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Case Digest: Luz y Ong v. People

G. R. No. 197788 : February 29, 2012

RODEL LUZ y ONG, Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.


PO2 Emmanuel L. Alteza testified that he saw the accused driving a motorcycle without a helmet and this
prompted him to flag down the accused for violating a municipal ordinance which requires all motorcycle
drivers to wear helmet while driving said motor vehicle. He invited the accused to come inside their sub-
station since the place where he flagged down the accused is almost in front of the sub-station to where he
is assigned as a traffic enforcer. While he and SPO1 Rayford Brillante were issuing a citation ticket for
violation of municipal ordinance, he noticed that the accused was uneasy and kept on getting something
from his jacket. He was alerted and so, he told the accused to take out the contents of the pocket of his
jacket as the latter may have a weapon inside it. The accused obliged and slowly put out the contents of
the pocket of his jacket which included two (2) plastic sachets of suspected shabu. The RTC convicted
petitioner of illegal possession of dangerous drugs. It found the prosecution evidence sufficient to show
that he had been lawfully arrested for a traffic violation and then subjected to a valid search, which led to
the discovery on his person of two plastic sachets later found to contain shabu. Upon review, the CA
affirmed the RTCs Decision.

ISSUE: Whether or not the search and seizure of the alleged subject shabu was incident to a lawful

HELD: Court of Appeals decision is reversed.

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW: search and seizure incident to a lawful arrest

There was no valid arrest of petitioner. When he was flagged down for committing a traffic violation, he
was not, ipso facto and solely for this reason, arrested.

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. Under R.A. 4136, or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, the general procedure for
dealing with a traffic violation is not the arrest of the offender, but the confiscation of the drivers license
of the latter.

At the time that he was waiting for PO3 Alteza to write his citation ticket, petitioner could not be said to
have been under arrest. There was no intention on the part of PO3 Alteza to arrest him, deprive him of his
liberty, or take him into custody. Prior to the issuance of the ticket, the period during which petitioner was
at the police station may be characterized merely as waiting time. In fact, as found by the trial court, PO3
Alteza himself testified that the only reason they went to the police sub-station was that petitioner had
been flagged down almost in front of that place. Hence, it was only for the sake of convenience that they
were waiting there. There was no intention to take petitioner into custody.

Even if one were to work under the assumption that petitioner was deemed arrested upon being flagged
down for a traffic violation and while awaiting the issuance of his ticket, then the requirements for a valid
arrest were not complied with. At the time a person is arrested, it shall be the duty of the arresting officer
to inform the latter of the reason for the arrest and must show that person the warrant of arrest, if any.
Persons shall be informed of their constitutional rights to remain silent and to counsel, and that any
statement they might make could be used against them. It may also be noted that in this case, these
constitutional requirements were complied with by the police officers only after petitioner had been
arrested for illegal possession of dangerous drugs.

At around 4:45 A.M. of February 11, 2004, police officers Gregorio and Laurence while
onboard a patrol car, saw two unidentified men rush out of a house in David St., Pasay
City. Sensing something amiss, the police officers approached the house and peeked
inside the partially opened door, where they saw George holding an improvised tooter
and a pink lighter, and beside him, his live-in partner, Corazon. Because of this, they
entered the house, and arrested George and Corazon. A search of the immediate
surroundings revealed a wooden box containing improvised tooter, scoop 10 sachets of
suspected shabu, and strips of aluminium oil. Because of they, they were charged with
illegal possession of drugs paraphernalia. Only George appealed the decision rendered
by the RTC convicting him as charged, since Corazon jumped bail. The Court of Appeals
denied his appeal, hence he elevated his case to the Supreme Court. Both lower courts
justified the conviction of George, citing his arrest was a valid warrantless arrest under
Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of Court.

The Supreme Court:

The prosecutions theory, upheld by both the RTC and the CA, is that it was a case of valid
warrantless arrest in that the police officers saw accused Antiquera and Cruz through
the door of their house, in the act of having a pot session. That valid warrantless arrest
gave the officers the right as well to search the living room for objects relating to the
crime and thus seize the paraphernalia they found there.

The prosecution contends that, since the seized paraphernalia tested positive for shabu,
they were no doubt used for smoking, consuming, administering, injecting, ingesting, or
introducing dangerous drug into the body in violation of Section 12 of Republic Act 9165.
That the accused tested negative for shabu, said the prosecution, had no bearing on the
crime charged which was for illegal possession of drug paraphernalia, not for illegal use
of dangerous drugs. The prosecution added that even assuming that the arrest of the
accused was irregular, he is already considered to have waived his right to question the
validity of his arrest when he voluntarily submitted himself to the courts jurisdiction by
entering a plea of not guilty.

Section 5(a), Rule 113 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that a peace officer or
a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person when, in his presence, the
person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit
an offense. This is an arrest in flagrante delicto. The overt act constituting the crime is
done in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer.

But the circumstances here do not make out a case of arrest made in flagrante delicto.
1. The police officers claim that they were alerted when they saw two unidentified men
suddenly rush out of 107 David Street, Pasay City. Since they suspected that a crime had
been committed, the natural thing for them to do was to give chase to the jeep that the
two fleeing men boarded, given that the officers were in a patrol car and a tricycle.
Running after the fleeing suspects was the more urgent task but the officers instead gave
priority to the house even when they heard no cry for help from it.
2. Admittedly, the police officers did not notice anything amiss going on in the house
from the street where they stood. Indeed, even as they peeked through its partially
opened door, they saw no activity that warranted their entering it.
Thus, PO1 Cabutihan testified:

Q By the way, Mr. Cabutihan, when you followed your companion towards the open
door, how was the door open?Was it totally open, or was it partially open?
A It was partially open Your Honor.

Q By how much, 1/3, 1/2? Only by less than one (1) foot?
A More or less 4 to 6 inches, Your Honor.

Q So how were you able to know, to see the interior of the house if the door was only
open by 6 inches? Or did you have to push the door?
A We pushed the door, Your Honor.


Q Were you allowed to just go towards the door of the house, push its door and peeped
inside it, as a police officer?
A Kasi po naghinala po kami baka may

Q Are you not allowed to Are you not required to get a search warrant before you can
search the interior of the house?
A Yes, Your Honor.

Q What do you mean by yes? Would you first obtain a search warrant before searching
the interior of the house?
A Yes, Your Honor.

Q So why did you not a [sic] secure a search warrant first before you tried to
investigate the house, considering your admission that you suspected that there was
something wrong inside the house?
A Because we saw them that they were engaged in pot session, Your Honor.

Q But before you saw them, you just had to push the door wide open to peep through its
opening because you did not know what was happening inside?
A Yes, Your Honor. (Emphasis supplied)

Clearly, no crime was plainly exposed to the view of the arresting officers that authorized
the arrest of accused Antiquera without warrant under the above-mentioned rule.
Considering that his arrest was illegal, the search and seizure that resulted from it was
likewise illegal. Consequently, the various drug paraphernalia that the police officers
allegedly found in the house and seized are inadmissible, having proceeded from an
invalid search and seizure. Since the confiscated drug paraphernalia is the very corpus
delicti of the crime charged, the Court has no choice but to acquit the accused.
One final note. The failure of the accused to object to the irregularity of his arrest by itself
is not enough to sustain his conviction. A waiver of an illegal warrantless arrest does not
carry with it a waiver of the inadmissibility of evidence seized during the illegal
warrantless arrest.
Accused acquitted.
THIRD DIVISION, G.R. No. 180661, December 11, 2013, GEORGE ANTIQUERA Y CODES,


January 15, 2014, 714 SCRA 78

FACTS: P/Insp. Fajardo testified that, a confidential informant went to their office and reported that a
certain Donald Vasquez was engaged in illegal drug activity. This alias Don supposedly claimed that he
was an employee of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). According to the informant, alias Don
promised him a good commission if he (the informant) would present a potential buyer of drugs. P/Insp.
Fajardo relayed the information to Police Superintendent (P/Supt.) Pepito Domantay, the commanding
officer of their office. P/Insp. Fajardo was then instructed to form a team and conduct a possible buy-bust
against alias Don. She formed a team and with the help of the informant, she was able to set up a meeting
with alias Don. The buy-bust operation took place. P/Insp. Fajardo further testified that the six plastic
bags of shabu seized during the buy-bust operation were actually contained in a self-sealing plastic
envelope placed inside a brown envelope. When the brown envelope was confiscated from the appellant,
she put her initials JSF therein and signed it.

ISSUE: Whether the warrantless seizure was valid

HELD: YES. Having established the validity of the warrantless arrest in this case, the Court holds that the
warrantless seizure of the illegal drugs from the appellant is likewise valid. This interdiction against
warrantless searches and seizures, however, is not absolute and such warrantless searches and seizures
have long been deemed permissible by jurisprudence in instances of (1) search of moving vehicles, (2)
seizure in plain view, (3) customs searches, (4) waiver or consented searches, (5) stop and frisk situations
(Terry search), and search incidental to a lawful arrest. The last includes a valid warrantless arrest,
for, while as a rule, an arrest is considered legitimate if effected with a valid warrant of arrest, the Rules of
Court recognize permissible warrantless arrest, to wit: (1) arrest in flagrante delicto, (2) arrest
effected in hot pursuit, and (3) arrest of escaped prisoners. To secure a conviction for the crime of illegal
sale of regulated or prohibited drugs, the following elements should be satisfactorily proven: (1) the
identity of the buyer and seller, the object, and the consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold
and the payment therefor. In a prosecution of illegal sale of drugs, what is material is proof that the
accused peddled illicit drugs, coupled with the presentation in court of the corpus delicti. The Supreme
Court thus affirmed the conviction.