366 Phil. 717
"1. That the management of Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines, located at PICOP compound, Barangay Tabon, Bislig, Surigao del Sur, represented by its Sr. Vice President Ricardo G[.] Santiago, is in possession or ha[s] in [its] control high powered firearms, ammunitions, explosives, which are the subject of the offense, or used or intended to be used in committing the offense, and which xxx are [being kept] and conceal[ed] in the premises herein described.Attached to the application were the joint Deposition of SPO3 Cicero S. Bacolod and SPO2 Cecilio T. Morito, as well as a summary of the information and the supplementary statements of Mario Enad and Felipe Moreno.
"2. That a Search Warrant should be issued to enable any agent of the law to take possession and bring to this Honorable Court the following described properties:
'Seventy (70) M16 Armalite rifles cal. 5.56, ten (10) M16 US rifles, two (2) AK-47 rifle[s], two (2) UZI submachinegun[s], two (2) M203 Grenade Launcher[s] cal.40mm, ten (10) cal.45 pistol[s], ten (10) cal.38 revolver[s], two (2) ammunition reloading machine[s], assorted ammunitions for said calibers of firearms and ten (10) handgrenades.'
"It appearing to the satisfaction of the undersigned, after examining under oath, SPO3 Cicero S. Bacolod, that there is probable cause to believe that the management of Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines, located at PICOP Compound, Barangay Tabon, Bislig, Surigao del Sur, represented by its Sr. Vice President Ricardo G. Santiago, has in its possession or control the following:On February 4, 1995, the police enforced the search warrant at the PICOP compound and seized the following:
Seventy (70) M16 Armalite rifles cal. 5.56
Ten (10) M14 US rifles
Two (2) AK-47 rifle[s]
Two (2) UZI submachinegun[s]
Two (2) M203 Grenade Launcher[s] cal. 40mm.
Ten (10) cal 45 pistol[s]
Ten (10) cal 38 revolver[s]
Two (2) ammunition reloading machine[s]
Assorted ammunitions for said calibers of firearms
Ten (10) handgrenades
in violation of the Provisions of PD 1866 (Illegal Possession of Firearms, Ammunition and Explosives), and the same should be seized and brought before this Court.
"NOW, THEREFORE, you are hereby authorized to make an immediate search daytime between 8:00 a.m. [and] 4:00 p.m. of the aforementioned premises and to seize and bring the articles above-described and make an immediate return there[of]"
Believing that the warrant was invalid and the search unreasonable, the petitioners filed a "Motion to Quash" before the trial court. Subsequently, they also filed a "Supplemental Pleading to the Motion to Quash" and a "Motion to Suppress Evidence."
MAKE/TYPE CALIBER SERIAL NUMBER BRAND 01 M16 Rifle 5.56 RP 175636 Elisco 02 M16 Rifle 5.56 RP 175636 (Tampered) Elisco 03 M16 Rifle 5.56 RP 171702 Elisco 04 M16 Rifle 5.56 Defaced Elisco 05 M16 Rifle 5.56 RP174253 (Tampered) Elisco 06 M16 Rifle 5.56 RP173627 (Tampered) Elisco 07 M16 Rifle 5.56 RP171337 Elisco 08 M16 Rifle 5.56 RP171114 Elisco 09 M16 Rifle 5.56 RP171114 (Tampered) Elisco 10 M16 Rifle 5.56 RP171167 (Tampered) Elisco 11 M16 Rifle 5.56 170881 (Tampered) Elisco 12 M16 Rifle 5.56 RP170897 Elisco 13 M16 Rifle 5.56 RP171509 Elisco (With pending case-Casaway Case) 14 M16 Rifle 5.56 RP 171754 Elisco 15 M16 Rifle 5.56 RP170881 (Tampered) Elisco 16 M16 Rifle 5.56 RP174637 Elisco 17 M16 Rifle 5.56 RP171366 Elisco 18 M16 Rifle 5.56 RP174637 (Tampered) Elisco 19 M16 Rifle 5.56 RP174610 Elisco 20 M16 Rifle 5.56 RP171367 (Tampered) Elisco 01 M14Rifle 7.62 1499694 Elisco 02 M14Rifle 7.62 889163 Elisco 01 BAR Cal. 30 865975 Royal 01 Carbine M1 Cal. 30 384181 US Carbin 02 Carbine M1 Cal. 30 998201 US Carbin 01 Garand M1 Cal. 30 1194008 Springfield 02 Garand M1 Cal. 30 3123784
01 Shotgun 12 Gauge H359704 Omega 02 Shotgun 12 Gauge 9211 Homemade (Paltik) MAGAZINE ASSEMBLY QTY. 01 M16 (long) 29 pcs. 02 M16 (short) 48 pcs. 03 Carbine M1 171 pcs. 04 BAR 19 pcs. LIVE AMMUNITION
01 M16 2,023 rounds 03 Carbine M1
04 M-60 Cal. 7.62 1,800 rounds 05 M1 Garand 1,278 rounds 06 Rifle Grenade 11 rounds 07 Hand Grenade 4 pcs. AMMO DAM POST NO. 24 MAKE/TYPE CALIBER SERIAL NUMBER BRAND 01. M16 Rifle 5.56 171425 (Tampered) Gyno Corp. 02. Machine Pistol 22 651 (Tampered) Landmann MAGAZINE ASSEMBLY QTY. 01. M16 (short) 3 pcs. 02. M16 (long) 1 pc. 03. M14 8 pcs. 04. Clip M1 Garand 3 pcs. 05. Mag Assy. Cal .22 1 pc.
QTY. 01. M16 73 rounds 02. M14 160 rounds 03. M1 Garand Cal .30 30 rounds 04. Rifle Grenade 1 round MANAGEMENT INTEL/INVEST UNIT MAKE/TYPE CALIBER SERIAL NUMBER BRAND 01. M16 Rifle 5.56 RP 171725 Elisco 02. M16 Rifle 5.56 RP 170799 (Tampered) Elisco 03. M16 Rifle 5.56 RP 132320 Elisco 04. Machine 9 MM 54887 Intratec
05. Three (3) 12 Gauge Surit-Surit (H) Shotguns MAGAZINE ASSEMBLY QTY. 01. M16 (long) 3 pcs. 02. M16 (short) 4 pcs. 03. Intratec 1 pc. 04. US Carbine (defective) 2 pcs. LIVE AMMUNITION QTY. 01. M16 147 rds. 02. Cal. 30 5 rounds 03. 12 gauge Shotgun 7 rounds 04. Carbine 5 rounds 05. Rifle grenade (AVA-0051-84/0056-84) 2 rounds 06. 9MM 30 rounds
NEW ARMORY POST NO. 16
MAKE/TYPE CALIBER SERIAL NUMBER BRAND 01. Shotgun 12 Gauge A359910 Armscor 02. Shotgun 12 Gauge A359716 Armscor 03. Shotgun 12 Gauge A359706 Armscor 04. Shotgun 12 Gauge A359707 Armscor 05. Shotgun 12 Gauge 1036847 Armscor 06. Shotgun 12 Gauge A359702 Armscor 07. Shotgun 12 Gauge A359732 Armscor 08. Shotgun 12 Gauge A359728 Armscor 09. Shotgun 12 Gauge A359708 Armscor 10. Shotgun 12 Gauge A359711
11. Shotgun 12 Gauge A359723 Armscor 12. Shotgun 12 Gauge A359713 Armscor 13. Shotgun 12 Gauge 1031271 Armscor 14. Shotgun 12 Gauge A262338 SB 15. Shotgun 12 Gauge A261619 SB 16. Shotgun 12 Gauge Defaced Not Indicated LIVE AMMUNITION QTY. 01. 12 GAUGE shotgun 306 rds. 02. M16 2,349 rds. MAGAZINE ASSEMBLY QTY. 01. Carbine (defective) 76 pcs. 02. Cal. 22 -do- 16 pcs. 03. M16 (long-defective) 2 pcs. 04. M16 (short-defective) 2 pcs. 05. Thompson (defective) 8 pcs. 06. Shotgun 12 Gauge (defective)
07. BAR (defective) 2 pcs.
Petitioners respectfully submit that Judge Asuncion has committed grave abuse of discretion or has exceeded his jurisdiction in refusing to quash Search Warrant No. 799(95). Probable cause [has] not xxx been sufficiently established and partaking as it does of the nature of a general warrant.In the main, petitioners question the validity of the search warrant. As a preliminary matter, we shall also discuss respondents' argument that the Petition should be dismissed for raising factual questions.
Petitioners respectfully submit that Judge Asuncion has committed grave abuse of discretion or has exceeded his jurisdiction in refusing to quash Search Warrant No. 799(95) on the ground that it was unlawfully served or implemented.
Petitioners respectfully submit that State Prosecutor Dacera is acting with grave abuse of discretion or exceeding his jurisdiction in continuing with the proceedings in IS No. 95-167 on the basis of illegally seized evidence."
"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." (Emphasis supplied)Consistent with the foregoing constitutional provision, Sections 3 and 4, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court, detail the requisites for the issuance of a valid search warrant as follows:
"SEC. 3. Requisite for issuing search warrant. -- A search warrant shall not issue but 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."More simply stated, the requisites of a valid search warrant are: (1) probable cause is present; (2) such presence is determined personally by the judge; (3) the complainant and the witnesses he or she may produce are personally examined by the judge, in writing and under oath or affirmation; (4) the applicant and the witnesses testify on facts personally known to them; and (5) the warrant specifically describes the place to be searched and the things to be seized. In the present case, the search warrant is invalid because (1) the trial court failed to examine personally the complainant and the other deponents; (2) SPO3 Cicero Bacolod, who appeared during the hearing for the issuance of the search warrant, had no personal knowledge that petitioners were not licensed to possess the subject firearms; and (3) the place to be searched was not described with particularity.
"SEC. 4. 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 any witnesses he may produce on facts personally known to them and attach to the record their sworn statements together with any affidavits submitted."
Chief Inspector Pascua was asked nothing else, and he said nothing more. In fact, he failed even to affirm his application. Contrary to his statement, the trial judge failed to propound questions, let alone probing questions, to the applicant and to his witnesses other than Bacolod (whose testimony, as will later be shown, is also improper). Obviously, His Honor relied mainly on their affidavits. This Court has frowned on this practice in this language:
"COURT: Where is the witness for this application for search warrant? P/Chief Insp. NAPOLEON PASCUA: SPO3 CICERO S. BACOLOD, Your Honor. COURT: Swear the witness. STENOGRAPHER: (To the witness) Please raise your right hand, sir. Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth before this Court? WITNESS: Yes Ma'am. STENOGRAPHER: Please state your name, age, civil status, occupation, address and other personal circumstances. WITNESS: SPO3 Cicero S. Bacolod, 42 years old, married, policeman, c/o Camp Crame, Quezon City, SOU, TMC. x x x x x x x x x"
"Mere affidavits of the complainant and his witnesses are thus not sufficient. The examining Judge has to take depositions in writing of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce and attach them to the record. Such written deposition is necessary in order that the Judge may be able to properly determine the existence or non-existence of the probable cause, to hold liable for perjury the person giving it if it will be found later that his declarations are false.Bacolod's Testimony Pertained Not to
x x x x x x x x x
"It is axiomatic that the examination must be probing and exhaustive, not merely routinary or pro-forma, if the claimed probable cause is to be established. The examining magistrate must not simply rehash the contents of the affidavit but must make his own inquiry on the intent and justification of the application."
When questioned by the judge, Bacolod stated merely that he believed that the PICOP security guards had no license to possess the subject firearms. This, however, does not meet the requirement that a witness must testify on his personal knowledge, not belief. He declared:
"Q How do you know that said properties were subject of the offense? A Sir, as a result of our intensified surveillance and case build up for several days, we gathered informations from reliable sources that subject properties [which] are in their possession and control [are] the herein described properties subject of the offense. (Summary of Information dtd Oct `94, SS's of Mario Enad and Felipe Moreno both dtd 30 Nov `94 are hereto attached)."
Moreover, Bacolod failed to affirm that none of the firearms seen inside the PICOP compound was licensed. Bacolod merely declared that the security agency and its guards were not licensed. He also said that some of the firearms were owned by PICOP. Yet, he made no statement before the trial court that PICOP, aside from the security agency, had no license to possess those firearms. Worse, the applicant and his witnesses inexplicably failed to attach to the application a copy of the aforementioned "no license" certification from the Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) of the PNP, or to present it during the hearing. Such certification could have been easily obtained, considering that the FEO was located in Camp Crame where the unit of Bacolod was also based. In People v. Judge Estrada, the Court held:
"Q This is an application for Search Warrant against Paper Industries Corporation located at PICOP Compound, Barangay Tabon, Bislig, Surigao del Sur. How come that you have knowledge that there are illegal firearms in that place? A At Camp Crame, Quezon City, I was dispatched by our Commander to investigate the alleged assassination plot of Congressman Amante. Q In the course of your investigation, what happened? A We found out that some of the suspects in the alleged assassination plot are employees of PICOP. Q Know[ing] that the suspects are employees of PICOP, what did you do? A We conducted the surveillance in that area inside the compound of PICOP in Tabon. Q What did you find xxx? A I found xxx several high-powered firearms. Q How were you able to investigate the compound of PICOP? A I exerted effort to enter the said compound. Q By what means? A By pretending to have some official business with the company. Q So, in that aspect, you were able to investigate the compound of PICOP? A Yes, sir. Q What did you f[i]nd xxxt? A I found xxx several high-powered firearms being kept in the compound of PICOP. Q Where are those located? A Sir, there are firearms kept inside the ammo dam. Q Inside the compound? A Located inside the compound. Q Then what? A Others, sir, were kept in the security headquarters or office. Q You mean to say that this Paper Industries Corporation has its own security guards? A Yes, they call it Blue Guards. Q You mean to say that their own security guards guarded the PICOP? A Yes, sir. Q So, it is possible that the firearms used by the security guards are illegally obtained? A I believe they have no license to possess high-powered firearms. As far as the verification at FEU, Camp Crame, [is concerned,] they have no license. (Emphasis supplied.) Q Have you investigated the Blue Guards Security Agency? A I conducted the inquiry. Q What did you find out? A They are using firearms owned by PICOP. Q Using firearms owned by PICOP? A Yes, sir. Q You mean to say that this Blue Guard Security Agency has no firearms of their own? A No high-powered firearms. Q By the way, Mr. Witness, what kind of firearms have you seen inside the compound of PICOP? A There are M-16 armalite rifles. Q
A AK-47, armalites, M-203 Grenade Launcher, M-14 US rifles, .38 caliber revolvers, .45 caliber pistols, several handgrenades and ammos." (Emphasis supplied)
"The facts and circumstances that would show probable cause must be the best evidence that could be obtained under the circumstances. The introduction of such evidence is necessary in cases where the issue is the existence of the negative ingredient of the offense charged - for instance, the absence of a license required by law, as in the present case - and such evidence is within the knowledge and control of the applicant who could easily produce the same. But if the best evidence could not be secured at the time of the application, the applicant must show a justifiable reason therefor during the examination by the judge."Particularity of the
"x x x. In the instant case, there is no ambiguity at all in the warrant. The ambiguity lies outside the instrument, arising from the absence of a meeting of the 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 [was] 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 - [was] 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. Indeed, following the officers' theory, in the context of the facts of this case, all four (4) apartment units at the rear of Abigail's Variety Store would have been fair game for a search.Seized Firearms and Explosives
"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." (Emphasis supplied.)