Arrest, Search and Seizure Explained Part 3

People vs. Mariacos (GR 188611)

Over the years, the rules governing search and seizure have been steadily liberalized whenever a moving vehicle is the object of the search on the basis of practicality. This is so considering that before a warrant could be obtained, the place, things and persons to be searched must be described to the satisfaction of the issuing judge a requirement which borders on the impossible in instances where moving vehicle is used to transport contraband from one place to another with impunity.

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

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

People vs. Tudtud (GR 144037)

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Thus, notwithstanding tips from confidential informants and regardless of the fact that the search yielded contraband, the mere act of looking from side to side while holding ones abdomen, or of standing on a corner with ones eyes moving very fast, looking at every person who came near, does not justify a warrantless arrest under said Section 5 (a). Neither does putting something in ones pocket, handing over ones baggage, riding a motorcycle, nor does holding a bag on board a trisikad sanction State intrusion. The same rule applies to crossing the street per se.

People vs. Huang Zhen Hua (GR 139301)

Unannounced intrusion into the premises is permissible when;

(a) a party whose premises or is entitled to the possession thereof refuses, upon demand, to open it;

(b) when such person in the premises already knew of the identity of the officers and of their authority and persons;

(c) when the officers are justified in the honest belief that there is an imminent peril to life or limb; and

(d) when those in the premises, aware of the presence of someone outside (because, for example, there has been a knock at the door), are then engaged in activity which justifies the officers to believe that an escape or the destruction of evidence is being attempted. Suspects have no constitutional right to destroy evidence or dispose of evidence. However, the exceptions above are not exclusive or conclusive. At times, without the benefit of hindsight and ordinarily on the spur of the moment, the officer must decide whether or not to make an unannounced intrusion into the premises.

Although a search and seizure of a dwelling might be constitutionally defective, if the police officers entry was without prior announcement, law enforcement interest may also establish the reasonableness of an unannounced entry.

People vs. Aruta (GR 120915)

Justice Romero:

With the pervasive proliferation of illegal drugs and its pernicious effects on our society, our law enforcers tend at times to overreach themselves in apprehending drug offenders to the extent of failing to observe well-entrenched constitutional guarantees against illegal searches and arrests. Consequently, drug offenders manage to evade the clutches of the law on mere technicalities.

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Search warrants to be valid must particularly describe the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized. The purpose of this rule is to limit the things to be seized to those and only those, particularly described in the warrant so as to leave the officers of the law with no discretion regarding what articles they shall seize to the end that unreasonable searches and seizures may not be made.

People vs. Encinada (GR 116720)

In acquitting the appellant, the Court reiterates the constitutional proscription that evidence (in this case, prohibited drugs) seized without a valid search warrant is inadmissible in any proceeding. A yield of incriminating evidence will not legitimize an illegal search. Indeed, the end never justifies the means.

People vs. Nuevas (GR 170233)

An object is in plain view if it is plainly exposed to sight. Where the object seized was inside a closed package, the object itself is not in plain view and therefore cannot be seized without a warrant. However, if the package proclaims its contents, whether by its distinctive configuration, its transparency, or if its contents are obvious to an observer, then the contents are in plain view and may be seized.

In other words, if the package is such that an experienced observer could infer from its appearance that it contains the prohibited article, then the article is deemed in plain view. It must be immediately apparent to the police that the items that they observe may be evidence of a crime, contraband or otherwise subject to seizure.

Paper Industries Corporation of the Phils. vs. Judge M. Asuncion (GR 122092)

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Chief Inspector Pascua was asked nothing else, and he said nothing more. In fact, he failed even to affirm his application. Contrary to his statement, the trial judge failed to propound questions, let alone probing questions, to the applicant and to his witnesses other than Bacolod (whose testimony, as will later be shown, is also improper). Obviously, His Honor relied mainly on their affidavits. This Court has frowned on this practice in this language:

Mere affidavits of the complainant and his witnesses are thus not sufficient. The examining Judge has to take depositions in writing of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce and attach them to the record. Such written deposition is necessary in order that the Judge may be able to properly determine the existence or non-existence of the probable cause, to hold liable for perjury the person giving it if it will be found later that his declarations are false.

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In the present case, the assailed search warrant failed to describe the place with particularity. It simply authorizes a search of the aforementioned premises, but it did not specify such premises. The warrant identifies only one place, and that is the Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines, located at PICOP Compound, Barangay Tabon, Bislig[,] Surigao del Sur. The PICOP compound, however, is made up of 200 offices/buildings, 15 plants, 84 staff houses, 1 airstrip, 3 piers/wharves, 23 warehouses, 6 POL depots/quick service outlets and some 800 miscellaneous structures, all of which are spread out over some one hundred fifty-five hectares. Obviously, the warrant gives the police officers unbridled and thus illegal authority to search all the structures found inside the PICOP compound.

In their Opposition, the police state that they complied with the constitutional requirement, because they submitted sketches of the premises to be searched when they applied for the warrant. They add that not one of the PICOP Compound housing units was searched, because they were not among those identified during the hearing.

These arguments are not convincing. The sketches allegedly submitted by the police were not made integral parts of the search warrant issued by Judge Asuncion. Moreover, the fact that the raiding police team knew which of the buildings or structures in the PICOP Compound housed firearms and ammunitions did not justify the lack of particulars of the place to be searched. Otherwise, confusion would arise regarding the subject of the warrant the place indicated in the warrant or the place identified by the police. Such conflict invites uncalled for mischief or abuse of discretion on the part of law enforcers.

 

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Author: Born2drinkStuff

SEO/Content/Article/BMR Writer

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