You are on page 1of 5

ABUAN vs. PEOPLE [G.R. No. 168773.

October 27, 2006] Dispositive Portion: IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition
Topic: With Search Warrant- Requisites for issuance Rule 126, Sec. 1; Art. III, Sec. 2 is DENIED. The decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 25726
(Constitution) is AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATIONas to penalty. Petitioner is hereby sentenced
to an indeterminate penalty of from four (4) months and one (1) day of arresto mayor in
Petitioner: ELIZA ABUAN its medium period as minimum to three (3) years of prision correccional in its medium
Respondent: PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES period as maximum.

FACTS:
1. At around 8:30 a.m. on May 5, 1998, SPO2 Marcelino Gamboa and SPO2 Beliguer de Vera of the Calasiao Police Station received information from a confidential informant
that Abuan was conducting illegal drug activities in her house at Barangay Lasip, Calasiao, Pangasinan. The aforementioned policemen conducted surveillance-monitoring
operations on her residence, three times for more than an hour and saw more or less 20 people who were coming in and out of Abuan’s house who, according to the informant
were drug addicts and Abuan was a known drug pusher.
2. On that same day, the officers, through SPO3 Cesar Ramos, applied for a warrant with Executive Judge Eugenio G. Ramos of the RTC in Lingayen, Pangasinan, to search
Abuan’s house for violation of Sec. 16, Article III of R.A. No. 6425, as amended, and the seizure of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu), weighing scale, aluminum foil,
and burner.
3. The application was docketed as Search Warrant No. 98-62. Ramos presented their informant, Marissa Gorospe, who was subjected to searching questions by the Executive
Judge. Gorospe testified that she was a resident of Brgy. Sapang, Manaog, Pangasinan and knew Abuan because they were both employed as Avon dealers. She added that
Abuan was a prominent personality in Brgy. Lasip and residing at the green bungalow-type, cemented and decorated with ornamental plants up front. She visited Abuan’s
house three to four times a week and came to know that about Abuan’s involvement with drugs when the latter invited her to a jamming and drinking session. Additionally,
Abuan suggested they use shabu that she kept in her bedroom instead. Abuan kept a substantial amount of shabu in her house and sold it. Gorospe further narrated that
several people, including teenagers, arrived in the house of Abuan to buy the substance and observed that Abuan placed the shabu in a plastic bag and likewise saw weighing
scales and paraphernalias used in sniffing shabu. These were identied and affirmed the truth of the contents by Gorospe in her deposition.
4. The Executive Judge found probable cause and issued Search Warrant 98-62 and is valid for 10 days from its issuance.
5. On May 6, 1998, police operatives went to Brgy. Lasip to enforce the search warrant however, before proceeding to Abuan’s residence, the policemen invited Brgy. Capt.
Bernardo Mangaliag and Kgd. Miguel Garcia of Brgy. Lasip to witness the search.
6. Upon arriving at the premises, Officers De Vera, Gamboa and Garcia, and Mangaliag entered the house while the rest of the policemen remained outside. Mangaliag
introduced the police officers to Abuan who presented Search Warrant No 98-62 to her. Abuan read the warrant and permitted the officers to conduct the search.
7. De Vera, Mangaliag, Gamboa and Garcia entered the bedroom and found 57 sachets of suspected shabu, one roll of aluminum foil and assorted luminous plastic sachets in
the drawer just beside Abuan’s bed which were all confiscated by the police officers and brought to the police station along with Abuan. An inventory was made however,
Abuan refused to sign the inventory. Moreover, the police officer prepared a certification of orderly search which Garcia and Mangaliag also signed but was likewise refused
to sign by Abuan.
8. After presenting its witnesses, the prosecution offered in evidence Search Warrant No. 98-62, the Receipt of the Property Seized, the Physical Science Report, and the articels
confiscated from Abuan’s house however, Abuan objected to the admission of the search warrant and the articles confiscated based on the ground that the warrant was issued
without probable cause. The court admitted the documentary evidence of the prosecution subject to the comment or objection interposed by accused and the eventual
determination of their probative weight.
9. Accused’s Contention: Abuan testified that she was jobless in 1998 and that her parents and her sister Corazon Bernadette sent her money from Canada once or twice a
month to support her and her daughters. It was her father who spent for the education of her daughters and was married to a policeman but separated in 1997. She
contended that she did not know any person by the name of Marissa Gorospe and did not work for Avon Cosmetics or used any of its products.

At around 8:30 am on May 6, 1998, she was with her two daughters (21 and 9 year old) and were still in bed in their room when suddenly, four armed men barged into their
house and declared a raid. About 8-10 were outside her house. She inquired any search warrant but was not shown any. The men searched her house and turned up with
nothing. The men outside went inside again and came out with a powder placed in a plastic. At this instance, Brgy. Captain Mangaliag was brought to the scene and was
shown the powder substance recovered from her bedroom. She refused to sign the inventory and receipt of the property seized and the certification of the orderly search.
However Mangaliag signed the same. She declared that the sachets/substances which the policemen claimed to have found in her house were merely planted to implicate her
and that it was her brother, Arsenio Tana, who instigated the raid and charge because he was enraged when she refused his demand to entrust the properties of the family to
the care of his son. Abuan also declared that the money kept inside a box in her bedroom amounting to P25,000 ($1,000) given by her sister Corazon Bernardino had gone
missing after the raid. She did not file any charge for the loss of money because she was scared and did not know who took it.

Brgy. Captain Robert Calachan of Brgy. Sapang, Manaog, Pangasinan and Mercedes Carvajal, an employee of Avon Cosmetics in Dagupan holding a position of team leader,
testified for the accused. Calachan declared that he was familiar with the residents of the small brgy and issued a certification stating as per record that Marissa Gorospe is
not a resident of the brgy. Carvajal, on her part, testified that based on the certification of the Dagupan City branch manager, Gigi dela Rosa, Marissa Gorospe is not a
registered dealer of Avon Dagupan and did not know any Avon employee or dealer with the aforementioned name. She testified that she had been a team leader for 21 years
and that Abuan was not an employee or dealer. However during the cross-examination, Carvajal, being a team leader, admitted that she has no participation in the
preparation of the certification of Gigi dela Rosa and was not in a position to know if the certification was correct.

A criminal complaint was filed in  Charging Abuan with violating R.A. No. 6425, as amended.
MTC of Calasiao, Pangasinan
On May 8, 1998, Abuan filed a  The prosecutor conformed to the motion, motion was granted and bail was fixed at P60,000.
motion to quash the criminal
complaint praying that pending the
resolution of her motion, she be
allowed to post bail without waiving
her right to question her arrest and
assail Search Warrant No. 98-62.
MTC found probable cause against  Recommended the filing of information against her and ordered the elevation of the records to the RTC for further proceedings
Abuan for the violation of Sec. 16,
R.A. No. 6425
On November 12, 1998, an Amended  Charged Abuan with the violation of Sec. 16, Article III of R.A. No. 6425. On same day, during arraignment, Abuan pleaded not guilty to
Information was filed in the RTC of the charge.
Dagupan City
On Nov. 19, 1998, during pre-trial  Abuan rejected the prosecution’s proposal for her to admit the validity of Search Warrant No. 98-62 and that, in the enforcement,
57 sachets of shabu were found in her house and later confiscated by the policemen. Abuan maintained that the search warrant
was invalid hence, any material allegedly confiscated from her house was inadmissible in evidence.
On Dec. 3, 1998  the initial presentation of evidence by the prosecution was set by the court
 the accused filed a Motion to Suppress Evidence and alleged that there was no probable cause for the issuance of Search Warrant
No. 98-62 for the following reasons:
a. Cesar Ramos had no personal knowledge of his claim that she had in her possession shabu and other drug paraphernalia
b. Maria Gorospe was a fictitious person and her testimony was fabricated to convince Executive Judge to make a finding of
probable cause required for the issuance of a search warrant
c. The Executive Judge failed to ask searching questions and elicit from Gorospe the particularity of the alleged
paraphernalia in Abuan’s possession

*Instead of allowing the accused to present her evidence in support of her motion, the court declared that any such evidence may be
adduced at the trial
On March 28, 2001 the trial court  Found the accused guilty of the charge and declared that the testimonies of police officers Gamboa and de Vera should be accorded
rendered a decision great weight and credence as they testified positively with regard what transpired in the raid while the accused’s testimony was
self-serving, negative, and feeble. She failed to prove that her brother manipulated the events or the ill motive on the part of the
police who conducted a search in her house. Additionally, the accused’s failure to present her two daughters was witnesses
amounted to suppression of evidence.
 On the issue of validity of search warrant, the court ruled that there was probable cause for its issuance. The proceedings
conducted by the Executive Judge relative to the application of the police for a search warrant, its issuance and implementation
were valid, regular, and in accordance with the requirements of the law and Constitution. The court held that while Gorospe may
have lied about her address and being an Avon dealer, it does not necessarily mean that she is a fictitious person. In fact, she may
have lied a little to conceal herself for her protection but the rest of her testimony constituted sufficient evidence of probable cause.
Abuan filed a Motion for  Denied in an Order dated May 10, 2001
Reconsideration
Abuan filed an appeal to the CA  Abuan insisted that the applicant failed to show probable cause for the issuance of Search Warrant No. 98-62 and reiterated the
same contentions.
 The OSG averred that the trial court merely confirmed Judge Ramos’ finding of probable cause and that appellant was estopped
from assailing it and the search and seizure conducted because she failed to file a motion to quash search warrant no. 98-62. It
likewise claimed that the inconsistencies adverted to by the appellant pertained merely to collateral matters and were not
determinative of her guilt or innocence.
 CA affirmed the decision of the RTC and ruled that the prosecution adduced proof beyond reasonable doubt of Abuan’s guilt for the
crime charged and the discrepancies in testimonies of Gamboa and de Vera were peripheral matters. It added that Abuan’s failure
to assail the legality of the search and seizure conducted by the policemen before her arraignment was a waiver of right.
Abuan filed a Motion for  CA denied her MR
Reconsideration
ISSUE: 1. WON petitioner waived her right to question Search Warrant No. 98-62 evidence in support of her motion, but the court declared that this should be done
and the admissibility of the substances and paraphernalia and other articles during the trial. Hence, petitioner no longer assailed the ruling of the trial court and
confiscated from her house based on said warrant - NO opted to adduce her evidence at the trial. Additionally, petitioner objected to the
admission of the search warrant and the evidence confiscated by the police officers
2. WON the prosecution adduced evidence to prove her guilt beyond after the search was conducted. With that, it cannot be said that petitioner waived her
reasonable doubt for the violation of Sec. 16, Art. III of R.A. No. 6425, as amended. - right to assail the search warrant and object to the admissibility of the regulated drugs
YES found in her house.

RULING: The trial court’s ruling that the prosecution adduced evidence to
prove petitioner’s guilt of crime charged beyond reasonable doubt is
Petitioner did not waive her right to file a Motion to Quash Search correct.
Warrant No. 98-62 and for the Suppression of the Evidence Seized by
the Police Officers Section 16, Article III of R.A. No. 6425, as amended by R.A. No. 7659 reads:

Section 14, Rule 126 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure reads: SEC. 16. Possession or Use of Regulated Drugs. The penalty of reclusion perpetua to
death and a fine ranging from five hundred thousand pesos to ten million pesos shall
Sec. 14. Motion to quash a search warrant or to suppress evidence; where to file. A be imposed upon any person who shall possess or use any regulated drug without the
motion to quash a search warrant and/or to suppress evidence obtained thereby may corresponding license or prescription, subject to the provisions of Section 20 hereof.
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 The Court held that the elements of the crime of illegal possession of dangerous
court that issued the search warrant.However, if such court failed to resolve the drugs are as follows: (a) the accused was in possession of the regulated drugs; (b) the
motion and a criminal case is subsequently filed in another court, the motion shall be accused was fully and consciously aware of being in possession of the regulated drug;
resolved by the latter court. and (c) the accused had no legal authority to possess the regulated drug. Possession
may be actual or constructive. In order to establish constructive possession, the People
The Court ruled in the Malaloan case that the motion to quash the search warrant must prove that petitioner had dominion or control on either the substance or the
which the accused may file shall be governed by the omnibus motion rule, provided, premises where found. The State must prove adequate nexus between the accused and
however, that objections not available, existent or known during the proceedings for the prohibited substance. Possession of dangerous drugs constitutes prima
the quashal of the warrant may be raised in the hearing of the motion to suppress the facie evidence of knowledge or aminus possidendi sufficient to convict an accused in
resolution of the court not on the motion to quash the search warrant and to suppress the absence of any satisfactory explanation of such possession. The burden of evidence
evidence shall be subject to any proper remedy in the appropriate higher court. A is shifted to petitioner to explain the absence of aminus possidendi.
motion to quash a search warrant may be based on grounds extrinsic of the
search warrant, such as (1) the place searched or the property seized are not In the present case, the Court ruled that the trial court indeed found petitioner to be in
those specified or described in the search warrant; and (2) there is no possession and control of 57 small, heat-sealed sachets of shabu weighing 5.67 gm
probable cause for the issuance of the search warrant. Section 7, Rule 133 of the when Search and Warrant No. 98-62 was served on her. The mere denial by the
Rules of Court provides that the court may hear the motion, as follows: petitioner of the crime charged and her bare claim of being the victim of a frame-up by
de Vera and Gamboa cannot prevail over the positive and steadfast testimonies of the
When a motion is based on facts not appearing of record, the court may hear the police officers as their testimonies were corroborated with inventory/receipt of property
matter on affidavits or depositions presented by the respective parties, but the court which states that indeed 57 small heat-sealed plastic sachets containing shabu were
may direct that the matter be heard wholly or partly on oral testimony or depositions. found in her bedroom drawer. In this case, the police officers were presumed to have
performed their duties in good faith, in accordance with the law and absent any clear
In the case at bar, petitioner reserved her right to question Search Warrant No. 98-62 and convincing evidence that such officers had ill or improper motive or were not
when she filed her motion for bail in the RTC with which the public prosecutor performing their duties, their testimonies with respect to the surveillance operation,
conformed to the motion. During pre-trial in the RTC, petitioner rejected the the implementation of the search warrant, and the seizure of the regulated drug in the
prosecution’s proposal for her to admit the validity of Search Warrant No. 98-62, house of the petitioner must be accorded full faith and credence. Furthermore, the
insisting it was void. In her motion to suppress, petitioner averred that the search Court ruled that like alibi, the defense of frame-up and denial had been viewed by the
warrant is void for the following reasons: lack of probable cause, failure of the courts with disfavor as denial is a negative of self-serving defense, while frame-up is as
Executive Judge to ask searching questions on Gorospe, and the evidence easily concocted and is a common and standard defense ploy in most prosecutions for
seized by the police officers on the basis of the search warrant are violation of R.A. No. 6425. For the defense of frame-up to prosper, the evidence must
inadmissible in evidence. The Court held that the petitioner was ready to adduce be clear and convincing.
personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the
Petitioner, in this case, failed to present clear and convincing evidence that the complainant and the witness he may produce, and particularly describing the place to
policemen and brgy officials had any improper motive to frame her and falsely ascribe be searched and the things to be seized which may be anywhere in the Philippines.
to her the crime of violating R.A. No. 6425. Except for her bare testimony, petitioner
failed to prove that her brother Arsenio Tana instigated the policemen to secure SEC. 5. Examination of complainant, record. The judge must, before issuing the
Search Warrant no. 98-62, conducted a search in her house, planted the drugs in her warrant, personally examine in the form of searching questions and answers, in
bedroom, and stole money from her. Petitioner failed to make such claim when she was writing and under oath, the complainant and the witnesses he may produce on facts
arrested and brought to the MTC for preliminary investigation and failed to file any personally known to them and attach to the record their sworn statements, together
criminal complaint against the policemen and her brother for filing the fabricated with the affidavits submitted.
charge against her and for planting evidence in her house. In fact, it was only when
she testified in her defense in the trial court that she alleged, for the first time, that The requisites for the issuance of a search warrant are: (1) probable cause is present;
the charge was instigated by her brother, in cahoots with the policemen. (2) such probable cause must be determined personally by the judge; (3) the judge
must examine, in writing and under oath or affirmation, the complainant and the
Moreover, petitioner’s inability to present her daughters as witnesses is tantamount to witnesses he or she may produce; (4) the applicant and the witnesses testify on the
suppression of evidence which raised the presumption that when presented, their facts personally known to them; and (5) the warrant specifically describes the place to
testimonies would have been adverse to her. It has been the consistent ruling of the be searched and the things to be seized.
Court that a plain denial or negative testimony, if unsubstantiated by a clear and
convincing testimony, cannot prevail over the positive testimonies of prosecution Probable cause is defined as such facts and circumstances which would lead a
witnesses. 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
With regard the other defense of the petitioner that it was unlikely for her to have the place sought to be searched. Reasonable minds may differ on the question of
engaged in pushing or peddling drugs for a living because she had to set a good whether a particular affidavit/deposition or testimony of the affiant/deponent
example to her two daughters and that she did not have financial problems which establishes probable cause. However, great deference is to be accorded to the Judges
could have pushed her into drug business could not prosper. The unlikelihood determination. The affidavit/deposition supporting an application for a search warrant
perceived by the accused could not prevail over the affirmative testimonies of is presumed to be valid as this must be tested and interpreted by judges in common
policemen Gamboa and de Vera who positively declared that they found 57 sachets of sense and realistic fashion. The Judge in determining probable cause is to consider the
shabu in her room. totality of the circumstances made known to him and not by a fixed and rigid formula,
and must employ a flexible, totality of the circumstances standard.
Search Warrant N0. 98-62 is Valid; the Articles, Paraphernalia and Regulated
Drugs Found in Petitioner’s Bedroom and Confiscated by the Police Officers The general rule is that the task of a reviewing court is not to conduct a de
are Admissible in Evidence novo determination of probable cause but only to determine whether there is
substantial evidence in the records supporting the Judge’s decision to issue the search
The Court agreed with the ruling of the CA, affirming the findings of the RTC that warrant. The reviewing court is simply to ensure that the Judge had a substantial
based on the deposition and testimony of Gorospe, there was probable cause for the basis for concluding that probable cause existed, and once ascertained that the Judge
issuance of Search Warrant No. 98-62 for violation of RA 6425. Section 2, Article III of had substantial basis for concluding that a search would unearth evidence of a
the Constitution provides: wrongdoing, the determination of probable cause must be upheld. In the absence of
any showing that the Judge was recreant of his duties in connection with the personal
SEC. 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and examination he so conducted on the affiants/deponent before him, there is no basis for
effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any doubting the reliability and correctness of his findings and impressions. However, the
purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue finding of probable cause of the Judge may be set aside and the search warrant issued
except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after by him based on his finding may be quashed; the evidence seized by the police officers
examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may based on said search warrant may be suppressed if the accused presents clear and
produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things convincing evidence that the police officers and/or a government informant made a
to be seized. deliberate falsehood or reckless disregard for the truth in said affidavit/deposition or
testimony which is essential or necessary to a showing of probable cause. Such
Hence, any evidence obtained in violation of the abovementioned provision is evidence must focus on the state of mind of the affiants/deponents that he was
inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding. Sections 4 and 5, Rule 126 of the conscious of the falsity of his assertion or representation. However, innocent and
Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure enumerate the requisites for the issuance of a negligent omissions or misrepresentation of a police officer or government informant
search warrant, thus: will not invalidate a search warrant. And even if the police officer or government
informant may have deliberately made a falsehood or reckless disregard for the truth
SEC. 4. Requisites for issuing search warrant. A search warrant shall not issue except in his or her affidavit/deposition but the remaining portions thereof are sufficient to
upon probable cause in connection with one specific offense to be determined
establish probable cause, the search warrant will not be quashed for lack of probable
cause.

In the present case, the Executive Judge found probable cause after conducting the
requisite searching questions on Gorospe for violation of Section 16, Article III of R.A.
No. 6425, as amended. The trial court reviewed the testimony of Gorospe before the
Executive Judge and confirmed that, indeed, there was probable cause against
petitioner for violation of said crime. The finding of the Executive Judge was
corroborated by the testimony of police officers de Vera and Gamboa, who, in their
surveillance operation, partially confirmed Gorospes claim that, indeed, people had
been going to the house of petitioner to buy shabu.

It is a well-entrenched rule that the findings of the trial court affirmed by the
appellate court are accorded high respect by this Court absent clear and convincing
evidence that the tribunals ignored, misconstrued or misapplied facts and
circumstances of substances such that, if considered, the same will warrant the
modification or reversal of the outcome of the case. In this case, petitioner failed to
establish any such circumstance.