People v. Chua Ho San, 308 SCRA 432 (1999)
Whether or not the warrantless search and seizure conducted which produced the 29 plastic packets of methamphetamine hydrochloride is valid
No, the warrantless search and seizure conducted which produced the 29 plastic packets of methamphetamine hydrochloride is not valid. The Constitution provides the inviolable right to privacy of home and person and their right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose. Also enshrined in the Constitution is the exclusionary principle which decrees that any evidence obtained in violation of said right is inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding
While a search without a warrant is generally not valid, there are notable exceptions to this, namely: (a) search of moving vehicles, (b) seizure in plain view, (c) customs searches, (d) waiver or consent searches, (e) stop and frisk situations and (f) search incidental to a lawful arrest.
In an in flagrante delicto arrest, one instance of a valid arrest without a warrant, the arresting officer must have personal knowledge of such facts or circumstances which is constitutive of probable cause. Probable cause means that there is a reasonable ground of suspicion supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to warrant a cautious man's belief that the person accused is guilty of the offense with which he is charged. In the given facts, there does not appear to be any indication that Chua participated in an ongoing criminal enterprise that would justify the conduct of such an obtrusive search. In other words there is no probable cause for an in flagrante arrest to be done and therefore no valid instance to search the accused without a warrant.
Also, the contention of the prosecution that there was a consented search is likewise without merit. No valid waiver could have been made by Chua in the given situation since he could not fully understand what the police officers were saying. All that was used was sign language and as such it cannot logically be inferred from his alleged cognizance of the “sign language” that he deliberately, intelligently, and consciously waived his right against such an intrusive search.
Given that the arrest of Chua without a warrant does not fall within one of the valid instances provided by the Rules of Court for a valid warrantless arrest, the arrest of the accused is therefore not valid. Following the exclusionary principle therefore, the evidence obtained via the invalid search is therefore fruit of the poisonous tree and is not admissible.