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Dabon v. People, GR 208775
Law enforcement agents applied for a search warrant after the surveillance and test-buy operations conducted by the operatives of the Philippine National Police (PNP)-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Bohol, which confirmed that Dabon was engaged in illegal drug activity.
Search Warrant No. 15, which armed law enforcement agents to search Dabon's residence for violation of Sections 11 and 12, Article II of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, was issued.
Upon reaching the two-storey apartment at about 7:30 am, the CIDG operatives requested Barangay Kagawad Ariel Angalot (Brgy. Kagawad Angalot), City Councilor Jose Angalot (Councilor Angalot), Sangguniang Kabataan Chairman Marianne Angalot (SK Chairman Angalot), media representative Charles Responte (Responte) and Department of Justice (DOJ) representative Zacarias Castro (Castro) to witness the search.
The group entered the house and the CIDG, together with Brgy. Kagawad Angalot and SK Chairman Angalot went to the second floor where Dabon and his family resided. The second floor had two bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room. They found Eusubio Dumaluan (Dumaluan) in the living room while Dabon was inside one of the bedrooms.
After P/Insp. Mallari handed the copy of the search warrant to Dabon, the CIDG operatives searched the kitchen where PO2 Datoy and PO2 Enterina found, in the presence of Brgy. Kagawad Angalot, drug paraphernalia. The police officers then frisked Dumaluan and recovered from his pocket, a coin purse, a lighter, a metal clip, three empty decks of suspected shabu, two pieces of blade and crumpled tin foil.
The police officers proceeded to search one of the bedrooms where PO2 Datoy and PO2 Enterina, in the presence of Brgy. Kagawad Angalot, found three plastic sachets containing suspected shabu, which were hidden in the folded of clothes inside a drawer. They also recovered the following drug paraphernalia: empty cellophane wrapper, rolled tinfoil containing. suspected shabu residue, twisted tissues, plastic straw refiller, three pieces of bamboo clip, improvised metal clip, and blade.
The three plastic sachets and the drug paraphernalia found in the bedroom of Dabon and the drug paraphernalia recovered from Dumaluan were turned over to SPO1 Triste who inventoried and placed them in evidence bags in the presence of Councilor Angalot, Brgy. Kagawad Angalot, SK Chairman Angalot, media representative Responte and DOJ representative Castro.
Two Information were filed against Dabon for violation of Sections 11 and 12, Article II of R.A. No. 9165. For his defense, Dabon argued that he was surprised when he was. awakened by alleged members of the CIDG, who entered his room, pointing guns at him and telling them that they will conduct a raid.
Dabon and Dumaluan claimed that they were not allowed to witness the search conducted by the CIDG. Instead, they were ordered to stay and sit in the living room while other members of the household were locked inside the room of their house helper.
Is the evidence obtained against Dabon admissible?
No. Here, the hierarchy among the witnesses as explicitly provided under the law was not complied with. For one, the lawful occupants of the premises were not absent when the police authorities implemented the search warrant. Even so, the two-witness rule was not complied with as only one witness, Brgy. Kagawad Angalot, was present when the search was conducted.
As told, based on the testimonies of PO2 Datoy and Brgy. Kagawad Angalot, it is clear that the mandatory rule under Section 8 was violated. Clearly, the contention of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) that SK Chairman Angalot was there was belied by the statement of PO2 Datoy and Brgy. Kagawad Angalot.
Failure to comply with the safeguards provided by law in implementing the search warrant makes the search unreasonable. Thus, the exclusionary rule applies, i.e., any evidence obtained in violation of this constitutional mandate is inadmissible in any proceeding for any purpose. We emphasize that the exclusionary rule ensures that the fundamental rights to one's person, houses, papers, and effects are not lightly infringed upon and are upheld.