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People Vs.

217 SCRA 597
January 27, 1993
Facts: A civilian informer gave the information that Mari Musa was engaged in selling
marijuana in Suterville, Zamboanga City. Sgt. Ani was ordered by NARCOM leader T/Sgt.
Belarga, to conduct a surveillance and test buy on Musa. The civilian informer guided
Ani to Musa’s house and gave the description of Musa. Ani was able to buy one
newspaper-wrapped dried marijuana for P10.00.
The next day, a buy-bust was planned. Ani was to raise his right hand if he successfully
buys marijuana from Musa. As Ani proceeded to the house, the NARCOM team
positioned themselves about 90 to 100 meters away. From his position, Belarga could
see what was going on. Musa came out of the house and asked Ani what he wanted. Ani
said he wanted more marijuana and gave Musa the P20.00 marked money. Musa went
into the house and came back, giving Ani two newspaper wrappers containing dried
marijuana. Ani opened and inspected it. He raised his right hand as a signal to the other
NARCOM agents, and the latter moved in and arrested Musa inside the house. Belarga
frisked Musa in the living room but did not find the marked money (gave it to his wife
who slipped away). T/Sgt. Belarga and Sgt. Lego went to the kitchen and found a
‘cellophane colored white and stripe hanging at the corner of the kitchen.’ They asked
Musa about its contents but failed to get a response. So they opened it and found dried
marijuana leaves inside. Musa was then placed under arrest.
Issue: Whether the seizure of the plastic bag and the marijuana inside it is
unreasonable, hence, inadmissible as evidence.
Held: Yes. It constituted unreasonable search and seizure thus it may not be admitted
as evidence. The warrantless search and seizure, as an incident to a suspect’s lawful
arrest, may extend beyond the person of the one arrested to include the premises or
surroundings under his immediate control. Objects in the ‘plain view’ of an officer who
has the right to be in the position to have that view are subject to seizure and may be
presented as evidence. The ‘plain view’ doctrine is usually applied where a police officer
is not searching for evidence against the accused, but nonetheless inadvertently comes
across an incriminating object. It will not justify the seizure of the object where the
incriminating nature of the object is not apparent from the ‘plain view’ of the object.
In the case at bar, the plastic bag was not in the ‘plain view’ of the police. They arrested
the accused in the living room and moved into the kitchen in search for other evidences
where they found the plastic bag. Furthermore, the marijuana inside the plastic bag was
not immediately apparent from the ‘plain view’ of said object.

The plastic bag was seized illegally and cannot be presented in evidence pursuant to Article III Section 3 (2) of the Constitution.Therefore. the ‘plain view’ does not apply. .