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People vs. Aminnudin, 163 SCRA 402 (1988)
Aminnudin was arrested on June 25, 1984, shortly after disembarking from the M/V Wilcon at about 8:30 in the evening, in Iloilo City. The PC officers who were in fact waiting for him simply accosted him, inspected his bag and finding what looked liked marijuana leaves took him to their headquarters for investigation.
Later on, the information was amended to include Farida Ali y Hassen and both were charged for Illegal Transportation of Prohibited Drugs. The fiscal absolved Ali after a thorough investigation. Then trial proceeded only against the accused-appellant, who was eventually convicted. His defense,Aminnudin, disclaimed the marijuana, averring that all he had in his bag was his clothing consisting of a jacket, two shirts and two pairs of pants.
· He alleged that he was arbitrarily arrested and immediately handcuffed. His bag was confiscated without a search warrant.
· At the PC headquarters, he was manhandled to force him to admit he was carrying the marijuana, the investigator hitting him with a piece of wood in the chest and arms even as he parried the blows while he was still handcuffed.
· He insisted he did not even know what marijuana looked like and that his business was selling watches and sometimes cigarettes.
Whether or not the warrantless arrest is valid.
No. Aminuddin was arrested illegally.
The mandate of the Constitution is clear that a valid search or arrest warrant shall be served first before the authorities can check his personal properties or deprived him of his liberty.
In the case at bar, there was no warrant of arrest or search warrant issued by a judge after a personal determination by him of the existence of probable cause. Contrary to the averments of the government, the accused-appellant was not caught in flagrante nor was a crime about to be committed or had just been committed to justify the warrantless arrest allowed under Rule 113 of the Rules of Court.
In the many cases where this Court has sustained the warrantless arrest of violators of the Dangerous Drugs Act, it has always been shown that they were caught red-handed, as a result of what are popularly called "buy-bust" operations of the narcotics agents. Rule 113 was clearly applicable because at the precise time of arrest the accused was in the act of selling the prohibited drug.
In the case at bar, the accused-appellant was not, at the moment of his arrest, committing a crime nor was it shown that he was about to do so or that he had just done so. What he was doing was descending the gangplank of the M/V Wilcon 9 and there was no outward indication that called for his arrest. To all appearances, he was like any of the other passengers innocently disembarking from the vessel. It was only when the informer pointed to him as the carrier of the marijuana that he suddenly became suspect and so subject to apprehension. It was the furtive finger that triggered his arrest. The Identification by the informer was the probable cause as determined by the officers (and not a judge) that authorized them to pounce upon Aminnudin and immediately arrest him.
As to the Court’s exclusion of the illegally seized marijuana as evidence against the accused-appellant, his guilt has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt and he must, therefore, be discharged on the presumption that he is innocent.
Hence, accused-appellant is acquitted.
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