Cruz v. People


Cruz v. People

G.R. No. 238141

July 1, 2019


                The RTC and CA convicted William Cruz y Fernandez for the crime of violating Sec 3 © of RA 9287. on July 10, 2015, the Chief of Police of Binmaley, Pangasinan, instructed Police Officer 3 Ramon de Guzman (PO3 de Guzman) and Police Officer 2 Joel Sabordo (PO2 Sabordo) to conduct a surveillance of illegal gambling activities along Mabini Street in Barangay Poblacion, Binmaley, Pangasinan. Upon arriving thereat, PO3 de Guzman and PO2 Sabordo saw petitioners from a distance of around five (5) meters carrying ball pens, papelitos, and money and allegedly collecting jueteng9 bets from some persons. They then approached petitioners and asked them if they were employees of Meredien Vista Gaming Corporation (MVGC). When petitioners failed to show any authority to conduct business, PO3 de Guzman and PO2 Sabordo began arresting them, confiscated their ball pens, papelitos, and money, and thereafter, brought them to the police station.


                Whether or not the CA erred in affirming the conviction of petitioners for violation of Section 3 (c) of RA 9287.


                Yes. Section 2, Article III24 of the 1987 Constitution mandates that a search and seizure must be carried out through or on the strength of a judicial warrant predicated upon the existence of probable cause, absent which, such search and seizure becomes 'unreasonable' within the meaning of said constitutional provision. To protect the people from unreasonable searches and seizures, Section 3 (2), Article III of the 1987 Constitution provides that evidence obtained from unreasonable searches and seizures shall be inadmissible in evidence for any purpose in any proceeding. In other words, evidence obtained and confiscated on the occasion of such unreasonable searches and seizures are deemed tainted and should be excluded for being the proverbial fruit of a poisonous tree.

                Considering that the arresting officers were at a considerable distance of about five (5) meters away from the supposed criminal transaction, it would be highly implausible for them - even assuming that they have perfect vision - to ascertain with reasonable accuracy that the aforesaid items were being used as gambling paraphernalia. In an effort to legitimize the warrantless arrest and the consequent search made incidental thereto, the arresting officers insist that the arrest was made only after ascertaining that petitioners were not MVGC employees. However, the fact that petitioners were: (a) holding ball pens, papelitos, and money; and (b) not MVGC employees do not, by themselves, constitute an illegal gambling activity punishable under RA 9287. Notably, there was no other overt act that could be properly attributed to petitioners so as to rouse suspicion in the minds of the arresting officers that the former had just committed, were committing, or were about to commit a crime. Verily, these circumstances are not enough to justify a valid in flagrante delicto warrantless arrest on petitioners. As a consequence of petitioners' unlawful warrantless arrest, it necessarily follows that there could have been no valid search incidental to a lawful arrest which had yielded the alleged illegal gambling paraphernalia from petitioners. Notably, while petitioners are deemed to have waived any objections as to the legality of their arrest due to their failure to question the same before arraignment and their active participation in trial, it must be clarified that the foregoing constitutes a waiver only as to any question concerning any defects in their arrest, and not with regard to the inadmissibility of the evidence seized during an illegal warrantless arrest. Wherefore, CA Decision and Resolution are hereby reversed and set aside.



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