People vs. Enrile G.R. No. 74189, May 26, 1993 222 SCRA 586 (1993)

Facts: In the evening of October 25, 1985, a buy-bust team composed of Pat. Jaime Flores and Pat. Wilson Rances of the Quezon City Police Anti-Narcotics Unit was dispatched to entrap Rogelio Abugatal at Roosevelt Avenue in San Francisco Del Monte, Quezon City. The plan was made on the strength of a tip given by Renato Polines, a police informer, who was himself to pose as the buyer. In their separate testimonies, both policemen said that on the occasion they saw Polines hand over to Abugatal the marked money representing payment for the mock transaction. Abugatal left with the money and returned ten minutes later with a wrapped object which he gave Polines. The two policemen then approached Abugatal and placed him under arrest, at the same time confiscating the wrapped object. The prosecution also showed that, upon providing Abugatal led the policemen to a house where he called out for Antonio Enrile. Enrile came out and met them at the gate. Abugatal pointed to Enrile as the source of the marijuana, whereupon the policemen immediately arrested and frisked him. They found in the right front pocket of his trousers the marked money earlier delivered to Abugatal. At the police headquarters, Abugatal signed a sworn confession affirming the above narration. Enrile refused to make any statement pending consultation with a lawyer. Enrile testified that the marked money was “planted” on him by the police officers, who he said simply barged into his house without a warrant and arrested him. He stoutly denied any knowledge of the marijuana. He claimed that at the time of the alleged incident, he was attending, as a dental technician, to a patient whom he was fitting for dentures. The supposed patient, Alicia Tiempo, corroborated him. Enrile admitted that he had earlier been convicted of selling marijuana and that he had a pending application for probation. He suggested that this could be the reason the policemen sought to implicate him in the new charge and thus weaken his application.

Issue: Whether the possession the Marked Money is enough evidence to prove the guilt of the accused

Held: No, The discovery of the marked money on him did not mean he was caught in the act of selling marijuana. The marked money was not prohibited per se. Even if it were, that fact alone would not retroactively validate the warrantless search and seizure. What the policemen should have done was secure a search warrant on the basis of the information supplied by Abugatal, and then, with such authority, proceeded to search and, if the search was fruitful, arrest Enrile. They had no right to simply force themselves into his house on the bare (and subsequently disallowed) allegations of Abugatal and bundle Enrile off to the police station as if he had been caught in flagrante delicto.The principle has been honored through the ages in all liberty-loving regimes that a man’s house is his castle that not even the mighty monarch, with all its forces, may violate. There were measures available under the law to enable the authorities to search Enrile’s house and to arrest him if he was found in possession of prohibited articles. The police did not employ these measures. In the light of the proven circumstances of this case, the Court is not convinced that there is enough evidence to establish Enrile’s guilt beyond the shadow of doubt. The paucity of such evidence only strengthens the suspicion that the marked money was really “planted” on Enrile by the police officers who were probably worried that their earlier efforts in securing Enrile’s conviction as a drug pusher would be thwarted by his application for probation. Law-enforcement authorities are admonished that mere enthusiasm in the discharge of their duties is not enough to build a case against a person charged with a crime. They should build it with painstaking care, stone by stone of provable fact, and with constant regard for the rights of the accused, before they can hope to secure a conviction that can be sustained in a court of justice.

 

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