Mikael Malmstedt, a Swedish national, entered the Philippines for the 3rd time in December 1988 as a tourist. He had visited the country sometime in 1982 and 1985. In the evening of 7 May 1989, Malmstedt left for Baguio City. Upon his arrival thereat in the morning of the following day, he took a bus to Sagada and stayed in that place for 2 days. On 11 May 1989, Capt. Alen Vasco of NARCOM, stationed at Camp Dangwa, ordered his men to set up a temporary checkpoint at Kilometer 14, Acop, Tublay, Mountain Province, for the purpose of checking all vehicles coming from the Cordillera Region. The order to establish a checkpoint in the said area was prompted by persistent reports that vehicles coming from Sagada were transporting marijuana and other prohibited drugs. Moreover, information was received by the Commanding Officer of NARCOM, that same morning, that a Caucasian coming from Sagada had in his possession prohibited drugs. At about 1:30 pm, the bus where Malmstedt was riding was stopped. Sgt. Fider and CIC Galutan boarded the bus and announced that they were members of the NARCOM and that they would conduct an inspection. During the inspection, CIC Galutan noticed a bulge on Malmstedt's waist. Suspecting the bulge on Malmstedt's waist to be a gun, the officer asked for Malmstedt's passport and other identification papers. When Malmstedt failed to comply, the officer required him to bring out whatever it was that was bulging on his waist, which was a pouch bag. When Malmstedt opened the same bag, as ordered, the officer noticed 4 suspicious-looking objects wrapped in brown packing tape, which turned out to contain hashish, a derivative of marijuana, when opened. Malmstedt stopped to get 2 travelling bags from the luggage carrier, each containing a teddy bear, when he was invited outside the bus for questioning. It was observed that there were also bulges inside the teddy bears which did not feel like foam stuffing. Malmstedt was then brought to the headquarters of the NARCOM at Camp Dangwa for further investigation. At the investigation room, the officers opened the teddy bears and they were found to also contain hashish. Representative samples were taken from the hashish found among the personal effects of Malmstedt and the same were brought to the PC Crime Laboratory for chemical analysis, which established the objects examined as hashish. Malmstedt claimed that the hashish was planted by the NARCOM officers in his pouch bag and that the 2 travelling bags were not owned by him, but were merely entrusted to him by an Australian couple whom he met in Sagada. He further claimed that the Australian couple intended to take the same bus with him but because there were no more seats available in said bus, they decided to take the next ride and asked Malmstedt to take charge of the bags, and that they would meet each other at the Dangwa Station. An information was filed against Malmstedt for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act. During the arraignment, Malmstedt entered a plea of "not guilty." After trial and on 12 October 1989, the trial court found Malmstedt guilty beyond reasonable doubt for violation of Section 4, Article II of RA 6425 and sentenced him to life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P20,000. Malmstedt sought reversal of the decision of the trial court.
Whether the personal effects of Malmstedt may be searched without an issued warrant.
Yes. The Constitution guarantees the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. However, where the search is made pursuant to a lawful arrest, there is no need to obtain a search warrant. A lawful arrest without a warrant may be made by a peace officer or a private person under the following circumstances. Section 5 provides that “a peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person (a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense; (b) When an offense has in fact just been committed, and he has personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested has committed it; and (c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another. In cases falling under paragraphs (a) and (b) hereof, the person arrested without a warrant shall be forthwith delivered to the nearest police station or jail, and he shall be proceeded against in accordance with Rule 112, Section 7." Herein, Malmstedt was caught in flagrante delicto, when he was transporting prohibited drugs. Thus, the search made upon his personal effects falls squarely under paragraph (1) of the foregoing provisions of law, which allow a warrantless search incident to a lawful arrest.