People vs. C.A., 291 SCRA 400

Posted: April 13, 2017 in case digests, criminal procedure cases, Uncategorized
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Search warrants. Place to be searched. People vs. C.A., 291 SCRA 400

By: Randel Bejasa

 

G.R. No. 126379                      June 26, 1998

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by Provincial Prosecutor FAUSTINO T.

CHIONG, petitioner,

COURT OF APPEALS, JUDGE CAESAR CASANOVA, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial

Court, Branch 80, Malolos, Bulacan, AZFAR HUSSAIN, MOHAMMAD SAGED,

MUJAHID KHAN, MOHAMMAD ASLAM, and MEHMOOD ALI, respondents.

 

 

FACTS:

– A petition for certiorari has been filed to invalidate the order of Judge Casanova which quashed search warrant issued by Judge Bacalla and declared inadmissible for any purpose the items seized under the warrant.

– An application for a search warrant was made by S/Insp Brillantes against Mr. Azfar Hussain who had allegedly in his possession firearms and explosives at Abigail Variety Store, Apt 1207 Area F. Bagon Buhay Avenue, Sarang Palay, San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan.

– The following day Search Warrant No. 1068 was issued but was served not at Abigail Variety Store but at Apt. No. 1, immediately adjacent to Abigail Variety Store resulting in the arrest of 4 Pakistani nationals and the seizure of a number of different explosives and firearms.

 

ISSUE:

  1. WON a search warrant was validly issued as regard the apartment in which private respondents were then actually residing, or more explicitly, WON that particular apartment had been specifically described in the warrant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HELD:

In applying for a search warrant, the police officers had in their mind the first four (4) separate apartment units at the rear of ABIGAIL VARIETY STORE in Quezon City to be the subject of their search.

The same was not, however, what the Judge who issued the warrant had in mind, AND WAS NOT WHAT WAS ULTIMATELY DESCRIBED IN THE SEARCH WARRANT.

As such, any evidence obtained from the place searched which is different from that indicated in the search warrant is inadmissible in evidence for any purpose and in any proceeding.

The ambiguity lies outside the instrument, arising from the absence of a meeting of minds as to the place to be searched between the applicants for the warrant and the Judge issuing the same; and what was done was to substitute for the place that the Judge had written down in the warrant, the premises that the executing officers had in their mind. This should not have been done.

It is neither fair nor licit to allow police officers to search a place different from that stated in the warrant on the claim that the place actually searched — although not that specified in the warrant — is exactly what they had in view when they applied for the warrant and had demarcated in their supporting evidence. What is material in determining the validity of a search is the place stated in the warrant itself, not what the applicants had in their thoughts, or had represented in the proofs they submitted to the court issuing the warrant.

The place to be searched, as set out in the warrant, cannot be amplified or modified by the officers’ own personal knowledge of the premises, or the evidence they adduced in support of their application for the warrant. Such a change is proscribed by the Constitution which requires inter alia the search warrant to particularly describe the place to be searched as well as the persons or things to be seized.

It would concede to police officers the power of choosing the place to be searched, even if it not be that delineated in the warrant. It would open wide the door to abuse of the search process, and grant to officers executing a search warrant that discretion which the Constitution has precisely removed from them. The particularization of the description of the place to be searched may properly be done only by the Judge, and only in the warrant itself; it cannot be left to the discretion of the police officers conducting the search.

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