SC frees drug convict for unlawful arrest

SC frees drug convict for unlawful arrest

- The Supreme Court has reversed a conviction a man from Cebu due to unlawful and unreasonable arrest

- The SC believes that the police authorities were not able to secure a warrant of arrest and wrongly set up a checkpoint and used it as bait

- There are only three instances that the warrantless arrest can be applied

The Supreme Court has decided to reverse due to technicality the conviction of a certain Gerrjan Manago from Cebu for possession of illegal drugs.

The SC First Division discovered that the arrest of Manago in the year 2007 was considered to be “unreasonable and unlawful” because it failed to follow the rules on warrantless arrest.

According to Manago’s case records, it was in March 15m 2007, when PO3 Antonio Din of the Philippine National Police Mobile Patrol Group witnessed firsthand a robbery incident while waiting for his turn at a salon.

The police had a “brief shootout with the armed robbers”; however, they were able to fled the scene using a motorcycle and a red Toyota Corolla.

SC frees drug convict for unlawful arrest

(Photo: Philstar)

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The investigations reveal that said robbers were from Barangay Del Rio Pit-os, Cebu City. The investigations were also able to confirm that the vehicles used in the robbery were owned by Manago.

It was in March 16, 2007, when the police authorities set up a checkpoint in Sitio Panagdait. Here, the red Toyota Corolla passed by the area and thus was intercepted by the police officers. This is where the authorities then ordered Manago to get off the car. Police authorities then searched both the vehicle and the Manago, yielding one plastic sachet of shabu that weighed 0.3852 gram.

Due to the search, Manago was arrested and was charged with the violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. Manago was also found guilty of violating Section 11, Article II of RA 9165 by the Cebu City Regional Trial Court branch 58 on March 23, 2009.

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He was given a 12-year and 1-day imprisonment as minimum and 15-year as maximum. He was also ordered to pay P300,000 as fine.

However, Manago motioned to challenge the conviction before the Court of Appeals, but this was denied down in 2013. After which, he went up to the SC.

This is where Manago got a decision in his favor. According to the SC, the policemen failed to secure the necessary arrest warrants.

The SC added that the checkpoint was not needed for the purpose of searching the getaway vehicle. Thus, SC has probable reason to believe that the checkpoint was used as bait to capture Manago.

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SC stated that based on the constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures, "Manago’s warrantless arrest, and the search incidental thereto, including that of his moving vehicle were all unreasonable and unlawful."

"In consequence, the shabu seized from him is rendered inadmissible in evidence pursuant to the exclusionary rule under Section 3 (2), Article III of the 1987 Constitution. Since the confiscated shabu  is the very corpus delicti (concrete evidence) of the crime charged, Manago must necessarily be acquitted and exonerated from criminal liability,” stated the decision penned by Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe.

There are only three situations where the warrantless arrests can be exercised under Section 5, Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure.

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