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ANTIQUERA V. PEOPLE (712 SCRA)
Assistant City Prosecutor of Pasay City charged the accused George Codes Antiquera* and Corazon Olivenza Cruz with illegal ·possession of paraphernalia for dangerous drugs. The prosecution evidence shows that 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 apatrol 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.
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 RTC rendered a Decision that found accused Antiquera and Cruz guilty of the crime charged. On appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) rendered a Decision affirming in full the decision of the trial court.
WON CA erred in finding accused Antiquera guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal possession of drug paraphernalia based on the evidence of the police officers that they saw him and Cruz in the act of possessing drug paraphernalia?
Yes .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. But the circumstances here do not make out a case of arrest made in flagrante delicto. 1. 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. 2. Admittedly, the police officers did not notice anything amiss going on in the house from the street where they stood. Indeed, even as they peeked through its partially opened door, they saw no activity that warranted their entering it. 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 like wise illegal. Consequently, the various drug paraphernalia that the police officers allegedly found in the house and seized are inadmissible, having proceeded from an invalid search and seizure. 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.