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People vs. Sucro, 195 SCRA 388
People vs. Sucro, 195 SCRA 388
On 21 March 1989, Pat. Fulgencio, a member of the INP, Kalibo, Aklan, was instructed by P/Lt. Vicente Seraspi, Jr. (Station Commander of the INP Kalibo, Aklan) to monitor the activities of Edison Sucro, because of information gathered by Seraspi that Sucro was selling marijuana. As planned, at about 5:00 P.M. on said date, Pat. Fulgencio positioned himself under the house of a certain Arlie Regalado at C. Quimpo Street. Adjacent to the house of Regalado, about 2 meters away, was a chapel. Thereafter, Pat. Fulgencio saw Sucro enter the chapel, taking something which turned out later to be marijuana from the compartment of a cart found inside the chapel, and then return to the street where he handed the same to a buyer, Aldie Borromeo. After a while Sucro went back to the chapel and again came out with marijuana which he gave to a group of persons. It was at this instance that Pat. Fulgencio radioed P/Lt. Seraspi and reported the activity going on P/Lt. Seraspi instructed Pat. Fulgencio to continue monitoring developments.
At about 6:30 P.M., Pat. Fulgencio again called up Seraspi to report that a third buyer later identified as Ronnie Macabante, was transacting with Sucro. At that point, the team of P/Lt Seraspi proceeded to the area and while the police officers were at the Youth Hostel at Maagma St., Pat. Fulgencio told P/Lt. Seraspi to intercept Macabante and Sucro. P/ Lt. Seraspi and his team caught up with Macabante at the crossing of Mabini and Maagma Sts. In front of the Aklan Medical Center. Upon seeing the police, Macabante threw something to the ground which turned out to be a tea bag of marijuana. When confronted, Macabante readily admitted that he bought the same from Sucro in front of the chapel. The police team was able to overtake and arrest Sucro at the corner of C. Quimpo and Veterans Sts. The police recovered 19 sticks and 4 teabags of marijuana from the cart inside the chapel and another teabag from Macabante. The teabags of marijuana were sent to the PC-INP Crime Laboratory Service, at Camp Delgado, Iloilo City for analysis. The specimens were all found positive of marijuana. Sucro was charged with violation of Section 4, Article II of the Dangerous Drugs Act. Upon arraignment, Sucro, assisted by counsel, entered a plea of "not guilty" to the offense charged. Trial ensued and a judgment of conviction was rendered, finding Sucro guilty of the sale of prohibited drug and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment, and pay a fine of P20,000.00 and costs. Sucro appealed.
Whether the arrest without warrant of the accused is lawful and consequently, whether the evidence resulting from such arrest is admissible.
Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure provides for the instances where arrest without warrant is considered lawful.
The rule states that "A peace officer or private person may, without 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;"
An offense is committed in the presence or within the view of an officer, within the meaning of the rule authorizing an arrest without a warrant, when the officer sees the offense, although at a distance, or hears the disturbances created thereby and proceeds at once to the scene thereof. The failure of the police officers to secure a warrant stems from the fact that their knowledge acquired from the surveillance was insufficient to fulfill the requirements for the issuance of a search warrant. What is paramount is that probable cause existed. Still, that searches and seizures must be supported by a valid warrant is not an absolute rule. Among the exceptions granted by law is a search incidental to a lawful arrest under Sec. 12, Rule 126 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure, which provides that a person lawfully arrested may be searched for dangerous weapons or anything which may be used as proof of the commission of an offense, without a search warrant. Herein, police officers have personal knowledge of the actual commission of the crime when it had earlier conducted surveillance activities of the accused. Under the circumstances (monitoring of transactions) there existed probable cause for the arresting officers, to arrest Sucro who was in fact selling marijuana and to seize the contraband. Thus, as there is nothing unlawful about the arrest considering its compliance with the requirements of a warrantless arrest; ergo, the fruits obtained from such lawful arrest are admissible in evidence.
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