GEORGE ANTIQUERA y CODES vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES – G.R. No. 180661, December 11, 2013

Facts:

At around 4:45 a.m. of February 11, 2004, PO1 Gregorio Recio, PO1 Laurence Cabutihan, P/Insp. Eric Ibon, PO1 Rodelio Rania, and two civilian operatives on board a patrol car and a tricycle were conducting a police visibility patrol on David Street, Pasay City, when they saw two unidentified men rush out of house number 107-C and immediately boarded a jeep.

The police officers claim that they were alerted when they saw two unidentified men suddenly rush out of 107 David Street, Pasay City. Since they suspected that a crime had been committed, the natural thing for them to do was to give chase to the jeep that the two fleeing men boarded, given that the officers were in a patrol car and a tricycle. Running after the fleeing suspects was the more urgent task but the officers instead gave priority to the house even when they heard no cry for help from it. Suspecting that a crime had been committed, the police officers approached the house from where the men came and peeked through the partially opened door. PO1 Recio and PO1 Cabutihan saw accused Antiquera holding an improvised tooter and a pink lighter. Beside him was his live-in partner, Cruz, who was holding an aluminum foil and an improvised burner. They sat facing each other at the living room. This prompted the police officers to enter the house, introduce themselves, and arrest Antiquera and Cruz.

While inspecting the immediate surroundings, PO1 Cabutihan saw a wooden jewelry box atop a table. It contained an improvised burner, wok, scissors, 10 small transparent plastic sachets with traces of white crystalline substance, improvised scoop, and seven unused strips of aluminum foil. The police officers confiscated all these and brought Antiquera and Cruz to the Drug Enforcement Unit of the Philippine National Police in Pasay City for further investigation and testing. A forensic chemical officer examined the confiscated drug paraphernalia and found them positive for traces of methamphetamine hydrochloride or “shabu.”

On July 30, 2004 the RTC rendered a Decision that found accused Antiquera and Cruz guilty of the crime charged and sentenced them to a prison term ranging from six months and one day to two years and four months, and to pay a fine of ₱10,000.00 each and the costs of the suit.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) rendered a Decision affirming in full the decision of the trial court. The accused moved for reconsideration but the CA denied it. Hence this case.

Issue:
whether the accused was validly arrested without a warrant via arrest in flagrante delicto.

Held:
No, Section 5(a), Rule 113 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that a “peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person when, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense.” This is an arrest in flagrante delicto. The overt act constituting the crime is done in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer.

Clearly, no crime was plainly exposed to the view of the arresting officers that authorized the arrest of accused Antiquera without warrant under the above-mentioned rule. Considering that his arrest was illegal, the search and seizure that resulted from it was likewise illegal.

The failure of the accused to object to the irregularity of his arrest by itself is not enough to sustain his conviction. A waiver of an illegal warrantless arrest does not carry with it a waiver of the inadmissibility of evidence seized during the illegal warrantless arrest.

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