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SARAUM V. PEOPLE (781 SCRA)
Around midnight on 17 Aug 2006, a buy-bust operation was conducted by Cebu PNP in coordination with PDEA against a certain alias “Pata.” During the operation, the target managed to escape and led the police on a chase. In hot pursuit of the suspect who darted into a neighbor’s shanty, the police caught Amado Saraum and Peter Esperanza inside, who were about to engage in a meth session with drug paraphernalia in hand (lighter, tissue paper, aluminum foil). The evidence was bagged and tagged, and the suspects detained. Saraum did not object to the warrantless arrest prior to his arraignment, and his counsel only entered his objection to the admission of the seized paraphernalia as evidence due to an invalid warrantless arrest when the prosecution had already begun presenting their evidence.
RTC convicted him of Possession of Paraphernalia of Dangerous Drugs (sec. 12, Art. II of RA 9165 —Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002). On appeal, CA sustained conviction, hence this petition.
WON the warrantless arrest of Saraum is valid?
Yes, the arrest in flagrante delicto was valid. Under Sec. 5(a), Rule 113 — 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;
Elements of valid arrest in flagrante delicto: 1. Person to be arrested must execute an overt act indicating that he has just committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit a crime. 2. Such overt act is done in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer.
Mere possession of the paraphernalia is an offense. While the items have countless lawful uses by themselves, the prosecution successfully proved their purpose for taking drugs. Since the warrantless arrest was valid, the warrantless seizure incidental to the arrest is also valid, and the seized items are the corpus delicti of the offense itself.