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CRIMPRO RULE 126

Title GR No. 204589


Sanchez v. People Date: November 19 , 2014
Ponente: Mendoza, J.
Rizaldy Sanchez, petitioner People of the Philippines , respondent
This is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 seeking to reverse and set aside the July 25, 2012
Decision and the November 20, 2012 Resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA), in CA-G.R. CR No.
31742 filed by petitioner Rizaldy Sanchez y Cajili (Sanchez), affirming the April 21, 2005 Decision
of the Regional Trial Court of Imus, Cavite, Branch 20 (RTC), which convicted him for Violation of
Section 11, Article l l of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165.
FACTS
1. Sanchez was charged for violation of Sec. 11 of Article II of RA 9165 for the possession of
shabu. He pleaded not guilty to the offense charged.
Prosecutions Version of Facts
SPO1 Elmer Amposta together with other CSUs Hernandez, Tagle, and Monzon, acted on
the information that Jacinta Marciano was selling drugs to tricycle drivers. They were
dispatched to Brgy. Alapan 1-B, Imus, Cavite, to conduct an operation.
While at the place, they waited for a tricycle going to, and coming from the house of
Jacinta. After a few minutes, they spotted a tricycle carrying Rizaldy Sanchez coming
out of the house. The group chased the tricycle. After catching up with it,
they requested Sanchez to alight. It was then they noticed Rizaldy holding a match
box.
SPO1 Amposta asked Sanchez if he could see the contents of the match box which the
latter agreed to. While examining it, SPO1 Amposta found a small transparent plastic
sachet which contained a white crystalline substance. Suspecting that it was a
regulated drug, the group accosted Sanchez and the tricycle driver. They were brought
to the police station.
The forensic chemist from NBI found that the said susbtance was shabu.

Defenses Version of Facts


Sanchez denied all the allegations of the prosecution. He said that he and Darwin Reyes
were on their way hope where they transported a passenger, when their way was
blocked by four armed men riding an owner-type jeepney. Without a word, the four men
frisked him and Darwin. He protested and asked what offense did they commit. The
officers told him that they had just bought drugs from Alapan. He reasoned out that he
merely transported a passenger there but the policemen still accosted him and he was
brought to Imus Police Station.
On cross-examination, the accused admitted tht it was the first time that he saw the
police officers at the time he was arrested.

2. The RTC ruled that Sanchez was caught in flagrante delicto, in actual possession of shabu.
It stated that the police operatives had reasonable ground to believe that Sanchez was in
possession of the said dangerous drug and suspicion was confirmed when the match box
Sanchez was carrying was found to contain shabu.
3. The CA found no cogent reason to reverse or modify the findings of facts and conclusions
reached by the RTC and upheld the conviction of Sanchez. According to the CA, there was
probable cause for the police officers that he was seen leaving the residence of a notorious
drug dealer, where, according to a tip they received, illegal drug activities were being
perpetrated. It also conccluded that the confiscation by the police operative of the subject
narcotics from Sanchez was pursuant to a valid search.
ISSUE/S
I. Whether or not the Sanchez was caught in flagrante delicto hence a search warrant was
no longer necessary NO
RATIO
It is observed that the Court of Appeals confused the search incidental to a lawful arrest with
stop-and-frisk principle.
A stop-and-frisk search is entirely different from and should not be confused with the search
incidental to a lawful arrest envisioned in Sec. 13 Rule 126.

In a search incidental to a lawful arrest, arrest determines the validity of the incidental search. The
law requires that there first be a lawful arrest before a search can be made, the process cannot be
reveresed. The arresting officer may search the person of the arrestee and the area within which
the latter may reach for a weapon or for evidence to destroy, and seize any money or property
found which was used in the commission of the crime.

As held in Terry v. Ohio, the Terry stop-and-frisk serach is a limited protective searcch of outer
clothing for weapons. Where a police officer observes unusual conduct which leads him to
reasonably conclude in light of his experience that criminal activity may be afoot and that the
persons with whom he is dealing may be armed and presently dangerous, where in the course of
investigating this behavior he identifies himself as apoliceman and makes reasonable inquiries,
he is entitled for the protection of himself.

The two-fold interest of stop-and-frisk are:


1. The general interest of effective crime prevention and detection, which underlies the
recognition that a police officer may, under appropriate circumstances and in an
appropriate manner, approach a person for purposes of investigating possible criminal
behavior even without probable cause
2. The more pressing interest of safety and self-preservation which permit the police office to
take steps to assure himself that the person with whom he deals is not armed with a deadly
weapon that could unexpectedly and fatally be used against the police officer.

IN THE CASE AT BENCH, neither the in flagrante delict arrest nor the stop-and-frisk principle was
applicable to justify the warrantless search and seizure made by the police operatives. The search
preceded the arrest of Sanchez . There was no arrest prior to the conduct of the search. Under
Sec. 1 of Rule 113, arrest is the taking of a person into custody that he may be bound to answer
for the commission of an offense. Sec. 2 of the same rules provides that an arrest is effected by an
actual restraint of the person to be arrested or by his voluntary submission to the custody of the
person making the arrest.

It appears that SPO1 Amposta after they caught up with the tricycle just noticed Sanchez holding
a match box and requested if he could see the contents. The arrest was made only after the
discovery by SPO1 Amposta of the shabu inside the boxx. What happened in this case was
a search first before arrest was effected. This does not qualifiy under a valid warrantless arrest
under Sec. 5 Rule 113*.

The evidence on record reveals that no physical act could be properly attributed to Sanchez as
to rouse suspicion in the minds of the police operatives that he had just committeed, was
committing, or was about to commit a crime. He was merely seen by the police operatives leaving
the residence of a known drug peddler. IT has not been established either that the rigorous
conditions set in par. B of Sec 5 of Rule 113 have been complied with. The police officers had no
personal knowledge to believe that Sanchez bought shabu from the notorious drug dealer and
actually possessed the illegal drug when he boarded the tricycle. The police officers had no inkling
whatsoever as to what Sanchez did inside the house of the known drug dealer. Nowhere in the
prosecution evidence does it show that the drug dealer was conducting her nefarious drug
activities insidde the house. There was no over manifestation on the part of Sanchez that he had
just engaged in, was actually engaging in, or was attemptin to engage in the criminal activity of
ilegally possessiong shabu.

There is no valid stop-and-frisk. This is an act of apolice officer to stop a citizen on the street,
interrogate him and pat him for weapon/s or contraband. The police officer should properly
introduce himself and make initial inquiries, approach and restrain a person who manifests
unusual and suspicious conduct, in order to check the latters outer clothing for possible
concealed weapons. The apprehending officer must have a genuine reason, in accordance with
the police officers experience and the surrounding conditions, to warrant the belief that the
person to be held has weapons or contraband concealed.

The Court does not find the totality of the circumstance sufficient to incite a reasonable suspicion
that would justify a stop-and-frisk search on Sanchez. Coming out from the house of a drug pusher
and boarding a tricylce without more, were innocuous movements, and by themselves alone could
not give rise in the mind of an experienced and prudent police officer of any belief that he had
shabu in his possession.

Lastly, the OSG characterizes the seuzure of the subject shabu from Sanchez as seizure of
evidence in plain view. The SC disagrees.

Under the plaint view doctrine, objects falling in the plain view of an officer who has a right to be
in the position to have that view are subject to seizure and may be presented as evidence.
The following are the requisites:
1. the law enforcement officer in search of the evidence has a prior justification for an
intrusion or is in a position from which he can view a particular area
2. the discovery of evidence in plain view is inadvertent
3. it is immediately apparent to the officer that the item he observes may be evidence of a
crime, contraband, or otherwise subject to seizure.

It is readily apaprent that the seizure of the subject shabu does not fall within the plain view
exception. There was no valid intrusion. Sanchez was illegally arrested. The subject shabu was not
inadvertently discovered and it was not plainly exposed to sight. Here, the subject shabu was
alledly inside amatch box being then held by Sanchez and was not readily apparent or
transparent to the police officers.

RULING
Given the procedural lapses pointed out above, a serious uncertainty hangs over the identity of
the seized shabu that the prosecution introduced in evidence. The prosecution failed to establish
an unbroken chain of custody, resulting in rendering the seizure and confiscation of the shabu
open to doubt and suspicion. Hence, the incriminatory evidence cannot pass judicial scrutiny.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed July 25, 2012 Decision and the November 20,
2012 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 31742 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
Petitioner Rizaldy Sanchez y Cajili is ACQUITTED on reasonable doubt. Accordingly, the Court
orders the immediate release of the petitioner, unless the latter is being lawfully held for another
cause; and to inform the Court of the date of his release, or reason for his continued confinement,
within ten (10) days from receipt of notice.

Notes
* 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 actuallly committing, or is
attempting to commit an offense;
(b) When an offense has just been committed and he has probable cause to believe based on
personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it;
and
(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or
place where he is serving final judgment or is temporarily confined while his case is pending, or
has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another.

2-S 2016-17 (SALVACION)