Umil vs. Ramos G.R. No. 81567, July 9, 1990

Facts: on 1 February 1988, the Regional Intelligence Operations Unit of the Capital Command (RIOU-CAPCOM) received confidential information about a member of the NPA Sparrow Unit (liquidation squad) being treated for a gunshot wound at the St. Agnes Hospital in Roosevelt Avenue, Quezon City. Upon verification, it was found that the wounded person, who was listed in the hospital records as Ronnie Javelon, is actually Rolando Dural, a member of the NPA liquidation squad, responsible for the killing of two (2) CAPCOM soldiers the day before, or on 31 January 1988, in Macanining Street, Bagong Barrio, Caloocan City. In view of this verification, Rolando Dural was transferred to the Regional Medical Services of the CAPCOM, for security reasons. While confined thereat, or on 4 February 1988, Rolando Dural was positively identified by eyewitnesses as the gunman who went on top of the hood of the CAPCOM mobile patrol car, and fired at the two (2) CAPCOM soldiers seated inside the car. As a consequence of this positive identification, Rolando Dural was referred to the Caloocan City Fiscal who conducted an inquest and thereafter filed with the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City an information charging Rolando Dural alias Ronnie Javelon with the crime of “Double Murder with Assault Upon Agents of Persons in Authority.” The case was docketed therein as Criminal Case No. C-30112 and no bail was recommended. On 15 February 1988, the information was amended to include, as defendant, Bernardo Itucal, Jr. who, at the filing of the original information, was still unidentified. As to Rolando Dural, it clearly appears that he was not arrested while in the act of shooting the two (2) CAPCOM soldiers aforementioned. Nor was he arrested just after the commission of the said offense for his arrest came a day after the said shooting incident. Seemingly, his arrest without warrant is unjustified. However, Rolando Dural was arrested for being a member of the New Peoples Army (NPA), an outlawed subversive organization. Subversion being a continuing offense, the arrest of Rolando Dural without warrant is justified as it can be said that he was committing an offense when arrested. The crimes of rebellion, subversion, conspiracy or proposal to commit such crimes, and crimes or offenses committed in furtherance thereof or in connection therewith constitute direct assaults against the State and are in the nature of continuing crimes.

Issue: Whether an arrest and search warrant is required for the crimes of rebellion, subversion, conspiracy or proposal to commit such crimes, and crimes or offenses committed in furtherance thereof or in connection therewith constitute direct assaults against the State.

Held: No, the claim of the petitioners that they were initially arrested illegally is, therefore, without basis in law and in fact. The crimes of insurrection or rebellion, subversion, conspiracy or proposal to commit such crimes, and other crimes and offenses committed in the furtherance, on the occasion thereof, or incident thereto, or in connection therewith under Presidential Proclamation No. 2045, are all in the nature of continuing offenses which set them apart from the common offenses, aside from their essentially involving a massive conspiracy of nationwide magnitude. Clearly then, the arrest of the herein detainees was well within the bounds of the law and existing jurisprudence in our jurisdiction. The arrest of persons involved in the rebellion whether as its fighting armed elements, or for committing non-violent acts but in furtherance of the rebellion, is more an act of capturing them in the course of an armed conflict, to quell the rebellion, than for the purpose of immediately prosecuting them in court for a statutory offense. The arrest, therefore, need not follow the usual procedure in the prosecution of offenses which requires the determination by a judge of the existence of probable cause before the issuance of a judicial warrant of arrest and the granting of bail if the offense is bailable. Obviously, the absence of a judicial warrant is no legal impediment to arresting or capturing persons committing overt acts of violence against government forces, or any other milder acts but equally in pursuance of the rebellious movement. The arrest or capture is thus impelled by the exigencies of the situation that involves the very survival of society and its government and duly constituted authorities. If killing and other acts of violence against the rebels find justification in the exigencies of armed hostilities which is of the essence of waging a rebellion or insurrection, most assuredly so in case of invasion, merely seizing their persons and detaining them while any of these contingencies continues cannot be less justified. In this case, whatever may be said about the manner of his arrest, the fact remains that the defendant was actually in court in the custody of the law on March 29, when a complaint sufficient in form and substance was read to him. To this he pleaded not guilty. The trial followed, in which, and in the judgment of guilty pronounced by the court, we find no error. Whether, if there were irregularities in bringing him personally before the court, he could have been released on a writ of habeas corpus or now has a civil action for damages against the person who arrested him we need not inquire. It is enough to say that such irregularities are not sufficient to set aside a valid judgment rendered upon a sufficient complaint and after a trial free from error.


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