Saturday, July 14, 2018

Arrest without warrant; when lawful; Sec. 5, Rule 113, Rules of Criminal Procedure.

The trial court erred in holding that the “warrantless arrest” and the “warrantless search” of the appellant was lawful and that the policemen had sufficient “probable cause” to apply Rule 113 [lawful warrantless arrest] of the Rules of Criminal Procedure.

The appellant and his companions were not performing a criminal activity at the time of their warrantless arrest. They were merely drinking softdrinks in front of a store [which was not a crime]. The police arrested them purely based on an unauthenticated and unverified tip from an unnamed and unidentified asset. A tip is not personal knowledge. It does not constitute sufficient probable cause. Otherwise, our democratic republic would retrogress into a totalitarian police state.

Sec. 5, Rule 113 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure provides for the limited instances when warrantless arrests may be made by police officers or citizens:

Section 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 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.”

None of the foregoing limited instances of lawful warrantless arrest and search were present when the appellant Deseo was arrested by the Aparri policemen.

In the case of ERNESTO J. SAN AGUSTIN, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent, G.R. No. 158211, August 31, 2004, the Supreme Court held that the petitioner therein was unlawfully arrested without a warrant of arrest against him for kidnapping/serious illegal detention because his warrantless arrest or the detention did not fall within the provision of Section 5, Rule 113. In that case the petitioner only went to the Office of the NBI to answer the subpoena. The “arresting” officers were not present within the meaning of Section 5(a) of Rule 113 at the time when the supposed crime was allegedly committed. None of the “arresting” officers had any “personal knowledge” of facts indicating that petitioner was the person who kidnapped/detained the victim. More importantly, the Supreme Court held in the aforecited case that “the information upon which the ‘arresting’ officers acted upon had been derived from the statements made by the alleged eyewitnesses to the incident which information did not, however, constitute personal knowledge”.