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People vs. De Gracia, 233 SCRA 716 (1994)
Reform the Armed Forces Movement-Soldiers of the Filipino People (RAM-SFP) staged a coup d’état in December 1989 against the Government. Efren Soria of Intelligence Division, NCR Defense Command, together with his team, conducted a surveillance of the Eurocar Sales Office in EDSA, QC .Such surveillance was conducted pursuant to an intelligence report that the said establishment was being occupied by the elements of the RAM-SFP as communication command post. Near the Eurocar office, there were crowds watching the on-going bombardment near Camp Aguinaldo when a group of five men disengaged themselves and walked towards their surveillance car. Major Soria ordered the driver to start the car and leave the area. However, as they passed the area, the five men drew their guns and fired at them, which resulted in the wounding of the driver.
Nobody in the surveillance team retaliated for they were afraid that civilians might be caught in the crossfire. Thereafter, the search team raided the Eurocar Sales Office and confiscated 6 cartons of M-16 ammunition, 5 bundles of C-4 dynamites, M-shells of different calibers, and molotov. Obenia, who first entered the establishment, found De Gracia holding a C-4 and suspiciously peeping through the door in the office of a certain Colonel Matillano,
Whether or not there was a valid search and seizure in this case.
Yes, It is a valid search and seizure.
The instant case falls under one of the exceptions to the prohibition against a warrantless search. In the first place, the military operatives, taking into account the facts obtaining in this case, had reasonable ground to believe that a crime was being committed. There was consequently more than sufficient probable cause to warrant their action. Furthermore, under the situation then prevailing, the raiding team had no opportunity to apply for and secure a search warrant from the courts. The trial judge himself manifested that on December 5, 1989 when the raid was conducted, his court was closed. 19 Under such urgency and exigency of the moment, a search warrant could lawfully be dispensed with.
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