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G.R. No.

158467

October 16, 2009

SPOUSES JOEL AND MARIETTA MARIMLA, Petitioners, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES AND HON. OMAR T. VIOLA, RTC Judge, Branch 57, Angeles City,Respondents. DECISION LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.: Before the Court is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. It seeks to annul the Order1 dated September 6, 2002 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Angeles City, Branch 57, denying petitioner spouses Joel and Marietta Marimlas Motion to Quash Search Warrant and to Suppress Evidence Illegally Seized, and the Order2 dated April 21, 2003 denying the Motion for Reconsideration thereof. The facts, as culled from the records, are as follows: On February 15, 2002, Special Investigator (SI) Ray C. Lagasca of the NBI Anti-Organized Crime Division filed two (2) applications for search warrant with the RTC of Manila seeking permission to search: (1) petitioners house located on RD Reyes St., Brgy. Sta. Trinidad, Angeles City3 and (2) the premises on Maria Aquino St., Purok V, Brgy. Sta. Cruz, Porac, Pampanga,4 both for Violation of Section 16, Article III of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6425, as amended. The said applications uniformly alleged that SI Lagascas request for the issuance of the search warrants was founded on his personal knowledge as well as that of witness Roland D. Fernandez (Fernandez), obtained after a series of surveillance operations and a test buy made at petitioners house. The purpose of the application for search warrants was to seize the following articles/items: Undetermined amount of Methamphetamine Hydrochloride, popularly known as "SHABU," "MARIJUANA," weighing scale, plastic sachets, tooters, burner, rolling papers, and paraphernalia, all of which articles/items are being used or intended to be used in Violation of Republic Act 6425 as amended, and are hidden or being kept in said house/premises. 5 Executive Judge Mario Guaria III (Judge Guaria III) examined in writing and under oath SI Lagasca and Fernandez, in the form of searching questions and answers, and found that based on facts personally known to SI Lagasca and Fernandez, petitioners had in their possession and control, inside their house located on RD Reyes St., Brgy. Sta. Trinidad, Angeles City, an undetermined amount of methamphetamine hydrochloride known as shabu and marijuana. Pursuant these findings, Judge Guaria III issued a search warrant docketed as Search Warrant No. 02-2677, which commanded any peace officer "to make immediate search, at any time of the day or night, not beyond 10 days from date hereof, of the premises above-mentioned and forthwith seize and take possession of the properties subject of the offense and bring to his court said properties to be dealt with as the law directs."6

On the strength of this warrant, members of the NBI AntiOrganized Crime Division, namely, SI Lagasca, Primitivo M. Najera, Jr., Jesusa D. Jamasali, Horten Hernaez, and Ritche N. Oblanca, in coordination with the Philippine National Police of Angeles City, searched petitioners house on February 19, 2002 at around 5:00 in the morning.7They were able to seize cash in the amount of P15,200.008 and the following items: 1. One (1) brick of dried flowering tops wrapped in a packing tape marked "RCL-1-2677," (net weight - 915.7 grams); 2. One (1) small brick of dried flowering tape wrapped in a newsprint marked "RCL-2-2677" (net weight - 491.5 grams); 3. Dried flowering tops separately contained in sixteen (16) transparent plastic bags, altogether wrapped in a newsprint marked "RCL-3-2677" (net weight - 127.9 grams); and 4. Dried flowering tops separately contained in nine (9) plastic tea bags, altogether placed in a yellow plastic bag marked "RCL-4-2677" (net weight - 18.2736 grams).9 On February 20, 2002, an Information10 for Violation of Section 8, Article II of R.A. No. 6425, as amended by R.A. No. 7659, was filed against petitioners before the RTC of Angeles City, Branch 57, presided by herein respondent Judge Omar T. Viola. On March 25, 2002, petitioners filed a Motion to Quash Search Warrant and to Suppress Evidence Illegally Seized11 on the following grounds: (1) the application for search warrant was filed outside the territorial jurisdiction and judicial region of the court where the alleged crime was committed; (2) the court which issued the questioned search warrant committed grave abuse of discretion when it issued the same because under the law it cannot issue a search warrant outside its territorial jurisdiction; (3) the questioned search warrant is void ab initio; and (4) the evidence illegally seized by virtue of the questioned search warrant is therefore inadmissible in evidence. In support of the above motion, petitioners filed a Motion to Admit Documentary Evidence,12 asking the court to admit the following documents: (1) application for Search Warrant No. 02-2677; (2) authorization letter dated February 12, 2002 with the signature of NBI Director Reynaldo G. Wycoco (Director Wycoco); (3) NBI ID No. 5370 of Agent Victor Emmanuel G. Lansang with the Signature of Director Wycoco; and (4) Administrative Matter (A.M.) No. 00-5-03SC (Re: Proposed Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure [Rules 110-127, Revised Rules of Court]). Petitioners claim that the issuance of Search Warrant No. 02-2677 was "defective considering the application was not personally endorsed by [Dir.] Wycoco," and that the latters signature in the authorization letter is different from that as appearing in the identification card, and therefore it is "not the true and genuine signature of [Dir.] Wycoco."13 In its Comment/Opposition to the Motion to Quash,14 the Office of the City Prosecutor, Angeles City claims that the questioned search warrant does not fall within the coverage

of Sec. 2 of Rule 126 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, but under A.M. No. 99-10-09-SC,15 which authorizes the Executive Judges and Vice Executive Judges of the RTCs of Manila and Quezon City to act on all applications for search warrants involving dangerous drugs, among others, filed by the NBI, and provides that said warrants may be served in places outside the territorial jurisdiction of the RTCs of Manila and Quezon City. On August 14, 2009, SI Lagasca filed his Opposition and/or Answer to the Motion to Quash Search Warrant and to Suppress Evidence Illegally Seized.16 He avers that Judge Guaria III issued Search Warrant No. 02-2677 by virtue of Administrative Order No. 20-9717 issued on February 12, 1997. He also claims that it was NBI Deputy Director for Special Investigation Fermin Nasol who signed the authorization letter in behalf of Director Wycoco, for him to apply for a search warrant in the house/premises of petitioners on RD Reyes St., Brgy. Sta. Trinidad, Angeles City and Maria Aquino St., Purok V, Brgy. Sta. Cruz, Porac, Pampanga for violation of R.A. No. 6425.1avvphi1 In an Order18 dated September 6, 2002, Judge Omar T. Viola denied petitioners Motion to Quash Search Warrant and to Suppress Evidence Illegally Seized for lack of merit, ratiocinating as follows: The public prosecutor was able to point out that the search warrant issued by Judge Mario Guaria III, the Executive Judge of the Manila Regional Trial Court, is in order considering that AM 99-10-09-SC allows or authorizes executive judges and vice executive judges of the Regional Trial Court of Manila and Quezon City to issue warrants which may be served in places outside their territorial jurisdiction in cases where the same was filed and, among others, by the NBI. The NBI also was able to explain that the authority to apply search warrant was personally signed by Deputy Director for Special Investigation Fermin Nasol who is authorized to sign and that he was delegated the authority to sign for and in behalf of the NBI Director on documents of this like. Deputy Director Fermin Nasol having that authority to sign for and in behalf of the NBI Director, Reynaldo Wycoco, there is, therefore, compliance with the law regarding the issuance of authority to apply search warrant. WHEREFORE, in view of the revelation, the Court has no other recourse but to agree with the views of the prosecution as well as the NBI. And this being so, the Court finds not enough ground to quash the search warrant issued against Spouses Joel and Marietta Marilma. The motion filed by them and their supplement, is therefore denied, for lack of merit. SO ORDERED.19 On September 23, 2002, petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration20 on the ground that the denial of their Motion to Quash Search Warrant and to Suppress Evidence Illegally Seized is not in accordance with the law and existing jurisprudence. They claim that no evidence was presented by Deputy Director Nasol that he was authorized to sign for and in behalf of Director Wycoco.

Said Motion for Reconsideration was likewise denied by respondent court on the ground that the issues raised therein were mere reiterations of petitioners arguments that had already been considered and passed upon in the Motion to Quash Search Warrant and to Suppress Evidence Illegally Seized. Respondent court added: To elaborate, this Court believes and is of the opinion that the Deputy Director of the NBI possesses the authority to sign for and in behalf of the NBI Director requesting for the issuance of a search warrant and nothing in the Administrative Matter 99-10-09 prohibits the delegation of such ministerial act to the Deputy Director who is an alter ego of the NBI Director. It is also quite clear that the NBI Director approved said authorization for SI Ray Lagasca to apply for a search warrant because said document was never recalled or amended by the Office of the Bureau Director up to the present. The Court is also of the view that A.M. 99-10-09 is still valid, binding and legal by virtue of the fact that not even the Supreme Court (sic) did not make any pronouncement withdrawing and or declaring the same ineffective, hence, until such order is issued, this Court must interpret and rule for its continued validity and applicability.21 Hence, this petition. Petitioners claim that the search warrant was issued in violation of A.M. No. 99-10-09-SC and Section 2 of Rule 126 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure. The pivotal issue to be resolved in this petition is whether or not the respondent court acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction in issuing the assailed Orders dated September 6, 2002 and April 21, 2003, denying petitioners Motion to Quash Search Warrant and to Suppress Evidence Illegally Seized and their Motion for Reconsideration, respectively. At the onset, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) prays for the dismissal of this petition on the ground that the filing of the said petition directly with this Court runs afoul of the doctrine of hierarchy of courts. The OSG argues that while this Court has concurrent jurisdiction with the Court of Appeals (CA) over petitions for certiorari, this petition should have been filed with the CA. The OSG contends that the petitioners have not shown any compelling reason to justify the filing of the petition directly with this Court. The general rule is that a party is mandated to follow the hierarchy of courts. However, in exceptional cases, the Court, for compelling reasons or if warranted by the nature of the issues raised, may take cognizance of petitions filed directly before it.22 In this case, the Court opts to take cognizance of the petition, as it involves the application of the rules promulgated by this Court in the exercise of its rulemaking power under the Constitution.23 At the heart of the present controversy are A.M. No. 99-1009-SC, Clarifying the Guidelines on the Application for the Enforceability of Search Warrants, which was enacted on January 25, 2000; and A.M. No. 00-5-03-SC, the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, which took effect on December 1, 2000, specifically, Section 2, Rule 126 thereof. We quote the pertinent portions of the two issuances below:

Administrative Matter No. 99-10-09-SC Resolution Clarifying the Guidelines on the Application for the Enforceability of Search Warrants In the interest of an effective administration of justice and pursuant to the powers vested in the Supreme Court by the Constitution, the following are authorized to act on all applications for search warrants involving heinous crimes, illegal gambling, dangerous drugs and illegal possession of firearms. The Executive Judge and Vice Executive Judges of Regional Trial Courts, Manila and Quezon City filed by the Philippine National Police (PNP), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOC-TF) and the Reaction Against Crime Task Force (REACT-TF) with the Regional Trial Courts of Manila and Quezon City. The applications shall be personally endorsed by the Heads of the said agencies, for the search of places to be particularly described therein, and the seizure of property of things as prescribed in the Rules of Court, and to issue the warrants of arrest, if justified, which may be served in places outside the territorial jurisdiction of said courts. The authorized judges shall keep a special docket book listing the details of the applications and the result of the searches and seizures made pursuant to the warrants issued. This Resolution is effective immediately and shall continue until further orders from this Court and shall be an exemption to the provisions of Circular No. 13 dated 1 October 1985 and Circular No. 19 dated 4 August 1987. x x x A.M. No. 00-5-03-SC Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure Rule 126 SEARCH AND SEIZURE Sec. 2. Court where application for search warrant shall be filed. An application for search warrant shall be filed with the following: (a) Any court within whose territorial jurisdiction a crime was committed. (b) For compelling reasons stated in the application, any court within the judicial region where the crime was committed if the place of the commission of the crime is known, or any court within the judicial region where the warrant shall be enforced. However, if the criminal action has already been filed, the application shall only be made in the court where the criminal action is pending. From the above, it may be seen that A.M. No. 99-10-09-SC authorizes the Executive Judge and Vice Executive Judges

of the RTCs of Manila and Quezon City to act on all applications for search warrants involving heinous crimes, illegal gambling, dangerous drugs and illegal possession of firearms on application filed by the PNP, NBI, PAOC-TF, and REACT-TF. On the other hand, Rule 126 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure provides that the application for search warrant shall be filed with: (a) any court within whose territorial jurisdiction a crime was committed, and (b) for compelling reasons, any court within the judicial region where the crime was committed if the place of the commission of the crime is known, or any court within the judicial region where the warrant shall be enforced. Petitioners contend that the application for search warrant was defective. They aver that the application for search warrant filed by SI Lagasca was not personally endorsed by the NBI Head, Director Wycoco, but instead endorsed only by Deputy Director Nasol and that while SI Lagasca declared that Deputy Director Nasol was commissioned to sign the authorization letter in behalf of Director Wycoco, the same was not duly substantiated. Petitioners conclude that the absence of the signature of Director Wycoco was a fatal defect that rendered the application on the questioned search warrant void per se, and the issued search warrant null and void "because the spring cannot rise above its source." 24 We disagree. Nothing in A.M. No. 99-10-09-SC prohibits the heads of the PNP, NBI, PAOC-TF and REACT-TF from delegating their ministerial duty of endorsing the application for search warrant to their assistant heads. Under Section 31, Chapter 6, Book IV of the Administrative Code of 1987, an assistant head or other subordinate in every bureau may perform such duties as may be specified by their superior or head, as long as it is not inconsistent with law. The said provision reads: Chapter 6 POWERS AND DUTIES OF HEADS OF BUREAUS AND OFFICES Sec. 31. Duties of Assistant Heads and Subordinates. (1) Assistant heads and other subordinates in every bureau or office shall perform such duties as may be required by law or regulations, or as may be specified by their superiors not otherwise inconsistent with law. (2) The head of bureau or office may, in the interest of economy, designate the assistant head to act as chief of any division or unit within the organization, in addition to his duties, without additional compensation, and (3) In the absence of special restriction prescribed by law, nothing shall prevent a subordinate officer or employee from being assigned additional duties by proper authority, when not inconsistent with the performance of the duties imposed by law. Director Wycocos act of delegating his task of endorsing the application for search warrant to Deputy Director Nasol is allowed by the above quoted provision of law unless it is shown to be inconsistent with any law. Thus, Deputy Director Nasols endorsement had the same force and effect as an endorsement issued by Director Wycoco himself. The finding of the RTC in the questioned Orders that Deputy Director

Nasol possessed the authority to sign for and in behalf of Director Wycoco is unassailable. Petitioners also assert that the questioned Search Warrant was void ab initio. They maintain that A.M. No. 99-10-09-SC, which was enacted on January 25, 2000, was no longer in effect when the application for search warrant was filed on February 15, 2002. They argue that the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, which took effect on December 1, 2000, should have been applied, being the later law. Hence, the enforcement of the search warrant in Angeles City, which was outside the territorial jurisdiction of RTC Manila, was in violation of the law. The petitioners contention lacks merit. A.M. No. 99-10-09-SC provides that the guidelines on the enforceability of search warrants provided therein shall continue until further orders from this Court. In fact, the guidelines in A.M. No. 99-10-09-SC are reiterated in A.M. No. 03-8-02-SC entitled Guidelines On The Selection And Designation Of Executive Judges And Defining Their Powers, Prerogatives And Duties, which explicitly stated that the guidelines in the issuance of search warrants in special criminal cases by the RTCs of Manila and Quezon City shall be an exception to Section 2 of Rule 126 of the Rules of Court, to wit:25 Chapter V. Specific Powers, Prerogatives and Duties of Executive Judges in Judicial Supervision Sec. 12. Issuance of search warrants in special criminal cases by the Regional Trial Courts of Manila and Quezon City. The Executive Judges and, whenever they are on official leave of absence or are not physically present in the station, the Vice-Executive Judges of the RTCs of Manila and Quezon City shall have authority to act on applications filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Anti-Crime Task Force (ACTAF), for search warrants involving heinous crimes, illegal gambling, illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions as well as violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, the Intellectual Property Code, the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001, the Tariff and Customs Code, as amended, and other relevant laws that may hereafter be enacted by Congress, and included herein by the Supreme Court. The applications shall be personally endorsed by the heads of such agencies and shall particularly describe therein the places to be searched and/or the property or things to be seized as prescribed in the Rules of Court. The Executive Judges and Vice-Executive Judges concerned shall issue the warrants, if justified, which may be served in places outside the territorial jurisdiction of the said courts. The Executive Judges and the authorized Judges shall keep a special docket book listing names of Judges to whom the applications are assigned, the details of the applications and the results of the searches and seizures made pursuant to the warrants issued. This Section shall be an exception to Section 2 of Rule 126 of the Rules of Court. (italics ours)

In sum, we cannot find any irregularity or abuse of discretion on the part of Judge Omar T. Viola for denying petitioners Motion to Quash Search Warrant and to Suppress Evidence Illegally Seized. On the contrary, Judge Guaria III had complied with the procedural and substantive requirements for issuing the questioned search warrant. WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is hereby DISMISSED. The Orders dated September 6, 2002 and April 21, 2003, both issued by respondent Judge Omar T. Viola of the RTC of Angeles City, Branch 57, are hereby AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED. A.M. No. 08-4-4-SC July 7, 2009

RE: REQUEST OF POLICE DIRECTOR GENERAL AVELINO I. RAZON FOR AUTHORITY TO DELEGATE THE ENDORSEMENT OF APPLICATION FOR SEARCH WARRANT. RESOLUTION CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: Before Us are two communications; the first letter,1 dated 19 March 2008, was sent by then Police Director General Avelino I. Razon, Jr. (P/Dir. Gen. Razon), Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP); and the second one,2dated 25 November 2008, from Police Director General Jesus A. Verzosa (P/Dir. Gen. Verzosa), the succeeding Chief of the PNP. Both letters were addressed to then Court Administrator Zenaida N. Elepao, and involved the procedural requirement that applications for search warrant filed before Regional Trial Courts (RTCs) of Manila and Quezon City should be personally endorsed by heads of the PNP, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and the AntiCrime Task Force (ACTAF) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The 19 March 2008 letter of then P/Dir. Gen. Razon manifested his apprehension that [R]ecently that the concerned Executive Regional Trial Court Judges have required that the applications for search warrants in accordance with the [Section 12, Chapter V of the Guidelines on the Selection and Appointment of Executive Judges] need to be endorsed personally by the undersigned otherwise the application would not be acted upon. The undersigned (P/Dir. Gen. Razon), due to the numerous demands of his office, may not be able to act expeditiously on the required endorsements of application for search warrant. Any unnecessary delay in the application, especially on cases which require immediate search and seizure of any contraband, would not serve the purpose for which the search warrant was applied for and render the ends of justice nugatory.3 In connection thereto, P/Dir. Gen. Razon requested that [He] be allowed to delegate the endorsement of the application for search warrant to the Director of the

Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (PDIR JEFFERSON P. SORIANO), in view of his inherent investigative functions and as Commander of the Task Force USIG and Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force.4 Acting upon the foregoing letter, Court Administrator Elepano recommended to Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, through a Memorandum dated 28 March 2008, that leave be granted allowing P/Dir. Gen. Razon to delegate the authority to endorse the applications for search warrant, based on the following considerations Being the chief of the PNP, General Razon oversees the operations of the entire police force all over the Philippines, and in the discharge of his duties and responsibilities, he is expected to be very mobile. His constant official and ceremonial functions compel him to be out of his office most of the time. Such situation poses a problem in terms of expediting the filing of application for search warrant by the PNP in the Regional Trial Courts of Manila and Quezon City because of the requirement under Section 12 of A.M. No. 03-8-02, the compliance of which is dependent upon the presence of General Razon in his office. Delegating the authority to endorse is a legal and viable option to address this problem and to ensure the speedy filing of applications for search warrant by the PNP.5 Court Administrator Elepanos above-quoted recommendation, however, carried a qualification, i.e., that "the matter of whether this requirement may be relaxed such that the endorsement of applications for search warrant may be delegated to a subordinate officer should be resolved insofar as it applies only to General Razon;" preceding from the assumption that "the concern of General Razon [was] peculiar to him alone since the heads of the other agencies have no problem in complying with the requirement in question." In a Resolution dated 15 April 2008, the Court granted the request of P/Dir. Gen. Razon, to wit: The Court Resolved, upon the recommendation of Court Administrator Zenaida N. Elepao, to GRANT the request of Police Director General Avelino I. Razon, Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP), to delegate the authority to endorse the applications for search warrant to be filed in the Regional trial Courts of Manila and Quezon City to the Director of the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management of the PNP in connection with Section 12 of the Guidelines on the Selection and Appointment of Executive Judges (A.M. No. 03-8-02-SC).6 Thereafter, on 25 November 2008, the PNP, this time under the headship P/Dir. Gen. Verzosa, asked the Court for "clarification x x x regarding the construction on the duration or effectivity"7 of the 15 April 2008 Resolution of the Court. The necessity for clarification resulted from an incident that occurred on 11 November 2008, wherein the application for search warrant filed by the Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (AIDSOTF), as endorsed by the Director for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM), Police Chief Superintendent Raul M. Bacalzo,8 was denied by Executive Judge Reynaldo Ros of the Manila RTC, on the ground that the authority to delegate was "already inoperative for it only applies to the incumbency of PDG AVELINO I. RAZON, JR. being the requesting party."9 P/Dir. Gen. Verzosa, thus, asked of the Court that

Should the [15 April 2008 Resolution of the Court] be rendered moot by mere change of PNP leadership, the undersigned formally requests for the issuance of a Resolution granting continuing authority delegating to the Director, DIDM the endorsement of SW application in behalf of the Chief, PNP before the said courts to withstand future changes of officers.10 The Court directed the Court Administrator and the Chief Attorney to comment on P/Dir. Gen. Verzosas request.1avvphi1 In a Memorandum dated 19 December 2008, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), through incumbent Court Administrator, Jose P. Perez, recommended that the current Chief of the PNP, as well as all his successors thereafter, should be allowed to delegate to the Director of the DIDM, PNP, the authority to endorse applications for search warrant which are to be filed before the RTCs of Manila and Quezon City. The Office of the Chief Attorney (OCAT), on the other hand, observed in its Comment, submitted on 13 March 2009, that Since Section 12, Chapter V of the Guidelines for Executive Judges appear to be the hindrance to immediate action on applications for search warrant in the cases mentioned therein, and to make the delegation applicable to all heads of law enforcement agencies regardless of the holder of those positions, it may be best for the Court to amend that guideline. Thereby, a change in leadership in the PNP would not require the incumbent PNP Chief to seek the authority of the Court to delegate his function to endorse an application for search warrant. The amendment may also achieve the reason for and purpose of the requested continuing authority, especially because the authority of the PNP Chief to delegate functions is expressly recognized by Section 26 of Republic Act No. 6975. The Court finds the observations and recommendations of the OCA and OCAT to be well taken. At present, Sec. 12, Chapter V of A.M. No. 03-8-02-SC, entitled "Guidelines on the Selection and Appointment of Executive Judges and Defining their Powers, Prerogatives and Duties," dictates that SEC. 12. Issuance of search warrants in special criminal cases by the Regional Trial Courts of Manila and Quezon City. The Executive Judges and, whenever they are on official leave of absence or are not physically present in the station, the Vice-Executive Judges of the RTCs of Manila and Quezon City shall have authority to act on applications filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Anti-Crime Task Force (ACTAF), for search warrants involving heinous crimes, illegal gambling, illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions as well as violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, he Intellectual Property Code, the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001, the Tariff and Customs Code, as amended, and other relevant laws that may hereafter be enacted by Congress, and included herein by the Supreme Court.

The applications shall be personally endorsed by the heads of such agencies and shall particularly describe therein the places to be searched and/or the property or things to be seized as prescribed in the Rules of Court. The Executive Judges and Vice-Executive Judges concerned shall issue the warrants, if justified, which may be served in places outside the territorial jurisdiction of the said courts. The Executive Judges and the authorized Judges shall keep a special docket book listing names of Judges to whom the applications are assigned, the details of the applications and the results of the searches and seizures made pursuant to the warrants issued. This Section shall be an exception to Section 2 of Rule 126 of the Rules of Court.11 (Emphasis supplied.) From a cursory reading of the aforementioned provision of A.M. No. 03-8-02-SC, it is crystal that applications for search warrant to be filed before the RTCs of Manila and Quezon City must be essentially approved in person by the heads of the following agencies: the PNP, NBI, and ACTAF of the AFP. Accordingly, in the incident recounted in the 25 November 2008 letter of P/Dir. Gen. Verzosa, Judge Ros correctly denied the application for search warrant of the PNP for being defective. The authority granted by the Court to P/Dir. Gen. Razon to delegate to the Director of DIDM, PNP, the endorsement of applications for search warrant to be filed before the RTCs of Manila and Quezon City, was personal to P/Dir. Gen. Razon. It cannot be invoked by P/Dir. Gen. Razons successor. Nevertheless, the Court acknowledges that, to be efficient in the campaign to fight crime, the PNP Chief must not be tied to his desk. Recent developments and trends in criminality require the PNP Chief to be mobile, so that he will be effective in the performance of several functions and responsibilities attendant to his position. That being the case, there will be instances when documents demanding the PNP Chiefs immediate attention and signature will not be acted upon right away. One such document may be an application for a search warrant, the immediate endorsement of which is a must in order for the PNP to be effective and responsive in the conduct of its criminal investigation. It is, therefore, evident that for the PNP to function more effectively and efficiently in its campaign against criminality, the safeguard in Sec. 12, Chapter V of A.M. No. 03-8-02SC, i.e., requiring the PNP Chiefs personal endorsement of an application for search warrant, calls for a review. As correctly observed by the OCAT, the very specific requirement under Sec. 12, Chap. V of A.M. No. 03-8-02-SC that the heads of the PNP, NBI, and ACTAF of the AFP, personally endorse applications of search warrants to be filed before the RTCs of Manila and Quezon City deters the delegation of said duty even to their authorized representatives. Hence, as suggested,12 A.M. No. 03-8-02SC must be amended to delete the word "personally" in the second paragraph of Sec. 12, Chap. V thereof. However, as to the proposal of the OCAT toinsert the phrase "or their respective duly authorized officials as provided by law," the Court is of the view that theabridged phrase "or their respective duly authorized officials" is more than sufficient to serve the intended purpose. The phrase "as provided by law" is a mere surplus since, as correctly pointed out by the OCAT, it may be presumed that the

delegation of authority by the head of the agency concerned is in accordance with law.13 The aforementioned amendments of Sec. 12, Chap. V of A.M. No. 03-8-02-SC, will not only enable the Chief of the PNP, but the heads of the NBI and ACTAF of the AFP, as well, to delegate to their duly authorized representatives the duty to endorse applications for search warrant to be filed before the RTCs of Manila and Quezon City. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, as it is hereby Resolved, in accordance with the following discussion, that: (1) The request of P/Dir. Gen. Jesus A. Verzosa for leave to delegate to the Director of the DIDM, PNP, the authority to endorse applications for search warrants to be filed before the RTCs of Manila and Quezon City, is hereby GRANTED in accordance with Sec. 12, Chapter V of A.M. No. 03-8-02-SC, as it is hereinafter amended; and (2) Sec. 12, Chapter V of the Guidelines on the Selection and Appointment of Executive Judges and Defining their Powers, Prerogatives and Duties, as embodied in A.M. No. 03-8-02-SC, as approved by the Court in its Resolution of 27 January 2004, is hereby AMENDED to read as follows: SEC. 12. Issuance of search warrants in special criminal cases by the Regional Trial Courts of Manila and Quezon City. The Executive Judges and, whenever they are on official leave of absence or are not physically present in the station, the Vice-Executive Judges of the RTCs of Manila and Quezon City shall have authority to act on applications filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Anti-Crime Task Force (ACTAF), for search warrants involving heinous crimes, illegal gambling, illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions as well as violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, the Intellectual Property Code, the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001, the Tariff and Customs Code, as amended, and other relevant laws that may hereafter be enacted by Congress, and included herein by the Supreme Court. The applications shall be endorsed by the heads of such agencies or their respective duly authorized officials and shall particularly describe therein the places to be searched and/or the property or things to be seized as prescribed in the Rules of Court. The Executive Judges and ViceExecutive Judges concerned shall issue the warrants, if justified, which may be served outside the territorial jurisdiction of the said courts. The Executive Judges and the authorized Judges shall keep a special docket book listing names of Judges to whom the applications are assigned, the details of the applications and the results of the searches and seizures made pursuant to the warrants issued. This Section shall be an exception to Section 2 of Rule 126 of the Rules of Court. (Emphasis supplied.)

This amendment shall apply to all current, as well as succeeding heads of the PNP, NBI, and ACTAF of the AFP. It shall take effect on 20 July 2009 and shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines not later than 5 July 2009. SO ORDERED. A.M. No. RTJ-03-1786 August 28, 2003

(Search Warrant Nos. 281 to 284), authorizing the seizure from his compound of pagatpat lumber worth more than P1.5 million. Complainant alleged that the records of the four warrants did not also contain any transcript of the required examination of witnesses. Complainant therefore moved to quash the four warrants. Respondent judge, however, denied the motion on the ground that he had in fact conducted such examination but the record of the "deposition" was "misfiled in another case folder through inadvertence."2 In response to the directive of the Office of the Court Administrator ("OCA") of this Court to comment on the complaint, respondent judge, in his Second Indorsement ("Indorsement") dated 16 December 1999, denied complainants allegations. Respondent judge asserted that at around 1:15 p.m. of 9 September 1999, he personally examined a certain Reynaldo Cuaresma ("Cuaresma"), allegedly a witness of CENRO dela Cruz, before issuing the warrant in question. He claimed that a transcript of the examination was included in the records of Search Warrant No. 364. However, he forwarded the records to the OCA on 30 September 1999 in connection with his request for the transfer of the case to the RTC, Branch 24, in Ipil, Zamboanga del Sur ("Branch 24"). In lieu of the original copy, respondent judge attached to his Indorsement an alleged computer printout of the transcript, claiming that the time and date of its encoding was verifiable in the computer files in his office. Due to the conflicting factual allegations of the parties, the Court directed the Executive Judge of the RTC of Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur to: (1) verify from Branch 23 whether respondent judge examined any witness before issuing Search Warrant No. 364; and (2) secure from Clerk of Court Lumapas her explanation on the apparent discrepancy between the copy of the records of Search Warrant No. 364, as forwarded by respondent judge to the OCA and as obtained by complainant. In his Report, dated 30 July 2001, RTC Pagadian City Executive Judge Franklyn A. Villegas ("Executive Judge Villegas") stated that he verified the records of Search Warrant No. 364 in Branch 23. He found on page 5 of the records a copy of the transcript of the examination conducted by respondent judge on one Reynaldo Cuaresma. He attached in his report the explanations of respondent judge and Clerk of Court Lumapas.3 In his explanation, dated 11 July 2001, respondent judge reiterated the claim he made in his Indorsement of 16 December 1999 that he examined a certain Reynaldo Cuaresma before issuing Search Warrant No. 364. He explained that the records of the case contained a copy of the transcript of the examination. However, respondent judge alleged, for the first time, that the legal researcher in his office who prepared the duplicate copy issued to complainant on 22 September 1999 failed, through "pure inadvertence," to recopy such transcript. Respondent judge attributed such omission to the fact that at that time, the pages of the records were not yet "physically paged." He claimed that the pages were numbered only upon preparation of the records for transmittal to Branch 24 the following week. He further asserted that the copy of the transcript in question was numbered page 5. Branch 24, however, refused to accept the referral of the case. Thus, respondent judge forwarded the records to the OCA with a request for their transmittal to Branch 24. The OCA later

ALFREDO Y. CHU, Complainant, vs. JUDGE CAMILO E. TAMIN, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 23, Ninth Judicial Region, Molave, Zamboanga del Sur, Respondent. DECISION CARPIO, J.: The Case This is a complaint for gross ignorance of the law, serious misconduct, and grave abuse of discretion filed by Alfredo Y. Chu ("complainant") against Judge Camilo E. Tamin ("respondent judge") of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 23, Molave, Zamboanga del Sur ("Branch 23"). The Facts Complainant alleged that on 9 September 1999, Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer Michael F. dela Cruz ("CENRO dela Cruz") of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Region IX, applied for a search warrant with respondent judge. CENRO dela Cruz claimed that complainant was in possession of "forest products of dubious origin" in violation of Section 68 of Presidential Decree No. 7051 ("PD 705"), as amended. On the same day, respondent judge issued Search Warrant No. 364 ordering the seizure of several pieces of mangrove lumber from complainants fishpond in Bulawan, Payao, Zamboanga del Sur. On the strength of the warrant, CENRO dela Cruz, assisted by law enforcement agents, seized from complainant 576 pieces of pagatpat lumber (mangrove specie) with an estimated value of P183,790. On 22 September 1999, complainant obtained from Branch 23 a copy of the complete records of the issuance of Search Warrant No. 364, as certified by Branch Clerk of Court Ma. Asuncion Pabatao-Lumapas ("Clerk of Court Lumapas"). On 24 September 1999, complainant again obtained, for the second time, a copy of the complete records of the case, also certified by Clerk of Court Lumapas. These certified copies did not contain any transcript of respondent judges examination of CENRO dela Cruz or his witnesses as required under Section 4, Rule 126 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. Thus, complainant filed this administrative complaint. Complainant pointed out that this was the fifth time that respondent judge issued, under questionable procedure, search warrants against him for violation of PD 705. Complainant recalled that on 10 November 1998, respondent judge issued four search warrants against him

returned the records to respondent judge as their proper custodian.4 Clerk of Court Lumapas affirmed respondent judges claims and defenses in her explanation dated 11 July 2001.5 In the Resolution of 10 September 2001, the Court referred this case to the OCA for evaluation, report, and recommendation. OCAs Findings and Conclusions In its Report dated 10 December 2002, the OCA found respondent judge liable for gross ignorance of the law and recommended the imposition of a P5,000 fine. The Report reads in part: Respondent judge stands firm on his claim that he conducted searching questions on Reynaldo Charesma [sic]. We find this claim highly suspect. First, the respondent judge [initially] failed to produce a copy of the transcript of the searching questions allegedly made on September 9, 1999 and append the same to the record of the case. x x x x The transcript of the searching questions was, in fact, produced [only] after the filing of the instant complaint. Further, it was noted that during the hearing of [complainants motion to quash Search Warrant] Nos. 281, 282, 283 and 28[4] taken on 21 January 1999 at 9:30 a.m.[,] respondent judge apparently believes that searching questions need not be in writing. This is borne by the following exchange during the said hearing: Atty. R. Rambuyong [Counsel for complainant Alfredo Chu]: In other words Your Honor, they would not admit that the accused received copies? Court: Is there a rule that the searching question must be in writing? Atty. R. Rambuyong: From the Case of HATA versus BAYONA, Your Honor, the Supreme Court has required. As a matter of fact, I cited that in my supplemental motion and the Court said that, "mere affidavits of the complainant and his witnesses is not enough. There must be the deposition in writing, and under oath of the complainants and his witnesses; and searching questions should be propounded by the examining Judge." As a matter of fact, there have been several decisions of the Supreme Court to the effect that mere ceremonial searching questions and answers reiterating the contents of the affidavits will not be sufficient compliance [there] with. x x x x. From the foregoing, it can be concluded that respondent judge either did not conduct the required searching questions, or if he did, he did not put it in writing. Thus, respondent judge erred because Section 5, Rule 126, [of the ] Rules of Court specifically [requires such] x x x.

This is a basic legal precept which all judges are expected to be conversant with. Th[e] Court has often impressed upon judges that as mandated by the Code of Judicial Conduct, they owe it to the public and legal profession to know the very law they are supposed to apply to a given case. In this case, respondent judge failed to observe an elementary rule which amount[s] to ignorance of the law, thereby subjecting him to disciplinary action. (Emphasis in the original) The Ruling of the Court The report of the OCA is well-taken. Section 5, Rule 1266 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides: The judge must, before issuing the warrant, personally examine in the form of searching questions and answers, in writing and under oath, the complainant and the witnesses he may produce on facts personally known to them and attach to the record their sworn statements, together with the affidavits submitted. (Emphasis supplied) This provision implements the proscription against unreasonable searches and seizures found in Section 2, Article III of the Constitution which states: 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 whatever purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized. The Court, in Pendon v. Court of Appeals,7 reiterated the requirements of Section 2 on the issuance of search warrants, which judges must strictly observe,8 as follows: Under the above provision, the issuance of a search warrant is justified only upon a finding of probable cause. x x x In determining the existence of probable cause, it is required that: (1) the judge x x x must examine the x x x witnesses personally; (2) the examination must be under oath; and (3) the examination must be reduced to writing in the form of searching questions and answers. (Emphasis supplied)9 Respondent judge explained that in issuing Search Warrant No. 364, he complied with the rule that he must "personally examine in the form of searching questions and answers, in writing and under oath, the complainant and the witnesses." Respondent judge stated, however, that the certified copies of the records obtained by complainant did not include the transcript of his examination because the clerical staff in his office who prepared the certified copies inadvertently failed to do so. This explanation fails to persuade us. Respondent judges own Clerk of Court certified twice, first on 22 September 1999 and later on 24 September 1999, that the 29-page copy of the records obtained by complainant constitutes the entire record of the matter.10This renders improbable respondent judges claim that the transcript already formed part of the records but the legal

researcher in his office inadvertently missed it in preparing the copy obtained by complainant on 22 September 1999. The alleged legal researcher, who presumably also prepared the second certified copy, could not have committed the same mistake, twice in a row, within two days of each other. Curiously, in his Indorsement of 16 December 1999, respondent judge did not point to his legal researchers negligence as the cause for the discrepancy. Neither did respondent judge state that the pages of the contents of the folder of Search Warrant No. 364 were unnumbered when complainant requested for copies. What he stated in his Indorsement was that the records contained a copy of the transcript but the same was already forwarded to the OCA. If, as respondent judge claims, he personally examined a certain Cuaresma as the witness of CENRO dela Cruz, he should have secured the affidavit of Cuaresma. Respondent judge should also have secured the affidavit of the unnamed "legal researcher" who allegedly prepared the copies of the records obtained by complainant. Respondent judge failed to secure their affidavits to corroborate his claims. Lastly, respondent judge should have shown Executive Judge Villegas, during the latters investigation, the magnetic (hard disk) copy of the transcript allegedly stored in his office computer. These omissions bolster complainants claim and correspondingly weaken respondent judges defense. As it is, other than respondent judges bare claim that he examined a certain Cuaresma, the only proof on record in his favor is an unsigned computer printout of the alleged record of the examination. Considering that any one can easily create and print out such document, it does not suffice to exculpate respondent judge from administrative liability. We uphold the OCAs findings that respondent judge, who had earlier professed ignorance of the rule in question, failed either to examine any witness before issuing Search Warrant No. 364 or to reduce the examination in writing. His omission renders him liable for gross ignorance of the law. When the law is so elementary, such as the provisions of the Constitution and the Rules of Court on search warrant issuance, not to know it or to act as if one does not know it, constitutes gross ignorance of the law.11 Specifically, respondent judge failed to conform to the high standards of competence required of judges under the Code of Judicial Conduct, which mandates that: Rule 1.01. A judge should be the embodiment of competence, integrity, and independence. Rule 3.01 A judge shall x x x maintain professional competence. What was said in a case,12 similarly involving gross ignorance of basic rules, bears repeating here: [A judge] is called upon to exhibit more than just a cursory acquaintance with the statutes and procedural rules. It is imperative that he be studious of and conversant with basic legal principles. He owes [it] to the dignity of the court he sits in, to the legal profession he belongs, and to the public who depends on him, to know the law which he is called upon to x x x apply. Not only that, there would be on the part of the litigants less expense and greater faith in the administration of justice if there be a belief on their part that the occupants of the bench cannot justly be accused of apparent deficiency in their grasp [of] legal principles.1wphi1

On the Penalty to be Imposed As recommended by the OCA, respondent judge should be fined P5,000. On 26 June 2003, in Gregorio Limpot Lumapas v. Judge Camilo Tamin,13 this Court dismissed respondent judge from the service for "disobedience to an order issued by a superior court, as well as for gross ignorance of the law x x x with forfeiture of all benefits due him except for accrued leave credits." Thus, the fine of P5,000 should be deducted from respondent judges accrued leave benefits.14 WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Judge Camilo E. Tamin, of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 23, Molave, Zamboanga del Sur, guilty of gross ignorance of the law. He is ordered to pay a fine of P5,000 to be deducted from his accrued leave credits. SO ORDERED. G.R. No. 156804. March 14, 2005 SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT (PHILS.), INC. and IFPI (SOUTHEAST ASIA), LTD., Petitioners, vs. HON. JUDGE DOLORES L. ESPANOL OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 90, DASMARIAS, CAVITE, ELENA S. LIM, SUSAN L. TAN, DAVID S. LIM, JAMES H. UY, WILSON ALEJANDRO, JR., JOSEPH DE LUNA, MARIA A. VELA CRUZ, DAVID CHUNG, JAMES UY, JOHN DOES AND JANE DOES, AND SOLID LAGUNA CORPORATION, Respondents. DECISION GARCIA, J.: Assailed and sought to be nullified in this petition for certiorari with application for injunctive relief are the orders issued by the respondent judge on June 25, 20021 and January 6, 2003,2 the first quashing Search Warrant No. 219-00, and the second, denying reconsideration of the first. From the petition, the comment thereon of private respondents, their respective annexes, and other pleadings filed by the parties, the Court gathers the following relevant facts: In a criminal complaint filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Videogram Regulatory Board (VRB)3charged herein private respondents James Uy, David Chung, Elena Lim and another officer of respondentSolid Laguna Corporation (SLC) with violation of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1987.4 As alleged in the complaint, docketed as I.S. No. 2000-1576, the four (4) were engaged in the replication, reproduction and distribution of videograms without license and authority from VRB. On account of this and petitioners own complaints for copyright infringement, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), through Agent Ferdinand M. Lavin, applied on September 18, 2000, with the Regional Trial Court at Dasmarias, Cavite, Branch 80, presided by the respondent judge, for the issuance of search warrants against private respondents David Chung, James Uy, John and Jane Does, doing business under the name and

style "Media Group" inside the factory and production facility of SLC at Solid corner Camado Sts., Laguna International Industrial Park, Bian, Laguna.5 During the proceedings on the application, Agent Lavin presented, as witnesses, Rodolfo Pedralvez, a deputized agent of VRB, and Rene C. Baltazar, an investigator retained by the law firm R.V. Domingo & Associates, petitioners attorney-in-fact. In their sworn statements, the three stated that petitioners sought their assistance, complaining about the manufacture, sale and distribution of various titles of compact discs (CDs) in violation of petitioners right as copyright owners; that acting on the complaint, Agent Lavin and the witnesses conducted an investigation, in the course of which unnamed persons informed them that allegedly infringing or pirated discs were being manufactured somewhere in an industrial park in Laguna; that in the process of their operation, they were able to enter, accompanied by another unnamed source, the premises of SLC and to see various replicating equipment and stacks of CDs; and that they were told by their anonymous source that the discs were being manufactured in the same premises. They also testified that private respondents were (1) engaged in the reproduction or replication of audio and video compacts discs without the requisite authorization from VRB, in violation of Section 6 of PD No. 1987, presenting a VRB certification to such effect; and (2) per petitioners certification and a listing of Sony music titles, infringing on petitioners copyrights in violation of Section 208 of Republic Act (RA) No. 8293, otherwise known as Intellectual Property Code.6 On the basis of the foregoing sworn statements, the respondent judge issued Search Warrant No. 219-007 for violation of Section 208 of R.A. No. 8293 and Search Warrant No. 220-008 for violation of Section 6 of PD No. 1987. The following day, elements of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, led by PO2 Reggie Comandante, enforced both warrants and brought the seized items to a private warehouse of Carepak Moving and Storage at 1234 Villonco Road, Sucat, Paranaque City and their custody turned over to VRB.9 An inventory of seized items,10 as well as a "Return of Search Warrant" were later filed with the respondent court. Meanwhile, the respondents in I.S. No. 2000-1576 belabored to prove before the DOJ Prosecutorial Service that, since 1998 and up to the time of the search, they were licensed by VRB to operate as replicator and duplicator of videograms. On the stated finding that "respondents can not . . . be considered an unauthorized reproducers of videograms", being "licensed to engage in reproduction in videograms under SLC in which they are the officers and/or or officials", the DOJ, via a resolution dated January 15, 2001,11 dismissed VRBs complaint in I.S. No. 2000-1576. On February 6, 2001, private respondents, armed with the DOJ resolution adverted to, moved to quash the search warrants thus issued.12 VRB interposed an opposition for the reason that the DOJ has yet to resolve the motion for reconsideration it filed in I.S. No. 2000-1576.

Eventually, the DOJ denied VRBs motion for reconsideration, prompting private respondents to move anew for the quashal of the search warrants. In its supplement to motion, private respondents attached copies of SLCs license as videogram duplicator and replicator. In an order dated October 30, 2001,13 the respondent judge, citing the January 15, 2001 DOJ resolution in I.S. No. 20001576, granted private respondents motion to quash, as supplemented, dispositively stating: "Nonetheless, such being the case, the aforesaid Search Warrants are QUASHED" Petitioners forthwith sought clarification on whether or not the quashal order referred to both search warrants or to Search Warrant No. 220-00 alone, since it was the latter that was based on the charge of violation of PD No. 1987.14 The respondent judge, in a modificatory order dated January 29, 2002,15 clarified that her previous order quashed only Search Warrant No. 220-00. Meanwhile, or on November 22, 2001, petitioners filed with the DOJ an affidavit-complaint, docketed thereat as I.S. No. 2001-1158, charging individual private respondents with copyright infringement in violation of Sections 172 and 208 in relation to other provisions of RA No. 8293.16 Attached to the affidavit-complaint were certain documents and records seized from SLCs premises, such as production and delivery records. Following their receipt of DOJ-issued subpoenas to file counter-affidavits, private respondents moved, in the search warrant case, that they be allowed to examine the seized items to enable them to intelligently prepare their defense.17 On January 30, 2002, respondent judge issued an order allowing the desired examination, provided it is made under the supervision of the courts sheriff and in the "presence of the applicant of Search Warrant No. 219-00".18 On February 8, 2002, the parties, represented by their counsels, repaired to the Carepak warehouse. An NBI agent representing Agent Lavin appeared. The examination, however, did not push through on account of petitioners counsel insistence on Agent Lavins physical presence.19 Private respondents were able to make an examination on the following scheduled setting, February 15, 2002, albeit it was limited, as the minutes of the inspection discloses, to inspecting only one (1) box containing 35 assorted CDs, testing stampers, diskettes, a calendar, organizers and some folders and documents. The minutes also contained an entry stating - "Other items/machines were not examined because they cannot be identified as they are not properly segregated from other items/machines in the warehouse. The parties agreed to schedule another examination on (to be agreed by the parties) after the items/machines subject of the examination shall have been segregated from the other items/machines by Carepak Moving and Storage , Inc."20 During the preliminary investigation conducted on February 26, 2002 in I.S. No. 2001-1158, however, petitioners counsel objected to any further examination, claiming that such exercise was a mere subterfuge to delay proceedings.21

On April 11, 2002, individual private respondents, through counsel, filed a "Motion To Quash Search Warrant (And To Release Seized Properties)" grounded on lack of probable cause to justify issuance of search warrant, it being inter alia alleged that the applicant and his witnesses lacked the requisite personal knowledge to justify the valid issuance of a search warrant; that the warrant did not sufficiently describe the items to be seized; and that the warrant was improperly enforced.22 To this motion to quash, petitioners interposed an opposition dated May 7, 2002 predicated on four (4) grounds.23 On June 26, 2002, respondent SLC filed a Manifestation joining its co-respondents in, and adopting, their motion to quash.24 On June 25, 2002, the respondent judge issued the herein first assailed order quashing Search Warrant No. 219-00 principally on the ground that the integrity of the seized items as evidence had been compromised, commingled as they were with other articles. Wrote the respondent judge: Based on the report submitted, it appears that on February 15, 2002, an examination was actually conducted.Unfortunately, the alleged seized items were commingled with and not segregated from thousands of other items stored in the warehouse. Only one box . . . were (sic) examined in the presence of both parties with the sheriff, such that another date was set . . . . On February 22, 2002, during the hearing before the Department of Justice (DOJ), [petitioners counsel] Atty. Arevalo manifested their objection to the further examination on the alleged ground that all of the items subject of the DOJ complaint have been examined. Analyzing the report and the incidents relative thereto, it shows that the items subject of the questioned Search Warrant were commingled with other items in the warehouse of Carepak resulting in the failure to identify the machines and other items subject of this Search Warrant, while the other items enumerated in the said Inventory of Seized Items and Certification of Legality, Orderliness and Regularity in the Execution and enforcement of Search Warrants were not examined, hence, the charge imputed against the respondents could not be established as the evidence to show such violation fails to determine the culpability of said respondents, thus, violating their constitutional rights.25 Excepting, petitioners moved for reconsideration, arguing on the main that the quashal order was erroneously based on a ground outside the purview of a motion to quash.26 To this motion, private respondents interposed an opposition, against which petitioners countered with a reply. On January 6, 2003, respondent judge issued the second assailed order denying petitioners motion for reconsideration on the strength of the following premises: Careful scrutiny of the records of the case reveals that the application of the above-entitled case stemmed from the application for Search Warrant alleging that the respondent was not licensed to duplicate or replicate CDs and VCDs. The Court was misled when the applicants declared that Solid Laguna Corporation (SLC) is not licensed to engage in replicating/duplicating CDs and VCDs, when in truth and in fact, SLC was still a holder of a valid and existing VRB license. Considering the fact that respondent was duly licensed which facts (sic) was not laid bare to this Court

when the application for writ was filed by the private complainant through the National Bureau of Investigation, this Court hereby recalls and quashes the above writ. Lastly, taking into account that respondents were licensed to engage in replicating/duplicating CDs and VCDs, the issuance of search warrant was of no force and effect as there was absence of probable cause to justify said issuance. xxx27 Hence, petitioners present recourse. In a Resolution dated February 19, 2003,28 the Court issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the respondents from implementing and enforcing the respondent judges questioned orders. Petitioners ascribe on the respondent judge the commission of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction in issuing the first assailed order in that: 1. It was based on a ground that is not a basis for quashal of a search warrant, i.e., private respondents failure to examine the seized items, which ground is extraneous to the determination of the validity of the issuance of the search warrant. 2. Public respondent, in effect, conducted a "preliminary investigation" that absolved the private respondents from any liability for copyright infringement. 3. Public respondent recognized the motion to quash search warrant filed by persons who did not have any standing to question the warrant. Petitioners also deplore the issuance of the second assailed order which they tag as predicated on a ground immaterial to Search Warrant No. 219-00. Private respondents filed their Comment on May 13, 2003, essentially reiterating their arguments in the "Motion To Quash Search Warrant (And To Release Seized Properties)". Apart therefrom, they aver that petitioners violated the rule on hierarchy of courts by filing the petition directly with this Court. As to be expected, petitioners reply to comment traversed private respondents position. Owing to their inability to locate respondent David Chung, petitioners moved and the Court subsequently approved the dropping, without prejudice, of said respondent from the case.29 On February 20, 2004, private respondents filed their Rejoinder, therein inviting attention to petitioner IFPIs failure to execute the certification on non-forum shopping as required by Rule 7, Section 5 of the Rules of Court and questioning the validity of the Special Powers of Attorney of petitioners attorney-in-fact to file this case. In Resolution of March 31, 2004, the Court gave due course to the petition and directed the submission of memoranda which the parties, after each securing an extension, did submit.

The underlying issue before Us revolves on the propriety of the quashal of Search Warrant No. 219-00 which, in turn, resolves itself into question of the propriety of the warrants issuance in the first place. It has repeatedly been said that ones house, however, humble is his castle where his person, papers and effects shall be secured and whence he shall enjoy undisturbed privacy except, to borrow from Villanueva vs. Querubin,30"in case of overriding social need and then only under the stringent procedural safeguards." The protection against illegal searches and seizure has found its way into our 1935 and 1973 Constitutions and is now embodied in Article III, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution, thus 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, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized, and in Section 4, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court, viz Sec. 4. Requisites for issuing search warrant. A search warrant shall not issue but upon probable cause . . . to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the things to be seized. Complementing the aforequoted provisions is Section 5 of the same Rule, reading: SEC. 5. Examination of the complainant; record. The judge must, before issuing the warrant, personally examine in form of searching questions and answers, in writing and under oath, the complainant and any witnesses he may produce on facts personally known to them and attach to the record their sworn statements together with any affidavits submitted. To prevent stealthy encroachment upon, or gradual depreciation of the right to privacy, a liberal construction in search and seizure cases is given in favor of the individual. Consistent with this postulate, the presumption of regularity is unavailing in aid of the search process when an officer undertakes to justify it.31 For, the presumptionjuris tantum of regularity cannot, by itself, prevail against the constitutionally protected rights of an individual because zeal in the pursuit of criminals cannot ennoble the use of arbitrary methods that the Constitution itself detests.32 A core requisite before a warrant shall validly issue is the existence of a probable cause, meaning "the existence of such facts and circumstances which would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed and that the objects sought in connection with the offense are in the place to be searched".33 And when the law speaks of facts, the reference is to facts, data or information personally known to the applicant and the witnesses he may present. Absent the element of personal knowledge by the applicant or his witnesses of the facts upon which the issuance of a search

warrant may be justified, the warrant is deemed not based on probable cause and is a nullity, its issuance being, in legal contemplation, arbitrary, as held by us inColumbia Pictures, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals.34 Testimony based on what is supposedly told to a witness, being patent hearsay and, as rule, of no evidentiary weight35 or probative value, whether objected to or not,36 would, alone, not suffice under the law on the existence of probable cause. In our view, the issuance of the search warrant in question did not meet the requirements of probable cause. The respondent judge did not accordingly err in quashing the same, let alone gravely abuse her discretion. Petitioners argue that the instant petition is on all fours with Columbia,37 wherein the en banc Court upheld the validity of search warrants based on the testimonies of the applicant and his witnesses who conducted an investigation on the unlawful reproduction and distribution of video tapes of copyrighted films. We are not persuaded. In Columbia, the issuing court probed the applicants and his witnesses personal knowledge of the fact of infringement. It was, however, determined by this Court that during the application hearing, therein petitioners attorney-in-fact, a witness of the applicant, "stated in his affidavit and further expounded in his deposition that he personally knew of the fact that private respondents had never been authorized by his clients to reproduce, lease and possess for the purposes of selling any of the copyrighted films."38 Significantly, the Court, in upholding the validity of the writ issued upon complaint of Columbia Pictures, Inc., et al., stated that "there is no allegation of misrepresentation, much less finding thereof by the lower court, on the part of petitioners witnesses."39 Therein lies the difference with the instant case. Here, applicant Agent Lavin and his witnesses, Pedralvez and Baltazar, when queried during the application hearing how they knew that audio and video compact discs were infringing or pirated, relied for the most part on what alleged unnamed sources told them and/or on certifications or lists made by persons who were never presented as witnesses. In net effect, they testified under oath as to the truth of facts they had no personal knowledge of. The following excerpts of the depositions of applicant Lavin and his witnesses suggest as much: A. Deposition of Agent Lavin 28. Question: What happened next? Answer: We then went to the Laguna Industrial Park, your Honor . . . We then verified from an informant that David Chung, James Uy . . . under the name and style Media Group were the ones replicating the infringing CDs. xxx xxx xxx 36. Question: How do you know that all of these VCDs and CDs you purchased or are indeed infringing?

Answer: I have with me the VRB certification that the VCDs are unauthorized copies. I also have with me the ComplaintAffidavit of Sony Music and IFPI that certified that these are infringing copies, as well as the title list of Sony Music wherein some of the CDs purchased are indicated. (Annex "10", Comment, Rollo, p. 841) B. Deposition of Baltazar 18. Question: What did you see in that address? Answer: We saw that they had in stock several infringing, pirated and unauthorized CDs. They also had videograms without VRB labels, aside from artworks and labels. John Doe gave us a "Wholesome" CD while Jane Doe gave us "Kenny Rogers Videoke" and "Engelbert Humperdinck Videoke" which the informant told us were being reproduced in that facility. The informant further showed us the rooms where the replicating and/or stamping machine was located. 19. Question: How did you determine that the CDs you purchased are counterfeit, pirated or unauthorized? Answer: The Attorney-in-fact of Sony Music and IFPI certified in his Complaint-Affidavit that they are unauthorized copies. I also have with me a listing of Sony Music titles and some of the CDs I purchased are in that list.40 C. Deposition of Pedralvez 27. Question: What proof do you have they are producing infringing materials? Answer: We were given some samples by John Doe and Jane Doe. These are Kenny Rogers Videoke, Engelbert Humperdinck Videoke, and Andrew E. Wholesome CD. The informant told us that the said samples were being reproduced in the facility. 28. Question: How do you know that all of these VCDs you purchased or got are indeed unauthorized? Answer: The VRB has certified that they are unauthorized copies. (Annex "12", Comment, Rollo, pp. 849-852). Unlike their counterparts in Columbia who were found to be personally knowledgeable about their facts, Agent Lavin and his witnesses, judging from their above quoted answers, had no personal knowledge that the discs they saw, purchased or received were, in fact, pirated or infringing on petitioners copyrights. To us, it is not enough that the applicant and his witnesses testify that they saw stacks of several allegedly infringing, pirated and unauthorized discs in the subject facility. The more decisive consideration determinative of whether or not a probable cause obtains to justify the issuance of a search warrant is that they had personal knowledge that the discs were actually infringing, pirated or unauthorized copies.41 Moreover, unlike in Columbia, misrepresentation on the part of the applicant and his witnesses had been established in this case.

This is not to say that the master tapes should have been presented in evidence during the application hearing, as private respondents, obviously having in mind the holding in 20th Century Fox Film Corp. vs. Court of Appeals,42 would have this Court believe. It is true that the Court, in 20th Century Fox, underscored the necessity, in determining the existence of probable cause in copyright infringement cases, of presenting the master tapes of the copyrighted work. But, as emphatically clarified in Columbia "such auxiliary procedure, however, does not rule out the use of testimonial or documentary evidence, depositions, admissions or other classes of evidence xxx especially where the production in court of object evidence would result in delay, inconvenience or expenses out of proportion to its evidentiary value.43 What this Court is saying is that any evidence presented in lieu of the master tapes, if not readily available, in similar application proceedings must be reliable, and, if testimonial, it must, at the very least, be based on the witness personal knowledge. Petitioners argue, citing People v. Chua Uy,44 that Agent Lavins informants testimonies are not indispensable as they would only be corroborative.45 Like Columbia, Chua Uy is not a winning card for petitioners, for, in the latter case, there was a reliable testimony to corroborate what the applicant testified to, i.e., the testimony of the police poseur-buyer in a buy-bust operation involving prohibited drugs. The circumstances are different in this case wherein the applicant and his witnesses had no personal knowledge that the discs they purchased were infringing or pirated copies. It cannot be overemphasized that not one of them testified seeing the pirated discs being manufactured at SLCs premises. What they stated instead was that they were given copies of "Kenny Rogers Videoke", "Engelbert Humperdinck Videoke" and "Andrew E. Wholesome CD" by two anonymous sources, while yet another informant told them that the discs were manufactured at said premises. Initial hearsay information or tips from confidential informants could very well serve as basis for the issuance of a search warrant, if followed up personally by the recipient and validated,46 as what transpired in Columbia.Unfortunately, the records show that such is not the case before us. On the issue that the public respondent gravely abused her discretion in conducting what petitioners perceived amounted to a "preliminary investigation", this Court has already ruled in Solid Triangle Sales Corp. vs. Sheriff of RTC Quezon City, Branch 93,47 that "in the determination of probable cause, the court must necessarily resolve whether or not an offense exists to justify the issuance or quashal of the warrant". In the exercise of this mandate - which we can allow as being akin to conducting a preliminary investigation - abuse of discretion cannot plausibly be laid at the doorstep of the issuing court on account of its prima facie holding that no offense has been committed, even if consequent to such holding a warrant is recalled and the private complainant is incidentally deprived of vital evidence to prove his case. Solid Triangle succinctly explains why: The proceedings for the issuance/quashal of a search warrant before a court on the one hand, and the preliminary investigation before an authorized officer on the other, are proceedings entirely independent of each other. One is not bound by the others finding as regards the existence of a crime. The first is to determine whether a warrant should issue or be quashed, and the second, whether an information should be filed in court.

When the court, in determining probable cause for issuing or quashing a search warrant, finds that no offense has been committed, it does not interfere with or encroach upon the proceedings in the preliminary investigation. The court does not oblige the investigating officer not to file the information for the courts ruling that no crime exists is only of purposes of issuing or quashing the warrant. This does not, as petitioners would like to believe, constitute a usurpation of the executive function. Indeed, to shirk from this duty would amount to an abdication of a constitutional obligation.48 While the language of the first questioned Order may be viewed as encroaching on executive functions, nonetheless, it remains that the order of quashal is entirely independent of the proceedings in I.S. No. 2001-1158. And needless to stress, the DOJ is by no means concluded by the respondent judges findings as regards the existence, or the non-existence, of a crime. We can, to a point, accord merit to petitioners lament that the basis of the first questioned order, i.e., the mingling of the seized items with other items, is extraneous to the determination of the validity of the issuance of the search warrant. It is to be pointed out, though, that public respondent corrected her error when it was raised in petitioners motion for reconsideration. There can really be no serious objection to a judge correcting or altogether altering his case disposition on a motion for reconsideration, it being the purpose of such recourse to provide the court an opportunity to cleanse itself of an error unwittingly committed, or, with like effect, to allow the aggrieved party the chance to convince the court that its ruling is erroneous.49 A motion for reconsideration before resort to certiorariis required precisely "to afford the public respondent an opportunity to correct any actual or fancied error attributed to it by way of re-examination of the legal and factual aspects of the case".50 Similarly, as to the matter of the respondent judges recognizing the April 11, 2002 motion to quash search warrant51 filed by the individual private respondents, instead of by SLC, as presumptive owner of the seized items, such error was properly addressed when respondent SLC, represented throughout the proceedings below by the same counsel of its co-respondents, formally manifested that it was adopting the same motion as its own.52 It is apropos to point out at this juncture that petitioners have imputed on individual private respondents criminal liability, utilizing as tools of indictment the very articles and papers seized from the premises of SLC. Be that as it may, petitioners should be deemed in estoppel to raise the personality of individual private respondents to interpose a motion to quash. To be sure, it would be unsporting for petitioners to prosecute individual private respondents on the basis of seized articles but on the same breath deny the latter standing to question the legality of the seizure on the postulate that only the party whose rights have been impaired thereby, meaning SLC, can raise that challenge. There can be no quibbling that individual private respondents stand to be prejudiced or at least be inconvenient by any judgment in any case based on the seized properties. In a very real sense, therefore, they are real parties in interest who ought not to be prevented from assailing the validity of Search Warrant 219-00, albeit they cannot plausibly asked for the release and appropriate as their own the seized articles.

Petitioners related argument that SLC could not have validly adopted individual private respondents motion to quash due to laches is untenable. The records show that the seizure in question was effected on September 19, 2000. The complaint in I.S. No. 20001576 was filed against the officers of SLC, all of whom, except for one, are also private respondents in the instant petition. I.S. No. 2000-1576 was only resolved on January 15, 2001 when the DOJ dismissed the complaint on the ground that SLC was, in fact, duly licensed by the VRB. Shortly thereafter, or on February 6, 2001, less than five (5) months after the seizure, private respondents moved to quash both search warrants.53 The motion clearly indicates private respondents desire for the return of the seized items, and there is nothing in the records showing that petitioners objected to the motion on the ground that the movants had no standing to question the warrants. This bring Us to the second assailed order. As earlier stated, DOJ, in I.S. No. 2000-1576, found respondent SLC to be licensed by VRB to engage in the business of replicating or duplicating videograms. Petitioners would have the Court believe that the second questioned order was based on a ground immaterial to the charge of infringement. A scrutiny of the text of the said order, however, shows that the respondent judge denied petitioners motion for reconsideration because she was misled by the applicants and his witnesses testimony. It may be that a VRB license is no defense to a charge of violating Section 208 of R.A. No. 8293. It must be stressed in this regard, however, that the core issue here is the validity of the warrant which applicant secured on the basis of, among others, his representation which turned out to be false. As above discussed, the answers of Agent Lavin and his witnesses to the public respondents searching questions, particularly those relating to how they knew that the compact discs they purchased or received were illegal, unauthorized or infringing, were based on certifications and not personal knowledge. The subject warrant, as well as Search Warrant No. 220-00, was issued nonetheless. It may well have been that the issuing judge was, in the end, convinced to issue the warrants by means of the erroneous VRB certification presented during the joint application hearing, overriding whatever misgivings she may have had with the applicants and his witnesses other answers. This Court, however, cannot engage in such speculation and sees no need to. Summing up, the issuance of Search Warrant No. 219-00 was, at bottom, predicated on the sworn testimonies of persons without personal knowledge of facts they were testifying on and who relied on a false certification issued by VRB. Based as it were on hearsay and false information, its issuance was without probable cause and, therefore, invalid. Given the foregoing perspective, the peripheral issues of (a) whether or not petitioner IFPI (South East Asia), Ltd. failed to comply with the rules requiring the filing of a certification on non-forum shopping; and (b) whether or not IFPIs board of directors ratified its conditional authorization for its attorneyin-fact to represent IFPI in this petition, need not detain us long. In our review of the records, R.V. Domingo & Associates, whose authority to represent the petitioners in

this petition continues, had duly executed the sworn certification on non- forum shopping. In the same manner, this Court, having taken cognizance of this petition, need not belabor the issue of whether or not petitioners have cavalierly breached the rule on hierarchy of courts. Suffice it to state that, while the Court looks with disfavor on utter disregard of its rules,54 it is within its power to suspend its own rules or to except a particular case from its operation whenever the ends of justice so requires, as here. WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED and the temporary restraining order issued on February 19, 2003 is consequently RECALLED. Costs against petitioners. SO ORDERED. G.R. No. 165306 September 20, 2005 MANLY SPORTWEAR MANUFACTURING, INC., Petitioners, vs. DADODETTE ENTERPRISES AND/OR HERMES SPORTS CENTER, Respondent. DECISION

On June 10, 2003, the trial court granted the motion to quash and declared Search Warrant No. 4044(03) null and void based on its finding that the copyrighted products of MANLY do not appear to be original creations and were being manufactured and distributed by different companies locally and abroad under various brands, and therefore unqualified for protection under Section 172 of RA 8293. Moreover, MANLYs certificates of registrations were issued only in 2002, whereas there were certificates of registrations for the same sports articles which were issued earlier than MANLYs, thus further negating the claim that its copyrighted products were original creations.8 On August 11, 2003, the trial court denied9 MANLYs motion for reconsideration. Hence it filed a petition for certiorari10 before the Court of Appeals which was denied for lack of merit. The appellate court found that the trial court correctly granted the motion to quash and that its ruling in the ancillary proceeding did not preempt the findings of the intellectual property court as it did not resolve with finality the status or character of the seized items. After denial of its motion for reconsideration on September 15, 2004, MANLY filed the instant petition for review on certiorari raising the sole issue of whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in finding that the trial court did not gravely abuse its discretion in declaring in the hearing for the quashal of the search warrant that the copyrighted products of MANLY are not original creations subject to the protection of RA 8293. We deny the petition.

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: This petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure assails the July 13, 2004 decision2 of the Court of Appeals3 in CA-G.R. SP No. 79887 and its September 15, 2004 resolution4denying reconsideration thereof. The facts are as follows: On March 14, 2003, Special Investigator Eliezer P. Salcedo of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) applied for a search warrant before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, based on the information that Dadodette Enterprises and/or Hermes Sports Center were in possession of goods, the copyright of which belonged to Manly Sportswear Mfg., Inc. (MANLY).5 After finding reasonable grounds that a violation of Sections 172 and 217 of Republic Act (RA) No. 82936 has been committed, Judge Estrella T. Estrada of RTC-Quezon City, Branch 83, issued on March 17, 2003 Search Warrant No. 4044(03).7 Respondents thereafter moved to quash and annul the search warrant contending that the same is invalid since the requisites for its issuance have not been complied with. They insisted that the sporting goods manufactured by and/or registered in the name of MANLY are ordinary and common hence, not among the classes of work protected under Section 172 of RA 8293.
1

The power to issue search warrants is exclusively vested with the trial judges in the exercise of their judicial function.11 As such, the power to quash the same also rests solely with them. After the judge has issued a warrant, he is not precluded to subsequently quash the same, if he finds upon reevaluation of the evidence that no probable cause exists. Our ruling in Solid Triangle Sales Corp. v. Sheriff, RTC, Q.C., Br. 9312 is instructive, thus: Inherent in the courts power to issue search warrants is the power to quash warrants already issued. In this connection, this Court has ruled that the motion to quash should be filed in the court that issued the warrant unless a criminal case has already been instituted in another court, in which case, the motion should be filed with the latter. The ruling has since been incorporated in Rule 126 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure[.] In the instant case, we find that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it entertained the motion to quash considering that no criminal action has yet been instituted when it was filed. The trial court also properly quashed the search warrant it earlier issued after finding upon reevaluation of the evidence that no probable cause exists to justify its issuance in the first place. As ruled by the trial court, the copyrighted products do not appear to be original creations of MANLY and are not among the classes of work enumerated under Section 172 of RA 8293. The trial court, thus, may not be faulted for overturning its initial assessment that there was probable cause in view of its inherent power to issue search warrants and to quash the same. No

objection may be validly posed to an order quashing a warrant already issued as the court must be provided with the opportunity to correct itself of an error unwittingly committed, or, with like effect, to allow the aggrieved party the chance to convince the court that its ruling is erroneous. Moreover, the trial court was acting within bounds when it ruled, in an ancillary proceeding, that the copyrighted products of petitioner are not original creations. This is because in the determination of the existence of probable cause for the issuance or quashal of a warrant, it is inevitable that the court may touch on issues properly threshed out in a regular proceeding. In so doing, it does not usurp the power of, much less preclude, the court from making a final judicial determination of the issues in a fullblown trial. Consequently, MANLYs assertion that the trial courts order quashing the warrant preempted the finding of the intellectual property court has no legal basis. As pertinently held in Solid Triangle Sales Corp. v. Sheriff, RTC, Q.C., Br. 93:13 When the court, in determining probable cause for issuing or quashing a search warrant, finds that no offense has been committed, it does not interfere with or encroach upon the proceedings in the preliminary investigation. The court does not oblige the investigating officer not to file an information for the courts ruling that no crime exists is only for purposes of issuing or quashing the warrant. This does not, as petitioners would like to believe, constitute a usurpation of the executive function. Indeed, to shirk from this duty would amount to an abdication of a constitutional obligation. ... ... The finding by the court that no crime exists does not preclude the authorized officer conducting the preliminary investigation from making his own determination that a crime has been committed and that probable cause exists for purposes of filing the information. As correctly observed by the Court of Appeals, the trial courts finding that the seized products are not copyrightable was merely preliminary as it did not finally and permanently adjudicate on the status and character of the seized items. MANLY could still file a separate copyright infringement suit against the respondents because the order for the issuance or quashal of a warrant is not res judicata. Thus, in Vlasons Enterprises Corporation v. Court of Appeals14 we held that: The proceeding for the seizure of property in virtue of a search warrant does not end with the actual taking of the property by the proper officers and its delivery, usually constructive, to the court. The order for the issuance of the warrant is not a final one and cannot constitute res judicata. Such an order does not ascertain and adjudicate the permanent status or character of the seized property. By its very nature, it is provisional, interlocutory. It is merely the first step in the process to determine the character and title of the property. That determination is done in the criminal action involving the crime or crimes in connection with which the search warrant was issued. Hence, such a criminal action should be prosecuted, or commenced if not yet

instituted, and prosecuted. The outcome of the criminal action will dictate the disposition of the seized property We have also ruled in Ching v. Salinas, Sr., et al.15 that: The RTC had jurisdiction to delve into and resolve the issue whether the petitioners utility models are copyrightable and, if so, whether he is the owner of a copyright over the said models. It bears stressing that upon the filing of the application for search warrant, the RTC was duty-bound to determine whether probable cause existed, in accordance with Section 4, Rule 126 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure[.] Further, the copyright certificates issued in favor of MANLY constitute merely prima facie evidence of validity and ownership. However, no presumption of validity is created where other evidence exist that may cast doubt on the copyright validity. Hence, where there is sufficient proof that the copyrighted products are not original creations but are readily available in the market under various brands, as in this case, validity and originality will not be presumed and the trial court may properly quash the issued warrant for lack of probable cause. Besides, no copyright accrues in favor of MANLY despite issuance of the certificates of registration and deposit16pursuant to Section 2, Rule 7 of the Copyrights Safeguards and Regulations17 which states: Sec. 2 Effects of Registration and Deposit of Work. The registration and deposit of the work is purely for recording the date of registration and deposit of the work and shall not be conclusive as to copyright ownership or the term of the copyrights or the rights of the copyright owner, including neighboring rights. At most, the certificates of registration and deposit issued by the National Library and the Supreme Court Library serve merely as a notice of recording and registration of the work but do not confer any right or title upon the registered copyright owner or automatically put his work under the protective mantle of the copyright law. It is not a conclusive proof of copyright ownership. As it is, non-registration and deposit of the work within the prescribed period only makes the copyright owner liable to pay a fine.18 WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The July 13, 2004 decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 79887 and resolution dated September 15, 2004, are AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED. G.R. No. 152950 August 3, 2006 PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, HON. LOURDES F. GATBALITE, Presiding Judge, Branch 56, Regional Trial Court, Angeles City and ATTY. BENNIE NICDAO, Special Prosecutor, Special Operative Group, Economic Intelligence & Investigation Bureau, Petitioners, vs. CHRISTOPHER CHOI, Respondent. DECISION

CORONA, J.: This petition for review on certiorari 1 seeks the reversal of the decision 2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated April 10, 2002 in CA-G.R. SP No. 59587, the dispositive portion of which read: WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari and prohibition is GRANTED. Search Warrant No. 99-17 is deemed NULLand VOID and SET ASIDE. Respondent ATTY. BENNY NICDAO is prohibited from using in evidence the articles seized by virtue of Search Warrant No. 99-17 in Crim. Case No. I.S. No. 99-8116. SO ORDERED. 3 The factual antecedents follow. On April 27, 1999, Mario P. Nieto, Intelligence Operative of the Economic Intelligence and Investigation Bureau, Department of Finance, applied for a search warrant with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Angeles City, Pampanga, Branch 56, 4 against respondent Christopher Choi for violation of Section 168, paragraphs 2 and 3 (a) and (c), in relation to Section 169 of RA 8293, 5 also known as the Intellectual Property Code. 6 After examination of the applicant and his witnesses, namely, Max Cavalera and David Lee Sealey, Judge Lourdes F. Gatbalite issued Search Warrant No. 99-17 dated April 27, 1999 worded as follows: TO ANY PEACE OFFICER: G r e e t i n g s: It appearing to the satisfaction of the undersigned, after examining under oath in the form of searching and probing questions, the applicant, MARIO P. NIETO, Intelligence Operative, Economic Intelligence Investigation Bureau, Department of Finance, and his witnesses Max Cavalera and David Lee Sealey that there are good and sufficient reasons to believe that Christopher Choi of No. 25-13 Columbia Street, Carmenville Subd., Angeles City has in his possession, control and custody [r]eams and packs of fake Marlboro Red Cigarettes, as well as cardboard cases of fake Marlboro Red Cigarettes (each cardboard case contains two (2) [m]aster [c]ases of Marlboro and each [m]aster case contains fifty (50) reams) being distributed, kept and sold thereat in violation of Section 168, par. 2 and 3 (a) and (c) in relation to Section 169 of R.A. 8293; You are hereby commanded to make an immediate search at anytime of the day or night of the above-premises and forthwith seize and take possession of the aforedescribed items found at the residence/warehouse of Christopher Choi at No. 25-13 Columbia Street, Carmenville Subd., Angeles City. THEREFORE, seize and bring the said articles to the undersigned to be dealt with in accordance with law. You are hereby further directed to submit a return within ten (10) days from today.

Given under my hand this 27th day of April, 1999 at Angeles City, Philippines. 7 The search was conducted on the same date. 8 On May 12, 1999, respondent filed a "motion to quash search warrant" 9 and a "supplemental motion to quash" 10on June 22, 1999. Both were denied by Judge Gatbalite in an order dated November 29, 1999. 11 Reconsideration was likewise denied. 12 On June 19, 2000, respondent filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition 13 before the CA. He alleged that Judge Gatbalite committed grave abuse of discretion in refusing to quash the search warrant, arguing that probable cause was not sufficiently established as the examination conducted was not probing and exhaustive and the warrant did not particularly describe the place to be searched. Respondent also prayed that Atty. Bennie Nicdao14 be prohibited from using as evidence the articles seized by virtue of the search warrant. This was granted by the CA in a decision dated April 10, 2002. According to the CA, in determining whether there was probable cause to believe that the cigarettes purchased by Nieto were fake and in violation of RA 8293, 15 Judge Gatbalite failed to ask searching and probing questions of witness David Lee Sealey. 16 The examination of Sealey went this way: Court: Q There was testimony here given by Mr. Mario Nieto and Max Cavalera, that fake Marlboro cigarettes bought by them from Michael Chua, Christopher Choi and Johnny Chang were turned over to you for examination, is that correct? A Yes, your Honor. Q After the same had been turned over to you, what did you do with the said merchandise, if you did anything? A I examined the sample of cigarettes and their packaging bearing the Marlboro Trade Marks which were suspected to be produc[ed] and manufactured by La Suerte or [with] the permission of Philip Morris. Q What was the result of your examination? A Based on the packaging of the packs, the color of the box and the printing on the front side of the packs and the cigarettes themselves, I concluded that they are counterfeit or unauthorized product[s]. Q Do you have any knowledge of this person named Christopher Choi? A None, your Honor. Q There is an affidavit here marked as exhibit, executed by one David Lee Sealey, do you know this David Lee Sealey?

A Yes, your Honor, I am the one. Q Whose signature is this appearing on the printed name David Lee Sealey? A This is my signature, your Honor. Q Do you affirm and confirm other contents of this affidavit? A Yes, your Honor. Court: Thats all. 17 In addition, the CA ruled that Judge Gatbalite committed grave abuse of discretion when she merely relied on the conclusion of Sealey that the cigarettes he received from Nieto were fake. She should have at least required Sealey to present the alleged fake Marlboro cigarettes and the genuine ones for comparison, instead of relying on his testimony alone. The CA reasoned that this was an absolute requirement under the Supreme Court ruling in20th Century Fox Film Corporation v. Court of Appeals. 18 Hence, this petition. The People of the Philippines aver that the CA erred in finding that Judge Gatbalite committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the search warrant allegedly because she failed to determine probable cause pursuant to Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 126 of the Rules of Court. 19 The People assail the finding of the CA that, in issuing the search warrant, Judge Gatbalite purportedly did not comply strictly with the requirement to determine the existence of probable cause by personally examining the applicant and his witnesses through searching questions and answers. The People also assert that the CA erred in applying the doctrine in 20th Century Fox Film Corporation20 since it had already been superseded by Columbia Pictures, Inc. v. Court of Appeals. 21 We rule for the People of the Philippines. Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 126 state: Sec. 4. Requisites for issuing search warrant. A search warrant shall not issue except upon probable cause in connection with one specific offense to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the things to be seized which may be anywhere in the Philippines. Sec. 5. Examination of complainant; record. The judge must, before issuing the warrant, personally examine in the form of searching questions and answers, in writing and under oath, the complainant and the witnesses he may produce on facts personally known to them and attach to the record their sworn statements, together with the affidavits submitted.

According to the foregoing provisions, a search warrant can be issued only upon a finding of probable cause. Probable cause means such facts and circumstances which would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed and that the objects sought in connection with the offense are in the place sought to be searched. 22 The determination of the existence of probable cause requires the following: (1) the judge must examine the complainant and his witnesses personally; (2) the examination must be under oath and (3) the examination must be reduced in writing in the form of searching questions and answers. 23 The searching questions propounded to the applicant and the witnesses depend largely on the discretion of the judge. Although there is no hard-and-fast rule governing how a judge should conduct his examination, it is axiomatic that the examination must be probing and exhaustive, not merely routinary, general, peripheral, perfunctory or proforma. 24 The judge must not simply rehash the contents of the affidavit but must make his own inquiry on the intent and justification of the application. 25 The questions should not merely be repetitious of the averments stated in the affidavits or depositions of the applicant and the witnesses. 26 If the judge fails to determine probable cause by personally examining the applicant and his witnesses in the form of searching questions before issuing a search warrant, grave abuse of discretion is committed. 27 The determination of probable cause does not call for the application of rules and standards of proof that a judgment of conviction requires after trial on the merits. As the term implies, probable cause is concerned with probability, not absolute or even moral certainty. The standards of judgment are those of a reasonably prudent man, not the exacting calibrations of a judge after a full-blown trial. 28 No law or rule states that probable cause requires a specific kind of evidence. No formula or fixed rule for its determination exists. 29 Probable cause is determined in the light of conditions obtaining in a given situation. 30 The entirety of the questions propounded by the court and the answers thereto must be considered by the judge. 31 In this case, aside from the testimony of Sealey, petitioner judge also heard the testimony of applicant Nieto: Q: In connection with Search Warrant 99-17, are you the same Mario Nieto who is the applicant in this application for search warrant filed today April 27, 1999? A: Yes, your Honor. Q: Do you know this Christopher Choi referred to herein? A: Yes, your Honor. Q: Why do you know him? A: He was introduced to us by Michael Chua, your Honor.

Q: As what? A: As the supplier for the goods. Q: Subject of the application? A: Yes, your Honor, in violation of Section 169 of R.A. 8293. Q: How did you know him? A: When I was conducting a test-buy operation against Mr. Michael Chua, Mr. Michael Chua told me that the bulk of supply if we need more supply we can get from the source, a certain Christopher Choi, who lives in the same village and who is actually the supplier for the entire region. Q: Where did you see him. This Christopher Choi? A: I went to his house, your Honor. Q: Where? A: At No. 25-13 Columbia St., Carmenville Subd., Angeles City, Pampanga. Q: Upon arriving at the place what did you do? A: Upon arriving at the place, your Honor, I introduced myself as the one who was referred by a certain Michael Chua who is interested in buying the Marlboro cigarettes from him and he accommodated me and showed me the sample that he has and I was able to procure the samples from him, the samples that like what we did to the others were inspected by certain Mr. David Lee Sealey, the representative and authority from the Philip Morris. Q: Did you actually buy those samples? A: Yes, your Honor, I got the samples form Mr. Christopher Choi and I submitted them to Mr. David Lee Sealey. Q: How many Marlboro cigarettes did you buy? A: We bought only one ream, P17.00 per pack. Q: Do you know from what particular place the house of Christopher Choi did he got (sic) those samples? A: The volume stocks were found inside the house, they are almost everywhere in the house of Christopher Choi. Q: There is a sketch here attached to your application, can you point it out here? A: Yes, your Honor, at the warehouse, in the storage room as shown in the lay out of the house, it is adjacent to the residential house as shown in the sketch. Q: You went to the warehouse?

A: We were shown [the] entire area by the supplier, Christopher Choi. As a matter of fact he was trying to show us how much volume he has and his capacity to supply. 32 Max Cavalera, a witness who accompanied Nieto during the "test-buy" operation, 33 also testified: Q How about this Christopher Choi? A As Ive said earlier, he was one of those identified by the informant storing and selling counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes, so on April 22, 1999 we conducted a surveillance and we were able to confirm that the said cigarettes are being stored at the subject place. Q At what place? A At 25-13 Columbia St., Carmenville Subd., Angeles City. On April 23, 1999 at about 8:30 p.m., Mario Nieto and I again went to the subject place to conduct a test-buy operation. [A]fter Mr. Choi had been convinced of our intention to buy cigarettes from him, he brought us to his warehouse where he showed to us several cardboard cases of Marlboro cigarettes. 34 Given the foregoing testimonies and applying the established standards in determining probable cause, we cannot say that Judge Gatbalite committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the search warrant. Her questions were sufficiently probing, not at all superficial and perfunctory. The testimonies were consistent with each other and the narration of facts was credible. The testimonies and other evidence on record constituted adequate bases to establish probable cause that the alleged offense had been committed. Since probable cause is dependent largely on the opinion and findings of the judge who conducted the examination and who had the opportunity to question the applicant and his witnesses, 35 the findings of the judge deserve great weight. The reviewing court can overturn such findings only upon proof that the judge disregarded the facts before him or ignored the clear dictates of reason. 36 We thus find no reason to disturb Judge Gatbalites findings. Furthermore, as correctly pointed out by petitioners, 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, insofar as it required the presentation of the master tapes for comparison with the pirated copies for a search warrant to issue, had already been superseded by Columbia Pictures, Inc. v. Court of Appeals: More to the point, it is felt that the reasonableness of the added requirement in 20th Century Fox calling for the production of the master tapes of the copyrighted films for determination of probable cause in copyright infringement cases needs revisiting and clarification. xxx xxx xxx In fine, the supposed pronunciamento in said case regarding the necessity for the presentation of the master tapes of the copyrighted films for the validity of search warrants should at most be understood to merely serve as a guidepost in

determining the existence of probable cause in copyright infringement cases where there is doubt as to the true nexus between the master tape and the pirated copies. An objective and careful reading of the decision in said case could lead to no other conclusion than that said directive was hardly intended to be a sweeping and inflexible requirement in all or similar copyright infringement cases. Judicial dicta should always be construed within the factual matrix of their parturition, otherwise a careless interpretation thereof could unfairly fault the writer with the vice of overstatement and the reader with the fallacy of undue generalization. xxx xxx xxx It is evidently incorrect to suggest, as the ruling in 20th Century Fox may appear to do, that in copyright infringement cases, the presentation of master tapes of the copyrighted films is always necessary to meet the requirement of probable cause and that, in the absence thereof, there can be no finding of probable cause for the issuance of a search warrant. It is true that such master tapes are object evidence, with the merit that in this class of evidence the ascertainment of the controverted fact is made through demonstrations involving the direct use of the senses of the presiding magistrate. Such auxiliary procedure, however, does not rule out the use of testimonial or documentary evidence, depositions, admissions or other classes of evidence tending to prove the factum probandum, especially where the production in court of object evidence would result in delay, inconvenience or expenses out of proportion to its evidentiary value. xxx xxx xxx

SO ORDERED. G.R. No. 166061 July 6, 2007

ANDY QUELNAN y QUINO, Petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. DECISION TINGA, J.: This petition for review seeks the reversal of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 22001 dated 12 November 2004, affirming the Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 138, Makati City, in Criminal Case No. 96-1498, that found Andy Quelnan y Quino3 (petitioner) guilty of violating Section 16, Article III of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6425, as amended, otherwise known as The Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972. The accusatory portion of the Information against petitioner reads: That on or about the 27th day of August, [sic] 1996, in the City of Makati, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, without being authorized by law, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his possession, custody and control 27.7458 grams of Methamphetamine Hydrochloride (Shabu), a regulated drug. Contrary to law.4

Accordingly, to restrict the exercise of discretion by a judge by adding a particular requirement (the presentation of master tapes, as intimated by 20th Century Fox) not provided nor implied in the law for a finding of probable cause is beyond the realm of judicial competence or statesmanship. It serves no purpose but to stultify and constrict the judicious exercise of a courts prerogatives and to denigrate the judicial duty of determining the existence of probable cause to a mere ministerial or mechanical function. There is, to repeat, no law or rule which requires that the existence of probable cause is or should be determined solely by a specific kind of evidence. Surely, this could not have been contemplated by the framers of the Constitution, and we do not believe that the Court intended the statement in 20th Century Fox regarding master tapes as the dictum for all seasons and reasons in infringement cases. 37 (emphasis supplied) It is obvious that 20th Century Fox Film Corporation should not be applied to the present case since this involves the offense of unfair competition and not copyright infringement. More importantly, as pronounced by the Court inColumbia Pictures, Inc., the judges exercise of discretion should not be unduly restricted by adding a requirement that is not sanctioned by law. WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The assailed decision of the Court of Appeals dated April 10, 2002 in CA-G.R. SP No. 59587 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Judgment is hereby rendered declaring Search Warrant No. 99-17 as VALID.

During arraignment, petitioner pleaded not guilty. Trial on the merits ensued. Witnesses5 for the prosecution testified as to the following set of facts: On 27 August 1996, a team from the Police Assistance and Reaction Against Crime (PARAC) of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), composed of Chief Inspector Carlos Acosta, SPO4 Isagani Ilas, SPO2 Manubay, SPO2 Sanggalang, SPO2 Teodoro Sinag, SPO2 Mario Magno, SPO2 de Leon, SPO2 Cecil Fajardo, SPO3 Marcelo Alcancia, SPO3 Dennis Zarcal, and PO1 Eraldo Lectura,6 was formed to implement a search warrant issued by the RTC of Manila on 26 August 1996.7 At around 3:00 p.m., the team proceeded to the Cityland Condominium in South Superhighway, Makati. Upon arrival, they went directly to the Security Office of said building to seek assistance in serving the warrant. Security Officer Celedonio Punsaran (Punsaran) accompanied the group and they proceeded to Unit 615. At their knocking, a male person naked from the waist up opened the door.8 He was later identified as petitioner. SPO2 Sinag presented the search warrant to petitioner. 9 Upon entry, the police operatives searched the unit, which was composed of a small room with a plywood divider separating the sala from the bedroom.10 In the presence of petitioner

and Punsaran, the group started searching the place and eventually found on top of the bedroom table three (3) pieces of transparent plastic sachets containing white crystalline substances later confirmed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) forensic chemist as shabu, plastic tubings, weighing scales, an improvised burner, and empty transparent plastic sachets.11 Thereafter, the group prepared a receipt of the properties seized and an Affidavit of Orderly Search allegedly signed by petitioner in their presence and that of Punsaran.12 Meanwhile, the group also went to Unit 418 of the same building to serve the warrant and search the place. The police operatives did not find any occupant in the room. Petitioner was then brought to the PARAC office for investigation. The pieces of evidence gathered by the police operatives were brought to the NBI for examination. That same day, NBI Forensic Chemist Loreto F. Bravo issued a certification stating that upon examination, the specimen submitted yielded positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride.13 The following day, the Arrest Report and Joint Affidavit of Apprehension were executed by the police operatives leading to the arrest and charging of petitioner for violation of Section 16, Article III of R.A. No. 6425. In his defense, petitioner testified that he is a resident of 150 Legaspi Tower 300, 2600 Roxas Boulevard, Manila.14 He also happens to be the registered owner of Unit 615 of Cityland Condominium in Makati City, which he leased to Sung Kok Lee (Lee) beginning May 1996.15 On 27 August 1996, at around 3:00 p.m., petitioner went to Unit 615 to collect payment of rental from Lee. Upon knocking at the door, petitioner was greeted by the maid. The maid told him to wait for Lee inside the room while she went out to buy some refreshments. After a while, petitioner heard somebody knocking at the door and he opened it. He saw around 15 to 20 armed men who suddenly barged into the room. The officer in charge asked for a certain Bernard Kim and petitioner introduced himself as the owner of the condominium unit. The police operatives then proceeded to search the house for the next half hour while petitioner was waiting in the sala. Petitioner was also forced to sign some documents at gunpoint. Petitioner was then handcuffed and brought to the PARAC office. Two days later, he was brought to the Makati Prosecutors Office for inquest and a case was subsequently filed against him.16 In behalf of petitioner, Luis Alvarez, the administrator of Cityland Condominium, testified that Lee was the actual occupant of Unit 615 at the time petitioner was arrested.17 Celso Fiesta, petitioners driver, also stated in court that petitioner resides at Legaspi Tower. On 27 August 1996, he dropped petitioner off at Cityland Condominium between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. Two and a half hours later, he went back to pick him up. As he was about to park the car, somebody poked a gun at him and introduced himself as PARAC. Fiesta was ordered to get out of the car and the PARAC team searched the vehicle. They found a gun and brought Fiesta to the DILG. He was released the following day.18 After trial, the RTC found petitioner guilty and sentenced him to suffer imprisonment of two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of prision correccional as minimum to four (4)

years, nine (9) months and ten (10) days of prision correccional as maximum.19 In convicting petitioner, the trial court relied heavily on the clear, straightforward, and candid testimonies of the prosecution witnesses: They were all present when the search warrant was implemented at Unit 615 Cityland Condominium. No infirmity or flaw affecting their credibility exists. Further, the Court considered that they are public officers and there was no showing that they were motivated by ill-will testimonies or bad faith to falsely testify against the accused. There was no evidence of intent to harass the accused. The presumption of regularity in the performance of their functions can be fairly applied.20 On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial courts ruling, modifying however the penalty to be imposed on petitioner in that he shall suffer the indeterminate penalty of six months of arresto mayor as minimum to three (3) years and six (6) months of prision correccional as maximum. 21 Petitioner now seeks the reversal of said judgment. His conviction or acquittal rests on the validity of the warrantless arrest. The prosecution proffers that petitioner was caught in flagrante delicto in possession of the subject shabu justifying his warrantless arrest. Another crucial issue arises, that of the validity of the enforcement of the search warrant as basis for the presence of the police operatives in the Cityland Condominium unit. Therefore, these matters may be summarized into two issues for our resolution: whether the search warrant was properly enforced and whether petitioner was validly arrested without warrant. The issue as to whether the search warrant was validly implemented necessitates a review of the tenor of the search warrant, vis--vis the conduct of the police operatives enforcing such warrant. Search Warrant No. 96-585 reads: REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES REGIONAL TRIAL COURT NATIONAL CAPITAL JUDICIAL REGION PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff - versus BERNARD LIM22 Room 615 Cityland Condominium South Superhighway, Makati City Respondent. SEARCH WARRANT NO. 96-585 FOR: VIOLATION OF R.A. 6425 (Dangerous Drug Act 1972)

SEARCH WARRANT TO ANY PEACE OFFICER: GREETINGS: It appearing to the satisfaction of the undersigned under examining under oath PNP SPO4 ISAGANI J. ILAS and his

witness, that there are [sic] reasonable ground to believe that VIOLATION OF R.A. [No.] 6425 has been committed or is about to be committed and there are good and sufficient reasons to believe that still undetermined Quantity of Met[h]amphetamine Hydrochloride (Shabu) has [sic] in his possession and control. You are commanded to make an immediate search anytime of the day or night of the premises abovementioned and forthwith seize and take possession of the abovementioned MET[H]AMPHETAMINE HYDROCHLORIDE (SHABU) subject of the offense and bring to this Court said drugs and persons to be dealt with as the law may direct. You are further directed to submit return within ten (10) days from today. GIVEN UNDER MY HAND AND SEAL OF THIS COURT, this 26[th] day of August 1996 in Manila, Philippines. HON. WILLIAM M. BAYHON Executive Judge, RTC Branch XXIII, Manila NOTE: This Search Warrant shall be valid for ten (10) days from date of issue.23 Petitioner assails the improper enforcement of the search warrant in that despite the knowledge that petitioner was not the subject of such warrant, the police operatives proceeded anyway with the search and his resulting arrest. According to him, the Court of Appeals erred in declaring that where a search warrant is issued for the search of specifically described premises and not of a person, the omission of the name of the owner or occupant of such property in the warrant does not invalidate the same. Petitioner contends that this doctrine applies only if the search warrant does not indicate with all certainty the owner or occupant of the premises sought to be searched; on the contrary, the subject search warrant indicated with absolute clarity that the person subject thereof is Kim. This argument is misplaced. Section 4, Rule 126 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides for the requisites for the issuance of search warrant, to wit: SEC. 4. Requisites for issuing search warrant. A search warrant shall not issue except upon probable cause in connection with one specific offense to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the things to be seized which may be anywhere in the Philippines. Nowhere in said rule or any other provision in the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure is it required that the search warrant must name the person who occupies the described premises. In Uy v. Bureau of Internal Revenue,24 the Court has definitively ruled that where the search warrant is issued for the search of specifically described premises only and not for the search of a person, the failure to name the owner or occupant of such property in the affidavit and search warrant does not invalidate the warrant; and where the name of the owner of the premises sought to be searched is incorrectly inserted in the search warrant, it is not a fatal defect if the legal description of the premises to be searched

is otherwise correct so that no discretion is left to the officer making the search as to the place to be searched. A cursory reading of the search warrant reveals that the police officers were ordered to make an immediate search of the premises mentioned and to seize and take possession of shabu. Furthermore, they were directed to bring "persons to be dealt with as the law may direct." While petitioner may not be the person subject of the search, the fact that he was caught in flagrante delicto necessitated his valid warrantless arrest. Therefore, the fact that petitioners name was not indicated in the search warrant is immaterial. Turning to the second issue, petitioner insists that his apprehension cannot be considered in flagrante delicto because he was not in possession of the forbidden drug. In every prosecution for the illegal possession of shabu, the following essential elements must be established: (a) the accused is found in possession of a regulated drug; (b) the person is not authorized by law or by duly constituted authorities; and (c) the accused has knowledge that the said drug is a regulated drug.25 More importantly, the prosecution must prove that the accused had the intent to possess the drug. Possession, under the law, includes not only actual possession, but also constructive possession. Actual possession exists when the drug is in the immediate physical possession or control of the accused. On the other hand, constructive possession exists when the drug is under the dominion and control of the accused or when he has the right to exercise dominion and control over the place where it is found. Exclusive possession or control is not necessary. The fact of possession may be proved by direct or circumstantial evidence and any reasonable inference drawn therefrom. However, the prosecution must prove that the accused had knowledge of the existence and presence of the drug in the place under his control and dominion, as well as the character of the drug. Since knowledge by the accused of the existence and character of the drug in the place where he exercises dominion and control is an internal act, the same may be presumed from the fact that the dangerous drug is in the house or place over which the accused has control or dominion, or within such premises in the absence of any satisfactory explanation.26 For the trial court, the fact of possession was clearly and convincingly established by the prosecution, to wit: Prosecution has presented in Court the three (3) plastic sachet[s] containing 27.7458 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride as well as all paraphernalia seized from the accused consisting of an improvised burner, two (2) pieces of weighing scale, plastic tubing, aluminum foil, empty transparent plastic sachets, Icom radio, Calculator, Cellular phone, disposable lighters, and two (2) pieces [of] blank cartridge. SPO4 Ilas and SPO2 Sinag clearly testified that they were found on top of a table in a room of [sic] Unit 615 in the afternoon of August 27, 1996 at a time when only the accused was inside the premises. Thus, the fact of possession was clearly and convincingly established.27 The Court of Appeals pointed out that possession necessary for conviction of the offense of possession of controlled substances may be actual or constructive:

Although the shabu was not found by the searching team on his person but in the bedroom of the subject premises, appellant is deemed in possession thereof since he was the only person in said premises. Moreover, at the time of entry of the searching team in the subject premises, appellant was half-naked from the waist up which, as the trial court correctly concluded, only "indicates extreme familiarity and gives the impression of he being at home" in the premises, of which he was the registered owner.28 Petitioner counters that he was in all his right to be in the leased premises because he had to collect the rentals due him from his tenant. He further argues that the shabu was allegedly found on top of the table inside the bedroom and not within the immediate location where he was positioned. When he was found half-naked by police operatives in another persons house, petitioner defends his act by invoking his "long bond of friendship" with Lee which made the former treat Lees home like his own.29 In support of the appellate courts ruling, the Solicitor General maintained that petitioner was in constructive possession of the subject shabu by citing several circumstances showing petitioners control and dominion over the same. First, the shabu was found on top of a table in Unit 615 of Cityland Condominium when and where only petitioner was present inside the premises. Second, petitioner introduced himself as the owner of the condominium. Third, petitioner admitted that he was at the subject premises allegedly to collect rentals from the lessee. Fourth, petitioner was found naked from the waist up by the police operatives upon entering Unit 615. The Solicitor General stresses that petitioners actuation of being naked from the waist up while opening the door to greet visitors is natural only to someone who owns the premises.30 Fifth, Unit 615 is a studio unit with a divider and a sala. There was no room with a door to be closed and locked which can prevent petitioner from having free access to the shabu found on the table. This Court is convinced that petitioners control and dominion over the shabu found on top of the table were sufficiently established by his questionable presence in Unit 615. Petitioners explanation that he went to Lees unit to collect rentals and was left by the maid to fend for himself while the latter went out to buy refreshments is highly suspicious. The maid never came back. The maids testimony would have corroborated that of petitioners. Despite the presentation of the testimonies of Cityland Condominium Administrator Luis Alvarez and other witnesses tending to prove that petitioner is the owner and lessor of Unit 615 and his actual place of residence is in Legaspi Tower, such pieces of evidence do not necessarily prove that petitioner did not have access and control over the subject premises. In fact, petitioners overt act of getting half-naked while opening the door establishes intimate familiarity with and over his surroundings. Petitioner seeks to justify such act by invoking his "long bond of friendship" with Lee. This was, however, belied by the testimony of the building administrator which showed that Lee was a mere walk-in applicant and he began renting Unit 615 only on 1 May 1996, barely three (3) months before petitioner was apprehended.31

Petitioner, in fact, affirmed this fact in his earlier testimony that he allowed Lee, whom he barely knew, to occupy the unit with only one month rental deposit: Q: Is it your practice to go personally to that unit to receive the rental? A: Yes, sir. Q: Thats your practice? A: Yes, sir. Q: How much is the lease price? A: P6,500.00. Q: Payable monthly? A: At the second week of the month. Q: For what month was that rental where [sic] you were suppose to collect? A: June and July[,] your Honor. Q: Is it not a practice[,] Mr. Witness[,] that now lessee should pay the deposit and a few months in advance? A: Yes, but he promise he does not have any money and to produce later on.[sic] Q: Which rental he is going to pay? A: The deposit and the monthly rental. Q: What you are saying [sic] when he entered the premises of this property he does not paid [sic] anything? A: He just paid for the month of May. Q: What you are saying you entered into a lease contract with a person you do not know during the said month, that he entered the unit he was not able to pay you even the deposit [sic]? A: He paid me just one month. Q: And you agreed? A: Yes, sir. [H]e promised to pay later on.32 Equally doubtful is the existence of the lease contract allegedly executed between petitioner and Lee which purportedly validates the presence of the former in Unit 615, which was to collect rentals from the latter. As the Solicitor General correctly observed, the lease agreement is undated

and unnotarized.33 During cross-examination, the building administrator who presented a copy of the lease agreement could not even remember when the contract was executed.34 Petitioner also testified that the rentals are payable at the second week of each month.35 His statement is inconsistent with his avowed effort to collect payment in the last week of the month, particularly on 27 August 1996. We further find the Solicitor Generals conclusion that petitioner was privy to the existence of the shabu on top of the table credible because the unit was a small room with a piece of plywood dividing the sala and the bedroom. With petitioner seemingly comfortable in moving about the unit, the shabu and other paraphernalia could not have escaped his vision. Even more telling are the testimonies of the police operatives who conducted the search and subsequent arrest of petitioner. Inspector Acosta testified that his team conducted a search on Unit 615 and found petitioner inside the room alone and that the search resulted in the discovery of the shabu, to wit: Q: In connection with your duties then as the member of the PARAC[,] do you recall if there was any occasion if you meet a certain person whose name [was] Andy Quelman? A: Yes, sir.

Q: Where did you conduct the search? A: At room 615 Cityland Condominium[,] South Superhighway[,] Makati City. xxxx Q: By what authority did you conduct your search at room or [U]nit 615 Cityland Condominium[,] South Superhighway[,] Makati City. A: We are armed with [a] search warrant. Q: Issued by whom? A: The RTC Judge Hon. Bayhon, City of Manila. xxxx Q: So upon arriving at the 6th floor what did you do, or what did you do? A: We knocked at the door of [R]oom 615. Q: And what happened next? A: Somebody opened the door.

Q: During what occasion did you meet this person? A: During [sic] when we conducted the search of the Cityland Condominium[,] South Superhighway[,] Makati City. Q: If this person Andy Quelman is present in this Courtroom[,] can you point him out in the Court? COURT:

Q: And after the door was opened[,] what did you and your team do next? A: We presented our search warrant. Q: To whom? COURT: Would you know who open[ed] the door?

Will you step down on the witness stand and tap on his shoulder? A: Yes, your Honor. COURT: Make of record that the witness stepped down on the witness stand and tapped the shoulder of a person seated on the gallery who when asked of his name answered his name as Andy Quelman. Q: You said that you conducted a search, when was this? A: August 27, 1996. Q: What time? A: 3:00 oclock in the afternoon.

A: Yes, sir. PROSECUTOR GARVIDA: Q: Who? A: Andy Quelman. PROSECUTOR GARVIDA: Q: Can you describe[,] Mr. Witness[,] the appearance of Mr. Andy Quelman when he opened the door? A: He is half[-]naked wearing pants. Q: What about the upper body?

A: Naked. Q: Upon presenting the search warrant[,] what did you do next? A: We proceeded to the room to conduct the search. xxxx Q: You said you proceeded to conduct the search. [W]hat was Mr. Quelman doing while you are conducting the search? A: He was sitting at the table inside the room. xxxx Q: Now can you describe to this Court how you conducted the search[,] Mr. Witness? A: First we proceeded to his room and I saw Mr. Quelman sitting at his table. Later on we found at his table all the paraphernalia. Q: Can you enumerate to this Court what[,] if any[,] did you find [sic] during the search? A: We found 3 transparent plastic containing white crystalline substance. Q: Where did you find [sic]? A: Atop the table. xxxx Q: What did you do with Mr. Quelman after you found these items which you [have] just enumerated? A: We bring [sic] Andy Quelman to our office.36 The foregoing testimony was substantially corroborated by SPO4 Isagani Ilas and SPO1 Teodoro Sinag who were both part of the arresting team. These witnesses positively identified petitioner as the occupant of Unit 615 at the time the search was conducted and that he was caught in flagrante delicto when the shabu was found in his constructive possession. The trial court placed great weight on the testimonies of these police officers and accorded them the presumption of regularity in the performance of their functions.37 The prosecution of drug cases largely depends on the credibility of the police officers. The factual findings of the trial court especially those which revolve on matters of credibility of witnesses deserve to be respected when no glaring errors bordering on a gross misapprehension of the facts or no speculative, arbitrary, and unsupported conclusions can be gleaned from such findings. The evaluation of the credibility

of witnesses and their testimonies is best undertaken by the trial court because of its unique opportunity to observe the witnesses' deportment, demeanor, conduct, and attitude under grilling examination.38 In this case, the RTC was upheld by the Court of Appeals. Petitioner has not convinced this Court of the existence of any of the recognized exceptions39 to the conclusiveness of the findings of fact of the trial and appellate courts. In sum, petitioners unlawful possession, as exhibited by his control and dominion over the shabu found on top of the table, was duly established by the following evidence: his presence in Unit 615 at the time of his arrest;40 his representation to the police that he was the owner of the unit;41 his half-naked state when he opened the door, strongly implying that he had stayed in the house longer than he claimed to be; and finally, the fact that the shabu was found on top of a table beside the bed which appears to be within sight of petitioner as there was a mere divider between the sala and bedroom.421avvphil Having caught petitioner in flagrante delicto, the police operatives are obligated to apprehend him even without a warrant of arrest. We shall now determine the imposable penalty. Both the lower courts erred as to the respective penalties they imposed. Section 16, Article III of R.A. No. 6425, as amended, provides that if the quantity of the regulated drug involved, in this case, shabu, is less than 200 grams, the penalty to be imposed shall range from prision correccional to reclusion perpetua. Since petitioner was charged with the possession of 27.7458 grams of shabu, the imposable penalty is prision correccional.43 Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the petitioner is sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty ranging from four (4) months and one (1) day of arresto mayor in its medium period as minimum, to three (3) years of prision correccional in its medium period as maximum. WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED and the assailed Court of Appeals Decision in CA-G.R. CR No. 22001 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION in that petitioner ANDY QUELNAN y QUINO is sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment ranging from Four (4) Months and One (1) Day of arresto mayor in its medium period as minimum to Three (3) Years of prision correccional in its medium period as maximum. SO ORDERED. G.R. No. 154491 November 14, 2008

COCA-COLA BOTTLERS, PHILS., INC. (CCBPI), Naga Plant, petitioner, vs. QUINTIN J. GOMEZ, a.k.a. "KIT" GOMEZ and DANILO E. GALICIA, a.k.a. "DANNY GALICIA",respondents. DECISION BRION, J.:

Is the hoarding of a competitor's product containers punishable as unfair competition under the Intellectual Property Code (IP Code, Republic Act No. 8293) that would entitle the aggrieved party to a search warrant against the hoarder? This is the issue we grapple with in this petition for review oncertiorari involving two rival multinational softdrink giants; petitioner Coca-Cola Bottlers, Phils., Inc. (Coca-Cola) accuses Pepsi Cola Products Phils., Inc. (Pepsi), represented by the respondents, of hoarding empty Coke bottles in bad faith to discredit its business and to sabotage its operation in Bicolandia. BACKGROUND The facts, as culled from the records, are summarized below. On July 2, 2001, Coca-Cola applied for a search warrant against Pepsi for hoarding Coke empty bottles in Pepsi's yard in Concepcion Grande, Naga City, an act allegedly penalized as unfair competition under the IP Code. CocaCola claimed that the bottles must be confiscated to preclude their illegal use, destruction or concealment by the respondents.1 In support of the application, Coca-Cola submitted the sworn statements of three witnesses: Naga plant representative Arnel John Ponce said he was informed that one of their plant security guards had gained access into the Pepsi compound and had seen empty Coke bottles; acting plant security officer Ylano A. Regaspi said he investigated reports that Pepsi was hoarding large quantities of Coke bottles by requesting their security guard to enter the Pepsi plant and he was informed by the security guard that Pepsi hoarded several Coke bottles; security guard Edwin Lirio stated that he entered Pepsi's yard on July 2, 2001 at 4 p.m. and saw empty Coke bottles inside Pepsi shells or cases.2 Municipal Trial Court (MTC) Executive Judge Julian C. Ocampo of Naga City, after taking the joint deposition of the witnesses, issued Search Warrant No. 2001-013 to seize 2,500 Litro and 3,000 eight and 12 ounces empty Coke bottles at Pepsi's Naga yard for violation of Section 168.3 (c) of the IP Code.4 The local police seized and brought to the MTC's custody 2,464 Litro and 4,036 eight and 12 ounces empty Coke bottles, 205 Pepsi shells for Litro, and 168 Pepsi shells for smaller (eight and 12 ounces) empty Coke bottles, and later filed with the Office of the City Prosecutor of Naga a complaint against two Pepsi officers for violation of Section 168.3 (c) in relation to Section 170 of the IP Code.5The named respondents, also the respondents in this petition, were Pepsi regional sales managerDanilo E. Galicia (Galicia) and its Naga general manager Quintin J. Gomez, Jr. (Gomez). In their counter-affidavits, Galicia and Gomez claimed that the bottles came from various Pepsi retailers and wholesalers who included them in their return to make up for shortages of empty Pepsi bottles; they had no way of ascertaining beforehand the return of empty Coke bottles as they simply received what had been delivered; the presence of the bottles in their yard was not intentional nor deliberate; Ponce and Regaspi's statements are hearsay as they had no personal knowledge of the alleged crime; there is no mention in the IP Code of the crime of possession of empty bottles; and that the ambiguity of the law, which has a penal nature, must be construed strictly against the State and liberally in their favor. Pepsi security guards Eduardo E. Miral and Rene

Acebuche executed a joint affidavit stating that per their logbook, Lirio did not visit or enter the plant premises in the afternoon of July 2, 2001. The respondents also filed motions for the return of their shells and to quash the search warrant. They contended that no probable cause existed to justify the issuance of the search warrant; the facts charged do not constitute an offense; and their Naga plant was in urgent need of the shells. Coca-Cola opposed the motions as the shells were part of the evidence of the crime, arguing that Pepsi used the shells in hoarding the bottles. It insisted that the issuance of warrant was based on probable cause for unfair competition under the IP Code, and that the respondents violated R.A. 623, the law regulating the use of stamped or marked bottles, boxes, and other similar containers. THE MTC RULINGS On September 19, 2001, the MTC issued the first assailed order6 denying the twin motions. It explained there was an exhaustive examination of the applicant and its witnesses through searching questions and that the Pepsi shells are prima facie evidence that the bottles were placed there by the respondents. In their motion for reconsideration, the respondents argued for the quashal of the warrant as the MTC did not conduct a probing and exhaustive examination; the applicant and its witnesses had no personal knowledge of facts surrounding the hoarding; the court failed to order the return of the "borrowed" shells; there was no crime involved; the warrant was issued based on hearsay evidence; and the seizure of the shells was illegal because they were not included in the warrant. On November 14, 2001, the MTC denied the motion for reconsideration in the second assailed order,7explaining that the issue of whether there was unfair competition can only be resolved during trial. The respondents responded by filing a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Naga City on the ground that the subject search warrant was issued without probable cause and that the empty shells were neither mentioned in the warrant nor the objects of the perceived crime. THE RTC RULINGS On May 8, 2002, the RTC voided the warrant for lack of probable cause and the non-commission of the crime of unfair competition, even as it implied that other laws may have been violated by the respondents. The RTC, though, found no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the issuing MTC judge.8Thus, Accordingly, as prayed for, Search Warrant No. 2001-02 issued by the Honorable Judge Julian C. Ocampo III on July 2, 2001 is ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. The Orders issued by the Pairing Judge of Br. 1, MTCC of Naga City dated September 19, 2001 and November 14, 2001 are

also declared VOID and SET ASIDE. The City Prosecutor of Naga City and SPO1 Ernesto Paredes are directed to return to the Petitioner the properties seized by virtue of Search Warrant No. 2001-02. No costs. SO ORDERED.9 In a motion for reconsideration, which the RTC denied on July 12, 2002, the petitioner stressed that the decision of the RTC was contradictory because it absolved Judge Ocampo of grave abuse of discretion in issuing the search warrant, but at the same time nullified the issued warrant. The MTC should have dismissed the petition when it found out that Judge Ocampo did not commit any grave abuse of discretion. Bypassing the Court of Appeals, the petitioner asks us through this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court to reverse the decision of the RTC. Essentially, the petition raises questions against the RTC's nullification of the warrant when it found no grave abuse of discretion committed by the issuing judge. THE PETITION and THE PARTIES' POSITIONS In its petition, the petitioner insists the RTC should have dismissed the respondents' petition for certiorari because it found no grave abuse of discretion by the MTC in issuing the search warrant. The petitioner further argues that the IP Code was enacted into law to remedy various forms of unfair competition accompanying globalization as well as to replace the inutile provision of unfair competition under Article 189 of the Revised Penal Code. Section 168.3(c) of the IP Code does not limit the scope of protection on the particular acts enumerated as it expands the meaning of unfair competition to include "other acts contrary to good faith of a nature calculated to discredit the goods, business or services of another." The inherent element of unfair competition is fraud or deceit, and that hoarding of large quantities of a competitor's empty bottles is necessarily characterized by bad faith. It claims that its Bicol bottling operation was prejudiced by the respondents' hoarding and destruction of its empty bottles. The petitioner also argues that the quashal of the search warrant was improper because it complied with all the essential requisites of a valid warrant. The empty bottles were concealed in Pepsi shells to prevent discovery while they were systematically being destroyed to hamper the petitioner's bottling operation and to undermine the capability of its bottling operations in Bicol. The respondents counter-argue that although Judge Ocampo conducted his own examination, he gravely erred and abused his discretion when he ignored the rule on the need of sufficient evidence to establish probable cause; satisfactory and convincing evidence is essential to hold them guilty of unfair competition; the hoarding of empty Coke bottles did not cause actual or probable deception and confusion on the part of the general public; the alleged criminal acts do not show conduct aimed at deceiving the public; there was no attempt to use the empty bottles or pass them off as the respondents' goods.

The respondents also argue that the IP Code does not criminalize bottle hoarding, as the acts penalized must always involve fraud and deceit. The hoarding does not make them liable for unfair competition as there was no deception or fraud on the end-users. THE ISSUE Based on the parties' positions, the basic issue submitted to us for resolution is whether the Naga MTC was correct in issuing Search Warrant No. 2001-01 for the seizure of the empty Coke bottles from Pepsi's yard for probable violation of Section 168.3 (c) of the IP Code. This basic issue involves two sub-issues, namely, the substantive issue of whether the application for search warrant effectively charged an offense, i.e., a violation of Section 168.3 (c) of the IP Code; and the procedural issue of whether the MTC observed the procedures required by the Rules of Court in the issuance of search warrants. OUR RULING We resolve to deny the petition for lack of merit. We clarify at the outset that while we agree with the RTC decision, our agreement is more in the result than in the reasons that supported it. The decision is correct in nullifying the search warrant because it was issued on an invalid substantive basis - the acts imputed on the respondents do not violate Section 168.3 (c) of the IP Code. For this reason, we deny the present petition. The issuance of a search warrant10 against a personal property11 is governed by Rule 126 of the Revised Rules of Court whose relevant sections state: Section 4. Requisites for issuing search warrant. A search warrant shall not issue except uponprobable cause in connection with one specific offense to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the things to be seized which may be anywhere in the Philippines. Section 5. Examination of complainant; record. The judge must, before issuing the warrant,personally examine in the form of searching questions and answers, in writing and under oath, the complainant and the witnesses he may produce on facts personally known to them and attach to the record their sworn statements together with the affidavits submitted. Section 6. Issuance and form of search warrant. If the judge is satisfied of the existence of facts upon which the application is based or that there is probable cause to believe that they exist, he shall issue the warrant, which must be substantially in the form prescribed by these Rules. [Emphasis supplied]

To paraphrase this rule, a search warrant may be issued only if there is probable cause in connection with a specific offense alleged in an application based on the personal knowledge of the applicant and his or her witnesses. This is the substantive requirement in the issuance of a search warrant. Procedurally, the determination of probable cause is a personal task of the judge before whom the application for search warrant is filed, as he has to examine under oath or affirmation the applicant and his or her witnesses in the form of "searching questions and answers" in writing and under oath. The warrant, if issued, must particularly describe the place to be searched and the things to be seized. We paraphrase these requirements to stress that they have substantive and procedural aspects. Apparently, the RTC recognized this dual nature of the requirements and, hence, treated them separately; it approved of the way the MTC handled the procedural aspects of the issuance of the search warrant but found its action on the substantive aspect wanting. It therefore resolved to nullify the warrant, without however expressly declaring that the MTC gravely abused its discretion when it issued the warrant applied for. The RTC's error, however, is in the form rather than the substance of the decision as the nullification of the issued warrant for the reason the RTC gave was equivalent to the declaration that grave abuse of discretion was committed. In fact, we so rule as the discussions below will show. Jurisprudence teaches us that probable cause, as a condition for the issuance of a search warrant, is such reasons supported by facts and circumstances as will warrant a cautious man in the belief that his action and the means taken in prosecuting it are legally just and proper. Probable cause requires facts and circumstances that would lead a reasonably prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed and the objects sought in connection with that offense are in the place to be searched.12Implicit in this statement is the recognition that an underlying offense must, in the first place, exist. In other words, the acts alleged, taken together, must constitute an offense and that these acts are imputable to an offender in relation with whom a search warrant is applied for. In the context of the present case, the question is whether the act charged - alleged to be hoarding of empty Coke bottles - constitutes an offense under Section 168.3 (c) of the IP Code. Section 168 in its entirety states: SECTION 168. Unfair Competition, Rights, Regulation and Remedies. 168.1. A person who has identified in the mind of the public the goods he manufactures or deals in, his business or services from those of others, whether or not a registered mark is employed, has a property right in the goodwill of the said goods, business or services so identified, which will be protected in the same manner as other property rights. 168.2. Any person who shall employ deception or any other means contrary to good faith by which he shall pass off the goods manufactured by him or in which he deals, or his business, or services for those of the one having established such goodwill, or who shall commit any acts calculated

to produce said result, shall be guilty of unfair competition, and shall be subject to an action therefor. 168.3. In particular, and without in any way limiting the scope of protection against unfair competition, the following shall be deemed guilty of unfair competition: (a) Any person, who is selling his goods and gives them the general appearance of goods of another manufacturer or dealer, either as to the goods themselves or in the wrapping of the packages in which they are contained, or the devices or words thereon, or in any other feature of their appearance, which would be likely to influence purchasers to believe that the goods offered are those of a manufacturer or dealer, other than the actual manufacturer or dealer, or who otherwise clothes the goods with such appearance as shall deceive the public and defraud another of his legitimate trade, or any subsequent vendor of such goods or any agent of any vendor engaged in selling such goods with a like purpose; (b) Any person who by any artifice, or device, or who employs any other means calculated to induce the false belief that such person is offering the services of another who has identified such services in the mind of the public; or (c) Any person who shall make any false statement in the course of trade or who shall commit any other act contrary to good faith of a nature calculated to discredit the goods, business or services of another. 168.4. The remedies provided by Sections 156, 157 and 161 shall apply mutatis mutandis. (Sec. 29,R.A. No. 166a) The petitioner theorizes that the above section does not limit the scope of protection on the particular acts enumerated as it expands the meaning of unfair competition to include "other acts contrary to good faith of a nature calculated to discredit the goods, business or services of another." Allegedly, the respondents' hoarding of Coca Cola empty bottles is one such act. We do not agree with the petitioner's expansive interpretation of Section 168.3 (c). "Unfair competition," previously defined in Philippine jurisprudence in relation with R.A. No. 166 and Articles 188 and 189 of the Revised Penal Code, is now covered by Section 168 of the IP Code as this Code has expressly repealed R.A. No. 165 and R.A. No. 166, and Articles 188 and 189 of the Revised Penal Code.

Articles 168.1 and 168.2, as quoted above, provide the concept and general rule on the definition of unfair competition. The law does not thereby cover every unfair act committed in the course of business; it covers only acts characterized by "deception or any other means contrary to good faith" in the passing off of goods and services as those of another who has established goodwill in relation with these goods or services, or any other act calculated to produce the same result. What unfair competition is, is further particularized under Section 168.3 when it provides specifics of what unfair competition is "without in any way limiting the scope of protection against unfair competition." Part of these particulars is provided under Section 168.3(c) which provides the general "catch-all" phrase that the petitioner cites. Under this phrase, a person shall be guilty of unfair competition "who shall commit any other act contrary to good faith of a nature calculated to discredit the goods, business or services of another." From jurisprudence, unfair competition has been defined as the passing off (or palming off) or attempting to pass off upon the public the goods or business of one person as the goods or business of another with the end and probable effect of deceiving the public. It formulated the "true test" of unfair competition: whether the acts of defendant are such as are calculated to deceive the ordinary buyer making his purchases under the ordinary conditions which prevail in the particular trade to which the controversy relates.13 One of the essential requisites in an action to restrain unfair competition is proof of fraud; the intent to deceive must be shown before the right to recover can exist.14 The advent of the IP Code has not significantly changed these rulings as they are fully in accord with what Section 168 of the Code in its entirety provides. Deception, passing off and fraud upon the public are still the key elements that must be present for unfair competition to exist. The act alleged to violate the petitioner's rights under Section 168.3 (c) is hoarding which we gather to be the collection of the petitioner's empty bottles so that they can be withdrawn from circulation and thus impede the circulation of the petitioner's bottled products. This, according to the petitioner, is an act contrary to good faith - a conclusion that, if true, is indeed an unfair act on the part of the respondents. The critical question, however, is not the intrinsic unfairness of the act of hoarding; what is critical for purposes of Section 168.3 (c) is to determine if the hoarding, as charged, "is of a nature calculated to discredit the goods, business or services" of the petitioner. We hold that it is not. Hoarding as defined by the petitioner is not even an act within the contemplation of the IP Code. The petitioner's cited basis is a provision of the IP Code, a set of rules that refer to a very specific subject - intellectual property. Aside from the IP Code's actual substantive contents (which relate specifically to patents, licensing, trademarks, trade names, service marks, copyrights, and the protection and infringement of the intellectual properties that these protective measures embody), the coverage and intent of the Code is expressly reflected in its "Declaration of State Policy" which states: Section 2. Declaration of State Policy. - The State recognizes that an effective intellectual and

industrial property system is vital to the development of domestic and creative activity, facilitates transfer of technology, attracts foreign investments, and ensures market access for our products. It shall protect and secure the exclusive rights of scientists, inventors, artists and other gifted citizensto their intellectual property and creations, particularly when beneficial to the people, for such periods as provided in this Act. The use of intellectual property bears a social function. To this end, the State shall promote the diffusion of knowledge and information for the promotion of national development and progress and the common good. It is also the policy of the State to streamline administrative procedures of registering patents, trademarks and copyright, to liberalize the registration on the transfer of technology, and to enhance the enforcement of intellectual property rights in the Philippines. (n) "Intellectual property rights" have furthermore been defined under Section 4 of the Code to consist of: a) Copyright and Related Rights; b) Trademarks and Service Marks; c) Geographic Indications; d) IndustrialDesigns; e) Patents; f) Layout-Designs (Topographies) of Integrated Circuits; and g)Protection of Undisclosed Information. Given the IP Code's specific focus, a first test that should be made when a question arises on whether a matter is covered by the Code is to ask if it refers to an intellectual property as defined in the Code. If it does not, then coverage by the Code may be negated. A second test, if a disputed matter does not expressly refer to an intellectual property right as defined above, is whether it falls under the general "unfair competition" concept and definition under Sections 168.1 and 168.2 of the Code. The question then is whether there is "deception" or any other similar act in "passing off" of goods or services to be those of another who enjoys established goodwill. Separately from these tests is the application of the principles of statutory construction giving particular attention, not so much to the focus of the IP Code generally, but to the terms of Section 168 in particular. Under the principle of "noscitur a sociis," when a particular word or phrase is ambiguous in itself or is equally susceptible of various meanings, its correct construction may be made clear and specific by considering the company of words in which it is found or with which it is associated.15 As basis for this interpretative analysis, we note that Section 168.1 speaks of a person who has earned goodwill with respect to his goods and services and who is entitled to protection under the Code, with or without a registered mark. Section 168.2, as previously discussed, refers to the general definition of unfair competition. Section 168.3, on the other hand, refers to the specific instances of unfair competition, with Section 168.1 referring to the sale of goods given the appearance of the goods of another; Section 168.2, to the inducement of belief that his or her goods or services are that of another who has earned

goodwill; while the disputed Section 168.3 being a "catch all" clause whose coverage the parties now dispute. Under all the above approaches, we conclude that the "hoarding" - as defined and charged by the petitioner - does not fall within the coverage of the IP Code and of Section 168 in particular. It does not relate to any patent, trademark, trade name or service mark that the respondents have invaded, intruded into or used without proper authority from the petitioner. Nor are the respondents alleged to be fraudulently "passing off" their products or services as those of the petitioner. The respondents are not also alleged to be undertaking any representation or misrepresentation that would confuse or tend to confuse the goods of the petitioner with those of the respondents, or vice versa. What in fact the petitioner alleges is an act foreign to the Code, to the concepts it embodies and to the acts it regulates; as alleged, hoarding inflicts unfairness by seeking to limit the opposition's sales by depriving it of the bottles it can use for these sales. In this light, hoarding for purposes of destruction is closer to what another law - R.A. No. 623 - covers, to wit: SECTION 1. Persons engaged or licensed to engage in the manufacture, bottling or selling of soda water, mineral or aerated waters, cider, milk, cream, or other lawful beverages in bottles, boxes, casks, kegs, or barrels, and other similar containers, with their names or the names of their principals or products, or other marks of ownership stamped or marked thereon, may register with the Philippine Patent Office a description of the names or are used by them, under the same conditions, rules, and regulations, made applicable by law or regulation to the issuance of trademarks. SECTION 2. It shall be unlawful for any person, without the written consent of the manufacturer, bottler or seller who has successfully registered the marks of ownership in accordance with the provisions of the next preceding section, to fill such bottles, boxes, kegs, barrels, or other similar containers so marked or stamped, for the purpose of sale, or to sell, dispose of, buy, or traffic in, or wantonly destroy the same, whether filled or not, or to use the same for drinking vessels or glasses or for any other purpose than that registered by the manufacturer, bottler or seller. Any violation of this section shall be punished by a fine or not more than one hundred pesos or imprisonment of not more than thirty days or both. As its coverage is defined under Section 1, the Act appears to be a measure that may overlap or be affected by the provisions of Part II of the IP Code on "The Law on Trademarks, Service Marks and Trade Names." What is certain is that the IP Code has not expressly repealed this Act. The Act appears, too, to have specific reference to a special type of registrants - the manufacturers, bottlers or sellers of soda water, mineral or aerated waters, cider, milk, cream, or other lawful beverages in bottles, boxes, casks, kegs, or barrels, and other similar containers - who are given special protection with respect to the containers they use. In this sense, it is in fact a law of specific coverage and application, compared with the general terms and application

of the IP Code. Thus, under its Section 2, it speaks specifically of unlawful use of containers and even of the unlawfulness of their wanton destruction - a matter that escapes the IP Code's generalities unless linked with the concepts of "deception" and "passing off" as discussed above. Unfortunately, the Act is not the law in issue in the present case and one that the parties did not consider at all in the search warrant application. The petitioner in fact could not have cited it in its search warrant application since the "one specific offense" that the law allows and which the petitioner used was Section 168.3 (c). If it serves any purpose at all in our discussions, it is to show that the underlying factual situation of the present case is in fact covered by another law, not by the IP Code that the petitioner cites. Viewed in this light, the lack of probable cause to support the disputed search warrant at once becomes apparent. Where, as in this case, the imputed acts do not violate the cited offense, the ruling of this Court penned by Mr. Justice Bellosillo is particularly instructive: In the issuance of search warrants, the Rules of Court requires a finding of probable cause in connection with one specific offense to be determined personally by the judge after examination of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the things to be seized. Hence, since there is no crime to speak of, the search warrant does not even begin to fulfill these stringent requirements and is therefore defective on its face. The nullity of the warrant renders moot and academic the other issues raised in petitioners' Motion to Quash and Motion for Reconsideration. Since the assailed search warrant is null and void, all property seized by virtue thereof should be returned to petitioners in accordance with established jurisprudence.16 Based on the foregoing, we conclude that the RTC correctly ruled that the petitioner's search warrant should properly be quashed for the petitioner's failure to show that the acts imputed to the respondents do not violate the cited offense. There could not have been any probable cause to support the issuance of a search warrant because no crime in the first place was effectively charged. This conclusion renders unnecessary any further discussion on whether the search warrant application properly alleged that the imputed act of holding Coke empties was in fact a "hoarding" in bad faith aimed to prejudice the petitioner's operations, or whether the MTC duly complied with the procedural requirements for the issuance of a search warrant under Rule 126 of the Rules of Court. WHEREFORE, we hereby DENY the petition for lack of merit. Accordingly, we confirm that Search Warrant No. 2001-01, issued by the Municipal Trial Court, Branch 1, Naga City, is NULL and VOID. Costs against the petitioner. SO ORDERED. G.R. No. 174570 February 22, 2010

ROMER SY TAN, Petitioner, vs. SY TIONG GUE, FELICIDAD CHAN SY, SY CHIM, SY TIONG SAN, SY YU BUN, SY YU SHIONG, SY YU SAN and BRYAN SY LIM, Respondents. DECISION PERALTA, J.: This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari seeking to annul and set aside the Decision1 dated December 29, 2005 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 81389 and the Resolution2 dated August 18, 2006 denying petitioners Motion for Reconsideration. The antecedents are as follows: On January 11, 2006, an Information3 for the crime of Robbery was filed against respondents Sy Tiong Gue, Felicidad Chan Sy, Sy Chim, Sy Tiong Yan, Sy Yu Bun, Sy Yu Siong, Sy Yu San, Bryan Sy Lim, Sy Yu Hui-Pabilona, Police Officer 1 (PO1) Mamerto J. Madronio, and PO1 Marvin Sumang for the alleged taking of P6,500,000.00 cash, 286 postdated checks, five boxes of Hennessy Cognac, a television set, a computer set, and other documents from the Guan Yiak Hardware, committed as follows: That on or about April 15, 2003, in the city of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, conspiring and confederating together and helping one another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously with intent of gain and by means of violence against or intimidation of persons and force upon things, to wit: by forcibly entering the Office of Guan Yiak Hardware located at 453-455 Tomas Pinpin Street, Binondo, Manila, while being armed with guns, and thereafter, take rob and carry away cash in the amount of P6,500,000.00 from the vault; 286 postdated checks with total face value of P4,325,642.00 issued by several customers payable to Guan Yiak Hardware, Five (5) boxes of Hennessy XO Cognac valued at P240,000.00 more or less; a television set valued at P20,000.00 more or less; Computer set valued at P50,000.00 more or less and other papers/documents or all valued at P11,135,642.00 more or less belonging to SY SIY HO AND SONS, INC. (Guan Yiak Hardware) represented by Romer S. Tan, to the damage and prejudice of the aforesaid owner in the total amount of P11,135,642.00 more or less, Philippine Currency. Contrary to law.
4

or any other agent of the law to take possession of the subject property and bring them before the court. In support of the applications, P/Insp. Reyes submitted the sworn statements of petitioner Romer Sy Tan5 and witnesses Maricho Sabelita6 and Anicita Almedilla.7 On April 22, 2003, presiding Judge Enrico A. Lanzanas posed searching questions to the applicant and his witnesses to determine if probable cause existed to justify the issuance of the search warrants. Thereafter, or on April 22, 2003, Judge Lanzanas issued Search Warrant Nos. 03-36118 and 03-3612,9 directing any peace officer to make an immediate search of the 8th floor, 524 T. Pinpin, Binondo, Manila for five boxes of Hennessy XO; and the 7th floor, 524 T. Pinpin, Binondo, Manila for various checks payable to the Guan Yiak Hardware, respectively; and, if found, to take possession thereof and bring the same before the court. The warrants were later served in the afternoon of April 22, 2003. Under Search Warrant No. 03-3611, three boxes containing twelve Hennessy XOs and one box containing seven Hennessy XOs, were seized. However, the enforcement of Search Warrant No. 03-3612 yielded negative results. On May 21, 2003, respondents filed a Motion to Quash Search Warrants,10 which petitioner opposed.11 On September 1, 2003, the RTC issued an Order12 denying the motion. Respondents filed a Motion for Reconsideration,13 but it was denied in the Order14 dated October 28, 2003. Aggrieved, respondents filed a Petition for Certiorari15 under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court before the CA arguing that: I. The respondent judge committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when he refused to quash the subject search warrants, notwithstanding the manifest absence of probable cause. II. There is no appeal, nor any other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law from the assailed Orders.16 On December 29, 2005, the CA rendered the assailed Decision, the decretal portion of which reads: WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed orders of the respondent court in Search Warrant Case Nos. 03-3611 and 03-3612 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, the Motion to Quash Search Warrant Case Nos. 03-3611 and 03-3612 is GRANTED. SO ORDERED.17

Consequently, on April 22, 2003, Police Inspector (P/Insp.) Edgar A. Reyes filed two separate applications for the issuance of a search warrant before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Manila. The applications were later docketed as Search Warrant Case Nos. 03-3611 and 03-3612 and raffled off to Branch 7, RTC, Manila. In the said applications, P/Insp. Reyes alleged that he had personal knowledge that respondent Felicidad Chan Sy had in her possession five boxes of Hennessy XO, as well as 286 company checks taken from Guan Yiak Hardware. He prayed that the court issue a search warrant authorizing him

The CA opined that quashing the search warrants for lack of personal knowledge was unwarranted. It added that the description of the items to be seized complied with the requirement of particularity. Moreover, the CA found the inquiries made by the judge to be sufficiently probing. However, the CA agreed with the respondents and concluded that there was no probable cause for the issuance of the subject search warrants; thus, respondents motion to quash should have been granted by the RTC. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, but it was denied in the assailed Resolution dated August 18, 2006. Hence, the petition assigning the following errors: A The honorable Court of Appeals committed error of law and error of jurisdiction in setting aside the search warrants issued by honorable executive judge enrico a. lanzanas of rtc 7, manila. B The honorable court of appeals committed error of law and error of jurisdiction in granting the petition for certiorari filed with it by the respondents, despite lack of showing that honorable executive judge enrico a. lanzanas of rtc 7, manila, committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in issuing its orders (annexes "l" and "p") denying respondents motion to quash search warrants and motion for reconsideration. Petitioner argues that there was substantial basis for the findings of facts and circumstances, which led the issuing court to determine and conclude that the offense of robbery had been committed by the respondents. Petitioner insists that there was probable cause, which justified the issuing judge to issue the questioned search warrants. Petitioner maintains that the RTC issued the search warrants after determining the existence of probable cause based on the Sinumpaang Salaysay of the affiants and the testimonies given by them during the hearing of the applications for search warrant. On their part, respondents maintain that the CAs finding that there was no probable cause for the issuance of the search warrants was in accordance with the facts and the law. Respondents contend that the CA correctly appreciated the numerous statements and admissions of petitioner and his witnesses, all of which, taken together, clearly negate any finding of probable cause for the issuance of the subject search warrants. The sole issue to be determined in the instant action is whether or not there was probable cause warranting the issuance by RTC of the subject search warrants. We answer in the affirmative A search warrant is an order in writing issued in the name of the People of the Philippines, signed by a judge and directed to a peace officer, commanding him to search for personal property described therein and to bring it before the court.18 The issuance of a search warrant is governed by

Rule 126 of the Rules of Court, the relevant sections of which provide: Section 4. Requisites for issuing search warrant. A search warrant shall not issue except upon probable cause in connection with one specific offense to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the things to be seized which may be anywhere in the Philippines.1avvphi1 Section 5. Examination of complainant; record. The judge must, before issuing the warrant, personally examine in the form of searching questions and answers, in writing and under oath, the complainant and the witnesses he may produce on facts personally known to them and attach to the record their sworn statements together with the affidavits submitted. Section 6. Issuance and form of search warrant. If the judge is satisfied of the existence of facts upon which the application is based or that there is probable cause to believe that they exist, he shall issue the warrant, which must be substantially in the form prescribed by these Rules. Therefore, the validity of the issuance of a search warrant rests upon the following factors: (1) it must be issued upon probable cause; (2) the probable cause must be determined by the judge himself and not by the applicant or any other person; (3) in the determination of probable cause, the judge must examine, under oath or affirmation, the complainant and such witnesses as the latter may produce; and (4) the warrant issued must particularly describe the place to be searched and persons or things to be seized.19 In the case at bar, the CA concluded that the RTC did not comply with any of the requisites required for the issuance of the subject search warrants. The CA ratiocinated that although the RTC judge personally determined if probable cause existed by examining the witnesses through searching questions, and although the search warrants sufficiently described the place to be searched and things to be seized, there was no probable cause warranting the issuance of the subject search warrants. We do not agree. Jurisprudence dictates that probable cause, as a condition for the issuance of a search warrant, is such reasons supported by facts and circumstances as will warrant a cautious man to believe that his action and the means taken in prosecuting it are legally just and proper. Probable cause requires facts and circumstances that would lead a reasonably prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed and that the objects sought in connection with that offense are in the place to be searched.20 In Microsoft Corporation v. Maxicorp, Inc.,21 this Court stressed that: The determination of probable cause does not call for the application of rules and standards of proof that a judgment of conviction requires after trial on the merits. As implied by the words themselves, "probable cause" is concerned with probability, not absolute or even moral certainty. The prosecution need not present at this stage reasonable doubt. The standards of judgment are those of a reasonably prudent man, not the exacting calibrations of a judge after a full-blown trial.

Applying these set standards, this Court finds that there was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the RTC judge in issuing the subject search warrants. A perusal of the Sinumpaang Salaysay22 and the Transcript of Stenographic Notes23 reveals that Judge Lanzanas, through searching and probing questions, was satisfied that there were good reasons to believe that respondents, accompanied by five maids, took five boxes of Hennessy XO owned by the Guan Yiak Hardware and brought them to the 8th floor of 524 T. Pinpin St., Binondo, Manila; and that a person named "Yubol" took various checks from the companys vault, which was later brought to the 7th floor of 524 T. Pinpin St., Binondo, Manila. When they entered the premises, Felicidad Chan Sy was accompanied by two policemen, which stunned Romer Sy Tan, so that he was not able to do anything in the face of the calculated and concerted actions of his grandmother, Felicidad Chan Sy, and her seven companions. Based on the foregoing circumstances, Romer Sy Tan believed that the crime of robbery was committed by the respondents.24 The power to issue search warrants is exclusively vested in the trial judges in the exercise of their judicial functions.25 A finding of probable cause, which would merit the issuance of a search warrant, needs only to rest on evidence showing that, more likely than not, a crime has been committed and that it was committed by the accused.26 The determination of whether probable cause exists as to justify the issuance of a search warrant is best left to the sound discretion of a judge.27 Apparent in the case at bar and as aptly found by the RTC judge, there was probable cause justifying the issuance of the search warrants. This was established by the Sinumpaang Salaysay and the testimonies, consisting of no less than 37 pages, given by witnesses who had personal knowledge of facts indicating that the crime of robbery had been committed and that the objects sought in connection with the offense were in the place sought to be searched. The facts narrated by the witnesses while under oath, when they were asked by the examining judge, were sufficient justification for the issuance of the subject search warrants. A Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is intended for the correction of errors of jurisdiction only, or grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Its principal office is only to keep the inferior court within the parameters of its jurisdiction, or to prevent it from committing such grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.28 This Court finds nothing irregular, much less, grave abuse of discretion, committed by the RTC judge in issuing the subject search warrants. The RTC judge complied with all the procedural and substantive requirements for the issuance of a search warrant. This Court is, therefore, bound by the RTC judges finding of probable cause for issuing Search Warrant Nos. 03-3611 and 03-3612. It is to be noted, however, that while this Court affirms the sufficiency of probable cause in the issuance of the search warrants in connection with the crime of robbery allegedly committed by the respondents, the guilt of the accused still remains to be determined in the appropriate criminal action against them, not in the present case which is limited only to the propriety of the issuance of the subject search warrants by the RTC.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision and Resolution dated December 29, 2005 and August 18, 2006, respectively, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 81389 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Orders of the RTC dated September 1, 2003 and October 28, 2003 are REINSTATED. The validity of Search Warrant Nos. 03-3611 and 03-3612 is SUSTAINED. SO ORDERED. G.R. No. 139615 May 28, 2004

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. AMADEO TIRA and CONNIE TIRA, appellants. DECISION CALLEJO, SR., J.: This is an appeal of the Decision1 of the Regional Trial Court of Pangasinan, Branch 46, finding appellants Amadeo Tira and Connie Tira guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 16, in relation to Section 20, Article III of Republic Act No. 6425, known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended by Rep. Act No. 7659, sentencing each of them to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and ordering each of them to pay a fine of P1,000.000.2 The Indictment The appellants Amadeo Tira and Connie Tira were charged in an Information which reads: That on or about March 9, 1998, in the Municipality of Urdaneta, province of Pangasinan and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring together, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in their possession, control and custody the following: - Three (3) (sic) sachets of shabu - Six (6) pieces opened sachets of shabu residue - One (1) brick of dried marijuana leaves weighing 721 grams - Six disposable lighter - One (1) roll Aluminum Foil - Several empty plastics (tea bag) - Cash money amounting to P12,536.00 in different denominations believed to be proceeds of the contraband. without first securing the necessary permit/license to possess the same.

CONTRARY to SEC. 8 in relation to Sec. 20 of RA 6425, as amended.3 The Case for the Prosecution4 In the evening of February 24, 1998, SPO3 Asidelio Manibog received a verbal instruction from the Chief of Police Superintendent Wilson R. Victorio to conduct surveillance operations on the house of Amadeo Tira and Connie Tira at Perez Extension Street because of reported rampant drug activities in the said area. Manibog formed a team composed of SPO1 Renato Cresencia, PO3 Reynaldo Javonilla, Jr. and PO3 Efren Abad de Vera to conduct the ordered surveillance. At around 8:00 p.m., the group, clad in civilian clothes, arrived at Perez Extension Street. As they stationed themselves in the periphery of a store, they observed that more than twenty persons had gone in and out of the Tira residence. They confronted one of them, and asked what was going on inside the house. The person revealed that Amadeo Tira sold shabu, and that he was a regular customer. The group went closer to the house and started planning their next move. They wanted to pose as buyers, but hesitated, for fear of being identified as PNP members. Instead, they stayed there up to 12:00 midnight and continued observing the place. Convinced that illegal activities were going on in the house, the policemen returned to the station and reported to P/Supt. Wilson R. Victorio. After hearing their report, P/Supt. Victorio instructed his men to make an affidavit of surveillance preliminary to an application for a search warrant.5 On March 6, 1998, SPO3 Asidelio Manibog, PO3 Efren Abad de Vera, SPO1 Renato Cresencia and PO2 Reynaldo Soliven Javonilla, Jr. executed an Affidavit of Surveillance, alleging, inter alia, that they were members of the Drug Enforcement Unit of Urdaneta, Pangasinan, and that in the evening of February 24, 1998, they confirmed reports of illegal drug-related activities in the house of the spouses Amadeo and Connie Tira.6 On March 6, 19987Police Chief Inspector Danilo Bumatay Datu filed an Application for a Search Warrant in the Municipal Trial Court of Urdaneta, Pangasinan, attaching thereto the affidavit of surveillance executed by his men and a sketch of the place to be searched.8 Satisfied with the testimonies of SPO3 Manibog, PO3 de Vera, SPO1 Cresencia and PO2 Javonilla, Jr., Judge Aurora A. Gayapa issued a search warrant commanding the applicants to make an immediate search of the Tira residence at anytime of the day or night, particularly the first room on the right side, and the two rooms located at Perez south, and forthwith seize and take possession of the following items: 1. Poor Mans Cocaine known as Shabu; 2. Drug-Usage Paraphernalia; and 3. Weighing scale.9 P/Sr. Inspector Ludivico Bravo, and as head of the team, with SPO3 Cariaga, PO3 Concepcion, Cario, Galima, Villaroya, Andaya, SPO1 Mario Tajon, SPO1 Asterio

Dismaya, SPO1 Renato Cresencia, and PO3 Reynaldo Javonillo were directed to implement the search warrant.10 They responded and brought Barangay Kagawad Mario Conwi to witness the search.11 At 2:35 p.m. on March 9, 1998, the team proceeded to the Tira residence. The men found Ernesto Tira, the father of Amadeo, at the porch of the house. They introduced themselves and told Ernesto that they had a warrant authorizing them to search the premises. Ernesto led them inside. The policemen found the newly awakened Amadeo inside the first room 12 of the house.13 With Barangay Kagawad Conwi and Amadeo Tira, the policemen proceeded to search the first room to the right (an inner room) and found the following under the bed where Amadeo slept:14 1. 9 pcs. suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride placed in heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets 2. roll aluminum foil 3. several empty plastic transparent 4. used and unused aluminum foil15 5. disposable lighters 6. 1 sachet of shabu confiscated from Nelson Tira16 They also found cash money amounting to P12,536 inside a shoulder bag placed on top of the television, in the following denominations: 1 pc. -P1,000.00 bill 4 pcs. - 500.00 bill 52 pcs. - 100.00 bill 36 pcs. - 50.00 bill 100 pcs. - 20.00 bill 53 pcs. - 10.00 bill 1 pc. - 5.00 bill 1 pc. - 1.00 coin17 The policemen listed the foregoing items they found in the house. Amadeos picture was taken while he was signing the said certification.18 Ernesto (Amadeos father), also witnessed the certification. A joint affidavit of arrest was, thereafter, executed by SPO3 Asidelio Manibog, SPO1 Mario C. Tajon, SPO1 Asterio T. Dismaya, SPO1 Renato M. Cresencia and PO3 Reynaldo S. Javonilla, Jr. for the apprehension of Amadeo Tira and Nelson Tira who were brought to the police station for custodial investigation. The articles seized were turned over

to the PNP Crime Laboratory, Urdaneta Sub-Office, for examination.19 In turn, a laboratory examination request was made to the Chief of the Philippine National Police Service1, Sub-Office, Urdaneta, Pangasinan for the following: a. Three (3) sachets of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride approximately 0.5 grams; b. Six (6) opened sachets of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride (SHABU) residue; c. Twenty-four (4) pieces of dried marijuana leaves sachet; and d. One (1) heat-sealed plastic sachet of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride confiscated from the possession of Nelson Tira.20 On March 10, 1998, P/Supt. Wilson R. Victorio executed a Compliance/Return of Search Warrant.21 On March 17, 1998, the PNP Crime Laboratory Group in Physical Science Report No. DT-057-98 reported that the test conducted by Police Superintendent/Chemist Theresa Ann Bugayong-Cid,22 yielded positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) and marijuana. The report contained the following findings: "A1 to A3, "B1 to B6," "E" POSITIVE to the test for methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu), a regulated drug. "C" and "D1 to D4" POSITIVE to the test for marijuana, a prohibited drug. CONCLUSION: Specimens A1 to A3, B1 to B6 and E contain methamphetamine hydrochloride (Shabu) and specimens C and D1 to D24 contain marijuana.23 A criminal complaint was filed by P/Supt. Wilson R. Victorio against Amadeo Tira and Connie Tira on March 10, 1998 for violation of Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended.24 After finding probable cause, Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Rufino A. Moreno filed an Information against the Tira Spouses for illegal possession of shabu and marijuana, in violation of Section 8, in relation to Section 20 of Rep. Act No. 6425.25 A warrant of arrest was issued against Connie Tira on May 13, 1998. However, when the policemen tried to serve the said warrant, she could not be found in the given address.26 She was arrested only on October 6, 1998.27 During the trial, the court conducted an ocular inspection of the Tira residence.28 The Case for Accused Amadeo Tira29 Amadeo Tira denied the charge. He testified that he was a furniture delivery boy30 who owned a one-storey bungalow house with two bedrooms and one masters bedroom. There was also another room which was divided into an outer and

inner room; the latter room had no windows or ventilation. The house stood twenty meters away from Perez Extension Street in Urdaneta, Pangasinan, and could be reached only by foot.31 He leased the room located at the western portion to his nephew Chris Tira32 and the latters live-in-partner Gemma Lim for four hundred pesos a month.33 Chris and Gemma were engaged in the buying and selling of bananas. He denied that there were young men coming in and out of his house.34 In the afternoon of March 6, 1998, he was in his house sleeping when the policemen barged into his house. He heard a commotion and went out of the room to see what it was all about, and saw police officers Cresencia, Javonilla and Bergonia, searching the room of his nephew, Chris Tira. He told them to stop searching so that he could contact his father, Ernesto, who in turn, would call the barangay captain. The policemen continued with their search. He was then pulled inside the room and the policemen showed him the items they allegedly found.35 Barangay Kagawad Mario Conwi testified that on March 9, 1998, while he was at Calle Perez, Urdaneta, Pangasinan, Capt. Ludivico Bravo asked to be accompanied to the Tira residence. Capt. Bravo was with at least ten other policemen. As they parked the car at Calle Perez, the policemen saw a man running towards the direction of the ricefields. Kagawad Conwi and some of the policemen chased the man, who turned out to be Nelson Tira. One of the policemen pointed to a sachet of shabu which fell to the ground near Nelson. The policemen arrested him and proceeded to the house of Amadeo Tira to serve the warrant.36 When they reached the house, the other policemen were waiting. He saw Amadeo and Connie Tira sitting by the door of the house in the sala. Thereafter, he and the policemen started the search.37 They searched the first room located at the right side (if facing south),38 and found marijuana, shabu, money and some paraphernalia.39 An inventory of the items seized was made afterwards, which was signed by Capt. Bravo and Ernesto Tira.40 Alfonso Gallardo, Amadeos neighbor, testified that he was the one who constructed the Tira residence and that the house initially had two rooms. The first room was rented out, while the second room was occupied by the Spouses Amadeo and Connie Tira.41 Subsequently, a divider was placed inside the first room.42 He also testified that his house was only three (3) meters away from that of the Tiras, and that only a toilet separated their houses.43 He denied that there were many people going in and out of the Tira residence.44 The Ruling of the Trial Court The trial court rendered judgment on September 24, 1998, finding Amadeo Tira guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal possession of 807.3 grams of marijuana and 1.001 gram of shabu. The decretal portion of its decision is herein quoted: WHEREFORE, JUDGMENT is hereby rendered CONVICTING beyond reasonable doubt accused AMADEO TIRA for Illegal Possession of Marijuana weighing 807.3 grams and shabu weighing 1.001 gram penalized under Article III, Sections 16 and 20, of Republic Act 6425, known as [the] Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended by

Republic Act 7659. The Court sentences Amadeo Tira to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua and a fine of P1,000,000.00. The amount of P12,536.00 is hereby forfeited in favor of the government which forms part of the fine; the marijuana weighing 807.3 grams and shabu weighing 1.001 gram are hereby forfeited in favor of the government; the disposable lighter and the aluminum foil are likewise forfeited in favor of the government. The Branch Clerk of Court of this Court is hereby ordered to prepare the mittimus. The Warden, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) is hereby ordered to transmit the person of Amadeo Tira to the National Bilibid Prison with proper escort within fifteen (15) days upon receipt of this Order.45 The trial court upheld the validity of Search Warrant No. 3 issued by Judge Aurora Gayapa. It found Amadeos defense, that the room where the items were seized was rented out to the couple Cris Tira and Gemma Lim, unsubstantiated. It held that Amadeo, as owner of the house, had control over the room as well as the things found therein and that the inner room was a secret and practical place to keep marijuana, shabu and related paraphernalia.46 Amadeo appealed the decision.47 The Case Against Connie Tira After her arrest, Connie filed a motion to quash search warrant,48 alleging that the police officers who applied for the said warrant did not have any personal knowledge of the reported illegal activities. She contended that the same was issued in violation of Section 4, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court, as the judge issued the search warrant without conducting searching questions and answers, and without attaching the records of the proceedings. Moreover, the search warrant issued was in the nature of a general warrant, to justify the "fishing expedition" conducted on the premises. On October 26, 1998, the presiding judge ordered Judge Aurora A. Gayapa to forward the stenographic notes of the applicant and the witnesses.49 Connie was arraigned on November 9, 1998, pending the resolution of the motion. She pleaded not guilty to the charge of illegal possession of shabu and marijuana.50 The trial court thereafter issued an Order on November 11, 1998, denying the motion to quash.51 It did not give credence to the allegations of Connie Tira, and found that Judge Gayapa issued the search warrant after conducting searching questions, and in consideration of the affidavit of witness Enrique Milad. Connie testified that she was engaged in the business of buying and selling of fruits, while her husband was employed at the Glasshouse Trading. One of the rooms in their house was occupied by their three boarders, two male persons and one female. In the afternoon of March 9, 1998, she and her husband Amadeo were in their house, while their boarders were in their respective rooms. At 2:30 p.m., she was in the kitchen

taking care of her one-year-old child. She had other three children, aged eight, four, and three, respectively, who were watching television. Her husband Amadeo was sleeping in one of the rooms. Suddenly, five policemen barged into their house and searched all the rooms. The policemen found and seized articles in the room occupied by one of their boarders. They arrested Amadeo, and her brother-in-law, Nelson Tira, and brought them to the police station. The boarders, however, were not arrested. Joy Fernandez, a neighbor of the Tiras, lived approximately ten meters away from the latter. Since they had no television, she frequently went to her neighbors house to watch certain programs. In the afternoon of March 9, 1998, she was at the Tira residence watching "Mirasol," while Connie was in the kitchen nursing her baby. Suddenly, about five or ten persons ran inside the house and handcuffed Amadeo Tira.52 The Ruling of the Trial Court The trial court found Connie Tira guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal possession of 807.3 grams of marijuana and 1.001 gram of shabu. The dispositive portion of the decision reads: WHEREFORE, JUDGMENT is hereby rendered CONVICTING beyond reasonable doubt accused CONNIE TIRA for Illegal Possession of Marijuana weighing 807.3 grams and shabu weighing 1.001 gram penalized under Article III, Section 16 and 20, of Republic Act 6425, known as [the] Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended by Republic Act 7659, the Court sentences Connie Tira to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua and a fine ofP1,000,000.00. The amount of P12,536.00 is hereby forfeited in favor of the government which forms part of the fine; the marijuana weighing 807.3 grams and shabu weighing 1.001 gram are hereby forfeited in favor of the government; the disposable lighter and the aluminum foil are, likewise, forfeited in favor of the government. The Warden, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) is hereby ordered to transmit the person of Connie Tira to the National Bilibid Prisons with proper escort within fifteen (15) days upon receipt of his Order.53 The trial court did not believe that Connie Tira had no knowledge, control and possession of the shabu and marijuana found in the first or inner room of their house. It stressed that Connie and Amadeo Tira jointly controlled and possessed the shabu and marijuana that the policemen found therein. It ratiocinated that it was unusual for a wife not to know the existence of prohibited drugs in the conjugal abode. Thus, as husband and wife, the accused conspired and confederated with each other in keeping custody of the said prohibited articles.54 The court also held that Connie Tiras flight from their house after the search was an indication of her guilt. Connie, likewise, appealed the decision.55 The Present Appeal

In their brief, the appellants Amadeo and Connie Tira assigned the following errors committed by the trial court: I THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING ACCUSEDAPPELLANTS DESPITE FAILURE ON THE PART OF THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE THEIR GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT. II THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE SEARCH WAS ILLEGALLY MADE. III

policemen did not find the said articles and substances in any other room in the house: Q So when you reached the house of Amadeo Tira at the Tiras compound, you saw the father and you told him you are implementing the Search Warrant and your group was allowed to enter and you are allowed to search in the presence of Amadeo Tira? A Yes, Sir. PROS. DUMLAO Q In the course of your search, what did you find? WITNESS:

ASSUMING THAT ACCUSED-APPELLANT AMADEO TIRA IS GUILTY AS CHARGED, THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THERE WAS A CONSPIRACY BETWEEN HIM AND HIS WIFE CONNIE TIRA.56 The Court shall resolve the assigned errors simultaneously as they are interrelated. The appellants contend that the search conducted by the policemen in the room occupied by Chris and Gemma Lim, where the articles and substances were found by the policemen, was made in their absence. Thus, the search was made in violation of Section 7, Rule 126 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, which provides: SEC. 7. Search of house, room, or premise, to be made in presence of two witnesses. No search of house, room, or any other premise shall be made except in the presence of the lawful occupant thereof or any member of his family or in the absence of the latter, in the presence of two witnesses of sufficient age and discretion residing in the same locality. The appellants posit that the articles and substances found by the policemen in their house are inadmissible in evidence, being the fruits of a poisonous tree. Hence, they contend, they should have been acquitted of the crime charged. The appellants further assert that the prosecution failed to prove that they owned the prohibited drugs, and that the same were in their possession and control when found by the policemen. They insist that it cannot be presumed that they were in control and possession of the said substances/articles simply because they owned the house where the same were found, considering that the room was occupied by Chris Tira and his live-in partner, Gemma Lim. The appellant Connie Tira avers that she never fled from their house after the policemen had conducted the search. Neither was she arrested by the policemen when they arrested her husband. The appeals have no merit. Contrary to the appellants claim, appellant Amadeo Tira was present when the policemen searched the inner room of the house. The articles and substances were found under the bed on which the appellant Amadeo Tira slept. The

A We found out suspected marijuana leaves, Sir. Q Where, in what particular place did you find? A Under the bed inside the room of Amadeo Tira, Sir Q What else did you find aside from marijuana leaves? A We also find suspected sachet of shabu, Sir. Q What else? A Lighter, Sir. COURT: Q If that shabu will be shown to you, could you identify the same? WITNESS: A Yes, Sir. Q About the marijuana leaves, if shown to you could you identify the same? A Yes, Sir. PROS. DUMLAO: Q What else did you find out aside from the marijuana leaves, shabu and lighter? A I have here the list, Sir. One (1) brick of marijuana

24 pcs. tea bag of marijuana 9 pcs. sachets of suspected "shabu" 6 disposable lighters 1 roll of aluminum foil

A Yes, Sir, she was taking care of the baby. Q Who else? A We also noticed the presence of Amadeo Tira, Sir. Q What was he doing there?

several empty plastic; several used A He was newly awake, Sir. and unused aluminum foil Q Upon entering the house, what did you do? one (1) sachet of shabu confiscated from Nelson Tira; and P12,536.00 cash in different denominations proceeds of the contrand (sic). COURT: Q Are you one of those who entered the house? Q Where did you find the money? A Yes, Sir. A Near the marijuana at the bag, Sir. Q About the money, could you still identify if shown to you? A Yes, Sir. Q When you found shabu, lighter, marijuana, and money, what did you do? A We marked them, Sir. Q All of the items? A Only the marijuana, Sir. Q What mark did you place? A My signature, Sir.57 PROS. TOMBOC: Q And when you were allowed to enter the house, did you notice who was present? A I noticed the presence of Connie Tira, Sir. Q When you said Connie Tira, is she the same Connie Tira the accused in this case? Q You said you recovered one (1) brick of marijuana leaves, showing to you a (sic) one (1) brick suspected to be marijuana leaves, is this the one you are referring to? A Yes, Sir, this is the one.58 Appellant Amadeo Tira was not the only witness to the search; Kagawad Mario Conwi and Ernesto Tira, Amadeos father, were also present. Ernesto Tira even led the policemen inside the house. This is evidenced not only by the testimony of Kagawad Conwi, but also by the certification signed by the appellant himself, along with Kagawad Conwi and Ernesto Tira.59 The trial court rejected the testimony of appellant Amadeo Tira that the inner room searched by the policemen was occupied by Chris Tira and his girlfriend Gemma Lim with the following encompassing disquisition: The defense contention that a couple from Baguio City first occupied the first room, the Court is not persuaded Q Can you mention to the Honorable Court those items that you searched in the house of Connie Tira and Amadeo Tira? A As per in (sic) our records, we found three (3) sachets containing suspected Methamphetamine Hydrochloride "Shabu" residue; one (1) brick of suspected dried marijuana leaves weighing more or less 750 grams; twenty-four (24) tea bags containing dried marijuana leaves; six (6) disposable lighter; one (1) roll aluminum foil; several empty plastics (tea bag); several used and unused aluminum foil; and cash money amounting to P12,536.00 in different denominations believe[d] to be proceeds of the contraband, Sir. A We entered and searched the first room, Sir. Q What did you find out? A Shabu and Marijuana and paraphernalia, Sir.

because they did not present said businessmen from Baguio City who were engaged in vegetable business. Secondly, the same room was rented by Chris Tira and Gemma Lim. Chris Tira and Gemma Lim, engaged in banana business, were not presented in Court. If it were true that Chris Tira and Gemma Lim were the supposed lessees of the room, they should have been apprehended by the searching party on March 9, 1998, at about 2:30 p.m. There was no proof showing that Chris Tira and Gemma Lim ever occupied the room, like personal belongings of Chris Tira and Gemma Lim. The defense did not even show proof showing that Chris Tira reside in the first room, like clothings, toothbrush, soap, shoes and other accessories which make them the residents or occupants of the room. There were no kitchen plates, spoons, powder, or soap evidencing that the said room was occupied by Chris Tira and Gemma Lim. Amadeo Tira contended that Chris Tira and Gemma Lim are engaged in banana business. There are no banana stored in the room at the time of the search and both of them were out of the room at the time of the search. And why did not Amadeo Tira supply the police officers of the personal identities and address where they could find Chris Tira and Gemma Lim at the time of the search. If they were banana dealers, they must be selling their banana in the market and they could have pointed them in the market.60 We are in full accord with the trial court. It bears stressing that the trial court conducted an ocular inspection of the house of the appellants, and thus, had first hand knowledge of the layout of the house. Besides, the testimony of the appellant Amadeo Tira, that the inner room was occupied by Chris Tira and Gemma Lim who were not there when the search was conducted, is belied by the testimony of the appellant Connie Tira that the room was occupied by two male and one female boarders who were in the room when the policemen searched it. Thus: Q You said that while taking care of your baby, several policemen barged [sic] your house? A Yes, Sir. Q And they proceeded to your room where your husband was sleeping at that time? A Yes, Sir. Q And it is in that room where your husband was sleeping and where those articles were taken? A No, Sir. Q Where are (sic) those things came (sic) from? A At the room where my boarders occupied, Sir. Q So, at that time where were those boarders? A They were inside their room, Sir. Q How many of them?

A Two (2) male persons and one woman, Sir. Q And do you know their whereabout[s], Madam Witness? A No more, Sir. Q When did they leave, Madam Witness? A At that time, they left the house, Sir. Q They were not investigated by the police? A No, Sir.61 We agree with the finding of the trial court that the only occupants of the house when the policemen conducted their search were the appellants and their young children, and that the appellants had no boarders therein. Before the accused may be convicted of violating Section 8 of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended by Rep. Act No. 7659, the prosecution is burdened to prove beyond reasonable doubt the essential elements of the crime, viz: (1) the actual possession of an item or object which is identified to be a prohibited drug; (2) such possession is not authorized by law; and, (3) the accused freely or consciously possessed the said drug.62 The essential elements of the crime of possession of regulated drugs are the following: (a) the accused is found in possession of a regulated drug; (b) the person is not authorized by law or by duly constituted authorities; and, (c) the accused has knowledge that the said drug is a regulated drug. This crime is mala prohibita, and, as such, criminal intent is not an essential element. However, the prosecution must prove that the accused had the intent to possess (animus posidendi) the drugs. Possession, under the law, includes not only actual possession, but also constructive possession. Actual possession exists when the drug is in the immediate physical possession or control of the accused.63 On the other hand, constructive possession exists when the drug is under the dominion and control of the accused or when he has the right to exercise dominion and control over the place where it is found.64 Exclusive possession or control is not necessary.65 The accused cannot avoid conviction if his right to exercise control and dominion over the place where the contraband is located, is shared with another.66 Thus, conviction need not be predicated upon exclusive possession, and a showing of non-exclusive possession would not exonerate the accused.67 Such fact of possession may be proved by direct or circumstantial evidence and any reasonable inference drawn therefrom. However, the prosecution must prove that the accused had knowledge of the existence and presence of the drug in the place under his control and dominion and the character of the drug.68 Since knowledge by the accused of the existence and character of the drugs in the place where he exercises dominion and control is an internal act, the same may be presumed from the fact that the dangerous drug is in the house or place over which the accused has control or dominion, or within such premises in the absence of any satisfactory explanation.69

In this case, the prohibited and regulated drugs were found under the bed in the inner room of the house of the appellants where they also resided. The appellants had actual and exclusive possession and control and dominion over the house, including the room where the drugs were found by the policemen. The appellant Connie Tira cannot escape criminal liability for the crime charged simply and merely on her barefaced testimony that she was a plain housewife, had no involvement in the criminal actuations of her husband, and had no knowledge of the existence of the drugs in the inner room of the house. She had full access to the room, including the space under the bed. She failed to adduce any credible evidence that she was prohibited by her husband, the appellant Amadeo Tira, from entering the room, cleaning it, or even sleeping on the bed. We agree with the findings and disquisition of the trial court, viz: The Court is not persuaded that Connie Tira has no knowledge, control and possession of the shabu and marijuana (Exhibits "M," "N," "O" and "P") found in their room. Connie Tira and Amadeo Tira jointly control and possess the shabu (Exhibits "M" and "N") and marijuana (Exhibits "O" and "P") found in the room of their house. It is unusual for a wife not to know the existence in their conjugal abode, the questioned shabu and marijuana. The husband and wife (Amadeo and Connie) conspired and confederated with each other the keeping and custody of said prohibited articles. Both of them are deemed in possession of said articles in violation of R.A. 6425, Section 8, in relation to Section 20. The Crimes Committed by the Appellants The trial court convicted the appellants of violating Section 16, in relation to Section 20, of Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended. The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) asserts that the appellants should be convicted of violating Section 8 of Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended. We do not agree with the trial court and the OSG. We find and so hold that the appellants are guilty of two separate crimes: (a) possession of regulated drugs under Section 16, in relation to Section 20, of Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended, for their possession of methamphetamine hydrochloride, a regulated drug; and, (b) violation of Section 8, in relation to Section 20 of the law, for their possession of marijuana, a prohibited drug. Although only one Information was filed against the appellants, nevertheless, they could be tried and convicted for the crimes alleged therein and proved by the prosecution. In this case, the appellants were charged for violation of possession of marijuana and shabu in one Information which reads: That on or about March 9, 1998, in the Municipality of Urdaneta, province of Pangasinan, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring together, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in their possession, control and custody the following: - Three (3) pieces (sic) sachets of shabu - Six (6) pieces opened sachets of shabu residue

- Twenty-four (24) tea bags of dried marijuana leaves weighing 86.3 grams - Six [6] disposable lighter - One (1) roll Aluminum foil - Several empty plastics (tea bag) - Cash money amounting to P12,536.00 in different denominations believed to be proceeds of the contraband. without first securing the necessary permit/license to posses[s] the same. CONTRARY TO SEC. 8, in relation to Sec. 20 of R.A. 6425, as amended."70 The Information is defective because it charges two crimes. The appellants should have filed a motion to quash the Information under Section 3, Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Court before their arraignment. They failed to do so. Hence, under Rule 120, Section 3 of the said rule, the appellants may be convicted of the crimes charged. The said Rule provides: SEC. 3. Judgment for two or more offenses. - When two or more offenses are charged in a single complaint or information but the accused fails to object to it before trial, the court may convict him of as many offenses as are charged and proved, and impose on him the penalty for each offense, setting out separately the findings of fact and law in each offense. The Proper Penalties On the Appellants The crime of violation of Section 8, Article II of Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended, for illegal possession of 807.3 grams of marijuana, a prohibited drug, is punishable by reclusion perpetua to death. Considering that there are no qualifying circumstances, the appellants are sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, conformably to Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code and are ordered to pay a fine of P500,000.00. Under Section 16, Article III of Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended, the imposable penalty of possession of a regulated drug, less than 200 grams, in this case, shabu, is prision correccional to reclusion perpetua. Based on the quantity of the regulated drug subject of the offense, the imposable penalty shall be as follows: QUANTITY IMPOSABLE PENALTY Less than one (1) gram to 49.25 grams prision correccional 49.26 grams to 98.50 grams prision mayor

- One (1) brick of dried marijuana leaves weighing 721 grams

98.51 grams to 147.75 grams reclusion temporal

147.76 grams to 199 grams reclusion perpetua Considering that the regulated drug found in the possession of the appellants is only 1.001 grams, the imposable penalty for the crime is prision correccional. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the appellants are sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of from four (4) months and one (1) day of arresto mayor in its medium period as minimum, to three (3) years of prision correccional in its medium period as maximum, for violation of Section 16 of Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended. IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, appellants Amadeo and Connie Tira are found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 8, Article II of Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended, and are hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, and ORDERED to pay a fine of P1,000,000.00. The said appellants are, likewise, found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 16, Article III of Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended, and are sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of from Four (4) Months and One (1) Day of arresto mayor in its medium period as minimum, to Three (3) years of prision correccional, in its medium period, as maximum. No costs.

two shredder machines one color blue centroller one dryer machine 92 boxes of assorted colors of paint 600 pieces of counterfeit Sony Playstation DVDs 285 boxes of blank CDs eight boxes of white blank CDs nine boxes of AL targets two boxes of sputtering targets 18 gallons of UV bonding adhesive four gallons of DVD bondage 21 gallons of phothum chemicals

SO ORDERED. four gallons of CPS mesh prep, and G.R. No. 169156 February 15, 2007 nine gallons of CD lacquer.2 SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT, INC., Petitioner, vs. RIGHT FUTURE TECHNOLOGIES, INC., Respondent. DECISION CARPIO MORALES, J.: On application of Inspector Rommel G. Macatlang of the Philippine National Police, after a complaint was received from petitioner, Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. (SCEI), eight search warrants1 for copyright and trademark infringement, of which Search Warrant Nos. 05-6336 and 056337 are relevant to the present case, were issued by the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Executive Judge Antonio M. Eugenio, Jr. following which a raid was conducted on the premises of respondent, Bright Future Technologies, Inc. (BFTI), on April 1, 2005. Seized during the raid were the following items: eight replicating machines five bonding machines four printing machines seven polycarbonate dryers one table for silk screen ten moulds 6. No probable cause exists for the issuance of the warrant; 7. The search conducted was illegal; 5. The statement made by the affiants in their joint-affidavit in support of the application for the search warrant were false and perjurious; BFTI subsequently filed on April 5, 2005 before Branch 24 of the RTC Manila presided by Judge Eugenio an Urgent Motion to Quash and/or to Exclude or Suppress Evidence and Return Seized Articles,3 alleging as follows,quoted verbatim: 1. The searching team entered the premises and conducted the search without any witness in violation of the Rules of Court; 2. The raiding team planted evidence of 600 compact discs at the scene while no witnesses were present; 3. Certification against forum shopping prescribed by law was not executed; 4. For search warrant to be valid, the master tapes must be presented;

8. The place to be searched was not described with particularity; 9. No bond was posted by the applicant.41awphi1.net SCEI filed an Opposition5 to the motion, to which BFTI filed a Reply,6 the latter arguing that SCEI had no personality to represent the People of the Philippines in the case and to file the opposition to the motion because SCEIs agents were mere witnesses of the applicant for the issuance of the search warrants.7 On April 11, 2005, acting on a Very Urgent Motion to Inhibit8 filed by SCEI to which BFTI interposed its objection, Judge Eugenio "voluntarily inhibited" himself from the case.9 The case was thereafter raffled to Branch 21 of the Manila RTC, presided by Judge Amor A. Reyes.10 In the meantime or on April 14, 2005, SCEI, through counsel, filed with the Department of Justice Task Force on Anti-Intellectual Property Piracy a complaint-affidavit against the directors and officers of BFTI.11 By Order12 dated April 18, 2005, the RTC denied BFTIs motion to quash the warrants, it finding that they were regularly issued and implemented, and that a bond is not required in the application for their issuance. BFTI filed a Motion for Reconsideration13 of the denial of its motion to quash. It also filed joint motions "for the inhibition of the Honorable Judge Amor Reyes," "for reconsideration of the order of voluntary inhibition dated April 11, 2005," and "for the return of the case to the executive judge."14 In an Order dated May 20, 2005, Judge Reyes transmitted the records of the case to the Executive Judge pursuant to A.M. No. 03-8-02.15 The case was then re-raffled to Branch 8 of the Manila RTC, presided by Judge Felixberto T. Olalia, Jr.16 In addressing the issue of SCEIs personality to appear in the proceedings, the RTC held that it would treat SCEIs counsel as "an officer of [the] Court to argue the other side, so to speak, for the clarification of issues related to search and seizure cases and to arrive at a better conclusion and resolution of issues in this case."17 The RTC, however, found that the two-witness rule under Section 8 of Rule 126 which provides: SEC. 8. Search of house, room, or premises to be made in presence of two witnesses. No search of a house, room or any other premise shall be made except in the presence of the lawful occupant thereof or any member of his family or in the absence of the latter, two witnesses of sufficient age and discretion residing in the same locality. (Underscoring supplied), was violated and that the searching teams use of a bolt cutter to open the searched premises was unnecessary, hence, it granted BFTIs Motion for Reconsideration of its April 18, 2005 Order by Order of August 8, 2005.18

BFTI subsequently filed on August 9, 2005 an Ex Parte Motion to Return Seized Articles19 which the RTC granted, by Order of August 10, 2005, subject to the filing of a bond.20 BFTI filed the required bond alright,21 and the seized items were turned over to its custody.22 Hence, arose SCEIs present Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 4523 which assails the August 8 and August 10, 2005 Orders of the court a quo, contending that the RTC erred (1) . . . when it disregarded [its] clear right . . . to appear and participate as a private complainant in the search warrant proceedings; (2) . . . when it granted respondents Motion to Quash based on questions of alleged irregularities by the peace officers in enforcing the search warrants. (a) . . . when it ruled that the use of the bolt cutter violated Section 7 of Rule 126. (b) . . . when it ruled that the enforcement of the search warrant violated the two-witness rule provided in Section 8 of Rule 126; [3] . . . when it ordered the immediate release of the seized property prior to the finality of the order quashing the search warrants. (a) . . . when it released the seized properties by virtue of the filing of a bond by the respondent.24 The issue of whether a private complainant, like SCEI, has the right to participate in search warrant proceedings was addressed in the affirmative in United Laboratories, Inc. v. Isip:25lawphil.net . . . [A] private individual or a private corporation complaining to the NBI or to a government agency charged with the enforcement of special penal laws, such as the BFAD, may appear, participate and file pleadings in the search warrant proceedings to maintain, inter alia, the validity of the search warrant issued by the court and theadmissibility of the properties seized in anticipation of a criminal case to be filed; such private party may do so in collaboration with the NBI or such government agency. The party may file an opposition to a motion to quash the search warrant issued by the court, or a motion for the reconsideration of the court order granting such motion to quash.26 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) When SCEI then opposed BFTIs Urgent Motion to Quash and/or to Suppress or Exclude Evidence and Return Seized Articles (emphasis supplied), the RTC correctly recognized the participation of SCEI in the proceedings. As for the use of a bolt cutter to gain access to the premises of BFTI, it was, under the circumstances, reasonable,

contrary to the RTCs finding that it was unnecessary. For, as the RTC itself found, after the members of the searching team introduced themselves to the security guards of BFTI and showed them the search warrants, the guards refused to receive the warrants and to open the premises, they claiming that "they are not in control of the case."27 The conditions required under Section 7 of Rule 126 were thus complied with: The officer, if refused admittance to the place of directed search after giving notice of his purpose and authority, may break open any outer or inner door or window of a house or any part of a house or anything therein to execute the warrant or liberate himself or any person lawfully aiding him when unlawfully detained therein. (Underscoring supplied) The RTCs finding that the two-witness rule governing the execution of search warrant was not complied with, which rule is mandatory to ensure regularity in the execution of the search warrant,28 is in order, however. Observed the RTC: At this point, it is worthy of note [sic] the two statements issued by Barangay Police Subrino P. de Castro and Gaudencio A. Masambique who affirmed in their testimonies in Court that, to wit: xxxx 3. Noong ako ay makarating sa nasabing lugar nadatnan ko ang mga pulis at mga miyembro ng Raiding Team na nasa loob na ng gusali ng Bright Future at nagsisiyasat sa mga gamit at makinaryang naroroon. Pagkatapos ay nilapitan ako ng isang pulis at ipinatanggap sa akin ang nasabing search warrant. The police were already searching ("nagsisiyasat") the area of respondent BFTI in clear violation of the two-witness rule provided for by Section 8 of Rule 126. These statements of the two Barangay Police ostensibly arriving late while a search was going on was corroborated by Insp. Macatlangs testimony that the Barangay officials arrived at about 11:30 PM to 12 AM.29 (Underscoring supplied) The RTC did not thus err in ordering the quashal of the search warrants. SCEI insists, however, that the searching team waited for the arrival of the barangay officials who were summoned to witness the search,30 and that "[e]ven when the enforcing officers were moving towards the actual BFTI premises . . . they were accompanied at all times by one of the security guards on duty until the barangay officials arrived."31 SCEIs position raises an issue of fact which is not proper for consideration in a petition for review on certiorari before this Court under Rule 45, which is supposed to cover only issues of law.32 In any event, a security guard may not be considered a "lawful occupant" or "a member of [the lawful occupants] family" under the earlier quoted Section 8 of Rule 126. As the two-witness rule was not complied with, the objects seized during the April 1, 2005 search are inadmissible in

evidence. Their return, on motion of BFTI, was thus in order.33 A final word. The RTC order requiring BFTI to file a bond to ensure the return of the seized items should the Department of Justice find probable cause against it in I.S. No. 2005315, SCEI v. Anthony Bryan B. Sy, et al., has no basis in law. Besides, the seized items being inadmissible in evidence, it would serve no purpose to ensure their return. WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The August 8, 2005 Order of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 8 granting the Urgent Motion to Quash filed by respondent, Bright Future Technologies, Inc., is AFFIRMED. The August 10, 2005 Order granting the Ex Parte Motion to Return Seized Articles filed by respondent is AFFIRMED, with the MODIFICATION that the portion requiring respondent to file a bond is SET ASIDE. Let the bond then filed by respondent be CANCELLED. SO ORDERED. G.R. No. 165678 July 17, 2009

ROSARIO S. PANUNCIO, Petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. DECISION CARPIO, J.: The Case Before the Court is a petition for review assailing the 15 June 2004 Decision1 and 15 October 2004 Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 25254. The Antecedent Facts On 3 August 1992, at about 4 o clock in the afternoon, operatives of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Special Mission Group Task Force Lawin of the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission (PACC) led by then Philippine National Police Superintendent Panfilo Lacson and Police Senior Inspector Cesar Ouano, Jr., armed with Search Warrant No. 581-92 issued by then Regional Trial Court Judge Bernardo P. Pardo, raided the residence of Rosario S. Panuncio (petitioner), a jeepney operator, at 204 E. Rodriguez, Sr. Avenue, Quezon City. The operatives confiscated LTO documents, 17 pieces of private vehicle plates, a copying machine, several typewriters, and other tools and equipment. One of the LTO documents confiscated was MVRR No. 63231478 issued to Manlite Transport Corporation (Manlite). The document was photographed during the raid while it was still mounted on one of the typewriters. Petitioner signed a certification of orderly search, together with Barangay Chairman Antonio Manalo (Manalo),

petitioners employee Myrna Velasco (Velasco), and one Cesar Nidua (Nidua). Petitioner, Manalo, Velasco, and Nidua also signed a Receipt of Property Seized issued by PO3 Manuel Nicolas Abuda. Petitioner and one Jaime L. Lopez (Lopez) were arrested and brought to the PACC. Juan V. Borra, Jr., Assistant Secretary for the LTO, Department of Transportation and Communications, who was representing his office, filed a complaint against petitioner for violation of Articles 171, 172, 176, and 315 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), as amended; Presidential Decree No. 1730; Sections 31 and 56 of Republic Act No. 4136; and Batas Pambansa Blg. 43. Lopez was not charged since it was shown that he was only a visitor of the house when the raid took place. An Information for violation of Article 172(1) in relation to Article 171 of the RPC was filed against petitioner, thus: That on August 3, 1992 at about 4:00 p.m., accused ROSARIO PANUNCIO y SY, a private individual and owner/operator of a residence/ office located at 204 E. Rodriguez Avenue, Quezon City, did, then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously with intent to cause damage falsified the vital informations as appearing on Land Transportation Office (LTO) official receipt no. MVRR No. 63231478 dated July 31, 1992 changing the meaning of the document and causing the document to speak something false, when in truth and in fact, accused knew fully well that the document as falsified do not legally exist and is different from the official file of the LTO, to the prejudice of public interest.lawph!l CONTRARY TO LAW.3 Petitioner filed a motion for reinvestigation, which the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 107 (trial court), granted in its order of 1 March 1993.4 The trial court gave the public prosecutor 20 days within which to submit his report on the reinvestigation. On 1 June 1994, the Department of Justice, through State Prosecutor Mario A.M. Caraos, submitted its Resolution5 recommending that petitioner be prosecuted for falsification. The trial court set the arraignment, and on 28 June 1994, petitioner entered a plea of not guilty. Thereafter, pre-trial and the trial of the case ensued. During the trial, a photocopy of the duplicate original of MVRR No. 63231478 dated 31 July 1992, which was a faithful reproduction of the document in LTOs file, was presented and compared with MVRR No. 63231478 confiscated from petitioners residence. The following discrepancies were noted: As Per EDP/LTO File File No. Plate No. Route Motor No. 4B-0476-20101 DFK 587 Arroceros-Project 4, Quezon City via Espaa 179837

Serial No. Gross Weight Net Capacity Payment of 1992 Renewal Registration Owner Address

SP-MM-12857-87-C 3,000 1,500 P513 Manlite Transport Co., Inc. 204 E. Rodriguez Ave., Q.C.

Petitioner denied that she was the source of the falsified documents. She alleged that Manlite, which she used to coown with her late husband, already stopped operating in April 1992 and her business was operating under the name Rosario Panuncio. She alleged that she was not at home when the raid took place, and when she returned home, the police authorities had already emptied her shelves and she was just forced to sign the search warrant, inventory receipt, and the certificate of orderly search. She further alleged that she was charged with falsification because she refused the police authorities demand for money. The Decision of the Trial Court In its 2 September 1997 Decision,7 the trial court found petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of falsification of a public document under Articles 171 and 172 of the RPC. The trial court ruled that the facts established by the prosecution were not substantially disputed by the defense. The trial court ruled that the raid yielded incriminatory evidence to support the theory that petitioner was engaged in falsifying LTO documents and license plate registration receipts. The dispositive portion of the trial courts Decision reads: WHEREFORE, the prosecution having proven the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, the accused is found guilty as charged with the crime of Falsification of Public Document under Art. 171 and Art. 172 of the Revised Penal Code which carries the penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum period and a fine of not more than P5,000.00. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, accused Rosario Panuncio y Sy is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of Six (6) Months and One (1) Day of arresto mayor as minimum to FOUR (4) Years or prision correccional as maximum, and a fine of P2,000.00 with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. Without costs. SO ORDERED.8 Petitioner appealed the trial courts Decision. As Per from Photocopy of Owners Copy (recovered from petitioners residence) The Decision of the Court of Appeals 0478-50065 127 In its 15 JuneDEU 2004 Decision, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial courts Decision with modification. The Court of Binangonan-Cubao via Appeals held that petitioner committed falsification of a Marcos Highway and vice-versa public document. The Court of Appeals ruled that the search warrant did not suffer from any legal infirmity because the 100002 items to be seized were already specified and identified in the warrant. The Court of Appeals declared that the courts

designation of the place to be searched and the articles to be seized left the police authorities with no discretion, ensured that unreasonable searches and seizures would not take place and abuses would be avoided. The Court of Appeals further ruled that the Rules of Court do not require that the owner of the place to be searched be present during the conduct of the raid. The Court of Appeals noted that the search was conducted not only in the presence of petitioner but also in the presence of Manalo, Velasco, and Nidua. The dispositive portion of the Decision of the Court of Appeals reads: WHEREFORE, the judgment of conviction rendered by the trial court against accused-appellant Rosario Panuncio y Sy is AFFIRMED, but with the MODIFICATION that she should be, as she hereby is, sentenced to serve an indeterminate penalty of two (2) years and four (4) months of prision correccional as minimum to six (6) years of prision correccional as maximum. No pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED.9 Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. In its 15 October 2004 Resolution, the Court of Appeals denied the motion. Hence, the petition before this Court. The Issues Petitioner raises the following issues: 1. Whether the elements of falsification of a public document under Article 172(1) in relation to Article 171 of the RPC have been established; 2. Whether the search was regularly conducted; 3. Whether the evidence gathered during the search are admissible in evidence; and 4. Whether the Court of Appeals properly applied the Indeterminate Sentence Law (ISL). The Ruling of this Court The petition has no merit. Falsification of Public Documents At the outset, petitioner argues that the Information was defective because it did not specifically mention the provision that she violated. As such, she was not informed of the specific violation for which she was held liable. We cannot sustain petitioners argument. Petitioner failed to raise the issue of the defective information before the trial court through a motion for bill of particulars or a motion to quash the information. Petitioners failure to object to the allegation in the information before she entered her plea of not guilty amounted to a waiver of the defect in the information.10 Objections as to matters of form or substance

in the information cannot be made for the first time on appeal.11 Falsification of documents under paragraph 1, Article 17212 in relation to Article 17113 of the RPC refers to falsification by a private individual, or a public officer or employee who did not take advantage of his official position, of public, private, or commercial documents.14 The elements of falsification of documents under paragraph 1, Article 172 of the RPC are: (1) that the offender is a private individual or a public officer or employee who did not take advantage of his official position; (2) that he committed any of the acts of falsification enumerated in Article 171 of the RPC; and (3) that the falsification was committed in a public, official or commercial document.15 In this case, petitioner is a private individual. MVRR No. 63231478, denominated as LTO Form No. 2, is an official document issued by the LTO. It is the owners copy of the Official Receipt of the payment of the vehicles registration fee. Petitioner falsified the owners copy of MVRR No. 63231478 by making it appear that it was an owners copy issued to a vehicle of Manlite with Plate No. DEU 127 when in the LTOs files, it was issued to a vehicle of Manlite with Plate No. DFK 587. The discrepancies between the document in LTOs files and the document confiscated in petitioners house were duly noted by the trial court and remained undisputed. The alteration made by petitioner changed the meaning of the document within the context of Article 171(6) of the RPC which punishes as falsification the making of "any alteration or intercalation in a genuine document which changes its meaning." Petitioner argues that MVRR No. 63231478 was not found in her possession and that it was not proved that she had participation in the criminal act. The Court disagrees with petitioner. The falsified copy of MVRR No. 63231478 was found during a valid search conducted in petitioners residence. It was issued in the name of Manlite which petitioner admitted as co-owned by her together with her late husband. Thus, there is a presumption that she falsified it and she was using it for her benefit. The falsified document, purportedly issued in the name of Manlite, could be used for another vehicle operated by Manlite to make it appear that it was validly registered with the LTO. In this case, the original document in LTOs files was issued to a Manlite vehicle with Plate No. DFK 587 plying Arroceros-Project 4, Quezon City via Espaa. The falsified document was purportedly issued to a Manlite vehicle with Plate No. DEU 127 plying Binangonan-Cubao via Marcos Highway. Petitioner further argues that only a photocopy of the purported owners copy was presented to the trial court and there could be no falsification of a mere photocopy. Again, we do not agree with petitioner. It has been established that there is a genuine copy of MVRR No. 63231478 in the LTOs files and the owners copy of it was in

petitioners possession. The original copy of MVRR No. 63231478 was not presented during the trial because petitioner kept it in her possession. However, it has been established during the trial that as per usual practice, the owners copy is usually photocopied and it is the photocopy which is usually kept inside the vehicle.16 As pointed out by the Solicitor General, the presentation of a mere photocopy of the document to any traffic enforcer is enough to convince the traffic enforcer that the public vehicle was validly and lawfully registered. The fact remains that LTO Form No. 2, which petitioner falsified, is a genuine and public document.1avvphi1 Validity of the Search and Admissibility of the Articles Seized Petitioner assails the validity of the search which was allegedly conducted while she was not in the house. Petitioner alleges that since the search warrant was defective, the items seized during the search could not be used in evidence against her. We will discuss these issues together. Section 8, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court provides: SEC. 8. Search of house, room, or premises, to be made in presence of two witnesses No search of a house, room, or any other premise shall be made except in the presence of the lawful occupant thereof or any member of his family or in the absence of the latter, two witnesses of sufficient age and discretion residing in the same locality. Even assuming that petitioner or any lawful occupant of the house was not present when the search was conducted, the search was done in the presence of at least two witnesses of sufficient age and discretion residing in the same locality. Manalo was the barangay chairman of the place while Velasco was petitioners employee.17Petitioner herself signed the certification of orderly search when she arrived at her residence. Clearly, the requirements of Section 8, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court were complied with by the police authorities who conducted the search. Further, petitioner failed to substantiate her allegation that she was just forced to sign the search warrant, inventory receipt, and the certificate of orderly search. In fact, the records show that she signed these documents together with three other persons, including the barangay chairman who could have duly noted if petitioner was really forced to sign the documents against her will. Articles which are the product of unreasonable searches and seizures are inadmissible as evidence pursuant to Article III, Section 3(2) of the Constitution.18 However, in this case, we sustain the validity of the search conducted in petitioners residence and, thus, the articles seized during the search are admissible in evidence against petitioner. Application of the ISL Falsification of a public document by a private individual under Article 172(1) in relation to Article 171 of the RPC is punishable by prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods, which ranges from two years, four months and one day to six years, and a fine of not more

than P5,000. Applying the ISL, petitioner may be sentenced to an indeterminate penalty the minimum of which must be within the range of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period, or four months and one day to two years and four months. In this case, the Court of Appeals sentenced petitioner to serve an indeterminate penalty of two years and four months of prision correccional as minimum to six years of prision correccional as maximum. There being no mitigating or aggravating circumstances, we deem it proper in this case to lower the maximum penalty imposed by the Court of Appeals from six years to four years, nine months and eleven days of prision correccional. Further, the penalty for falsification of a public document under Article 172(1) in relation to Article 171 of the RPC includes a fine of not more than P5,000 which the Court of Appeals failed to impose. Hence, we also modify the penalty to include the fine. WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. We AFFIRM with MODIFICATION the 15 June 2004 Decision and 15 October 2004 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 25254. We find petitioner Rosario S. Panuncio guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of falsification of a public document under Article 172(1) in relation to Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code and hereby sentence her to suffer the indeterminate penalty ofIMPRISONMENT from two years and four months of prision correccional as minimum to four years, nine months and eleven days of prision correccional as maximum and to pay a FINE of P3,000. Costs against petitioner. SO ORDERED. G.R. No. 148117 March 22, 2007

MABINI EPIE, JR. and RODRIGO PALASI, Petitioners, vs. THE HON. NELSONIDA T. ULAT-MARREDO, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 10, La Trinidad, Benguet and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents. DECISION SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.: Assailed in this Petition for Review on Certiorari is the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals dated September 15, 2000 in CA-G.R. SP No. 55684. The facts of the case as gleaned from the records are: In an Information dated September 22, 1998, the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Benguet Province charged Mabini Epie, Jr. and Rodrigo Palasi, petitioners, with violation of Section 68 of Presidential Decree No. 705,2 as amended. The Informtion reads: That on or about the 6th day of September 1998, along the Halsema National Highway at Acop, Municipality of Tublay, Province of Benguet, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of

this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating, and mutually aiding each other and without any authority of law or without any license or permit granted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and with intent of gain and without the knowledge and consent of the owner thereof, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously possess and transport 870 bd. ft. of Benguet Pine lumber having a total market value of TWENTY FOUR THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED SIXTY PESOS (P24,360.00), Philippine Currency, belonging to the REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, to the damage and prejudice of the GOVERNMENT in the actual sum aforesaid. CONTRARY TO LAW. The case was raffled to the Regional Trial Court, Branch 10, La Trinidad, Benguet (presided by respondent Judge Nelsonida T. Ulat-Marredo), docketed as Criminal Case No. 98-CR-3138. When arraigned, both petitioners, with the assistance of counsel de parte, pleaded not guilty to the charge. Trial then ensued. The evidence for the prosecution shows that at around 2:30 p.m. of September 6, 1998, SPO2 Alberto Ngina of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Tublay Station received an information from a confidential agent that a jeepney with Plate No. AYB 117 at Km. 96, Atok, Benguet was loaded with Benguet pine lumber. SPO2 Ngina immediately relayed the information to SPO4 Rentao Quitoriano and SPO1 Domingo Pulig. They then swiftly established a checkpoint in Acop, Tublay, Benguet. At around 4:00 p.m. of the same day, the PNP operatives spotted the jeepney heading toward La Trinidad. They flagged it down but it did not stop. Hence, they chased the vehicle up to Shilan, La Trinidad where it finally halted. The police saw five persons inside the jeepney then loaded with assorted vegetables, like womboc3 and chili. When SPO4 Quitoriano lifted a womboc, he found some pieces of lumber under it. The driver and his companions admitted they have no permit to transport the lumber. The police immediately arrested and investigated petitioners, Marso Insiong Dumpit, Armando Palasi, and Ben Arinos. Only petitioners were charged with violation of Section 68 of the Revised Forestry Code. After the prosecution presented its evidence, petitioners, through counsel, filed a "Motion to Suppress Evidence of the Prosecution" on the ground that the pieces of Benguet pine lumber were illegally seized. In a Resolution4 dated July 26, 1999, respondent judge denied the motion. Petitioners then filed a motion for reconsideration. Likewise, it was denied in a Resolution dated September 27, 1999. Subsequently, petitioners filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari and prohibition, docketed as CA-G.R.

SP No. 55684 assailing the said Resolutions of the trial court. On September 15, 2000, the Court of Appeals rendered its Decision dismissing the petition, holding that respondent judge did not commit grave abuse of discretion tantamount to lack or excess of jurisdiction; that the search conducted without warrant by the police officers is valid; and that the confiscated pieces of lumber are admissible in evidence against the accused. Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the Decision. However, it was denied in a Resolution5 dated April 11, 2001. Hence, the instant petition raising the sole issue of whether the police officers have a probable cause to believe that the subject vehicle was loaded with illegal cargo and that, therefore, it can be stopped and searched without a warrant. In this jurisdiction, the fundamental law of the land recognizes and protects the right of a person to privacy against unreasonable intrusions by the agents of the State. This right to undisturbed privacy is guaranteed by Section 2, Article III of the Constitution which provides: 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, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized. Section 3(2), also of Article III, provides that any evidence obtained in violation of the above provision shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding. Hence, as a general rule, a search and seizure must be carried through with judicial warrant, otherwise, such search and seizure constitutes derogation of a constitutional right. 6 The above rule, however, is not devoid of exceptions. In People v. Sarap,7 we listed the exceptions where search and seizure may be conducted without warrant, thus: (1) search incident to a lawful arrest; (2) search of a moving motor vehicle; (3) search in violation of customs laws; (4) seizure of the evidence in plain view; (5) search when the accused himself waives his right against unreasonable searches and seizures; (6) stop and frisk; and (7) exigent and emergency circumstances. The only requirement in these exceptions is the presence of probable cause. Probable cause is the existence of such facts and circumstances which would lead a reasonable, discreet, and prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed and that the objects sought in connection with the offense are in the place to be searched.8 In People v. Aruta,9 we ruled that in warrantless searches, probable cause must only be based on reasonable ground of suspicion or belief that a crime has been committed or is about to be committed. There is no hard and fast rule or fixed formula in determining probable cause for its determination varies according to the facts of each case.

Here, the search involved a moving vehicle, an instance where a warrantless search and seizure may be conducted by peace officers. The only issue we should determine is whether there was probable cause to justify such warrantless search and seizure. We recall that at around 2:30 p.m. of September 6, 1998, a confidential informer disclosed to SPO2 Ngina that a passenger jeepney with Plate No. AYB 117 loaded with Benguet pine lumber was at Km. 96, Atok, Benguet. The lumber was covered with assorted vegetables. A PNP roadblock was then placed in Acop, Tublay, Benguet to intercept the jeepney. At around 4:00 p.m. of that same day, the police spotted the vehicle. They flagged it down but it did not stop, forcing the police to chase it until it reached Shilan, La Trinidad. A search of the vehicle disclosed several pieces of Benguet pine lumber. Petitioners could not produce the required DENR permit to cut and transport the same. In People v. Vinecarao, we ruled that where a vehicle sped away after noticing a checkpoint and even after having been flagged down by police officers, in an apparent attempt to dissuade the police from proceeding with their inspection, there exists probable cause to justify a reasonable belief on the part of the law enforcers that the persons on board said vehicle were officers of the law or that the vehicle contained objects which were instruments of some offense. This ruling squarely applies to the present case. Verily, the Court of Appeals did not err in holding that respondent judge did not commit grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when she ruled that the warrantless search is valid and that the lumber seized is admissible in evidence against petitioners. WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition and AFFIRM the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 55684. Costs against petitioners. SO ORDERED. G.R. No. 170589 April 16, 2009
10

Petitioner was charged with the offense of illegal possession of premium hardwood lumber in violation of Section 68 of the Forestry Code, in an Information5 which reads: That on or about the 17th day of June 1992, in the (M)unicipality of Maasin, (P)rovince of Southern Leyte, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with intent of gain, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously possess 96.14 board ft. of the following species of flat lumber: 1. Six (6) pcs. 1x10x7 Molave; 2. One (1) pc. 2x6x6 Molave; 3. Two (2) pcs. 2x4x6 Molave; 4. Two (2) pcs. 1x10x6 Narra; 5. Two (2) pcs. 2x8x7 Bajong; 6. One (1) pc. 1x6x6 Bajong; 7. Four (4) pcs. 1x6x6 Magkalipay; and 8. Three (3) pcs. 1x6x5 Magkalipay; with a total value of P1,730.52, Philippine Currency, without any legal document as required under existing forest laws and regulations from proper government authorities, to the damage and prejudice of the government. Upon arraignment, petitioner, assisted by counsel, pleaded not guilty. Trial ensued. The prosecution presented SPO4 Constantino Maceda (Maceda), Sulpicio Saguing (Saguing), and SPO4 Daniel Paloma Lasala (Lasala) as witnesses. Maceda, the person in charge of the operations section of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Maasin, Southern Leyte, testified that on 18 June 1992, at around 11:00 in the morning, he went with Chief Alejandro Rojas (Rojas), SPO3 Melquiades Talisic (Talisic) and SPO3 Nicasio Sunit (Sunit) to the house of petitioner to verify the report of Sunit that petitioner had in his possession lumber without the necessary documents. They were not armed with a search warrant on that day. They confiscated 20 pieces of lumber of different varieties lying around the vicinity of the house of petitioner. Maceda asked petitioner who the owner of the lumber was and petitioner replied that he owned the lumber. Petitioner stated that he would use the lumber to repair his house and to make furniture for sale. Maceda also testified that the lumber were freshly cut. Maceda loaded the lumber on the patrol jeep and brought them to the police station. For coordination purposes, Maceda informed the office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) of the confiscated lumber. The DENR entrusted to the police custody of the lumber.6 Saguing, Forester II, CENRO-DENR, Maasin, Southern Leyte, testified that he went to the office of the PNP in Maasin, Leyte to scale the confiscated lumber which were of

OLYMPIO REVALDO, Petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. DECISION CARPIO, J.: The Case Before this Court is a petition for review by petitioner Olympio Revaldo (petitioner) seeking to reverse the Decision1 dated 23 August 2004 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 22031 affirming the Decision2 dated 5 September 1997 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 25, Maasin, Southern Leyte (RTC-Branch 25), in Criminal Case No. 1652, finding petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal possession of lumber in violation of Section 683 of the Revised Forestry Code (Forestry Code).4 The Facts

different varieties. The total volume was 96.14 board feet belonging to the first group of hardwood lumber.7 Lasala, Responsible Supply Sergeant, Finance Sergeant and Evidence Custodian, PNP, Maasin, Southern Leyte, testified that he received the 20 pieces of assorted sizes and varieties of lumber from the Clerk of Court of the Municipal Trial Court, but only ten pieces remained because some were damaged due to lack of storage space.8 For the defense, petitioner presented Dionisio Candole (Candole), Apolonio Caalim (Caalim), and himself as witnesses. Petitioner testified that he is a carpenter specializing in furniture making. He was in his house working on an ordered divider for a customer in the morning of 18 June 1992 when policemen arrived and inspected his lumber. Maceda, Sunit and Rojas entered his house while Talisic stayed outside. Petitioner admitted to the policemen that he had no permit to possess the lumber because those were only given to him by his uncle Felixberto Bug-os (Bug-os), his aunt Gliceria Bolo (Bolo), his mother-in-law Cecilia Tenio (Tenio). The seven pieces of "magkalipay" lumber were left over from a divider he made for his cousin Jose Epiz. He explained further that the lumber were intended for the repair of his dilapidated house.9 The defense presented Caalim to corroborate the testimony of petitioner.10 Defense witness Candole testified that it was Bug-os who hired him to cut a "tugas" tree on his land, sawed it into lumber and delivered the same to petitioner who paid for the labor transporting the sawn lumber. Candole further testified that while they were on their way to Barangay Combado, Sunit stopped them but allowed the lumber to be brought to the house of petitioner.11 The Ruling of the Trial Court The trial court stated that petitioner failed to present Bug-os, Bolo, and Tenio to attest to the fact that they sought prior DENR permission before cutting the trees and sawing them into lumber. The trial court further stated that the Forestry Code is a special law where criminal intent is not necessary. The Secretary of the DENR may issue a Special Private Land Timber Permit to landowners to cut, gather, collect or remove narra or other premium hardwood species found in private lands. Transportation of timber or other forest products without authority or without the legal documents required under forest rules and regulations is punishable under Section 68 of the Forestry Code. Petitioner did not present any document as required by law. The RTC-Branch 25 rendered judgment on 5 September 1997 convicting petitioner of the offense charged and sentencing him as follows: WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered finding the accused OLYMPIO REVALDO GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the offense charged and, crediting him with one mitigating circumstance before applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law hereby SENTENCES him to an indeterminate imprisonment term of FOUR (4) YEARS and TWO (2) MONTHS of PRISION CORRECCIONAL as minimum to EIGHT (8) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of PRISION MAYOR, as maximum, and to pay the costs.

The 21 pieces of flat lumber of different varieties, scaled at 96.14 board feet and valued at P1,730.52 are hereby ordered CONFISCATED and FORFEITED in favor of the government particularly the CENRO, Maasin, Southern Leyte which shall sell the same at public auction and the proceeds turned over to the National Treasury.12 Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals. The Ruling of the Court of Appeals On 23 August 2004, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court. The Court of Appeals ruled that motive or intention is immaterial for the reason that mere possession of the lumber without the legal documents gives rise to criminal liability. Hence, the present petition. The Courts Ruling Petitioner contends that the warrantless search and seizure conducted by the police officers was illegal and thus the items seized should not have been admitted in evidence against him. Petitioner argues that the police officers were not armed with a search warrant when they went to his house to verify the report of Sunit that petitioner had in his possession lumber without the corresponding license. The police officers who conducted the search in the premises of petitioner acted on the basis only on the verbal order of the Chief of Police. Sunit had already informed the team of the name of petitioner and the location the day before they conducted the search. Petitioner argues that, with that information on hand, the police officers could have easily convinced a judge that there was probable cause to justify the issuance of a search warrant, but they did not. Because the search was illegal, all items recovered from petitioner during the illegal search were prohibited from being used as evidence against him. Petitioner therefore prays for his acquittal.1avvphi1.zw+ In its Comment, respondent People of the Philippines (respondent) contends that even without a search warrant, the personnel of the PNP can seize the forest products cut, gathered or taken by an offender pursuant to Section 8013 of the Forestry Code. There is no question that the police officers went to the house of petitioner because of the information relayed by Sunit that petitioner had in his possession illegally cut lumber. When the police officers arrived at the house of petitioner, the lumber were lying around the vicinity of petitioners house. The lumber were in plain view. Under the plain view doctrine, objects falling in "plain view" of an officer who has a right to be in the position to have that view are subject to seizure and may be presented as evidence. This Court had the opportunity to summarize the rules governing plain view searches in the case of People v. Doria,14 to wit: The "plain view" doctrine applies when the following requisites concur: (a) the law enforcement officer in search of the evidence has a prior justification for an intrusion or is in a position from which he can view a particular area; (b) the discovery of the evidence in plain view is inadvertent; (c) it is immediately apparent to the officer that the item he observes

may be evidence of a crime, contraband or otherwise subject to seizure. The law enforcement officer must lawfully make an initial intrusion or properly be in a position from which he can particularly view the area. In the course of such lawful intrusion, he came inadvertently across a piece of evidence incriminating the accused. The object must be open to eye and hand and its discovery inadvertent.15 When asked whether he had the necessary permit to possess the lumber, petitioner failed to produce one. Petitioner merely replied that the lumber in his possession was intended for the repair of his house and for his furniture shop. There was thus probable cause for the police officers to confiscate the lumber. There was, therefore, no necessity for a search warrant. The seizure of the lumber from petitioner who did not have the required permit to possess the forest products cut is sanctioned by Section 68 of the Forestry Code which provides: Sec. 68. Cutting, Gathering and/or Collecting Timber, or Other Forest Products Without License. Any person who shall cut, gather, collect, remove timber or other forest products from any forest land, or timber from alienable or disposable public land, or from private land without any authority, or possess timber or other forest products without the legal documents as required under existing forest laws and regulations, shall be punished with the penalties imposed under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code: Provided, That in the case of partnerships, associations, or corporations, the officers who ordered the cutting, gathering, collection or possession shall be liable, and if such officers are aliens, they shall, in addition to the penalty, be deported without further proceedings on the part of the Commission on Immigration and Deportation. The Court shall further order the confiscation in favor of the government of the timber or any forest products cut, gathered, collected, removed, or possessed, as well as the machinery, equipment, implements and tools illegally used in the area where the timber or forest products are found. (Emphasis supplied) There are two distinct and separate offenses punished under Section 68 of the Forestry Code, to wit: (1) Cutting, gathering, collecting and removing timber or other forest products from any forest land, or timber from alienable or disposable public land, or from private land without any authority; and (2) Possession of timber or other forest products without the legal documents required under existing forest laws and regulations.16 As the Court held in People v. Que,17 in the first offense, one can raise as a defense the legality of the acts of cutting, gathering, collecting, or removing timber or other forest products by presenting the authorization issued by the DENR. In the second offense, however, it is immaterial whether the cutting, gathering, collecting and removal of the forest products are legal or not. Mere possession of forest products without the proper documents consummates the crime. Whether or not the lumber comes from a legal source

is immaterial because the Forestry Code is a special law which considers mere possession of timber or other forest products without the proper documentation as malum prohibitum. On whether the police officers had the authority to arrest petitioner, even without a warrant, Section 80 of the Forestry Code authorizes the forestry officer or employee of the DENR or any personnel of the PNP to arrest, even without a warrant, any person who has committed or is committing in his presence any of the offenses defined by the Forestry Code and to seize and confiscate the tools and equipment used in committing the offense or the forest products gathered or taken by the offender. Section 80 reads: Sec. 80. Arrest; Institution of Criminal Actions. - A forest officer or employee of the Bureau or any personnel of the Philippine Constabulary/Philippine National Police shall arrest even without warrant any person who has committed or is committing in his presence any of the offenses defined in this chapter. He shall also seize and confiscate, in favor of the Government, the tools and equipment used in committing the offense, and the forest products cut, gathered or taken by the offender in the process of committing the offense. x x x (Emphasis supplied) Petitioner was in possession of the lumber without the necessary documents when the police officers accosted him. In open court, petitioner categorically admitted the possession and ownership of the confiscated lumber as well as the fact that he did not have any legal documents therefor and that he merely intended to use the lumber for the repair of his dilapidated house. Mere possession of forest products without the proper documentation consummates the crime. Dura lex sed lex. The law may be harsh but that is the law. On the penalty imposed by the lower courts, we deem it necessary to discuss the matter. Violation of Section 68 of the Forestry Code is punished as Qualified Theft with the penalties imposed under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code,18 thus: Art. 309. Penalties. - Any person guilty of theft shall be punished by: 1. The penalty of prisin mayor in its minimum and medium periods, if the value of the thing stolen is more than 12,000 pesos but does not exceed 22,000 pesos; but if the value of the thing stolen exceeds the latter amount, the penalty shall be the maximum period of the one prescribed in this paragraph, and one year for each additional ten thousand pesos, but the total of the penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In such cases, and in connection with the accessory penalties which may be imposed and for the purpose of the other provisions of this Code, the penalty shall be termed prisin mayor or reclusin temporal, as the case may be. 2. The penalty of prisin correccional in its medium and maximum periods, if the value of the thing stolen is more than 6,000 pesos but does not exceed 12,000 pesos.

3. The penalty of prisin correccional in its minimum and medium periods, if the value of the property stolen is more than 200 pesos but does not exceed 6,000 pesos. 4. Arresto mayor in its medium period to prisin correccional in its minimum period, if the value of the property stolen is over 50 pesos but does not exceed 200 pesos. 5. Arresto mayor to its full extent, if such value is over 5 pesos but does not exceed 50 pesos. 6. Arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods, if such value does not exceed 5 pesos. 7. Arresto menor or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos, if the theft is committed under the circumstances enumerated in paragraph 3 of the next preceding article and the value of the thing stolen does not exceed 5 pesos. If such value exceeds said amount, the provisions of any of the five preceding subdivisions shall be made applicable. 8. Arresto menor in its minimum period or a fine not exceeding 50 pesos, when the value of the thing stolen is not over 5 pesos, and the offender shall have acted under the impulse of hunger, poverty, or the difficulty of earning a livelihood for the support of himself or his family. Art. 310. Qualified theft. - The crime of qualified theft shall be punished by the penalties next higher by two degrees than those respectively specified in the next preceding articles, x x x. The trial court applied Article 309(3), in relation to Article 310 of the Revised Penal Code, considering that the amount involved was P1,730.52. However, except for the amount stated in the Information, the prosecution did not present any proof as to the value of the lumber. What the prosecution presented were the Seizure Receipt19 and Confiscation Receipt20 stating the number of pieces of lumber, their species, dimensions and volumes, with "no pertinent supporting document." These do not suffice. As we have held in Merida v. People,21 to prove the amount of the property taken for fixing the penalty imposable against the accused under Article 309 of the Revised Penal Code, the prosecution must present more than a mere uncorroborated "estimate" of such fact. In the absence of independent and reliable corroboration of such estimate, the courts may either apply the minimum penalty under Article 309 or fix the value of the property taken based on the attendant circumstances of the case. Accordingly, the prescribed penalty under Article 309(6) of the Revised Penal Code is arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods. However, considering that violation of Section 68 of the Forestry Code is punished as qualified theft under Article 310 of the Revised Penal Code pursuant to the Forestry Code, the prescribed penalty shall be increased by two degrees,22 that is, to prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods or two (2) years, four (4)

months and one (1) day to six (6) years. Taking into account the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the minimum term shall be taken from anywhere within the range of four (4) months and one (1) day to two (2) years and four (4) months of arresto mayor, which is the penalty next lower to the prescribed penalty. We find it proper to impose upon petitioner, under the circumstances obtaining here, the indeterminate penalty of four (4) months and one (1) day of arresto mayor, as minimum, to two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of prision correccional, as maximum. WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM the appealed Decision convicting petitioner for violation of Section 68 (now Section 77) of the Forestry Code, as amended, with MODIFICATION as regards the penalty in that petitioner Olympio Revaldo is sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of four (4) months and one (1) day of arresto mayor, as minimum, to two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of prision correccional, as maximum. SO ORDERED. G.R. No. 188611 June 16, 2010

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, vs. BELEN MARIACOS, Appellant. DECISION NACHURA, J.: Before this Court is an appeal from the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 02718, which affirmed the decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 29, San Fernando City, La Union, in Criminal Case No. 7144, finding appellant Belen Mariacos guilty of violating Article II, Section 5 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. The facts of the case, as summarized by the CA, are as follows: Accused-appellant Belen Mariacos was charged in an Information, dated November 7, 2005 of violating Section 5, Article II of Republic Act [No.] 9165, allegedly committed as follows: "That on or about the 27th day of October, 2005, in the Municipality of San Gabriel, Province of La Union, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously transport, deliver 7,030.3, (sic) grams of dried marijuana fruiting tops without the necessary permit or authority from the proper government agency or office. CONTRARY TO LAW." When arraigned on December 13, 2005, accused-appellant pleaded not guilty. During the pre-trial, the following were stipulated upon:

"1. Accused admits that she is the same person identified in the information as Belen Mariacos; 2. That accused is a resident of Brgy. Lunoy, San Gabriel, La Union; 3. That at the time of the arrest of the accused, accused had just alighted from a passenger jeepney; 4. That the marijuana allegedly taken from the possession of the accused contained in two (2) bags were submitted for examination to the Crime Lab; 5. That per Chemistry Report No. D-109-2005, the alleged drug submitted for examination gave positive result for the presence of marijuana; 6. That the drugs allegedly obtained from the accused contained (sic) and submitted for examination weighed 7,030.3 grams; 7. The Prosecutor admits the existence of a counter-affidavit executed by the accused; and 8. The existence of the affidavits executed by the witnesses of the accused family (sic): Lyn Punasen, Mercedes Tila and Magdalena Carino." During the trial, the prosecution established the following evidence: On October 26, 2005, in the evening, the San Gabriel Police Station of San Gabriel, La Union, conducted a checkpoint near the police station at the poblacion to intercept a suspected transportation of marijuana from Barangay Balbalayang, San Gabriel, La Union. The group at the checkpoint was composed of PO2 Lunes B. Pallayoc ("PO2 Pallayoc"), the Chief of Police, and other policemen. When the checkpoint did not yield any suspect or marijuana, the Chief of Police instructed PO2 Pallayoc to proceed to Barangay Balbalayang to conduct surveillance operation (sic). At dawn on October 27, 2005, in Barangay Balbalayang, PO2 Pallayoc met with a secret agent of the Barangay Intelligence Network who informed him that a baggage of marijuana had been loaded on a passenger jeepney that was about to leave for the poblacion. The agent mentioned three (3) bags and one (1) blue plastic bag. Further, the agent described a backpack bag with an "O.K." marking. PO2 Pallayoc then boarded the said jeepney and positioned himself on top thereof. While the vehicle was in motion, he found the black backpack with an "O.K." marking and peeked inside its contents. PO2 Pallayoc found bricks of marijuana wrapped in newspapers. He then asked the other passengers on top of the jeepney about the owner of the bag, but no one knew. When the jeepney reached the poblacion, PO2 Pallayoc alighted together with the other passengers. Unfortunately, he did not notice who took the black backpack from atop the jeepney. He only realized a few moments later that the said

bag and three (3) other bags, including a blue plastic bag, were already being carried away by two (2) women. He caught up with the women and introduced himself as a policeman. He told them that they were under arrest, but one of the women got away. PO2 Pallayoc brought the woman, who was later identified as herein accused-appellant Belen Mariacos, and the bags to the police station. At the police station, the investigators contacted the Mayor of San Gabriel to witness the opening of the bags. When the Mayor arrived about fifteen (15) minutes later, the bags were opened and three (3) bricks of marijuana wrapped in newspaper, two (2) round bundles of marijuana, and two (2) bricks of marijuana fruiting tops, all wrapped in a newspaper, were recovered. Thereafter, the investigators marked, inventoried and forwarded the confiscated marijuana to the crime laboratory for examination. The laboratory examination showed that the stuff found in the bags all tested positive for marijuana, a dangerous drug. When it was accused-appellants turn to present evidence, she testified that: On October 27, 2005, at around 7:00 in the morning, accused-appellant, together with Lani Herbacio, was inside a passenger jeepney bound for the poblacion. While the jeepney was still at the terminal waiting for passengers, one Bennie Lao-ang ("Lao-ang"), her neighbor, requested her to carry a few bags which had been loaded on top of the jeepney. At first, accused-appellant refused, but she was persuaded later when she was told that she would only be carrying the bags. When they reached the poblacion, Laoang handed accused-appellant and her companion, Lani Herbacio, the bags, and then Lao-ang suddenly ran away. A few moments later, PO2 Pallayoc was upon them, arresting them. Without explanation, they were brought to the police station. When they were at the police station, Lani Herbacio disappeared. It was also at the police station that accusedappellant discovered the true contents of the bags which she was asked to carry. She maintained that she was not the owner of the bags and that she did not know what were contained in the bags. At the police station (sic) she executed a Counter-Affidavit.3 On January 31, 2007, the RTC promulgated a decision, the dispositive portion of which states: WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused Belen Mariacos GUILTY as charged and sentences here (sic) to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P500,000.00. The 7,030.3 grams of marijuana are ordered confiscated and turned over to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for destruction in the presence of the Court personnel and media. SO ORDERED.4 Appellant appealed her conviction to the CA. She argued that the trial court erred in considering the evidence of the prosecution despite its inadmissibility.5 She claimed that her right against an unreasonable search was flagrantly violated

by Police Officer (PO)2 Pallayoc when the latter searched the bag, assuming it was hers, without a search warrant and with no permission from her. She averred that PO2 Pallayocs purpose for apprehending her was to verify if the bag she was carrying was the same one he had illegally searched earlier. Moreover, appellant contended that there was no probable cause for her arrest.6 Further, appellant claimed that the prosecution failed to prove the corpus delicti of the crime.7 She alleged that the apprehending police officers violated Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 3, Series of 1979, as amended by Board Regulation No. 2, Series of 1990, which prescribes the procedure in the custody of seized prohibited and regulated drugs, instruments, apparatuses, and articles. The said regulation directs the apprehending team having initial custody and control of the drugs and/or paraphernalia, immediately after seizure or confiscation, to have the same physically inventoried and photographed in the presence of appellant or her representative, who shall be required to sign copies of the inventory. The failure to comply with this directive, appellant claimed, casts a serious doubt on the identity of the items allegedly confiscated from her. She, likewise, averred that the prosecution failed to prove that the items allegedly confiscated were indeed prohibited drugs, and to establish the chain of custody over the same. On the other hand, the People, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), argued that the warrantless arrest of appellant and the warrantless seizure of marijuana were valid and legal,8 justified as a search of a moving vehicle. It averred that PO2 Pallayoc had reasonable ground to believe that appellant had committed the crime of delivering dangerous drugs based on reliable information from their agent, which was confirmed when he peeked into the bags and smelled the distinctive odor of marijuana.9 The OSG also argued that appellant was now estopped from questioning the illegality of her arrest since she voluntarily entered a plea of "not guilty" upon arraignment and participated in the trial and presented her evidence.10 The OSG brushed aside appellants argument that the bricks of marijuana were not photographed and inventoried in her presence or that of her counsel immediately after confiscation, positing that physical inventory may be done at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the apprehending team, whichever was practicable.11 In a Decision dated January 19, 2009, the CA dismissed appellants appeal and affirmed the RTC decision in toto.12 It held that the prosecution had successfully proven that appellant carried away from the jeepney a number of bags which, when inspected by the police, contained dangerous drugs. The CA ruled that appellant was caught in flagrante delicto of "carrying and conveying" the bag that contained the illegal drugs, and thus held that appellants warrantless arrest was valid. The appellate court ratiocinated: It must be stressed that PO2 Pallayoc had earlier ascertained the contents of the bags when he was aboard the jeep. He saw the bricks of marijuana wrapped in newspaper. That said marijuana was on board the jeepney to be delivered to a specified destination was already unlawful. PO2 Pallayoc needed only to see for himself to whom those bags belonged. So, when he saw accusedappellant carrying the bags, PO2 Pallayoc was within his lawful duty to make a warrantless arrest of accusedappellant.

xxxx 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. Secondly, the facts of the case show the urgency of the situation. The local police has been trying to intercept the transport of the illegal drugs for more than a day, to no avail. Thus, when PO2 Pallayoc was tipped by the secret agent of the Barangay Intelligence Network, PO2 Pallayoc had no other recourse than to verify as promptly as possible the tip and check the contents of the bags. Thirdly, x x x 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.13 Appellant is now before this Court, appealing her conviction. Once again, we are asked to determine the limits of the powers of the States agents to conduct searches and seizures. Over the years, this Court had laid down the rules on searches and seizures, providing, more or less, clear parameters in determining which are proper and which are not.1avvphi1 Appellants main argument before the CA centered on the inadmissibility of the evidence used against her. She claims that her constitutional right against unreasonable searches was flagrantly violated by the apprehending officer. Thus, we must determine if the search was lawful. If it was, then there would have been probable cause for the warrantless arrest of appellant. Article III, Section 2 of the Philippine Constitution provides: Section 2. 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, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized. Law and jurisprudence have laid down the instances when a warrantless search is valid. These are: 1. Warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest recognized under Section 12 [now Section

13], Rule 126 of the Rules of Court and by prevailing jurisprudence; 2. Seizure of evidence in "plain view," the elements of which are: (a) a prior valid intrusion based on the valid warrantless arrest in which the police are legally present in the pursuit of their official duties; (b) the evidence was inadvertently discovered by the police who had the right to be where they are; (c) the evidence must be immediately apparent[;] and; (d) "plain view" justified mere seizure of evidence without further search. 3. Search of a moving vehicle. Highly regulated by the government, the vehicle's inherent mobility reduces expectation of privacy especially when its transit in public thoroughfares furnishes a highly reasonable suspicion amounting to probable cause that the occupant committed a criminal activity; 4. Consented warrantless search; 5. Customs search; 6. Stop and Frisk; and 7. Exigent and Emergency Circumstances.14 Both the trial court and the CA anchored their respective decisions on the fact that the search was conducted on a moving vehicle to justify the validity of the search. Indeed, the search of a moving vehicle is one of the doctrinally accepted exceptions to the Constitutional mandate that no search or seizure shall be made except by virtue of a warrant issued by a judge after personally determining the existence of probable cause.15 In People v. Bagista,16 the Court said: 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. With regard to the search of moving vehicles, this had been justified on the ground that the mobility of motor vehicles makes it possible for the vehicle to be searched to move out of the locality or jurisdiction in which the warrant must be sought.

This in no way, however, gives the police officers unlimited discretion to conduct warrantless searches of automobiles in the absence of probable cause. When a vehicle is stopped and subjected to an extensive search, such a warrantless search has been held to be valid only as long as the officers conducting the search have reasonable or probable cause to believe before the search that they will find the instrumentality or evidence pertaining to a crime, in the vehicle to be searched. 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.17 Without probable cause, the articles seized cannot be admitted in evidence against the person arrested.18 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.19 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.20 Over the years, the rules governing search and seizure have been steadily liberalized whenever a moving vehicle is the object of the search on the basis of practicality. This is so considering that before a warrant could be obtained, the place, things and persons to be searched must be described to the satisfaction of the issuing judge a requirement which borders on the impossible in instances where moving vehicle is used to transport contraband from one place to another with impunity.21 This exception is easy to understand. A search warrant may readily be obtained when the search is made in a store, dwelling house or other immobile structure. But it is impracticable to obtain a warrant when the search is conducted on a mobile ship, on an aircraft, or in other motor vehicles since they can quickly be moved out of the locality or jurisdiction where the warrant must be sought.22 Given the discussion above, it is readily apparent that the search in this case is valid. The vehicle that carried the contraband or prohibited drugs was about to leave. PO2 Pallayoc had to make a quick decision and act fast. It would be unreasonable to require him to procure a warrant before conducting the search under the circumstances. Time was of the essence in this case. The searching officer had no time

to obtain a warrant. Indeed, he only had enough time to board the vehicle before the same left for its destination. It is well to remember that on October 26, 2005, the night before appellants arrest, the police received information that marijuana was to be transported from Barangay Balbalayang, and had set up a checkpoint around the area to intercept the suspects. At dawn of October 27, 2005, PO2 Pallayoc met the secret agent from the Barangay Intelligence Network, who informed him that a baggage of marijuana was loaded on a passenger jeepney about to leave for the poblacion. Thus, PO2 Pallayoc had probable cause to search the packages allegedly containing illegal drugs. This Court has also, time and again, upheld as valid a warrantless search incident to a lawful arrest. Thus, Section 13, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court provides: SEC. 13. Search incident to lawful arrest.A person lawfully arrested may be searched for dangerous weapons or anything which may have been used or constitute proof in the commission of an offense without a search warrant.23 For this rule to apply, it is imperative that there be a prior valid arrest. Although, generally, a warrant is necessary for a valid arrest, the Rules of Court provides the exceptions therefor, to wit: SEC. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful.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 just been committed and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances 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 is 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) above, the person arrested without a warrant shall be forthwith delivered to the nearest police station or jail and shall be proceeded against in accordance with section 7 of Rule 112.24 Be that as it may, we have held that a search substantially contemporaneous with an arrest can precede the arrest if the police has probable cause to make the arrest at the outset of the search.25 Given that the search was valid, appellants arrest based on that search is also valid.

Article II, Section 5 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 states: SEC. 5 Sale, Trading, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Distribution and Transportation of Dangerous Drugs and/or Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals. The penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) to Ten million pesos (P10,000,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person, who, unless authorized by law, shall sell, trade, administer, dispense, deliver, give away to another, distribute, dispatch in transit or transport any dangerous drug, including any and all species of opium poppy regardless of the quantity and purity involved, or shall act as a broker in any of such transactions. The penalty of imprisonment ranging from twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years and a fine ranging from One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) to Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person who, unless authorized by law, shall sell, trade, administer, dispense, deliver, give away to another, distribute, dispatch in transit or transport any controlled precursor and essential chemical, or shall act as a broker in such transactions. In her defense, appellant averred that the packages she was carrying did not belong to her but to a neighbor who had asked her to carry the same for him. This contention, however, is of no consequence. When an accused is charged with illegal possession or transportation of prohibited drugs, the ownership thereof is immaterial. Consequently, proof of ownership of the confiscated marijuana is not necessary.26 Appellants alleged lack of knowledge does not constitute a valid defense. Lack of criminal intent and good faith are not exempting circumstances where the crime charged is malum prohibitum, as in this case.27 Mere possession and/or delivery of a prohibited drug, without legal authority, is punishable under the Dangerous Drugs Act.28 Anti-narcotics laws, like anti-gambling laws, are regulatory statutes. They are rules of convenience designed to secure a more orderly regulation of the affairs of society, and their violation gives rise to crimes mala prohibita. Laws defining crimes mala prohibita condemn behavior directed not against particular individuals, but against public order.29 Jurisprudence defines "transport" as "to carry or convey from one place to another."30 There is no definitive moment when an accused "transports" a prohibited drug. When the circumstances establish the purpose of an accused to transport and the fact of transportation itself, there should be no question as to the perpetration of the criminal act.31 The fact that there is actual conveyance suffices to support a finding that the act of transporting was committed and it is immaterial whether or not the place of destination is reached.32 Moreover, appellants possession of the packages containing illegal drugs gave rise to the disputable presumption33 that she is the owner of the packages and their contents.34 Appellant failed to rebut this presumption.

Her uncorroborated claim of lack of knowledge that she had prohibited drug in her possession is insufficient. Appellants narration of facts deserves little credence. If it is true that Bennie Lao-ang merely asked her and her companion to carry some baggages, it is but logical to first ask what the packages contained and where these would be taken. Likewise, if, as appellant said, Lao-ang ran away after they disembarked from the jeepney, appellant and her companion should have ran after him to give him the bags he had left with them, and not to continue on their journey without knowing where they were taking the bags. Next, appellant argues that the prosecution failed to prove the corpus delicti of the crime. In particular, she alleged that the apprehending police officers failed to follow the procedure in the custody of seized prohibited and regulated drugs, instruments, apparatuses, and articles. In all prosecutions for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act, the existence of all dangerous drugs is a sine qua non for conviction. The dangerous drug is the very corpus delicti of that crime.35 Thus, Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 prescribes the procedure for custody and disposition of seized dangerous drugs, to wit: Section 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized, and/or Surrendered Dangerous Drugs, Plant Sources of Dangerous Drugs, Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals, Instruments/Paraphernalia and/or Laboratory Equipment. The PDEA shall take charge and have custody of all dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment so confiscated, seized and/or surrendered, for proper disposition in the following manner: (1) The apprehending team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, immediately after seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy thereof. The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of R.A. No. 9165 further provides: SECTION 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized and/or Surrendered Dangerous Drugs, Plant Sources of Dangerous Drugs, Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals, Instruments/Paraphernalia and/or Laboratory Equipment. The PDEA shall take charge and have custody of all dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment so confiscated, seized and/or surrendered, for proper disposition in the following manner: (a) The apprehending officer/team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, immediately after seizure and

confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy thereof: Provided, that the physical inventory and photograph shall be conducted at the place where the search warrant is served; or at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the apprehending officer/team, whichever is practicable, in case of warrantless seizures; Provided, further, that non-compliance with these requirements under justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team, shall not render void and invalid such seizures of and custody over said items. PO2 Pallayoc testified that after apprehending appellant, he immediately brought her to the police station. At the station, the police requested the Mayor to witness the opening of the bags seized from appellant. When the Mayor arrived, he opened the bag in front of appellant and the other police officers. The black bag yielded three bricks of marijuana wrapped in newspaper, while the plastic bag yielded two bundles of marijuana and two bricks of marijuana fruiting tops.36 PO2 Pallayoc identified the bricks. He and PO3 Stanley Campit then marked the same. Then the seized items were brought to the PNP Crime Laboratory for examination. It is admitted that there were no photographs taken of the drugs seized, that appellant was not accompanied by counsel, and that no representative from the media and the DOJ were present. However, this Court has already previously held that non-compliance with Section 21 is not fatal and will not render an accuseds arrest illegal, or make the items seized inadmissible. What is of utmost importance is the preservation of the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items.37 Based on the testimony of PO2 Pallayoc, after appellants arrest, she was immediately brought to the police station where she stayed while waiting for the Mayor. It was the Mayor who opened the packages, revealing the illegal drugs, which were thereafter marked and sent to the police crime laboratory the following day. Contrary to appellants claim, the prosecutions evidence establishes the chain of custody from the time of appellants arrest until the prohibited drugs were tested at the police crime laboratory. While it is true that the arresting officer failed to state explicitly the justifiable ground for non-compliance with Section 21, this does not necessarily mean that appellants arrest was illegal or that the items seized are inadmissible. The justifiable ground will remain unknown because appellant did not question the custody and disposition of the items taken from her during the trial.38 Even assuming that the police officers failed to abide by Section 21, appellant should have raised this issue before the trial court. She could have moved for the quashal of the information at the first instance. But she did not. Hence, she is deemed to have waived any objection on the matter. Further, the actions of the police officers, in relation to the procedural rules on the chain of custody, enjoyed the presumption of regularity in the performance of official

functions. Courts accord credence and full faith to the testimonies of police authorities, as they are presumed to be performing their duties regularly, absent any convincing proof to the contrary.39 In sum, the prosecution successfully established appellants guilt. Thus, her conviction must be affirmed. WHEREFORE, the foregoing premises considered, the appeal is DISMISSED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 02718 is AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED. G.R. No. 135503 July 6, 2000

same court before which the criminal case is pending as a result of its issuance. But if the criminal case which was subsequently filed by virtue of the serach warrant is raffled off to a different branch, all incidents relating to the validity of the warrant issued should be consolidated with that branch trying the criminal case (see Nolasco v. Pao, 139 SCRA 152 [1985]), the rationale is to avoid confusion as regards the issue of jurisdiction over the case and to promote an orderly administration of justice. Treating the argument of the prosecution as a prejudicial question, the trial court resolved the same ahead of the merits of petitioner's motion to quash and held x x x x Thus, the Court cannot afford to ignore the long established rule that "courts of equal rank and jurisdiction are proscribed from interfering with or passing upon the orders or processes of its coordinate counterpart, except in extreme situations authorized by law," People vs. Woolcock, et al., May 22, 1995, 244 SCRA 235. Further, in the light of the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court inMalaloan v. Court of Appeals, May 6, 1994, 232 SCRA 249, this present motion under consideration should have been filed with the RTC-Branch 23 of Manila. Said guidelines are quoted below, thus: 1) The court wherein the criminal case is pending shall have primary jurisdiction to issue search warrants necessitated by and for purposes of said case. An application for a search warrant may be filed with another court only under extreme and compelling circumstances that the applicant must prove to the satisfaction of the latter which may or may not give due course to the application depending on the validity of the justification offered for not filing the same in the court with primary jurisdiction thereover. 2) When the latter court issues the search warrant, a motion to quash the same may be filed in and shall be resolved by said court, without prejudice to any proper recourse to the appropriate high court by the party aggrieved by the resolution of the issuing court. All grounds and objections then available, existent or known shall be raised in the original or subsequent proceedings for the quashal of the warrant, otherwise they shall be deemed waived (emphasis supplied). x x x x Moreover x x x x we are of the considered view that the issuing court (RTC-Br. 23, Manila) is in a vantage position to resolve this instant motion inasmuch as it has in its possession all the available records and can, therefore, make an intelligible assessment of the evidence on hand.6 On 17 January 1997 the trial court thus denied petitioner's motion to quash and ordered the Branch Clerk of Court to set the case for pre-trial conference.7 Petitioner questioned the denial of his motion to quash in a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals. In its

WILLIAM A. GARAYGAY, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent. BELLOSILLO, J.: WHICH COURT should resolve the motion to quash search warrant in a case where the court that issued it is not the court with which the case is filed as a consequence of the service of the warrant? On 30 July 1996 the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, presiding over Branch 23, issued Search Warrant No. 96-5051 upon application of the Presidential Task Force on Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence (PTFIC). The warrant authorized a search of the house of petitioner William A. Garaygay located in Marigondon, LapuLapu City, a place outside the territorial jurisdiction of the issuing court. Thereafter the PTFIC through its Regional Task Group conducted a raid on the house of petitioner resulting in the seizure of several items of firearms, explosives, ammunition and other prohibited paraphernalia. On 7 August 1996 an Information for violation of PD 18662 was filed before the Regional Trial Court of Lapu-Lapu City3 against petitioner who upon being arraigned pleaded not guilty. Subsequently, petitioner filed with the Regional Trial Court of Lapu-Lapu City a Motion to Quash Search Warrant and To Exclude Illegally Seized Evidence dated 26 September 1996 on the ground that the search warrant was issued in violation of Supreme Court Circular No. 19,4 and that it was a general warrant. On the other hand, the prosecution argued that the motion to quash should have been filed with the RTC of Manila which issued the warrant. But petitioner reminded the trial court of People v. Bans5 where we ruled Generally, an order of a court of competent jurisdiction may not be modified or altered by any court of concurrent jurisdiction. Given the facts of this case, however, this rule cannot be applied. There could have been no problem had the court which issued the search warrant was likewise the

assailed Decision of 18 May 1998 the appellate court dismissed the petition and on 11 September 1998 rejected likewise his motion for reconsideration. The Court of Appeals explained x x x x This ruling (People v. Bans) is, however, applicable only when, as in the Bans case, two different branches of the same Regional Trial Court are involved. With regard to the case at bar, the search warrant was issued by the Regional Trial Court of Manila (Branch 23). On the other hand, the criminal case is pending before the Regional Trial Court of Lapu-Lapu City (Branch 54). Thus, the ruling in the case ofPeople v. Woolcock, 244 SCRA 235, is applicable. That case involved two courts having different geographical jurisdictions x x x x8 For resolution now before this Court are these issues: (a) whether the trial court of Lapu-Lapu City where the criminal case was filed is clothed with authority to resolve the Motion to Quash Search Warrant . . . ; and, (b) whether the search warrant issued by the RTC of Manila is valid. Aside from invoking People v. Bans anew, petitioner cites Nolasco v. Pao9 which was quoted in Bans It should be advisable that, whenever a Search Warrant has been issued by one Court, or Branch, and a criminal prosecution is initiated in another Court, or Branch, as a result of the service of the Search warrant, the SEARCH WARRANT CASE should be consolidated with the criminal case for orderly procedure. The later criminal case is more substantial than the Search Warrant proceeding, and the Presiding Judge in the criminal case should have the right to act on petitions to exclude evidence unlawfully obtained. Assuming that the RTC of Lapu-Lapu City is not vested with authority to resolve the issue of the validity of the search warrant, petitioner now submits to this Court the issue for resolution. He argues that a search warrant to be valid must particularly describe the place to be searched. In the present case, the search warrant merely stated, among others, that "William Garaygay a.k.a. William Flores/Willy Ybaez of Brgy. Marigondon, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu x x x x" When the shanty where he was then sleeping was searched by the authorities they found one (1) 9mm Glock pistol duly licensed in his name. Thereafter, he was dragged to an abandoned building about ten (10) to fifteen (15) meters away. It was in that abandoned building where the authorities allegedly found the firearms, explosives, ammunition and other paraphernalia alluded to in the Information. Petitioner next argues that the search in his shanty and in the abandoned building was made by elements of the PTFIC without any witness, in violation of Sec. 7, Rule 126, of the Rules of Criminal Procedure which provides that "[n]o search of house, room, or any other premises shall be made except in the presence of the lawful occupant thereof or any member of his family or, in the absence of the latter, in the presence of two witnesses of sufficient age and discretion residing in the same locality." Petitioner submits that, necessarily, all the items confiscated by the authorities on the basis of the invalid search warrant should be excluded in the criminal case for being "fruits of the poisonous tree."

In 1967, in Pagkalinawan v. Gomez,10we ruled that relief from a search warrant claimed to be invalid should be sought in the court that issued it. We emphasized that any other view would be subversive of a doctrine that has been steadfastly adhered to, the main purpose of which is to assure stability and consistency in judicial actuations and to avoid confusion that may otherwise ensue if courts of coordinate jurisdiction are permitted to interfere with each other's lawful orders. This doctrine was reiterated in Templo v. de la Cruz11 where the accused likewise questioned the validity of the search warrant before a court of concurrent jurisdiction, different from the court which issued the warrant. Subsequently however, in Nolasco v. Pao, we declared that "the pendency of the Search Warrant Case and of the Subversive Documents Case before two (2) different courts is not conducive to an orderly administration of justice. It should be advisable that, whenever a Search Warrant has been issued by one Court or Branch and a criminal prosecution is initiated in another Court or Branch as a result of the service of the Search Warrant, the Search Warrant Case should be consolidated with the criminal case for orderly procedure. The later criminal case is more substantial than the Search Warrant proceeding, and the Presiding Judge in the criminal case should have the right to act on petitions to exclude evidence unlawfully obtained." People v. Bans substantially restated the doctrine in Nolasco v. Pao, i. e., when a search warrant is issued by one court, if the criminal case by virtue of the warrant is raffled off to a branch other than the one which issued the warrant, all incidents relating to the validity of the warrant should be consolidated with the branch trying the criminal case. We explained further therein the underlying reason for the rule x x x x If the rule had been otherwise, i.e., if the issuing court had been allowed to resolve the Motion to Quash the search warrant despite the pendency of a criminal case arising therefrom before another court, it would give rise to the absurd situation where the judge hearing the criminal case will be bound by the declaration of of the validity of the search warrant made by the issuing judge, and the former will thereafter be restrained from reviewing such finding in view of the doctrine of non-interference observed between courts of concurrent and coordinate jurisdiction. Such a situation will thus make it difficult , if not impossible, for respondent court to make an independent and objective appreciation of the evidence and merits of the criminal case. For this reason, the court trying the criminal case should be allowed to rule on the validity of the search warrant in order to arrive at a judicious administration of justice. People v. Woolcock upon which the trial court and the Court of Appeals heavily relied, appeared to have reverted to Templo v. de la Cruz when this Court said that "the remedy for questioning the validity of a search warrant can be sought in the court that issued it, not in the sala of another judge of concurrent jurisdiction." At any rate, the latest jurisprudence on the matter is People v. Court of Appeals12 where, as in the present case, the second of five (5) "policy guidelines" laid down in Malaloan v. Court of Appeals was interpreted. The subject guideline, cited in the reasoning of the trial court, concerns possible conflicts in the exercise of jurisdiction where the criminal case is pending in one court and the search warrant is issued by another court

for the seizure of personal property intended to be used as evidence in the criminal case. We clarified the principle in People v. Court of Appeals thus x x x x Where a search warrant is issued by one court and the criminal action based on the results of the search is afterwards commenced in another court, it is not the rule that a motion to quash the warrant (or to retrieve things thereunder seized) may be filed only with the issuing Court. Such a motion may be filed for the first time in either the issuing Court or that in which the criminal action is pending. However, the remedy is alternative, not cumulative. The Court first taking cognizance of the motion does so to the exclusion of the other, and the proceedings thereon are subject to the Omnibus Motion Rule and the rule against forumshopping. This is clearly stated in the third policy guideline which indeed is what properly applies to the case at bar, to wit: 3. Where no motion to quash the search warrant was filed in or resolved by the issuing court, the interested party may move in the court where the criminal case is pending for the suppression as evidence of the personal property seized under the warrant if the same is offered therein for said purpose. Since two separate courts with different participations are involved in this situation, a motion to quash a search warrant and a motion to suppress evidence are alternative and not cumulative remedies. In order to prevent forum shopping, a motion to quash shall consequently be governed by the omnibus motion rule, provided, however, that objections not available, existent or known during the proceedings for the quashal of the warrant may be raised in the hearing of the motion to suppress. The resolution of the court on the motion to suppress shall likewise be subject to any proper remedy in the appropriate higher court (underscoring supplied).1avvphi1 Conformably therewith, we hold that petitioner's Motion to Quash Search Warrant and To Exclude Illegally Seized Evidence was properly filed with the Regional Trial Court of Lapu-Lapu City. The second issue raised by petitioner involves factual matters which should be properly addressed to the trial court. No compelling reason exists for this Court to impinge on a matter more appropriately within the province of the trial court.13 WHEREFORE, the petition is partially GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals which sustained the Regional Trial Court of Lapu-Lapu City in denying petitioner's Motion to Quash Search Warrant and To Exclude Illegally Seized Evidence, as well as its Resolution denying reconsideration thereof is SET ASIDE. Instead, we rule that the Regional Trial Court of Lapu-Lapu City has jurisdiction to resolve the Motion to Quash Search Warrant and To Exclude Illegally Seized Evidence; accordingly, the Regional Trial Court of Lapu-Lapu City, particularly Branch 54 thereof, or whichever branch the case may be properly assigned therein, is directed to conduct its proceedings thereon with deliberate dispatch taking into account the time already lost. No costs.

SO ORDERED. G.R. No. 164321 November 30, 2006

SKECHERS, U.S.A., INC., Petitioner, vs. INTER PACIFIC INDUSTRIAL TRADING CORP. and/or INTER PACIFIC TRADING CORP. and/or STRONG SPORTS GEAR CO., LTD., and/or STRONGSHOES WAREHOUSE and/or STRONG FASHION SHOES TRADING and/or TAN TUAN HONG and/or VIOLETA T. MAGAYAGA and/or JEFFREY R. MORALES and/or any of its other proprietor/s, directors, officers, employees and/or occupants of its premises located at S-7, Ed & Joes Commercial Arcade, No. 153 Quirino Avenue, Paraaque City, Respondents. x--------------------------------------------x TRENDWORKS INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION, Petitioner-Intervenor, vs. INTER PACIFIC INDUSTRIAL TRADING CORP. and/or INTER PACIFIC TRADING CORP. and/or STRONG SPORTS GEAR CO., LTD., and/or STRONGSHOES WAREHOUSE and/or STRONG FASHION SHOES TRADING and/or TAN TUAN HONG and/or VIOLETA T. MAGAYAGA and/or JEFFREY R. MORALES and/or any of its other proprietor/s, directors, officers, employees and/or occupants of its premises located at S-7, Ed & Joes Commercial Arcade, No. 153 Quirino Avenue, Paraaque City, Respondents. DECISION CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: Before Us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, assailing the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 77269, dated 17 November 2003, which denied petitioners Petition for Certiorari seeking to annul the Order2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 24 dated 7 November 2002, quashing Search Warrant No. 02-2827 and directing National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Special Investigator Carlos N. Borromeo III to return the seized items to respondents and the Order dated 6 March 2003 denying petitioners Motion for Reconsideration. Petitioner is a foreign corporation existing under the laws of the State of California, United States of America and engaged in the manufacture of footwear. Petitioner is not doing business in the Philippines and is suing before the trial court only to protect its intellectual property rights. In the course of business, petitioner registered the trademark "SKECHERS" with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) under Registration No. 63364, Class 25 on 30 August 1996, and the trademark "S" (within an oval design) under Registration No. 4-1996-110182, Class 25 on 12 July 2000, both to be used in mens, womens, and childrens footwear, namely, shoes, boots and slippers of all kinds, and mens, womens and childrens clothing, namely, t-shirts, sweat shirts, sweat pants, socks, shorts, and hats. Petitioner also has a pending application for the trademark "S" and design to be used for the same kinds of goods.

Sometime in March 2002, petitioner engaged the services of Zetetic Far East, Inc. (Zetetic), a private investigative firm, to conduct an investigation on Inter Pacific Industrial Trading Corporation (Inter Pacific) in coordination with the NBI to confirm if Inter Pacific is indeed engaged in the importation, distribution and sale of unauthorized products bearing counterfeit or unauthorized trademarks owned by petitioner. On 11 April 2002, Mr. Alvin Ambion, a Market Researcher for Zetetic, visited the business address of Inter Pacific/Strongshoes Warehouse and/or Strong Fashion Shoes Trading at S-7 No. 153 Quirino Avenue, Paraaque City. Located at said business address was Warehouse No. 7 of Ed & Joes Commercial Arcade. Upon entering said warehouse, Mr. Ambion saw different kinds and models of rubber shoes including shoes bearing the "S" logo. During the visit, Mr. Ambion allegedly talked with the caretakers of said warehouse who informed him that Inter Pacific directly imports the goods from China and that their company distributes them to wholesalers and retailers in the Baclaran area. One of the caretakers allegedly claimed that the shoes bearing the "Strong" name with the "S" logo have the same style as Skechers shoes. Another caretaker purportedly informed Mr. Ambion that they have an outlet located at Stall C-11, Baclaran Terminal, Plaza 2 Shopping Center, Taft Avenue Ext., Pasay City, managed by Violeta T. Magayaga, which sells the same footwear products. Together with his colleague, Ms. Amelita Angeles, Mr. Ambion again visited respondents warehouse on 12 April 2002 and purchased four pairs of rubber shoes bearing the "Strong" mark containing the "S" logo for P730.00, for which he was issued Sales Invoice No. 0715. On the same day, Mr. Ambion and Ms. Angeles visited respondents outlet store in Baclaran. On 17 May 2002, counsel for petitioner filed a letter complaint with the Office of the NBI Director requesting their assistance in stopping the illegal importation, manufacture and sale of counterfeit products bearing the trademarks owned by petitioner, and in prosecuting the owners of the establishments engaged therein. Thus, on 21 May 2002 Mr. Ambion and Ms. Angeles, together with NBI Special Investigator Carlos N. Borromeo III of the Intellectual Property Rights Division of the NBI, visited respondents warehouse located at Ed & Joes Commercial Arcade and purchased 24 pairs of rubber shoes bearing the "Strong" name and the "S" logo. Afterwards, they went to respondents outlet store in Baclaran and therein purchased a pair of rubber shoes also bearing the "Strong" name and the "S" logo. On 11 June 2002, Special Investigator Borromeo of the NBI, with Mr. Ambion as witness, proceeded to Branch 24, RTC, Manila, to apply for search warrants against the warehouse and outlet store being operated and managed by respondent for infringement of trademark under Section 1553 in relation to Section 1704 of Republic Act No. 8293, otherwise known as The Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines. After personally examining the search warrant applicant and his witness, the court a quo found probable cause to issue the search warrants applied for and thus issued on the same day Search Warrant Nos. 02-2827 and 02-2828 to be served on the warehouse and retail outlet of respondent. That same afternoon, the search warrants were simultaneously served by the operatives of the Intellectual Property Rights Division

of the NBI and seized from the warehouse 71 boxes containing 36 pairs of rubber shoes each or 2,556 pairs of rubber shoes bearing the "S" logo, 147 boxes containing 24 pairs per box or 3,528 pairs of rubber shoes bearing the "S" logo and six pages of various documents evidencing the sale and distribution of similar merchandise; and from the outlet store, 295 pairs of rubber shoes bearing the "S" logo and five pieces of rubber shoes bearing the "S" logo. In compliance with the Order dated 9 July 2002 of the RTC directing respondents to file their Comment on the issuance of the search warrant, respondents filed their Compliance and Comment with Prayer to Quash the search warrants. On 28 August 2002, respondents filed their Amended Comment with Motion to Quash Search Warrants on the ground that there is no confusing similarity between the petitioners Skechers rubber shoes and respondents Strong rubber shoes. On 7 November 2002, the lower court issued the assailed Order quashing Search Warrant No. 02-2827 and directing the NBI to return to respondents the items seized by virtue of said search warrant. According to the courta quo: The question to be posed in this case is this: Will the purchaser be deceived or likely to be deceived into purchasing respondents Strong Rubber Shoes because of the belief that they are Skechers shoes in the ordinary course of purchase? We answer in the negative. A careful perusal of the Strong Rubber Shoes and Skechers shoes presented by both respondents and private complainants reveals glaring differences that an ordinary prudent purchaser would not likely be mislead or confused in purchasing the wrong article. Some of these are; 1. The mark "S" found in Strong Shoes is not enclosed in an "oval design"; 2. The word "Strong" is conspicuously placed at the backside and insoles; 3. The hang tags and labels attached to the shoes bears the word "Strong" for respondent and "Sketchers U.S.A." for private complainant; 4. Strong Shoes are modestly priced compared to the costs of Sketchers Shoes. xxxx Similarly as in this case, although the mark "S" is prominent on both products, the same should be considered as a whole and not piecemeal. Factoring the variables already cited make the dissimilarities between the two marks conspicuous, noticeable and substantial. Further, the products involved in the case at bar are not your ordinary household items. These are shoes which vary in price. The casual buyer is predisposed to be more cautious and discriminating and would prefer to mull over his purchase. Confusion and deception is less likely.

Finally, like beer and maong pants and jeans, the average consumer generally buys his rubber shoes by brand. He does not ask the sales clerk for rubber shoes but for, say Adidas, Reebok, or Nike. He is, more or less, knowledgeable and familiar with his preference and will not easily be distracted. (Emerald Garment Manufacturing Corp., v. Court of Appeals, 251 SCRA 600, supra) ACCORDINGLY, respondents Inter Pacific Industrial Trading Corporation, Motion to Quash Search [Warrant] is hereby granted. Search Warrant No. 02-2827 is quashed. The applicant, Carlos N. Borromeo of the National Bureau of Investigation is hereby directed to return to respondents the seized items.5 Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration was subsequently denied in an Order dated 6 March 2003. Aggrieved, petitioner filed a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court before the Court of Appeals assailing the Orders of the court a quo on the ground that public respondent court committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack and/or excess of jurisdiction in ruling that the act of private respondents in selling and distributing rubber shoes which contain the trademarks and designs owned by petitioner does not constitute trademark infringement. On 17 November 2003, the appellate court denied the petition in this wise: In the instant case, after examining and evaluating the foregoing factual milieu and the respective arguments of the parties, We are inclined to agree with the ruling of the public respondent that the holistic test is better suited to the present case and consequently, hold that the private respondents appropriation and use of the letter "S" on their rubber shoes did not constitute an infringement of the trademark of the petitioner. Hence, the instant petition must necessarily fail. A careful appreciation of the products in question readily reveals that these products are not the ordinary household items like catsup, coffee or candy which are commonly inexpensive. As such, the ordinary purchaser would be naturally inclined to closely examine specific details and would prefer to mull over his purchase. The case of Del Monte Corp. vs. Court of Appeals (181 SCRA 410), is clear on this point: Among these, what essentially determines the attitudes of the purchaser, specifically his inclination to be cautious, is the cost of the goods. To be sure, a person who buys a box of candies will not exercise as much care as one who buys an expensive watch. As a general rule, an ordinary buyer does not exercise as much prudence in buying an article for which he pays a few centavos as he does in purchasing a more valuable thing. Expensive and valuable items are normally bought only after deliberate, comparative and analytical investigation. But mass products, low priced articles in wide use, and matters of everyday purchase requiring frequent replacement are bought by the casual consumer without care x x x. In his context, although one of the essential features of the private respondents shoes is the letter "S", suffice it to state that this alone would not likely cause confusion, deception or

mistake on the part of the ordinary buying public. For it must be stressed that an ordinary purchaser of a product like a pair of rubber shoes is an intelligent buyer, who "is accustomed to buy, and therefore to some extent familiar with the goods" (Dy Buncio vs. Tan Tiao Bok, 42 Phil. 190). x x x. xxxx Going further, contrary to the contention of the petitioner, the case of Converse Rubber Corp. vs. Universal Rubber Products, Inc. (147 SCRA 154) is in no way controlling in the instant case considering that it involved a different factual milieu in contrast with that of the instant case. In said case, the respondent sought for the registration of the trademark "UNIVERSAL CONVERSE AND DEVICE" used on rubber shoes. Petitioner opposed on the ground that respondents trademark is confusingly similar to petitioners corporate name which is CONVERSE RUBBER CORPORATION and that it would likely deceive purchasers of products on which it is to be used to an extent that said products may be mistaken by the unwary public to be manufactured by the petitioner, i.e. "CONVERSE CHUCK TAYLOR," "CONVERSE ALL STAR," "ALL STAR CONVERSE CHUCK TAYLOR," OR "ALL STAR DEVICE." The High Court denied the application for registration of respondents trademark ratiocinating as follows: The similarity in the general appearance of respondents trademark and that of petitioner would evidently create a likelihood of confusion among the purchasing public. But even assuming arguendo, that the trademark sought to be registered by respondent is distinctively dissimilar from those of the petitioner, the likelihood of confusion would still subsists, not on the purchasers perception of the goods but on the origins thereof. By appropriating the world "CONVERSE," respondents products are likely to be mistaken as having been produced by petitioner. The risk of damage is not limited to a possible confusion of goods but also includes confusion of reputation if the public could reasonably assume that the goods of the parties originated from the same source. Verily, the foregoing ruling does not apply on all fours in the instant case. The word "CONVERSE" is highly identified not only to the products of Converse Rubber Corporation but to the corporate entity most importantly such that the mere appropriation of the word "CONVERSE" on products like rubber shoes, regardless of whether or not it was compounded with other letters, symbols or words; would not only likely but actually cause one to be mistaken that such rubber shoes had been produced by Converse Rubber Corporation. On the other hand, the letter "S" used on private respondents rubber shoes in the instant case could hardly be considered as highly identifiable to the products of petitioner alone. For it is not amiss to state that the letter "S" has been used in many existing trademarks, the most popular of which is the trademark "S" enclosed by an inverted triangle, which is extremely and profoundly identifiable to the well-known comics action hero, Superman. And perhaps it is due to the existence of these trademarks containing letter "S" that the petitioner was prompted to accessorize that letter "S" in its trademark with an outer oval design and accompany it with the word "SKECHERS" in order to make it distinct from the rest and identifiable only to

its products. As such, the dominancy test as applied in the Converse case could not be applied in the instant case inasmuch as the letter "S," although a dominant feature in petitioners trademark; is neither extremely and profoundly identifiable to the products of petitioner alone nor has it acquired a certain connotation to mean the rubber shoes produced by the petitioner. What is extremely and profoundly identifiable to the products of the petitioner is the whole trademark consisting of the letter "S" enclosed by a uniquely designed oval. Further, confusion and deception are less likely in the instant case considering that the private respondents rubber shoes were distinctly and conspicuously marked "STRONG" at their front side, back side and insoles. Furthermore their hang tags and labels attached to the shoes bear the word "STRONG." In view of these, the dissimilarities between the private respondents and petitioners shoes became more striking and noticeable to the ordinary purchaser who could not in any way be deceived or misled that the shoes he buys is produced by the petitioner. With this, the holistic test is squarely applicable. xxxx As set out in the decision, the foregoing case involves a peculiar factual milieu in stark contrast with the instant case. As such, it finds no application in the controversy in the instant case. Taking off from the foregoing premises, the public respondent judge did not commit grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in ruling that the act of the private respondent in selling and distributing rubber shoes which contain the trademarks and designs owned by the petitioners does not constitute trademark infringement. After all, the public respondent judge was merely exercising his judgmental call conformably with the factual and legal issues proferred and presented before him. Suffice it to state, it is a hornbook doctrine in our jurisdiction that certiorari will not be issued to cure errors in proceedings or to correct erroneous conclusions of law and fact. The special civil action for certiorari is not a remedy for errors of judgment, which are correctible by appeal (Montecillo vs. Civil Service Commission, 360 SCRA 99). WHEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing premises, the instant petition is perforce denied.[6] Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration having been denied in an Order dated 18 June 2004, petitioner filed the instant case contending that the Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion in considering matters of defense in a criminal trial for trademark infringement in passing upon the validity of the search warrant and in concluding that respondents are not guilty of trademark infringement in the case where the sole triable issue is the existence of probable cause to issue a search warrant. For its part, respondent maintains that it is logical for the Court of Appeals to touch on the issue of whether or not there was trademark infringement since it was the very issue raised in the Petition for Certiorari. According to respondent, petitioner failed to qualify whether or not the determination of the Court of Appeals should be limited to whether or not there was probable cause to issue the search warrants. Furthermore, respondent claims that the trial court may not be faulted for quashing the search warrants it had issued

after finding that there was no basis for its issuance in the first place. According to respondent, after full appreciation of the trademarks and logos depicted in the rubber shoes presented before the court a quo for close comparison, it was only prudent for the lower court to correct itself and quash the search warrant following a finding that probable cause does not exist for the offense of trademark infringement. At this juncture, it is paramount to stress that the power to issue search warrants is exclusively vested with the trial judges in the exercise of their judicial function.7 And inherent in the courts power to issue search warrants is the power to quash warrants already issued.8 After the judge has issued a warrant, he is not precluded to subsequently quash the same, if he finds upon re-evaluation of the evidence that no probable cause exists.9Though there is no fixed rule for the determination of the existence of probable cause since the existence depends to a large degree upon the finding or opinion of the judge conducting the examination,10 however, the findings of the judge should not disregard the facts before him nor run counter to the clear dictates of reason. 11 In the determination of probable cause, the court must necessarily resolve whether or not an offense exists to justify the issuance or quashal of the search warrant. 12 In the case at bar, the subject search warrant was issued allegedly in connection with trademark infringement, particularly the unauthorized use of the "S" logo by respondent in their Strong rubber shoes. After conducting the hearing on the application for a search warrant, the court a quo was initially convinced that there was sufficient reason to justify the issuance of the search warrant. However, upon motion of respondent to quash the search warrant, the lower court changed its position and declared that there was no probable cause to issue the search warrant as there was no colorable imitation between respondents trademark and that of petitioner. Based on its appreciation of the respective parties arguments and the pieces of evidence, particularly the samples of the original Skechers rubber shoes vis--vis respondents Strong rubber shoes, the trial court concluded that respondents appropriation of the symbol "S" on their rubber shoes does not constitute an infringement on the trademark of petitioner. This exercise of judgment was further strengthened by the affirmation of the Court of Appeals that public respondent judge did not commit grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in ruling that the acts of respondent do not constitute trademark infringement in light of the factual and legal issues presented before it for consideration. In ruling that there was no colorable imitation of petitioners trademark in light of the factual milieu prevalent in the instant case, the trial court may not be faulted for reversing its initial finding that there was probable cause. Based on the courts inherent power to issue search warrants and to quash the same, the courts must be provided with the opportunity to correct itself of an error inadvertently committed. After reevaluating the evidence presented before it, the trial court may reverse its initial finding of probable cause in order that its conclusion may be made to conform to the facts prevailing in the instant case. Furthermore, the court was acting reasonably when it went into a discussion of whether or not there was trademark

infringement, this is so because in the determination of the existence of probable cause for the issuance or quashal of a warrant, it is inevitable that the court may touch on issues properly threshed out in a regular proceeding.13 This finding that there was no colorable imitation of petitioners trademark is merely preliminary and did not finally determine the merits of the possible criminal proceedings that may be instituted by petitioner. As held in the case of Solid Triangle Sales Corp. v. Sheriff, RTC, Q.C., Br. 93:141wphi1 When the court, in determining probable cause for issuing or quashing a search warrant, finds that no offense has been committed, it does not interfere with or encroach upon the proceedings in the preliminary investigation. The court does not oblige the investigating officer not to file an information for the courts ruling that no crime exists is only for the purposes of issuing or quashing the warrant. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is hereby DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 77269, dated 17 November 2003 is hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner. SO ORDERED. G.R. No. 170425 April 23, 2012

Department of Justice (DOJ) against respondents Rizza Mendoza, Carlito Lee, Ma. Greshiela Compendio, Raul Rivera, Rey Beltran, Rex Almojuela, Linda Capalungan, Hilda Ronquillo, Ma. Loda Calma, and Teresita Almojuela (Mendoza, et al.) for violation of Sections 24.1 (b) (iii), 26, and 28 of the SRC.2 On July 11, 2001 Mendoza, et al. filed a petition for prohibition and injunction with application for temporary restraining order (TRO) and preliminary injunction against the NBI and the SEC before the RTC of Muntinlupa.3They alleged that, three months after the search and seizure, the NBI and the SEC had not turned over the seized articles to the Makati RTC that issued the search warrant.4 This omission, they said, violated Section 1, Rule 126 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure,5 which required the officers who conducted the seizure to immediately turn over the seized items to the issuing court. The Muntinlupa petition sought to prevent the SEC and the NBI from using the seized articles in prosecuting Mendoza, et al. and the DOJ from proceeding with the preliminary investigation of their case, using the same.6They feared that the seized articles may have already been tampered with, altered, or augmented by those responsible for seizing them.7 Essentially, Mendoza, et al.s action is one for the suppression of evidence whose seizure had become illegal for failure to turn them over to the issuing court. Opposing the petition, the SEC, the NBI, and the DOJ (the three agencies) averred that injunction may not be issued to protect contingent rights or enjoin criminal prosecution. They pointed out that Mendoza, et al. should have exhausted administrative remedies available to them at the DOJ. Further, the three agencies maintained that Mendoza, et al.s petition for prohibition should have been lodged with the Court of Appeals (CA).8 Simultaneous with the action before the Muntinlupa RTC, on July 11, 2001 two of the respondents who did not join that action, Pastrana and Abad, filed with the Makati RTC a motion to quash the subject search warrant for having been issued in connection with several offenses when the Rules of Criminal Procedure9 require its issuance for only one specific offense. On July 19, 2001 the Muntinlupa RTC issued a TRO against the three agencies,10 enjoining them from using the seized articles in proceeding against Mendoza, et al. On July 31, 2001 respondents Pastrana and Abad asked for leave to intervene in the civil case in the Muntinlupa RTC, which leave was granted on August 8, 2001. On the following day, August 9, 2001, having assumed as true the uncontroverted allegations in the petition before it, the Muntinlupa RTC replaced the TRO it issued with a writ of preliminary injunction11 subject to the final outcome of the proceedings before the Makati RTC.12 On August 23, 2001 the three agencies moved for reconsideration of the Muntinlupa RTCs orders granting the intervention and the preliminary injunction. They also moved on September 13, 2001 to dismiss the action. On January 15, 2002 that court issued an omnibus order, denying their motions for reconsideration and to dismiss.13This prompted the three agencies to file a petition for certiorari and prohibition with the CA, seeking to annul the Muntinlupa

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION, NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION and DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Petitioner, vs. RIZZA G. MENDOZA, CARLITO LEE, GRESHIELA G. COMPENDIO, RAUL RIVERA, REY BELTRAN, REX ALMOJUELA, LINDA P. CAPALUNGAN, HILDA R. RONQUILLO, MA. LODA CALMA, TERESITA P. ALMOJUELA, RUFINA ABAD and AMADOR A. PASTRANA, Respondent. DECISION ABAD, J.: This case is about the institution of an action for prohibition and injunction filed by the affected party in one court, seeking to enjoin the use of evidence seized under a search warrant issued by another court. The Facts and the Case On March 26, 2001 the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) applied with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 63, for the issuance of a search warrant covering documents and articles found at the offices of Amador Pastrana and Rufina Abad at 1908, 88 Corporate Center, Valero Street, Makati City. The NBI alleged that these documents and articles were being used to a) violate Republic Act 8799, also known as the Securities Regulation Code (SRC), and b) commit estafa under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code.1 The court granted the application. Acting on the search warrant, NBI and Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) agents searched the offices mentioned and seized the described documents and articles from them. Shortly after, the SEC filed a criminal complaint with the

RTCs orders of August 8, 2001, August 9, 2001, and January 15, 2002.14 During the pendency of the case before the CA, however, or on May 10, 2002 the Makati RTC rendered a decision nullifying the search warrant it issued and declaring the documents and articles seized under it inadmissible in evidence. The Makati RTC also directed the SEC and the NBI to return the seized items to respondents Pastrana and Abad.15 For some reason, the CA did not mention the Makati RTC order and did not dismiss the petition before it on ground of mootness. On March 24, 2004 it rendered judgment, denied the three agencies petition, and affirmed the orders of the Muntinlupa RTC. The CA ruled, among other things, that Mendoza, et al.s action before the Muntinlupa RTC was proper and distinct from that which respondents Pastrana and Abad filed with the Makati RTC.16 The three agencies moved for reconsideration but the CA denied the same on November 10, 2005.17Undaunted, they filed the present petition for review on certiorari. Issue Presented The issues raised in this petition have essentially been rendered moot and academic by the Makati RTCs decision, which quashed the search warrant it issued and declared the items seized under it inadmissible in evidence. Still, one issuewhether or not the CA erred in holding that the Muntinlupa RTC has jurisdiction to entertain Mendoza, et al.s injunction actionneeds to be resolved in the interest of setting the matter aright and providing a lesson for the future. The Courts Ruling The CA held that the proceedings before the Makati RTC and the Muntinlupa RTC are separate and distinct. The object of the motion to quash search warrant, here filed by respondents Pastrana and Abad with the Makati RTC, the issuing court, was to test the validity of its issuance, given that the warrant was made to cover several offenses rather than just one as the rules provide.18 On the other hand, the object of the Muntinlupa injunction case is to prevent the three agencies from using the seized articles in any criminal proceeding against Mendoza, et al. considering the SEC and the NBIs failure to immediately turn over the seized articles to the court that issued the warrant as the rules require. 19 But Section 14 of Rule 126 is clear. Questions concerning both 1) the issuance of the search warrant and 2) the suppression of evidence seized under it are matters that can be raised only with the issuing court if, as in the present case, no criminal action has in the meantime been filed in court. Thus: Section 14. Motion to quash a search warrant or to suppress evidence; where to file. A motion to quash a search warrant and/or to suppress evidence obtained thereby may be filed in and acted upon only by the court where the action has been instituted. If no criminal action has been instituted, the motion may be filed in and resolved by the court that issued the search warrant. However, if such court failed to resolve the motion and a criminal case is subsequently filed

in another court, the motion shall be resolved by the latter court. (Emphasis supplied) Although passed off as a petition for injunction, the action that Mendoza, et al. filed with the Muntinlupa RTC, the object of which is to prohibit the three agencies from using the items seized under the search warrant, is actually an action to suppress their use as evidence. Consequently, Mendoza, et al. should have filed it with the Makati RTC that issued such warrant. It might be pointed out of course that since Mendoza, et al. were not parties to the issuance of the search warrant, they had no standing to question the same or seek the suppression of evidence taken under it. Consequently, since they had reasons for questioning government use of the seized items against them, they had the right to bring the injunction action before the Muntinlupa RTC where they resided. But the rules do not require Mendoza, et al. to be parties to the search warrant proceeding for them to be able to file a motion to suppress. It is not correct to say that only the parties to the application for search warrant can question its issuance or seek suppression of evidence seized under it. The proceeding for the issuance of a search warrant does not partake of an action where a party complains of a violation of his right by another. The Court clearly explained in United Laboratories, Inc. v. Isip,20 the nature of a search warrant proceeding. [A] search warrant proceeding is, in no sense, a criminal action or the commencement of a prosecution. The proceeding is not one against any person, but is solely for the discovery and to get possession of personal property. It is a special and peculiar remedy, drastic in nature, and made necessary because of public necessity. It resembles in some respect with what is commonly known as John Doe proceedings. While an application for a search warrant is entitled like a criminal action, it does not make it such an action. A search warrant is a legal process which has been likened to a writ of discovery employed by the State to procure relevant evidence of crime. It is in the nature of a criminal process, restricted to cases of public prosecutions. A search warrant is a police weapon, issued under the police power. A search warrant must issue in the name of the State, namely, the People of the Philippines.1wphi1 A search warrant has no relation to a civil process. It is not a process for adjudicating civil rights or maintaining mere private rights. It concerns the public at large as distinguished from the ordinary civil action involving the rights of private persons. It may only be applied for in the furtherance of public prosecution.21 Clearly, although the search warrant in this case did not target the residence or offices of Mendoza, et al., they were entitled to file with the Makati RTC a motion to suppress the use of the seized items as evidence against them for failure of the SEC and the NBI to immediately turn these over to the issuing court. The issuing court is the right forum for such motion given that no criminal action had as yet been filed against Mendoza, et al. in some other court.

Parenthetically, it appears from its investigation report that the SEC kept the seized documents and articles for months rather than immediately turn them over to the Makati RTC.22 Justifying its action, the SEC said that it still needed to study the seized items.23 Evidently, it wanted to use them to build up a case against the respondents, unmindful of its duty to first turn them over to the court. Clearly, SECs arbitrary action compromised the integrity of the seized documents and articles. WHEREFORE, the Court REVERSES the decision of the Court of Appeals dated March 24, 2004 and its resolution dated November 10, 2005 in CA-G.R. SP 70212 and ORDERS the dismissal of the action for prohibition and injunction that respondents Rizza Mendoza, Carlito Lee, Ma. Greshiela Compendio, Raul Rivera, Rey Beltran, Rex Almojuela, Linda Capalungan, Hilda Ronquillo, Ma. Loda Calma, Teresita Almojuela, Rufina Abad and Amador Pastrana filed with the Regional Trial Court of Muntinlupa City in Civil Case 01-206 for lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter of the same. SO ORDERED.