
plea.20Otherwise, the objection is deemed
waived.21 Moreover, jurisprudence dictates that "the
illegal arrest of an accused is not sufficient cause for
setting aside a valid judgment rendered upon a sufficient
complaint after a trial free from error. It will not even
negate the validity of the conviction of the accused." 22

PO1 Talacca testified that he saw Araza and his


companions sniffing substance that seemed to be shabu
inside the premises where a video karera machine was
being confiscated by the barangay officials for whom he

73

provided security. He thus entered the room, effected


their arrest and conducted a body search on them. Upon
searching the person of Araza, PO1 Talacca recovered
from him a plastic sachet containing white crystalline
substance. Araza and the seized item were then brought
to the police station. After a laboratory examination, the
white crystalline substance insidethe sachet was found
positive for shabu.

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; (Emphasis
supplied)

Considering the foregoing, Arazawas clearly


apprehended inflagrante delictoas he was then
committing a crime (sniffing shabu) in the presence of
PO1 Talacca. Hence, his warrantless arrest is valid
pursuant to Section 5(a) of the above-quoted Rule 113 of
the Rules of Court. And having been lawfully arrested,
the warrantless search that followed was undoubtedly
incidental to a lawful arrest, which as mentioned, is an
exception to the constitutional prohibition on warrantless
search and seizure. Conversely, the shabuseized from
Araza is admissible in evidence toprove his guilt of the
offense charged.

Arazas contention that there must be compliance with a


pre-coordination report has no legal basis since nowhere
is itstated in the foregoing provision that this is an
essential procedural requisite. A pre-coordination report
is also not needed when an accused is apprehended
inflagrante delicto for obvious reason.
Further, failure by the prosecution to prove that the
police officers conducted the required physical inventory
of the seized shabudoes not immediately result in the
unlawful arrest of an accused or render inadmissible in
evidence the items seized. "What is essential is the
preservation of the integrity and the evidentiary value of
the seized items, as the same would be utilized in the
determination of the guilt orinnocence of the
accused."26 Here, the records reveal that the police
officers substantially complied with the process of
preserving the integrity of the seized shabu.

Failure to comply with Section 21, Article II of Republic


Act No. 9165 is not fatal.
Araza hinges his claim for acquittal on the failure of the
police officers to submit a pre-coordination report and
physicalinventory of the seized dangerous drug. He cites
Section 21(1), Art. II of RA 9165, which provides:

The chain of custody has not been broken.

Sec. 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/orsurrendered, for proper disposition in the following
manner:

Araza likewise contends thatthe prosecution failed to


properly establish the chain of custody of evidence, and
this adversely affected its admissibility. He argues that
the non-presentation of the investigating officer and the
person who delivered the specimen to the police crime
laboratory creates serious doubt that the alleged
shabuconfiscated from him was the same one marked,
forwarded to the crime laboratory for examination, and
later presented as evidence in court. He puts forward the
possibility that the evidence may have been tampered,
altered, and/or substituted as would affectits identity and
integrity.

(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.

Section 1(b) of Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No.


1, Series of 2002, implementing RA 9165, defines chain
of custody as "the duly recorded authorized movements
and custody of seized drugs orcontrolled chemicals or
plant sources of dangerous drugs or laboratory
equipment of each stage, from the time of
seizure/confiscation to receipt in the forensic laboratory
to safekeeping to presentation in court for destruction.
Such record of movements and custody of [the] seized
item shall include the identity and signature of the
person who held temporary custody of the seized item,
the date and time when such transfer of custody were
made in the course of safekeeping and use in court as
evidence, and the final disposition."

However, it has beenheld time and again that failure to


strictly comply with aforesaid procedure will not render
an arrest illegal or the seized items inadmissible in
evidence. Substantial compliance is sufficientas
provided under Section 21(a) of the Implementing Rules
and Regulationsof RA 9165, viz:

The chain of custody requirement ensures the


preservation of the integrity and evidentiary value of the
seized items such that doubts as to the identity of the
evidence are eliminated.27 "To be admissible, the
prosecution must show by records or testimony, the
continuous whereabouts of the exhibit at least between
the time it came into possession of the police officers
and until it was tested in the laboratory to determine its
composition up to the time it was offered in evidence." 28

(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

74

Here, the prosecution proved the chain of custody of the


seized shabuas follows: After arresting Araza for
possession of a sachet of suspected shabu, PO1
Talacca brought him and the confiscated item to the
police station. The said sachet was turned over to the
chief investigator, Cabrera, who marked it with the initials
"RSA" in front of PO1 Talacca. A request for laboratory
examination of the contents of said sachet was
delivered, together with the sachet of suspected shabu,
to the PNP Crime Laboratory in Calamba, Laguna.
Forensic Chemist P/Sr. Insp. Huelgas examined the
contents ofthe sachet with markings "RSA" and prepared
Chemistry Report No. D-2028-02, confirming that the
specimen tested positive for shabu. During the trial, this
result was submitted to the RTC as Exhibit "D" and
stipulated on by both parties.29 The marked sachet of
shabuwas also presented in evidence and identified by
PO1 Talacca.

dangerous drugs are less than five (5) grams of opium,


morphine, heroin, cocaine or cocaine hydrochloride,
marijuana resin or marijuana resin oil,
methamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu," or other
dangerous drugs such as, but not limited to MDMA or
"ecstasy," PMA, TMA, LSD, GHB, and those similarly
designed or newly introduced drugs and their
derivatives, without having any therapeutic value or if the
quantity possessed is far beyond therapeutic
requirements; or less than three hundred (300) grams of
marijuana x x x. (Emphasis supplied)
Araza was found guilty of possessing 0.06 gram of
shabu, or less than five grams of the dangerous drug,
without any legal authority. Under these circumstances,
the penalty of imprisonment imposed by the RTC and
affinned by the CA, which is twelve (12) years and one
(1) day as minimum to fifteen (15) years as maximum, is
within the range provided by RA 9165. Thus, the Court
finds the same, as well as the payment of fine
of P300,000.00 in order. WHEREFORE, the appeal is
DISMISSED. The Decision dated October 14, 2009 of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 03164 is
AFFIRMED.

Arazas contention that the investigating officer who


received the seized drug in the police station and the
person who delivered the same to the crime laboratory
should have been presented to establish an unbroken
chain of custody fails to impress. It is not necessary to
present all persons who came into contact with the
seized drug to testify in court.30 "As long as the chain of
custody of the seized drug was clearly established to
have not been broken and the prosecution did not fail to
identify properly the drugs seized, it is not indispensable
that each and every person who came into possession
of the drugs should take the witness stand." 31 The nonpresentation as witnesses of the evidence custodian and
the officer on duty is not a crucial point against the
prosecution since it has the discretion as to how to
present its case and the right tochoose whom it wishes
to present as witnesses.32

SO ORDERED.
FIRST DIVISION
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Plaintiff-Appellee,

G.R. No.
Present:

- versus -

Based on the foregoing findings, the chain of custody of


the seized substance was not broken.1wphi1 The
suspected illegal drug confiscated from Araza was the
same substance presented and identified in court. There
is therefore no reason to disturb the findings of the RTC,
as affirmed by the CA, that he is guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of illegal possession of a dangerous
drug.

NG YIK BUN, KWOK WAI CHENG, CHANG


CHAUN SHI,
CHUA SHILOU HWAN, KAN SHUN
MIN, and RAYMOND S. TAN,
Accused-Appellants.

CORONA
VELASC
LEONAR
DEL CAS
PEREZ,

Promulga

January 1
x----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

Proper Penalty
Section 11, Article II of RA 9165, provides:

DECISION

Sec. 11. Possession qf' Dangerous Drugs. - The penalty


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

VELASCO, JR., J.:


The Case
This is an appeal from the January 16, 2007 Decision of
the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No.

xxxx

00485 entitled People of the Philippines v. Ng Yik Bun,

Otherwise, if the quantity involved is less than the


foregoing quantities, the penalties shall be graduated as
follows:

Kwok Wai Cheng, Chang Chaun Shi, Chua Shilou


Hwan, Kan Shun Min and Raymond S. Tan, which
affirmed the April 1, 2004 Decision in Criminal Case No.

xxxx

Q-01-99437 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch


(3) Imprisonment of twelve (12) years and one (1) day to
twenty (20) years and a fine ranging from Three hundred
thousand (P300,000.00) pesos to Four hundred
thousand pesos (P400,000.00), if the quantities of

103 in Quezon City. The RTC found accused-appellants


guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 16,

75

Article

III

of

Republic

Act

No.

(RA)

6425

or

Carlo Magno Tabo, Capt. Ibon formed a team in

the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972.

coordination

The Facts

with

Philippine

National

Police

detachment, and, along with the operative, the team


then

An Information indicted accused-appellants of the

proceeded

to

Villa

Vicenta

Resort

in Barangay Bignay II, Sariaya.

following:
That on or about the 24th day of
August 2000, at Barangay Bignay II,
Municipality of Sariaya, Province of
Quezon, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused, conspiring and
confederating together and mutually
helping one another, did then and there
knowingly, willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously transport, deliver and
distribute, without authority of law, on
board an L-300 Mitsubishi van, bearing
Plate No. UBU 827, and have in their
possession, custody, and control,
without the corresponding license or
prescription, twenty-five (25) heatsealed
transparent
plastic
bags
containing
Methamphetamine
Hydrochloride (shabu), a regulated drug,
each containing: 2.954 grams, 2.901
grams, 2.926 grams, 2.820 grams,
2.977 grams, 2.568 grams, 2.870
grams, 2.941 grams, 2.903 grams,
2.991 grams, 2.924 grams, 2.872
grams, 2.958 grams, 2.972 grams,
2.837 grams, 2.908 grams, 2.929
grams, 2.932 grams, 2.899 grams,
2.933 grams, 2.938 grams, 2.943
grams, 2.955 grams, 2.938 grams and
2.918 grams, respectively, with a total
weight of 72.707 kilos, and one hundred
forty
seven
(147)
self-sealing
transparent plastic bags likewise
containing
Methamphetamine
Hydrochloride (shabu), also a regulated
drug, with a total weight of 291.350
kilos, or with a grand total weight of
364.057 kilos.

The members of the team were able to observe


the goings-on at the resort from a distance of around 50
meters. They spotted six Chinese-looking men loading
bags containing a white substance into a white
van. Having been noticed, Capt. Ibon identified his team
and asked accused-appellant Chua Shilou Hwan (Hwan)
what they were loading on the van. Hwan replied that it
was shabu and

pointed,

when

probed

further,

to

accused-appellant Raymond Tan as the leader. A total of


172 bags of suspected shabuwere then confiscated.
Bundles of noodles (bihon) were also found on the
premises.
A laboratory report prepared later by Police Inspector
Mary Jean Geronimo on samples of the 172 confiscated
bags showed the white substance to be shabu.
On January 10, 2001, an Amended Information for
violation of Sec. 16, Article III of RA 6425 was filed
against accused-appellants, who entered a plea of not
guilty upon re-arraignment.
Accused-appellants all maintained their innocence and
presented the following defenses:

That the above acts were committed by


a syndicate with the use of two (2) motor
vehicles, namely: L-300 Mitsubishi Van
bearing Plate No. UBU 827 and a
Nissan Sentra Exalta car without Plate
Number.

was planning to buy cheap goods at Villa Vicenta Resort

Contrary to law.[1]

relieve himself 15 meters away from the van. A group of

(1) Accused-appellant Hwan testified that he


on August 24, 2000, when he saw a van full of bihon at
the resort and inquired if it was for sale. He went to
police officers arrested him upon his return.

As summarized in the appealed CA decision, the facts


(2) Accused-appellant Tan testified that he was a

are as follows:

businessman collecting a debt in Lucena City on August


24, 2000. He was at a restaurant with his driver when

On August 24, 2000, at around 9:00 p.m., Capt. Danilo

three persons identified themselves as police officers

Ibon of Task Force Aduana received information from an

and

operative that there was an ongoing shipment of

forcibly

brought

him

inside

car. He

was

handcuffed, blindfolded, and badly beaten. He was later

contraband inBarangay Bignay II, Sariaya, Quezon

brought to a beach and was ordered to hold some bags

Province. Upon instructions from his superior, Major

76

while being photographed with five Chinese-looking men

SO ORDERED.[2]

he saw for the first time. A tricycle driver, Ricky Pineda,


corroborated his story by testifying that he saw Tan

In questioning the RTC Decision before the CA,

being forced into a white Nissan car on August 24, 2000.

accused-appellants Bun, Cheng, Shi, Min, and Tan


raised the lone issue of: whether the trial court erred in

(3) Accused-appellant Ng Yik Bun (Bun) testified

ruling that there was a valid search and arrest despite

that he arrived in the Philippines as a tourist on August

the absence of a warrant.

22, 2000. On August 24, 2000, he was at a beach with


some companions when four armed men arrested

On the other hand, accused-appellant Hwan

them. He was made to pose next to some plastic bags

sought an acquittal on the basis of the following

along with other accused-appellants, whom he did not

submissions:

personally know. He was then charged with illegal


possession of drugs at the police station. A friend of his,
accused-appellant

Kwok

Wai

Cheng

(Cheng),

The trial court erred when it held as


valid the warrantless search, seizure
and subsequent arrest of the accusedappellants despite the non-concurrence
of the requisite circumstances that
justify a warrantless arrest as held in the
case of People vs. [Cuizon].

corroborated his story.


(4) Accused-appellant Kan Shun Min (Min)
testified that he arrived in the Philippines on July 1, 2000
for business and pleasure. On August 24, 2000, he

II

checked into a beach resort. While walking there, he

The trial court violated Article III, Section


14 of the 1987 Constitution as well as
Rule 115 of the Revised Rules on
Criminal Procedure when it heard the
case at bench on June 26, 2001 at the
chemistry division of the PNP Crime
Laboratory in Camp Crame, Quezon
City without the presence of both the
herein accused-appellant and his
counsel de parte.

was suddenly accosted by four or five men who poked


guns at him. He was brought to a cottage where he saw
some unfamiliar Chinese-looking individuals. He likewise
testified that he was made to take out white packages
from a van while being photographed. His friend,
accused-appellant Chang Chaun Shi (Shi), corroborated
his story.

III

The RTC convicted accused-appellants of the


crime charged. The dispositive portion of the RTC

The trial court erred when it issued and


dictated in open hearing a verbal order
denying accuseds formal Motion to
Suppress
Illegally
Procured
Evidence upon a [ratiocination] that is
manifestly contrary to law [and]
jurisprudence
set
in
the Cuizon case, supra.

Decision reads:

ACCORDINGLY, the Court hereby


renders judgment finding the six (6)
accused namely Ng Yik Bun, Kwok Wai
Cheng, Chang Chaun Shi, Chua Shilou
Hwan, Kan Shun Min and Raymond S.
Tan (some also known by other names),
GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of
violating Section 16 of RA 6425, as
amended and each is hereby sentenced
to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION
PERPETUA and to pay a fine of Five
Million Pesos (P5,000,000.00) each.

IV
The trial court erred when with lack of
the
desired
circumspection,
it
sweepingly ruled the admission in
evidence the 731 exhibits listed in the
prosecutions 43-page formal offer of
evidence over the itemized written
objections of the defense in a terse
verbal order (bereft of reason for the
denial of the raised objections) dictated
in open hearing which reads: All the
exhibits of the prosecution are hereby
admitted. The court believes that as far
as the evidence submitted goes, these
exhibits of the prosecution consisting of
several plastic bags of shabu were not
yet shown to be the fruit of a poisonous
plant. x x x

The shabu involved in this case and


their accompanying paraphernalia are
ordered disposed of in accordance with
law, now RA 9165. The two (2) vehicles
are forfeited in favor of the government.

77

appellant Hwan waived his right to be present was never

The trial court also erred in admitting the


prosecutions photographs (Exhibit K
and M, inclusive of their sub-markings),
the photographer who took the shots not
having taken the witness stand to
declare, as required by the rules, the
circumstances
under
which
the
photographs were taken.

raised in issue before the trial court.


And third, the CA found accused-appellant
Hwans other arguments untenable. It held that the trial
court correctly admitted Exhibits K and M even if the
photographer was not presented as a witness. The CA

VI

based its ruling on Sison v. People,[5] which held that

The trial court erred when it tried and


applied the provisions of R.A. 9165, the
Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, in the
instant case even though [the] crime
charged took place on 24 August 2000.

photographs can be identified either by the photographer

VII

convicted by the trial court under RA 6425 and not RA

The trial court erred in finding


conspiracy among the accused.[3]

9165, as can be gleaned from the fallo of the RTC

or by any other competent witness who can testify to its


exactness and accuracy. It agreed with the Solicitor
General that accused-appellants were correctly tried and

Decision. The CA likewise dismissed the argument that


conspiracy was not proved by the prosecution, noting

The appellate court found accused-appellants

that the evidence presented established that accused-

contentions unmeritorious as it consequently affirmed in

appellants were performing their respective task[s] with

toto the RTC Decision.

the objective of loading the plastic bags of shabu into an


L-300 van.[6]

The CA ruled that, contrary to accusedThe CA disposed of the appeal as follows:

appellants assertion, they were first arrested before the


seizure of the contraband was made. The CA held that
accused-appellants

were

caught in

WHEREFORE, the Decision dated April 1, 2004


of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon
City, Branch 103, in Criminal Case No.
Q-01-99437, is hereby AFFIRMED in
toto.

flagrante

delicto loading transparent plastic bags containing white


crystalline substance into an L-300 van which, thus,
justified

their

arrests

and

the

seizure

of

the

SO ORDERED.[7]

contraband. The CA agreed with the prosecution that the


urgency of the situation meant that the buy-bust team
had no time to secure a search warrant. Moreover, the

On February 18, 2008, the Court, acting on the appeal of

CA also found that the warrantless seizure of the

accused-appellants, required the parties to submit

transparent plastic bags can likewise be sustained under

supplemental briefs if they so desired.

the plain view doctrine.


On March 27, 2008, accused-appellants Bun, Cheng,
Shi, Min, and Tan filed their Supplemental Brief on the

The CA debunked accused-appellant Hwans

sole issue that:

arguments in seriatim. First, the CA ruled that People v.


Cuizon[4] was not applicable to the instant case, as,

THERE WAS NO VALID SEARCH AND


ARREST DUE TO ABSENCE OF A
WARRANT

unlike in Cuizon, the apprehending officers immediately


acted on the information they had received about an
ongoing shipment of drugs.

On June 4, 2008, accused-appellant Hwan filed


Second, the CA also noted that accused-

his Supplemental Brief, raising the following errors,

appellant Hwan effectively waived his right to be present

allegedly committed by the trial court:

during the inspection of exhibits and hearing, for the


I

manifestation made by the prosecution that accused-

THE
TRIAL
COURT
VIOLATED
ARTICLE III, SECTION 14 OF THE

78

1987 CONSTITUTION AS WELL AS


RULE 115 OF THE REVISED RULES
ON CRIMINAL PROCEDURE WHEN IT
CONDUCTED A HEARING ON JUNE
26, 2001 AT THE CHEMISTRY
DIVISION OF THE PNP CRIME
LABORATORY IN CAMP CRAME,
QUEZON
CITY
WITHOUT
THE
PRESENCE OF BOTH THE HEREIN
ACCUSED-APPELLANT
AND
HIS
COUNSEL
IN
SUCH
VITAL
[PROCEEDINGS].

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.

A settled exception to the right guaranteed in the


aforequoted provision is that of an arrest made during
the commission of a crime, which does not require a

II

warrant.Such

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED WHEN IT


HELD AS VALID THE WARRANTLESS
SEARCH,
SEIZURE
AND
SUBSEQUENT ARREST OF THE
HEREIN APPELLANT DESPITE THE
NON-CONCURRENCE
OF
THE
REQUISITE CIRCUMSTANCES THAT
JUSTIFY A WARRANTLESS ARREST.

warrantless

arrest

is

considered

reasonable and valid under Rule 113, Sec. 5(a) of the


Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, which states:
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;
(Emphasis
supplied.)

Essentially, accused-appellants claim that no valid in


flagrante delicto arrest was made prior to the seizure
and that the police officers placed accused-appellants
under arrest even when there was no evidence that an
offense was being committed. Since there was no

The

warrant of arrest, they argue that the search sans a

foregoing

proviso

refers

to

arrest in

[8]

flagrante delicto. In the instant case, contrary to

search warrant subsequently made on them was

accused-appellants contention, there was indeed a valid

illegal. They contend that a seizure of any evidence as a

warrantless arrest in flagrante delicto. Consider the

result of an illegal search is inadmissible in any

circumstances immediately prior to and surrounding the

proceeding for any purpose.

arrest of accused-appellants: (1) the police officers


received information from an operative about an ongoing

Accused-appellant Hwan additionally claims that he was

shipment of contraband; (2) the police officers, with the

deliberately excluded when the trial court conducted a

operative,

hearing on June 26, 2001 to identify 172 bags

proceeded

in Barangay Bignay

of shabu for trial purposes. He asserts that no formal

II,

to

Villa

Sariaya,

Vicenta
Quezon;

Resort
(3)

they

observed the goings-on at the resort from a distance of

notice of the hearing was sent to him or his counsel, to

around 50 meters; and (4) they spotted the six accused-

his prejudice.

appellants loading transparent bags containing a white


substance into a white L-300 van. The following
exchange between Capt. Ibon and the prosecutor sheds
light on the participation of all six accused-appellants:

The Courts Ruling

Q: Upon arriving at Villa Vicenta Resort


in Brgy. Bignay II, [in] what specific area
[did] you position yourselves?

On the issue of warrantless arrest, it is apropos to


mention what the Bill of Rights under the present

A: Initially we [were] about three hundred


meters away from Villa Vicenta Resort,
then we walked [stealthily] so as not to
[be] [spotted] until we were about fifty
meters sir.

Constitution provides in part:


SEC. 2. The right of the people
to be secure in their persons, houses,
papers,
and
effects
against
unreasonable searches and seizures of
whatever nature and for any purpose
shall be inviolable, and no search
warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue
except upon probable cause to be

Q: So you [positioned] yourself about fifty


meters away from the point of Villa
Vicenta Resort?

79

A: From the actual location we saw about


six personnel walking together loading
contraband.

Q: What container [were they] loading?


A: Actually there were several checkered
bags and other plastic [bags] sir.

Q: You said you [were] about fifty meters


away from these six persons who were
loading contraband, is that what you
mean?

Q: How [were] they loading these bags?


A: [Manually] your honor.

A: Yes sir.
Q: Will you please describe how they
[were] loading it, Mr. Witness?

Q: In that place where you [positioned]


yourself, could you tell us, what was the
lighting condition in the place where you
positioned yourselves?
A: It was totally dark in our place sir.

A: Actually the plastic bags [some were]


repacked [into] checkered [bags] while
others [were] loading inside the
checkered bag sir.

Q: How about the position of the six


persons who were loading contraband?

Q: Did they put that on their shoulder or


what?

A: They were well-lighted sir.

A: Holding and holding [sic] sir.

Q: Why do you say that they are welllighted?

Q: Nobody carrying [it] on their back?


A: Nobody sir.

A: There were
lamps sir.

several

[fluorescent]
xxxx

Q: Where?

Q: You said you saw these six persons,


will you please look around this
courtroom and tell us if these six persons
that you are referring to are present?

A: One search light placed near where


they were loading the shipment sir.
Q: How about the other?
A: About two fluorescent lamps at the
house near the six persons your honor.

COURT: Considering that there are many


persons inside this courtroom, will you
please stand up and please [tap] the
shoulder of these six persons?

COURT: Are these portable lamps:

xxxx

A: Fixed lamps your honor.

INTERPRETER: Witness tapped the


[shoulders] of six male persons inside
the courtroom.

Q: Where else?
A: Another at the right corner[.] There
was also somewhat a multi-purpose
house and it [was] well-lighted your
honor.

xxxx
FISCAL: May we manifest your honor
that when these six persons stood up
when their names [were] called on the
basis [of] what [was] written [on] the
information [were] once tapped on their
shoulder by this witness.

Q: This is a resort and that multi-purpose


house that you are referring to are the
cottages of the resort?

The last question I have [is] how


long you stayed in this position watching
these six persons loading those
[products] in the L-300 van?

A: Yes your honor.


FISCAL: You said you saw six persons
who were loading goods[.] In what
vehicle [were they] transferring those
things?

A: Ten to fifteen minutes sir.


Q: Within that period could you tell us
what transpired?

A: Into [an] L-300 van sir.


Q: What is the color of the van?
A: White sir.

A: I called Major Tabo to inform [him of]


what I saw, I called Major Tabo through
the hand-held radio sir.

Q: What did you see that these six


persons [were] loading?

Q: What was the reply of major Tabo with


respect to your information?

A: We saw [them] holding white plastic


with white substance your honor.

A: He directed me to get closer to these


six persons and find out if really the

80

contraband is shabu that was first


reported sir.

COURT: Please tap [his] shoulder.


WITNESS: This man sir.

Q: So did you in fact go closer?


COURT: Ikaw ba Raymond Tan?
A: Yes sir.
INTERPRETER: A
[nodded] his head.

Q: How [close] were you [to] the six


persons at the time?

man

stood

and

xxxx
FISCAL: Now after they [froze], what did
you do?

A: When we were closing [in] somebody


noticed us and they were surprised, I
immediately shouted Freeze, dont move,
we are Filipino soldiers, we further
identified [ourselves] sir.

A: I inspected the contraband and I found


these bags and I immediately called
Major Tabo and informed [him of] the
matter sir.

Q: What was the reaction of the six


persons when you shouted those words?
A: They [froze] sir.

Q: How many bags were you able to


confiscate in the scene?

xxxx

A: All in all 172 your honor.

Q: When you went closer and they


[froze], what happened?

Q: That 172, one of them is the bag in


front of you [which] you identified earlier?

A: I asked them who among them are


English-speaking?

A: Yes sir.
Q: When you saw that bag could you tell
us what particular [contents] attracted
you upon seeing these bags?

Q: What was the reply given to you?


A: Somebody replied tagalog lang.

A: It was marked by the members


(interrupted).

Q: Who was that person who replied


tagalog lang?

Q: No what attracted you?


A: Chua Shilou Hwan sir.
A: Something crystalline white sir.
Q: Will you please [identify] for us who
answered that in [T]agalog?
COURT: Please [tap] his shoulder.

Q: Are you referring to all the bags?


A: All the bags sir.[9] x x x

A: This man sir.


Evidently, the arresting police officers had

COURT: Witness tapped the shoulder of


a man who identified himself as Chua
Shilou Hwan.

probable cause to suspect that accused-appellants were

CHUA SHILOU HWAN: Opo.

Hwan, upon being accosted, readily mentioned that they

FISCAL: After answering you


tagalog lang, what happened?

loading and transporting contraband, more so when


were

[with]

loading shabu and

pointed

to

Tan

as

their

leader. Thus, the arrest of accused-appellantswho were


caught in flagrante delicto of possessing, and in the act

A: I further asked them Ano ang dala


ninyo?

of loading into a white L-300 van, shabu, a prohibited


drug under RA 6425, as amendedis valid.

Q: What was the reply?


A: Chua Shilou Hwan said shabu.

In People v. Alunday, we held that when a police

Q: So [what] did you do next?

officer sees the offense, although at a distance, or hears

A: I asked them who is their leader, sir.

the disturbances created thereby, and proceeds at once


to the scene, he may effect an arrest without a warrant

Q: What was the reply?

on the basis of Sec. 5(a), Rule 113 of the Rules of Court,

A: He told me it was Raymond Tan, sir.

as the offense is deemed committed in his presence or

Q: Is he inside this courtroom now?

within his view.[10] In the instant case, it can plausibly be

A: Yes sir.

argued that accused-appellants were committing the


offense of possessing shabu and were in the act of

81

loading them in a white van when the police officers

regularity in the performance of official duties and affirm

arrested them. As aptly noted by the appellate court, the

the trial courts finding that the police officers testimonies

crime was committed in the presence of the police

are deserving of full faith and credit. Appellate courts

officers with the contraband, inside transparent plastic

generally will not disturb the trial courts assessment of a

containers, in plain view and duly observed by the

witness credibility unless certain material facts and

arresting officers. And to write finis to the issue of any

circumstances have been overlooked or arbitrarily

irregularity in their warrantless arrest, the Court notes, as

disregarded.[14] We find no reason to deviate from this

it has consistently held, that accused-appellants are

rule in the instant case.

deemed to have waived their objections to their arrest for


not raising the issue before entering their plea.[11]

On the alleged lack of notice of hearing, it is now too late

Moreover, present in the instant case are all the

for accused-appellant Hwan to claim a violation of his

elements of illegal possession of drugs: (1) the accused

right to examine the witnesses against him. The records

is in possession of an item or object which is identified to

show the following exchange on June 26, 2001:

be a prohibited drug; (2) such possession is not


authorized by law; and (3) the accused freely and
consciously

possesses

the

said

FISCAL LUGTO:
I would like to manifes[t] that Atty.
Agoot, counsel of accused Chua
Shilou Hwan, waived his right to be
present for todays trial for purposes
of identification of the alleged shabu.

drug. [12] Accused-

appellants were positively identified in court as the


individuals

caught

loading

and

possessing

illegal

drugs. They were found to be in possession of prohibited


drugs without proof that they were duly authorized by

ATTY SAVELLANO:
[Are] we made to understand that this
hearing is for identification of shabu
only?

law to possess them. Having been caught in flagrante


delicto, there is, therefore, a prima facie evidence
of animus possidendi on the part of accused-appellants.
[13]

There is, thus, no merit to the argument of the defense

FISCAL LUGTO:
Yes despite the testimony of the
Forensic
Chemist,
this
is
for
continuation with the direct testimony for
purposes of identification which was
confiscated or seized by the joint
operation of the Military and the PNP at
Sariaya, Quezon.

that a warrant was needed to arrest accused-appellants.


Accused-appellants were not able to show that
there was any truth to their allegation of a frame-up in
rebutting

the

testimonies

of

the

prosecution

witnesses. They relied on mere denials, in contrast with

For the record, this [is] for the


continuation of the direct testimony of
Forensic Chemist Mary Jean Geronimo.

the testimony of Capt. Ibon, who testified that he and his


team saw accused-appellants loading plastic bags with a

[15]

white crystalline substance into an L-300 van at the Villa


Vicenta Resort. Accused-appellants, except for Tan,

As the records confirm, accused-appellant Hwan and his

claimed that they were ordered by the police officers to

counsel were not present when the forensic chemist

act like they were loading bags onto the van. Accused-

testified. The prosecution made a manifestation to the

appellant Tan told a different tale and claims he was

effect that accused-appellant Hwan waived his right to

arrested inside a restaurant. But as the trial court found,

be present at that hearing. Yet Hwan did not question

the persons who could have corroborated their version

this before the trial court. No evidence of deliberate

of events were not presented in court. The only witness

exclusion was shown. If no notice of hearing were made

presented by Tan, a tricycle driver whose testimony

upon him and his counsel, they should have brought this

corroborated Tans alone, was not found by the trial court

in issue at the trial, not at the late stage on appeal.

to be credible.

All told, we hold that the findings of both the RTC and

As no ill motive can be imputed to the

the CA must be affirmed. The trial courts determination

prosecutions witnesses, we uphold the presumption of

as to the credibility of witnesses and its findings of fact

82

Anti-Illegal Drugs-Special Operation Unit (SAID-SOU) in


Caloocan City, alighted from his motorcycle and
approached the appellant whom he recognized as
someone he had previously arrested for illegal drug
possession.4

should be accorded great weight and respect more so


when affirmed by the appellate court. To reiterate, a look
at the records shows no facts of substance and value
that have been overlooked, which, if considered, might

Upon seeing PO3 de Leon, appellant tried to escape but


was quickly apprehended with the help of a tricycle
driver. Despite appellants attempts to resist arrest, PO3
de Leon was able to board appellant onto his motorcycle
and confiscate the plastic sachet of shabu in his
possession. Thereafter, PO3 de Leon brought appellant
to the 9th Avenue Police Station to fix his handcuffs, and
then they proceeded to the SAID-SOU office where PO3
de Leon marked the seized plastic sachet with "RZL/NV
12-25-06," representing his and appellants initials and
the date of the arrest.5

affect the outcome of the instant appeal. Deference to


the trial courts findings must be made as it was in the
position to easily detect whether a witness is telling the
truth or not.[16]
Penalty Imposed
Accused-appellants were each sentenced by the lower
court to reclusion perpetua and to pay a fine of PhP
5,000,000. This is within the range provided by RA 6425,
as

amended.[17] We,

therefore,

affirm

the

penalty

Subsequently, PO3 de Leon turned over the marked


evidence as well as the person of appellant to the
investigator, PO2 Randulfo Hipolito (PO2 Hipolito) who,
in turn, executed an acknowledgment receipt6 and
prepared a letter request7 for the laboratory examination
of the seized substance. PO2 Hipolito personally
delivered the request and the confiscated item to the
Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory,
which were received by Police Senior Inspector Albert
Arturo (PSI Arturo), the forensic chemist.8

imposed on accused-appellants.
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED. The CA
Decision in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00485, finding
accused-appellants Ng Yik Bun, Kwok Wai Cheng,
Chang Chaun Shi, Chua Shilou Hwan, Kan Shun Min,
and Raymond S. Tan guilty beyond reasonable doubt of

Upon qualitative examination, the plastic sachet, which


contained 0.03 gram of white crystalline substance,
tested positive for methylamphetamine hydrochloride, a
dangerous drug.9

violating Sec. 16, Art. III of RA 6425, as amended,


is AFFIRMED IN TOTO.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 201363

Consequently, appellant was charged with violation of


Section 11, Article II of RA 9165 for illegal possession of
dangerous drugs in an Information10 which reads:

March 18, 2013

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
NAZARENO VILLAREAL y LUALHATI, AccusedAppellant.

That on or about the 25th day of December, 2006 in


Caloocan City, Metro Manila and within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
without being authorized by law, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his
possession, custody and control,
METHYLAMPHETAMINE HYDROCHLORIDE (Shabu)
weighing 0.03 gram which, when subjected to chemistry
examination gave positive result of
METHYLAMPHETAMIME HYDROCHLORIDE, a
dangerous drug.

DECISION
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
This is an appeal from the May 25, 2011 Decision1 of the
Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 31320 which
affirmed in toto the December 11, 2007 Decision2
of the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City, Branch 123
(RTC), convicting appellant Nazareno Villareal y Lualhati
(appellant) of violation of Section 11, Article II of
Republic Act No. 91653 (RA 9165) and sentencing him to
suffer the penalty of imprisonment for twelve (12) years
and one (1) day to fourteen (14) years and eight (8)
months and to pay a fine of P300,000.00.

CONTRARY TO LAW.
When arraigned, appellant, assisted by counsel de
oficio, entered a plea of not guilty to the offense
charged.11
In his defense, appellant denied PO3 de Leons
allegations and instead claimed that on the date and
time of the incident, he was walking alone along
Avenida, Rizal headed towards 5th

The Factual Antecedents


On December 25, 2006 at around 11:30 in the morning,
as PO3 Renato de Leon (PO3 de Leon) was driving his
motorcycle on his way home along 5th Avenue, he saw
appellant from a distance of about 8 to 10 meters,
holding and scrutinizing in his hand a plastic sachet of
shabu. Thus, PO3 de Leon, a member of the Station

Avenue when someone who was riding a motorcycle


called him from behind. Appellant approached the
person, who turned out to be PO3 de Leon, who then
told him not to run, frisked him, and took his wallet which
containedP1,000.00.12

83

Appellant was brought to the 9th Avenue police station


where he was detained and mauled by eight other
detainees under the orders of PO3 de Leon.
Subsequently, he was brought to the Sangandaan
Headquarters where two other police officers, whose
names he recalled were "Michelle" and "Hipolito," took
him to the headquarters firing range. There, "Michelle"
and "Hipolito" forced him to answer questions about a
stolen cellphone, firing a gun right beside his ear each
time he failed to answer and eventually mauling him
when he continued to deny knowledge about the
cellphone.13 Thus, appellant sustained head injuries for
which he was brought to the Diosdado Macapagal
Hospital for proper treatment.14

Citing jurisprudence, the appellate court likewise ruled


that the prosecution had adequately shown the
continuous and unbroken chain of custody of the seized
item, from the time it was confiscated from appellant by
PO3 de Leon, marked at the police station, turned over
to PO2 Hipolito and delivered to the crime laboratory,
where it was received by PSI Arturo, the forensic
chemist, up to the time it was presented in court for
proper identification.
The Issue
The sole issue advanced before the Court for resolution
is whether the CA erred in affirming in toto the RTCs
Decision convicting appellant of the offense charged.

The following day, he underwent inquest proceedings


before one Fiscal Guiyab, who informed him that he was
being charged with resisting arrest and "Section
11."15 The first charge was eventually dismissed.

The Ruling of the Court


The appeal is meritorious.

The RTC Ruling

Section 5, Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal


Procedure lays down the basic rules on lawful
warrantless arrests, either by a peace officer or a private
person, as follows:

After trial on the merits, the RTC convicted appellant as


charged upon a finding that all the elements of the crime
of illegal possession of dangerous drugs have been
established, to wit: (1) the appellant is in possession of
an item or object which is identified to be a prohibited
drug; (2) that such possession is not authorized by law;
and (3) that the accused freely and consciously
possesses said drug. Finding no ill motive on the part of
PO3 de Leon to testify falsely against appellant, coupled
with the fact that the former had previously arrested the
latter for illegal possession of drugs under Republic Act
No. 642516 (RA 6425), the RTC gave full faith and credit
to PO3 de Leons testimony. Moreover, the RTC found
the plain view doctrine to be applicable, as the
confiscated item was in plain view of PO3 de Leon at the
place and time of the arrest.

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

On the other hand, the RTC gave scant consideration to


the defenses of denial and frame-up proffered by the
appellant, being uncorroborated, and in the light of the
positive assertions of PO3 de Leon. It refused to give
credence to appellants claim that PO3 de Leon robbed
him of his money, since he failed to bring the incident to
the attention of PO3 de Leons superiors or to institute
any action against the latter.

(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.
xxx

Consequently, the RTC sentenced appellant to suffer the


penalty of imprisonment of twelve (12) years and one (1)
day to fourteen (14) years and eight (8) months and to
pay a fine of P300,000.00.

For the warrantless arrest under paragraph (a) of


Section 5 to operate, two elements must concur: (1) the
person to be arrested must execute an overt act
indicating that he has just committed, is actually
committing, or is attempting to commit a crime; and (2)
such overt act is done in the presence or within the view
of the arresting officer.19 On the other hand, paragraph
(b) of Section 5 requires for its application that at the
time of the arrest, an offense had in fact just been
committed and the arresting officer had personal
knowledge of facts indicating that the appellant had
committed it.20

The CA Ruling
In its assailed Decision, the CA sustained appellants
conviction, finding "a clear case of in flagrante delicto
warrantless arrest"17 as provided under Section 5, Rule
113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. The CA
held that appellant "exhibited an overt act or strange
conduct that would reasonably arouse
suspicion,"18aggravated by the existence of his past
criminal citations and his attempt to flee when PO3 de
Leon approached him.

In both instances, the officers personal knowledge of the


fact of the commission of an offense is absolutely
required. Under paragraph (a), the officer himself
witnesses the crime while under paragraph (b), he
knows for a fact that a crime has just been committed.

84

In sustaining appellants conviction in this case, the


appellate court ratiocinated that this was a clear case of
an "in flagrante delicto warrantless arrest" under
paragraphs (a) and (b) of Section 5, Rule 113 of the
Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, as above-quoted.

acts per se of walking along the street and examining


something in ones hands cannot in any way be
considered criminal acts. In fact, even if appellant had
been exhibiting unusual or strange acts, or at the very
least appeared suspicious, the same would not have
been sufficient in order for PO3 de Leon to effect a lawful
warrantless arrest under paragraph (a) of Section 5,
Rule 113.

The Court disagrees.


A punctilious assessment of the factual backdrop of this
case shows that there could have been no lawful
warrantless arrest. A portion of PO3 de Leons testimony
on direct examination in court is revelatory:

Neither has it been established that the rigorous


conditions set forth in paragraph (b) of Section 5, Rule
113 have been complied with, i.e., that an offense had in
fact just been committed and the arresting officer had
personal knowledge of facts indicating that the appellant
had committed it.

FISCAL LARIEGO: While you were there at 5th


Avenue, was there anything unusual that transpired?

The factual circumstances of the case failed to show that


PO3 de Leon had personal knowledge that a crime had
been indisputably committed by the appellant. It is not
enough that PO3 de Leon had reasonable ground to
believe that appellant had just committed a crime; a
crime must in fact have been committed first, which does
not obtain in this case.

PO3 DE LEON: Yes Maam.


Q: What was this incident?
A: While I was on board my motorcycle on my home, I
saw a man looking at the shabu in his hand, Maam.

Without the overt act that would pin liability against


appellant, it is therefore clear that PO3 de Leon was
merely impelled to apprehend appellant on account of
the latters previous charge22 for the same offense. The
CA stressed this point when it said:

Q: And exactly what time was this?


A: Around 11:30 in the morning, Maam.
Q: How far were you from this person that you said was
verifying something in his hand?

It is common for drugs, being illegal in nature, to be


concealed from view.1wphi1 PO3 Renato de Leon saw
appellant holding and scrutinizing a piece of plastic
wrapper containing a white powderly substance. PO3
Renato de Leon was quite familiar with appellant, having
arrested him twice before for the same illegal possession
of drug. It was not just a hollow suspicion. The third time
around, PO3 de Leon had reasonably assumed that the
piece of plastic wrapper appellant was holding and
scrutinizing also contained shabu as he had personal
knowledge of facts regarding appellants person and
past criminal record. He would have been irresponsible
to just wait and see and give appellant a chance to
scamper away. For his part, appellant being, in fact, in
possession of illegal drug, sensing trouble from an
equally familiar face of authority, ran away. Luckily,
however, PO3 de Leon caught up with him through the
aid of a tricycle driver. Appellants act of running away,
indeed, validated PO3 de Leons reasonable suspicion
that appellant was actually in possession of illegal drug.
x x x23

A: Eight to ten meters, Maam.


Q: What exactly did you see he was verifying? A: The
shabu that he was holding, Maam.
Q: After seeing what the man was doing, what did you
do next?
A: I alighted from my motorcycle and approached him,
Maam.
Q: In the first place why do you say that what he was
examining and holding in his hand was a shabu?
A: Because of the numerous arrests that I have done,
they were all shabu, Maam.21 (Underscoring supplied)
On the basis of the foregoing testimony, the Court finds it
inconceivable how PO3 de Leon, even with his
presumably perfect vision, would be able to identify with
reasonable accuracy, from a distance of about 8 to 10
meters and while simultaneously driving a motorcycle, a
negligible and minuscule amount of powdery substance
(0.03 gram) inside the plastic sachet allegedly held by
appellant. That he had previously effected numerous
arrests, all involving shabu, is insufficient to create a
conclusion that what he purportedly saw in appellants
hands was indeed shabu.

However, a previous arrest or existing criminal record,


even for the same offense, will not suffice to satisfy the
exacting requirements provided under Section 5, Rule
113 in order to justify a lawful warrantless arrest.
"Personal knowledge" of the arresting officer that a crime
had in fact just been committed is required. To interpret
"personal knowledge" as referring to a persons
reputation or past criminal citations would create a
dangerous precedent and unnecessarily stretch the
authority and power of police officers to effect
warrantless arrests based solely on knowledge of a
persons previous criminal infractions, rendering
nugatory the rigorous requisites laid out under Section 5.

Absent any other circumstance upon which to anchor a


lawful arrest, no other overt act could be properly
attributed to appellant as to rouse suspicion in the mind
of PO3 de Leon that he (appellant) had just committed,
was committing, or was about to commit a crime, for the

85

It was therefore error on the part of the CA to rule on the


validity of appellants arrest based on "personal
knowledge of facts regarding appellants person and
past criminal record," as this is unquestionably not what
"personal knowledge" under the law contemplates,
which must be strictly construed.24

corpus delicti of the crime charged, appellant must be


acquitted and exonerated from all criminal liability.
WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 31320 is REVERSED and
SET ASIDE. Appellant Nazareno Villareal y Lualhati is
ACQUITTED on reasonable doubt of the offense
charged and ordered immediately released from
detention, unless his continued confinement is warranted
by some other cause or ground.

Furthermore, appellants act of darting away when PO3


de Leon approached him should not be construed
against him. Flight per se is not synonymous with guilt
and must not always be attributed to ones
consciousness of guilt.25 It is not a reliable indicator of
guilt without other circumstances,26 for even in high
crime areas there are many innocent reasons for flight,
including fear of retribution for speaking to officers,
unwillingness to appear as witnesses, and fear of being
wrongfully apprehended as a guilty party.27 Thus,
appellants attempt to run away from PO3 de Leon is
susceptible of various explanations; it could easily have
meant guilt just as it could likewise signify innocence.

SO ORDERED.
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 205926, July 22, 2015
ALVIN COMERCIANTE Y
GONZALES, Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

In fine, appellants acts of walking along the street and


holding something in his hands, even if they appeared to
be dubious, coupled with his previous criminal charge for
the same offense, are not by themselves sufficient to
incite suspicion of criminal activity or to create probable
cause enough to justify a warrantless arrest under
Section 5 above-quoted. "Probable cause" has been
understood to mean a reasonable ground of suspicion
supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in
themselves to warrant a cautious man's belief that the
person accused is guilty of the offense with which he is
charged.28 Specifically with respect to arrests, it is such
facts and circumstances which would lead a reasonably
discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has
been committed by the person sought to be
arrested,29 which clearly do not obtain in appellants
case.

DECISION
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari1 are the
Decision2 dated October 20, 2011 and the
Resolution3 dated February 19, 2013 of the Court of
Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 32813, which
affirmed in toto the Judgment4 dated July 28, 2009 of the
Regional Trial Court of Mandaluyong City, Branch 213
(RTC) in Crim. Case No. MC-03-7242-D convicting
petitioner Alvin Comerciante y Gonzales (Comerciante)
of the crime of illegal Possession of Dangerous Drugs
defined and penalized under Section 11, Article II of
Republic Act No. (RA) 9165,5 otherwise known as the
Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The Facts

Thus, while it is true that the legality of an arrest


depends upon the reasonable discretion of the officer or
functionary to whom the law at the moment leaves the
decision to characterize the nature of the act or deed of
the person for the urgent purpose of suspending his
liberty,30 it cannot be arbitrarily or capriciously exercised
without unduly compromising a citizens constitutionallyguaranteed right to liberty. As the Court succinctly
explained in the case of People v. Tudtud:31

On July 31, 2003, an Information was filed before the


RTC charging Comerciante ofviolation of Section 11,
Article II of RA 9165, to wit:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
That on or about the 30th day of July 2003, in the City of
Mandaluyong, Philippines, a place within the jurisdiction
of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, not
having been lawfully authorized to possess any
dangerous drugs, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously and knowingly have in his possession,
custody and control Two (2) heat-sealed transparent
plastic sachet (sic) each containing 0.15 gram (sic) and
0.28 gram (sic) of white crystalline substance with a total
of 0.43 grams which was found positive to the test for
Methamphetamine Hydrochloride commonly known as
"shabu", a dangerous drug.

The right of a person to be secure against any


unreasonable seizure of his body and any deprivation of
his liberty is a most basic and fundamental one. The
statute or rule which allows exceptions to the
requirement of warrants of arrest is strictly construed.
Any exception must clearly fall within the situations when
securing a warrant would be absurd or is manifestly
unnecessary as provided by the Rule. We cannot
liberally construe the rule on arrests without warrant or
extend its application beyond the cases specifically
provided by law. To do so would infringe upon personal
liberty and set back a basic right so often violated and so
deserving of full protection.

CONTRARY TO LAW.6
According to the prosecution, at around 10 o'clock in the
evening of July 30, 2003, Agent Eduardo Radan (Agent
Radan) of the NARCOTICS group and PO3 Bienvy
Calag II (PO3 Calag) were aboard a motorcycle,
patrolling the area while on their way to visit a friend at
Private Road, Barangay Hulo, Mandaluyong City.
Cruising at a speed of 30 kilometers per hour along
Private Road, they spotted, at a distance of about 10
meters, two (2) men - later identified as Comerciante
and a certain Erick Dasilla7 (Dasilla) - standing and
showing "improper and unpleasant movements," with

Consequently, there being no lawful warrantless arrest,


the shabu purportedly seized from appellant is rendered
inadmissible in evidence for being the proverbial fruit of
the poisonous tree. As the confiscated shabu is the very

86

Resolution17dated February 19, 2013. Hence, this


petition.18redarclaw

one of them handing plastic sachets to the other.


Thinking that the sachets may contain shabu, they
immediately stopped and approached Comerciante and
Dasilla. At a distance of around five (5) meters, PO3
Calag introduced himself as a police officer, arrested
Comerciante and Dasilla, and confiscated two (2) plastic
sachets containing white crystalline substance from
them. A laboratory examination later confirmed that said
sachets contained methamphetamine hydrochloride
or shabu.8redarclaw

The Issue Before the Court


The core Issue for the Court's resolution is whether or
not the CA correctly affirmed Comerciante's conviction
for violation of Section 11, Article II of RA 9165.
In his petition, Comerciante essentially contends that
PO3 Carag did not effect a valid warrantless arrest on
him. Consequently, the evidence gathered as a result of
such illegal warrantless arrest, i.e., the plastic sachets
containing shabu should be rendered inadmissible,
necessarily resulting in his acquittal.19redarclaw

After the prosecution rested its case, Dasilla filed a


demurrer to evidence, which was granted by the RTC,
thus his acquittal. However, due to Comerciante's failure
to file his own demurrer to evidence, the RTC
considered his right to do so waived and ordered him to
present his evidence.9redarclaw

On the other hand, the Office of the Solicitor General, on


behalf of respondent People of the Philippines,
maintains that Comerciante's warrantless arrest was
validly made pursuant to the "stop and frisk" rule,
especially considering that he was caught in flagrante
delicto in possession of illegal drugs.20redarclaw

In his defense, Comerciante averred that PO3 Calag


was looking for a certain "Barok", who was a notorious
drug pusher in the area, when suddenly, he and Dasilla,
who were just standing in front of a jeepney along
Private Road, were arrested and taken to a police
station. There, the police officers claimed to have
confiscated illegal drugs from them and were asked
money in exchange for their release. When they failed to
accede to the demand, they were brought to another
police station to undergo inquest proceedings, and
thereafter, were charged with illegal possession of
dangerous drugs.10redarclaw

The Court's Ruling


The petition is meritorious.
Section 2, Article III21 of the Constitution mandates that a
search and seizure must be carried out through or on the
strength of a judicial warrant predicated upon the
existence of probable cause; in the absence of such
warrant, such search and seizure becomes, as a general
rule, "unreasonable" within the meaning of said
constitutional provision. To protect people from
unreasonable searches and seizures, Section 3 (2),
Article III22 of the Constitution provides an exclusionary
rule which instructs that evidence obtained and
confiscated on the occasion of such unreasonable
searches and seizures are deemed tainted and should
be excluded for being the proverbial fruit of a poisonous
tree. In other words, evidence obtained from
unreasonable searches and seizures shall be
inadmissible in evidence for any purpose in any
proceeding.23redarclaw

The RTC Ruling


In a Judgment11 dated July 28, 2009, the RTC found
Comerciante guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation
of Section 11, Article II of RA 9165, and accordingly,
sentenced him to suffer the penalty of imprisonment for
twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years,
and ordered him to pay a fine in the amount of
P300,000.00.12redarclaw
The RTC found that PO3 Calag conducted a valid
warrantless arrest on Comerciante, which yielded two (2)
plastic sachets containing shabu. In this relation, the
RTC opined that there was probable cause to justify the
warrantless arrest, considering that PO3 Calag saw, in
plain view, that Comerciante was carrying the said
sachets when he decided to approach and apprehend
the latter. Further, the RTC found that absent any proof
of intent that PO3 Calag was impelled by any malicious
motive, he must be presumed to have properly
performed his duty when he arrested
Comerciante.13redarclaw

The exclusionary rule is not, however, an absolute and


rigid proscription. One of the recognized exceptions
established by jurisprudence is a search incident to a
lawful arrest.24 In this instance, the law requires that
there first be a lawful arrest before a search can be
made the process cannot be reversed.25 Section 5, Rule
113 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure lays
down the rules on lawful warrantless arrests, as
follows:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
SEC. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. - A peace
officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest
a person:LawlibraryofCRAlaw

Aggrieved, Comerciante appealed to the CA.


The CA Ruling
In a Decision14 dated October 20, 2011 the CA affirmed
Comerciante's conviction. It held that PO3 Calag had
probable cause to effect the warrantless arrest of
Comerciante, given that the latter was committing a
crime in flagrante delicto; and that he personally saw the
latter exchanging plastic sachets with Dasilla. According
to the CA, this was enough to draw a reasonable
suspicion that those sachets might be shabu, and thus,
PO3 Calag had every reason to inquire on the matter
right then and there.15redarclaw

(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

Dissatisfied, Comerciante moved for


reconsideration16 which was, however, denied in a

87

transferred from one confinement to another.

plastic sachet to someone.

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.

xxxx
Q: Now how far were you when you saw this incident
from these two male persons you already
identified?

The aforementioned provision provides three (3)


instances when a warrantless arrest may be lawfully
effected: (a) arrest of a suspect in flagrante delicto; (b)
arrest of a suspect where, based on personal knowledge
of the arresting officer, there is probable cause that said
suspect was the perpetrator of a crime which had just
been committed; (c) arrest of a prisoner who has
escaped from custody serving final judgment or
temporarily confined during the pendency of his case or
has escaped while being transferred from one
confinement to another.26redarclaw

A: About ten (10) meters away ma'am.


Q: What were their positions in relation to you when you
saw them in that particular act?
A: They were quite facing me then.
Q: What was the speed of your motorcycle when you
were traversing this Private Road, Hulo,
Mandaluyong City?
A: About thirty (30) kilometers per hour, ma'am.

For a warrantless arrest under Section 5 (a) to operate,


two (2) elements must concur, namely: (a) the person to
be arrested must execute an overt act indicating that he
has just committed, is actually committing, or is
attempting to commit a crime; and (b) such overt act is
done in the presence or within the view of the arresting
officer.27 On the other hand, Section 5 (b) requires for its
application that at the time of the arrest, an offense had
in fact just been committed and the arresting officer had
personal knowledge of facts indicating that the accused
had committed it.28redarclaw

Q: And who was driving the motorcycle?


A: Eduardo Radan, ma'am.
Q: When you spotted them as if handing something to
each other, what did you do?
A: We stopped ma'am.
Q: And how far were you from them when you stopped,
more or less?

In both instances, the officer's personal knowledge of the


fact of the commission of an offense is absolutely
required. Under Section 5 (a), the officer himself
witnesses the crime; while in Section 5 (b), he knows for
a fact that a crime has just been committed.29redarclaw

A: We passed by them for a short distance before we


stopped ma'am.
Q: And after you passed by them and you said you
stopped, what was the reaction of these two male
persons?

A judicious review of the factual milieu of the instant


case reveals that there could have been no lawful
warrantless arrest made on Comerciante. PO3 Calag
himself admitted that he was aboard a motorcycle
cruising at a speed of around 30 kilometers per hour
when he saw Comerciante and Dasilla standing around
and showing "improper and unpleasant movements,"
with one of them handing plastic sachets to the other. On
the basis of the foregoing, he decided to effect an arrest.
PO3 Calag's testimony on direct examination is
revelatory:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Pros. Silao:

A: They were surprised, ma'am.


xxxx
Q: And what was their reaction when you said you
introduced yourself as police officer?
A: They were surprised.
Q: When yon say "nabigla" what was their reaction
that made you say that they were surprised?

Q: Now on July 30, 2003 around 10:00 o'clock in the


evening, kindly tell the court where were you?

A: They were stunned.

A: We were then conducting our patrol on a motorbike


ma'am.

Q: After they were stunned, what did you do next,


police officer?
A: I arrested them, ma'am. I invited them.

xxxx

A: Eduardo Radan, Ma'am.

Q: What did you say to them? How did you invite them?
In short, napakasimple lang ng tanong ko sa yo eh.
Did you say anything?

Q: And who is this Eduardo Radan?

Court:

Q: And who were with you while you were patrolling?

Mr. Witness, stop making unnecessary movements,


just listen.

A: He is an agent of the Narcotics Group, ma'am.


Q: While you were along Private Road, Hulo,
Mandaluyong City, what unusual incident that
happened if any?

Pros. Silao:
Are you fit to testify? May sakit ka ba o wala?

A: We spotted somebody who was then as if handing a

88

Witness:

committed by Comerciante. Verily, it is not enough that


the arresting officer had reasonable ground to believe
that the accused had just committed a crime; a crime
must, in fact, have been committed first, which does not
obtain in this case.33redarclaw

Wala po.
Pros. Silao:
Eh, bakit di ka makapagsalita?

In this relation, the Court finds respondent's assertion


that there was a valid "stop and frisk" search made on
Comerciante untenable. In People v. Cogaed,34 the Court
had an opportunity to exhaustively explain "stop and
frisk" searches:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
"Stop and frisk" searches (sometimes referred to
as Terry 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.

Court:
You keep touching your eyes. Just relax. Answer the
question, ano sinabi mo sa kanila?
Pros. Silao:
Are you fit to testify? Wala ka bang sakit?
Witness:
Wala po.

The balance lies in the concept of "suspiciousness"


present 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.

xxxx
Q: From what portion of his body, I am referring to Alvin
Comerciante did you recover the plastic sachet?
A: From his hand ma'am.
Q: Left or right hand?
Pros. Silao:
You cannot recall? Hindi mo matandaan. Sabihin
mo kung hindi mo matandaan, no problem.
Kaliwa, kanan or you cannot recall?30 (Emphases
and underscoring supplied)
On the basis of such testimony, the Court finds it highly
implausible that PO3 Calag, even assuming that he has
perfect vision, would be able to identify with reasonable
accuracy especially from a distance of around 10
meters, and while aboard a motorcycle cruising at a
speed of 30 kilometers per hour miniscule amounts of
white crystalline substance inside two (2) very small
plastic sachets held by Comerciante. The Court also
notes that no other overt act could be properly attributed
to Comerciante as to rouse suspicion in the mind of PO3
Calag that the former had just committed, was
committing, or was about to commit a crime. Verily, the
acts of standing around with a companion and handing
over something to the latter cannot in any way be
considered criminal acts. In fact, even if Comerciante
and his companion were showing "improper and
unpleasant movements" as put by PO3 Calag, the same
would not have been sufficient in order to effect a lawful
warrantless arrest under Section 5 (a), Rule 113 of the
Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure.31 That his
reasonable suspicion bolstered by (a) the fact that he
had seen his fellow officers arrest persons in possession
ofshabu; and (b) his trainings and seminars on illegal
drugs when he was still assigned in the province are
insufficient to create a conclusion that what he
purportedly saw in Comerciante was
indeedshabu.32redarclaw

xxxx
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, one of the earliest cases adopting the "stop
and frisk" doctrine in Philippine jurisprudence, this
court approximated the suspicious circumstances as
probable cause:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
The probable cause is that when the petitioner acted
suspiciously and attempted to flee with the buri bag
there was a probable cause that he was concealing
something illegal in the bag and it was the right and duty
of the police officers to inspect the same.
For warrantless searches, probable cause was defined
as a reasonable ground of suspicion supported by
circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to
warrant a cautious man to believe that the person
accused is guilty of the offense with which he is charged.
Malacat v. Court of Appeals clarifies the requirement
further. It does not have to be probable cause, but it
cannot be mere suspicion. It has to be a genuine
reason to serve the purposes of the "stop and frisk"
exception:
ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
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.

Neither has the prosecution established that the rigorous


conditions set forth in Section 5 (b), Rule 113, have been
complied with, i.e., that an offense had in fact just been
committed and the arresting officer had personal
knowledge of facts indicating that the accused had
committed it. As already discussed, the factual backdrop
of the instant case failed to show that PO3 Calag had
personal knowledge that a crime had been indisputably

In his dissent for Esquillo v. People, Justice Bersamin


reminds us that police officers must not rely on a
single suspicious circumstance. There should be
"presence of more than one seemingly innocent

89

activity, which, taken together, warranted a


reasonable inference of criminal activity." The
Constitution prohibits "unreasonable searches and
seizures." Certainly, reliance on only one suspicious
circumstance or none at all will not result in a reasonable
search.35 (Emphases and underscoring supplied)

Before this Court is an appeal from the Decision [1] of the


Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 02718,
which affirmed the decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC), Branch 29, San Fernando City, La Union, in

In this case, the Court reiterates that Comerciante's acts


of standing around with a companion and handing over
something to the latter do not constitute criminal acts.
These circumstances are not enough to create a
reasonable inference of criminal activity which would
constitute a "genuine reason" for PO3 Calag to conduct
a "stop and frisk" search on the former. In this light, the
"stop and frisk" search made on Comerciante should be
deemed unlawful.

Criminal Case No. 7144, finding appellant Belen

In sum, there was neither a valid warrantless arrest nor a


valid "stop and frisk" search made on Comerciante. As
such, the shabu purportedly seized from him is rendered
inadmissible in evidence for being the proverbial fruit of
the poisonous tree. Since the confiscated shabu is the
very corpus delicti of the crime charged, Comerciante
must necessarily be acquitted and exonerated from all
criminal liability.

are as follows:

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,

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.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Accordingly,


the Decision dated October 20, 2011 and the Resolution
dated February 19, 2013 of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. CR No. 32813 are herebyREVERSED and SET
ASIDE. Accordingly, petitioner Alvin Comerciante y
Gonzales is herebyACQUITTED of the crime of violating
Section 11, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165. The
Director of the Bureau of Corrections is ordered to cause
his immediate release, unless he is being lawfully held
for any other reason.
SO ORDERED.

SECOND DIVISION

When arraigned on December 13, 2005,


accused-appellant pleaded not guilty.
During the pre-trial, the following were
stipulated upon:

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


Appellee,

1. Accused admits that


she is the same
person identified in
the information as
Belen Mariacos;

- versus -

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

BELEN MARIACOS,
Appellant.
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION
NACHURA, J.:

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

90

contained in two (2)


bags
were
submitted
for
examination to the
Crime Lab;

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.

5. That per Chemistry


Report No. D-1092005, the alleged
drug submitted for
examination gave
positive result for
the presence of
marijuana;

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.

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

PO2 Pallayoc brought the woman, who


was later identified as herein accusedappellant 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.

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.

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.

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).

When it was accused-appellants 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 (Laoang), her neighbor, requested her to
carry a few bags which had been loaded
on top of the jeepney. At first, accusedappellant refused, but she was
persuaded later when she was told that
she would only be carrying the bags.
When they reached the poblacion, Laoang 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

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

91

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]

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 January 31, 2007, the RTC promulgated a decision,


the dispositive portion of which states:

On the other hand, the People, through the Office of the


Solicitor General (OSG), argued that the warrantless

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 P500,000.00.

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

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.

reasonable ground to believe that appellant had

SO ORDERED.[4]

smelled the distinctive odor of marijuana. [9] The OSG

committed the crime of delivering dangerous drugs


based on reliable information from their agent, which
was confirmed when he peeked into the bags and
also argued that appellant was now estopped from
questioning the illegality of her arrest since she

Appellant appealed her conviction to the CA. She argued

voluntarily entered a plea of not guilty upon arraignment

that the trial court erred in considering the evidence of

and participated in the trial and presented her evidence.

[5]

the prosecution despite its inadmissibility. She claimed

[10]

that her right against an unreasonable search was

The OSG brushed aside appellants argument that the

bricks of marijuana

flagrantly violated by Police Officer (PO)2 Pallayoc when

were

not photographed and

inventoried in her presence or that of her counsel

the latter searched the bag, assuming it was hers,

immediately after confiscation, positing that physical

without a search warrant and with no permission from

inventory may be done at the nearest police station or at

her. She averred that PO2 Pallayocs purpose for

the nearest office of the apprehending team, whichever

apprehending her was to verify if the bag she was

was practicable.[11]

carrying was the same one he had illegally searched


earlier. Moreover, appellant contended that there was no
In a Decision dated January 19, 2009, the CA dismissed

probable cause for her arrest.[6]

appellants appeal and affirmed the RTC decision in toto.


[12]

Further, appellant claimed that the prosecution failed to

that appellant carried away from the jeepney a number

prove the corpus delicti of the crime.[7] She alleged that

of bags which, when inspected by the police, contained

the apprehending police officers violated Dangerous

dangerous drugs. The CA ruled that appellant was

Drugs Board Regulation No. 3, Series of 1979, as

caught in flagrante delicto of carrying and conveying the

amended by Board Regulation No. 2, Series of 1990,

bag that contained the illegal drugs, and thus held that

which prescribes the procedure in the custody of seized


prohibited

and

regulated

drugs,

It held that the prosecution had successfully proven

appellants warrantless arrest was valid. The appellate

instruments,

court ratiocinated:

apparatuses, and articles. The said regulation directs the

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-

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

92

appellant carrying the bags, PO2


Pallayoc was within his lawful duty to
make a warrantless arrest of accusedappellant.

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.

xxxx
Article III, Section 2 of the Philippine Constitution

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.

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.

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]

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;

Appellant is now before this Court, appealing her


conviction.

(b) the evidence was


inadvertently discovered
by the police who had
the right to be where
they are;

Once again, we are asked to determine the limits of the


powers of the States agents to conduct searches and
seizures. Over the years, this Court had laid down the

(c) the evidence must


be
immediately
apparent[;] and;

rules on searches and seizures, providing, more or less,


clear parameters in determining which are proper and

(d) plain view justified


mere
seizure
of
evidence without further
search.

which are not.


Appellants main argument before the CA
centered on the inadmissibility of the evidence used

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;

against her. She claims that her constitutional right


against unreasonable searches was flagrantly violated
by the apprehending officer.

93

4. Consented warrantless search;

probable cause, the articles seized cannot be admitted

5. Customs search;

in evidence against the person arrested.[18]

6. Stop and Frisk; and


7. Exigent
and
Circumstances.[14]

Probable cause is defined as a reasonable

Emergency

ground

of

suspicion

supported

by

circumstances

sufficiently strong in themselves to induce a cautious


Both the trial court and the CA anchored their respective

man to believe that the person accused is guilty of the

decisions on the fact that the search was conducted on a

offense charged. It refers to the existence of such facts

moving vehicle to justify the validity of the search.

and circumstances that can lead a reasonably discreet


and prudent man to believe that an offense has been

Indeed, the search of a moving vehicle is one of

committed, and that the items, articles or objects sought

the doctrinally accepted exceptions to the Constitutional

in connection with said offense or subject to seizure and

mandate that no search or seizure shall be made except

destruction by law are in the place to be searched.[19]

by virtue of a warrant issued by a judge after personally


determining the existence of probable cause.[15]

The grounds of suspicion are reasonable when,


in the absence of actual belief of the arresting officers,

In People v. Bagista,[16] the Court said:

the suspicion that the person to be arrested is probably

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.

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]

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.

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

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.

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

It is well to remember that in the instances we

made in a store, dwelling house or other immobile

have recognized as exceptions to the requirement of a

structure. But it is impracticable to obtain a warrant

judicial warrant, it is necessary that the officer effecting

when the search is conducted on a mobile ship, on an

the arrest or seizure must have been impelled to do so

aircraft, or in other motor vehicles since they can quickly

because of probable cause. The essential requisite of

be moved out of the locality or jurisdiction where the

probable cause must be satisfied before a warrantless

warrant must be sought.[22]

search and seizure can be lawfully conducted.[17] Without

94

Given the discussion above, it is readily

(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

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

(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.

board the vehicle before the same left for its destination.
It is well to remember that on October 26, 2005,
the night before appellants 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

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]

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

Be that as it may, we have held that a search

valid a warrantless search incident to a lawful arrest.

substantially contemporaneous with an arrest can

Thus, Section 13, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court

precede the arrest if the police has probable cause to

provides:

make the arrest at the outset of the search.[25]

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]

Given that the search was valid, appellants


arrest based on that search is also valid.
Article II, Section 5 of the Comprehensive
Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 states:

For this rule to apply, it is imperative that there

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 (P500,000.00) to Ten million
pesos (P10,000,000.00) 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.

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;

95

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
(P100,000.00) to Five hundred thousand
pesos (P500,000.00) 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.

immaterial whether or not the place of destination is


reached.[32]
Moreover,

appellants

possession

of

the

packages containing illegal drugs gave rise to the


disputable presumption[33] that 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.

In her defense, appellant averred that the packages she


was carrying did not belong to her but to a neighbor who

Appellants narration of facts deserves little credence. If it

had asked her to carry the same for him. This

is true that Bennie Lao-ang merely asked her and her

contention, however, is of no consequence.

companion to carry some baggages, it is but logical to


first ask what the packages contained and where these

When an accused is charged with illegal

would be taken. Likewise, if, as appellant said, Lao-ang

possession or transportation of prohibited drugs, the

ran away after they disembarked from the jeepney,

ownership thereof is immaterial. Consequently, proof of

appellant and her companion should have ran after him

ownership of the confiscated marijuana is not necessary.

to give him the bags he had left with them, and not to

[26]

continue on their journey without knowing where they


were taking the bags.

Appellants alleged lack of knowledge does not


constitute a valid defense. Lack of criminal intent and

Next, appellant argues that the prosecution failed to

good faith are not exempting circumstances where the

prove the corpus delicti of the crime. In particular, she

crime charged is malum prohibitum, as in this case.


[27]

alleged that the apprehending police officers failed to

Mere possession and/or delivery of a prohibited drug,

without

legal

authority,

is

punishable

under

follow the procedure in the custody of seized prohibited

the

and regulated drugs, instruments, apparatuses, and

Dangerous Drugs Act.[28]

articles.

Anti-narcotics laws, like anti-gambling laws, are


regulatory statutes. They are rules of convenience

In all prosecutions for violation of the Dangerous

designed to secure a more orderly regulation of the

Drugs Act, the existence of all dangerous drugs is a sine

affairs of society, and their violation gives rise to

qua non for conviction. The dangerous drug is the

crimes mala

very corpus delicti of that crime.[35]

prohibita. Laws

prohibita condemn

behavior

defining
directed

crimes mala
not

Thus, Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 prescribes

against

the procedure for custody and disposition of seized

particular individuals, but against public order.[29]

dangerous drugs, to wit:


Jurisprudence defines transport as to carry or

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,

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. [31] The fact that there
is actual conveyance suffices to support a finding that
the act of transporting was committed and it is

96

for proper disposition in the following


manner:

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.

(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:

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.

(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

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 accuseds 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
appellants arrest, she was immediately brought to the
police station where she stayed while waiting for the

97

Mayor. It was the Mayor who opened the packages,


PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES,

revealing the illegal drugs, which were thereafter marked


and sent to the police crime laboratory the following day.
Contrary

to

appellants

claim,

prosecutions evidence establishes the chain

G.R. No. 1913


Plaintiff-Appellee,

the

of custody

from the time of


- versus -

Present:
CARPIO, J.,Ch
NACHURA,
PERALTA,
ABAD, and
MENDOZA, JJ

appellants arrest until the prohibited drugs were tested at


the police crime laboratory.

ARNOLD MARTINEZ Y
ANGELES, EDGAR DIZON
Y FERRER, REZIN MARTINEZ
Y CAROLINO, and RAFAEL
GONZALES Y CUNANAN,
Accused-Appellants.

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
appellants arrest was illegal or that the items seized are

Promulgated:
December 13,

X
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------X

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]

DECISION

Even assuming that the police officers failed to abide

MENDOZA, J.:

by Section 21, appellant should have raised this issue


before the trial court. She could have moved for the

This is an appeal from the August 7, 2009 Decision[1] of

quashal of the information at the first instance. But she

the Court of Appeals (CA), in CA-G.R. HC-NO. 03269,

did not. Hence, she is deemed to have waived any

which affirmed the February 13, 2008 Decision [2] of the

objection on the matter.

Regional Trial Court, Branch 41, Dagupan City (RTC), in


Criminal Case No. 2006-0525-D, finding the accused
guilty of violating Section 13, in relation to Section 11,

Further, the actions of the police officers, in

Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 for Possession of

relation to the procedural rules on the chain of custody,

Dangerous Drugs During Parties, Social Gatherings or

enjoyed the presumption of regularity in the performance

Meetings.

of official functions. Courts accord credence and full faith


to the testimonies of police authorities, as they are

The Facts

presumed to be performing their duties regularly, absent


any convincing proof to the contrary.[39]
In

sum,

the

prosecution

successfully

The Information indicting the accused reads:


That on or about the 2 nd day of
September 2006, in the City of
Dagupan, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named
accused,
ARNOLD
MARTINEZ y ANGELES, EDGAR
DIZON y FERRER, REZIN MARTINEZ y
CAROLINO, ROLAND DORIA y DIAZ
and RAFAEL GONZALES y CUNANAN,
without authority of law, confederating
together, acting jointly and helping one
another, did then and there wilfully,
unlawfully and criminally, sniff and
possess dangerous drugs (shabu
residues) contained in empty plastic
sachets and rolled aluminum foil, during
a party, or at a social gathering or
meeting, or in the proximate company of
at least two (2) person[s].

established

appellants 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.

Contrary to Section 13, Article II, R.A.

SECOND DIVISION

9165.[3]

98

passenger jeep of R. Martinez and who was to give the


materials for the painting of said jeep. As they were

Version of the Prosecution

going around the subdivision looking for Apper, they saw


Gonzales in front of his house and asked him if he

As culled from the testimonies of prosecution

noticed a person pass by. While they were talking, Doria

witnesses, Police Officer 1 Bernard Azardon (PO1

arrived. It was then that five to seven policemen

Azardon), one of the apprehending officers, and Police

emerged and apprehended them. They were handcuffed

Inspector Lady Ellen Maranion (P/Insp. Maranion), the

and brought to the police station in Perez, Dagupan City,

forensic chemical officer, it appears that on September

where they were incarcerated and charged with sniffing

2, 2006, at around 12:45 oclock in the afternoon, PO1

shabu.

Azardon was on duty at the Police Community Precinct II


along Arellano Street, Dagupan City, when a concerned

The Ruling of the RTC

citizen entered the precinct and reported that a pot


session was going on in the house of accused Rafael
Gonzales (Gonzales) in Trinidad Subdivision, Dagupan

The case against Doria was dismissed on a

City. Upon receipt of the report, PO1 Azardon, PO1

demurrer to evidence.

Alejandro Dela Cruz (PO1 Dela Cruz), and members of


the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team hied to

On February 13, 2008, the RTC rendered its decision,

Trinidad Subdivision, Dagupan City. Upon inquiry from

the dispositve portion of which reads:

people in the area, the house of Gonzales was located.

WHEREFORE,
premises
considered,
judgment
is
hereby
rendered finding accused ARNOLD
MARTINEZ y Angeles, EDGAR DIZON y
Ferrer, REZIN MARTINEZ y Carolino,
and RAFAEL GONZALES y Cunanan
GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of Possession of Dangerous
Drugs During Parties, Social Gatherings
or Meetings defined and penalized
under Section 13 in relation to Section
11, Article II of Republic Act 9165, and
each of them is sentenced to suffer the
penalty of life imprisonment and to pay
the fine in the amount of P500,000.00,
and to pay the cost of suit.

As the police officers entered the gate of the


house, they saw accused Orlando Doria (Doria) coming
out of the side door and immediately arrested him. Inside
the

house,

they

saw

accused

Gonzales, Arnold

Martinez (A. Martinez), Edgar Dizon (Dizon), and Rezin


Martinez (R.

Martinez) in

room. The

four

were

surprised by the presence of the police. In front of them


were open plastic sachets (containing shabu residue),
pieces of rolled used aluminum foil and pieces of used
aluminum foil.

The subject items are hereby


forfeited in favor of the government and
to be disposed of in accordance with the
law.

The accused were arrested and brought to the


police precinct. The items found in the room were seized
and turned over to the Pangasinan Provincial Police
Crime Laboratory Officer, P/Insp. Maranion. The latter

SO ORDERED.[4]

conducted a laboratory examination on the seized items


and all 115 plastic sachets, 11 pieces of rolled used

The RTC was of the view that the positive

aluminum foil, and 27 of the 49 pieces of used aluminum

testimony of prosecution witness PO1 Azardon, without

foil tested positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride.

any showing of ill-motive on his part, prevailed over the

The accused were subjected to a drug test and, except


for

Doria,

they

were

found

to

be

positive

defenses of denial and alibi put up by the accused. The

for

accused were held to have been in constructive

methamphetamine hydrochloride.

possession of the subject items. A conspiracy was also


found present as there was a common purpose to

Version of the Defense


The defense, through

possess the dangerous drug.


its witnesses, accused A.

Martinez, Dizon, and R. Martinez, claimed that in the


morning of September 2, 2006, the three of them were

The Ruling of the CA

along Arellano Street in Trinidad Subdivision, Dagupan


City, to meet with a certain Apper who bumped the

99

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED


IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSEDAPPELLANT
DESPITE
THE
PROSECUTIONS
FAILURE
TO
ESTABLISH
THE
CHAIN
OF
CUSTODY
OF
THE
ALLEGED
CONFISCATED DRUG.

The CA ruled that there was sufficient evidence


to support the findings of the RTC as to the constructive
possession of the dangerous drugs by the accused. It
further held that although the procedure regarding the
custody and disposition of evidence prescribed by
Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 was not strictly complied
with, the integrity and evidentiary value of the evidence

After

an

assiduous

assessment

of

the

were nonetheless safeguarded. The CA was of the view

evidentiary records, the Court finds that the prosecution

that the presumption of regularity in the performance of

failed to prove the guilt of the accused. The principal

official duty was not sufficiently controverted by the

reasons are 1] that the evidence against the accused are

accused.

inadmissible; and 2] that granting the same to be


admissible, the chain of custody has not been duly

Not in conformity, the accused now interposes

established.

this appeal before this Court praying for the reversal of


the subject decision, presenting the following

Illegal Arrest, Search and Seizure

Assignment of Errors

Indeed, the accused is estopped from assailing


the legality of his arrest if he fails to raise such issue

For accused Arnold Martinez, Edgar Dizon and

before arraignment.[5] However, this waiver is limited only

Rezin Martinez

to the arrest. The legality of an arrest affects only the


jurisdiction of the court over the person of the accused. A

1.

The lower court erred in finding


the accused-appellants
to be having a pot session at the
time of their arrest;
2.

3.

4.

5.

waiver of an illegal warrantless arrest does not carry with


it a waiver of the inadmissibility of evidence seized
during the illegal warrantless arrest.[6]

The lower court erred in not


seeing through the antics of the
police to plant the shabu
paraphernalia to justify the arrest
of
the
accused-appellants
without warrant;

Although the admissibility of the evidence was


not raised as in issue by the accused, it has been held
that this Court has the power to correct any error, even if
unassigned, if such is necessary in arriving at a just

The lower court erred in not


finding that the corpus delicti has
not been sufficiently established;

decision,[7] especially when the transcendental matter of


life and liberty is at stake.[8] While it is true that rules of
procedure are intended to promote rather than frustrate

The lower court erred in not


finding
the
uncorroborated
testimony of PO1 Azardon
insufficient
to
convict
the
accused-appellants of the crime
charged;

the ends of justice, they nevertheless must not be met at


the expense of substantial justice. Time and again, this
Court has reiterated the doctrine that the rules of
procedure are mere tools intended to facilitate the
attainment

The lower court erred in not


acquitting
the
accusedappellants.

of

Technicalities

justice,
should

rather
never

be

than
used

frustrate
to

it.

defeat

[9]

substantive rights. Thus, despite the procedural lapses


of the accused, this Court shall rule on the admissibility

For accused Rafael Gonzales

of the evidence in the case at bench. The clear


infringement of the accuseds right to be protected

against unreasonable searches and seizures cannot be

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED


IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSEDAPPELLANT
DESPITE
THE
PROSECUTIONS
FAILURE
TO
OVERTHROW THE CONSTITUTIONAL
PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE.

ignored.
The State cannot, in a manner contrary to its
constitutional guarantee, intrude into the persons of its
citizens as well as into their houses, papers and effects.

II

[10]

100

Sec. 2, Art. III, of the 1987 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.

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.

This constitutional guarantee, however, is not a


blanket prohibition against all searches and seizures

A review of the facts reveal that the arrest of the

without warrant. Arrests and seizures in the following

accused was illegal and the subject items were

instances are allowed even in the absence of a warrant

confiscated as an incident thereof. According to the

(i) warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest; [11] (ii)

testimony of PO1 Azardon and his Joint Affidavit [13] with

search of evidence in "plain view;" (iii) search of a

PO1 Dela Cruz, they proceeded to, and entered, the

moving vehicle; (iv) consented warrantless search; (v)

house of accused Gonzales based solely on the report

customs search; (vi) stop and frisk; and (vii) exigent and

of a concerned citizen that a pot session was going on in

emergency circumstances.[12]

said house, to wit:


Q: I go back to the information referred
to you by the informant, did he
not tell you how many persons
were actually conducting the pot
session?
A: Yes, sir.

This case would appear to fall under either a


warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest or a plain
view search, both of which require a lawful arrest in
order to

be considered valid exceptions to the

constitutional guarantee. Rule 113 of the Revised Rules

Q: When you went to the place of Rafael


Gonzales, of course you were
not armed with a search
warrant, correct?
A: None, sir.

of Criminal Procedure provides for the circumstances


under which a warrantless arrest is lawful. Thus:
Sec. 5. Arrest without warrant;
when lawful. A peace officer or a private
person may, without a warrant, arrest a
person:

Q: Before the information was given to


you by your alleged informant,
you did not know personally
Rafael Gonzales?
A: I have not met [him] yet but I heard
his name, sir.

(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

Q: When this informant told you that he


was told that there was [an]
ongoing pot session in the
house of Rafael Gonzales, was
this report to you placed in the
police
blotter
before
you
proceeded to the house of
Rafael Gonzales?
A: I think it was no longer recorded, sir.
Q: In other words, you did not even
bother to get the personal data
or identity of the person who told
you that he was allegedly
informed that there was an
ongoing pot session in the
house of Rafael Gonzales?
A: What I know is that he is a jeepney
driver of a downtown jeepney
but he does not want to be
identified because he was
afraid, sir.

(c) When the person to


be arrested is a
prisoner who has
escaped
from
a
penal establishment
or place where he is
serving
final

101

Q: And likewise, he did not inform you


who told him that there was an
ongoing pot session in the
house of Rafael Gonzales?
A: No more, sir.

Although this Court has ruled in several


dangerous drugs cases[16] that tipped information is
sufficient probable cause to effect a warrantless search,
[17]

Q: But upon receiving such report from


that
jeepney
driver
you
immediately formed a group and
went to the place of Rafael
Gonzales?
A: Yes, sir.

because said cases involve either a buy-bust operation


or drugs in transit, basically, circumstances other than
the sole tip of an informer as basis for the arrest. None
of these drug cases involve police officers entering a
house without warrant to effect arrest and seizure

xxx

based solely on an informers tip. The case ofPeople v.

Q: When you were at the open gate of


the
premises
of
Rafael
Gonzales, you could not see
what is happening inside the
house of Rafael Gonzales?
A: Yes, sir.

Bolasa[18] is informative on this matter.

Q: You did not also see the alleged


paraphernalia as well as the
plastic sachet of shabu on the
table while you were outside
the premises of the property of
Rafael Gonzales?

immediately proceeded to the house of the suspects.

In People v. Bolasa, an anonymous caller tipped


off the police that a man and a woman were repacking
prohibited drugs at a certain house. The police
They walked towards the house accompanied by their
informer. When they reached the house, they peeped
inside through a small window and saw a man and
woman repacking marijuana. They then entered the
house,

xxx

Q: But still you entered the premises,


only because a certain person
who told you that he was
informed by another person
that there was an ongoing pot
session going on inside the
house of Rafael Gonzales?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And that is the only reason why you
barged in inside the house of
Rafael Gonzales and you
arrested the persons you saw?
A: Yes, sir.[14]

Paragraph (c) of Rule 113 is clearly inapplicable


to this case. Paragraphs (a) and (b), on the other hand,
may be applicable and both require probable cause to
be present in order for a warrantless arrest to be valid.
Probable cause has been held to signify a reasonable
supported

as

police

The manner by which accusedappellants were apprehended does not


fall under any of the above-enumerated
categories. Perforce, their arrest is
illegal. First, the arresting officers had no
personal knowledge that at the time of
their arrest, accused-appellants had just
committed, were committing, or were
about to commit a crime. Second, the
arresting officers had no personal
knowledge that a crime was committed
nor did they have any reasonable
ground to believe that accusedappellants committed it. Third, accusedappellants were not prisoners who have
escaped from a penal establishment.
Neither can it be said that the
objects were seized in plain view. First,
there was no valid intrusion. As already
discussed, accused-appellants were
illegally
arrested.
Second,
the
evidence, i.e., the tea bags later on
found to contain marijuana, was not
inadvertently discovered. The police
officers intentionally peeped first through
the window before they saw and
ascertained the activities of accusedappellants inside the room. In like
manner, the search cannot be
categorized as a search of a moving
vehicle, a consented warrantless
search, a customs search, or a stop and
frisk; it cannot even fall under exigent
and emergency circumstances, for the
evidence at hand is bereft of any such
showing.

A: Of course because they were inside


the room, how could we see
them, sir.

suspicion

themselves

suspects. This Court ruled:

COURT: Answer.

of

introduced

officers,

confiscated the drug paraphernalia, and arrested the

Q: Before they entered the premises


they could not see the
paraphernalia?

ground

such rulings cannot be applied in the case at bench

by

circumstances

sufficiently strong in themselves to warrant a cautious


mans belief that the person accused is guilty of the
offense with which he is charged.[15]

102

On the contrary, it indicates that


the apprehending officers should have
conducted
first
a
surveillance
considering that the identities and
address of the suspected culprits were
already ascertained. After conducting
the surveillance and determining the
existence of probable cause for
arresting
accused-appellants,
they
should have secured a search warrant
prior to effecting a valid arrest and
seizure. The arrest being illegal ab initio,
the accompanying search was likewise
illegal. Every evidence thus obtained
during the illegal search cannot be used
against accused-appellants; hence, their
acquittal must follow in faithful
obeisance to the fundamental law.[19]

information originated but from


somebody else?
A: That was what he told me, sir.
Q: Because of that you proceeded to
where the alleged pot session
was going on? [No Answer]
Q: Did

you[r] informant particularly


pinpointed [sic] to where the
alleged pot session was going
on?
A: No more because he did not go with
us, sir.
Q: So you merely relied on what he said
that something or a pot session
was going on somewhere in
Arellano but you dont know the
exact place where the pot
session was going on?
A: Yes, sir.

It has been held that personal knowledge of


facts in arrests without warrant must be based upon

Q: And your
informant
has
no
personal knowledge as to the
veracity of the alleged pot
session because he claimed
that he derived that information
from somebody else?
A: This is what he told us that somebody
told him that there was an
ongoing pot session, sir.

probable cause, which means an actual belief or


reasonable grounds of suspicion. The grounds of
suspicion are reasonable when the suspicion, that the
person to be arrested is probably guilty of committing an
offense, is based on actual facts, that is, supported by
circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to create
the probable cause of guilt of the person to be

Q: Despite of [sic] that information you


proceeded to where?
A: Trinidad Subdivision, sir.

arrested. [20]

As to paragraph (a) of Section 5 of Rule 113, the

xxx

arresting officers had no personal knowledge that at the

Q: Mr. Witness, did your informant


named [sic] those included in
the alleged pot session?
A: No, sir.

time of the arrest, accused had just committed, were


committing, or were about to commit a crime, as they
had no probable cause to enter the house of accused

Q: That was, because your informant


dont [sic] know physically what
was really happening there?
A: He was told by another person that
there was an ongoing pot
session there, sir.[21] [Emphasis
supplied]

Rafael Gonzales in order to arrest them. As to paragraph


(b), the arresting officers had no personal knowledge of
facts and circumstances that would lead them to believe
that the accused had just committed an offense. As
admitted in the testimony of PO1 Azardon, the tip
originated from a concerned citizen who himself had no
personal knowledge of the information that was reported

Neither can it be said that the subject items were

to the police:

seized in plain view. The elements of plainview are: (a) a

Q: Mr. Witness, you claimed that the


reason for apprehending all the
accused was based on a tip-off
by an informant?
A: Yes, sir.

prior valid intrusion based on the valid warrantless arrest

Q: What exactly [did] that informant tell


you?
A: He told us that somebody told him
that there was an ongoing pot
session in the house of one of
the accused Rafael Gonzales,
sir.

they are; (c) the evidence must be immediately

Q: You mean to say that it was not the


informant himself to whom the

no prior surveillance or investigation before they

in which the police are legally present in the pursuit of


their official duties; (b) the evidence was inadvertently
discovered by the police who have the right to be where
apparent; and, (d) "plain view" justified mere seizure of
evidence without further search.[22]
The evidence was not inadvertently discovered
as the police officers intentionally entered the house with

103

discovered the accused with the subject items. If the


prior peeking of the police officers in Bolasa was held to

The accused contend that the identity of the

be insufficient to constitute plain view, then more so

seized drug was not established with moral certainty as

should the warrantless search in this case be struck

the chain of custody appears to be questionable, the

down. Neither can the search be considered as a search

authorities having failed to comply with Sections 21 and

of a moving vehicle, a consented warrantless search, a

86

customs search, a stop and frisk, or one under exigent

Board (DDB) Resolution No. 03, Series of 1979, as

and emergency circumstances.

amended by Board Regulation No. 2, Series of 1990.

of

R.A.

No.

9165,

and

Dangerous

Drug

They argue that there was no prior coordination with the


The apprehending officers should have first

Philippine

Drug

Enforcement

Agency (PDEA),

no

conducted a surveillance considering that the identity

inventory of the confiscated items conducted at the

and address of one of the accused were already

crime scene, no photograph of the items taken, no

ascertained. After conducting the surveillance and

compliance with the rule requiring the accused to sign

determining the existence of probable cause, then a

the inventory and to give them copies thereof, and no

search warrant should have been secured prior to

showing of how the items were handled from the time of

effecting arrest and seizure. The arrest being illegal, the

confiscation up to the time of submission to the crime

ensuing

likewise

laboratory for testing. Therefore, the corpus delicti was

illegal. Evidence procured on the occasion of an

not proven, thereby producing reasonable doubt as to

unreasonable search and seizure is deemed tainted for

their guilt. Thus, they assert that the presumption of

being the proverbial fruit of a poisonous tree and should

innocence in their favor was not overcome by the

be excluded.[23] The subject items seized during the

presumption of regularity in the performance of official

illegal arrest are thus inadmissible. The drug, being the

duty.

search

as

result

thereof

is

very corpus delicti of the crime of illegal possession of


dangerous drugs, its inadmissibility thus precludes

The essential requisites to establish illegal possession of

conviction, and calls for the acquittal of the accused.

dangerous drugs are: (i) the accused was in possession


of the dangerous drug, (ii) such possession is not

As has been noted previously by this Court,

authorized by law, and (iii) the accused freely and

some lawmen, prosecutors and judges have glossed

consciously

over illegal searches and seizures in cases where law

[25]

enforcers are able to present the alleged evidence of the

possessed

the

dangerous

drug.

Additionally, this being a case for violation of Section

13 of R.A. No. 9165, an additional element of the crime

crime, regardless of the methods by which they were

is (iv) the possession of the dangerous drug must have

obtained. This attitude tramples on constitutionally-

occurred during a party, or at a social gathering or

guaranteed rights in the name of law enforcement. It is

meeting, or in the proximate company of at least two (2)

ironic that such enforcement of the law fosters the

persons.

breakdown of our system of justice and the eventual


denigration of society. While this Court appreciates and

The existence of the drug is the very corpus

encourages the efforts of law enforcers to uphold the law

delicti of the crime of illegal possession of dangerous

and to preserve the peace and security of society, we

drugs and, thus, a condition sine qua non for conviction.

nevertheless admonish them to act with deliberate care

In order to establish the existence of the drug, its chain

and within the parameters set by the Constitution and

of custody must be sufficiently established. The chain of

the law.[24]

custody requirement is essential to ensure that doubts


regarding the identity of the evidence are removed
through the monitoring and tracking of the movements of

Chain of Custody

the seized drugs from the accused, to the police, to the


forensic chemist, and finally to the court. [26] Malillin v.

Even granting that the seized items are admissible as

People was the first in a growing number of cases to

evidence, the acquittal of the accused would still be in

explain the importance of chain of custody in dangerous

order for failure of the apprehending officers to comply

drugs cases, to wit:

with the chain of custody requirement in dangerous


drugs cases.

As a method of authenticating
evidence, the chain of custody rule

104

requires that the admission of an exhibit


be preceded by evidence sufficient to
support a finding that the matter in
question is what the proponent claims it
to be. It would include testimony about
every link in the chain, from the moment
the item was picked up to the time it is
offered into evidence, in such a way that
every person who touched the exhibit
would describe how and from whom it
was received, where it was and what
happened to it while in the witness'
possession, the condition in which it was
received and the condition in which it
was delivered to the next link in the
chain. These witnesses would then
describe the precautions taken to
ensure that there had been no change
in the condition of the item and no
opportunity for someone not in the chain
to have possession of the same.[27]

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.

People v. Habana thoroughly discusses the


proper procedure for the custody of seized or confiscated
items in dangerous drugs cases in order to ensure their
identity and integrity, as follows:
Usually, the police officer who
seizes the suspected substance turns it
over to a supervising officer, who would
then send it by courier to the police
crime laboratory for testing. Since it is
unavoidable that possession of the
substance changes hand a number of
times, it is imperative for the officer who
seized the substance from the suspect
to place his marking on its plastic
container and seal the same, preferably
with adhesive tape that cannot be
removed without leaving a tear on the
plastic container. At the trial, the officer
can then identify the seized substance
and the procedure he observed to
preserve its integrity until it reaches the
crime laboratory.

Section 1(b) of DDB Regulation No. 1, Series of


2002,

[28]

defines chain of custody as follows:


b. Chain of Custody means the
duly recorded authorized movements
and custody of seized drugs or controlled
chemicals or plant sources of dangerous
drugs or laboratory equipment of each
stage,
from
the
time
of
seizure/confiscation to receipt in the
forensic laboratory to safekeeping to
presentation in court for destruction.
Such record of movements and custody
of seized item shall include the identity
and signature of the person who held
temporary custody of the seized item, the
date and time when such transfer of
custody were made in the course of
safekeeping and used in court as
evidence, and the final disposition;

If the substance is not in a


plastic container, the officer should put it
in one and seal the same. In this way
the substance would assuredly reach
the laboratory in the same condition it
was seized from the accused. Further,
after the laboratory technician tests and
verifies the nature of the substance in
the container, he should put his own
mark on the plastic container and seal it
again with a new seal since the police
officers seal has been broken. At the
trial, the technician can then describe
the sealed condition of the plastic
container when it was handed to him
and testify on the procedure he took
afterwards to preserve its integrity.

Paragraph 1, Section 21, Article II of R.A. No.


9165, provides for safeguards for the protection of the
identity and integrity of dangerous drugs seized, to wit:
SEC. 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:

If the sealing of the seized


substance has not been made, the
prosecution would have to present every
police officer, messenger, laboratory
technician, and storage personnel, the
entire chain of custody, no matter how
briefly ones possession has been. Each
of them has to testify that the substance,
although unsealed, has not been
tampered with or substituted while in his
care.[29]

(1) The apprehending team having initial


custody and control of the drugs shall,
immediately
after
seizure
and
confiscation, physically inventory and

Section 21(a) of the Implementing Rules and


Regulations (IRR) of R.A. No. 9165 further elaborates,

105

and provides for, the possibility of non-compliance with


the prescribed procedure:
(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 noncompliance 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. [Emphasis supplied]

c)

Several pcs of
used rolled
aluminum foil containing suspected
shabu residues.

d)

Several pcs of used cut aluminum


foil containing suspected shabu
residues.

e)

One (1) pc glass tube containing


suspected shabu residues.[30]
[Emphases supplied]

At the police station, the case, the accused, and


the above-mentioned items were indorsed to Duty
Investigator Senior Police Officer 1 Pedro Urbano, Jr.
(SPO1 Urbano) for proper disposition.[31] A letter-request
for laboratory examination was prepared by Police
Superintendent Edgar Orduna Basbag for the following
items:
a)

Pieces of used empty small


plastic sachets with suspected
shabu residues marked DC&A-1.

b)

Pieces of used rolled and cut


aluminum foil with suspected shabu
residues marked DC&A-2.

c)
Accordingly,

non-compliance

with

the

Pieces of used cut aluminum foil


with suspected shabu residues
marked DC&A-3.[32]
[Emphases supplied]

prescribed

procedural requirements will not necessarily render the


seizure and custody of the items void and invalid,

The letter-request and above-mentioned items

provided that (i) there is a justifiable ground for such

were submitted to P/Insp. Maranion by SPO3 Froilan

non-compliance, and (ii) the integrity and evidentiary

Esteban (SPO3 Esteban). Final Chemistry Report No. D-

value of the seized items are properly preserved. In this

042-06L listed the specimens which were submitted for

case, however, no justifiable ground is found availing,

testing, to wit:

and it is apparent that there was a failure to properly


preserve the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized

SPECIMENS SUBMITTED:

items to ensure the identity of the corpus delictifrom the

A A1 to A115 One Hundred fifteen


(115) open transparent plastic sachet
with tag each containing suspected
shabu residue without markings.

time of seizure to the time of presentation in court. A


review of the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses
and the documentary records of the case reveals

B B1 to B11 Eleven (11) rolled used


aluminum foil with tag each containing
suspected
shabu
residue without
markings.

irreparably broken links in the chain of custody.


According to the apprehending police officers in their
Joint Affidavit, the following were confiscated from the

C C1 to C49 Forty-nine (49) used


aluminum foil with tag each containing
suspected
shabu
residue without
markings.[33]
[Emphases supplied]

accused, to wit:
a)

Several pcs of used empty plastic


sachets containing suspected shabu
residues.

b)

Eight used (8) disposable lighters


( two (2) pcs colored orange, two (2)
pcs colored yellow, one (1) pc
colored green & one (1) pc colored
white ).

Three days after the subject items were seized,


or on September 5, 2006, a Confiscation Receipt was
issued by PO1 Azardon and PO1 Dela Cruz, which
reads:

106

DCPS AID SOTG 05 September 2006

The CA ruled that the integrity and evidentiary value of


the subject items were properly preserved as there was

CONFISCATION RECEIPT

sufficient evidence to prove that the items seized from


the accused were the same ones forwarded to the crime

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

laboratory for examination, as shown in the Confiscation

THIS IS TO CERTIFY that on or


about 12:45 noon of September 4,
2006, we together with our precinct
supervisor, SPO4 Pedro Belen Jr., and
SWAT members composed of SPO1
Marlon Decano, PO3 Manuel Garcia,
PO2 Adriano Cepiroto and PO1 Aldrin
Guarin apprehended the following
names of persons of ARNOLD
MARTINEZ Y ANGELES, 37 yrs old,
married, jobless, a resident of Lucao
Dist., this city; EDGAR DIZON Y
FERRER, 36 yrs old, single, tricycle
driver, a resident of 471 Lucao Dist., this
city. REZIN MARTINEZ Y CAROLINO,
44 yrs old, married, jitney driver, a
resident of Lucao Disttrict this city;
ROLAND DORIA Y DIAZ, 39 yrs old,
married, businessman, resident of
Cabeldatan, Malasiqui, Pangasinan and
RAFAEL GONZALES Y CUNANAN, 49
yrs old, separated, jobless and a
resident of Trinidad Subd., Arellano-Bani
this city.

Receipt

Suspects were duly informed of


their constitutional rights and were
brought to Dagupan City Police
Station, Perez Market Site Dagupan City
and indorsed to Duty Desk Officer to
record the incident and the sachet of
suspected
Shabu
Paraphernalias were brought to PNP
Crime
Laboratory,
Lingayen,
Pangasinan for Laboratory Examination.

prescribed procedure was that the situation happened so

and

the

letter-request

for

laboratory

examination.
A review of the chain of custody indicates,
however, that the CA is mistaken.
First, the apprehending team failed to comply with
Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165. After seizure and
confiscation of the subject items, no physical inventory
was conducted in the presence of the accused, or their
representative or counsel, a representative from the
media and the DOJ, and any elected public official.
Thus, no inventory was prepared, signed, and provided
to the accused in the manner required by law. PO1
Azardon,

in

his

testimony,[36] admitted

that

no

photographs were taken. The only discernable reason


proffered by him for the failure to comply with the
suddenly. Thus:
Q: But upon receiving such report from
that
jeepney
driver
you
immediately formed a group and
went to the place of Rafael
Gonzales?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Such that you did not even inform the
PDEA before you barged in that
place of Rafael Gonzales?
A: It was so suddenly, [sic] sir.

Seizing Officer:
(sgd.) (sgd.)
PO1 Bernard B Azardon PO1 Alejandro Dela
Cruz
Affiant Affiant

Q: And that explains the reason why you


were not able to have pictures
taken, is that correct?
A: Yes, sir.[37]
[Emphasis supplied]

Remarks:
Refused to Signed
Refused to Signed
Refused to Signed
Refused to Signed
Refused to Signed[34]
[Emphases supplied]

The Court does not find such to be a justifiable


ground to excuse non-compliance. The suddenness of
the situation cannot justify non-compliance with the

The 115 open transparent plastic sachets, 11 pieces of

requirements. The police officers were not prevented

rolled used aluminum foil, and 27 (of the 49) pieces of

from preparing an inventory and taking photographs. In

used aluminum foil, all containing shabu residue, as

fact, Section 21(a) of the IRR of R.A. No. 9165 provides

identified in the Final Chemistry Report, were presented

specifically that in case of warrantless seizures, the

in court and marked as Exhibits H and series, I and

inventory and photographs shall be done at the nearest

series, and J and series, respectively. Said items were

police

identified by PO1 Azardon and P/Insp. Maranion at the

apprehending

witness stand.[35]

suddenness of the situation may have had should have

station

or

at

the

officer/team.

nearest

office

Whatever

of

the

effect

the

dissipated by the time they reached the police station, as

107

the suspects had already been arrested and the items

Nowhere in the testimony of PO1 Azardon or in

seized.Moreover, it has been held that in case of

his Joint Affidavit with PO1 Dela Cruz does it appear that

warrantless seizures nothing prevents the apprehending

the subject items were at all marked. It was only in the

officer

physical

letter-request for laboratory examination that the subject

inventory and photography of the items at their place of

items were indicated to have been marked with DC&A-1,

seizure, as it is more in keeping with the laws intent to

DC&A-2 and DC&A-3. There is no showing, however, as

from

immediately

conducting

the

preserve their integrity and evidentiary value.

[38]

to who made those markings and when they were

This Court has repeatedly reversed conviction in drug

made. Moreover, those purported markings were never

cases for failure to comply with Section 21 of R.A. No.

mentioned when the subject items were identified by the

9165, resulting in the failure to properly preserve the

prosecution witnesses when they took the stand.

integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items. Some


cases are People v. Garcia,[39] People v. Dela Cruz,
[40]
[42]

People

v.

Dela

People v. Nazareno,

People,

[45]

Cruz,[41] People
[43]

v. Santos,

People v. Orteza,

and People v. Kimura.

[44]

The markings appear to pertain to a group of

Jr.,

items, that is, empty plastic sachets, rolled and cut

Zarraga v.

aluminium foil, and cut aluminium foil, but do not

[46]

specifically pertain to any individual item in each


group. Furthermore, it was only in the Chemistry

Second, the subject items were not properly

Report[48] that the precise number of each type of item

marked. The case of People v. Sanchez is instructive on

was indicated and enumerated. The Court notes that in

the requirement of marking, to wit:

all documents prior to said report, the subject items were


never accurately quantified but only described as pieces,

What Section 21 of R.A. No.


9165 and its implementing rule do not
expressly specify is the matter of
"marking" of the seized items in
warrantless seizures to ensure that the
evidence seized upon apprehension is
the same evidence subjected to
inventory and photography when these
activities are undertaken at the police
station rather than at the place of arrest.
Consistency with the "chain of custody"
rule requires that the "marking" of the
seized items - to truly ensure that they
are the same items that enter the chain
and are eventually the ones offered in
evidence - should be done (1) in the
presence
of
the
apprehended
violator (2) immediately
upon
confiscation. This step initiates the
process of protecting innocent persons
from dubious and concocted searches,
and of protecting as well the
apprehending officers from harassment
suits based on planting of evidence
under Section 29 and on allegations of
robbery or theft.

[49]

several pcs,[50] and shabu paraphernallas.[51]Strangely,

the Chemistry Report indicates that all the subject items


had no markings, although each item was reported to
have been marked by P/Insp. Maranion in the course of
processing

the

subject

examination and testing.

[52]

items

during

laboratory

Doubt, therefore, arises as to

the identity of the subject items. It cannot be determined


with moral certainty that the subject items seized from
the accused were the same ones subjected to the
laboratory examination and presented in court.
This Court has acquitted the accused for the
failure and irregularity in the marking of seized items in
dangerous drugs cases, such as Zarraga v. People,
[53]

People v. Kimura,[54] and People v. Laxa.[55]

Third, the Confiscation Receipt relied upon by the


prosecution and the courts below gives rise to more
uncertainty. Instead of being prepared on the day of the

For greater specificity, "marking"


means the placing by the apprehending
officer or the poseur-buyer of his/her
initials and signature on the item/s
seized. x x x Thereafter, the seized
items shall be placed in an envelope or
an evidence bag unless the type and
quantity of the seized items require a
different type of handling and/or
container. The evidence bag or
container shall accordingly be signed by
the handling officer and turned over to
the next officer in the chain of custody.
[47]
[Emphasis in the original]

seizure of the items, it was prepared only three days


after. More important, the receipt did not even indicate
exactly what items were confiscated and their quantity.
These are basic information that a confiscation receipt
should provide. The only information contained in the
Confiscation Receipt was the fact of arrest of the
accused and the general description of the subject items
as the sachet of suspected Shabu paraphernallas were
brought to the PNP Crime Laboratory. The receipt is
made even more dubious by PO1 Azardons admission in
his testimony[56] that he did not personally prepare the

108

Confiscation Receipt and he did not know exactly who

in People v. Sta. Maria,[65] this Court held that said

did so.

section was silent as to the consequences of such


failure, and said silence could not be interpreted as a

Fourth, according to the Certification[57] issued by the

legislative intent to make an arrest without the

Dagupan Police Station, the subject items were indorsed

participation of PDEA illegal, nor evidence obtained

by PO1 Dela Cruz to Duty Investigator SPO1 Urbano for

pursuant to such an arrest inadmissible. Section 86 is

proper disposition. These were later turned over by

explicit only in saying that the PDEA shall be the lead

SPO3 Esteban to P/Insp. Maranion. There is, however,

agency in the investigation and prosecution of drug-

no showing of how and when the subject items were

related cases. Therefore, other law enforcement bodies

transferred from SPO1 Urbano to SPO3 Esteban.

still possess authority to perform similar functions as the


PDEA as long as illegal drugs cases will eventually be

Fifth, P/Insp. Maranion appears to be the last person in

transferred to the latter.

the chain of custody. No witness testified on how the


subject items were kept after they were tested prior to

Let it be stressed that non-compliance with

their presentation in court. This Court has highlighted

Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 does not affect the

similar shortcomings in People v. Cervantes,[58] People v.


Garcia,

[59]

People v. Sanchez,

[60]

and Malillin v. People.

admissibility of the evidence but only its weight. [66] Thus,

[61]

had the subject items in this case been admissible, their


evidentiary

More irregularities further darken the cloud as to


testimony[62] that they were tipped off by a concerned
of

the

DDB

states

that

4,

2006,

be

prevail. However, such presumption obtains only when


there is no deviation from the regular performance of

does the Confiscation Receipt, that the arrest and


on September

would

regularity in the performance of official duty should

monitoring/surveillance. Said letter also indicates, as


occurred

value

attributed to the police officers, the presumption of

the

apprehending officers were tipped off while conducting

seizure

probative

It may be true that where no ill motive can be

citizen while at the police station, the Letter[63] to the


Director

and

insufficient to warrant conviction.

the guilt of the accused. Contrary to PO1 Azardons

Executive

merit

duty.[67] Where the official act in question is irregular on

and

its face, the presumption of regularity cannot stand.

not September 2, 2006, as alleged in the Information. It


was also mentioned in the aforementioned Certification
of the Dagupan Police and Joint Affidavit of the police
officers that a glass tube suspected to contain shabu

In this case, the official acts of the law enforcers

residue was also confiscated from the accused.

were clearly shown and proven to be irregular. When

Interestingly, no glass tube was submitted for laboratory

challenged by the evidence of a flawed chain of custody,

examination.

the presumption of regularity cannot prevail over the


presumption of innocence of the accused.[68]

In sum, numerous lapses and irregularities in the


chain of custody belie the prosecutions position that the
integrity and evidentiary value of the subject items were

This Court once again takes note of the growing

properly preserved. The two documents specifically

number of acquittals for dangerous drugs cases due to

relied on by the CA, the Confiscation Receipt and the

the failure of law enforcers to observe the proper arrest,

letter-request for laboratory examination, have been

search
[69]

shown to be grossly insufficient in proving the identity of

and

seizure

procedure

under

the

law.

Some bona fide arrests and seizures in dangerous

the corpus delicti. The corpus delicti in dangerous drugs

drugs cases result in the acquittal of the accused

cases constitutes the drug itself. This means that proof

because drug enforcement operatives compromise the

beyond reasonable doubt of the identity of the prohibited

integrity and evidentiary worth of the seized items. It

drug is essential before the accused can be found guilty.

behooves this Court to remind law enforcement


agencies to exert greater effort to apply the rules and

[64]

procedures governing the custody, control, and handling


of seized drugs.

Regarding the lack of prior coordination with the


PDEA provided in Section 86 of R.A. No. 9165,

109

It is recognized that strict compliance with the

possession of such equipment, apparatus or other

legal prescriptions of R.A. No. 9165 may not always be

paraphernalia is prima facie evidence that the possessor

possible. Thus, as earlier stated, non-compliance

has used a dangerous drug and shall be presumed to

therewith is not necessarily fatal. However, the lapses in

have violated Sec. 15.

procedure

must

be

recognized,

addressed

and

explained in terms of their justifiable grounds, and the

In order to effectively fulfill the intent of the law to

integrity and evidentiary value of the evidence seized

rehabilitate drug users, this Court thus calls on law

must be shown to have been preserved.

[70]

enforcers and prosecutors in dangerous drugs cases to


exercise proper discretion in filing charges when the

On a final note, this Court takes the opportunity

presence of dangerous drugs is only and solely in the

to be instructive on Sec. 11[71] (Possession of Dangerous

form of residue and the confirmatory test required under

Drugs) and Sec. 15[72] (Use of Dangerous Drugs) of R.A.

Sec. 15 is positive for use of dangerous drugs. In such

No. 9165, with regard to the charges that are filed by law

cases, to afford the accused a chance to be rehabilitated,

enforcers. This Court notes the practice of law enforcers

the filing of charges for or involving possession of

of filing charges under Sec. 11 in cases where the

dangerous drugs should only be done when another

presence of dangerous drugs as basis for possession is

separate quantity of dangerous drugs, other than mere

only and solely in the form of residue, being subsumed

residue, is found in the possession of the accused as

under the last paragraph of Sec. 11. Although not

provided for in Sec. 15.

incorrect, it would be more in keeping with the intent of


the law to file charges under Sec. 15 instead in order to

WHEREFORE, the August 7, 2009 Decision of the Court

rehabilitate first time offenders of drug use, provided that

of

there is a positive confirmatory test result as required

judgment

paragraph of Sec. 11 for the possession of residue is

is a minimum of six months rehabilitation in a

Corrections is directed to report to this Court within five

opportunity to recover for a second chance at life.

days from receipt of this decision the action he has

In the case at bench, the presence of dangerous

taken. Copies shall also be furnished the Director-

drugs was only in the form of residue on the drug

General, Philippine National Police, and the Director-

paraphernalia, and the accused were found positive for

General, Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency, for their

use of dangerous drugs. Granting that the arrest was

information and guidance.

legal, the evidence obtained admissible, and the chain of


custody intact, the law enforcers should have filed

The

charges under Sec. 15, R.A. No. 9165 or for use of

Court,

Branch

accordance with law.

Other

Paraphernalia for Dangerous Drugs During Parties,

SO ORDERED.

Social Gatherings or Meetings). Sec. 14 provides that the


maximum penalty under Sec. 12 [74] (Possession of

G.R. No. 188133

Possession of Equipment, Instrument, Apparatus and


Other Paraphernalia for Dangerous Drugs) shall be

July 7, 2014

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee,


vs.
OLIVER RENATO EDAO y EBDANE, Appellant.

imposed on any person who shall possess any


and

Trial

items to the Dangerous Drugs Board for destruction in

should have been charged under Sec. 14 [73] (Possession

apparatus

Regional

41, Dagupan City, is directed to turn over the seized

dangerous drugs and, if there was no residue at all, they

instrument,

and

immediate implementation. The Director of the Bureau of

law to rehabilitate drug users and provide them with an

equipment,

accused

Director of the Bureau of Corrections, Muntinlupa City, for

basis of residue alone would frustrate the objective of the

and

enteredACQUITTING the

another

Let a copy of this decision be furnished the

government center. To file charges under Sec. 11 on the

Apparatus

ASIDE and

HC-NO.

they are confined for any other lawful cause.

penalty under Sec. 15 for first time offenders of drug use

Instrument,

CA-G.R.

ordering their immediate release from detention, unless

imprisonment of twelve years and one day, while the

Equipment,

in

03269 is REVERSED and SET

under Sec. 15. The minimum penalty under the last

of

Appeals

other

paraphernalia for dangerous drugs. Under Sec. 12, the

DECISION

maximum penalty is imprisonment of four years and a


BRION, J.:

fine of P50,000.00. In fact, under the same section, the

110

We resolve in this appeal the challenge to the October


16, 2008 Decision1 and the December 23, 2008
resolution2of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR
HC No. 01142. The challenged CA decision affirmed the
April 22, 2004 joint decision3 of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC), Branch 103, Quezon City, finding appellant Oliver
Renato Edafio guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
violating Section 11, Article II of Republic Act (R.A.) No.
9165 (the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of
2002), and imposing on him the penalty of life
imprisonment. The assailed resolution, on the other
hand, denied the appellant's motion for reconsideration.

to Siochi. Thereafter, Vanessa called on the appellants


cellular phone. The appellant then boarded the vehicle,
and told Siochi that he would just talk to a person at
McDonalds.11 When the space wagon arrived at
McDonalds, the appellant alighted from the vehicle and
proceeded towards the restaurants entrance.
Afterwards, Vanessa called him from inside a parked car.
The appellant approached Vanessa who, for her part,
alighted from the car. Vanessa told the appellant to get
inside the cars rear. The appellant did as instructed;
Vanessa went to the front passenger seat, beside a male
driver.12 Immediately after, the male driver alighted from
the vehicle and entered the cars rear. The appellant
went out of the car, but the male driver followed him and
grabbed his hand. The appellant resisted, and wrestled
with the driver along West Avenue. During this
commotion, the appellant heard a gunfire; four (4)
persons approached him, and then tied his hands with a
masking tape.13 The police placed him on board a pickup truck, and then brought him to Bicutan. In Bicutan,
the police brought him to the interrogation room, where
they punched him and placed a plastic on his head. 14

BACKGROUND FACTS
The prosecution charged the appellant and Godofredo
Siochi with violation of Section 11, Article II of R.A. No.
9165 under two separate Informations, docketed as
Criminal Case Nos. Q-02-111200 and Q-02-112104.
The appellant and Siochi pleaded not guilty to the
charge on arraignment. Joint trial on the merits followed.

In its joint decision dated April 22, 2004, the RTC found
the appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal
possession of shabu under Section 11, Article II of R.A.
No. 9165, and sentenced him to suffer the penalty of life
imprisonment. It also ordered him to pay a P500,000.00
fine.

The prosecution presented, as itswitnesses, Police


Inspector (P/Insp.) Aylin Casignia and Police Officer
(PO) 3 Elmer Corbe. The appellant, Siochi and Ruben
Forteza took the witness stand for the defense.
The evidence for the prosecution established that on the
evening of August 6, 2002, members of the Metro Manila
Drugs Enforcement Group, composed of PO3 Corbe,
PO3 Nelson Javier, PO3 Dennis Padpad, PO3 Marcelo
Alcancia, Jr., together with a female informant, went to
the parking area of McDonalds, West Avenue to conduct
an entrapment operation against a certain alias "Nato." 4

The RTC, however, acquitted Siochi on the ground of


reasonable doubt.
On appeal, the CA affirmed the RTC decision in toto.
The CA found PO3 Corbe to be a credible witness. The
CA also found the appellants warrantless arrest to be
valid; it explained that the appellants act of running
when PO3 Corbe was approaching him reinforced the
latters suspicion that "something was amiss." 15

At around 7:00 p.m., the appellant arrived on board a


space wagon driven by Siochi.5 The informant
approached the appellant and talked to him inside the
vehicle. Afterwards, the informant waved at PO3
Corbe.6 When PO3 Corbe was approaching the
appellant, the latter went out of the vehicle and ran
away. PO3 Corbe, PO3 Padpad and PO3 Alcancia
chased the appellant; PO3 Corbe was able to grab the
appellant, causing the latter to fall on the ground. PO3
Corbe recovered a "knot-tied" transparent plastic bag
from the appellants right hand, while PO3 Alcancia
seized a gun tucked in the appellants waist. The other
members of the police arrested Siochi. Thereafter, the
police brought the appellant, Siochi and the seized items
to the police station for investigation.7

The CA added that strict compliance with Section 21,


Article II of R.A. No. 9165 was not required as long asthe
integrity of the seized item had been ensured. It further
held that the police officers were presumed to have
regularly performed their official duties.
Finally, the CA held that the prosecution was able to
establish all the elements of illegal possession of shabu.
The appellant moved to reconsider this decision, but the
CA denied his motion in its resolution dated December
23, 2008.

P/Insp. Casignia, the Forensic Chemical Officer of the


Western Police District Crime Laboratory, examinedthe
seized items and found them positive for the presence of
shabu.8

In his brief16 and supplemental brief,17 the appellant


essentially alleged that PO3 Corbes testimony was
"vague and equivocal;"18 it lacked details on how the
appellant was lured to sell shabu to the informant, and
how the entrapment operation had been planned. The
appellant also argued that his warrantless arrest was
illegal since he was not committing any crime when the
police arrested him. He alsoclaimed that the police did
not mark and photograph the seized items, and that
there was a broken chain of custody over the
confiscated drugs.

The appellant, for his part, testified that at around 4:00


p.m. on August 6, 2002, he called Siochi on the phone,
and informed him that the motorbike starter the latter
needed was already available.9 On the same day,
Vanessa Paduada called the appellant, and asked for
the directions to McDonalds, West Avenue.10 At around
6:00 p.m., Siochi and Ruben arrived at the gate of
Philam Homes on board a space wagon. The appellant
met them at the subdivision gate, and showed the starter

111

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) counters with


the argument that the testimony of PO3 Corbe was clear
and convincing; the inconsistencies in his court
testimony pertained only to minor details. It also claimed
that the appellants arrest was valid, and the seized
shabu was admissible in evidence. Finally, the OSG
maintained that there was no break in the chain of
custody over the seized plastic bag containing shabu. 19

A: She waived (sic) her had (sic), sir.


Q: What was she doing?
A: She was talking to Alias Nato[,] sir.
Q: Did you hear what they are talking? (sic)
A: I was still in the car[.] I was not able to hear[,] sir.

THE COURTS RULING

Q: How would you know that they are talking, Mr.


Witness? (sic)

After due consideration, we resolve to ACQUITthe


appellant.

A: I could see them, sir.

Warrantless arrest invalid; seized

Q: What did you see?

items inadmissible

A: They were talking, sir.

Section 5(a), Rule 113 of the Rules of Criminal


Procedure provides that a peace officer or a private
person may, without a warrant, arrest a person when, in
his presence, the person to be arrested has committed,
is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an
offense. This is known an arrest in flagrante delicto.20

Q: They were not exchanging stuff and money, Mr.


witness?
A: Not yet, sir.
Q: While talking[,] the female informant call[ed] you, Mr.
Witness?

"For a warrantless arrest of an accused caught in


flagrante delictoto be valid, two requisites must concur:
(1) the person to be arrested must execute an overt act
indicating that he has just committed, is actually
committing, or is attempting to commit a crime; and (2)
such overt act is done in the presence or within the view
of the arresting officer."21

A: Yes, sir.22 (emphases ours)


As testified to by PO3 Corbe himself, the appellant and
the informant were just talking to each other; there was
no exchange of money and drugs when he approached
the car. Notably,while it is true that the informant waved
at PO3 Corbe, the latter admitted that this was not the
pre-arranged signal to signify that the sale of drugs had
been consummated. PO3 Corbe also admitted on crossexamination that he had no personal knowledge on
whether there was a prohibited drug and gun inside the
space wagon when he approached it.

In the present case, there was no overt act indicative of


a felonious enterprise that could be properly attributed to
the appellant to rouse suspicion in the mind of PO3
Corbe that he (appellant) had just committed, was
actually committing, or was attempting to commit a
crime. In fact, PO3 Corbe testified that the appellant and
the informant were just talking with each otherwhen he
approached them. For clarity and certainty, we
reproduce PO3 Corbes court testimony dated February
21, 2003, thus:

That the appellant attempted to run away when PO3


Corbe approached him is irrelevant and cannot by itself
be construed as adequate to charge the police officer
with personal knowledge that the appellant had just
engaged in, was actually engaging in or was attempting
to engage in criminal activity.

ATTY. RENATO SARMIENTO:


Q: You and the informant were not able to approach
Nato because he sense[d] that you are (sic) a
policeman?

As the Court explained in People v. Villareal:23


Furthermore, appellants act of darting away when PO3
de Leon approached him should not be construed
against him. Flight per seis not synonymous with guilt
and must not always be attributed to ones
consciousness of guilt.It is not a reliable indicator of guilt
without other circumstances, for even in high crime
areas there are many innocent reasons for flight,
including fear of retribution for speaking to officers,
unwillingness to appear as witnesses,and fear of being
wrongfully apprehended as a guilty party.Thus,
appellants attempt to run away from PO3 de Leon is
susceptible of various explanations; it could easily have
meant guilt just as it could likewise signify innocence.24

PO3 CORBE:
A: Our informant first approached Renato Edano[,] and
they talked but when he (sic) called me, Renato run
(sic), sir.
Q: You said tinawag ka[,] who was that that call (sic)
you?
A: Team informant, sir.
xxxx
Q: How did she call you?

112

In other words, trying to run awaywhen no crime has


been overtly committed, and without more, cannot be
evidence of guilt.

Q: Why did you not do that, Mr. Witness?


A: What I remembered there is an initial of the accused,
sir.

Considering that the appellants warrantless arrest was


unlawful, the search and seizure that resulted from it
was likewise illegal. Thus, the alleged plastic bag
containing white crystalline substances seized from him
is inadmissible in evidence, having comefrom an invalid
search and seizure.

Q: Who put the initial, Mr. Witness?


A: He was the one, sir.
Q: At your station?

Corpus delicti not proved with moral

A: Yes, sir.

certainty

Q: You did not put your initial?

Even granting, for the sake ofargument, that the


appellants warrantless arrest was valid, the latters
acquittal is still in order due to the prosecutions failure to
establish the evidence of the corpus delictiwith moral
certainty.

A: No, sir.
Q: Why did you not put your initial?
A: I was not able to put sir.26 (emphases ours)

We stress that "[t]he existence of dangerous drugs is a


condition sine qua nonfor conviction for the illegal sale
and possession of dangerous drugs, it being the
verycorpus delictiof the crimes."25 Thus, the evidence of
the corpus delictimust be established beyond reasonable
doubt.

Marking, as used in drug cases, means the placing by


the apprehending officer or the poseur-buyerof his/her
initials and signature on the item/s seized. "Consistency
with the "chain of custody" rule requires that the
"marking" of the seized items - to truly ensure that they
are the same items that enter the chain and are
eventually the ones offered in evidence - should be done
(1) in the presence of the apprehended violator (2)
immediately upon confiscation."27 The Court clarified in
People v. Resurreccion28 that marking upon immediate
confiscation contemplates even marking at the nearest
police station or office of the apprehending team. Thus,
while marking of the seized drugs at the police station is
permitted, the marking should be done by the police, and
not by the accused. The appellants participation inthe
marking procedure should only be as a witness. Why the
police failed to do a basic police procedure truly baffles
us.

In the present case, the various lapses enumerated


and discussed below committed by the police in the
handling, safekeeping and custody over the seized drug
tainted the integrity and evidentiary value of the
confiscated shabu.
First, we find it highly unusual and irregular that the
police officers would let the appellant mark the drugs
seized from him, instead of doing the marking
themselves. To directly quote from the records:
ATTY. SARMIENTO:

We also point out that per the testimony of P/Insp.


Casignia, the Forensic Chemical Officer, the police
forwarded two (2) plastic bags containing white
crystalline substances to the crime laboratory for
examination one marked with the initials "OR" and the
other marked with "GS." Both plastic bags were used
asevidence against the appellant. The records, however,
did not indicate who marked the plastic bag with "GS,"
who witnessed this marking, and whenthis marking had
been made. As with the bag that had been marked "OR,"
we express doubts on whether the plastic bag containing
white crystalline substances marked as "GS" was the
same plastic bag taken from the appellants co-accused,
Siochi.

Q: This item was not marked at the place allegedly


where you apprehended the suspect at McDonalds,
West Avenue, Quezon City, am I correct to say that?
PO3 CORBE:
A: Yes, sir.
Q: You are also required not only tomark it but to put
your initial to it, my question did you place your initial in
this evidence? (sic)
A: No, sir.

Second, the police did not inventory or photographthe


seized drugs, whether at the place of confiscation or at
the police station.1avvphi1 These omissions were
admitted by the prosecution during pre-trial.29

Q: You did not, Mr. Witness?


A: No, sir.
Q: You were also required to put the date of
apprehension, being the arresting officer, did you put the
date in this evidence, Mr. Witness?

The required procedure on the seizure and custody of


drugs is embodied in Section 21, paragraph 1,Article II of
R.A. No. 9165, which states:

A: No, sir.

113

(1) The apprehending team having initial custody and


control of the drugs shall, immediately after seizure and
confiscation, physically inventoryand 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[.] [emphases ours]

declared that when there is gross disregard of the


procedural safeguards prescribed inthe substantive law
(R.A. No. 9165), serious uncertainty is generated about
the identity of the seized items that the prosecution
presented in evidence. This doubt cannot be remedied
by simply invoking the presumption of regularity in the
performance of official duties, for a gross, systematic, or
deliberate disregard of the procedural safeguards
effectively produces an irregularity in the performance of
official duties.32

This is implemented by Section 21 (a), Article II of


theImplementing Rules and Regulations(IRR) of R.A.
No. 9165, which reads:

In sum, we hold that the appellants acquittal is in order


since theshabupurportedly seized from him is
inadmissible in evidence for being the proverbial fruit of
the poisonous tree. Corollarily, the prosecution's failure
to comply with Section 21, Article II of R.A. No. 9165,
and with the chain of custody requirement of this Act,
compromised the identity of the item seized, leading to
the failure to adequately prove the corpus delictiof the
crime charged.

(a) The apprehending officer/team having initial custody


and control of the drugs shall, immediately after seizure
and confiscation, physically inventoryand 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 berequired 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[.] [emphasis
ours]

WHEREFORE, premises considered, we REVERSEand


SET ASIDEthe October 16, 2008 decision and the
December 23, 2008 resolution of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CR HC No. 01142. Appellant Oliver Renato
Edao y Ebdane is hereby ACQUITTEDfor failure of the
prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
He is ordered immediately RELEASEDfrom detention
unless heis otherwise legally confined for another cause.
Let a copy of this Decision be sent to the Director of the
Bureau of Corrections, Muntinlupa City, for immediate
implementation.1wphi1 The Director of the Bureau of
Corrections is directed to report the action he has taken
to this Court within five (5) days from receipt of this
Decision.

To be sure, Section 21(a), Article II of the IRR offers


some flexibility in complying with the express
requirements under paragraph 1, Section 21, Article II of
R.A. No. 9165, i.e.,"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[.]"This saving
clause, however, applies only where the prosecution
recognized the procedural lapses and thereafter
explained the cited justifiable grounds, and when the
prosecution established that the integrity and evidentiary
value of the evidence seized had been preserved. 30

SO ORDERED.
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 201100, February 04, 2015
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPINES, PlaintiffAppellee, v. MHODS USMAN Y GOGO, AccusedAppellant.
DECISION
PEREZ, J.:
Assailed in the present notice of appeal is the
Decision1 dated 30 June 2011 of the Court of Appeals
(CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 03942, which affirmed in
toto the Decision2 dated 13 August 2008 of the Regional
Trial Court (RTC), Manila, Branch 23 in Criminal Case
No. 03-222096, finding accused-appellant Mhods
Usman y Gogo (accused-appellant) guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of illegal sale ofshabu under Sec. 5,
Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 (R. A. No. 9165) or
the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002,
sentencing him to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment
and ordering him to pay a fine of P500,000.00.

These conditions were not met in the present case, as


the prosecution did not even attempt to offer any
justification for its failure to follow the prescribed
procedures in the handling and safekeeping of the
seized items. "We stress that it is the prosecution who
has the positive duty to establish that earnest efforts
were employed in contacting the representatives
enumerated under Section 21[a] of R.A. No. 9165, or
that there was a justifiable ground for failing to do
so."31 The Court cannot simply presume what these
justifications are.

In an Information dated 22 December 2003,3 accusedappellant was charged with violation of Section 5, Art. II
of R. A. No. 9165, as
follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Although the Court has recognized that minor deviations


from the procedures under R.A. No. 9165 would not
automatically exonerate an accused, we have also

114

That on or about December 17, 2003 in the City of


Manila, Philippines, the said accused, not being
authorized by law to sell, trade, deliver or give away any
dangerous drug, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
and knowingly sell zero point zero six eight (0.068)
grams of white crystalline substance containing
methylamphetamine hydrochloride known as shabu, a
dangerous drug.

receipt he grabbed the accused and introduced himself


as a police officer. He informed the accused of his
constitutional rights and the law he violated (Sec. 5 of
RA 9165). Accused resisted but other policemen rushed
to assist him. He kept possession of the evidence from
place of arrest and upon arriving in the police station, he
marked the same with the accuseds initials MUG (Exh.
B-1). Thereafter, he turned over the stuff to the
investigator Elymar Garcia, who in turn prepared a
request for laboratory examination (Exhibit C) and
brought the same together to the crime laboratory for
examination. After lab test, the specimen was found
positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride as borne in
the Chemistry Report No. D2858-03 (Exhibit D). The
arresting team executed an Affidavit of Apprehension
(Exhibits E to E-4) and a Booking Sheet and Arrest
Report (Exhibit F). Subsequently, the case was
referred for inquest proceedings on December 18, 2003
(Exhibit G) for the filing of appropriate proceedings
(TSNs dated August 30, 2005).

Upon arraignment, accused-appellant, assisted by


counsel, pleaded not guilty to the crime
charged.4chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
During pre-trial, the parties stipulated on the following:
(1) the identity of accused-appellant, (2) the jurisdiction
of the court, (3) the qualification of the expert witness,
and (4) the genuineness of the documentary evidence
submitted by the prosecution.5 Thereafter, trial on the
merits ensued.
As culled from the records, the prosecutions version of
the facts was a combination of the testimonies of the
officers: PO1 Joel Sta. Maria (PO1 Sta. Maria), PO2
Elymar Garcia, Irene Vidal, and PSI Judycel Macapagal
(PSI Macapagal):chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

On cross-examination, witness said that it was the


accused who actually initiated the buy bust operation by
offering him and the confidential informant to buy illegal
drugs. After arrest, he did not mark the evidence in the
area because the accused was resisting and they do not
know his name yet. They also did not prepare an
inventory of seized items. On re-cross, the witness said
it was the investigators duty to prepare the inventory of
seized item (TSNs dated February 2, 2006).

PO1 JOEL STA. MARIA testified in gist as follows: On


December 17, 2003, he was assigned at the Anti Illegal
Drugs Special Operations Task Unit of Police Station No.
2. At around 11:00 oclock in the morning of said date,
while on duty at PS 2, a male confidential informant
came to their office and informed SPO3 Rolando del
Rosario, their team leader, of the illegal selling of shabu
by a certain Mhods, a muslim at Isla Puting Bato. He
heard them conversing as he was not far from them.
SPO3 del Rosario relayed the information to SAID Chief
Nathaniel Capitanea who instructed the former to form a
team and to conduct a possible buy bust operation
against the subject. A five-member team was at once
formed consisting of PO2 Elymar Garcia, SPO3 Rolando
del Rosario, PO3 Ricardo Manansala, PO1 Erick Barias
and the herein witness. They agreed that they will buy
P200.00 worth of shabu from the subject, who was later
identified as the herein accused. SPO3 del Rosario
prepared the buy bust money consisting of two P100.00
bills with marking RR. He was designated to act as
poseur buyer so the marked bills were delivered to him
by the team leader, SPO3 del Rosario. They agreed
likewise that the witness will immediately arrest the
subject if the sale is consummated. A pre-operation
report was also prepared (Exh. A). Apart from the
identity and the location of the subject Mhods, the
confidential informant described the former as wearing a
skin head hair, well built body, fair complexion and
wearing fatigue either pants or t-shirt. They left the
station at 3:15 p.m. and conveyed to the Isla Puting Bato
on board an owner type jeep and scooter. He rode in
the owner type jeep with SPO3 del Rosario, PO3
Manansala, and the confidential informant arriving in the
target place at 3:35 p.m., as the jeep cannot passed (sic)
through, he and the confidential informant rode a side
car going to Isla Puting Bato, thereafter they alighted
from the pedicab and entered a small alley where they
saw MHODS. Accused approached the Confidential
Informant and asked him if he is going to get, meaning if
he is going to buy shabu. Instead of answering, the
confidential informant pointed to him who was beside
him at that time. The herein witness showed the marked
money and the accused took them. Accused turned his
back a little and got something from his right pocket and
passed to him a plastic sachet containing white
crystalline substance suspected to be shabu. Upon

PO2 Elymar Garcia next took the witness stand and he


corroborated the testimony of PO1 Joel Sta. Maria on
material points. He added that he acted merely as
security perimeter and admitted that they did not follow
the confidential informant and the poseur buyer in Isla
Puting Bato and just waited for the arrest of the
accused. Thus, he did not see the conduct of the buy
bust operation. The poseur buyer handed the evidence
to him at the police station after he marked the same.
He immediately prepared a request for laboratory
examination and brought the same and the specimen at
the crime laboratory (TSNs dated Sept. 27, 2006).
The prosecution presented Irene Vidal, Records
Custodian of the Office of the City Prosecutor of Manila.
Her tesitmony was dispensed with after the defense
agreed to stipulate on the following material points, to
wit: that she is in charge of safekeeping records and
evidence submitted to their office; that she has brought
with her the two pieces 100 peso marked bills with Serial
Nos. BT670067 and EX15103, respectively (Exhibits I
and J), subject matter of this case, and that she has no
personal knowledge of the facts and circumstances
surrounding the arrest of the accused.
On June 26, 2007, the testimony of PSI Judycel A.
Macapagal was stipulated on by the prosecution and the
defense specifically the qualification and expertise of the
forensic chemist, the authenticity and due execution of
the letter request for laboratory examination dated
December 18, 2003 (Exh. C) and the Chemistry Report
(Exhibit D). The defense admitted the existence of
small brown envelop (Exhibit B) and the specimen
contained thereat which is one heat sealed transparent
plastic sachet marked MUG (Exh. B-1). It was also
admitted that the laboratory examination on the
specimen yielded positive result for methylamphetamine
hydrochloride, a dangerous drugs; that the Forensic
Chemist has brought the documents and specimen to
Court. The prosecution in turn admitted that the
Forensic Chemist has no personal knowledge as to the

115

source of the specimen as well as the person who


caused the markings on the specimen. 6

THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY DESPITE NONCOMPLIANCE WITH SECTION 21 OF REPUBLIC ACT


NO. 9165 AND ITS IMPLEMENTING RULES AND
REGULATIONS. 9

In defense, accused-appellant claimed that he was a


victim of frame-up by the arresting officers, to
wit:7chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

After a thorough review of the records, the CA


affirmed in toto the RTC Decision. The appellate court
ruled that accused-appellants arrest was valid because
he was caught in flagrante delicto selling dangerous
drugs, that all the elements of illegal sale of regulated or
prohibited drugs are present in the case at bar, that there
was substantial compliance with the legal requirements
on the handling of the seized item, and that there was no
proof to support accused-appelllants allegation of frameup. Thus, the CA held:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

For his part, accused denied the allegations of the police


officers and countered as a defense that he was framed
up by the arresting officers. He testified that he was, in
fact, arrested between 2 to 3 PM on December 17, 2003
and not at 4PM of said day. He was then inside the
comfort room in his house when the policemen in
civillian clothes entered and kicked the door of the CR.
The policemen ransacked his house and took his money
which he borrowed from Uphill which was intended for
use in his business. When he got out of the restroom,
he was handcuffed and taken to Police Station No. 2
where he was forced to admit selling shabu. He showed
them his identification card to prove that he was
engaged in a legal trade, but the police did not heed his
pleas. The team leader SPO1 del Rosario demanded
P400,000.00 from him in exchange of his freedom which
he was not able to give. On cross, he said that he did
not know the police officers prior to his arrest and
therefore there is no established motive for them to
charge him falsely of such a grave offense. He admitted
that he is not a good subject of extortion.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision dated


August 13, 2008 of the Regional Trial Court, National
Capital Judicial Region, Branch 23, Manila, is
herebyAFFIRMED in toto.10
Accused-appellant is now before the Court, re-pleading
the arguments he raised before the CA. In particular,
accused-appellant claims that his warrantless arrest was
illegal;11 that he was not apprised of his rights under
Sections 2 and 3 of R. A. No. 7438;12 and that there were
serious lapses in the procedure mandated by R. A. No.
9165 in the handling of the seized shabu, as well as noncompliance with the chain of custody rule, resulting in
the prosecutions failure to properly identify
theshabu offered in court as the same drugs seized from
accused-appellant.13chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Finding the evidence of the prosecution sufficient to


establish the guilt of accused-appellant, the RTC
rendered a judgment of conviction,
viz.:8chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

We dismiss the appeal.


WHEREFORE, with all the foregoing facts and
conclusions, accused MHODS USMAN Y GOGO, is
hereby found GUILTY of violating Section 5, Article II of
Republic Act No. 9165 in the manner stated in the
Information and is sentenced to suffer the penalty of life
imprisonment and to pay a fine of P500,000.00, without
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.

To begin with, we hold that accused-appellant can no


longer question the legality of his arrest. InPeople v.
Vasquez,14 we reiterated the rule that any objection,
defect or irregularity attending an arrest must be made
before the accused enters his plea on arraignment, and
having failed to move for the quashal of the Information
before arraignment, accused-appellant is now estopped
from questioning the legality of his arrest. Moreover, any
irregularity was cured upon his voluntary submission to
the RTCs jurisdiction.

The shabu, subject matter of this case, is hereby


forfeited in favor of the STATE and is ordered turned
over to the PDEA for their appropriate destruction
pursuant to existing Rules.

In the same vein, the claim of accused-appellant that he


was not apprised of the rights of a person taken into
custody under R. A. No. 7438, which claim was raised
only during appeal and not before he was arraigned, is
deemed waived.15chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Accused-appellant appealed before the CA, assigning


the following errors:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
I

Be that as it may, the fact of the matter is that the


accused-appellant was caught in flagrante delictoof
selling illegal drugs to an undercover police officer in a
buy-bust operation. His arrest, thus, falls within the
ambit of Section 5 (a), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules on
Criminal Procedure when an arrest made without
warrant is deemed lawful.16chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT


FINDING THE WARRANTLESS SEARCH AND
SUBSEQUENT ARREST AS ILLEGAL.
II
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT
FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS RIGHTS
UNDER REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7438 (AN ACT DEFINING
CERTAIN RIGHTS OF PERSON ARRESTED,
DETAINED OR UNDER CUSTODIAL INVESTIGATION
AS WELL AS THE DUTIES OF THE ARRESTING,
DETAINING AND INVESTIGATING OFFICERS, AND
PROVIDING PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS
THEREOF) WERE VIOLATED.

In People v. Loks,17 we acknowledged that a buy-bust


operation is a legally effective and proven procedure,
sanctioned by law, for apprehending drug peddlers and
distributors. Since accused-appellant was caught by the
buy-bust team in flagrante delicto, his immediate arrest
was also validly made. The accused was caught in the
act and had to be apprehended on the spot.
Accused-appellants arrest being valid, we also hold that
the subsequent warrantless seizure of the illegal drugs
from his person is equally valid. The legitimate

III
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING

116

warrantless arrest also cloaks the arresting police officer


with the authority to validly search and seize from the
offender those that may be used to prove the
commission of the offense.18chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

operation actually took place, and that on such an


occasion, accused-appellant was apprehended
delivering a plastic sachet containing white crystalline
substance to him, the poseur-buyer, in exchange of
P200.00. PO1 Sta. Maria retained possession of the
seized substance until he was able to mark it in the
police station with accused-appellants initials (MUG),
then turned it over to PO2 Garcia who prepared the
request for laboratory examination and brought the same
to the crime laboratory, where PSI Macapagal later on
confirmed that the substance was methamphetamine
hydrochloride or shabu. In open court, PO1 Sta. Maria
positively identified accused-appellant as the one who
sold him the plastic sachet containing white crystalline
substance, and he was also able to identify said sachet
as the same object sold to him by accused-appellant
because of the initials (MUG) inscribed therein.

As to whether accused-appellants guilt was established


beyond reasonable doubt, we rule in the affirmative.
In a catena of cases, this Court laid down the essential
elements to be duly established for a successful
prosecution of offenses involving the illegal sale of
dangerous or prohibited drugs, likeshabu, under Section
5, Article II of R.A. No. 9165, to wit: (1) the identity of the
buyer and the seller, the object of the sale, and the
consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and
payment therefor. Briefly, the delivery of the illicit drug to
the poseur-buyer and the receipt of the marked money
by the seller successfully consummate the buy-bust
transaction. What is material, therefore, is the proof that
the transaction or sale transpired, coupled with the
presentation in court of thecorpus
delicti.19chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Accused-appellant raises the claim that no inventory was


prepared, nor was a photograph taken of the small
plastic sachet allegedly recovered from him, and that,
moreover, there was no representative from the media
and the Department of Justice, nor any elected public
official who signed the copies of the
inventory.21chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

The concurrence of said elements can be gleaned from


the testimony of PO1 Sta.
Maria:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Indeed, as we held in People v. Torres,22 equally


important in every prosecution for illegal sale of
dangerous or prohibited drugs is the presentation of
evidence of the seized drug as the corpus delicti. The
identity of the prohibited drug must be proved with moral
certainty. It must also be established with the same
degree of certitude that the substance bought or seized
during the buy-bust operation is the same item offered in
court as exhibit. In this regard, paragraph 1, Section 21,
Article II of R. A. No. 9165 (the chain of custody rule)
provides for safeguards for the protection of the identity
and integrity of dangerous drugs seized, to
wit:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

xxx
x
Q
When the confidential informant saw Mhods
Usman, what happened next?
A
He was approached by Mhods Usman and asked if
we are going to get.
Q
At the time that Mhods Usman approached the
confidential informant and asked him kung
kukuha, where were you then?
A
I stood beside the confidential informant.
Q
When Mhods Usman uttered the word (sic) kung
kukuha, what did you understand those words
(sic)?
A
This is the term used in buying shabu maam.
Q
What is the answer of the confidential informant
when asked by Mhods Usman?
A
I was pointed to and said HIM.
Q
So when you were pointed to by the confidential
informant, what was the reaction of Mhods
Usman?
A
I showed him the marked money and he took it.
Q
Once he took the money, what did he do next?
A
He turned slightly and get (sic) something from his
pocket and he passed the plastic sachet containing
undetermined amount of white crystalline
substance suspected to be shabu.
Q
What portion of the pocket of Mhods Usman did he
take the plastic sachet?
A
Right pocket, maam.
Q
After the plastic sachet was handed to you by
Usman what did you do next?
A
When he passed to me the plastic sachet
containing undetermined amount of white
crystalline substance, I immediately grabbed him
and introduced myself as police officer.
Q
After you grabbed him and introduced yourself as
police officer, what did you tell him?
A
I informed him of his constitutional rights and his
possible violation. 20
xxx
x

SEC. 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:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
(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.
However, this Court has, in many cases, held that while
the chain of custody should ideally be perfect, in reality it
is not, as it is almost always impossible to obtain an
unbroken chain. The most important factor is the
preservation of the integrity and the evidentiary value of
the seized items as they will be used to determine the
guilt or innocence of the accused. Hence, the
prosecutions failure to submit in evidence the physical
inventory and photograph of the seized drugs as
required under Article 21 of R. A. No. 9165, will not

Verily, all the elements for a conviction of illegal sale of


dangerous or prohibited drugs were proven by the
prosecution: PO1 Sta. Maria proved that a buy-bust

117

render the accuseds arrest illegal or the items seized


from him inadmissible.23chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

a grave offense. Moreover, accused-appellant


acknowledged that he is not a good subject for
extortion. Thus, in the absence of any evidence of ill will
or improper motive, none is presumed to exist.

The chain of custody is not established solely by


compliance with the prescribed physical inventory and
photographing of the seized drugs in the presence of the
enumerated persons. The Implementing Rules and
Regulations of R. A. No. 9165 on the handling and
disposition of seized dangerous drugs
states:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the present appeal


is DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Appellee,

Provided, further, that non-compliance with these


requirements under justifiable grounds, as long as the
integrity and 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. 24 (Italics, emphasis and
underscoring omitted)

G.R

Pres

CAR
Cha
NAC
PER
ABA
MEN

- versus -

In the case at bar, after the sale was consummated, PO1


Sta. Maria retained possession of the seized sachet until
he was able to properly mark it, then turned it over to
PO2 Garcia who prepared the request for laboratory
examination and brought the same to the crime
laboratory, where PSI Macapagal later on confirmed that
the substance was methamphetamine hydrochloride
or shabu. The same sachet was positively identified by
PO1 Sta. Maria in open court to be the same item he
confiscated from accused-appellant.

Prom
JACK RACHO y RAQUERO,
Appellant.

Aug

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

As to the fact that PO1 Sta. Maria was able to mark the
seized sachet only at the police station, inPeople v.
Loks,25 we held that the marking of the seized substance
immediately upon arrival at the police station qualified as
a compliance with the marking requirement. Such can
also be said here in light of the fact that the reason why
PO1 Sta. Maria was unable to immediately mark the
seized sachet was due to accused-appellants resistance
to arrest and, as at that time, he did not know accusedappellants name yet.

DECISION
NACHURA, J.:

On appeal is the Court of Appeals (CA) Decision [1] dated


May 22, 2008 in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00425 affirming
the

It is apropos to reiterate here that where there is no


showing that the trial court overlooked or misinterpreted
some material facts or that it gravely abused its
discretion, the Court will not disturb the trial courts
assessment of the facts and the credibility of the
witnesses since the RTC was in a better position to
assess and weigh the evidence presented during trial.
Settled too is the rule that the factual findings of the
appellate court sustaining those of the trial court are
binding on this Court, unless there is a clear showing
that such findings are tainted with arbitrariness,
capriciousness or palpable error.26 In the case at bar, we
see no justification for overturning the findings of fact of
the RTC and CA.

Regional

Court[2] (RTC)

Trial

Joint

[3]

Decision datedJuly 8, 2004 finding appellant Jack


Racho y Raquero guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
Violation of Section 5, Article II of Republic Act (R.A.) No.
9165.

The case stemmed from the following facts:


On May 19, 2003, a confidential agent of the police

Lastly, as to accused-appellants claim of frame-up,


suffice it to say that in People v. Bartolome,27 we held
that the fact that frame-up and extortion could be easily
concocted renders such defenses hard to believe. Thus,
although drug-related violators have commonly tendered
such defenses to fend off or refute valid prosecutions of
their drug-related violations, the Court has required that
such defenses, to be credited at all, must be established
with clear and convincing evidence.

transacted through cellular phone with appellant for the


purchase

of shabu. The

agent

later

reported

the

transaction to the police authorities who immediately


formed a team composed of member of the Philippine
Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the Intelligence
group of the Philippine Army and the local police force to

In the case at bar, accused-appellant failed to ascribe,


much less prove, any ill will or improper motive on the
part of the apprehending police officers. The accusedappellant admitted that he does not know said police
officers prior to his arrest, and that he is not aware of
any established motive for them to charge him falsely of

apprehend the appellant.[4] The agent gave the police


appellants name, together with his physical description.
He also assured them that appellant would arrive in
Baler, Aurora the following day.

118

dangerous drug of 5.01 [or 4.54] grams


of shabu without any permit or license
from the proper authorities to transport
the same.

On May 20, 2003, at 11:00 a.m., appellant called


up the agent and informed him that he was on board a

CONTRARY TO LAW.[8]

Genesis bus and would arrive in Baler, Aurora, anytime


of the day wearing a red and white striped T-shirt. The
team members then posted themselves along the

During the arraignment, appellant pleaded Not Guilty to

national highway in Baler, Aurora. At around 3:00 p.m. of

both charges.

the same day, a Genesis bus arrived in Baler. When


appellant alighted from the bus, the confidential agent

At the trial, appellant denied liability and claimed that he

pointed to him as the person he transacted with earlier.

went to Baler, Aurora to visit his brother to inform him

Having alighted from the bus, appellant stood near the

about their ailing father. He maintained that the charges

highway and waited for a tricycle that would bring him to

against him were false and that no shabu was taken

his final destination. As appellant was about to board a

from him. As to the circumstances of his arrest, he

tricycle, the team approached him and invited him to the

explained that the police officers, through their van,

police station on suspicion of carrying shabu. Appellant

blocked the tricycle he was riding in; forced him to alight;

immediately denied the accusation, but as he pulled out

brought him to Sea Breeze Lodge; stripped his clothes

his hands from his pants pocket, a white envelope

and underwear; then brought him to the police station for

slipped therefrom which, when opened, yielded a small

investigation.[9]

sachet containing the suspected drug.[5]


On

July

8,

2004,

the

RTC

rendered

Joint

The team then brought appellant to the police station for

Judgment[10] convicting appellant of Violation of Section

investigation. The confiscated specimen was turned over

5, Article II, R.A. 9165 and sentencing him to suffer the

to Police Inspector Rogelio Sarenas De Vera who

penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine

marked it with his initials and with appellants name. The

of P500,000.00; but acquitted him of the charge of

field test and laboratory examinations on the contents of

Violation of Section 11, Article II, R.A. 9165. On appeal,

the confiscated sachet yielded positive results for

the CA affirmed the RTC decision.[11]

methamphetamine hydrochloride.[6]
Hence, the present appeal.
Appellant was charged in two separate Informations, one
for violation of Section 5 of R.A. 9165, for transporting or

In his brief,[12] appellant attacks the credibility of

delivering; and the second, of Section 11 of the same

the witnesses for the prosecution. He likewise avers that

law for possessing, dangerous drugs, the accusatory

the prosecution failed to establish the identity of the

portions of which read:

confiscated drug because of the teams failure to mark


the

That at about 3:00 oclock (sic) in the


afternoon on May 20, 2003 in Baler,
Aurora and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the said accused, did
then and there, unlawfully, feloniously
and willfully have in his possession five
point zero one (5.01) [or 4.54] grams of
Methamphetamine
Hydrochloride
commonly known as Shabu, a regulated
drug without any permit or license from
the proper authorities to possess the
same.

specimen

immediately

after

seizure.

In

his

supplemental brief, appellant assails, for the first time,


the legality of his arrest and the validity of the
subsequent

warrantless

search. He

questions

the

admissibility of the confiscated sachet on the ground that


it was the fruit of the poisonous tree.
The appeal is meritorious.

CONTRARY TO LAW.[7]

We have repeatedly held that the trial courts evaluation

That at about 3:00 oclock (sic)


in the afternoon on May 20, 2003 in
Baler, Aurora, the said accused did then
and there, unlawfully, feloniously and
willfully transporting or delivering

of the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies is


entitled to great respect and will not be disturbed on
appeal. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. We

119

have reviewed such factual findings when there is a

As to the admissibility of the seized drug in

showing that the trial judge overlooked, misunderstood,

evidence, it is necessary for us to ascertain whether or

or misapplied some fact or circumstance of weight and

not the search which yielded the alleged contraband was

substance that would have affected the case.[13]

lawful.[16]

Appellant focuses his appeal on the validity of his arrest

The 1987 Constitution states that a search and

and the search and seizure of the sachet of shabu and,

consequent seizure must be carried out with a judicial

consequently, the admissibility of the sachet. It is

warrant; otherwise, it becomes unreasonable and any

noteworthy that although the circumstances of his arrest

evidence obtained therefrom shall be inadmissible for

were briefly discussed by the RTC, the validity of the

any purpose in any proceeding. [17] Said proscription,

arrest and search and the admissibility of the evidence

however, admits of exceptions, namely:

against appellant were not squarely raised by the latter

1.

and thus, were not ruled upon by the trial and appellate

2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

courts.
It is well-settled that an appeal in a criminal case
opens the whole case for review. This Court is clothed
with ample authority to review matters, even those not

Warrantless search incidental to a


lawful arrest;
Search of evidence in plain view;
Search of a moving vehicle;
Consented warrantless search;
Customs search;
Stop and Frisk; and
Exigent
and
emergency
circumstances.[18]

raised on appeal, if we find them necessary in arriving at


What constitutes a reasonable or unreasonable

a just disposition of the case. Every circumstance in

warrantless search or seizure is purely a judicial

favor of the accused shall be considered. This is in

question, determinable from the uniqueness of the

keeping with the constitutional mandate that every

circumstances involved, including the purpose of the

accused shall be presumed innocent unless his guilt is

search or seizure, the presence or absence of probable

proven beyond reasonable doubt.[14]

cause, the manner in which the search and seizure was


made, the place or thing searched, and the character of

After a thorough review of the records of the case and

the articles procured.[19]

for reasons that will be discussed below, we find that


appellant can no longer question the validity of his

The RTC concluded that appellant was caught in

arrest, but the sachet of shabu seized from him during

flagrante delicto, declaring that he was caught in the act

the warrantless search is inadmissible in evidence

of actually committing a crime or attempting to commit a

against him.

crime in the presence of the apprehending officers as he

The records show that appellant never objected

arrived in Baler, Aurora bringing with him a sachet

to the irregularity of his arrest before his arraignment. In

of shabu.[20] Consequently, the warrantless search was

fact, this is the first time that he raises the issue.


Considering

this

lapse,

coupled

with

his

considered valid as it was deemed an incident to the

active

lawful arrest.

participation in the trial of the case, we must abide with


jurisprudence which dictates that appellant, having

Recent jurisprudence holds that in searches

voluntarily submitted to the jurisdiction of the trial court,

incident to a lawful arrest, the arrest must precede the

is deemed to have waived his right to question the

search; generally, the process cannot be reversed.

validity of his arrest, thus curing whatever defect may

Nevertheless, a search substantially contemporaneous

have attended his arrest. The legality of the arrest affects

with an arrest can precede the arrest if the police have

only the jurisdiction of the court over his person.

probable cause to make the arrest at the outset of the

Appellants warrantless arrest therefore cannot, in itself,

search.[21] Thus, given the factual milieu of the case, we

be the basis of his acquittal. [15]

have to determine whether the police officers had


probable cause to arrest appellant. Although probable

120

cause eludes exact and concrete definition, it ordinarily

accused perform some overt act that would indicate that

signifies a reasonable ground of suspicion supported by

he has committed, is actually committing, or is

circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to

attempting to commit an offense.[24] We find no cogent

warrant a cautious man to believe that the person

reason to depart from this well-established doctrine.

accused is guilty of the offense with which he is charged.


[22]

The instant case is similar to People v. Aruta,


[25]

People v. Tudtud,[26] and People v. Nuevas.[27]

The determination of the existence or absence


of probable cause necessitates a reexamination of the

In People v. Aruta, a police officer was tipped off by his

established facts. On May 19, 2003, a confidential agent

informant that a certain Aling Rosa would be arriving

of the police transacted through cellular phone with

from Baguio City the following day with a large volume of

appellant for the purchase of shabu. The agent reported

marijuana. Acting on said tip, the police assembled a

the transaction to the police authorities who immediately

team and deployed themselves near the Philippine

formed a team to apprehend the appellant. On May 20,

National Bank (PNB) in Olongapo City. While thus

2003, at 11:00 a.m., appellant called up the agent with

positioned, a Victory Liner Bus stopped in front of the

the information that he was on board a Genesis bus and

PNB building where two females and a man got off. The

would arrive in Baler, Aurora anytime of the day wearing

informant then pointed to the team members the woman,

a red and white striped T-shirt. The team members

Aling Rosa, who was then carrying a traveling bag.

posted themselves along the national highway in Baler,

Thereafter, the team approached her and introduced

Aurora, and at around 3:00 p.m. of the same day, a

themselves. When asked about the contents of her bag,

Genesis bus arrived in Baler. When appellant alighted

she handed it to the apprehending officers. Upon

from the bus, the confidential agent pointed to him as the

inspection, the bag was found to contain dried marijuana

person he transacted with, and when the latter was

leaves.[28]

about to board a tricycle, the team approached him and


invited him to the police station as he was suspected of

The facts in People v. Tudtud show that in July and

carrying shabu. When he pulled out his hands from his

August, 1999, the Toril Police Station, Davao City,

pants pocket, a white envelope slipped therefrom which,

received a report from a civilian asset that the neighbors

when opened, yielded a small sachet containing the

of a certain Noel Tudtud (Tudtud) were complaining that

suspected drug.[23] The team then brought appellant to

the latter was responsible for the proliferation of

the police station for investigation and the confiscated

marijuana in the area. Reacting to the report, the

specimen was marked in the presence of appellant. The

Intelligence Section conducted surveillance. For five

field test and laboratory examinations on the contents of

days, they gathered information and learned that Tudtud

the confiscated sachet yielded positive results for

was involved in illegal drugs. On August 1, 1999, the

methamphetamine hydrochloride.

civilian asset informed the police that Tudtud had


headed to Cotabato and would be back later that day

Clearly, what prompted the police to apprehend

with a new stock of marijuana. At around 4:00 p.m. that

appellant, even without a warrant, was the tip given by

same day, a team of police officers posted themselves to

the

await

informant

that

appellant

Baler, Aurora carrying shabu.This

would

arrive

circumstance

in

Tudtuds

arrival.

At

8:00

p.m.,

two

men

gives

disembarked from a bus and helped each other carry a

rise to another question: whether that information, by

carton. The police officers approached the suspects and

itself, is sufficient probable cause to effect a valid

asked if they could see the contents of the box which

warrantless arrest.

yielded marijuana leaves.[29]


In People v. Nuevas, the police officers received

The long standing rule in this jurisdiction is that

information that a certain male person, more or less 54

reliable information alone is not sufficient to justify a

in height, 25 to 30 years old, with a tattoo mark on the

warrantless arrest. The rule requires, in addition, that the

upper right hand, and usually wearing a sando and

121

maong pants, would make a delivery of marijuana

notwithstanding the absence of overt acts or suspicious

leaves. While conducting stationary surveillance and

circumstances that would indicate that the accused had

monitoring of illegal drug trafficking, they saw the

committed, was actually committing, or attempting to

accused who fit the description, carrying a plastic bag.

commit a crime. But as aptly observed by the Court,

The police accosted the accused and informed him that

except in Valdez and Gonzales, they were covered by

they were police officers. Upon inspection of the plastic

the other exceptions to the rule against warrantless

bag carried by the accused, the bag contained marijuana

searches.[38]

dried leaves and bricks wrapped in a blue cloth. In his

Neither were the arresting officers impelled by any

bid to escape charges, the accused disclosed where two

urgency that would allow them to do away with the

other male persons would make a delivery of marijuana

requisite warrant. As testified to by Police Officer 1

leaves. Upon seeing the two male persons, later

Aurelio Iniwan, a member of the arresting team, their

identified as Reynaldo Din and Fernando Inocencio, the

office received the tipped information on May 19, 2003.

police approached them, introduced themselves as

They likewise learned from the informant not only the

police officers, then inspected the bag they were

appellants physical description but also his name.

carrying. Upon inspection, the contents of the bag turned

Although it was not certain that appellant would arrive on

out to be marijuana leaves.[30]

the same day (May 19), there was an assurance that he


would be there the following day (May 20). Clearly, the
police had ample opportunity to apply for a warrant. [39]

In all of these cases, we refused to validate the


warrantless search precisely because there was no
adequate probable cause. We required the showing of

Obviously, this is an instance of seizure of the fruit of the

some overt act indicative of the criminal design.

poisonous

tree,

hence,

the

confiscated

item

is

inadmissible in evidence consonant with Article III,


As in the above cases, appellant herein was not

Section 3(2) of the 1987 Constitution, any evidence

committing a crime in the presence of the police officers.

obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall

Neither

be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.

did

the

arresting

officers

have

personal

knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be


arrested had committed, was committing, or about to

Without the confiscated shabu, appellants conviction

commit an offense. At the time of the arrest, appellant

cannot be sustained based on the remaining evidence.

had just alighted from the Gemini bus and was waiting

Thus, an acquittal is warranted, despite the waiver of

for a tricycle. Appellant was not acting in any suspicious

appellant of his right to question the illegality of his arrest

manner that would engender a reasonable ground for

by entering a plea and his active participation in the trial

the police officers to suspect and conclude that he was

of the case. As earlier mentioned, the legality of an

committing or intending to commit a crime. Were it not

arrest affects only the jurisdiction of the court over the

for the information given by the informant, appellant

person of the accused. A waiver of an illegal, warrantless

would not have been apprehended and no search would

arrest does not carry with it a waiver of the

have been made, and consequently, the sachet

inadmissibility of evidence seized during an illegal

of shabu would not have been confiscated.

warrantless arrest.[40]

We are not unaware of another set of jurisprudence that

One final note. As clearly stated in People v. Nuevas,[41]

deems reliable information sufficient to justify a search


x x x In the final analysis, we in the
administration of justice would have no
right to expect ordinary people to be
law-abiding if we do not insist on the full
protection of their rights. Some lawmen,
prosecutors and judges may still tend to
gloss over an illegal search and seizure
as long as the law enforcers show the
alleged evidence of the crime regardless
of the methods by which they were

incident to a lawful warrantless arrest. As cited in People


v. Tudtud, these include People v.
Maspil, Jr.,[31] People v. Bagista,[32] People v. Balingan,
[33]

People v. Lising,[34] People v. Montilla,[35] People v.

Valdez,[36] and People v. Gonzales.[37] In these cases, the


Court sustained the validity of the warrantless searches

122

obtained. This kind of attitude condones


law-breaking in the name of law
enforcement. Ironically, it only fosters
the more rapid breakdown of our system
of justice, and the eventual denigration
of society. While this Court appreciates
and encourages the efforts of law
enforcers to uphold the law and to
preserve the peace and security of
society, we nevertheless admonish them
to act with deliberate care and within the
parameters set by the Constitution and
the law. Truly, the end never justifies the
means.[42]

and a tricycle were conducting a police visibility patrol on


David Street, Pasay City, when they saw two unidentified
men rush out of house number 107-C and immediately
boarded a jeep.
Suspecting that a crime had been committed, the police
officers approached the house from where the men
came and peeked through the partially opened door.
PO1 Recio and PO1 Cabutihan saw accused Antiquera
holding an improvised tooter and a pink lighter. Beside
him was his live-in partner, Cruz, who was holding an
aluminum foil and an improvised burner. They sat facing
each other at the living room. This prompted the police
officers to enter the house, introduce themselves, and
arrest Antiquera and Cruz.4

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court

While inspecting the immediate surroundings, PO1


Cabutihan saw a wooden jewelry box atop a table. It
contained an improvised burner, wok, scissors, 10 small
transparent plastic sachets with traces of white
crystalline substance, improvised scoop, and seven
unused strips of aluminum foil. The police officers
confiscated all these and brought Antiquera and Cruz to
the Drug Enforcement Unit of the Philippine National
Police in Pasay City for further investigation and testing. 5

of Appeals Decision dated May 22, 2008 in CA-G.R. CRH.C.

No.

00425

ASIDE. Appellant

Jack

is REVERSED and SET


Raquero

Racho

is ACQUITTED for insufficiency of evidence.


The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is
directed to cause the immediate release of appellant,

A forensic chemical officer examined the confiscated


drug paraphernalia and found them positive for traces of
methamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu."6

unless the latter is being lawfully held for another cause;


and to inform the Court of the date of his release, or the
reasons for his confinement, within ten (10) days from

Accused Antiquera gave a different story. He said that on


the date and time in question, he and Cruz were asleep
in their house when he was roused by knocking on the
door. When he went to open it, three armed police
officers forced themselves into the house. One of them
shoved him and said, "Dyan ka lang, pusher ka." He
was handcuffed and someone instructed two of the
officers to go to his room. The police later brought
accused Antiquera and Cruz to the police station and
there informed them of the charges against them. They
were shown a box that the police said had been
recovered from his house.7

notice.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 180661

December 11, 2013

GEORGE ANTIQUERA y CODES, Petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

On July 30, 2004 the RTC rendered a Decision8 that


found accused Antiquera and Cruz guilty of the crime
charged and sentenced them to a prison term ranging
from six months and one day to two years and four
months, and to pay a fine of P10,000.00 each and the
costs of the suit.

DECISION
ABAD, J.:
This case is about a supposed warrantless arrest and a
subsequent search prompted by the police officers'
chance sighting through an ajar door of the accused
engaged in pot session.

The RTC said that the prosecution proved beyond


reasonable doubt that the police caught accused
Antiquera and Cruz in the act of using shabu and having
drug paraphernalia in their possession. Since no ill
motive could be attributed to PO1 Recio and PO1
Cabutihan, the court accorded full faith and credit to their
testimony and rejected the self-serving claim of
Antiquera.

The Facts and the Case


On January 13, 2004 the second Assistant City
Prosecutor of Pasay City charged the accused George
Codes Antiquera* and Corazon Olivenza Cruz with
illegal possession of paraphernalia for dangerous
drugs 1 before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasay
City in Criminal Case 04-0100-CFM. 2 Since the accused
Cruz jumped bail, the court tried her in absentia. 3

The trial court gave no weight to accused Antiqueras


claim of illegal arrest, given PO1 Recio and PO1
Cabutihans credible testimony that, prior to their arrest,
they saw Antiquera and Cruz in a pot session at their
living room and in possession of drug paraphernalia. The
police officers were thus justified in arresting the two

The prosecution evidence shows that at around 4:45


a.m. of February 11, 2004, PO1 Gregorio Recio, PO1
Laurence Cabutihan, P/Insp. Eric Ibon, PO1 Rodelio
Rania, and two civilian operatives on board a patrol car

123

without a warrant pursuant to Section 5, Rule 113 of the


Rules of Criminal Procedure.9

2. Admittedly, the police officers did not notice anything


amiss going on in the house from the street where they
stood. Indeed, even as they peeked through its partially
opened door, they saw no activity that warranted their
entering it. Thus, PO1 Cabutihan testified:

On appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) rendered a


Decision10 on September 21, 2007 affirming in full the
decision of the trial court. The accused moved for
reconsideration but the CA denied it.11 The accused is
now before this Court seeking acquittal.

THE COURT:
Q By the way, Mr. Cabutihan, when you followed your
companion towards the open door, how was the door
open? Was it totally open, or was it partially open?

The Issue Presented


The issue in this case is whether or not the CA erred in
finding accused Antiquera guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of illegal possession of drug paraphernalia based
on the evidence of the police officers that they saw him
and Cruz in the act of possessing drug paraphernalia.

A It was partially open Your Honor.


Q By how much, 1/3, 1/2? Only by less than one (1)
foot?

Ruling of the Court

A More or less 4 to 6 inches, Your Honor.

The prosecutions theory, upheld by both the RTC and


the CA, is that it was a case of valid warrantless arrest in
that the police officers saw accused Antiquera and Cruz
through the door of their house, in the act of having a pot
session. That valid warrantless arrest gave the officers
the right as well to search the living room for objects
relating to the crime and thus seize the paraphernalia
they found there.

Q So how were you able to know, to see the


interior of the house if the door was only open by 6
inches? Or did you have to push the door?
A We pushed the door, Your Honor.
xxxx
Q Were you allowed to just go towards the door of the
house, push its door and peeped inside it, as a police
officer?

The prosecution contends that, since the seized


paraphernalia tested positive for shabu, they were no
doubt used for smoking, consuming, administering,
injecting, ingesting, or introducing dangerous drug into
the body in violation of Section 12 of Republic Act 9165.
That the accused tested negative for shabu, said the
prosecution, had no bearing on the crime charged which
was for illegal possession of drug paraphernalia, not for
illegal use of dangerous drugs. The prosecution added
that even assuming that the arrest of the accused was
irregular, he is already considered to have waived his
right to question the validity of his arrest when he
voluntarily submitted himself to the courts jurisdiction by
entering a plea of not guilty.12

A Kasi po naghinala po kami baka may


Q Are you not allowed to Are you not required to get
a search warrant before you can search the interior of
the house?
A Yes, Your Honor.
Q What do you mean by yes? Would you first obtain a
search warrant before searching the interior of the
house?

Section 5(a), Rule 113 of the Rules of Criminal


Procedure provides that a "peace officer or a private
person may, without a warrant, arrest a person when, in
his presence, the person to be arrested has committed,
is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an
offense." This is an arrest in flagrante delicto.13 The overt
act constituting the crime is done in the presence or
within the view of the arresting officer.14

A Yes, Your Honor.


Q So why did you not a [sic] secure a search warrant
first before you tried to investigate the house,
considering your admission that you suspected that
there was something wrong inside the house?
A Because we saw them that they were engaged in pot
session, Your Honor.

But the circumstances here do not make out a case of


arrest made in flagrante delicto.

Q But before you saw them, you just had to push


the door wide open to peep through its opening
because you did not know what was happening
inside?

1. The police officers claim that they were alerted when


they saw two unidentified men suddenly rush out of 107
David Street, Pasay City. Since they suspected that a
crime had been committed, the natural thing for them to
do was to give chase to the jeep that the two fleeing men
boarded, given that the officers were in a patrol car and
a tricycle. Running after the fleeing suspects was the
more urgent task but the officers instead gave priority to
the house even when they heard no cry for help from it.

A Yes, Your Honor.15 (Emphasis supplied)


Clearly, no crime was plainly exposed to the view of the
arresting officers that authorized the arrest of accused
Antiquera without warrant under the above-mentioned
rule. Considering that his arrest was illegal, the search
and seizure that resulted from it was likewise

124

illegal.16 Consequently, the various drug paraphernalia


that the police officers allegedly found in the house and
seized are inadmissible, having proceeded from an
invalid search and seizure. Since the confiscated drug
paraphernalia is the very corpus delicti of the crime
charged, the Court has no choice but to acquit the
accused.17

Four witnesses testified for the prosecution: (1) Police


Senior Inspector (PSI) Albert Arturo, (2) Police Officer
(PO) 3 Jonathan Coralde, (3) PO2 Reynante
Mananghaya, and (4) Senior Police Officer 1 (SPO1)
Antonio Asiones.6Their testimonies reveal that a
Complaint was filed by Brian Resco against Danilo
Villanueva for allegedly shooting the former along C-3
Road, Navotas City. After recording the incident in the
police blotter, PO3 Jonathan Coralde, SPO3 Enrique de
Jesus, SPO2 Henry Martin and SPO1 Anthony Asiones,
together with Resco, proceeded to the house of
Villanueva. They informed Villanueva about the
Complaint lodged against him. They invited him to the
police station. There, he was subjected to a body search
and, in the process, a plastic sachet of shabu was
recovered from the left pocket of his pants. PO3 Coralde
marked the sachet with the initial "DAV 06-15-04", and
PO2 Reynante Mananghaya brought it to the National
Police District Scene of the Crime Operatives (NPDSOCO) for examination.7 DEFENSES VERSION

One final note. The failure of the accused to object to the


irregularity of his arrest by itself is not enough to sustain
his conviction. A waiver of an illegal warrantless arrest
does not carry with it a waiver of the inadmissibility of
evidence seized during the illegal warrantless arrest.18
WHEREFORE, the Court REVERSES and SETS
ASIDE the Decision dated September 21, 2007 and
Resolution dated November 16, 2007 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CR 28937 and ACQUITS the
accused George Antiquera y Codes of the crime of
which he is charged for lack of evidence sufficient to
establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.1wphi1 The
Court further ORDERS the cancellation and release of
the bail bond he posted for his provisional liberty.

The accused testified that at the time of the incident, he


was at home watching TV when PO3 Coralde, along
with three others, invited him to go with them to the
police station. Informed that he had been identified as
responsible for shooting Resco, the accused was then
frisked and detained at the police station.8

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 199042

November 17, 2014

RULING OF THE RTC

DANILO VILLANUEVA y ALCARAZ, Petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

The Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 127 of Caloocan


City, in its Decision9 dated 6 April 2009, convicted
petitioner of the offense charged. The dispositive portion
of the Decision reads:

DECISION
SERENO, CJ:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is


hereby rendered declaring accused DANILO
VILLANUEVA y ALCARAZ, GUILTY BEYOND
REASONABLE DOUBT of the offense of Violation of
Section 11, Article II,R.A. 9165. Henceforth, this Court
hereby sentences him to suffer an imprisonment of
twelve (12) years and one (1) day as the minimum to
seventeen (17) years and eight (8) months as the
maximum and to pay the fine of Three Hundred
Thousand Pesos (P300,000.00).

We resolve the Petition1 filed by Danilo Villanueva y


Alcaraz from the Decision2 dated 4 May 2011 and
Resolution3dated 18 October 2011 issued by the
Fourteenth Division of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CAG.R. C.R. No. 32582.
THE ANTECEDENT FACTS
Petitioner Danilo Villanueva was charged with violation
of Section 11, Article II of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165
or The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The Information4 reads:

The drugs subject matter of this case is ordered


confiscated and forfeited in favor of the government to
be dealt with in accordance with the law.

That on or about the 15th day of June 2004 in Caloocan


City, Metro Manila, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above named accused, without
being authorized by law, did then and there, willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously have in his possession,
custody and control METHAMPHETAMINE
HYDROCHLORIDE (Shabu) weighing 0.63 gram
knowing the same to [be a] dangerous drug under the
provisions of the above-cited law.

SO ORDERED.10
The CA reviewed the appeal, which hinged on one issue,
viz:
THE COURT A QUOGRAVELY ERRED IN NOT
FINDING AS ILLEGAL THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS
WARRANTLESS ARREST AND SEARCH.11
RULING OF THE CA

CONTRARY TO LAW.
On 15 July 2004, the accused, duly assisted by counsel
de oficio, pleaded not guilty to the offense charged.5

On 4 May 2011, the CA affirmed the ruling of the lower


court:

PROSECUTIONS VERSION

WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision dated April 6,


2009 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 127, Caloocan

125

City in Criminal Case No. 70854 finding the accusedappellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt is hereby
AFFIRMED.

(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.

SO ORDERED.12
On 27 May 2011, petitioner filed a Motion for
Reconsideration,13 which the CA denied in a
Resolution14 dated 18 October 2011.

The circumstances that transpired between accusedappellant and the arresting officer show none of the
above that would make the warrantless arrest lawful.
Nevertheless, records reveal that accused-appellant
never objected to the irregularity of his arrest before his
arraignment. He pleaded not guilty upon arraignment.
He actively participated in the trial of the case. Thus, he
is considered as one who had properly and voluntarily
submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the trial court and
waived his right to question the validity of his arrest. 17

Hence, the instant Petition, which revolves around the


following lone issue:
WHETHER THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS
ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE PETITIONERS
CONVICTION FOR VIOLATION OF SECTION 11 OF
REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9165 DESPITE THE ILLEGALITY
OF THE ARREST AND THE LAPSES ON THE PART
OF THE POLICE OFFICERS IN THE HANDLING OF
THE CONFISCATED DRUG.15

The warrantless search conducted is not among those


allowed by law.
A waiver of an illegal arrest, however, is not a waiver of
an illegal search.18 Records have established that both
the arrest and the search were made without a warrant.
While the accused has already waived his right to
contest the legality of his arrest, he is not deemed to
have equally waived his right to contest the legality of
the search.

Petitioner claims that his arrest does not fall within the
purview of valid warrantless arrests, since it took place
on the day of the alleged shooting incident. Hence, to
"invite" him to the precinct without any warrant of arrest
was illegal. The evidence obtained is, consequently,
inadmissible. The Office of the Solicitor General filed its
Comment16 stating that the shabu confiscated from
petitioner was admissible in evidence against him; that
the search conducted on him was valid; and that he
cannot raise the issue regarding the apprehending
officers non-compliance with Section 21, Article II of
R.A. 9165 for the first time on appeal.

Jurisprudence is replete with pronouncements on when


a warrantless search can be conducted.1wphi1 These
searches include: (1) search of a moving vehicle; (2)
seizure in plain view; (3) customs search; (4) waiver or
consented search; (5) stop-and-frisk situation; (6) search
incidental to a lawful arrest and (7) exigent and
emergency circumstance.19

OUR RULING
We find the instant appeal meritorious.

The search made was not among the enumerated


instances. Certainly, it was not of a moving vehicle, a
customs search, or a search incidental to a lawful arrest.
There could not have been a seizure in plain view as the
seized item was allegedly found inside the left pocket of
accused-appellants pants. Neither was it a stop-andfrisk situation. While thistype may seemingly fall under
the consented search exception, we reiterate that
"[c]onsent to a search is not to be lightly inferred, but
shown by clear and convincing evidence."20

Accused-appellant is estopped from questioning the


legality of his arrest.
Accused-appellant was arrested without a warrant.
Section 5, Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure, lays down the basic rules on lawful
warrantless arrests either by a peace officer or a private
person, as follows:
Sec. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. A peace
officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest
a person:

Consent must also be voluntary inorder to validate an


otherwise illegal search; that is, the consent mustbe
unequivocal, specific, intelligently given, and
uncontaminated by any duress or coercion.21 In this
case, petitioner was merely "ordered" to take out the
contents of his pocket. The testimony of the police officer
on the matter is clear:

(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

Q: And what did you do when you frisked a small plastic


sachet?
A: When I felt something inside his pocket, I ordered him
to bring out the thing which I felt.
Q. : And what did Danilo Villanueva do when you
instructed him to bring out the contents of his pocket?

126

A: He took out the contents of his pocket and I saw the


plastic containing shabu.22

As a final word, we reiterate that "[ w ]hile this Court


appreciates and encourages the efforts of law enforcers
to uphold the law and to preserve the peace and security
of society, we nevertheless admonish them to act with
deliberate care and within the parameters set by the
Constitution and the law. Truly, the end never justifies
the means."24

The evidence obtained is not admissible.


Having been obtained through an unlawful search, the
seized item is thus inadmissible in evidence against
accused-appellant. Obviously, this is an instance of
seizure of the "fruit of the poisonous tree." Hence, the
confiscated item is inadmissible in evidence consonant
with Article III, Section 3(2) of the 1987 Constitution:
"Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the
preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose
in any proceeding."23 Without the seized item, therefore,
the conviction of accused appellant cannot be sustained.
This being the case, we see no more reason to discuss
the alleged lapses of the officers in the handling of the
confiscated drug.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed


Decision dated 4 May 2011 and Resolution dated 18
October 2011 issued by the Fourteenth Division of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. C.R. No. 32582 are SET
ASIDE. Petitioner is hereby ACQUITTED.
SO ORDERED.

127