People v. Pasudag, GR 128822, 4 May 2001
While the team of SPO2 Pepito Calip was conducting their anti-jueteng operations in Sison, Pangasinan, he urinated at a bushy bamboo fence where he saw marijuana plants growing in between the corn plants and camote tops in a 70 square-meter garden. He reported the same to his chief and dispatched his team to conduct an investigation. He went straight to the owner of the garden, Alberto Pasudag, and asked him to bring them to his backyard garden. They took pictures of Pasudag standing beside one of the marijuana plants. The police then brought Pasudag and the confiscated marijuana plants to the police station. There, he admitted that he owned the marijuana plants. He was charged and found guilty by the trial court of illegal cultivation of marijuana.
Whether or not the trial court erred in holding Pasudag guilty of illegal cultivation of marijuana.
Yes. The arrest of the accused was tainted with constitutional infirmity.
The procurement of a search warrant is required before a law enforcer may validly search or seize the person, house, papers or effects of any individual. The Constitution provides that "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable. Any evidence obtained in violation of this provision is inadmissible.
The police authorities had ample opportunity to secure from the court a search warrant. With the illegal seizure of the marijuana plants subject of this case, the seized plants are inadmissible in evidence against accused-appellant. Moreover, it was revealed that the accused was not informed of his constitutional rights. The court did not agree with the Solicitor General that the accused was not under custodial investigation when he signed the confiscation receipt. It has been held repeatedly that custodial investigation commences when a person is taken into custody and is singled out as a suspect in the commission of a crime under investigation and the police officers begin to ask questions on the suspect's participation therein and which tend to elicit an admission. Even if the confession or admission were "gospel truth", if it was made without assistance of counsel and without a valid waiver of such assistance, the confession is inadmissible in evidence. Thus, the accused was acquitted from the crime charged.