Rule 103-Change of Name

Republic vs. coseteng-Magpayo(GR: 189476)

Justice Carpio-Morales:

A person can effect a change of name under Rule 103 (CHANGE OF NAME) using valid and meritorious grounds including (a) when the name is ridiculous, dishonorable or extremely difficult to write or pronounce; (b) when the change results as a legal consequence such as legitimation; (c) when the change will avoid confusion; (d) when one has continuously used and been known since childhood by a Filipino name, and was unaware of alien parentage; (e) a sincere desire to adopt a Filipino name to erase signs of former alienage, all in good faith and without prejudicing anybody; and (f) when the surname causes embarrassment and there is no showing that the desired  change  of name was for a fraudulent purpose or that the change of name would prejudice public interest.

Wang vs. Cebu City Civil registrar (GR: 159966)

Justice Tinga:

The petition before us is unlike other petitions for change of name, as it does not simply seek to change the name of the minor petitioner and adopt another, but instead seeks to drop the middle name altogether. Decided cases in this jurisdiction involving petitions for change of name usually deal with requests for change of surname. There are only a handful of cases involving requests for change of the given name and none on requests for changing or dropping of the middle name. Does the law allow one to drop the middle name from his registered name? We have to answer in the negative.

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In the case at bar, the only reason advanced by petitioner for the dropping his middle name is convenience. However, how such change of name would make his integration into Singaporean society easier and convenient is not clearly established. That the continued use of his middle name would cause confusion and difficulty does not constitute proper and reasonable cause to drop it from his registered complete name.

In addition, petitioner is only a minor. Considering the nebulous foundation on which his petition for change of name is based, it is best that the matter of change of his name be left to his judgment and discretion when he reaches the age of majority. As he is of tender age, he may not yet understand and appreciate the value of the change of his name and granting of the same at this point may just prejudice him in his rights under our laws.

Republic vs. Hernandez (GR: 117209)

Justice Regalado:

It must likewise be stressed once again that a change of name is a privilege, not a matter of right, addressed to the sound discretion of the court which has the duty to consider carefully the consequences of a change of name and to deny the same unless weighty reasons are shown. Before a person can be authorized to change his name, that is, his true or official name or that which appears in his birth certificate or is entered in the civil register, he must show proper and reasonable cause or any convincing reason which may justify such change.

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Contrarily, a petition for change of name grounded on the fact that one was baptized by another name, under which he has been known and which he used, has been denied inasmuch as the use of baptismal names is not sanctioned. For, in truth, baptism is not a condition sine qua non to a change of name. Neither does the fact that the petitioner has been using a different name and has become known by it constitute proper and reasonable cause to legally authorize a change of name. A name given to a person in the church records or elsewhere or by which he is known in the community – when at variance with that entered in the civil register – is unofficial and cannot be recognized as his real name.

The instant petition does not sufficiently persuade us to depart from such rulings of long accepted wisdom and applicability. The only grounds offered to justify the change of name prayed for was that the adopted child had been baptized as Aaron Joseph in keeping with the religious faith of private respondents and that it was the name by which he had been called and known by his family, relatives and friends from the time he came to live with private respondents. Apart from suffusing their pleadings with sanctimonious entreaties for compassion, none of the justified grounds for a change of name has been alleged or established by private respondents. The legal bases chosen by them to bolster their cause have long been struck down as unavailing for their present purposes. For, to allow the adoptee herein to use his baptismal name, instead of his name registered in the civil register, would be to countenance or permit that which has always been frowned upon.

Republic vs. Bringas (GR:160597)

Justice Garcia:

In the context of Section 3, Rule 103 of the Rules, publication is valid if the following requisites concur: (1) the petition and the copy of the order indicating the date and place for the hearing must be published; (2) the publication must be at least once a week for three successive weeks; and, (3) the publication must be in some newspaper of general circulation published in the province, as the court shall deem best. Another validating ingredient relates to the caveat against the petition being heard within 30 days prior to an election or within four (4) months after the last publication of the notice of the hearing.

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The matter of granting or denying petitions for change of name and the corollary issue of what is a proper and reasonable cause therefor rests on the sound discretion of the court. The evidence presented need only be satisfactory to the court; it need not be the best evidence available.  What is involved in special proceedings for change of name is, to borrow from Republic v. Court of Appeals not a mere matter of allowance or disallowance of the petition, but a judicious evaluation of the sufficiency and propriety of the justifications advanced in support thereof, mindful of the consequent results in the event of its grant and with the sole prerogative for making such determination being lodged in the courts.

With the view we take of the case, respondent’s submission for a change of name is with proper and reasonable reason. As it were, she has, since she started schooling, used the given name and has been known as Maria Eloisa, albeit the name Roselie Eloisa is written on her birth record. Her scholastic records, as well as records in government offices, including that of her driver’s license, professional license as a certified public accountant issued by the Professional Regulation Commission, and the “Quick Count” document of the COMELEC, all attest to her having used practically all her life the name Maria Eloisa Bringas Bolante.

Silverio vs. Republic (GR: 174689)

Justice Corona:

May a person successfully petition for a change of name and sex appearing in the birth certificate to reflect the result of a sex reassignment surgery?

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A Persons First Name Cannot Be Changed On the Ground of Sex Reassignment

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RA 9048 now governs the change of first name. It vests the power and authority to entertain petitions for change of first name to the city or municipal civil registrar or consul general concerned. Under the law, therefore, jurisdiction over applications for change of first name is now primarily lodged with the aforementioned administrative officers. The intent and effect of the law is to exclude the change of first name from the coverage of Rules 103 (Change of Name) and 108 (Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the Civil Registry) of the Rules of Court, until and unless an administrative petition for change of name is first filed and subsequently denied. It likewise lays down the corresponding venue, form and procedure. In sum, the remedy and the proceedings regulating change of first name are primarily administrative in nature, not judicial.

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Petitioners basis in praying for the change of his first name was his sex reassignment. He intended to make his first name compatible with the sex he thought he transformed himself into through surgery. However, a change of name does not alter ones legal capacity or civil status. RA 9048 does not sanction a change of first name on the ground of sex reassignment. Rather than avoiding confusion, changing petitioners first name for his declared purpose may only create grave complications in the civil registry and the public interest.

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In sum, the petition in the trial court in so far as it prayed for the change of petitioners first name was not within that courts primary jurisdiction as the petition should have been filed with the local civil registrar concerned, assuming it could be legally done. It was an improper remedy because the proper remedy was administrative, that is, that provided under RA 9048. It was also filed in the wrong venue as the proper venue was in the Office of the Civil Registrar of Manila where his birth certificate is kept. More importantly, it had no merit since the use of his true and official name does not prejudice him at all. For all these reasons, the Court of Appeals correctly dismissed petitioners petition in so far as the change of his first name was concerned.

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Neither May Entries in the Birth Certificate As to First Name or Sex Be Changed on the Ground of Equity

The trial court opined that its grant of the petition was in consonance with the principles of justice and equity. It believed that allowing the petition would cause no harm, injury or prejudice to anyone. This is wrong.

The changes sought by petitioner will have serious and wide-ranging legal and public policy consequences. First, even the trial court itself found that the petition was but petitioners first step towards his eventual marriage to his male fiancee. However, marriage, one of the most sacred social institutions, is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman. One of its essential requisites is the legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male and a female. To grant the changes sought by petitioner will substantially reconfigure and greatly alter the laws on marriage and family relations. It will allow the union of a man with another man who has undergone sex reassignment (a male-to-female post-operative transsexual). Second, there are various laws which apply particularly to women such as the provisions of the Labor Code on employment of women, certain felonies under the Revised Penal Code and the presumption of survivorship in case of calamities under Rule 131 of the Rules of Court, among others. These laws underscore the public policy in relation to women which could be substantially affected if petitioners petition were to be granted.

 

 

The right to Privacy of Communication and Correspondence

Zulueta vs. CA (GR 107383)

The intimacies between husband and wife do not justify any one of them in breaking the drawers and cabinets of the other and in ransacking them for any telltale evidence of marital infidelity. A person, by contracting marriage, does not shed his/her integrity or his right to privacy as an individual and the constitutional protection is ever available to him or to her.

The law insures absolute freedom of communication between the spouses by making it privileged. Neither husband nor wife may testify for or against the other without the consent of the affected spouse while the marriage subsists. Neither may be examined without the consent of the other as to any communication received in confidence by one from the other during the marriage, save for specified exceptions. But one thing is freedom of communication; quite another is a compulsion for each one to share what one knows with the other. And this has nothing to do with the duty of fidelity that each owes to the other.

Ople vs. Torres (GR 127685)

The right to privacy is one of the most threatened rights of man living in a mass society. The threats emanate from various sources– governments, journalists, employers, social scientists, etc. In the case at bar, the threat comes from the executive branch of government which by issuing A.O. No. 308 pressures the people to surrender their privacy by giving information about themselves on the pretext that it will facilitate delivery of basic services.

Given the record-keeping power of the computer, only the indifferent will fail to perceive the danger that A.O. No. 308 gives the government the power to compile a devastating dossier against unsuspecting citizens. It is timely to take note of the well-worded warning of Kalvin, Jr., “the disturbing result could be that everyone will live burdened by an unerasable record of his past and his limitations. In a way, the threat is that because of its record-keeping, the society will have lost its benign capacity to forget.” Oblivious to this counsel, the dissents still say we should not be too quick in labelling the right to privacy as a fundamental right. We close with the statement that the right to privacy was not engraved in our Constitution for flattery.

Alejano vs. Cabuay (GR 160792)

That a law is required before an executive officer could intrude on a citizens privacy rights is a guarantee that is available only to the public at large but not to persons who are detained or imprisoned. The right to privacy of those detained is subject to Section 4 of RA 7438, as well as to the limitations inherent in lawful detention or imprisonment. By the very fact of their detention, pre-trial detainees and convicted prisoners have a diminished expectation of privacy rights.

The detainees in the present case are junior officers accused of leading 300 soldiers in committing coup detat, a crime punishable with reclusion perpetua. The junior officers are not ordinary detainees but visible leaders of the Oakwood incident involving an armed takeover of a civilian building in the heart of the financial district of the country. As members of the military armed forces, the detainees are subject to the Articles of War.

SAbio vs. Gordon (GR 174340)

This goes to show that the right to privacy is not absolute where there is an overriding compelling state interest. In Morfe v. Mutuc, the Court, in line with Whalen v. Roe, employed the rational basis relationship test when it held that there was no infringement of the individuals right to privacy as the requirement to disclosure information is for a valid purpose, i.e., to curtail and minimize the opportunities for official corruption, maintain a standard of honesty in public service, and promote morality in public administration. In Valmonte v. Belmonte, the Court remarked that as public figures, the Members of the former Batasang Pambansa enjoy a more limited right to privacy as compared to ordinary individuals, and their actions are subject to closer scrutiny. Taking this into consideration, the Court ruled that the right of the people to access information on matters of public concern prevails over the right to privacy of financial transactions.

Under the present circumstances, the alleged anomalies in the PHILCOMSAT, PHC and POTC, ranging in millions of pesos, and the conspiratorial participation of the PCGG and its officials arecompelling reasons for the Senate to exact vital information from the directors and officers of Philcomsat Holdings Corporations, as well as from Chairman Sabio and his Commissioners to aid it in crafting the necessary legislation to prevent corruption and formulate remedial measures and policy determination regarding PCGGs efficacy. There being no reasonable expectation of privacy on the part of those directors and officers over the subject covered by Senate Res. No. 455, it follows that their right to privacy has not been violated by respondent Senate Committees.

Waterous Drug Corporation vs. NLRC (GR 113271)

As regards the constitutional violation upon which the NLRC anchored its decision, we find no reason to revise the doctrine laid down in People vs. Marti that the Bill of Rights does not protect citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures perpetrated by private individuals. It is not true, as counsel for Catolico claims, that the citizens have no recourse against such assaults. On the contrary, and as said counsel admits, such an invasion gives rise to both criminal and civil liabilities.

Magtolis vs. Salud (AM no. CA-05-20-P)

En Bnac:

The respondents claim that the admission of the text messages as evidence against him constitutes a violation of his right to privacy is unavailing. Text messages have been classified as ephemeral electronic communication under Section 1(k), Rule 2 of the Rules on Electronic Evidence, and shall be proven by the testimony of a person who was a party to the same or has personal knowledge thereof. Any question as to the admissibility of such messages is now moot and academic, as the respondent himself, as well as his counsel, already admitted that he was the sender of the first three messages on Atty. Madarangs cell phone.

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.

 

Arrest, Search, and Seizure Explained Part 2

Ong vs. People of the Philippines (PP) (GR 197788)

Arrest is the taking of a person into custody in order that he or she may be bound to answer for the commission of an offense. It is effected by an actual restraint of the person to be arrested or by that persons voluntary submission to the custody of the one making the arrest. Neither the application of actual force, manual touching of the body, or physical restraint, nor a formal declaration of arrest, is required. It is enough that there be an intention on the part of one of the parties to arrest the other, and that there be an intent on the part of the other to submit, under the belief and impression that submission is necessary.

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The following are the instances when a warrantless search is allowed: (i) a warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest; (ii) search of evidence in plain view; (iii) search of a moving vehicle; (iv) consented warrantless search; (v) customs search; (vi) a stop and frisk search; and (vii) exigent and emergency circumstances. None of the above-mentioned instances, especially a search incident to a lawful arrest, are applicable to this case.

It must be noted that the evidence seized, although alleged to be inadvertently discovered, was not in plain view. It was actually concealed inside a metal container inside petitioners pocket. Clearly, the evidence was not immediately apparent.

Neither was there a consented warrantless search. Consent to a search is not to be lightly inferred, but shown by clear and convincing evidence. It must be voluntary in order to validate an otherwise illegal search; that is, the consent must be unequivocal, specific, intelligently given and uncontaminated by any duress or coercion. While the prosecution claims that petitioner acceded to the instruction of PO3 Alteza, this alleged accession does not suffice to prove valid and intelligent consent. In fact, the RTC found that petitioner was merely told to take out the contents of his pocket.

Castillo vs. People of the Phils. (GR 185128)

The requisites for the issuance of a search warrant are: (1) probable cause is present; (2) such probable cause must be determined personally by the judge; (3) the judge must examine, in writing and under oath or affirmation, the complainant and the witnesses he or she may produce; (4) the applicant and the witnesses testify on the facts personally known to them; and (5) the warrant specifically describes the place to be searched and the things to be seized.

According to petitioner, there was no probable cause. Probable cause for a search warrant is defined as such facts and circumstances which would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed and that the objects sought in connection with the offense are in the place sought to be searched. A finding of probable cause needs only to rest on evidence showing that, more likely than not, a crime has been committed and that it was committed by the accused.

Probable cause demands more than bare suspicion; it requires less than evidence which would justify conviction. The judge, in determining probable cause, is to consider the totality of the circumstances made known to him and not by a fixed and rigid formula, and must employ a flexible, totality of the circumstances standard. The existence depends to a large degree upon the finding or opinion of the judge conducting the examination.

This Court, therefore, is in no position to disturb the factual findings of the judge which led to the issuance of the search warrant. A magistrate’s determination of probable cause for the issuance of a search warrant is paid great deference by a reviewing court, as long as there was substantial basis for that determination. Substantial basis means that the questions of the examining judge brought out such facts and circumstances as would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed, and the objects in connection with the offense sought to be seized are in the place sought to be searched. A review of the records shows that in the present case, a substantial basis exists.

Silahis International vs. Soluta (GR 163087)

While it is doctrinal that the right against unreasonable searches and seizures is a personal right which may be waived expressly or impliedly, a waiver by implication cannot be presumed. There must be clear and convincing evidence of an actual intention to relinquish it to constitute a waiver thereof. There must be proof of the following:

(a) that the right exists;

(b) that the person involved had knowledge, either actual or constructive, of the existence of such right; and,

(c) that the said person had an actual intention to relinquish the right.

In other words, the waiver must be voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently made. The evidence shows otherwise, however.

People vs. Estella (GR 138539)

Never was it proven that appellant, who was the person to be arrested, was in possession of the subject prohibited drug during the search. It follows, therefore, that there was no way of knowing if he had committed or was actually committing an offense in the presence of the arresting officers. Without that knowledge, there could have been no search incident to a lawful arrest.

Assuming arguendo that appellant was indeed committing an offense in the presence of the arresting officers, and that the arrest without a warrant was lawful, it still cannot be said that the search conducted was within the confines of the law. Searches and seizures incident to lawful arrests are governed by Section 12, Rule 126 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, which reads:

Section 12. 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.

However, the scope of the search should be limited to the area within which the person to be arrested can reach for a weapon or for evidence that he or she can destroy. The prevailing rule is that the arresting officer may take from the arrested individual any money or property found upon the latters person — that which was used in the commission of the crime or was the fruit of the crime, or which may provide the prisoner with the means of committing violence or escaping, or which may be used in evidence in the trial of the case.

People vs. Raquero (GR 186529)

What constitutes a reasonable or unreasonable warrantless search or seizure is purely a judicial question, determinable from the uniqueness of the circumstances involved, including the purpose of the search or seizure, the presence or absence of probable cause, the manner in which the search and seizure was made, the place or thing searched, and the character of the articles procured.

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The long standing rule in this jurisdiction is that reliable information alone is not sufficient to justify a warrantless arrest. The rule requires, in addition, that the accused perform some overt act that would indicate that he has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense. We find no cogent reason to depart from this well-established doctrine.

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As in the above cases, appellant herein was not committing a crime in the presence of the police officers. Neither did the arresting officers have personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested had committed, was committing, or about to commit an offense.

At the time of the arrest, appellant had just alighted from the Gemini bus and was waiting for a tricycle. Appellant was not acting in any suspicious manner that would engender a reasonable ground for the police officers to suspect and conclude that he was committing or intending to commit a crime.

Were it not for the information given by the informant, appellant would not have been apprehended and no search would have been made, and consequently, the sachet of shabu would not have been confiscated.

 

Arrest, Search, and Seizure Explained Part 1

Article 3, section 2, of the 1987 constitution states:

“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.”

There has been several questions poised and contradicting the methods applied by the police in apprehending drugs and criminal suspects upon the assumption into office by President Duterte. To understand better how section 2 of article 3 works, it is best to refer to our Supreme Court decisions.

Valdez vs. People (GR 170180)

Justice Tinga:

Drug addiction has been invariably denounced as an especially vicious crime,and one of the most pernicious evils that has ever crept into our society, for those who become addicted to it not only slide into the ranks of the living dead, what is worse, they become a grave menace to the safety of law-abiding members of society, whereas peddlers of drugs are actually agents of destruction. Indeed, the havoc created by the ruinous effects of prohibited drugs on the moral fiber of society cannot be underscored enough. However, in the rightfully vigorous campaign of the government to eradicate the hazards of drug use and drug trafficking, it cannot be permitted to run roughshod over an accused right to be presumed innocent until proven to the contrary and neither can it shirk from its corollary obligation to establish such guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

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A final word. We find it fitting to take this occasion to remind the courts to exercise the highest degree of diligence and prudence in deliberating upon the guilt of accused persons brought before them, especially in light of the fundamental rights at stake. Here, we note that the courts a quo neglected to give more serious consideration to certain material issues in the determination of the merits of the case. We are not oblivious to the fact that in some instances, law enforcers resort to the practice of planting evidence to extract information or even harass civilians. Accordingly, courts are duty-bound to be [e]xtra vigilant in trying drug cases lest an innocent person be made to suffer the unusually severe penalties for drug offenses. In the same vein, let this serve as an admonition to police officers and public officials alike to perform their mandated duties with commitment to the highest degree of diligence, righteousness and respect for the law.

Pollo vs. David (GR 181881)

A search by a government employer of an employees office is justified at inception when there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that it will turn up evidence that the employee is guilty of work-related misconduct. Thus, in the 2004 case decided by the US Court of Appeals Eighth Circuit, it was held that where a government agency’s computer use policy prohibited electronic messages with pornographic content and in addition expressly provided that employees do not have any personal privacy rights regarding their use of the agency information systems and technology, the government employee had no legitimate expectation of privacy as to the use and contents of his office computer, and therefore evidence found during warrantless search of the computer was admissible in prosecution for child pornography.

Valeroso vs. Court of appeals (CA) (GR 164815)

Justice Nachura:

We would like to stress that the scope of the warrantless search is not without limitations. In People v. Leangsiri, People v. Cubcubin, Jr., and People v. Estella, we had the occasion to lay down the parameters of a valid warrantless search and seizure as an incident to a lawful arrest.

When an arrest is made, it is reasonable for the arresting officer to search the person arrested in order to remove any weapon that the latter might use in order to resist arrest or effect his escape. Otherwise, the officers safety might well be endangered, and the arrest itself frustrated. In addition, it is entirely reasonable for the arresting officer to search for and seize any evidence on the arrestees person in order to prevent its concealment or destruction.

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The arresting officers would have been justified in searching the person of Valeroso, as well as the tables or drawers in front of him, for any concealed weapon that might be used against the former. But under the circumstances obtaining, there was no comparable justification to search through all the desk drawers and cabinets or the other closed or concealed areas in that room itself.

It is worthy to note that the purpose of the exception (warrantless search as an incident to a lawful arrest) is to protect the arresting officer from being harmed by the person arrested, who might be armed with a concealed weapon, and to prevent the latter from destroying evidence within reach. The exception, therefore, should not be strained beyond what is needed to serve its purpose. In the case before us, search was made in the locked cabinet which cannot be said to have been within Valerosos immediate control. Thus, the search exceeded the bounds of what may be considered as an incident to a lawful arrest.

Nor can the warrantless search in this case be justified under the plain view doctrine.

The plain view doctrine may not be used to launch unbridled searches and indiscriminate seizures or to extend a general exploratory search made solely to find evidence of defendants guilt. The doctrine is usually applied where a police officer is not searching for evidence against the accused, but nonetheless inadvertently comes across an incriminating object.

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Because a warrantless search is in derogation of a constitutional right, peace officers who conduct it cannot invoke regularity in the performance of official functions.

The Bill of Rights is the bedrock of constitutional government. If people are stripped naked of their rights as human beings, democracy cannot survive and government becomes meaningless. This explains why the Bill of Rights, contained as it is in Article III of the Constitution, occupies a position of primacy in the fundamental law way above the articles on governmental power.

Nala vs. Judge Barroso (GR 153087)

Can petitioner be charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosive allegedly seized from his house? Petitioner contends that said articles are inadmissible as evidence against him because they were not the same items specifically listed in the warrant. The Office of the Provincial Prosecutor, on the other hand, claims that petitioner should be held liable because the items seized bear a direct relation to the offense of illegal possession of firearms. These arguments, however, become immaterial in view of the nullity of the search warrant which made possible the seizure of the questioned articles.

The settled rule is that where entry into the premises to be searched was gained by virtue of a void search warrant, prohibited articles seized in the course of the search are inadmissible against the accused. In Roan v. Gonzales, the prosecution sought to charge the accused with illegal possession of firearms on the basis of the items seized in a search through a warrant which the Court declared as void for lack of probable cause. In ruling against the admissibility of the items seized, the Court said

Prohibited articles may be seized but only as long as the search is valid. In this case, it was not because: 1) there was no valid search warrant; and 2) absent such a warrant, the right thereto was not validly waived by the petitioner. In short, the military officers who entered the petitioners premises had no right to be there and therefore had no right either to seize the pistol and bullets.

Conformably, the articles allegedly seized in the house of petitioner cannot be used as evidence against him because access therein was gained by the police officer using a void search and seizure warrant. It is as if they entered petitioners house without a warrant, making their entry therein illegal, and the items seized, inadmissible.

Moreover, it does not follow that because an offense is malum prohibitum, the subject thereof is necessarily illegal per se. Motive is immaterial in mala prohibita, but the subjects of this kind of offense may not be summarily seized simply because they are prohibited. A warrant is still necessary, because possession of any firearm becomes unlawful only if the required permit or license therefor is not first obtained.

So also, admissibility of the items seized cannot be justified under the plain view doctrine. It is true that, as an exception, the police officer may seize without warrant illegally possessed firearm, or any contraband for that matter, inadvertently found in plain view. However, said officer must have a prior right to be in the position to have that view of the objects to be seized. The plain view doctrine applies when the following requisites concur: (a) 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; (b) the discovery of the evidence in plain view is inadvertent; (c) it is immediately apparent to the officer that the item he observes may be evidence of a crime, contraband or otherwise subject to seizure.

The law enforcement officer must lawfully make an initial intrusion or properly be in a position from which he can particularly view the area. In the course of such lawful intrusion, he came inadvertently across a piece of evidence incriminating the accused. The object must be open to eye and hand and its discovery inadvertent.

Nature of Ex post Facto Law and Bill of Attainder

RP vs. Rosemoor Mining and Development Corp. (GR 149927)

there is no merit in the argument that the proclamation is an ex post facto law. There are six recognized instances when a law is considered as such: 1) it criminalizes and punishes an action that was done before the passing of the law and that was innocent when it was done; 2) it aggravates a crime or makes it greater than it was when it was committed; 3) it changes the punishment and inflicts one that is greater than that imposed by the law annexed to the crime when it was committed; 4) it alters the legal rules of evidence and authorizes conviction upon a less or different testimony than that required by the law at the time of the commission of the offense; 5) it assumes the regulation of civil rights and remedies only, but in effect imposes a penalty or a deprivation of a right as a consequence of something that was considered lawful when it was done; and 6) it deprives a person accused of a crime of some lawful protection to which he or she become entitled, such as the protection of a former conviction or an acquittal or the proclamation of an amnesty. Proclamation No. 84 does not fall under any of the enumerated categories; hence, it is not an ex post facto law.

It is settled that an ex post facto law is limited in its scope only to matters criminal in nature. Proclamation 84, which merely restored the area excluded from the Biak-na-Bato national park by canceling respondents license, is clearly not penal in character.

BOCEA vs. Hon. Margarito Teves (GR 181704)

R.A. No. 9335 does not possess the elements of a bill of attainder. It does not seek to inflict punishment without a judicial trial. R.A. No. 9335 merely lays down the grounds for the termination of a BIR or BOC official or employee and provides for the consequences thereof. The democratic processes are still followed and the constitutional rights of the concerned employee are amply protected.

Recuerdo vs. People, CA (GR 133036)

The contention that B. P. 22 is a bill of attainder, one which inflicts punishment without trial and the essence of which is the substitution of a legislative for a judicial determination of guilt, fails. For under B. P. 22, every element of the crime is still to be proven before the trial court to warrant a conviction for violation thereof.

Republic vs. Desierto (GR 136506)

to construe Section 15, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution in order to give it retroactive application to the private respondents will run counter to another constitutional provision, that is, Section 22, Article III which provides that No ex post facto law or bill of attainder shall be enacted. An ex post facto law is defined, in part, as a law which deprives persons accused of crime of some lawful protection of a former conviction or acquittal, or of the proclamation of amnesty; every law which, in relation to the offense or its consequences, alters the situation of a person to his disadvantage. A construction which raises a conflict between different parts of the constitution is not permissible when by reasonable construction, the parts may made to harmonize.

PP vs. Casta (GR 172871)

In light of the greater penalty that attaches under the amendment, the previous penalty of reclusion temporal in its maximum period to death will have to be imposed in order not to run afoul of the constitutional prohibition against ex post facto laws. Under Section 22 of Article III of the 1987 Constitution, no ex post facto law or bill of attainder shall be enacted. An ex post facto law, among others, is one that changes the penalty and inflicts a greater punishment than what the law annexed to the crime when committed – the situation that would obtain if the amendment under Republic Act No. 7659 would be applied.

 

Equal Protection of the Laws

Romarico J Mendoza vs. PP (GR 183891)

On the matter of equal protection, we stated in Tolentino v. Board of Accountancy, et al. that the guarantee simply means that no person or class of persons shall be denied the same protection of the laws which is enjoyed by other persons or other classes in the same place and in like circumstances. In People v. Cayat, we further summarized the jurisprudence on equal protection in this wise:

It is an established principle of constitutional law that the guaranty of the equal protection of the laws is not violated by a legislation based on reasonable classification. And the classification, to be reasonable, (1) must rest on substantial distinctions; (2) must be germane to the purposes of the law; (3) must not be limited to existing conditions only; and (4) must apply equally to all members of the same class.

Ang Ladlad LGBT vs. Comelec (GR 190582)

Despite the absolutism of Article III, Section 1 of our Constitution, which provides nor shall any person be denied equal protection of the laws, courts have never interpreted the provision as an absolute prohibition on classification. Equality, said Aristotle, consists in the same treatment of similar persons. The equal protection clause guarantees that no person or class of persons shall be deprived of the same protection of laws which is enjoyed by other persons or other classes in the same place and in like circumstances.

From the standpoint of the political process, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender have the same interest in participating in the party-list system on the same basis as other political parties similarly situated. State intrusion in this case is equally burdensome. Hence, laws of general application should apply with equal force to LGBTs, and they deserve to participate in the party-list system on the same basis as other marginalized and under-represented sectors.

International School Alliance of Educators vs. Hon. Quisumbing (GR 128845)

That public policy abhors inequality and discrimination is beyond contention. Our Constitution and laws reflect the policy against these evils. The Constitution in the Article on Social Justice and Human Rights exhorts Congress to “give highest priority to the enactment of measures that protect and enhance the right of all people to human dignity, reduce social, economic, and political inequalities.” The very broad Article 19 of the Civil Code requires every person, “in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, [to] act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith.”

International law, which springs from general principles of law, likewise proscribes discrimination. General principles of law include principles of equity i.e., the general principles of fairness and justice, based on the test of what is reasonable. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,the Convention against Discrimination in Education, the Convention (No. 111) Concerning Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation – all embody the general principle against discrimination, the very antithesis of fairness and justice. The Philippines, through its Constitution, has incorporated this principle as part of its national laws.

Discrimination, particularly in terms of wages, is frowned upon by the Labor Code. Article 135, for example, prohibits and penalizes the payment of lesser compensation to a female employee as against a male employee for work of equal value. Article 248 declares it an unfair labor practice for an employer to discriminate in regard to wages in order to encourage or discourage membership in any labor organization.

British american Tobacco vs. DOF (GR 163583)

Petitioner argues that the classification freeze provision violates the equal protection and uniformity of taxation clauses because Annex D brands are taxed based on their 1996 net retail prices while new brands are taxed based on their present day net retail prices. Citing Ormoc Sugar Co. v. Treasurer of Ormoc City, petitioner asserts that the assailed provisions accord a special or privileged status to Annex D brands while at the same time discriminate against other brands.

These contentions are without merit and a rehash of petitioners previous arguments before this Court. As held in the assailed Decision, the instant case neither involves a suspect classification nor impinges on a fundamental right. Consequently, the rational basis test was properly applied to gauge the constitutionality of the assailed law in the face of an equal protection challenge. It has been held that in the areas of social and economic policy, a statutory classification that neither proceeds along suspect lines nor infringes constitutional rights must be upheld against equal protection challenge if there is any reasonably conceivable state of facts that could provide a rational basis for the classification. Under the rational basis test, it is sufficient that the legislative classification is rationally related to achieving some legitimate State interest.

NAPOCOR vs Pinatubo Commercial (GR 176006)

The equal protection clause means that no person or class of persons shall be deprived of the same protection of laws which is enjoyed by other persons or other classes in the same place and in like circumstances. The guaranty of the equal protection of the laws is not violated by a legislation based on a reasonable classification. The equal protection clause, therefore, does not preclude classification of individuals who may be accorded different treatment under the law as long as the classification is reasonable and not arbitrary.

Armando G. Yrasuegui vs. PAL (GR 168081)

To make his claim more believable, petitioner invokes the equal protection clause guaranty of the Constitution. However, in the absence of governmental interference, the liberties guaranteed by the Constitution cannot be invoked. Put differently, the Bill of Rights is not meant to be invoked against acts of private individuals. Indeed, the United States Supreme Court, in interpreting the Fourteenth Amendment, which is the source of our equal protection guarantee, is consistent in saying that the equal protection erects no shield against private conduct, however discriminatory or wrongful. Private actions, no matter how egregious, cannot violate the equal protection guarantee.