Alvero vs Dizon, 76 Phil 637 (1946)
Petitioner, Aurelio Alvero has been accused of treason. At the hearing on his petition for bail, the prosecution presented, as part of its evidence, certain documents which had been allegedly seized by soldiers of the United States Army, accompanied by Filipino guerrillas, in the petitioner's house. Petitioner immediately objected to the presentation of said documents, and called the attention of the respondent judges to the fact that he had filed a petition, in which he protested against the procedure of the government in the seizure of said documents, and asked for their return to the petitioner.
Petitioner alleged that their seizure was illegal and that their presentation would be tantamount to compelling him to testify against himself, in violation of his constitutional rights. He further claims that the respondent judges, in denying the petition for the return of said documents, acted without jurisdiction and committed a grave abuse in the exercise of their discretion, alleging that even the seizure of documents by means of a search warrant legally issued, constitutes a violation of the rights guaranteed in paragraphs 3 and 18 of section 1 of Article III of the Constitution, and, consequently, when their seizure cannot be justified by the corresponding search warrant, the court should order their immediate return.
Whether or not the seizure is an encroachment of the petitioner’s constitutional right.
The right of officers and men of the United States Army to arrest the petitioner, as a collaborationist suspect, and to seize his personal papers, without any search warrant, in the zone of military operations, is unquestionable, under the provisions of article 4, Chapter II, Section I, of the Regulations relative to the Laws and Customs of War on Land of the Hague Conventions of 1907, authorizing the seizure of military papers in the possession of prisoners of war; and also under the proclamation issued by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, as Commander in Chief of the United States Army, declaring his purpose to remove certain citizens of the Philippines, who had voluntarily given aid and comfort to the enemy, in violation of the allegiance due the Governments of the United States and the Commonwealth of the Philippines, when apprehended, from any position of political and economic influence in the Philippines and to hold them in restraint for the duration of the war.
The purpose of the constitutional provisions against unlawful searches and seizures is to prevent violations of private security in person and property, and unlawful invasions of the sanctity of the home, by officers of the law acting under legislative or judicial sanction, and to give remedy against such usurpations when attempted. But it does not prohibit the Federal Government from taking advantage of unlawful searches made by a private person or under authority of state law:
As the soldiers of the United States Army, that took and seized certain papers and documents from the residence of herein petitioner were not acting as agents or on behalf of the Government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines; and that those papers and documents came into the possession of the authorities of the Commonwealth Government, through the Office of the CIC of the United States Army in Manila, the use and presentation of said papers and documents, as evidence for the prosecution against the petitioner, at the trial of his case for treason, before the People's Court, cannot now be legally attacked, on the ground of unlawful or unreasonable searches and seizures, or on any other constitutional ground, as declared by the Supreme Court of the United States in similar cases.