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People v. Cogaed, GR 200334, 30 July 2014
At about 6:00 a.m. of November 25, 2005, Police Senior Inspector Sofronio Bayan, "received a text message from an unidentified civilian informer" that one Marvin Buya (also known as Marvin Bugat) "[would]be transporting marijuana" from Barangay LunOy, San Gabriel, La Union to the Poblacion of San Gabriel, La Union.
PSI Bayan organized checkpoints in order "to intercept the suspect." The jeepney driver disembarked and signalled to SPO1 Taracatac indicating the two male passengers who were carrying marijuana.
SPO1 Taracatac approached the two male passengers who were later identified as Victor RomanaCogaed and Santiago Sacpa Dayao. Cogaed was carrying a blue bag and a sack while Dayao was holding a yellow bag.
The Court of Appeals found that Cogaed waived his right against warrantless searches when "without any prompting from SPO1 Taracatac, he voluntarily opened his bag."
Whether or not there was a valid search and seizure of marijuana as against the appellant
No. Any evidence obtained in violation of the right against unreasonable searches and seizures shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.
Otherwise known as the exclusionary rule or the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine, this constitutional provision originated from Stonehill v. Diokno. This rule prohibits the issuance of general warrants that encourage law enforcers to go on fishing expeditions. Evidence obtained through unlawful seizures should be excluded as evidence because it is "the only practical means of enforcing the constitutional injunction against unreasonable searches and seizures." It ensures that the fundamental rights to one’s person, houses, papers, and effects are not lightly infringed upon and are upheld.
Considering that the prosecution and conviction of Cogaed were founded on the search of his bags, a pronouncement of the illegality of that search means that there is no evidence left to convict Cogaed.
Drugs and its illegal traffic are a scourge to our society. In the fight to eradicate this menace, law enforcers should be equipped with the resources to be able to perform their duties better. However, we cannot, in any way, compromise our society’s fundamental values enshrined in our Constitution. Otherwise, we will be seen as slowly dismantling the very foundations of the society that we seek to protect.
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