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PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs.

ANDRE MARTI
(193 SCRA 57) Case Digest

Facts:

On August 14, 1987, the appellant and his common-law wife, Shirley Reyes went to Manila Packaging
and Export Forwarders to send packages to Zurich, Switzerland. It was received by Anita Reyes and ask
if she could inspect the packages. Shirley refused and eventually convinced Anita to seal the package
making it ready for shipment. Before being sent out for delivery, Job Reyes, husband of Anita and
proprietor of the courier company, conducted an inspection of the package as part of standard operating
procedures. Upon opening the package, he noticed a suspicious odor which made him took sample of the
substance he found inside. He reported this to the NBI and invited agents to his office to inspect the
package. In the presence of the NBI agents, Job Reyes opened the suspicious package and found dried-
marijuana leaves inside. A case was filed against Andre Marti in violation of R.A. 6425 and was found
guilty by the court a quo. Andre filed an appeal in the Supreme Court claiming that his constitutional right
of privacy was violated and that the evidence acquired from his package was inadmissible as evidence
against him.

Issue:

Can the Constitutional Right of Privacy be enforced against private individuals?

Ruling:

The Supreme Court held based on the speech of Commissioner Bernas that the Bill of Rights governs the
relationship between the individual and the state.

The constitutional proscription against unlawful searches and seizures therefore applies as a restraint
directed only against the government and its agencies tasked with the enforcement of the law. It is not
meant to be invoked against acts of private individuals. It will be recalled that Mr Job Reyes was the one
who opened the box in the presence of the NBI agents in his place of business. The mere presence of the
NBI agents did not convert the reasonable search effected by Mr. Reyes into a warrantless search and
siezure proscribed by the constitution. Merely to observe and look at that which is in plain sight is not a
search.

The judgement of conviction finding appeallant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged was
AFFIRMED.