People vs. Rodrigueza G.R. No. 95902, February 4, 1992 205 SCRA 791 (1992)

Facts: Afternoon of July 1, 1987, CIC Ciriaco Taduran was in their headquarters at the Office of the Narcotics Regional Unit together with other policemen, when a confidential informer arrived and told them that there was an ongoing illegal traffic of prohibited drugs. Major Zeidem formed a team to conduct a buy-bust operation, which team was given P200.00 in different denominations to buy marijuana. These bills were treated with ultraviolet powder at the Philippine Constabulary Crime Laboratory (PCCL). Sgt. Molinawe gave the money to Taduran who acted as the poseur buyer. He was told to look for a certain Don, the alleged seller of prohibited drugs. Taduran went to Tagas alone and, while along the road, he met Samuel Segovia. He asked Segovia where be could find Don and where he could buy marijuana. Segovia left for a while and when be returned, he was accompanied by a man who was later on introduced to him as Don, herein appellant. After agreeing on the price of P200.00 for 100 grams of marijuana, Don halted a passing tricycle driven by Antonio Lonceras. He boarded it and left Taduran and Segovia. When he came back, Don gave Taduran “a certain object wrapped in a plastic” which was later identified as marijuana, and received payment therefor. Thereafter, Taduran returned to the headquarters and made a report regarding his said purchase of marijuana. Major Zeidem ordered a team to conduct an operation to apprehend the suspects. In the evening of the same date, CIC Galutan and S/Sgt. Molinawe proceeded to Regidor Street, Daraga, Albay and arrested appellant, Antonio Lonceras and Samuel Segovia. The constables were not, however, armed with a warrant of arrest when they apprehended the three accused. The arrestees were brought to the headquarters for investigation. Thereafter, agents of the Narcotics Command (NARCOM) conducted a raid in the house of Jovencio Rodrigueza, father of appellant. Taduran did not go with them. During the raid, they were able to confiscate dried marijuana leaves and a plastic syringe, among others. The search, however, was not authorized by any search warrant. The next day, July 2, 1987, Jovencio Rodrigueza was released from detention but appellant was detained. An affidavit, allegedly taken from and executed by him, was sworn to by him before the assistant city prosecutor. Appellant had no counsel when his sworn statement was taken during that custodial investigation. The arrestees were also examined by personnel of the PCCL and were found positive for ultraviolet powder.

 Issue: Whether the warrantless arrest of the accused through a buy-bust operation is justified by the principle of in flagrante delicto.

 Held: No, A buy-bust operation is a form of entrapment employed by peace officers to trap and catch a malefactor in flagrante delicto. Applied to the case at bar, the term in flagrante delicto requires that the suspected drug dealer must be caught redhanded in the act of selling marijuana or any prohibited drug to a person acting or posing as a buyer. In the instant case, however, the procedure adopted by the NARCOM agents failed to meet this qualification. Based on the very evidence of the prosecution, after the alleged consummation of the sale of dried marijuana leaves, CIC Taduran immediately released appellant Rodrigueza instead of arresting and taking him into his custody. This act of CIC Taduran, assuming arguendo that the supposed sale of marijuana did take place, is decidedly contrary to the natural course of things and inconsistent with the aforestated purpose of a buy-bust operation. It is rather absurd on his part to let appellant escape without having been subjected to the sanctions imposed by law. It is, in fact, a dereliction of duty by an agent of the law.

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