People v. Conde G.R. No. 113269, April 10, 2001

Fact: Apollo Romero, was home sitting by the window and drinking coffee when he saw four men block the path of two decease Indian nationals (bombay) on a motorcycle. One of the men, later identified as Oscar Conde, poked a gun at the two Indians while his three companions approached and stabbed the Indians. After the stabbing, the four men fled. Romero was about 25 to 35 meters away from the place where the crime was committed. PO3 Rodencio Sevillano, testified that he was assigned with the Intelligence and Investigation Division (IID) of the PNP, he was told to investigate the abovecited incident. The police arrested the three accused. Police recovered the weapons used in the robbery, when Felicidad Macabare, Conde’s wife, went to the police station to talk to the accused. These weapons were discovered inside her bag after a routine inspection. Sevillano admitted, however, that they did not have a warrant of arrest when they apprehended the accused. Nor did they have a search warrant when they inspected Felicidad’s bag and when they searched the house of a certain Jimmy where they found the stolen items.

Issue: Whether the conviction of the accused is valid even if their arrest was conducted in violation for their right against warrantless arrest.

Held: Yes, the arrest was a clear violation of their constitutional right; unfortunately, appellants did not assert their constitutional rights prior to their arraignment. This is fatal to their case. An accused is estopped from assailing the legality of his arrest if he failed to move for the quashing of the Information against him before his arraignment. When the appellants entered their pleas on arraignment without invoking their rights to question any irregularity, which might have accompanied their arrests, they voluntarily submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of the court and the judicial process. Any objection, defect, or irregularity attending their arrests should had been made before they entered their pleas. It is much too late for appellants to raise the question of their warrantless arrests. Their pleas to the information upon arraignment constitute clear waivers of their rights against unlawful restraint of liberty. Furthermore, the illegal arrest of an accused is not sufficient cause for setting aside a valid judgment rendered upon a sufficient complaint after trial free from error. The warrantless arrest, even if illegal, cannot render void all other proceedings including those leading to the conviction of the appellants and his co-accused, nor can the state be deprived of its right to convict the guilty when all the facts on record point to their culpability.



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