PEOPLE VS. MARIACOS
Respondent was found guilty of violation of the dangerous drugs act.
She was arrested after she was carrying a bag alleged to have prohibited drugs inside. The bag, before it came to her possession was found inside a passenger jeepney with no owner so the policeman looked inside it only to find packs of marijuana. The policeman was acting on a report made about the bag by an agent of the Barangay Intelligence Network.
Whether or not the warrantless search conducted was valid.
Firstly, this Court opines that the invocation of Section 2, Article III of the Constitution is misplaced. At the time, when PO2 Pallayoc looked into the contents of the suspicious bags, there was no identified owner. He asked the other passengers atop the jeepney but no one knew who owned the bags. Thus, there could be no violation of the right when no one was entitled thereto at that time.
Thirdly, the search was conducted in a moving vehicle. Time and again, a search of a moving vehicle has been justified on the ground that the mobility of motor vehicles makes it possible for the vehicle to move out of the locality or jurisdiction in which the warrant must be sought. Thus, under the facts, PO2 Pallayoc could not be expected to secure a search warrant in order to check the contents of the bags which were loaded on top of the moving jeepney. Otherwise, a search warrant would have been of no use because the motor vehicle had already left the locality.
The constitutional proscription against warrantless searches and seizures admits of certain exceptions. Aside from a search incident to a lawful arrest, a warrantless search had been upheld in cases of a moving vehicle, and the seizure of evidence in plain view.
It is well to remember that in the instances we have recognized as exceptions to the requirement of a judicial warrant, it is necessary that the officer effecting the arrest or seizure must have been impelled to do so because of probable cause. The essential requisite of probable cause must be satisfied before a warrantless search and seizure can be lawfully conducted. Without probable cause, the articles seized cannot be admitted in evidence against the person arrested.
Probable cause is defined as a reasonable ground of suspicion supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to induce a cautious man to believe that the person accused is guilty of the offense charged. It refers to the existence of such facts and circumstances that can lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed, and that the items, articles or objects sought in connection with said offense or subject to seizure and destruction by law are in the place to be searched.
The grounds of suspicion are reasonable when, in the absence of actual belief of the arresting officers, the suspicion that the person to be arrested is probably guilty of committing the offense is based on actual facts, i.e., supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to create the probable cause of guilt of the person to be arrested. A reasonable suspicion therefore must be founded on probable cause, coupled with good faith on the part of the peace officers making the arrest.