JAYLORD DIMAL vs PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES – G.R. No. 216922, APRIL 18, 2018

Facts:
At around 6:00 p.m. of September 6, 2010, Lucio Pua, Rosemarie Pua and Gemma Eugenio were scheduled to visit the compound of petitioner Jaylord A. Dimal in Echague, Isabela, to negotiate for the sale of palay. At around 7:30 p.m., Lucio’s nephew, Edison Pua, went to Dimal’s compound, asking for information as to the whereabouts of Lucio, Rosemarie and Gemma. Dimal informed Edison that they had left an hour ago. Unable to locate his relatives, Edison went to the police station in Alicia, Isabela, to report that they were missing, then proceeded to seek assistance from the police station in Echague.

Thereafter, Edison was escorted by two policemen to Dimal’s compound, where they allegedly stayed and observed the premises in the absence of Dimal until September 7, 2010. On even date at around 5:30 a.m., Edison and the two policemen supposedly searched without a warrant Dimal’s compound, but found no evidence linking him to the disappearances.

On September 26, 2010, Dimal was arrested by the Echague Police. On September 27, 2010, the Echague Police filed with the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Ilagan, Isabela, a criminal complaint for Kidnapping for Ransom and Multiple Murder against Dimal, Castillo, Sapipi, Miranda, Marvin Guiao and Robert Baccay.

On October 8, 2010, Police Inspector (P/lnsp.) Roy Michael S. Malixi, a commissioned officer of the Philippine National Police assigned with the Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response in Camp Crame Quezon City, filed an Application for the Issuance of a Search Warrant before the R TC Ilagan, Isabela, Branch 17, in connection with the kidnapping and multiple murder of Lucio, Rosemarie and Gemma.

After the hearing of the application on October 8, 2010, Judge Bonifacio T. Ong of the RTC of Ilagan, Isabela, Branch 17, issued a Search Warrant. In the Return on the Search Warrant, various items was enumerated.

Meanwhile, on November 22, 2010, three criminal Informations for Kidnapping for Ransom, as defined and penalized under Article 267, paragraph 4 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. No. 7659, were filed against petitioners before the RTC of Echague, Isabela, Branch 24, and later re-raffled to the RTC of Ilagan, Isabela, Branch 17.

On February 20, 2012, petitioners Dimal and Castillo, together with Michael Miranda, filed an Omnibus Motion to quash Search Warrant No. 10-11 and to declare the seized items as inadmissible in evidence.

That the accused Michael Miranda Genova alias Mike Miranda being an accessory, took part in the subsequent commission of the crime by providing the vehicle and a container drum used to dispose the chopped body of said Lucio Uy Pua and threw the same on the river, in order to conceal the body of the crime, to prevent its discovery.

Pursuant to Administrative Matter No. 12-1-18-RTC, the criminal cases were re-raffled to Judge Aurora A. Hernandez-Calledo of the RTC of Quezon City, and re-docketed as Criminal Case Nos. Q-12-175369, Q-12- 175370 to Q-12-175371.

In an Order dated September 28, 2012, the RTC of Quezon City denied the Motion to Quash Search Warrant No. 10-11 for lack of merit. The RTC ruled that a perusal of the application for search warrant reveals that it was issued by the RTC of Ilagan, Isabela, after conducting searching and probing questions upon the persons of the applicant P/Insp. Malixi, and his witnesses Edison, Shaira Mae and more particularly Villador, and finding probable cause based on their personal knowledge.

With the RTC’s denial of their motion for reconsideration, petitioners filed a petition for certiorari before the CA. The CA dismissed the petition and ruled that the subject search warrant was validly issued. Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration, which the CA denied in a Resolution dated February 4, 2015. Hence, this petition for review on certiorari.

Issues:
Whether the “Plain View Doctrine” may be applied in the seizure of the recovered items not stated in the Search Warrant.

Held:
No, despite the fact that the issuance of Search Warrant No. 10-11 is valid, petitioners are correct that most items listed in the Return on the Search Warrant are inadmissible in evidence. Since only 2 items were particularly described on the face of the search warrant.

For the “plain view doctrine” to apply, it is required that the following requisites are present: (a) the law enforcement officer in search of the evidence has a prior justification for an intrusion or is in a position from which he can view a particular area; (b) the discovery of evidence in plain view is inadvertent; and (c) it is immediately apparent to the officer that the item he observes may be evidence of a crime, contraband or otherwise subject to seizure.

What the ‘plain view’ cases have in common is that the police officer in each of them had a prior justification for an intrusion in the course of which he came inadvertently across a piece of evidence incriminating the accused. The doctrine serves to supplement the prior justification-whether it be a warrant for another object, hot pursuit, search incident to a lawful-arrest, or some other legitimate reason for being present unconnected with a search directed against the accused-and permits the warrantless seizure. Of course, the extension of the original justification is legitimate only where it is immediately apparent to the police that they have evidence before them; the ‘plain view’ doctrine may not be used to extend a general exploratory search from one object to another until something incriminating at last emerges.

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