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People vs. Solayao, 262 SCRA255 (1996)
On June 09, 1992, CAFGU members, headed by SPO3 Nino, were conducting an intelligence patrol to
verify reports on the presence of armed persons roaming around the barangays of Caibiran. In Baragay Onion, they met the 5-man group of accused Nilo Solayao, who was also wearing a camouflage uniform. His companions, upon seeing the government agents, fled. SPO3 Niño told Salayao not to run away and
introduced himself as "PC," after which he seized the dried coconut leaves which the latter was carrying and found wrapped in it a 49-inch long homemade firearm locally known as "latong." When he asked Salayao who issued him a license to carry said firearm or whether he was connected with the military or any intelligence group, the latter answered that he had no permission to possess the same. Thereupon, SPO3 Niño confiscated the firearm and turned him over to the custody of the policemen of Caibiran who subsequently investigated him and charged him with illegal possession of firearm. Salayao did not contest the confiscation of the shotgun but averred that this was only given to him by one of his companions, Hermogenes Cenining, when it was still wrapped in coconut leaves, which they were using the coconut leaves as a torch. Salayao’s claim was corroborated by one Pedro Balano. On 15 August 1994, the RTC of Naval Biliran (Branch 16) found Salayao guilty of illegal possession of firearm under Section 1 of PD 1866 and imposed upon him the penalty of imprisonment ranging from reclusion temporal maximum to reclusion perpetua. The trial court, having found no mitigating but one aggravating circumstance of nighttime, sentenced accused-appellant to
suffer the prison term of reclusion perpetua with the accessory penalties provided by law. Salayao appealed to the Supreme Court.
ISSUE/S: Whether the search upon Solayao, yielding the firearm wrapped in coconut leaves, is valid.
RULING: Nilo Solayao and his companions' drunken actuations aroused the suspicion of SPO3 Niño's group, as
well as the fact that he himself was attired in a camouflage uniform or a jungle suit and that upon espying the
peace officers, his companions fled. It should be noted that the peace officers were precisely on an
intelligence mission to verify reports that armed persons were roaming around the barangays of Caibiran. The
circumstances are similar to those obtaining in Posadas v. Court of Appeals where this Court held that "at the
time the peace officers identified themselves and apprehended the petitioner as he attempted to flee, they did
not know that he had committed, or was actually committing the offense of illegal possession of firearm and
ammunitions. They just suspected that he was hiding something in the buri bag. They did not know what its
contents were. The said circumstances did not justify an arrest without a warrant." As with Posadas, the case
herein constitutes an instance where a search and seizure may be effected without first making an arrest.
There was justifiable cause to "stop and frisk" Solayao when his companions fled upon seeing the government
agents. Under the circumstances, the government agents could not possibly have procured a search warrant
first. Thus, there was no violation of the constitutional guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Nor was there error on the part of the trial court when it admitted the homemade firearm as evidence.