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SPECIAL THIRD DIVISION

ROMER SY TAN,
Petitioner,

-versus-

SY TIONG GUE, FELICIDAD CHAN SY, SY CHIM, SY TIONG SAN, SY YU BUN, SY YU


SHIONG, SY YU SAN, and BRYAN SY LIM,
Respondents.
G.R. No. 174570

Present:

CORONA, C.J., Chairperson,


VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA,
PERALTA, and
MENDOZA, JJ.

Promulgated:

December 15, 2010


x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

RESOLUTION

PERALTA, J.:

On February 17, 2010, this Court rendered a Decision[1] in G.R. No. 174570 entitled Romer Sy
Tan v. Sy Tiong Gue, et al., the decretal portion of which reads, as follows:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision and Resolution
dated December 29, 2005 and August 18, 2006, respectively, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
SP No. 81389 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Orders of the RTC dated September 1, 2003
and October 28, 2003 are REINSTATED. The validity of Search Warrant Nos. 03-3611 and 03-
3612 is SUSTAINED.

On March 22, 2010, respondents filed a Motion for Reconsideration[2] wherein respondents
informed this Court, albeit belatedly, that the Regional Trial Court (RTC) granted their motion for
the withdrawal of the Information filed in Criminal Case No. 06-241375. As such, respondents
prayed that the decision be reconsidered and set aside and that the quashal of the subject
search warrants be rendered moot and academic on the basis of the dismissal of the criminal
case.

In his Comment[3] dated July 7, 2010, petitioner maintains that the motion is a mere reiteration of
what respondents have previously alleged in their Comment and which have been passed upon by
this Court in the subject decision. Petitioner alleges that he also filed with the Office of the City
Prosecutor of Manila a Complaint for Qualified Theft against the respondents based on the same
incidents and that should the Information for Qualified Theft be filed with the proper court, the
items seized by virtue of the subject search warrants will be used as evidence therein.

On August 6, 2010, respondents filed their Reply.

On September 8, 2010, this Court issued a Resolution[4] wherein respondents were required to
submit a certified true copy of the Order of the RTC dated November 14, 2008, which granted
their motion to withdraw the information.

On October 22, 2010, respondents complied with the Courts directive and submitted a certified
true copy of the Order.[5]

In granting the motion to withdraw the Information, the RTC took into consideration the Amended
Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 90368 dated August 29, 2006, which
affirmed the findings of the City Prosecutor of Manila and the Secretary of Justice that the
elements of Robbery, i.e., unlawful taking with intent to gain, with force and intimidation, were
absent. Thus, there was lack of probable cause, warranting the withdrawal of the
Information.[6] The RTC also considered that the said pronouncements of the CA were affirmed
by no less than this Court in G.R. No. 177829 in the Resolution[7] dated November 12, 2007.
Accordingly, the RTC granted respondents motion to withdraw the information without
prejudice, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, the motion to withdraw information is hereby GRANTED and the case is
DISMISSED without prejudice.

SO ORDERED.

Consequently, in view of the withdrawal of the Information for Robbery, the quashal of the subject
search warrants and the determination of the issue of whether or not there was probable cause
warranting the issuance by the RTC of the said search warrants for respondents alleged acts of
robbery has been rendered moot and academic. Verily, there is no more reason to further delve into
the propriety of the quashal of the search warrants as it has no more practical legal effect.[8]

Furthermore, even if an Information for Qualified Theft be later filed on the basis of the same
incident subject matter of the dismissed case of robbery, petitioner cannot include the seized items
as part of the evidence therein. Contrary to petitioners contention, he cannot use the items seized
as evidence in any other offense except in that in which the subject search warrants were issued.
Section 4, Rule 126 of the Revised Rules of Court provides:

Section 4. Requisites for issuing search warrant. A search warrant shall not issue except upon
probable cause in connection with one specific offense 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 things to be seized which may be
anywhere in the Philippines.

Thus, a search warrant may be issued only if there is probable cause in connection with only
one specific offense alleged in an application on the basis of the applicants personal
knowledge and his or her witnesses. Petitioner cannot, therefore, utilize the evidence seized by
virtue of the search warrants issued in connection with the case of Robbery in a separate case of
Qualified Theft, even if both cases emanated from the same incident.

Moreover, considering that the withdrawal of the Information was based on the findings of the
CA, as affirmed by this Court, that there was no probable cause to indict respondents for the
crime of Robbery absent the essential element of unlawful taking, which is likewise an
essential element for the crime of Qualified Theft, all offenses which are necessarily included
in the crime of Robbery can no longer be filed, much more, prosper.

Based on the foregoing, the Court resolves to Grant the motion.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Motion for Reconsideration filed by the respondents is
GRANTED. The Decision of this Court dated February 17, 2010 is RECONSIDERED and SET
ASIDE. The petition filed by Romer Sy Tan is DENIED for being MOOT and ACADEMIC.

SO ORDERED.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


Plaintiff-Appellee,

- versus
ESTELA TUAN y BALUDDA,
Accused-Appellant.

G.R. No. 176066

Present:

CORONA, C.J.,
Chairperson,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BERSAMIN,*
DEL CASTILLO, and
PEREZ, JJ.

Promulgated:

August 11, 2010


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DECISION

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:

For review is the Decision[1] dated September 21, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-
H.C. No. 00381, which affirmed with modification the Decision[2] dated April 9, 2002 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 6, Baguio City, finding accused-appellant Estela Tuan y
Baludda guilty in Criminal Case No. 17619-R, of illegal possession of marijuana under Article II,
Section 8 of Republic Act No. 6425, otherwise known as The Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as
amended; and in Criminal Case No. 17620-R, of violating Presidential Decree No. 1866,
otherwise known as the Illegal Possession of Firearms, as amended.

On April 5, 2000, two separate Informations were filed before the RTC against accused-appellant
for illegal possession of marijuana and illegal possession of firearm. The Informations read:

Criminal Case No. 17619-R

The undersigned Public Prosecutor accuses ESTELA TUAN Y BALUDDA of the crime of
VIOLATION OF SEC. 8, ART. II OF REPUBLIC ACT 6425, AS AMENDED (Illegal Possession
of Marijuana), committed as follows:

That on or about 24th day of January 2000, at Barangay Gabriela Silang, in the City of Baguio,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused did
then and there willfully and unlawfully have in her possession, custody, and control the following,
to wit:

a) Nine (9) bricks of dried Marijuana leaves with an approximate total weight of 18.750
kgs., and

b) One (1) plastic bag containing dried Marijuana leaves weighing approximately .3 kg.

without any authority of law to do so in violation of the above-cited provision of law.[3]

Criminal Case No. 17620-R

The undersigned Public Prosecutor accuses ESTELA TUAN Y BALUDDA of the crime of
VIOLATION OF PRESIDENTIAL DECREE 1866, AS AMENDED (Illegal Possession of
Firearm), committed as follows:

That on or about the 24th day of January 2000, at Barangay Gabriela Silang, in the City of Baguio,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused did
then and there willfully and unlawfully have in her possession, custody, and control one (1) Cal. .
357 S & W revolver, a high-powered firearm, without any license, permit or authority duly issued
by the government to possess or keep the same in violation of the above-cited law.[4]

Upon her arraignment on April 18, 2000, accused-appellant, assisted by her counsel de parte,
pleaded NOT GUILTY to both charges.[5] Pre-trial and trial proper then ensued.

During trial, the prosecution presented four witnesses: Senior Police Officer (SPO) 1 Modesto F.
Carrera (Carrera), Police Officer (PO) 2 Jaime Chavez (Chavez), SPO2 Fernando Fernandez
(Fernandez), and Forensic Chemist II Marina Carina Madrigal (Madrigal).

The events, as recounted by the prosecution, are as follows:

At around nine oclock in the morning on January 24, 2000, two male informants namely, Jerry
Tudlong (Tudlong) and Frank Lad-ing (Lad-ing) arrived at the office of the 14th Regional CIDG
(Criminal Investigation and Detention Group) at DPS Compound, Marcoville, Baguio City, and
reported to SPO2 Fernandez, Chief of the Station Drug Enforcement Unit (SDEU), that a certain
Estela Tuan had been selling marijuana at Barangay Gabriela Silang, Baguio City. Present at that
time were Police Superintendent Isagani Neres, Regional Officer of the 14th Regional CIDG;
Chief Inspector Reynaldo Piay, Deputy Regional Officer; and other police officers.[6]
SPO2 Fernandez set out to verify the report of Tudlong and Lad-ing. At around one oclock in the
afternoon of the same day, he gave Tudlong and Lad-ing P300.00 to buy marijuana, and then
accompanied the two informants to the accused-appellants house. Tudlong and Lad-ing entered
accused-appellants house, while SPO2 Fernandez waited at the adjacent house. After thirty
minutes, Tudlong and Lad-ing came out of accused-appellants house and showed SPO2 Fernandez
the marijuana leaves they bought. After returning to the CIDG regional office, SPO2 Fernandez
requested the laboratory examination of the leaves bought from accused-appellant. When said
laboratory examination yielded positive results for marijuana, SPO2 Fernandez prepared an
Application for Search Warrant for accused-appellants house.
SPO2 Fernandez, together with Tudlong and Lad-ing, filed the Application for a Search Warrant
before Judge Iluminada Cabato-Cortes (Judge Cortes) of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities
(MTCC), Baguio City, Branch IV, at about one oclock in the afternoon on January 25, 2000. Two
hours later, at around three oclock, Judge Cortes personally examined SPO2 Fernandez,
Tudlong, and Lad-ing, after which, she issued a Search Warrant, being satisfied of the
existence of probable cause. The Search Warrant read:

TO ANY PEACE OFFICER:


GREETINGS:

It appearing to the satisfaction of the undersigned of the existence of facts upon which the
application for Search Warrant is based, after personally examining by searching questions under
oath SPO2 Fernando V. Fernandez of the CAR Criminal Investigation and Detection Group with
office address at DPS Compound, Utility Road, Baguio City and his witnesses namely: Frank Lad-
ing of Happy Hallow, Baguio City and Jerry Tudlong, of Barangay Kitma, Baguio City, after
having been duly sworn to, who executed sworn statements and deposition as witneses, that there
is a probable cause to believe that a Violation of R.A. 6425 as amended by R.A. 7659 has been
committed and that there are good and sufficient reasons to believe that Estela Tuan, has in her
possession and control at her resident at Brgy. Gabriela Silang, Baguio City, the following:

- Undetermined Quantity of Marijuana Dried Leaves and/or Marijuana Hashish

xxxx

which are subject of the offense which should be seized and brought to the undersigned.

You are hereby commanded to make an immediate search at anytime in the day the house of the
accused Estela Tuan at Brgy. Gabriela Silang, Baguio City, and forthwith seize and take
possession of the following:

- Undetermined Quantity of Marijuana Dried Leaves and/or Marijuana Hashish

x x x nothing follows x x x

and bring said items to the undersigned to be dealt with as the law directs.
This Search Warrant shall be valid for ten (10) days from date of issue, thereafter, it shall be
void.

The officers must conduct the search and seize the above-mentioned personal items in the
presence of the lawful occupant thereof or any member of her family or in the absence of the
latter, in the presence of two witnesses of sufficient age and discretion residing in the same
locality.

The officers seizing the items must give a detailed receipt for the same to the lawful occupant of
the house in whose presence the search and seizure were made, or in the absence of such
occupant, must, in the presence of the 2 witnesses mentioned, leave a receipt in the place in which
the seized items were found; thereafter, deliver the items seized to the undersigned judge together
with a true inventory thereof duly verified under oath.

Baguio City, Philippines, this 25th day of January, 2000.

(SGD)ILUMINADA CABATO-CORTES
Executive Judge
MTCC, Branch IV[7]

Upon receipt of the Search Warrant, SPO2 Fernandez, his team supervisor Police Senior Inspector
Rodolfo Castel, SPO1 Carrera, Police Senior Inspector Ricarte Marquez and PO2 Chavez
implemented the warrant. Before going to the accused-appellants house, SPO2 Fernandez invited
barangay officials to be present when the Search Warrant was to be served, but since no one was
available, he requested one Eliza Pascual (Pascual), accused-appellants neighbor, to come along.
The CIDG team thereafter proceeded to accused-appellants house. Even though accused-appellant
was not around, the CIDG team was allowed entry into the house by Magno Baludda (Magno),
accused-appellants father, after he was shown a copy of the Search Warrant. SPO2 Fernandez
and Police Senior Inspector Ricarte Marquez guarded the surroundings of the house,[8] while
SPO1 Carrera and PO2 Chavez searched inside.

SPO1 Carrera and PO2 Chavez began searching the rooms on the first floor in the presence of
Magno and Pascual. They continued their search on the second floor. They saw a movable cabinet
in accused-appellants room, below which they found a brick of marijuana and a firearm. At
around six oclock that evening, accused-appellant arrived with her son. The police officers asked
accused-appellant to open a built-in cabinet, in which they saw eight more bricks of marijuana.[9]
PO2 Chavez issued a receipt for the items confiscated from accused-appellant[10] and a
certification stating that the items were confiscated and recovered from the house and in accused-
appellants presence.

The nine bricks of marijuana were brought to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for
examination.

The defense, on the other hand, had an entirely different version of what transpired that day. It
presented four witnesses, namely, accused-appellant herself; Beniasan Tuan (Beniasan), accused-
appellants husband; Magno, accused-appellants father; and Mabini Maskay (Maskay), the
Barangay Captain of Barangay Gabriela Silang.
In her testimony, accused-appellant declared that she worked as a vendor at Hangar Market.
Sometime in January 2000, while she was selling vegetables at Hangar Market, her son arrived
with two police officers who asked her to go home because of a letter from the court.[11] At about
six oclock in the afternoon, she and her husband Beniasan reached their residence and found a
green paper bag with marijuana in their sala. According to the police officers, they got the bag
from a room on the first floor of accused-appellants house. Accused-appellant explained that the
room where the bag of marijuana was found was previously rented by boarders. The boarders
padlocked the room because they still had things inside and they had paid their rent up to the end
of January 2000.[12] The police officers also informed accused-appellant that they got a gun from
under a cabinet in the latters room, which accused-appellant disputed since her room was always
left open and it was where her children play.[13] Accused-appellant alleged that a Search Warrant
was issued for her house because of a quarrel with her neighbor named Lourdes Estillore
(Estillore). Accused-appellant filed a complaint for the demolition of Estillores house which was
constructed on the road.[14]

Beniasan supported the testimony of his wife, accused-appellant. He narrated that he and accused-
appellant were at their Hangar Market stall when two police officers came and asked them to go
home. Beniasan and accused-appellant arrived at their residence at around six oclock in the
evening and were shown the marijuana the police officers supposedly got from the first floor of
the house. The police officers then made Beniasan sign a certification of the list of items
purportedly confiscated from the house.[15]
Magno testified that he resided at the first floor of accused-appellants residence. He was present
when the search was conducted but denied that the Search Warrant was shown to him. [16] He
attested that the confiscated items were found from the vacant room at the first floor of accused-
appellants house which was previously occupied by boarders. Said room was padlocked but was
forced open by the police officers. In the course of the police officers search, they pulled
something from under the bed that was wrapped in green cellophane, but Magno did not
know the contents thereof.[17] The police officers also searched the rooms of accused-appellant
and her children at the second floor of the house, during which they allegedly found a gun under
the cabinet in accused-appellants room. Magno claimed that he did not personally witness the
finding of the gun and was merely informed about it by the police officers.[18]

Maskay, the Barangay Captain of Barangay Gabriela Silang, Baguio City, was the last to testify
for the defense. He corroborated accused-appellants allegation that the latter had a quarrel
with Estillore, and this could be the reason behind the filing of the present criminal cases. He
further remembered that the members of the CIDG went to his office on January 24, 2000 to ask
about the location of accused-appellants house.[19]
The RTC, in its Decision dated April 9, 2002, found accused-appellant guilty as charged and
adjudged thus:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:

1. In Criminal Case No. 17619-R, the Court finds the accused Estela Tuan guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the offense of illegal possession of marijuana (nine [9] bricks of dried
marijuana leaves with an approximate weight of 18.750 kilograms and the one [1] plastic bag
containing the dried marijuana weighing about .3 kilograms) in violation of Section 8, Article II of
Republic Act No. 6425 as amended by Section 13 of Republic Act 7659 as charged in the
information and sentences her to the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay a fine of
P500,000.00 without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.
The nine (9) bricks of dried marijuana leaves with an approximate weight of 18.750 kilograms and
one (1) plastic bag containing dried marijuana leaves weighing approximately .3 kilograms
(Exhibit F, F-1, F-1-A to F-1-J) are ordered confiscated and forfeited in favor of the State to be
destroyed immediately in accordance with law.

The accused Estela Tuan being a detention prisoner is entitled to be credited 4/5 of her preventive
imprisonment in the service of her sentence in accordance with Article 29 of the Revised Penal
Code; and

2. In Criminal Case No. 17620-R, the Court finds the accused Estela Tuan guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the offense of illegal possession of firearms (one [1] caliber .357 S & W
revolver), a high powered firearm, without any license, permit or authority issued by the
Government to keep the same in violation of Section 1, Republic Act No. 8294 which amended
Section 1 of PD 1866 as charged in the information and hereby sentences her, applying the
Indeterminate Sentence Law, to imprisonment ranging from 4 years 9 months and 10 days of
prision correccional in its maximum period as Minimum to 6 years and 8 months of prision mayor
in its minimum period as Maximum and a fine of P30,000.00 without subsidiary imprisonment in
case of insolvency.

The firearm caliber .357 S & W revolver without serial number is ordered forfeited in favor of the
State to be disposed of immediately in accordance with law.
The accused Estela Tuan being a detention prisoner is entitled to be credited 4/5 of her preventive
imprisonment in the service of her sentence in accordance with Article 29 of the Revised Penal
Code.[20]

The records of the two criminal cases were forwarded to this Court by the RTC, but the Court
issued a Resolution[21] dated October 13, 2004 transferring said records to the Court of Appeals
pursuant to People v. Mateo.[22]
On September 21, 2006, the Court of Appeals promulgated its Decision.

The Court of Appeals held that the contested search and consequent seizure of the marijuana
bricks were done pursuant to the Search Warrant validly issued by the MTCC. There was no
showing of procedural defects or lapses in the issuance of said Search Warrant as the records
support that the issuing judge determined probable cause only after conducting the searching
inquiry and personal examination of the applicant and the latters witnesses, in compliance with the
requirements of the Constitution. Hence, the appellate court affirmed the conviction of
accused-appellant for illegal possession of marijuana.

The Court of Appeals, however, modified the appealed RTC judgment by acquitting accused-
appellant of the charge for illegal possession of firearm. According to the appellate court, the
records were bereft of evidence that the gun supposedly confiscated from accused-appellant was
unlicensed. The absence of a firearm license was simply presumed by the police officers because
the gun was a defective paltik with no serial number. That the said condition of the gun did not
dispense with the need for the prosecution to establish that it was unlicensed through the
testimony or certification of the appropriate officer from the Board of the Firearms and Explosives
Bureau of the Philippine National Police.

In the end, the Court of Appeals decreed:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is PARTLY GRANTED. The assailed
Decision of the RTC of Baguio City, Branch 6, dated April 9, 2002, is hereby MODIFIED such
that the conviction of accused-appellant for Violation of Section 8, Art. II, RA 6425, as amended,
is AFFIRMED while her conviction for Violation of PD 1866, as amended, is REVERSED and
SET ASIDE. Accused-appellant is accordingly ACQUITTED of the latter offense.[23]

In its Resolution dated October 20, 2006, the Court of Appeals gave due course to accused-
appellants Partial Notice of Appeal and accordingly forwarded the records of the case to this
Court.

This Court then issued a Resolution[24] dated February 28, 2007 directing the parties to file their
respective supplemental briefs, if they so desired, within 30 days from notice. Accused-
appellant[25] opted not to file a supplemental brief and manifested that she was adopting her
arguments in the Appellants Brief since the same had already assiduously discussed her innocence
of the crime charged. The People[26] likewise manifested that it would no longer file a
supplemental brief as the issues have all been addressed in its Appellees Brief.

Accused-appellant raised the following assignment of errors in her Brief: [27]

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN GIVING FULL FAITH AND CREDENCE TO THE
INCREDIBLE AND CONTRADICTORY TESTIMONIES OF THE POLICE OFFICERS.

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF


THE CRIMES CHARGED DESPITE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE HER
GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT CONSIDERING AS VOID THE SEARCH WARRANT
ISSUED AGAINST THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

Given that accused-appellant was already acquitted of the charge of violation of Presidential
Decree No. 1866 on the ground of reasonable doubt in Criminal Case No. 17620-R, her instant
appeal relates only to her conviction for illegal possession of prohibited or regulated drugs in
Criminal Case No. 17619-R. The Court can no longer pass upon the propriety of accused-
appellants acquittal in Criminal Case No. 17620-R because of the rule that a judgment acquitting
the accused is final and immediately executory upon its promulgation, and that accordingly, the
State may not seek its review without placing the accused in double jeopardy. Such acquittal is
final and unappealable on the ground of double jeopardy whether it happens at the trial court or on
appeal at the Court of Appeals.[28]

In a prosecution for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Law, such as Criminal Case No. 17619-R, a
case becomes a contest of credibility of witnesses and their testimonies. In such a situation, this
Court generally relies upon the assessment by the trial court, which had the distinct advantage of
observing the conduct or demeanor of the witnesses while they were testifying. Hence, its factual
findings are accorded respect even finality absent any showing that certain facts of weight and
substance bearing on the elements of the crime have been overlooked, misapprehended or
misapplied.[29]

The Court finds no reason to deviate from the general rule in the case at bar.

Illegal possession of prohibited or regulated drugs is committed when the following elements
concur: (1) the accused is in possession of an item or object which is identified to be a prohibited
drug; (2) such possession is not authorized by law; and (3) the accused freely and consciously
possesses the said drug.[30]

All the foregoing elements were duly proven to exist in Criminal Case No. 17619-R. The search
conducted by SPO1 Carrera and PO2 Chavez in accused-appellants house yielded nine bricks of
marijuana. Marijuana is a prohibited drug, thus, accused-appellants possession thereof could not
have been authorized by law in any way. Accused-appellant evidently possessed the marijuana
freely and consciously, even offering the same for sale. The bricks of marijuana were found in
accused-appellants residence over which she had complete control. In fact, some of the marijuana
were found in accused-appellants own room.

Accused-appellant challenges the judgment of the RTC, affirmed by the Court of Appeals, finding
her guilty of illegal possession of marijuana, by pointing out certain inconsistencies in the
testimonies of prosecution witnesses that supposedly manifested their lack of credibility, i.e., the
date of the test buy and the manner by which the doors of the rooms of the house were opened.

These alleged inconsistencies and contradictions pertain to minor details and are so
inconsequential that they do not in any way affect the credibility of the witnesses nor detract from
the established fact of illegal possession of marijuana by accused-appellant at her house. The
Court has previously held that discrepancies and inconsistencies in the testimonies of
witnesses referring to minor details, and not in actuality touching upon the central fact of
the crime, do not impair their credibility. Testimonies of witnesses need only corroborate each
other on important and relevant details concerning the principal occurrence.[31]

Inconsistencies as to minor details and collateral matters do not affect the credibility of the
witnesses nor the veracity or weight of their testimonies. Such minor inconsistencies may even
serve to strengthen their credibility as they negate any suspicion that the testimonies have been
rehearsed.[32]

Accused-appellant further questions the non-presentation as witnesses of Lad-ing and Tudlong, the
informants, and Pascual, the neighbor who supposedly witnessed the implementation of the Search
Warrant, during the joint trial of Criminal Case Nos. 17619-R and 17620-R before the RTC. This
Court though is unconvinced that such non-presentation of witnesses is fatal to Criminal Case No.
17619-R.

The prosecution has the exclusive prerogative to determine whom to present as witnesses. The
prosecution need not present each and every witness but only such as may be needed to meet the
quantum of proof necessary to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. The
testimonies of the other witnesses may, therefore, be dispensed with if they are merely
corroborative in nature. The Court has ruled that the non-presentation of corroborative witnesses
does not constitute suppression of evidence and is not fatal to the prosecutions case.[33]

Although Criminal Case No. 17619-R involves illegal possession of marijuana, the following
pronouncement of this Court in People v. Salazar,[34] relating to the illegal sale of the same drug,
still rings true:

Neither is her right to confront witnesses against her affected by the prosecution's failure to
present the informer who pointed to her as a drug pusher. The presentation of an informant in an
illegal drugs case is not essential for conviction nor is it indispensable for a successful prosecution
because his testimony would be merely corroborative and cumulative. In a case involving the sale
of illegal drugs, what should be proven beyond reasonable doubt is the fact of the sale itself.
Hence, like the non-presentation of the marked money used in buying the contraband, the non-
presentation of the informer on the witness stand would not necessarily create a hiatus in the
prosecutions' evidence. (Emphasis ours.)

Lastly, accused-appellant insists that the items allegedly seized from her house are inadmissible as
evidence because the Search Warrant issued for her house was invalid for failing to comply with
the constitutional and statutory requirements. Accused-appellant specifically pointed out the
following defects which made said Search Warrant void: (1) the informants, Lad-ing and
Tudlong, made misrepresentation of facts in the Application for Search Warrant filed with
the MTCC; (2) Judge Cortes of the MTCC failed to consider the informants admission that
they themselves were selling marijuana; and (3) the Search Warrant failed to particularly
describe the place to be searched because the house was a two-storey building composed of
several rooms.

The right of a person against unreasonable searches and seizure is recognized and protected by no
less than the Constitution, particularly, Sections 2 and 3(2) of Article III which provide:

SEC. 2. 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.

SEC. 3. x x x

(2) Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for
any purpose in any proceeding. (Emphases ours.)

Accordingly, Sections 4 and 5, Rule 126 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure laid down
the following requisites for the issuance of a valid search warrant:

SEC. 4. Requisites for issuing search warrant. A search warrant shall not issue except upon
probable cause in connection with one specific offense 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 things to be
seized which may be anywhere in the Philippines.

SEC. 5. Examination of complainant; record. The judge must, before issuing the warrant,
personally examine in the form of searching questions and answers, in writing and under oath, the
complainant and the witnesses he may produce on facts personally known to them and attach to
the record their sworn statements, together with the affidavits submitted.

Therefore, the validity of the issuance of a search warrant rests upon the following factors: (1) it
must be issued upon probable cause; (2) the probable cause must be determined by the judge
himself and not by the applicant or any other person; (3) in the determination of probable
cause, the judge must examine, under oath or affirmation, the complainant and such
witnesses as the latter may produce; and (4) the warrant issued must particularly describe
the place to be searched and persons or things to be seized.[35]

There is no dispute herein that the second and third factors for a validly issued search
warrant were complied with, i.e., personal determination of probable cause by Judge Cortes;
and examination, under oath or affirmation, of SPO2 Fernandez and the two informants,
Lad-ing and Tudlong, by Judge Cortes. What is left for the Court to determine is compliance
with the first and fourth factors, i.e., existence of probable cause; and particular description of the
place to be searched and things to be seized.

In People v. Aruta,[36] the Court defined probable cause as follows:

Although probable cause eludes exact and concrete definition, it generally signifies a reasonable
ground of suspicion supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to warrant
a cautious man to believe that the person accused is guilty of the offense with which he is
charged. It likewise refers to the existence of such facts and circumstances which could lead a
reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed and that
the item(s), article(s) or object(s) sought in connection with said offense or subject to seizure
and destruction by law is in the place to be searched.

It ought to be emphasized that in determining probable cause, the average man weighs facts and
circumstances without resorting to the calibrations of our rules of evidence of which his
knowledge is technically nil. Rather, he relies on the calculus of common sense which all
reasonable men have in abundance. The same quantum of evidence is required in determining
probable cause relative to search. Before a search warrant can be issued, it must be shown by
substantial evidence that the items sought are in fact seizable by virtue of being connected with
criminal activity, and that the items will be found in the place to be searched.

A magistrates 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.[37] Such substantial basis exists in this case.

Judge Cortes found probable cause for the issuance of the Search Warrant for accused-appellants
residence after said judges personal examination of SPO2 Fernandez, the applicant; and Lad-ing
and Tudlong, the informants.

SPO2 Fernandez based his Application for Search Warrant not only on the information relayed to
him by Lad-ing and Tudlong. He also arranged for a test buy and conducted surveillance of
accused-appellant. He testified before Judge Cortes:

COURT:

Q. You are applying for a Search Warrant and you alleged in your application that Estela Tuan of
Brgy. Gabriela Silang, Baguio City, is in possession of dried marijuana leaves and marijuana
hashish, how did you come to know about this matter?
A. Through the two male persons by the name of Frank Lad-ing and Jerry Tudlong, Your Honor.

Q. When did these two male persons report to your office?


A. January 22, Your Honor.

Q. This year?
A. Yes, your honor.

Q. To whom did they report?


A. To me personally, Your Honor.

Q. How did they report the matter?


A. They reported that a certain Estela Tuan is selling dried Marijuana leaves and marijuana
hashish, Your Honor.

Q. What else?
A. She is not only selling marijuana but also selling vegetables at the Trading Post in La Trinidad,
Your Honor.

Q. They just told you, she is selling marijuana and selling vegetables, that is already sufficient
proof or sufficient probable cause she is in possession of marijuana, what else did they report?
A. That they are also selling marijuana in large volume at their house.

Q. What did you do when you asked them regarding that matter?
A. They had a test buy and they were able to buy some commodities yesterday, Your honor.

Q. Who bought?
A. Tudlong and Lad-ing, Your Honor.

Q. How did you go about it?


A. I accompanied the said persons and kept watch over them and gave them money after which,
they were able to purchase and when they purchased the said items or drugs, they were even
informed that if you wanted to sell then you could come and get. Your Honor.

COURT:

Q. Where is that P300.00?


A. It is with them, Your Honor.

Q. You did not entrap her?


A. No, Your Honor, because it is only a test buy.

Q: And that was January 22. Why did you not apply immediately for search warrant?
A: Because we still have to look at the area and see to it that there are really some buyers or
people who would go and leave the place, Your Honor.

Q: What did you observe?


A: Well, there are persons who would go inside and after going inside, they would come out
bringing along with them something else.

Q: Did you not interview these people?


A: No, Your Honor. We did not bother.[38]

Lad-ing and Tudlong affirmed before Judge Cortes that they were the ones who informed SPO2
Fernandez that accused-appellant was keeping and selling marijuana at her house, and that they
took part in the test buy.

Lad-ing narrated:

COURT:

Q: Mr. Lad-ing, you said that you are working at the Trading Post. What kind of work do you have
there?
A: I am a middleman of the vegetable dealers, Your Honor.

COURT:

Q: Did you come to know of this person Estela Tuan?


A: Yes, Your Honor, because there was an incident wherein we were conducting our line of
business when they came and joined us and we became partners, Your Honor.

Q: You said, they, how many of you?


A: A certain Jerry Tudlong, Estela Tuan and myself, Your Honor.

Q: In other words, Estela Tuan went with you and later on she became your partner in that
business?
A: Yes, Your Honor.

Q: And so what happened when she became a partner of your business?


A: When we were about to divide our profit, we then went at their residence at Gabriela Silang,
Baguio City, Your Honor.

Q: What happened?
A: While we then sitted ourselves at the sala, she told us that if we wanted to earn some more, she
told us that she has in her possession marijuana which could be sold, Your Honor.
Q: And so, what happened?
A: After which, she showed the marijuana, Your Honor.

Q: Where was the marijuana?


A: It was placed in a cellophane, in a newspaper, Your Honor.

Q: How big?
A: A dimension of 10 x 4 inches, Your Honor.

Q: With that size, where did she show you the box of this cellophane?
A: At the place where we were sitted at the receiving room, Your Honor.

Q: In other words, she went to get it and then presented or showed it to you?
A: Yes, Your Honor.

Q: Where did she go, if you know?


A: Because at the sala, there is a certain room located at the side that is the place where she got the
same, Your Honor.

Q: Where is this house of Estela Tuan located, is it along the road or inside the road or what?
A: It is near the road but you have to walk in a little distance, Your Honor.

Q: Will you describe the place where Estela Tuan is residing?


A: Well, it is a two storey house, the walls are made of galvanized iron Sheets, Your Honor.

COURT:

Q: Do you know who are staying there?


A: I do not know who is living with her, however, that is her residence, Your Honor.

Q: How many times did you go there?


A: It was my second time to go at that time we were sent by PO Fernandez to purchase marijuana,
Your Honor.

Q: Where is the marijuana now?


A: It is in the possession of PO Fernandez, Your Honor.

Q: Where is the marijuana placed?


A: In a newspaper, Your Honor.

Q: What happened next?


A: We handed to her the amount of P300.00, your Honor.
Q: And she gave you that marijuana?
A: Yes, Your Honor.

xxxx

Q: How many rooms are there in the first floor of the house of Estela Tuan?
A: Three rooms, Your Honor, it has a dining room and beside the place is the receiving room
where we sitted ourselves, Your Honor.

Q: When you already bought marijuana from her, what did she tell you, if any?
A; Well, if we would be interested to buy more, I still have stocks here, Your Honor.[39]

Tudlong recounted in more detail what happened during the test buy:

COURT:

Q: My question is, when she told you that she has some substance for sale for profit and you
mentioned marijuana, did you talk immediately with Frank or what did you do?
A: We reported the matter to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, your Honor.

xxxx

Q: What time?
A: We went to the office at 9:00 9:30 oclock in the morning, Your Honor.

Q: When you went there, what did you do?


A: The amount of P300.00 was given to Frank and we were instructed to purchase, Your Honor.

Q: Did you go?


A: Yes, Your Honor.

xxxx

Q: Will you tell what happened when you went to the house of the woman?
A: Well, we were allowed to go inside the house after which, we were made to sit down at the
receiving area or sala, Your Honor.

Q: When you went there, you were allowed to enter immediately?


A: Yes, Your Honor.

Q: Who allowed you to enter?


A: The female person, Your Honor.

Q: What happened when you were asked to be sitted?


A: During that time, Frank and the female person were the ones conferring, Your Honor.

Q: Did you hear what they were talking about?


A: That Frank was purchasing marijuana, Your Honor.

Q: What did the woman tell you?


A: After we handed the money, a plastic which was transparent, was then handed to Frank, it was
a plastic and there was a newspaper inside, Your Honor.

xxxx

Q: So, you did not actually see what is in the newspaper?


A: No, Your Honor, however, I know that that is marijuana.

Q: Why?
A: Because that was our purpose, to buy marijuana, Your Honor.

Q: And you have not gotten marijuana without Estela Tuan informing you?
A: Yes, Your Honor.

Q: Will you tell us what kind of materials were used in the house of Estela Tuan?
A: Two storey, the walls are made of GI sheets, Your Honor.\

Q: Is the house beside the road or do you have to walk?


A: It is near the road. Upon reaching the road, you still have to walk a short distance, Your Honor.

Q: Where did Estela Tuan get the newspaper placed in a transparent plastic?
A: She got it from a room because were then made to wait at the sala, Your Honor.

Q: Did she tell you how much she can sell marijuana?
A: She told us, Your Honor.

Q: What?
A: Well, the marijuana that we purchased was worth P300.00[.] However, we could divide it into
two small packs and we could sell it at P20.00 per piece so that you can also have some gain.

COURT:

Q: After that, to whom did you sell?


A: We did not sell the marijuana, Your Honor.
Q: I thought you are going to sell marijuana and so you went there?
A: We were just instructed by PO Fernandez to verify what we are telling him was true, Your
Honor.[40]

Accused-appellants contention that MTCC Judge Cortes failed to consider the informants
admission that they themselves were selling marijuana is utterly without merit. First, even after
carefully reviewing the testimonies of Lad-ing and Tudlong before Judge Cortes, this Court did
not find a categorical admission by either of the two informants that they themselves were selling
marijuana. In fact, Tudlong expressly denied that he and Lad-ing sold the marijuana, having only
bought the same from the accused-appellant for the test buy. Moreover, even if the informants
were also selling marijuana, it would not have affected the validity of the Search Warrant for
accused-appellants house. The criminal liabilities of accused-appellant and the informants would
be separate and distinct. The investigation and prosecution of one could proceed independently of
the other.

Equally without merit is accused-appellants assertion that the Search Warrant did not describe
with particularity the place to be searched.

A description of the place to be searched is sufficient if the officer serving the warrant can,
with reasonable effort, ascertain and identify the place intended and distinguish it from
other places in the community. A designation or description that points out the place to be
searched to the exclusion of all others, and on inquiry unerringly leads the peace officers to it,
satisfies the constitutional requirement of definiteness.[41] In the case at bar, the address and
description of the place to be searched in the Search Warrant was specific enough. There was
only one house located at the stated address, which was accused-appellants residence, consisting
of a structure with two floors and composed of several rooms.

In view of the foregoing, the Court upholds the validity of the Search Warrant for accused-
appellants house issued by MTCC Judge Cortes, and any items seized as a result of the
search conducted by virtue thereof, may be presented as evidence against the accused-
appellant.

Since it is beyond any cavil of doubt that the accused-appellant is, indeed, guilty of violation of
Article II, Section 8 of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, the Court shall now consider the
appropriate penalty to be imposed upon her.

Article II, Section 8, in relation to Section 20(3), of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, provides:

SEC. 8. Possession or Use of Prohibited Drugs.- The penalty of reclusion perpetua to death and a
fine ranging from five hundred thousand pesos to ten million pesos shall be imposed upon any
person who, unless authorized by law, shall possess or use any prohibited drug subject to the
provisions of Section 20 hereof. (As amended by R.A. 7659)
Sec. 20. Application of Penalties, Confiscation and Forfeiture of the Proceeds or Instruments of
the Crime. - The penalties for offenses under Sections 3, 4, 7, 8 and 9 of Article II and Sections 14,
14-A, 15 and 16 of Article III of this Act shall be applied if the dangerous drugs involved is in any
of the following quantities:

1. 40 grams or more of opium;

2. 40 grams or more of morphine;

3. 200 grams or more of shabu or methylamphetamine hydrochloride;

4. 40 grams or more of heroin;

5. 750 grams or more of Indian hemp or marijuana;

6. 50 grams or more of marijuana resin or marijuana resin oil;

7. 40 grams or more of cocaine or cocaine hydrocholoride; or

8. In the case of other dangerous drugs, the quantity of which is far beyond therapeutic
requirements, as determined and promulgated by the Dangerous Drugs Board, after public
consultations/hearings conducted for the purpose. (Emphasis supplied.)

Pursuant to Article II, Section 8 of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, illegal possession of 750
grams or more of the prohibited drug marijuana is punishable by reclusion perpetua to death.
Accused-appellant had in her possession a total of 19,050 grams of marijuana, for which she was
properly sentenced to reclusion perpetua by the RTC, affirmed by the Court of Appeals.

In the same vein, the fine of P500,000.00 imposed upon accused-appellant by the RTC, affirmed
by the Court of Appeals, is also correct, as the same is still within the range of fines imposable on
any person who possessed prohibited drugs without any authority, under Article II, Section 8 of
Republic Act No. 6425, as amended.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision dated September 21, 2006 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 00381, is hereby AFFIRMED in toto. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

GR No. L-32409, Feb 27, 1971 ]

BACHE v. JUDGE VIVENCIO M. RUIZ +

DECISION
147 Phil. 794

VILLAMOR, J.:

This is an original action of certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, with prayer for a writ of
preliminary mandatory and prohibitory injunction. In their petition Bache & Co. (Phil.), Inc., a
corporation duly organized and existing under the laws of the Philippines, and its President,
Frederick E. Seggerman, pray this Court to declare null and void Search Warrant No. 2-M-70
issued by respondent Judge on February 25, 1970; to order respondents to desist from enforcing
the same and/or keeping the documents, papers and effects seized by virtue thereof, as well as
from enforcing the tax assessments on petitioner corporation alleged by petitioners to have been
made on the basis of the said documents, papers and effects, and to order the return of the latter to
petitioners. We gave due course to the petition but did not issue the writ of preliminary injunction
prayed for therein.

The pertinent facts of this case, as gathered from the record, are as follows:

On February 24, 1970, respondent Misael P. Vera, Commissioner of Internal Revenue, wrote a
letter addressed to respondent Judge Vivencio M. Ruiz requesting the issuance of a search warrant
against petitioners for violation of Section 46(a) of the National Internal Revenue Code, in relation
to all other pertinent provisions thereof, particularly Sections 53, 72, 73, 208 and 209, and
authorizing Revenue Examiner Rodolfo de Leon, one of herein respondents, to make and file the
application for search warrant which was attached to the letter.

In the afternoon of the following day, February 25, 1970, respondent de Leon and his witness,
respondent Arturo Logronio, went to the Court of First Instance of Riza l. They brought with them
the following papers: respondent Vera's aforesaid letter-request; an application for search warrant
already filled up but still unsigned by respondent de Leon; an affidavit of respondent Logronio
subscribed before respondent de Leon; a deposition in printed form of respondent Logronio
already accomplished and signed by him but not yet subscribed; and a search warrant already
accomplished but still unsigned by respondent Judge.

At that time respondent Judge was hearing a certain case; so, by means of a note, he instructed his
Deputy Clerk of Court to take the depositions of respondents de Leon and Logronio. After the
session had adjourned, respondent Judge was informed that the deposi tions had already been
taken. The stenographer, upon request of respondent Judge, read to him her stenographic notes;
and thereafter, respondent Judge asked respondent Logronio to take the oath and warned him that
if his deposition was found to be false and without legal basis, he could be charged for perjury.
Respondent Judge signed respondent de Leon's application for search warrant and respondent
Logronio's deposition, Search Warrant No. 2-M-70 was then signed by respondent Judge and
accordingly issued.

Three days later, or on February 28, 1970, which was a Saturday, the BIR agents served the search
warrant on petitioners at the offices of petitioner corporation on Ayala Avenue, Makati, Rizal.
Petitioners' lawyers protested the search on the ground that no formal complaint or
transcript of testimony was attached to the warrant. The agents nevertheless proceeded with
their search which yielded six boxes of documents.

On March 3, 1970, petitioners filed a petition with the Court of First Instance of Rizal praying that
the search warrant be quashed, dissolved or recalled, that preliminary prohibitory and mandatory
writs of injunction be issued, that the search warrant be declared null and void, and that the
respondents be ordered to pay petitioners, jointly and severally, damages and attorney's fees. On
March 18, 1970, the respondents, thru the Solicitor General, filed an answer to the petition. After
hearing, the court, presided over by respondent Judge, issued on July 29, 1970, an order
dismissing the petition for dissolution of the search warrant. In the meantime, or on April 16,
1970, the Bureau of Internal Revenue made tax assessments on petitioner corporation in the total
sum of P2,594,729.97, partly, if not entirely, based on the documents thus seized. Petitioners
came to this Court.

The petition should be granted for the following reasons:

1. Respondent Judge failed to personally examine the complainant and his witness.

The pertinent provisions of the Constitution of the Philippines and of the Revised Rules of Court
are:

"(3) The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against
unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon
probable cause, to be determined 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." (Art. III, Sec. 1, Constitution.)
"SEC. 3. Requisites for issuing search warrant. - A search warrant shall not issue but upon
probable cause in connection with one specific offense to be determined by the judge or justice of
the peace 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.
"No search warrant shall issue for more than one specific offense.
"SEC. 4. Examination of the applicant. - The judge or justice of the peace must, before issuing
the warrant, personally examine on oath or affirmation the complainant and any witnesses he
may produce and take their depositions in writing, and attach them to the record, in addition
to any affidavits presented to him." (Rule 126, Revised Rules of Court.)
The examination of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, required by Art. III, Sec.
1, par. 3, of the Constitution, and by Secs. 3 and 4, Rule 126 of the Revised Rules of Court, should
be conducted by the judge himself and not by others. The phrase "which shall be determined by
the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may
produce," appearing in the said constitutional provision, was introduced by Delegate Francisco as
an amendment to the draft submitted by the Sub-Committee of Seven. The following discussion
in the Constitutional Convention (Laurel, Proceedings of the Philippine Constitutional
Convention, Vol. III, pp. 755-757) is enlightening:

"SR. ORENSE. Vamos a dejar compañero, los piropos y vamos al grano.


En los casos de una necesidad de actuar inmediatamente para que no se frustren los fines de la
justicia mediante el registro inmediato y la incautacion del cuerpo del delito, no cree Su Señoria
que causaria cierta demora el procedimiento apuntado en su enmienda en tal forma que podria
frustrar los fines de la justicia o si Su Señoria encuentra un remedio para estos casos con el fin de
compaginar los fines de la justicia con los derechos del individuo en su persona, bienes etcetera,
etcetera.
"SR. FRANCISCO. No puedo ver en la practica el caso hipotetico que Su Señoria pregunta por la
sigutente razon: el que solicita un mandamiento de registro tiene que hacerlo por escrito y ese es-
crito no aparecera en la Mesa del Juez sin que alguien vaya al juez a presentar ese escrito o
peticion de secuestro. Esa persona que presenta el registro puede ser el mismo denunciante o
alguna persona que solicita dicho mandamiento de registro. Ahora toda la enmienda en esos casos
consiste en que haya peticion de registro y el juez no se atendra solamente a esa peticion sino que
el juez examinara a ese denunciante y si tiene testigos tambien examinara a los testigos.
"SR. ORENSE. No cree Su Señoria que el tomar la declaracion de ese denunciante por escrito
siempre requeriria algun tiempo?
"SR. FRANCISCO. Seria cuestion de un par de horas, pero por otro lado minimizamos en todo lo
posible las vejaciones injustas con la expedicion & arbitraria de los mandamientos de registro.
Creo que entre dos males debemos escoger el menor.
x x x x x
"MR. LAUREL. x x x The reason why we are in favor of this amendment is be cause we are
incorporating in our constitution something of a fundamental character. Now, before a judge
could issue a search warrant, he must be under the obligation to examine personally under oath the
complainant and if he has any witness, the witnesses that he may produce. x x x."
The implementing rule in the Revised Rules of Court, Sec. 4, Rule 126, is more emphatic and
candid, for it requires the judge, before issuing a search warrant, to "personally examine on oath or
affirmation the complainant and any witnesses he may produce x x x."

Personal examination by the judge of the complainant and his witnesses is necessary to enable
him to determine the existence or non-existence of a probable cause, pursuant to Art. III,
Sec. 1, par. 3, of the Constitution, and Sec. 3, Rule 126 of the Revised Rules of Court, both of
which prohibit the issuance of warrants except "upon probable cause." The determination of
whether or not a probable cause exists calls for the exercise of judgment after a judicial appraisal
of facts and should not be allowed to be delegated in the absence of any rule to the contrary.

In the case at bar, no personal examination at all was conducted by respondent Judge of the
complainant (respondent de Leon) and his witness (respondent Logronio). While it is true that
the complainant's application for search warrant and the witness' printed-form deposition
were subscribed and sworn to before respondent Judge, the latter did not ask either of the
two any question the answer to which could possibly be the basis for determining whether or
not there was probable cause against herein petitioners. Indeed, the participants seem to have
attached so little significance to the matter that notes of the proceedings before respondent Judge
were not even taken. At this juncture it may be well to recall the salient facts. The transcript of
stenographic notes (pp. 61-76, April 1, 1970, Annex J-2 of the Petition) taken at the hearing of this
case in the court below shows that per instruction of respondent Judge, Mr. Eleodoro V. Gonzales,
Special Deputy Clerk of Court, took the depositions of the complainant and his witness, and that
stenographic notes thereof were taken by Mrs. Gaspar. At that time respondent Judge was at the
sala hearing a case. After respondent Judge was through with the hearing, Deputy Clerk Gonzales,
stenographer Gaspar, complainant de Leon and witness Logronio went to respondent Judge's
chamber and informed the Judge that they had finished the depositions. Respondent Judge then
requested the stenographer to read to him her stenographic notes. Special Deputy Clerk Gonzales
testified as follows:

"A And after finishing reading the stenographic notes, the Honorable Judge requested or in -
structed them, requested Mr. Logronio to raise his hand and warned him if his deposition will be
found to be false and without legal basis, he can be charged criminally for perjury. The Honorable
Court told Mr. Logronio whether he affirms the facts contained in his deposition and the affidavit
executed before Mr. Rodolfo de Leon.
"Q And thereafter?
"A And thereafter, he signed the deposition of Mr. Logronio.
"Q Who is this he?
"A The Honorable Judge.
"Q The deposition or the affidavit?
"A The affidavit, Your Honor."
Thereafter, respondent Judge signed the search warrant.

The participation of respondent Judge in the proceedings which led to the issuance of Search
Warrant No. 2-M-70 was thus limited to listening to the stenographer's reading of her notes, to a
few words of warning against the commission of perjury, and to administering the oath to the
complainant and his witness. This cannot be considered as a personal examination. If there
was an examination at all of the complainant and his witness, it was the one conducted by the
Deputy Clerk of Court. But, as already stated, the Constitution and the rules require a personal
examination by the judge. It was precisely on account of the intention of the delegates to the
Constitutional Convention to make it a duty of the issuing judge to personally examine the
complainant and his witnesses that the question of how much time would be consumed by the
judge in examining them came up before the Convention, as can be seen from the record of the
proceedings quoted above. The reading of the stenographic notes to respondent Judge did not
constitute sufficient compliance with the constitutional mandate and the rule; for by that
manner respondent Judge did not have the opportunity to observe the demeanor of the
complainant and his witness, and to propound initial and follow-up questions which the judicial
mind, on account of its training, was in the best position to conceive. These were important in
arriving at a sound inference on the all-important question of whether or not there was probable
cause.

2. The search warrant was issued for more than one specific offense.
Search Warrant No. 2-M-70 was issued for "[v]iolation of Sec. 46(a) of the National Internal
Revenue Code in relation to all other pertinent provisions thereof particularly Secs. 53, 72, 73, 208
and 209." The question is: Was the said search warrant issued "in connection with one spe cific
offense," as required by Sec. 3, Rule 126?

To arrive at the correct answer it is essential to examine closely the provisions of the Tax Code
referred to above. Thus we find the following:

Sec. 46(a) requires the filing of income tax returns by corporations.

Sec. 53 requires the withholding of income taxes at source.

Sec. 72 imposes surcharges for failure to render income tax returns and for rendering false and
fraudulent returns.

Sec. 73 provides the penalty for failure to pay the income tax, to make a return or to supply the
information required under the Tax Code.

Sec. 208 penalizes "[a]ny person who distills, rectifies, repacks, compounds, or manufactures any
article subject to a specific tax, without having paid the privilege tax therefor, or who aids or abets
in the conduct of illicit distilling, rectifying, compounding, or illicit manufacture of any article
subject to specific tax x x x," and provides that in the case of a corporation, partnership, or
association, the official and/or employee who caused the violation shall be responsible.

Sec. 209 penalizes the failure to make a return of receipts, sales, business, or gross value of output
removed, or to pay the tax due thereon.

The search warrant in question was issued for at least four distinct offenses under the Tax Cod e.
The first is the violation of Sec. 46(a), Sec. 72 and Sec. 73 (the filing of income tax returns),
which are interrelated. The second is the violation of Sec. 53 (withholding of income taxes at
source). The third is the violation of Sec. 208 (unlawful pursuit of business or occupation); and
the fourth is the violation of Sec. 209 (failure to make a return of receipts, sales, business or gross
value of output actually removed or to pay the tax due thereon). Even in their classification the
six above-mentioned provisions are embraced in two different titles: Secs. 46(a), 53, 72 and 73
are under Title II (Income Tax); while Secs. 208 and 209 are under Title V (Privilege Tax on
Business and Occupation).

Respondents argue that Stonehill, et al. vs. Diokno, et al., L-19550, June 19, 1967 (20 SCRA 383),
is not applicable, because there the search warrants were issued for "violation of Central Bank
Laws, Internal Revenue (Code) and Revised Penal Code;" whereas, here Search Warrant No. 2-M-
70 was issued for violation of only one code, i.e., the National Internal Revenue Code. The
distinction is more apparent than real, because it was precisely on account of the Stonehill
incident, which occurred sometime before the present Rules of Court took effect on January
1, 1964, that this Court amended the former rule by inserting therein the phrase "in
connection with one specific offense," and adding the sentence "No search warrant shall
issue for more than one specific offense," in what is now Sec. 3, Rule 126. Thus we said in
Stonehill:

"Such is the seriousness of the irregularities committed in connection with the disputed search
warrants, that this Court deemed it fit to amend Section 3 of Rule 122 of the former Rules of Court
by providing in its counterpart, under the Revised Rules of Court that 'a search warrant shall not
issue but upon probable cause in connection with one specific offense.' Not satisfied with this
qualification, the Court added thereto a paragraph, directing that 'no search warrant shall issue for
more than one specific offense.'"
3. The search warrant does not particularly describe the things to be seized.

The documents, papers and effects sought to be seized are described in Search Warrant No. 2-M-
70 in this manner:

"Unregistered and private books of accounts (ledgers, journals, columnars, receipts and
disbursements books, customers ledgers); receipts for payments received; certificates of
stocks and securities; contracts, promissory notes and deeds of sale; telex and coded
messages; business communications; accounting and business records; checks and check
stubs; records of bank deposits and withdrawals; and records of foreign remittances,
covering the years 1966 to 1970."
The description does not meet the requirement in Art. III, Sec. 1, of the Constitution, and of
Sec. 3, Rule 126 of the Revised Rules of Court, that the warrant should par ticularly describe
the things to be seized.

In Stonehill, this Court, speaking thru Mr. Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion, said:

"The grave violation of the Constitution made in the application for the contested search warrants
was compounded by the description therein made of the effects to be searched for and seized, to
wit:
'Books of accounts, financial records, vouchers, journals, correspondence, receipts, ledgers,
portfolios, credit journals, typewriters, and other documents and/or papers showing all business
transactions including disbursement receipts, balance sheets and related profit and loss statements.'

"Thus, the warrants authorized the search for and seizure of records pertaining to all business
transactions of petitioners herein, regardless of whether the transactions were legal or illegal. The
warrants sanctioned the seizure of all records of the petitioners and the aforementioned
corporations, whatever their nature, thus openly contravening the explicit command of our Bill of
Rights - that the things to be seized be particularly described - as well as tending to defeat its
major objective: the elimination of general warrants."
While the term "all business transactions" does not appear in Search Warrant No. 2-M-70,
the said warrant nevertheless tends to defeat the major objective of the Bill of Rights, i.e.,
the elimination of general warrants, for the language used therein is so all-embracing as to
include all conceivable records of petitioner corporation, which, if seized, could possibly ren-
der its business inoperative.

In Uy Kheytin, et al. vs. Villareal, etc., et al., 42 Phil. 886, 896, this Court had occasion to explain
the purpose of the requirement that the warrant should particularly describe the place to be
searched and the things to be seized, to wit:

"x x x Both the Jones Law (sec. 3) and General Orders No. 58 (sec. 97) specifically require that a
search warrant should particularly describe the place to be searched and the things to be seiz ed.
The evident purpose and intent of this requirement is to limit the things to be seized to those, and
only those, particularly described in the search warrant - 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, - that abuses may not be committed. That this is the correct
interpretation of this constitutional provision is borne out by American authorities."
The purpose as thus explained could, surely and effectively, be defeated under the search warrant
issued in this case.

A search warrant may be said to particularly describe the things to be seized when the
description therein is as specific as the circumstances will ordinarily allow (People vs. Rubio,
57 Phil., 384); or when the description expresses a conclusion of fact - not of law - by which
the warrant officer may be guided in making the search and seizure (idem., dissent of Abad
Santos, J.); or when the things describes are limited to those which bear direct relation to the
offense for which the warrant is being issued (Sec. 2, Rule 126, Revised Rules of Court). The
herein search warrant does not conform to any of the foregoing tests. If the articles desired to be
seized have any direct relation to an offense committed, the applicant must necessarily have some
evidence, other than those articles, to prove the said offense; and the articles subject of search and
seizure should come in handy merely to strengthen such evidence. In this event, the description
contained in the herein disputed warrant should have mentioned, at least, the dates,
amounts, persons, and other pertinent data regarding the receipts of payments, certificates
of stocks and securities, contracts, promissory notes, deeds of sale, messages and
communications, checks, bank deposits and withdrawals, records of foreign remittances,
among others, enumerated in the warrant.

Respondents contend that certiorari does not lie because petitioners failed to file a motion for
reconsideration of respondent Judge's order of July 29, 1970. The contention is without merit. In
the first place, when the questions raised before this Court are the same as those which were
squarely raised in and passed upon by the court below, the filing of a motion for reconsideration in
said court before certiorari can be instituted in this Court is no longer a prerequisite. (Pa jo, etc., et
al. vs. Ago, et al., 108 Phil., 905). In the second place, the rule requiring the filing of a motion for
reconsideration before an application for a writ of certiorari can be entertained was never intended
to be applied without considering the circumstances. (Matutina vs. Buslon, et al. 109 Phil., 140.)
In the case at bar time is of the essence in view of the tax assessments sought to be enforced by
respondent officers of the Bureau of Internal Revenue against petitioner corporation, on account of
which immediate and more direct action becomes necessary. (Matute vs. Court of Appeals, et al.,
26 SCRA 768.) Lastly, the rule does not apply where, as in this case, the deprivation of petitioners'
fundamental right to due process taints the proceeding against them in the court below not only
with irregularity but also with nullity. (Matute vs. Court of Appeals, et al., supra.)

It is next contended by respondents that a corporation is not entitled to protection against


unreasonable searches and seizures. Again, we find no merit in the contention.

"Although, for the reasons above stated, we are of the opinion that an officer of a corporation
which is charged with a violation of a statute of the state of its creation, or of an act of Congress
passed in the exercise of its constitutional powers, cannot refuse to produce the books and papers
of such corporation, we do not wish to be understood as holding that a corporation is not entitled
to immunity, under the 4th Amendment, against unreasonable searches and seizures. A
corporation is, after all, but an association of individuals under an assumed name and with a
distinct legal entity. In organizing itself as a collective body it waives no constitutional
immunities appropriate to such body. Its property cannot be taken without compensation. It can
only be proceeded against by due process of law, and is protected, under the 14th Amendment,
against unlawful discrimination. x x x." (Hale v. Henkel, 201 U.S. 43, 50 L. ed. 652.)
"In Linn v. United States, 163 C.C.A. 470, 251 Fed. 476, 480, it was thought that a different rule
applied to a corporation, on the ground that it was not privileged from producing its books and
papers. But the rights of a corporation against unlawful search and seizure are to be protected
even if the same result might have been achieved in a lawful way." (Silverthorne Lumber
Company, et al. v. United States of America, 251 U.S. 385, 64 L. ed. 319.)
In Stonehill, et al. vs. Diokno, et al., supra, this Court impliedly recognized the right of a
corporation to object against unreasonable searches and seizures, thus:

"As regards the first group, we hold that petitioners herein have no cause of action to assail the
legality of the contested warrants and of the seizures made in pursuance thereof, for the simple
reason that said corporations have their respective personalities, separate and distinct from the
personality of herein petitioners, regardless of the amount of shares of stock or of the interest of
each of them in said corporations, and whatever the offices they hold therein may be. Indeed, it is
well settled that the legality of a seizure can be contested only by the part whose rights is have
been impaired thereby, and that the objection to an unlawful search and seizure is purely personal
and cannot be availed of by third parties. Consequently, petitioners herein may not validly object
to the use in evidence against them of the documents, papers and things seized from the offices
and premises of the corporations adverted to above, since the right to object to the admission of
said papers in evidence belongs exclusively to the corporations, to whom the seized effects
belong, and may not be invoked by the corporate officers in proceedings against them in their
individual capacity. x x x."
In the Stonehill case only the officers of the various corporations in whose offices documents,
papers and effects were searched and seized were the petitioners. In the case at bar, the
corporation to whom the seized documents belong, and whose rights have thereby been impaired,
is itself a petitioner. On that score, petitioner corporation here stands on a different footing from
the corporations in Stonehill.
The tax assessments referred to earlier in this opinion were, if not entirely - as claimed by
petitioners - at least partly - as in effect admitted by respondents - based on the documents seized
by virtue of Search Warrant No. 2-M-70. Furthermore, the fact that the assessments were made
some one and one-half months after the search and seizure on February 25, 1970, is a strong
indication that the documents thus seized served as basis for the assessments. These assessments
should therefore not be enforced.

PREMISES CONSIDERED, the petition is granted. Accordingly, Search Warrant No. 2-M-70
issued by respondent Judge is declared null and void; respondents are permanently enjoined from
enforcing the said search warrant; the documents, papers and effects seized thereunder are ordered
to be returned to petitioners; and respondent officials of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and their
representatives are permanently enjoined from enforcing the assessments mentioned in Annex "G"
of the present petition, as well as other assessments based on the documents, papers and effects
seized under the search warrant herein nullified, and from using the same against petitioners in
any criminal or other proceeding. No pronouncement as to costs.