1.) One day a passenger bus conductor found a man's handbag left in the bus. When the conductor opened the bag, he found inside a calling card with the owner’s name (Dante Galang) and address, a few hundred peso bills, and a small plastic bag containing a white powdery substance. He brought the powdery substance to the National Bureau of Investigation for laboratory examination and it was determined to be methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, a prohibited drug. Dante Galang was subsequently traced and found and brought to the NBI Office where he admitted ownership of the handbag and its contents. In the course of the interrogation by NBI agents, and without the presence and assistance of counsel, Galang was made to sign a receipt for the plastic bag and its shabu contents. Galang was charged with illegal possession of prohibited drugs and was convicted. On appeal he contends that - The plastic bag and its contents are inadmissible in evidence being the product of an illegal search and seizure. Decide the case with reasons.
The plastic bag and its contents are admissible in evidence, since it was not the National Bureau of Investigation but the bus conductor who opened the bag and brought it to the National Bureau of Investigation. As held in People v. Marti, 193 SCRA 57 (1991), the constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure is a restraint upon the government. It does not apply so as to require exclusion of evidence which came into the possession of the Government through a search made by a private citizen.
2.) Pornographic materials in the form of tabloids, magazines and other printed materials, proliferate and are being sold openly in the streets of Masaya City. The city Mayor organized a task force which confiscate these materials. He then ordered that the materials be burned in public. Dominador, publisher of the magazine “Plaything”, filed a suit raising the following constitutional issues: (a) the confiscation of the materials constituted an illegal search and seizure, because the same was done without a valid search warrant; and (b) the confiscation as well as the proposed destruction of the materials, is a denial of the right to disseminate information, and thus, violates the constitutional right to freedom of expression. Is either or both contentions proper? Explain your answer
The confiscation of the materials constituted an illegal search and seizure because it was done without a valid search warrant. It cannot be justified as a valid warrantless search and seizure, because such search and seizure must have been an incident of a lawful arrest. There was no lawful arrest. (Pita v. Court of Appeals, 178 SCRA 362 )
The argument of Dominador that pornographic materials are protected by the constitutional right to freedom of expression is erroneous. Obscenity is not protected expression. (Fernando v. Court of Appeals, 510 SCRA 351) Section 2 of Presidential Decree No. 969 requires the forfeiture and destruction of pornographic materials. (Nograles v. People, 660 SCRA 475 )
3.) Five foreign nationals arrived at the NAIA from Hong Kong. After retrieving their checked-in luggage, they placed all their bags in one pushcart and proceeded to Express Lane 5. They were instructed to place their luggage on the examiner's table for inspection. The examiner found brown-colored boxes, similar in size to powdered milk boxes, underneath the clothes inside the foreigners' bags. The examiner discovered white crystalline substances inside the boxes that he inspected and proceeded to bundle all of the boxes by putting masking tape around them. He thereafter handed the boxes over to Bureau of Customs agents. The agents called out the names of the foreigners one by one and ordered them to sign their names on the masking tape placed on the boxes recovered from their respective bags. The contents of the boxes were thereafter subjected to tests which confirmed that the substance was shabu. Can the shabu found inside the boxes be admitted in evidence against the five foreigners for the charge of illegal possession of drugs in violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002?
Yes, shabu obtained in ordinary customs searches such as those done in airport, which is a valid warrantless search, are admissible in evidence (Dela Cruz v. People G.R. 209387, January 11, 2016).
4.) At about 5:30 A.M. of September 15, 2019 Police Senior Inspector Officer A of the Manila Police District Station received a text message from an unidentified civilian informer that one Mr. Z would be meeting up later that morning with two (2) potential sellers of drugs at a nearby restaurant. As such, Officer A decided to hang around the said place immediately. At about 9:15 A.M., two (2) male passengers. Named A and Y, who were each carrying a traveling bag, alighted from a bus in front of the restaurant. A transport barker, serving as a lookout for Officer A, signaled to the latter that X and Y were "suspicious-looking." As the two were about to enter the restaurant, Officer A stopped them and asked about the contents of their bags. Dissatisfied with their response that the bags contained only clothes, Officer A proceeded to search the bags and found packs of shabu therein. Thus, X and Y were arrested, and the drugs were seized from them. According to Officer A, a warrantless search was validly made pursuant to the stop and frisk rule; hence, the consequent seizure of the drugs was likewise valid. (2019 Bar) (a) What is the stop and frisk rule? (b) Was the stop and frisk rule validly invoked by Officer A? If not, what is the effect on the drugs seized as evidence? Explain.
a.) The stop and frisk rule is an exception to the general rule against a search without a warrant. Where a police officer observes an unusual conduct which leads him reasonably to conclude in light of his experience that criminal activity may be afoot and that the persons with whom he is dealing may be armed and presently dangerous, where in the course of investigating this behavior he identifies himself as a policeman and makes reasonable inquiries, and where nothing in the initial stages of the encounter serves to dispel his reasonable fear for his own or others' safety, he is entitled for the protection of himself and others in the area to conduct a carefully limited search of the outer clothing of such persons in an attempt to discover weapons which might be used to assault him.(Manalili v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 113447, October 9, 1997)
b.) NO, the stop-and-frisk rule was not validly invoked by Officer A. A basic criterion to invoke the stop-and-frisk rule would be that the police officer, with his or her personal knowledge, must observe the facts leading to the suspicion of an illicit act. Officer A merely relied on a text message by an unidentified informer to conduct the search. The police officer should not adopt the suspicion initiated by another person. Personal knowledge is necessary to justify that the person suspected be stopped and reasonably searched. Anything less than this would be an infringement upon one’s basic right to security of one’s person and effects. (Cogaed v People, G.R. No. 200334, July 30, 2014)
5.) Armed with a search and seizure warrant, a team of policemen led by Inspector Trias entered a compound and searched the house described therein as No. 17 Speaker Perez St., Sta. Mesa Heights, Quezon City, owned by Mr. Ernani Pelets, for a reported cache of firearms and ammunition. However, upon thorough search of the house, the police found nothing. Then, acting on a hunch, the policemen proceeded to a smaller house inside the same compound with address at No. 17-A Speaker Perez St., entered it, and conducted a search therein over the objection of Mr. Pelets who happened to be the same owner of the first house. There, the police found the unlicensed firearms and ammunition they were looking for. As a result. Mr. Ernani Pelets was criminally charged in court with Illegal possession of firearms and ammunition as penalized under P.D. 1866, as amended by RA. 8294. At the trial, he vehemently objected to the presentation of the evidence against him for being inadmissible. Is Mr. Emani Pelet's contention valid or not? Why?
The contention of Ernani Pelet is valid. As held in People v. CA, 291 SCRA 400, if the place searched is different from that stated in the search warrant, the evidence seized is inadmissible. The policeman cannot modify the place to be searched as set out in the search warrant.
6.) a. Crack officers of the Anti-Narcotics Unit were assigned on surveillance of the environs of a cemetery where the sale and use of dangerous drugs are rampant. A man with reddish and glassy eyes was walking unsteadily moving towards them but veered away when he sensed the presence of policemen. They approached him, introduced themselves as police officers and asked him what he had clenched in his hand. As he kept mum, the policemen pried his hand open and found a sachet of shabu, a dangerous drug. Accordingly charged in court, the accused objected to the admission in evidence of the dangerous drug because it was the result of an illegal search and seizure. Rule on the objection. b. What are the instances when warrantless searches may be effected?
a.) The objection is not In accordance with Manalili v. CA, 280 SCRA 400, since the accused had red eyes and was walking unsteadily and the place is a known hang-out of drug addicts, the police officers had sufficient reason to stop the accused and to frisk him. Since shabu was actually found during the investigation, it could be seized without the need for a search warrant.
b.) A warrantless search may be effected in the following cases:
Searches incidental to a lawful arrest;
Searches of moving vehicles;
Searches of prohibited articles in plain view;
Enforcement of customs law;
Stop and frisk (People v. Monaco, 285 SCRA 703);
Routine searches at borders and ports of entry (US Ramsey, 431 U.S. 606 ); and
Searches of businesses in the exercise of visitorial powers to enforce police regulations (New York Burger, 482 U.S. 691 (1987]).
7.) A witnessed two hooded men with baseball bats enter the house of their next door neighbor B. After a few seconds, he heard B shouting, "Huwag Pilo babayaran kita agad. Then A saw the two hooded men hitting B until the latter fell lifeless. The assailants escaped using a yellow motorcycle with a fireball sticker on it toward the direction of an exclusive village nearby. A reported the incident to POI Nuval. The following day, POI Nuval saw the motorcycle parked in the garage of a house at Sta. Ines Street inside the exclusive village. He inquired with the caretaker as to who owned the motorcycle. The caretaker named the brothers Pilo and Ramon Maradona who were then outside the country. POI Nuval insisted on getting inside the garage. Out of fear, the caretaker allowed him. POI Nuval took 2 ski masks and 2 bats beside the motorcycle. Was the search valid? What about the seizure? Decide with reasons.
The warrantless search and the seizure was not valid. It was not made as an incident to a lawful warrantless arrest. (People v. Baula, 344 SCRA 663 ) The caretaker had no authority to waive the right of the brothers Pilo and Ramon Maradona to waive their right against an unreasonable search and seizure. (People v. Damaso, 212 SCRA547 ) The warrantless seizure of the ski masks and bats cannot be justified under the plain view doctrine, because they were seized after an invalid intrusion into the house. (People v. Bolasa, 321 SCRA 459 )
Evidence in plain view can be seized without need of a search warrant if the following elements are present.
There was a prior valid intrusion based on the valid warrantless arrest in which the police were legally present pursuant of their duties;
The evidence was inadvertently discovered by the police who had the right to be where they were:
The evidence must be immediately apparent; and
Plain view justified seizure of the evidence without further search. (Del Rosario vs. People, 358 scra 372)