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EN BANC

G.R. No. 144104             June 29, 2004

LUNG CENTER OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, 



vs.

QUEZON CITY and CONSTANTINO P. ROSAS, in his capacity as City Assessor of Quezon City, respondents.

D E C I S I O N

CALLEJO, SR., J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, as amended, of the Decision1 dated July 17,
2000 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 57014 which affirmed the decision of the Central Board of Assessment
Appeals holding that the lot owned by the petitioner and its hospital building constructed thereon are subject to assessment
for purposes of real property tax.

The Antecedents

The petitioner Lung Center of the Philippines is a non-stock and non-profit entity established on January 16, 1981 by virtue
of Presidential Decree No. 1823.2  It is the registered owner of a parcel of land, particularly described as Lot No. RP-3-
B-3A-1-B-1, SWO-04-000495, located at Quezon Avenue corner Elliptical Road, Central District, Quezon City. The lot has
an area of 121,463 square meters and is covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 261320 of the Registry of Deeds
of Quezon City. Erected in the middle of the aforesaid lot is a hospital known as the Lung Center of the Philippines. A big
space at the ground floor is being leased to private parties, for canteen and small store spaces, and to medical or
professional practitioners who use the same as their private clinics for their patients whom they charge for their professional
services. Almost one-half of the entire area on the left side of the building along Quezon Avenue is vacant and idle, while a
big portion on the right side, at the corner of Quezon Avenue and Elliptical Road, is being leased for commercial purposes to
a private enterprise known as the Elliptical Orchids and Garden Center.

The petitioner accepts paying and non-paying patients. It also renders medical services to out-patients, both paying and
non-paying. Aside from its income from paying patients, the petitioner receives annual subsidies from the government.

On June 7, 1993, both the land and the hospital building of the petitioner were assessed for real property taxes in the
amount of ₱4,554,860 by the City Assessor of Quezon City.3 Accordingly, Tax Declaration Nos. C-021-01226 (16-2518) and
C-021-01231 (15-2518-A) were issued for the land and the hospital building, respectively.4  On August 25, 1993, the
petitioner filed a Claim for Exemption5  from real property taxes with the City Assessor, predicated on its claim that it is a
charitable institution. The petitioner’s request was denied, and a petition was, thereafter, filed before the Local Board of
Assessment Appeals of Quezon City (QC-LBAA, for brevity) for the reversal of the resolution of the City Assessor. The
petitioner alleged that under Section 28, paragraph 3 of the 1987 Constitution, the property is exempt from real property
taxes. It averred that a minimum of 60% of its hospital beds are exclusively used for charity patients and that the major
thrust of its hospital operation is to serve charity patients. The petitioner contends that it is a charitable institution and, as
such, is exempt from real property taxes. The QC-LBAA rendered judgment dismissing the petition and holding the
petitioner liable for real property taxes.6

The QC-LBAA’s decision was, likewise, affirmed on appeal by the Central Board of Assessment Appeals of Quezon City
(CBAA, for brevity)7  which ruled that the petitioner was not a charitable institution and that its real properties were not
actually, directly and exclusively used for charitable purposes; hence, it was not entitled to real property tax exemption
under the constitution and the law. The petitioner sought relief from the Court of Appeals, which rendered judgment
affirming the decision of the CBAA.8

Undaunted, the petitioner filed its petition in this Court contending that:

A. THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN DECLARING PETITIONER AS NOT ENTITLED TO REALTY TAX EXEMPTIONS ON THE
GROUND THAT ITS LAND, BUILDING AND IMPROVEMENTS, SUBJECT OF ASSESSMENT, ARE NOT ACTUALLY,
DIRECTLY AND EXCLUSIVELY DEVOTED FOR CHARITABLE PURPOSES.

B. B. WHILE PETITIONER IS NOT DECLARED AS REAL PROPERTY TAX EXEMPT UNDER ITS CHARTER, PD 1823, SAID
EXEMPTION MAY NEVERTHELESS BE EXTENDED UPON PROPER APPLICATION.

The petitioner avers that it is a charitable institution within the context of Section 28(3), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution. It
asserts that its character as a charitable institution is not altered by the fact that it admits paying patients and renders
medical services to them, leases portions of the land to private parties, and rents out portions of the hospital to private
medical practitioners from which it derives income to be used for operational expenses. The petitioner points out that for the
years 1995 to 1999, 100% of its out-patients were charity patients and of the hospital’s 282-bed capacity, 60% thereof, or
170 beds, is allotted to charity patients. It asserts that the fact that it receives subsidies from the government attests to its
character as a charitable institution. It contends that the "exclusivity" required in the Constitution does not necessarily mean
"solely." Hence, even if a portion of its real estate is leased out to private individuals from whom it derives income, it does
not lose its character as a charitable institution, and its exemption from the payment of real estate taxes on its real property.
The petitioner cited our ruling in Herrera v. QC-BAA9 to bolster its pose. The petitioner further contends that even if P.D. No.
1823 does not exempt it from the payment of real estate taxes, it is not precluded from seeking tax exemption under the
1987 Constitution.

In their comment on the petition, the respondents aver that the petitioner is not a charitable entity. The petitioner’s real
property is not exempt from the payment of real estate taxes under P.D. No. 1823 and even under the 1987 Constitution
because it failed to prove that it is a charitable institution and that the said property is actually, directly and exclusively used
for charitable purposes. The respondents noted that in a newspaper report, it appears that graft charges were filed with the
Sandiganbayan against the director of the petitioner, its administrative officer, and Zenaida Rivera, the proprietress of the
Elliptical Orchids and Garden Center, for entering into a lease contract over 7,663.13 square meters of the property in 1990
for only ₱20,000 a month, when the monthly rental should be ₱357,000 a month as determined by the Commission on
Audit; and that instead of complying with the directive of the COA for the cancellation of the contract for being grossly
prejudicial to the government, the petitioner renewed the same on March 13, 1995 for a monthly rental of only ₱24,000.
They assert that the petitioner uses the subsidies granted by the government for charity patients and uses the rest of its
income from the property for the benefit of paying patients, among other purposes. They aver that the petitioner failed to
adduce substantial evidence that 100% of its out-patients and 170 beds in the hospital are reserved for indigent patients.
The respondents further assert, thus:

13. That the claims/allegations of the Petitioner LCP do not speak well of its record of service. That before a patient is
admitted for treatment in the Center, first impression is that it is pay-patient and required to pay a certain amount as deposit.
That even if a patient is living below the poverty line, he is charged with high hospital bills. And, without these bills being first
settled, the poor patient cannot be allowed to leave the hospital or be discharged without first paying the hospital bills or
issue a promissory note guaranteed and indorsed by an influential agency or person known only to the Center; that even the
remains of deceased poor patients suffered the same fate. Moreover, before a patient is admitted for treatment as free or
charity patient, one must undergo a series of interviews and must submit all the requirements needed by the Center, usually
accompanied by endorsement by an influential agency or person known only to the Center. These facts were heard and
admitted by the Petitioner LCP during the hearings before the Honorable QC-BAA and Honorable CBAA. These are the
reasons of indigent patients, instead of seeking treatment with the Center, they prefer to be treated at the Quezon Institute.
Can such practice by the Center be called charitable?10

The Issues

The issues for resolution are the following: (a) whether the petitioner is a charitable institution within the context of
Presidential Decree No. 1823 and the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions and Section 234(b) of Republic Act No. 7160; and (b)
whether the real properties of the petitioner are exempt from real property taxes.

The Court’s Ruling

The petition is partially granted.

On the first issue, we hold that the petitioner is a charitable institution within the context of the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions.
To determine whether an enterprise is a charitable institution/entity or not, the elements which should be considered include
the statute creating the enterprise, its corporate purposes, its constitution and by-laws, the methods of administration, the
nature of the actual work performed, the character of the services rendered, the indefiniteness of the beneficiaries, and the
use and occupation of the properties.11

In the legal sense, a charity may be fully defined as a gift, to be applied consistently with existing laws, for the benefit of an
indefinite number of persons, either by bringing their minds and hearts under the influence of education or religion, by
assisting them to establish themselves in life or otherwise lessening the burden of government.12 It may be applied to almost
anything that tend to promote the well-doing and well-being of social man. It embraces the improvement and promotion of
the happiness of man.13  The word "charitable" is not restricted to relief of the poor or sick.14  The test of a charity and a
charitable organization are in law the same. The test whether an enterprise is charitable or not is whether it exists to carry
out a purpose reorganized in law as charitable or whether it is maintained for gain, profit, or private advantage.

Under P.D. No. 1823, the petitioner is a non-profit and non-stock corporation which, subject to the provisions of the decree,
is to be administered by the Office of the President of the Philippines with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Human
Settlements. It was organized for the welfare and benefit of the Filipino people principally to help combat the high incidence
of lung and pulmonary diseases in the Philippines. The  raison d’etre  for the creation of the petitioner is stated in the
decree, viz:

Whereas, for decades, respiratory diseases have been a priority concern, having been the leading cause of illness and death
in the Philippines, comprising more than 45% of the total annual deaths from all causes, thus, exacting a tremendous toll on
human resources, which ailments are likely to increase and degenerate into serious lung diseases on account of unabated
pollution, industrialization and unchecked cigarette smoking in the country;lavvph!l.net

Whereas, the more common lung diseases are, to a great extent, preventable, and curable with early and adequate medical
care, immunization and through prompt and intensive prevention and health education programs;

Whereas, there is an urgent need to consolidate and reinforce existing programs, strategies and efforts at preventing,
treating and rehabilitating people affected by lung diseases, and to undertake research and training on the cure and
prevention of lung diseases, through a Lung Center which will house and nurture the above and related activities and
provide tertiary-level care for more difficult and problematical cases;

Whereas, to achieve this purpose, the Government intends to provide material and financial support towards the
establishment and maintenance of a Lung Center for the welfare and benefit of the Filipino people.15

The purposes for which the petitioner was created are spelled out in its Articles of Incorporation, thus:

SECOND: That the purposes for which such corporation is formed are as follows:

1. To construct, establish, equip, maintain, administer and conduct an integrated medical institution which shall specialize in
the treatment, care, rehabilitation and/or relief of lung and allied diseases in line with the concern of the government to
assist and provide material and financial support in the establishment and maintenance of a lung center primarily to benefit
the people of the Philippines and in pursuance of the policy of the State to secure the well-being of the people by providing
them specialized health and medical services and by minimizing the incidence of lung diseases in the country and
elsewhere.

2. To promote the noble undertaking of scientific research related to the prevention of lung or pulmonary ailments and the
care of lung patients, including the holding of a series of relevant congresses, conventions, seminars and conferences;

3. To stimulate and, whenever possible, underwrite scientific researches on the biological, demographic, social, economic,
eugenic and physiological aspects of lung or pulmonary diseases and their control; and to collect and publish the findings of
such research for public consumption;

4. To facilitate the dissemination of ideas and public acceptance of information on lung consciousness or awareness, and
the development of fact-finding, information and reporting facilities for and in aid of the general purposes or objects
aforesaid, especially in human lung requirements, general health and physical fitness, and other relevant or related fields;

5. To encourage the training of physicians, nurses, health officers, social workers and medical and technical personnel in the
practical and scientific implementation of services to lung patients;

6. To assist universities and research institutions in their studies about lung diseases, to encourage advanced training in
matters of the lung and related fields and to support educational programs of value to general health;

7. To encourage the formation of other organizations on the national, provincial and/or city and local levels; and to
coordinate their various efforts and activities for the purpose of achieving a more effective programmatic approach on the
common problems relative to the objectives enumerated herein;

8. To seek and obtain assistance in any form from both international and local foundations and organizations; and to
administer grants and funds that may be given to the organization;

9. To extend, whenever possible and expedient, medical services to the public and, in general, to promote and protect the
health of the masses of our people, which has long been recognized as an economic asset and a social blessing;

10. To help prevent, relieve and alleviate the lung or pulmonary afflictions and maladies of the people in any and all walks of
life, including those who are poor and needy, all without regard to or discrimination, because of race, creed, color or political
belief of the persons helped; and to enable them to obtain treatment when such disorders occur;

11. To participate, as circumstances may warrant, in any activity designed and carried on to promote the general health of
the community;

12. To acquire and/or borrow funds and to own all funds or equipment, educational materials and supplies by purchase,
donation, or otherwise and to dispose of and distribute the same in such manner, and, on such basis as the Center shall,
from time to time, deem proper and best, under the particular circumstances, to serve its general and non-profit purposes
and objectives;lavvphil.net

13. To buy, purchase, acquire, own, lease, hold, sell, exchange, transfer and dispose of properties, whether real or personal,
for purposes herein mentioned; and

14. To do everything necessary, proper, advisable or convenient for the accomplishment of any of the powers herein set
forth and to do every other act and thing incidental thereto or connected therewith.16

Hence, the medical services of the petitioner are to be rendered to the public in general in any and all walks of life including
those who are poor and the needy without discrimination. After all, any person, the rich as well as the poor, may fall sick or
be injured or wounded and become a subject of charity.17

As a general principle, a charitable institution does not lose its character as such and its exemption from taxes simply
because it derives income from paying patients, whether out-patient, or confined in the hospital, or receives subsidies from
the government, so long as the money received is devoted or used altogether to the charitable object which it is intended to
achieve; and no money inures to the private benefit of the persons managing or operating the institution.18 In Congregational
Sunday School, etc. v. Board of Review,19 the State Supreme Court of Illinois held, thus:

… [A]n institution does not lose its charitable character, and consequent exemption from taxation, by reason of the fact that
those recipients of its benefits who are able to pay are required to do so, where no profit is made by the institution and the
amounts so received are applied in furthering its charitable purposes, and those benefits are refused to none on account of
inability to pay therefor. The fundamental ground upon which all exemptions in favor of charitable institutions are based is
the benefit conferred upon the public by them, and a consequent relief, to some extent, of the burden upon the state to care
for and advance the interests of its citizens.20

As aptly stated by the State Supreme Court of South Dakota in Lutheran Hospital Association of South Dakota v. Baker:21

… [T]he fact that paying patients are taken, the profits derived from attendance upon these patients being exclusively
devoted to the maintenance of the charity, seems rather to enhance the usefulness of the institution to the poor; for it is a
matter of common observation amongst those who have gone about at all amongst the suffering classes, that the deserving
poor can with difficulty be persuaded to enter an asylum of any kind confined to the reception of objects of charity; and that
their honest pride is much less wounded by being placed in an institution in which paying patients are also received. The
fact of receiving money from some of the patients does not, we think, at all impair the character of the charity, so long as the
money thus received is devoted altogether to the charitable object which the institution is intended to further.22

The money received by the petitioner becomes a part of the trust fund and must be devoted to public trust purposes and
cannot be diverted to private profit or benefit.23

Under P.D. No. 1823, the petitioner is entitled to receive donations. The petitioner does not lose its character as a charitable
institution simply because the gift or donation is in the form of subsidies granted by the government. As held by the State
Supreme Court of Utah in Yorgason v. County Board of Equalization of Salt Lake County:24

Second, the … government subsidy payments are provided to the project. Thus, those payments are like a gift or donation
of any other kind except they come from the government. In both Intermountain Health Care and the present case, the crux
is the presence or absence of material reciprocity. It is entirely irrelevant to this analysis that the government, rather than a
private benefactor, chose to make up the deficit resulting from the exchange between St. Mark’s Tower and the tenants by
making a contribution to the landlord, just as it would have been irrelevant in  Intermountain Health Care  if the patients’
income supplements had come from private individuals rather than the government.

Therefore, the fact that subsidization of part of the cost of furnishing such housing is by the government rather than private
charitable contributions does not dictate the denial of a charitable exemption if the facts otherwise support such an
exemption, as they do here.25

In this case, the petitioner adduced substantial evidence that it spent its income, including the subsidies from the
government for 1991 and 1992 for its patients and for the operation of the hospital. It even incurred a net loss in 1991 and
1992 from its operations.

Even as we find that the petitioner is a charitable institution, we hold, anent the second issue, that those portions of its real
property that are leased to private entities are not exempt from real property taxes as these are not actually, directly and
exclusively used for charitable purposes. 

The settled rule in this jurisdiction is that laws granting exemption from tax are construed  strictissimi juris  against the
taxpayer and liberally in favor of the taxing power. Taxation is the rule and exemption is the exception. The effect of an
exemption is equivalent to an appropriation. Hence, a claim for exemption from tax payments must be clearly shown and
based on language in the law too plain to be mistaken.26 As held in Salvation Army v. Hoehn:27

An intention on the part of the legislature to grant an exemption from the taxing power of the state will never be implied from
language which will admit of any other reasonable construction. Such an intention must be expressed in clear and
unmistakable terms, or must appear by necessary implication from the language used, for it is a well settled principle that,
when a special privilege or exemption is claimed under a statute, charter or act of incorporation, it is to be construed strictly
against the property owner and in favor of the public. This principle applies with peculiar force to a claim of exemption from
taxation . …28

Section 2 of Presidential Decree No. 1823, relied upon by the petitioner, specifically provides that the petitioner shall enjoy
the tax exemptions and privileges:

SEC. 2. TAX EXEMPTIONS AND PRIVILEGES. Being a non-profit, non-stock corporation organized primarily to help combat
the high incidence of lung and pulmonary diseases in the Philippines, all donations, contributions, endowments and
equipment and supplies to be imported by authorized entities or persons and by the Board of Trustees of the Lung Center of
the Philippines, Inc., for the actual use and benefit of the Lung Center, shall be exempt from income and gift taxes, the same
further deductible in full for the purpose of determining the maximum deductible amount under Section 30, paragraph (h), of
the National Internal Revenue Code, as amended.

The Lung Center of the Philippines  shall be exempt from the payment of taxes, charges and fees imposed by the
Government or any political subdivision or instrumentality thereof with respect to equipment purchases made by, or for the
Lung Center.29

It is plain as day that under the decree,  the petitioner does not enjoy any property tax exemption privileges for its real
properties as well as the building constructed thereon. If the intentions were otherwise, the same should have been among
the enumeration of tax exempt privileges under Section 2:

It is a settled rule of statutory construction that the express mention of one person, thing, or consequence implies the
exclusion of all others. The rule is expressed in the familiar maxim, expressio unius est exclusio alterius.

The rule of expressio unius est exclusio alterius is formulated in a number of ways. One variation of the rule is the principle
that what is expressed puts an end to that which is implied. Expressium facit cessare tacitum. Thus, where a statute, by its
terms, is expressly limited to certain matters, it may not, by interpretation or construction, be extended to other matters.

...

The rule of expressio unius est exclusio alterius and its variations are canons of restrictive interpretation. They are based on
the rules of logic and the natural workings of the human mind. They are predicated upon one’s own voluntary act and not
upon that of others. They proceed from the premise that the legislature would not have made specified enumeration in a
statute had the intention been not to restrict its meaning and confine its terms to those expressly mentioned.30

The exemption must not be so enlarged by construction since the reasonable presumption is that the State has granted in
express terms all it intended to grant at all, and that unless the privilege is limited to the very terms of the statute the favor
would be intended beyond what was meant.31

Section 28(3), Article VI of the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides, thus:

(3) Charitable institutions, churches and parsonages or convents appurtenant thereto, mosques, non-profit cemeteries, and
all lands, buildings, and improvements,  actually,  directly  and  exclusively  used for religious, charitable or educational
purposes shall be exempt from taxation.32

The tax exemption under this constitutional provision covers property taxes only.33 As Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr.,
then a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, explained: ". . . what is exempted is not the institution itself . . .;
those exempted from real estate taxes are lands, buildings and improvements actually, directly and exclusively used for
religious, charitable or educational purposes."34

Consequently, the constitutional provision is implemented by Section 234(b) of Republic Act No. 7160 (otherwise known as
the Local Government Code of 1991) as follows:

SECTION 234. Exemptions from Real Property Tax. – The following are exempted from payment of the real property tax: …

(b) Charitable institutions, churches, parsonages or convents appurtenant thereto, mosques, non-profit or religious
cemeteries and all lands, buildings, and improvements  actually,  directly, and  exclusively  used for religious, charitable or
educational purposes.35

We note that under the 1935 Constitution, "... all lands, buildings, and improvements used ‘exclusively’ for … charitable …
purposes shall be exempt from taxation."36  However, under the 1973 and the present Constitutions, for "lands, buildings,
and improvements" of the charitable institution to be considered exempt, the same should not only be "exclusively" used for
charitable purposes; it is required that such property be used "actually" and "directly" for such purposes.37

In light of the foregoing substantial changes in the Constitution, the petitioner cannot rely on our ruling in Herrera v. Quezon
City Board of Assessment Appeals which was promulgated on September 30, 1961 before the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions
took effect.38 As this Court held in Province of Abra v. Hernando:39

… Under the 1935 Constitution: "Cemeteries, churches, and parsonages or convents appurtenant thereto, and all lands,
buildings, and improvements used exclusively for religious, charitable, or educational purposes shall be exempt from
taxation." The present Constitution added "charitable institutions, mosques, and non-profit cemeteries" and required that for
the exemption of "lands, buildings, and improvements," they should not only be "exclusively" but also "actually" and
"directly" used for religious or charitable purposes. The Constitution is worded differently. The change should not be
ignored. It must be duly taken into consideration. Reliance on past decisions would have sufficed were the words "actually"
as well as "directly" not added. There must be proof therefore of the  actual  and  direct  use of the lands, buildings, and
improvements for religious or charitable purposes to be exempt from taxation. …

Under the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions and Rep. Act No. 7160 in order to be entitled to the exemption, the petitioner is
burdened to prove, by clear and unequivocal proof, that (a) it is a charitable institution; and (b) its real properties
are  ACTUALLY,  DIRECTLY  and  EXCLUSIVELY  used for charitable purposes. "Exclusive" is defined as possessed and
enjoyed to the exclusion of others; debarred from participation or enjoyment; and "exclusively" is defined, "in a manner to
exclude; as enjoying a privilege exclusively."40  If real property is used for one or more commercial purposes, it is not
exclusively used for the exempted purposes but is subject to taxation.41  The words "dominant use" or "principal use"
cannot be substituted for the words "used exclusively" without doing violence to the Constitutions and the law.42 Solely is
synonymous with exclusively.43

What is meant by actual, direct and exclusive use of the property for charitable purposes is the direct and immediate and
actual application of the property itself to the purposes for which the charitable institution is organized. It is not the use of
the income from the real property that is determinative of whether the property is used for tax-exempt purposes.44

The petitioner failed to discharge its burden to prove that the entirety of its real property is actually, directly and exclusively
used for charitable purposes. While portions of the hospital are used for the treatment of patients and the dispensation of
medical services to them, whether paying or non-paying, other portions thereof are being leased to private individuals for
their clinics and a canteen. Further, a portion of the land is being leased to a private individual for her business enterprise
under the business name "Elliptical Orchids and Garden Center." Indeed, the petitioner’s evidence shows that it collected
₱1,136,483.45 as rentals in 1991 and ₱1,679,999.28 for 1992 from the said lessees.

Accordingly, we hold that the portions of the land leased to private entities as well as those parts of the hospital leased to private individuals are not exempt
from such taxes.45 On the other hand, the portions of the land occupied by the hospital and portions of the hospital used for its patients, whether paying or
non-paying, are exempt from real property taxes. IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The respondent Quezon
City Assessor is hereby  DIRECTED  to determine, after due hearing, the precise portions of the land and the area thereof which are leased to private
persons, and to compute the real property taxes due thereon as provided for by law. SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines



SUPREME COURT

Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. L-25246 September 12, 1974

BENJAMIN VICTORIANO, plaintiff-appellee, 



vs.

ELIZALDE ROPE WORKERS' UNION and ELIZALDE ROPE FACTORY, INC., defendants, ELIZALDE ROPE WORKERS'
UNION, defendant-appellant.

Salonga, Ordonez, Yap, Sicat & Associates for plaintiff-appellee.

Cipriano Cid & Associates for defendant-appellant.

ZALDIVAR, J.:p

Appeal to this Court on purely questions of law from the decision of the Court of First Instance of Manila in its Civil Case No.
58894.

The undisputed facts that spawned the instant case follow:

Benjamin Victoriano (hereinafter referred to as Appellee), a member of the religious sect known as the "Iglesia ni Cristo", had
been in the employ of the Elizalde Rope Factory, Inc. (hereinafter referred to as Company) since 1958. As such employee, he
was a member of the Elizalde Rope Workers' Union (hereinafter referred to as Union) which had with the Company a
collective bargaining agreement containing a closed shop provision which reads as follows:

Membership in the Union shall be required as a condition of employment for all permanent employees workers covered by
this Agreement.

The collective bargaining agreement expired on March 3, 1964 but was renewed the following day, March 4, 1964.

Under Section 4(a), paragraph 4, of Republic Act No. 875, prior to its amendment by Republic Act No. 3350, the employer
was not precluded "from making an agreement with a labor organization to require as a condition of employment membership
therein, if such labor organization is the representative of the employees." On June 18, 1961, however, Republic Act No. 3350
was enacted, introducing an amendment to — paragraph (4) subsection (a) of section 4 of Republic Act No. 875, as
follows: ... "but such agreement shall not cover members of any religious sects which prohibit affiliation of their members in
any such labor organization".

Being a member of a religious sect that prohibits the affiliation of its members with any labor organization, Appellee presented
his resignation to appellant Union in 1962, and when no action was taken thereon, he reiterated his resignation on September
3, 1974. Thereupon, the Union wrote a formal letter to the Company asking the latter to separate Appellee from the service in
view of the fact that he was resigning from the Union as a member. The management of the Company in turn notified
Appellee and his counsel that unless the Appellee could achieve a satisfactory arrangement with the Union, the Company
would be constrained to dismiss him from the service. This prompted Appellee to file an action for injunction, docketed as
Civil Case No. 58894 in the Court of First Instance of Manila to enjoin the Company and the Union from dismissing Appellee.
1 In its answer, the Union invoked the "union security clause" of the collective bargaining agreement; assailed the

constitutionality of Republic Act No. 3350; and contended that the Court had no jurisdiction over the case, pursuant to
Republic Act No. 875, Sections 24 and 9 (d) and (e).2 Upon the facts agreed upon by the parties during the pre-trial
conference, the Court a quo rendered its decision on August 26, 1965, the dispositive portion of which reads:

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, judgment is rendered enjoining the defendant Elizalde Rope Factory, Inc. from dismissing
the plaintiff from his present employment and sentencing the defendant Elizalde Rope Workers' Union to pay the plaintiff
P500 for attorney's fees and the costs of this action.3

From this decision, the Union appealed directly to this Court on purely questions of law, assigning the following errors:

I. That the lower court erred when it did not rule that Republic Act No. 3350 is unconstitutional.
II. That the lower court erred when it sentenced appellant herein to pay plaintiff the sum of P500 as attorney's fees and the
cost thereof.

In support of the alleged unconstitutionality of Republic Act No. 3350, the Union contented, firstly, that the Act infringes on the
fundamental right to form lawful associations; that "the very phraseology of said Republic Act 3350, that membership in a
labor organization is banned to all those belonging to such religious sect prohibiting affiliation with any labor organization"4 ,
"prohibits all the members of a given religious sect from joining any labor union if such sect prohibits affiliations of their
members thereto"5 ; and, consequently, deprives said members of their constitutional right to form or join lawful associations
or organizations guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and thus becomes obnoxious to Article III, Section 1 (6) of the 1935
Constitution. 6

Secondly, the Union contended that Republic Act No. 3350 is unconstitutional for impairing the obligation of contracts in that,
while the Union is obliged to comply with its collective bargaining agreement containing a "closed shop provision," the Act
relieves the employer from its reciprocal obligation of cooperating in the maintenance of union membership as a condition of
employment; and that said Act, furthermore, impairs the Union's rights as it deprives the union of dues from members who,
under the Act, are relieved from the obligation to continue as such members.7

Thirdly, the Union contended that Republic Act No. 3350 discriminatorily favors those religious sects which ban their members
from joining labor unions, in violation of Article Ill, Section 1 (7) of the 1935 Constitution; and while said Act unduly protects
certain religious sects, it leaves no rights or protection to labor organizations.8

Fourthly, Republic Act No. 3350, asserted the Union, violates the constitutional provision that "no religious test shall be
required for the exercise of a civil right," in that the laborer's exercise of his civil right to join associations for purposes not
contrary to law has to be determined under the Act by his affiliation with a religious sect; that conversely, if a worker has to
sever his religious connection with a sect that prohibits membership in a labor organization in order to be able to join a labor
organization, said Act would violate religious freedom.9

Fifthly, the Union contended that Republic Act No. 3350, violates the "equal protection of laws" clause of the Constitution, it
being a discriminately legislation, inasmuch as by exempting from the operation of closed shop agreement the members of
the "Iglesia ni Cristo", it has granted said members undue advantages over their fellow workers, for while the Act exempts
them from union obligation and liability, it nevertheless entitles them at the same time to the enjoyment of all concessions,
benefits and other emoluments that the union might secure from the employer. 10

Sixthly, the Union contended that Republic Act No. 3350 violates the constitutional provision regarding the promotion of social
justice. 11

Appellant Union, furthermore, asserted that a "closed shop provision" in a collective bargaining agreement cannot be
considered violative of religious freedom, as to call for the amendment introduced by Republic Act No. 3350; 12 and that
unless Republic Act No. 3350 is declared unconstitutional, trade unionism in this country would be wiped out as employers
would prefer to hire or employ members of the Iglesia ni Cristo in order to do away with labor organizations. 13

I. Before We proceed to the discussion of the first assigned error, it is necessary to premise that there are some thoroughly
established principles which must be followed in all cases where questions of constitutionality as obtains in the instant case
are involved. All presumptions are indulged in favor of constitutionality; one who attacks a statute, alleging unconstitutionality
must prove its invalidity beyond a reasonable doubt, that a law may work hardship does not render it unconstitutional; that if
any reasonable basis may be conceived which supports the statute, it will be upheld, and the challenger must negate all
possible bases; that the courts are not concerned with the wisdom, justice, policy, or expediency of a statute; and that a
liberal interpretation of the constitution in favor of the constitutionality of legislation should be adopted. 19

1. Appellant Union's contention that Republic Act No. 3350 prohibits and bans the members of such religious sects that forbid
affiliation of their members with labor unions from joining labor unions appears nowhere in the wording of Republic Act No.
3350; neither can the same be deduced by necessary implication therefrom. It is not surprising, therefore, that appellant,
having thus misread the Act, committed the error of contending that said Act is obnoxious to the constitutional provision on
freedom of association.

Both the Constitution and Republic Act No. 875 recognize freedom of association. Section 1 (6) of Article III of the
Constitution of 1935, as well as Section 7 of Article IV of the Constitution of 1973, provide that the right to form associations
or societies for purposes not contrary to law shall not be abridged. Section 3 of Republic Act No. 875 provides that employees
shall have the right to self-organization and to form, join of assist labor organizations of their own choosing for the purpose of
collective bargaining and to engage in concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining and other mutual aid or
protection. What the Constitution and the Industrial Peace Act recognize and guarantee is the "right" to form or join
associations. Notwithstanding the different theories propounded by the different schools of jurisprudence regarding the nature
and contents of a "right", it can be safely said that whatever theory one subscribes to, a right comprehends at least two broad
notions, namely: first, liberty or freedom, i.e., the absence of legal restraint, whereby an employee may act for himself without
being prevented by law; and second, power, whereby an employee may, as he pleases, join or refrain from Joining an
association. It is, therefore, the employee who should decide for himself whether he should join or not an association; and
should he choose to join, he himself makes up his mind as to which association he would join; and even after he has joined,
he still retains the liberty and the power to leave and cancel his membership with said organization at any time. 20 It is clear,
therefore, that the right to join a union includes the right to abstain from joining any union. 21 Inasmuch as what both the
Constitution and the Industrial Peace Act have recognized, and guaranteed to the employee, is the "right" to join associations
of his choice, it would be absurd to say that the law also imposes, in the same breath, upon the employee the duty to join
associations. The law does not enjoin an employee to sign up with any association.

The right to refrain from joining labor organizations recognized by Section 3 of the Industrial Peace Act is, however, limited.
The legal protection granted to such right to refrain from joining is withdrawn by operation of law, where a labor union and an
employer have agreed on a closed shop, by virtue of which the employer may employ only member of the collective
bargaining union, and the employees must continue to be members of the union for the duration of the contract in order to
keep their jobs. Thus Section 4 (a) (4) of the Industrial Peace Act, before its amendment by Republic Act No. 3350, provides
that although it would be an unfair labor practice for an employer "to discriminate in regard to hire or tenure of employment or
any term or condition of employment to encourage or discourage membership in any labor organization" the employer is,
however, not precluded "from making an agreement with a labor organization to require as a condition of employment
membership therein, if such labor organization is the representative of the employees". By virtue, therefore, of a closed shop
agreement, before the enactment of Republic Act No. 3350, if any person, regardless of his religious beliefs, wishes to be
employed or to keep his employment, he must become a member of the collective bargaining union. Hence, the right of said
employee not to join the labor union is curtailed and withdrawn.

To that all-embracing coverage of the closed shop arrangement, Republic Act No. 3350 introduced an exception, when it
added to Section 4 (a) (4) of the Industrial Peace Act the following proviso: "but such agreement shall not cover members of
any religious sects which prohibit affiliation of their members in any such labor organization". Republic Act No. 3350 merely
excludes ipso jure from the application and coverage of the closed shop agreement the employees belonging to any religious
sects which prohibit affiliation of their members with any labor organization. What the exception provides, therefore, is that
members of said religious sects cannot be compelled or coerced to join labor unions even when said unions have closed
shop agreements with the employers; that in spite of any closed shop agreement, members of said religious sects cannot be
refused employment or dismissed from their jobs on the sole ground that they are not members of the collective bargaining
union. It is clear, therefore, that the assailed Act, far from infringing the constitutional provision on freedom of association,
upholds and reinforces it. It does not prohibit the members of said religious sects from affiliating with labor unions. It still
leaves to said members the liberty and the power to affiliate, or not to affiliate, with labor unions. If, notwithstanding their
religious beliefs, the members of said religious sects prefer to sign up with the labor union, they can do so. If in deference and
fealty to their religious faith, they refuse to sign up, they can do so; the law does not coerce them to join; neither does the law
prohibit them from joining; and neither may the employer or labor union compel them to join. Republic Act No. 3350,
therefore, does not violate the constitutional provision on freedom of association.

2. Appellant Union also contends that the Act is unconstitutional for impairing the obligation of its contract, specifically, the
"union security clause" embodied in its Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Company, by virtue of which "membership in
the union was required as a condition for employment for all permanent employees workers". This agreement was already in
existence at the time Republic Act No. 3350 was enacted on June 18, 1961, and it cannot, therefore, be deemed to have
been incorporated into the agreement. But by reason of this amendment, Appellee, as well as others similarly situated, could
no longer be dismissed from his job even if he should cease to be a member, or disaffiliate from the Union, and the Company
could continue employing him notwithstanding his disaffiliation from the Union. The Act, therefore, introduced a change into
the express terms of the union security clause; the Company was partly absolved by law from the contractual obligation it had
with the Union of employing only Union members in permanent positions, It cannot be denied, therefore, that there was
indeed an impairment of said union security clause.

According to Black, any statute which introduces a change into the express terms of the contract, or its legal construction, or
its validity, or its discharge, or the remedy for its enforcement, impairs the contract. The extent of the change is not material. It
is not a question of degree or manner or cause, but of encroaching in any respect on its obligation or dispensing with any part
of its force. There is an impairment of the contract if either party is absolved by law from its performance. 22 Impairment has
also been predicated on laws which, without destroying contracts, derogate from substantial contractual rights. 23

It should not be overlooked, however, that the prohibition to impair the obligation of contracts is not absolute and unqualified.
The prohibition is general, affording a broad outline and requiring construction to fill in the details. The prohibition is not to be
read with literal exactness like a mathematical formula, for it prohibits unreasonable impairment only. 24 In spite of the
constitutional prohibition, the State continues to possess authority to safeguard the vital interests of its people. Legislation
appropriate to safeguarding said interests may modify or abrogate contracts already in effect. 25 For not only are existing laws
read into contracts in order to fix the obligations as between the parties, but the reservation of essential attributes of
sovereign power is also read into contracts as a postulate of the legal order. All contracts made with reference to any matter
that is subject to regulation under the police power must be understood as made in reference to the possible exercise of that
power. 26 Otherwise, important and valuable reforms may be precluded by the simple device of entering into contracts for the
purpose of doing that which otherwise may be prohibited. The policy of protecting contracts against impairment presupposes
the maintenance of a government by virtue of which contractual relations are worthwhile a government which retains
adequate authority to secure the peace and good order of society. The contract clause of the Constitution must, therefore, be
not only in harmony with, but also in subordination to, in appropriate instances, the reserved power of the state to safeguard
the vital interests of the people. It follows that not all legislations, which have the effect of impairing a contract, are obnoxious
to the constitutional prohibition as to impairment, and a statute passed in the legitimate exercise of police power, although it
incidentally destroys existing contract rights, must be upheld by the courts. This has special application to contracts regulating
relations between capital and labor which are not merely contractual, and said labor contracts, for being impressed with
public interest, must yield to the common good. 27

In several occasions this Court declared that the prohibition against impairing the obligations of contracts has no application
to statutes relating to public subjects within the domain of the general legislative powers of the state involving public
welfare. 28 Thus, this Court also held that the Blue Sunday Law was not an infringement of the obligation of a contract that
required the employer to furnish work on Sundays to his employees, the law having been enacted to secure the well-being
and happiness of the laboring class, and being, furthermore, a legitimate exercise of the police power. 29

In order to determine whether legislation unconstitutionally impairs contract obligations, no unchanging yardstick, applicable
at all times and under all circumstances, by which the validity of each statute may be measured or determined, has been
fashioned, but every case must be determined upon its own circumstances. Legislation impairing the obligation of contracts
can be sustained when it is enacted for the promotion of the general good of the people, and when the means adopted to
secure that end are reasonable. Both the end sought and the means adopted must be legitimate, i.e., within the scope of the
reserved power of the state construed in harmony with the constitutional limitation of that power. 30

What then was the purpose sought to be achieved by Republic Act No. 3350? Its purpose was to insure freedom of belief and
religion, and to promote the general welfare by preventing discrimination against those members of religious sects which
prohibit their members from joining labor unions, confirming thereby their natural, statutory and constitutional right to work,
the fruits of which work are usually the only means whereby they can maintain their own life and the life of their dependents. It
cannot be gainsaid that said purpose is legitimate.

The questioned Act also provides protection to members of said religious sects against two aggregates of group strength from
which the individual needs protection. The individual employee, at various times in his working life, is confronted by two
aggregates of power — collective labor, directed by a union, and collective capital, directed by management. The union, an
institution developed to organize labor into a collective force and thus protect the individual employee from the power of
collective capital, is, paradoxically, both the champion of employee rights, and a new source of their frustration. Moreover,
when the Union interacts with management, it produces yet a third aggregate of group strength from which the individual also
needs protection — the collective bargaining relationship. 31

The aforementioned purpose of the amendatory law is clearly seen in the Explanatory Note to House Bill No. 5859, which
later became Republic Act No. 3350, as follows:

It would be unthinkable indeed to refuse employing a person who, on account of his religious beliefs and convictions, cannot
accept membership in a labor organization although he possesses all the qualifications for the job. This is tantamount to
punishing such person for believing in a doctrine he has a right under the law to believe in. The law would not allow
discrimination to flourish to the detriment of those whose religion discards membership in any labor organization. Likewise,
the law would not commend the deprivation of their right to work and pursue a modest means of livelihood, without in any
manner violating their religious faith and/or belief. 32

It cannot be denied, furthermore, that the means adopted by the Act to achieve that purpose — exempting the members of
said religious sects from coverage of union security agreements — is reasonable.

It may not be amiss to point out here that the free exercise of religious profession or belief is superior to contract rights. In
case of conflict, the latter must, therefore, yield to the former. The Supreme Court of the United States has also declared on
several occasions that the rights in the First Amendment, which include freedom of religion, enjoy a preferred position in the
constitutional system. 33 Religious freedom, although not unlimited, is a fundamental personal right and liberty, 34 and has a
preferred position in the hierarchy of values. Contractual rights, therefore, must yield to freedom of religion. It is only where
unavoidably necessary to prevent an immediate and grave danger to the security and welfare of the community that
infringement of religious freedom may be justified, and only to the smallest extent necessary to avoid the danger.

3. In further support of its contention that Republic Act No. 3350 is unconstitutional, appellant Union averred that said Act
discriminates in favor of members of said religious sects in violation of Section 1 (7) of Article Ill of the 1935 Constitution, and
which is now Section 8 of Article IV of the 1973 Constitution, which provides:

No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, and the free exercise
and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination and preference, shall forever be allowed. No
religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.
The constitutional provision into only prohibits legislation for the support of any religious tenets or the modes of worship of
any sect, thus forestalling compulsion by law of the acceptance of any creed or the practice of any form of worship, 35 but also
assures the free exercise of one's chosen form of religion within limits of utmost amplitude. It has been said that the religion
clauses of the Constitution are all designed to protect the broadest possible liberty of conscience, to allow each man to
believe as his conscience directs, to profess his beliefs, and to live as he believes he ought to live, consistent with the liberty
of others and with the common good. 36 Any legislation whose effect or purpose is to impede the observance of one or all
religions, or to discriminate invidiously between the religions, is invalid, even though the burden may be characterized as
being only indirect. 37 But if the stage regulates conduct by enacting, within its power, a general law which has for its purpose
and effect to advance the state's secular goals, the statute is valid despite its indirect burden on religious observance, unless
the state can accomplish its purpose without imposing such burden. 38

In Aglipay v. Ruiz 39 , this Court had occasion to state that the government should not be precluded from pursuing valid
objectives secular in character even if the incidental result would be favorable to a religion or sect. It has likewise been held
that the statute, in order to withstand the strictures of constitutional prohibition, must have a secular legislative purpose and a
primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion. 40 Assessed by these criteria, Republic Act No. 3350 cannot be said
to violate the constitutional inhibition of the "no-establishment" (of religion) clause of the Constitution.

The purpose of Republic Act No. 3350 is secular, worldly, and temporal, not spiritual or religious or holy and eternal. It was
intended to serve the secular purpose of advancing the constitutional right to the free exercise of religion, by averting that
certain persons be refused work, or be dismissed from work, or be dispossessed of their right to work and of being impeded
to pursue a modest means of livelihood, by reason of union security agreements. To help its citizens to find gainful
employment whereby they can make a living to support themselves and their families is a valid objective of the state. In fact,
the state is enjoined, in the 1935 Constitution, to afford protection to labor, and regulate the relations between labor and
capital and industry. 41More so now in the 1973 Constitution where it is mandated that "the State shall afford protection to
labor, promote full employment and equality in employment, ensure equal work opportunities regardless of sex, race or creed
and regulate the relation between workers and employers. 42

The primary effects of the exemption from closed shop agreements in favor of members of religious sects that prohibit their
members from affiliating with a labor organization, is the protection of said employees against the aggregate force of the
collective bargaining agreement, and relieving certain citizens of a burden on their religious beliefs; and by eliminating to a
certain extent economic insecurity due to unemployment, which is a serious menace to the health, morals, and welfare of the
people of the State, the Act also promotes the well-being of society. It is our view that the exemption from the effects of closed
shop agreement does not directly advance, or diminish, the interests of any particular religion. Although the exemption may
benefit those who are members of religious sects that prohibit their members from joining labor unions, the benefit upon the
religious sects is merely incidental and indirect. The "establishment clause" (of religion) does not ban regulation on conduct
whose reason or effect merely happens to coincide or harmonize with the tenets of some or all religions. 43 The free exercise
clause of the Constitution has been interpreted to require that religious exercise be preferentially aided. 44

We believe that in enacting Republic Act No. 3350, Congress acted consistently with the spirit of the constitutional provision.
It acted merely to relieve the exercise of religion, by certain persons, of a burden that is imposed by union security
agreements. It was Congress itself that imposed that burden when it enacted the Industrial Peace Act (Republic Act 875),
and, certainly, Congress, if it so deems advisable, could take away the same burden. It is certain that not every conscience
can be accommodated by all the laws of the land; but when general laws conflict with scrupples of conscience, exemptions
ought to be granted unless some "compelling state interest" intervenes. 45 In the instant case, We see no such compelling
state interest to withhold exemption.

Appellant bewails that while Republic Act No. 3350 protects members of certain religious sects, it leaves no right to, and is
silent as to the protection of, labor organizations. The purpose of Republic Act No. 3350 was not to grant rights to labor
unions. The rights of labor unions are amply provided for in Republic Act No. 875 and the new Labor Code. As to the
lamented silence of the Act regarding the rights and protection of labor unions, suffice it to say, first, that the validity of a
statute is determined by its provisions, not by its silence 46 ; and, second, the fact that the law may work hardship does not
render it unconstitutional. 47

It would not be amiss to state, regarding this matter, that to compel persons to join and remain members of a union to keep
their jobs in violation of their religious scrupples, would hurt, rather than help, labor unions, Congress has seen it fit to exempt
religious objectors lest their resistance spread to other workers, for religious objections have contagious potentialities more
than political and philosophic objections.

Furthermore, let it be noted that coerced unity and loyalty even to the country, and a fortiori to a labor — union assuming that
such unity and loyalty can be attained through coercion — is not a goal that is constitutionally obtainable at the expense of
religious liberty. 48 A desirable end cannot be promoted by prohibited means.

4. Appellants' fourth contention, that Republic Act No. 3350 violates the constitutional prohibition against requiring a religious
test for the exercise of a civil right or a political right, is not well taken. The Act does not require as a qualification, or condition,
for joining any lawful association membership in any particular religion or in any religious sect; neither does the Act require
affiliation with a religious sect that prohibits its members from joining a labor union as a condition or qualification for
withdrawing from a labor union. Joining or withdrawing from a labor union requires a positive act. Republic Act No. 3350 only
exempts members with such religious affiliation from the coverage of closed shop agreements. So, under this Act, a religious
objector is not required to do a positive act — to exercise the right to join or to resign from the union. He is exempted ipso
jure without need of any positive act on his part. A conscientious religious objector need not perform a positive act or exercise
the right of resigning from the labor union — he is exempted from the coverage of any closed shop agreement that a labor
union may have entered into. How then can there be a religious test required for the exercise of a right when no right need be
exercised?

We have said that it was within the police power of the State to enact Republic Act No. 3350, and that its purpose was legal
and in consonance with the Constitution. It is never an illegal evasion of a constitutional provision or prohibition to accomplish
a desired result, which is lawful in itself, by discovering or following a legal way to do it. 49

5. Appellant avers as its fifth ground that Republic Act No. 3350 is a discriminatory legislation, inasmuch as it grants to the
members of certain religious sects undue advantages over other workers, thus violating Section 1 of Article III of the 1935
Constitution which forbids the denial to any person of the equal protection of the laws. 50

The guaranty of equal protection of the laws is not a guaranty of equality in the application of the laws upon all citizens of the
state. It is not, therefore, a requirement, in order to avoid the constitutional prohibition against inequality, that every man,
woman and child should be affected alike by a statute. Equality of operation of statutes does not mean indiscriminate
operation on persons merely as such, but on persons according to the circumstances surrounding them. It guarantees
equality, not identity of rights. The Constitution does not require that things which are different in fact be treated in law as
though they were the same. The equal protection clause does not forbid discrimination as to things that are different. 51 It
does not prohibit legislation which is limited either in the object to which it is directed or by the territory within which it is to
operate.

The equal protection of the laws clause of the Constitution allows classification. Classification in law, as in the other
departments of knowledge or practice, is the grouping of things in speculation or practice because they agree with one
another in certain particulars. A law is not invalid because of simple inequality. 52 The very idea of classification is that of
inequality, so that it goes without saying that the mere fact of inequality in no manner determines the matter of
constitutionality. 53 All that is required of a valid classification is that it be reasonable, which means that the classification
should be based on substantial distinctions which make for real differences; that it must be germane to the purpose of the
law; that it must not be limited to existing conditions only; and that it must apply equally to each member of the class. 54 This
Court has held that the standard is satisfied if the classification or distinction is based on a reasonable foundation or rational
basis and is not palpably arbitrary. 55

We believe that Republic Act No. 3350 satisfies the aforementioned requirements. The Act classifies employees and workers,
as to the effect and coverage of union shop security agreements, into those who by reason of their religious beliefs and
convictions cannot sign up with a labor union, and those whose religion does not prohibit membership in labor unions. Tile
classification rests on real or substantial, not merely imaginary or whimsical, distinctions. There is such real distinction in the
beliefs, feelings and sentiments of employees. Employees do not believe in the same religious faith and different religions
differ in their dogmas and cannons. Religious beliefs, manifestations and practices, though they are found in all places, and in
all times, take so many varied forms as to be almost beyond imagination. There are many views that comprise the broad
spectrum of religious beliefs among the people. There are diverse manners in which beliefs, equally paramount in the lives of
their possessors, may be articulated. Today the country is far more heterogenous in religion than before, differences in
religion do exist, and these differences are important and should not be ignored.

Even from the phychological point of view, the classification is based on real and important differences. Religious beliefs are
not mere beliefs, mere ideas existing only in the mind, for they carry with them practical consequences and are the motives of
certain rules. of human conduct and the justification of certain acts. 60Religious sentiment makes a man view things and
events in their relation to his God. It gives to human life its distinctive character, its tone, its happiness or unhappiness its
enjoyment or irksomeness. Usually, a strong and passionate desire is involved in a religious belief. To certain persons, no
single factor of their experience is more important to them than their religion, or their not having any religion. Because of
differences in religious belief and sentiments, a very poor person may consider himself better than the rich, and the man who
even lacks the necessities of life may be more cheerful than the one who has all possible luxuries. Due to their religious
beliefs people, like the martyrs, became resigned to the inevitable and accepted cheerfully even the most painful and
excruciating pains. Because of differences in religious beliefs, the world has witnessed turmoil, civil strife, persecution, hatred,
bloodshed and war, generated to a large extent by members of sects who were intolerant of other religious beliefs. The
classification, introduced by Republic Act No. 3350, therefore, rests on substantial distinctions.

The classification introduced by said Act is also germane to its purpose. The purpose of the law is precisely to avoid those
who cannot, because of their religious belief, join labor unions, from being deprived of their right to work and from being
dismissed from their work because of union shop security agreements.
Republic Act No. 3350, furthermore, is not limited in its application to conditions existing at the time of its enactment. The law
does not provide that it is to be effective for a certain period of time only. It is intended to apply for all times as long as the
conditions to which the law is applicable exist. As long as there are closed shop agreements between an employer and a
labor union, and there are employees who are prohibited by their religion from affiliating with labor unions, their exemption
from the coverage of said agreements continues.

Finally, the Act applies equally to all members of said religious sects; this is evident from its provision. The fact that the law
grants a privilege to members of said religious sects cannot by itself render the Act unconstitutional, for as We have adverted
to, the Act only restores to them their freedom of association which closed shop agreements have taken away, and puts them
in the same plane as the other workers who are not prohibited by their religion from joining labor unions. The circumstance,
that the other employees, because they are differently situated, are not granted the same privilege, does not render the law
unconstitutional, for every classification allowed by the Constitution by its nature involves inequality.

The mere fact that the legislative classification may result in actual inequality is not violative of the right to equal protection,
for every classification of persons or things for regulation by law produces inequality in some degree, but the law is not
thereby rendered invalid. A classification otherwise reasonable does not offend the constitution simply because in practice it
results in some inequality. 61 Anent this matter, it has been said that whenever it is apparent from the scope of the law that its
object is for the benefit of the public and the means by which the benefit is to be obtained are of public character, the law will
be upheld even though incidental advantage may occur to individuals beyond those enjoyed by the general public. 62

6. Appellant's further contention that Republic Act No. 3350 violates the constitutional provision on social justice is also
baseless. Social justice is intended to promote the welfare of all the people. 63 Republic Act No. 3350 promotes that welfare
insofar as it looks after the welfare of those who, because of their religious belief, cannot join labor unions; the Act prevents
their being deprived of work and of the means of livelihood. In determining whether any particular measure is for public
advantage, it is not necessary that the entire state be directly benefited — it is sufficient that a portion of the state be
benefited thereby.

Social justice also means the adoption by the Government of measures calculated to insure economic stability of all
component elements of society, through the maintenance of a proper economic and social equilibrium in the inter-relations of
the members of the community. 64 Republic Act No. 3350 insures economic stability to the members of a religious sect, like
the Iglesia ni Cristo, who are also component elements of society, for it insures security in their employment, notwithstanding
their failure to join a labor union having a closed shop agreement with the employer. The Act also advances the proper
economic and social equilibrium between labor unions and employees who cannot join labor unions, for it exempts the latter
from the compelling necessity of joining labor unions that have closed shop agreements and equalizes, in so far as
opportunity to work is concerned, those whose religion prohibits membership in labor unions with those whose religion does
not prohibit said membership. Social justice does not imply social equality, because social inequality will always exist as long
as social relations depend on personal or subjective proclivities. Social justice does not require legal equality because legal
equality, being a relative term, is necessarily premised on differentiations based on personal or natural conditions. 65 Social
justice guarantees equality of opportunity 66 , and this is precisely what Republic Act No. 3350 proposes to accomplish — it
gives laborers, irrespective of their religious scrupples, equal opportunity for work.

7. As its last ground, appellant contends that the amendment introduced by Republic Act No. 3350 is not called for — in other
words, the Act is not proper, necessary or desirable. Anent this matter, it has been held that a statute which is not necessary
is not, for that reason, unconstitutional; that in determining the constitutional validity of legislation, the courts are unconcerned
with issues as to the necessity for the enactment of the legislation in question. 67 Courts do inquire into the wisdom of
laws. 68 Moreover, legislatures, being chosen by the people, are presumed to understand and correctly appreciate the needs
of the people, and it may change the laws accordingly. 69 The fear is entertained by appellant that unless the Act is declared
unconstitutional, employers will prefer employing members of religious sects that prohibit their members from joining labor
unions, and thus be a fatal blow to unionism. We do not agree. The threat to unionism will depend on the number of
employees who are members of the religious sects that control the demands of the labor market. But there is really no
occasion now to go further and anticipate problems We cannot judge with the material now before Us. At any rate, the validity
of a statute is to be determined from its general purpose and its efficacy to accomplish the end desired, not from its effects on
a particular case. 70 The essential basis for the exercise of power, and not a mere incidental result arising from its exertion, is
the criterion by which the validity of a statute is to be measured. 71

II. We now pass on the second assignment of error, in support of which the Union argued that the decision of the trial court
ordering the Union to pay P500 for attorney's fees directly contravenes Section 24 of Republic Act No. 875, for the instant
action involves an industrial dispute wherein the Union was a party, and said Union merely acted in the exercise of its rights
under the union shop provision of its existing collective bargaining contract with the Company; that said order also
contravenes Article 2208 of the Civil Code; that, furthermore, Appellee was never actually dismissed by the defendant
Company and did not therefore suffer any damage at all . 72

In refuting appellant Union's arguments, Appellee claimed that in the instant case there was really no industrial dispute
involved in the attempt to compel Appellee to maintain its membership in the union under pain of dismissal, and that the
Union, by its act, inflicted intentional harm on Appellee; that since Appellee was compelled to institute an action to protect his
right to work, appellant could legally be ordered to pay attorney's fees under Articles 1704 and 2208 of the Civil Code. 73

The second paragraph of Section 24 of Republic Act No. 875 which is relied upon by appellant provides that:

No suit, action or other proceedings shall be maintainable in any court against a labor organization or any officer or member
thereof for any act done by or on behalf of such organization in furtherance of an industrial dispute to which it is a party, on
the ground only that such act induces some other person to break a contract of employment or that it is in restraint of trade or
interferes with the trade, business or employment of some other person or with the right of some other person to dispose of
his capital or labor. (Emphasis supplied)

That there was a labor dispute in the instant case cannot be disputed for appellant sought the discharge of respondent by
virtue of the closed shop agreement and under Section 2 (j) of Republic Act No. 875 a question involving tenure of
employment is included in the term "labor dispute". 74 The discharge or the act of seeking it is the labor dispute itself. It being
the labor dispute itself, that very same act of the Union in asking the employer to dismiss Appellee cannot be "an act
done ... in furtherance of an industrial dispute". The mere fact that appellant is a labor union does not necessarily mean that
all its acts are in furtherance of an industrial dispute. 75 Appellant Union, therefore, cannot invoke in its favor Section 24 of
Republic Act No. 875. This case is not intertwined with any unfair labor practice case existing at the time when Appellee filed
his complaint before the lower court.

Neither does Article 2208 of the Civil Code, invoked by the Union, serve as its shield. The article provides that attorney's fees
and expenses of litigation may be awarded "when the defendant's act or omission has compelled the plaintiff ... to incur
expenses to protect his interest"; and "in any other case where the court deems it just and equitable that attorney's fees and
expenses of litigation should be recovered". In the instant case, it cannot be gainsaid that appellant Union's act in demanding
Appellee's dismissal caused Appellee to incur expenses to prevent his being dismissed from his job. Costs according to
Section 1, Rule 142, of the Rules of Court, shall be allowed as a matter of course to the prevailing party.

WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is dismissed, and the decision, dated August 26, 1965, of the Court of First Instance of
Manila, in its Civil Case No. 58894, appealed from is affirmed, with costs against appellant Union. It is so ordered.

Appellee, assailing appellant's arguments, contended that Republic Act No. 3350 does not violate the right to form lawful
associations, for the right to join associations includes the right not to join or to resign from a labor organization, if one's
conscience does not allow his membership therein, and the Act has given substance to such right by prohibiting the
compulsion of workers to join labor organizations; 14 that said Act does not impair the obligation of contracts for said law
formed part of, and was incorporated into, the terms of the closed shop agreement; 15 that the Act does not violate the
establishment of religion clause or separation of Church and State, for Congress, in enacting said law, merely accommodated
the religious needs of those workers whose religion prohibits its members from joining labor unions, and balanced the
collective rights of organized labor with the constitutional right of an individual to freely exercise his chosen religion; that the
constitutional right to the free exercise of one's religion has primacy and preference over union security measures which are
merely contractual 16 ; that said Act does not violate the constitutional provision of equal protection, for the classification of
workers under the Act depending on their religious tenets is based on substantial distinction, is germane to the purpose of the
law, and applies to all the members of a given class; 17 that said Act, finally, does not violate the social justice policy of the
Constitution, for said Act was enacted precisely to equalize employment opportunities for all citizens in the midst of the
diversities of their religious beliefs." 18

In the exercise of its power to make classifications for the purpose of enacting laws over matters within its jurisdiction, the
state is recognized as enjoying a wide range of discretion. 56 It is not necessary that the classification be based on scientific
or marked differences of things or in their relation. 57 Neither is it necessary that the classification be made with mathematical
nicety. 58 Hence legislative classification may in many cases properly rest on narrow distinctions, 59 for the equal protection
guaranty does not preclude the legislature from recognizing degrees of evil or harm, and legislation is addressed to evils as
they may appear.
Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT

EN BANC

G.R. No. 133640 November 25, 2005

RODOLFO S. BELTRAN, doing business under the name and style, OUR LADY OF FATIMA BLOOD BANK, FELY G.
MOSALE, doing business under the name and style, MOTHER SEATON BLOOD BANK; PEOPLE’S BLOOD BANK,
INC.; MARIA VICTORIA T. VITO, M.D., doing business under the name and style, AVENUE BLOOD BANK; JESUS M.
GARCIA, M.D., doing business under the name and style, HOLY REDEEMER BLOOD BANK, ALBERT L. LAPITAN,
doing business under the name and style, BLUE CROSS BLOOD TRANSFUSION SERVICES; EDGARDO R. RODAS,
M.D., doing business under the name and style, RECORD BLOOD BANK, in their individual capacities and for and in
behalf of PHILIPPINE ASSOCIATION OF BLOOD BANKS, Petitioners, 

vs.

THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH, Respondent.

x ------------------------------------------------ x

G.R. No. 133661

DOCTORS’ BLOOD CENTER, Petitioner, 



vs.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, Respondent.

x --------------------------------------------- x

G.R. No. 139147

RODOLFO S. BELTRAN, doing business under the name and style, OUR LADY OF FATIMA BLOOD BANK, FELY G.
MOSALE, doing business under the name and style, MOTHER SEATON BLOOD BANK; PEOPLE’S BLOOD BANK,
INC.; MARIA VICTORIA T. VITO, M.D., doing business under the name and style, AVENUE BLOOD BANK; JESUS M.
GARCIA, M.D., doing business under the name and style, HOLY REDEEMER BLOOD BANK, ALBERT L. LAPITAN,
doing business under the name and style, BLUE CROSS BLOOD TRANSFUSION SERVICES; EDGARDO R. RODAS,
M.D., doing business under the name and style, RECORD BLOOD BANK, in their Individual capacities and for and in
behalf of PHILIPPINE ASSOCIATION OF BLOOD BANKS, Petitioners, 

vs.

THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH, Respondent.

DECISION

AZCUNA, J.:

Before this Court are petitions assailing primarily the constitutionality of Section 7 of Republic Act No. 7719, otherwise known
as the "National Blood Services Act of 1994," and the validity of Administrative Order (A.O.) No. 9, series of 1995 or the Rules
and Regulations Implementing Republic Act No. 7719.

G.R. No. 133640,1 entitled "Rodolfo S. Beltran, doing business under the name and style, Our Lady of Fatima Blood Bank, et
al., vs. The Secretary of Health" and G.R. No. 133661,2 entitled "Doctors Blood Bank Center vs. Department of Health" are
petitions for certiorari and mandamus, respectively, seeking the annulment of the following: (1) Section 7 of Republic Act No.
7719; and, (2) Administrative Order (A.O.) No. 9, series of 1995. Both petitions likewise pray for the issuance of a writ of
prohibitory injunction enjoining the Secretary of Health from implementing and enforcing the aforementioned law and its
Implementing Rules and Regulations; and, for a mandatory injunction ordering and commanding the Secretary of Health to
grant, issue or renew petitioners’ license to operate free standing blood banks (FSBB).

The above cases were consolidated in a resolution of the Court En Banc dated June 2, 1998.3

G.R. No. 139147,4 entitled "Rodolfo S. Beltran, doing business under the name and style, Our Lady of Fatima Blood Bank, et
al., vs. The Secretary of Health," on the other hand, is a petition to show cause why respondent Secretary of Health should
not be held in contempt of court.
This case was originally assigned to the Third Division of this Court and later consolidated with G.R. Nos. 133640 and
133661 in a resolution dated August 4, 1999.5

Petitioners comprise the majority of the Board of Directors of the Philippine Association of Blood Banks, a duly registered
non-stock and non-profit association composed of free standing blood banks.

Public respondent Secretary of Health is being sued in his capacity as the public official directly involved and charged with the
enforcement and implementation of the law in question.

The facts of the case are as follows:

Republic Act No. 7719 or the National Blood Services Act of 1994 was enacted into law on April 2, 1994. The Act seeks to
provide 


an adequate supply of safe blood by promoting voluntary blood donation and by regulating blood banks in the country. It was
approved by then President Fidel V. Ramos on May 15, 1994 and was subsequently published in the Official Gazette on
August 18, 1994. The law took effect on August 23, 1994.

On April 28, 1995, Administrative Order No. 9, Series of 1995, constituting the Implementing Rules and Regulations of said
law was promulgated by respondent Secretary of the Department of Health (DOH).6

Section 7 of R.A. 7719 7 provides:

"Section 7. Phase-out of Commercial Blood Banks - All commercial blood banks shall be phased-out over a period of two
(2) years after the effectivity of this Act, extendable to a maximum period of two (2) years by the Secretary."

Section 23 of Administrative Order No. 9 provides:

"Section 23. Process of Phasing Out. -- The Department shall effect the phasing-out of all commercial blood banks over a
period of two (2) years, extendible for a maximum period of two (2) years after the effectivity of R.A. 7719. The decision to
extend shall be based on the result of a careful study and review of the blood supply and demand and public safety."8

Blood banking and blood transfusion services in the country have been arranged in four (4) categories: blood centers run by
the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), government-run blood services, private hospital blood banks, and commercial
blood services.

Years prior to the passage of the National Blood Services Act of 1994, petitioners have already been operating commercial
blood banks under Republic Act No. 1517, entitled "An Act Regulating the Collection, Processing and Sale of Human Blood,
and the Establishment and Operation of Blood Banks and Blood Processing Laboratories." The law, which was enacted on
June 16, 1956, allowed the establishment and operation by licensed physicians of blood banks and blood processing
laboratories. The Bureau of Research and Laboratories (BRL) was created in 1958 and was given the power to regulate
clinical laboratories in 1966 under Republic Act No. 4688. In 1971, the Licensure Section was created within the BRL. It was
given the duty to enforce the licensure requirements for blood banks as well as clinical laboratories. Due to this development,
Administrative Order No. 156, Series of 1971, was issued. The new rules and regulations triggered a stricter enforcement of
the Blood Banking Law, which was characterized by frequent spot checks, immediate suspension and communication of such
suspensions to hospitals, a more systematic record-keeping and frequent communication with blood banks through monthly
information bulletins. Unfortunately, by the 1980’s, financial difficulties constrained the BRL to reduce the frequency of its
supervisory visits to the blood banks.9

Meanwhile, in the international scene, concern for the safety of blood and blood products intensified when the dreaded
disease Acute Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) was first described in 1979. In 1980, the International Society of Blood
Transfusion (ISBT) formulated the Code of Ethics for Blood Donation and Transfusion. In 1982, the first case of transfusion-
associated AIDS was described in an infant. Hence, the ISBT drafted in 1984, a model for a national blood policy outlining
certain principles that should be taken into consideration. By 1985, the ISBT had disseminated guidelines requiring AIDS
testing of blood and blood products for transfusion.10

In 1989, another revision of the Blood Banking Guidelines was made. The DOH issued Administrative Order No. 57, Series of
1989, which classified banks into primary, secondary and tertiary depending on the services they provided. The standards
were adjusted according to this classification. For instance, floor area requirements varied according to classification level.
The new guidelines likewise required Hepatitis B and HIV testing, and that the blood bank be headed by a pathologist or a
hematologist.11
In 1992, the DOH issued Administrative Order No. 118-A institutionalizing the National Blood Services Program (NBSP). The
BRL was designated as the central office primarily responsible for the NBSP. The program paved the way for the creation of a
committee that will implement the policies of the program and the formation of the Regional Blood Councils.

In August 1992, Senate Bill No. 1011, entitled "An Act Promoting Voluntary Blood Donation, Providing for an Adequate Supply
of Safe Blood, Regulating Blood Banks and Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof, and for other Purposes" was
introduced in the Senate.12

Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, House Bills No. 384, 546, 780 and 1978 were being deliberated to address the
issue of safety of the Philippine blood bank system. Subsequently, the Senate and House Bills were referred to the
appropriate committees and subsequently consolidated.13

In January of 1994, the New Tropical Medicine Foundation, with the assistance of the U.S. Agency for International
Development (USAID) released its final report of a study on the Philippine blood banking system entitled "Project to Evaluate
the Safety of the Philippine Blood Banking System." It was revealed that of the blood units collected in 1992, 64.4 % were
supplied by commercial blood banks, 14.5% by the PNRC, 13.7% by government hospital-based blood banks, and 7.4% by
private hospital-based blood banks. During the time the study was made, there were only twenty-four (24) registered or
licensed free-standing or commercial blood banks in the country. Hence, with these numbers in mind, the study deduced that
each commercial blood bank produces five times more blood than the Red Cross and fifteen times more than the
government-run blood banks. The study, therefore, showed that the Philippines heavily relied on commercial sources of
blood. The study likewise revealed that 99.6% of the donors of commercial blood banks and 77.0% of the donors of private-
hospital based blood banks are paid donors. Paid donors are those who receive remuneration for donating their blood. Blood
donors of the PNRC and government-run hospitals, on the other hand, are mostly voluntary.14

It was further found, among other things, that blood sold by persons to blood commercial banks are three times more likely to
have any of the four (4) tested infections or blood transfusion transmissible diseases, namely, malaria, syphilis, Hepatitis B
and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) than those donated to PNRC.15

Commercial blood banks give paid donors varying rates around ₱50 to ₱150, and because of this arrangement, many of
these donors are poor, and often they are students, who need cash immediately. Since they need the money, these donors
are not usually honest about their medical or social history. Thus, blood from healthy, voluntary donors who give their true
medical and social history are about three times much safer than blood from paid donors.16

What the study also found alarming is that many Filipino doctors are not yet fully trained on the specific indications for blood
component transfusion. They are not aware of the lack of blood supply and do not feel the need to adjust their practices and
use of blood and blood products. It also does not matter to them where the blood comes from.17

On August 23, 1994, the National Blood Services Act providing for the phase out of commercial blood banks took effect. On
April 28, 1995, Administrative Order No. 9, Series of 1995, constituting the Implementing Rules and Regulations of said law
was promulgated by DOH.

The phase-out period was extended for two years by the DOH pursuant to Section 7 of Republic Act No. 7719 and Section 23
of its Implementing Rules and Regulations. Pursuant to said Act, all commercial blood banks should have been phased out
by May 28, 1998. Hence, petitioners were granted by the Secretary of Health their licenses to open and operate a blood bank
only until May 27, 1998.

On May 20, 1998, prior to the expiration of the licenses granted to petitioners, they filed a petition for certiorari with
application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order under Rule 65 of the Rules of
Court assailing the constitutionality and validity of the aforementioned Act and its Implementing Rules and Regulations. The
case was entitled "Rodolfo S. Beltran, doing business under the name and style, Our Lady of Fatima Blood Bank," docketed
as G.R. No. 133640.

On June 1, 1998, petitioners filed an Amended Petition for Certiorari with Prayer for Issuance of a Temporary Restraining
Order, writ of preliminary mandatory injunction and/or status quo ante order.18

In the aforementioned petition, petitioners assail the constitutionality of the questioned legal provisions, namely, Section 7 of
Republic Act No. 7719 and Section 23 of Administrative Order No. 9, Series of 1995, on the following grounds: 19

1. The questioned legal provisions of the National Blood Services Act and its Implementing Rules violate the equal protection
clause for irrationally discriminating against free standing blood banks in a manner which is not germane to the purpose of
the law;
2. The questioned provisions of the National Blood Services Act and its Implementing Rules represent undue delegation if not
outright abdication of the police power of the state; and,

3. The questioned provisions of the National Blood Services Act and its Implementing Rules are unwarranted deprivation of
personal liberty.

On May 22, 1998, the Doctors Blood Center filed a similar petition for mandamus with a prayer for the issuance of a
temporary restraining order, preliminary prohibitory and mandatory injunction before this Court entitled "Doctors Blood Center
vs. Department of Health," docketed as G.R. No. 133661. 20 This was consolidated with G.R. No. 133640.21

Similarly, the petition attacked the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 7719 and its implementing rules and regulations, thus,
praying for the issuance of a license to operate commercial blood banks beyond May 27, 1998. Specifically, with regard to
Republic Act No. 7719, the petition submitted the following questions22 for resolution:

1. Was it passed in the exercise of police power, and was it a valid exercise of such power?

2. Does it not amount to deprivation of property without due process?

3. Does it not unlawfully impair the obligation of contracts?

4. With the commercial blood banks being abolished and with no ready machinery to deliver the same supply and services,
does R.A. 7719 truly serve the public welfare?

On June 2, 1998, this Court issued a Resolution directing respondent DOH to file a consolidated comment. In the same
Resolution, the Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) for respondent to cease and desist from implementing and
enforcing Section 7 of Republic Act No. 7719 and its implementing rules and regulations until further orders from the Court.23

On August 26, 1998, respondent Secretary of Health filed a Consolidated Comment on the petitions for certiorari and
mandamus in G.R. Nos. 133640 and 133661, with opposition to the issuance of a temporary restraining order.24

In the Consolidated Comment, respondent Secretary of Health submitted that blood from commercial blood banks is unsafe
and therefore the State, in the exercise of its police power, can close down commercial blood banks to protect the public. He
cited the record of deliberations on Senate Bill No. 1101 which later became Republic Act No. 7719, and the sponsorship
speech of Senator Orlando Mercado.

The rationale for the closure of these commercial blood banks can be found in the deliberations of Senate Bill No. 1011,
excerpts of which are quoted below:

Senator Mercado: I am providing over a period of two years to phase out all commercial blood banks. So that in the end, the
new section would have a provision that states:

"ALL COMMERCIAL BLOOD BANKS SHALL BE PHASED OUT OVER A PERIOD OF TWO YEARS AFTER THE
EFFECTIVITY OF THIS ACT. BLOOD SHALL BE COLLECTED FROM VOLUNTARY DONORS ONLY AND THE SERVICE
FEE TO BE CHARGED FOR EVERY BLOOD PRODUCT ISSUED SHALL BE LIMITED TO THE NECESSARY EXPENSES
ENTAILED IN COLLECTING AND PROCESSING OF BLOOD. THE SERVICE FEE SHALL BE MADE UNIFORM THROUGH
GUIDELINES TO BE SET BY THE DEPARTMENTOF HEALTH."

I am supporting Mr. President, the finding of a study called "Project to Evaluate the Safety of the Philippine Blood Banking
System." This has been taken note of. This is a study done with the assistance of the USAID by doctors under the New
Tropical Medicine Foundation in Alabang.

Part of the long-term measures proposed by this particular study is to improve laws, outlaw buying and selling of blood and
legally define good manufacturing processes for blood. This goes to the very heart of my amendment which seeks to put into
law the principle that blood should not be subject of commerce of man.

The Presiding Officer [Senator Aquino]: What does the sponsor say?

Senator Webb: Mr. President, just for clarity, I would like to find out how the Gentleman defines a commercial blood bank. I
am at a loss at times what a commercial blood bank really is.
Senator Mercado: We have a definition, I believe, in the measure, Mr. President.

The Presiding Officer [Senator Aquino]: It is a business where profit is considered.

Senator Mercado: If the Chairman of the Committee would accept it, we can put a provision on Section 3, a definition of a
commercial blood bank, which, as defined in this law, exists for profit and engages in the buying and selling of blood or its
components.

Senator Webb: That is a good description, Mr. President.

Senator Mercado: I refer, Mr. President, to a letter written by Dr. Jaime Galvez-Tan, the Chief of Staff, Undersecretary of
Health, to the good Chairperson of the Committee on Health.

In recommendation No. 4, he says:

"The need to phase out all commercial blood banks within a two-year period will give the Department of Health enough time
to build up government’s capability to provide an adequate supply of blood for the needs of the nation...the use of blood for
transfusion is a medical service and not a sale of commodity."

Taking into consideration the experience of the National Kidney Institute, which has succeeded in making the hospital 100
percent dependent on voluntary blood donation, here is a success story of a hospital that does not buy blood. All those who
are operated on and need blood have to convince their relatives or have to get volunteers who would donate blood…

If we give the responsibility of the testing of blood to those commercial blood banks, they will cut corners because it will
protect their profit.

In the first place, the people who sell their blood are the people who are normally in the high-risk category. So we should stop
the system of selling and buying blood so that we can go into a national voluntary blood program.

It has been said here in this report, and I quote:

"Why is buying and selling of blood not safe? This is not safe because a donor who expects payment for his blood will not tell
the truth about his illnesses and will deny any risky social behavior such as sexual promiscuity which increases the risk of
having syphilis or AIDS or abuse of intravenous addictive drugs. Laboratory tests are of limited value and will not detect early
infections. Laboratory tests are required only for four diseases in the Philippines. There are other blood transmissible
diseases we do not yet screen for and there could be others where there are no tests available yet.

A blood bank owner expecting to gain profit from selling blood will also try his best to limit his expenses. Usually he tries to
increase his profit by buying cheaper reagents or test kits, hiring cheaper manpower or skipping some tests altogether. He
may also try to sell blood even though these have infections in them. Because there is no existing system of counterchecking
these, the blood bank owner can usually get away with many unethical practices.

The experience of Germany, Mr. President is illustrative of this issue. The reason why contaminated blood was sold was that
there were corners cut by commercial blood banks in the testing process. They were protecting their profits.25

The sponsorship speech of Senator Mercado further elucidated his stand on the issue:

Senator Mercado: Today, across the country, hundreds of poverty-stricken, sickly and weak Filipinos, who, unemployed,
without hope and without money to buy the next meal, will walk into a commercial blood bank, extend their arms and plead
that their blood be bought. They will lie about their age, their medical history. They will lie about when they last sold their
blood. For doing this, they will receive close to a hundred pesos. This may tide them over for the next few days. Of course,
until the next bloodletting.

This same blood will travel to the posh city hospitals and urbane medical centers. This same blood will now be bought by the
rich at a price over 500% of the value for which it was sold. Between this buying and selling, obviously, someone has made a
very fast buck.
Every doctor has handled at least one transfusion-related disease in an otherwise normal patient. Patients come in for minor
surgery of the hand or whatever and they leave with hepatitis B. A patient comes in for an appendectomy and he leaves with
malaria. The worst nightmare: A patient comes in for a Caesarian section and leaves with AIDS.

We do not expect good blood from donors who sell their blood because of poverty. The humane dimension of blood
transfusion is not in the act of receiving blood, but in the act of giving it…

For years, our people have been at the mercy of commercial blood banks that lobby their interests among medical
technologists, hospital administrators and sometimes even physicians so that a proactive system for collection of blood from
healthy donors becomes difficult, tedious and unrewarding.

The Department of Health has never institutionalized a comprehensive national program for safe blood and for voluntary
blood donation even if this is a serious public health concern and has fallen for the linen of commercial blood bankers, hook,
line and sinker because it is more convenient to tell the patient to buy blood.

Commercial blood banks hold us hostage to their threat that if we are to close them down, there will be no blood supply. This
is true if the Government does not step in to ensure that safe supply of blood. We cannot allow commercial interest groups to
dictate policy on what is and what should be a humanitarian effort. This cannot and will never work because their interest in
blood donation is merely monetary. We cannot expect commercial blood banks to take the lead in voluntary blood donation.
Only the Government can do it, and the Government must do it."26

On May 5, 1999, petitioners filed a Motion for Issuance of Expanded Temporary Restraining Order for the Court to order
respondent Secretary of Health to cease and desist from announcing the closure of commercial blood banks, compelling the
public to source the needed blood from voluntary donors only, and committing similar acts "that will ultimately cause the
shutdown of petitioners’ blood banks."27

On July 8, 1999, respondent Secretary filed his Comment and/or Opposition to the above motion stating that he has not
ordered the closure of commercial blood banks on account of the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued on June 2,
1998 by the Court. In compliance with the TRO, DOH had likewise ceased to distribute the health advisory leaflets, posters
and flyers to the public which state that "blood banks are closed or will be closed." According to respondent Secretary, the
same were printed and circulated in anticipation of the closure of the commercial blood banks in accordance with R.A. No.
7719, and were printed and circulated prior to the issuance of the TRO.28

On July 15, 1999, petitioners in G.R. No. 133640 filed a Petition to Show Cause Why Public Respondent Should Not be Held
in Contempt of Court, docketed as G.R. No. 139147, citing public respondent’s willful disobedience of or resistance to the
restraining order issued by the Court in the said case. Petitioners alleged that respondent’s act constitutes circumvention of
the temporary restraining order and a mockery of the authority of the Court and the orderly administration of justice.
29 Petitioners added that despite the issuance of the temporary restraining order in G.R. No. 133640, respondent, in his effort

to strike down the existence of commercial blood banks, disseminated misleading information under the guise of health
advisories, press releases, leaflets, brochures and flyers stating, among others, that "this year [1998] all commercial blood
banks will be closed by 27 May. Those who need blood will have to rely on government blood banks."30 Petitioners further
claimed that respondent Secretary of Health announced in a press conference during the Blood Donor’s Week that
commercial blood banks are "illegal and dangerous" and that they "are at the moment protected by a restraining order on the
basis that their commercial interest is more important than the lives of the people." These were all posted in bulletin boards
and other conspicuous places in all government hospitals as well as other medical and health centers.31

In respondent Secretary’s Comment to the Petition to Show Cause Why Public Respondent Should Not Be Held in Contempt
of Court, dated January 3, 2000, it was explained that nothing was issued by the department ordering the closure of
commercial blood banks. The subject health advisory leaflets pertaining to said closure pursuant to Republic Act No. 7719
were printed and circulated prior to the Court’s issuance of a temporary restraining order on June 21, 1998.32

Public respondent further claimed that the primary purpose of the information campaign was "to promote the importance and
safety of voluntary blood donation and to educate the public about the hazards of patronizing blood supplies from commercial
blood banks."33 In doing so, he was merely performing his regular functions and duties as the Secretary of Health to protect
the health and welfare of the public. Moreover, the DOH is the main proponent of the voluntary blood donation program
espoused by Republic Act No. 7719, particularly Section 4 thereof which provides that, in order to ensure the adequate
supply of human blood, voluntary blood donation shall be promoted through public education, promotion in schools,
professional education, establishment of blood services network, and walking blood donors.

Hence, by authority of the law, respondent Secretary contends that he has the duty to promote the program of voluntary
blood donation. Certainly, his act of encouraging the public to donate blood voluntarily and educating the people on the risks
associated with blood coming from a paid donor promotes general health and welfare and which should be given more
importance than the commercial businesses of petitioners.34
On July 29, 1999, interposing personal and substantial interest in the case as taxpayers and citizens, a Petition-in-
Intervention was filed interjecting the same arguments and issues as laid down by petitioners in G.R. No. 133640 and
133661, namely, the unconstitutionality of the Acts, and, the issuance of a writ of prohibitory injunction. The intervenors are
the immediate relatives of individuals who had died allegedly because of shortage of blood supply at a critical time.35

The intervenors contended that Republic Act No. 7719 constitutes undue delegation of legislative powers and unwarranted
deprivation of personal liberty.36

In a resolution, dated September 7, 1999, and without giving due course to the aforementioned petition, the Court granted the
Motion for Intervention that was filed by the above intervenors on August 9, 1999.

In his Comment to the petition-in-intervention, respondent Secretary of Health stated that the sale of blood is contrary to the
spirit and letter of the Act that "blood donation is a humanitarian act" and "blood transfusion is a professional medical service
and not a sale of commodity (Section 2[a] and [b] of Republic Act No. 7719). The act of selling blood or charging fees other
than those allowed by law is even penalized under Section 12."37

Thus, in view of these, the Court is now tasked to pass upon the constitutionality of Section 7 of Republic Act No. 7719 or the
National Blood Services Act of 1994 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations.

In resolving the controversy, this Court deems it necessary to address the issues and/or questions raised by petitioners
concerning the constitutionality of the aforesaid Act in G.R. No. 133640 and 133661 as summarized hereunder:

WHETHER OR NOT SECTION 7 OF R.A. 7719 CONSTITUTES UNDUE DELEGATION OF LEGISLATIVE POWER;

II

WHETHER OR NOT SECTION 7 OF R.A. 7719 AND ITS IMPLEMENTING RULES AND REGULATIONS VIOLATE THE
EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE;

III

WHETHER OR NOT SECTION 7 OF R.A. 7719 AND ITS IMPLEMENTING RULES AND REGULATIONS VIOLATE THE
NON-IMPAIRMENT CLAUSE;

IV

WHETHER OR NOT SECTION 7 OF R.A. 7719 AND ITS IMPLEMENTING RULES AND REGULATIONS CONSTITUTE
DEPRIVATION OF PERSONAL LIBERTY AND PROPERTY;

WHETHER OR NOT R.A. 7719 IS A VALID EXERCISE OF POLICE POWER; and,

VI

WHETHER OR NOT SECTION 7 OF R.A. 7719 AND ITS IMPLEMENTING RULES AND REGULATIONS TRULY SERVE
PUBLIC WELFARE.

As to the first ground upon which the constitutionality of the Act is being challenged, it is the contention of petitioners that the
phase out of commercial or free standing blood banks is unconstitutional because it is an improper and unwarranted
delegation of legislative power. According to petitioners, the Act was incomplete when it was passed by the Legislature, and
the latter failed to fix a standard to which the Secretary of Health must conform in the performance of his functions.
Petitioners also contend that the two-year extension period that may be granted by the Secretary of Health for the phasing
out of commercial blood banks pursuant to Section 7 of the Act constrained the Secretary to legislate, thus constituting undue
delegation of legislative power.

In testing whether a statute constitutes an undue delegation of legislative power or not, it is usual to inquire whether the
statute was complete in all its terms and provisions when it left the hands of the Legislature so that nothing was left to the
judgment of the administrative body or any other appointee or delegate of the Legislature.38 Except as to matters of detail that
may be left to be filled in by rules and regulations to be adopted or promulgated by executive officers and administrative
boards, an act of the Legislature, as a general rule, is incomplete and hence invalid if it does not lay down any rule or definite
standard by which the administrative board may be guided in the exercise of the discretionary powers delegated to it.39

Republic Act No. 7719 or the National Blood Services Act of 1994 is complete in itself. It is clear from the provisions of the Act
that the Legislature intended primarily to safeguard the health of the people and has mandated several measures to attain
this objective. One of these is the phase out of commercial blood banks in the country. The law has sufficiently provided a
definite standard for the guidance of the Secretary of Health in carrying out its provisions, that is, the promotion of public
health by providing a safe and adequate supply of blood through voluntary blood donation. By its provisions, it has conferred
the power and authority to the Secretary of Health as to its execution, to be exercised under and in pursuance of the law.

Congress may validly delegate to administrative agencies the authority to promulgate rules and regulations to implement a
given legislation and effectuate its policies.40 The Secretary of Health has been given, under Republic Act No. 7719, broad
powers to execute the provisions of said Act. Section 11 of the Act states:

"SEC. 11. Rules and Regulations. – The implementation of the provisions of the Act shall be in accordance with the rules and
regulations to be promulgated by the Secretary, within sixty (60) days from the approval hereof…"

This is what respondent Secretary exactly did when DOH, by virtue of the administrative body’s authority and expertise in the
matter, came out with Administrative Order No.9, series of 1995 or the Rules and Regulations Implementing Republic Act No.
7719. Administrative Order. No. 9 effectively filled in the details of the law for its proper implementation.

Specifically, Section 23 of Administrative Order No. 9 provides that the phase-out period for commercial blood banks shall be
extended for another two years until May 28, 1998 "based on the result of a careful study and review of the blood supply and
demand and public safety." This power to ascertain the existence of facts and conditions upon which the Secretary may effect
a period of extension for said phase-out can be delegated by Congress. The true distinction between the power to make laws
and discretion as to its execution is illustrated by the fact that the delegation of power to make the law, which necessarily
involves a discretion as to what it shall be, and conferring an authority or discretion as to its execution, to be exercised under
and in pursuance of the law. The first cannot be done; to the latter no valid objection can be made.41

In this regard, the Secretary did not go beyond the powers granted to him by the Act when said phase-out period was
extended in accordance with the Act as laid out in Section 2 thereof:

"SECTION 2. Declaration of Policy – In order to promote public health, it is hereby declared the policy of the state:

a) to promote and encourage voluntary blood donation by the citizenry and to instill public consciousness of the principle that
blood donation is a humanitarian act;

b) to lay down the legal principle that the provision of blood for transfusion is a medical service and not a sale of commodity;

c) to provide for adequate, safe, affordable and equitable distribution of blood supply and blood products;

d) to inform the public of the need for voluntary blood donation to curb the hazards caused by the commercial sale of blood;

e) to teach the benefits and rationale of voluntary blood donation in the existing health subjects of the formal education
system in all public and private schools as well as the non-formal system;

f) to mobilize all sectors of the community to participate in mechanisms for voluntary and non-profit collection of blood;

g) to mandate the Department of Health to establish and organize a National Blood Transfusion Service Network in order to
rationalize and improve the provision of adequate and safe supply of blood;

h) to provide for adequate assistance to institutions promoting voluntary blood donation and providing non-profit blood
services, either through a system of reimbursement for costs from patients who can afford to pay, or donations from
governmental and non-governmental entities;

i) to require all blood collection units and blood banks/centers to operate on a non-profit basis;

j) to establish scientific and professional standards for the operation of blood collection units and blood banks/centers in the
Philippines;
k) to regulate and ensure the safety of all activities related to the collection, storage and banking of blood; and,

l) to require upgrading of blood banks/centers to include preventive services and education to control spread of blood
transfusion transmissible diseases."

Petitioners also assert that the law and its implementing rules and regulations violate the equal protection clause enshrined in
the Constitution because it unduly discriminates against commercial or free standing blood banks in a manner that is not
germane to the purpose of the law.42

What may be regarded as a denial of the equal protection of the laws is a question not always easily determined. No rule that
will cover every case can be formulated. Class legislation, discriminating against some and favoring others is prohibited but
classification on a reasonable basis and not made arbitrarily or capriciously is permitted. The classification, however, to be
reasonable: (a) must be based on substantial distinctions which make real differences; (b) must be germane to the purpose of
the law; (c) must not be limited to existing conditions only; and, (d) must apply equally to each member of the class.43

Republic Act No. 7719 or The National Blood Services Act of 1994, was enacted for the promotion of public health and
welfare. In the aforementioned study conducted by the New Tropical Medicine Foundation, it was revealed that the Philippine
blood banking system is disturbingly primitive and unsafe, and with its current condition, the spread of infectious diseases
such as malaria, AIDS, Hepatitis B and syphilis chiefly from blood transfusion is unavoidable. The situation becomes more
distressing as the study showed that almost 70% of the blood supply in the country is sourced from paid blood donors who
are three times riskier than voluntary blood donors because they are unlikely to disclose their medical or social history during
the blood screening.44

The above study led to the passage of Republic Act No. 7719, to instill public consciousness of the importance and benefits
of voluntary blood donation, safe blood supply and proper blood collection from healthy donors. To do this, the Legislature
decided to order the phase out of commercial blood banks to improve the Philippine blood banking system, to regulate the
supply and proper collection of safe blood, and so as not to derail the implementation of the voluntary blood donation
program of the government. In lieu of commercial blood banks, non-profit blood banks or blood centers, in strict adherence to
professional and scientific standards to be established by the DOH, shall be set in place.45

Based on the foregoing, the Legislature never intended for the law to create a situation in which unjustifiable discrimination
and inequality shall be allowed. To effectuate its policy, a classification was made between nonprofit blood banks/centers and
commercial blood banks.

We deem the classification to be valid and reasonable for the following reasons:

One, it was based on substantial distinctions. The former operates for purely humanitarian reasons and as a medical service
while the latter is motivated by profit. Also, while the former wholly encourages voluntary blood donation, the latter treats
blood as a sale of commodity.

Two, the classification, and the consequent phase out of commercial blood banks is germane to the purpose of the law, that
is, to provide the nation with an adequate supply of safe blood by promoting voluntary blood donation and treating blood
transfusion as a humanitarian or medical service rather than a commodity. This necessarily involves the phase out of
commercial blood banks based on the fact that they operate as a business enterprise, and they source their blood supply
from paid blood donors who are considered unsafe compared to voluntary blood donors as shown by the USAID-sponsored
study on the Philippine blood banking system.

Three, the Legislature intended for the general application of the law. Its enactment was not solely to address the peculiar
circumstances of the situation nor was it intended to apply only to the existing conditions.

Lastly, the law applies equally to all commercial blood banks without exception.

Having said that, this Court comes to the inquiry as to whether or not Republic Act No. 7719 constitutes a valid exercise of
police power.

The promotion of public health is a fundamental obligation of the State. The health of the people is a primordial governmental
concern. Basically, the National Blood Services Act was enacted in the exercise of the State’s police power in order to
promote and preserve public health and safety.

Police power of the state is validly exercised if (a) the interest of the public generally, as distinguished from those of a
particular class, requires the interference of the State; and, (b) the means employed are reasonably necessary to the
attainment of the objective sought to be accomplished and not unduly oppressive upon individuals.46
In the earlier discussion, the Court has mentioned of the avowed policy of the law for the protection of public health by
ensuring an adequate supply of safe blood in the country through voluntary blood donation. Attaining this objective requires
the interference of the State given the disturbing condition of the Philippine blood banking system.

In serving the interest of the public, and to give meaning to the purpose of the law, the Legislature deemed it necessary to
phase out commercial blood banks. This action may seriously affect the owners and operators, as well as the employees, of
commercial blood banks but their interests must give way to serve a higher end for the interest of the public.

The Court finds that the National Blood Services Act is a valid exercise of the State’s police power. Therefore, the Legislature,
under the circumstances, adopted a course of action that is both necessary and reasonable for the common good. Police
power is the State authority to enact legislation that may interfere with personal liberty or property in order to promote the
general welfare.47

It is in this regard that the Court finds the related grounds and/or issues raised by petitioners, namely, deprivation of personal
liberty and property, and violation of the non-impairment clause, to be unmeritorious.

Petitioners are of the opinion that the Act is unconstitutional and void because it infringes on the freedom of choice of an
individual in connection to what he wants to do with his blood which should be outside the domain of State intervention.
Additionally, and in relation to the issue of classification, petitioners asseverate that, indeed, under the Civil Code, the human
body and its organs like the heart, the kidney and the liver are outside the commerce of man but this cannot be made to apply
to human blood because the latter can be replenished by the body. To treat human blood equally as the human organs would
constitute invalid classification. 48

Petitioners likewise claim that the phase out of the commercial blood banks will be disadvantageous to them as it will affect
their businesses and existing contracts with hospitals and other health institutions, hence Section 7 of the Act should be
struck down because it violates the non-impairment clause provided by the Constitution.

As stated above, the State, in order to promote the general welfare, may interfere with personal liberty, with property, and with
business and occupations. Thus, persons may be subjected to certain kinds of restraints and burdens in order to secure the
general welfare of the State and to this fundamental aim of government, the rights of the individual may be subordinated.49

Moreover, in the case of Philippine Association of Service Exporters, Inc. v. Drilon,50 settled is the rule that the non-
impairment clause of the Constitution must yield to the loftier purposes targeted by the government. The right granted by this
provision must submit to the demands and necessities of the State’s power of regulation. While the Court understands the
grave implications of Section 7 of the law in question, the concern of the Government in this case, however, is not necessarily
to maintain profits of business firms. In the ordinary sequence of events, it is profits that suffer as a result of government
regulation.

Furthermore, the freedom to contract is not absolute; all contracts and all rights are subject to the police power of the State
and not only may regulations which affect them be established by the State, but all such regulations must be subject to
change from time to time, as the general well-being of the community may require, or as the circumstances may change, or
as experience may demonstrate the necessity.51 This doctrine was reiterated in the case of Vda. de Genuino v. Court of
Agrarian Relations52 where the Court held that individual rights to contract and to property have to give way to police power
exercised for public welfare.

As for determining whether or not the shutdown of commercial blood banks will truly serve the general public considering the
shortage of blood supply in the country as proffered by petitioners, we maintain that the wisdom of the Legislature in the
lawful exercise of its power to enact laws cannot be inquired into by the Court. Doing so would be in derogation of the
principle of separation of powers.53

That, under the circumstances, proper regulation of all blood banks without distinction in order to achieve the objective of the
law as contended by petitioners is, of course, possible; but, this would be arguing on what the law may be or should be and
not what the law is. Between is and ought there is a far cry. The wisdom and propriety of legislation is not for this Court to
pass upon.54

Finally, with regard to the petition for contempt in G.R. No. 139147, on the other hand, the Court finds respondent Secretary
of Health’s explanation satisfactory. The statements in the flyers and posters were not aimed at influencing or threatening the
Court in deciding in favor of the constitutionality of the law.

Contempt of court presupposes a contumacious attitude, a flouting or arrogant belligerence in defiance of the court.55 There
is nothing contemptuous about the statements and information contained in the health advisory that were distributed by DOH
before the TRO was issued by this Court ordering the former to cease and desist from distributing the same.
In sum, the Court has been unable to find any constitutional infirmity in the questioned provisions of the National Blood
Services Act of 1994 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations.

The fundamental criterion is that all reasonable doubts should be resolved in favor of the constitutionality of a statute. Every
law has in its favor the presumption of constitutionality. For a law to be nullified, it must be shown that there is a clear and
unequivocal breach of the Constitution. The ground for nullity must be clear and beyond reasonable doubt.56 Those who
petition this Court to declare a law, or parts thereof, unconstitutional must clearly establish the basis therefor. Otherwise, the
petition must fail.

Based on the grounds raised by petitioners to challenge the constitutionality of the National Blood Services Act of 1994 and
its Implementing Rules and Regulations, the Court finds that petitioners have failed to overcome the presumption of
constitutionality of the law. As to whether the Act constitutes a wise legislation, considering the issues being raised by
petitioners, is for Congress to determine.57

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court renders judgment as follows:

1. In G.R. Nos. 133640 and 133661, the Court UPHOLDS THE VALIDITY of Section 7 of Republic Act No. 7719, otherwise
known as the National Blood Services Act of 1994, and Administrative Order No. 9, Series of 1995 or the Rules and
Regulations Implementing Republic Act No. 7719. The petitions are DISMISSED. Consequently, the Temporary Restraining
Order issued by this Court on June 2, 1998, is LIFTED.

2. In G.R. No. 139147, the petition seeking to cite the Secretary of Health in contempt of court is DENIED for lack of merit.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT

Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. 192935 December 7, 2010

LOUIS "BAROK" C. BIRAOGO, Petitioner, 



vs.

THE PHILIPPINE TRUTH COMMISSION OF 2010, Respondent.

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

G.R. No. 193036

REP. EDCEL C. LAGMAN, REP. RODOLFO B. ALBANO, JR., REP. SIMEON A. DATUMANONG, and REP. ORLANDO B.
FUA, SR., Petitioners, 

vs.

EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR. and DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT
SECRETARY FLORENCIO B. ABAD, Respondents.

DECISION

MENDOZA, J.:

When the judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not assert any superiority over the other
departments; it does not in reality nullify or invalidate an act of the legislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred
obligation assigned to it by the Constitution to determine conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and to establish
for the parties in an actual controversy the rights which that instrument secures and guarantees to them.

--- Justice Jose P. Laurel1

The role of the Constitution cannot be overlooked. It is through the Constitution that the fundamental powers of government
are established, limited and defined, and by which these powers are distributed among the several departments.2 The
Constitution is the basic and paramount law to which all other laws must conform and to which all persons, including the
highest officials of the land, must defer.3 Constitutional doctrines must remain steadfast no matter what may be the tides of
time. It cannot be simply made to sway and accommodate the call of situations and much more tailor itself to the whims and
caprices of government and the people who run it.4

For consideration before the Court are two consolidated cases5 both of which essentially assail the validity and
constitutionality of Executive Order No. 1, dated July 30, 2010, entitled "Creating the Philippine Truth Commission of 2010."

The first case is G.R. No. 192935, a special civil action for prohibition instituted by petitioner Louis Biraogo (Biraogo) in his
capacity as a citizen and taxpayer. Biraogo assails Executive Order No. 1 for being violative of the legislative power of
Congress under Section 1, Article VI of the Constitution6 as it usurps the constitutional authority of the legislature to create a
public office and to appropriate funds therefor.7

The second case, G.R. No. 193036, is a special civil action for certiorari and prohibition filed by petitioners Edcel C. Lagman,
Rodolfo B. Albano Jr., Simeon A. Datumanong, and Orlando B. Fua, Sr. (petitioners-legislators) as incumbent members of the
House of Representatives.

The genesis of the foregoing cases can be traced to the events prior to the historic May 2010 elections, when then Senator
Benigno Simeon Aquino III declared his staunch condemnation of graft and corruption with his slogan, "Kung walang corrupt,
walang mahirap." The Filipino people, convinced of his sincerity and of his ability to carry out this noble objective, catapulted
the good senator to the presidency.

To transform his campaign slogan into reality, President Aquino found a need for a special body to investigate reported cases
of graft and corruption allegedly committed during the previous administration.

Thus, at the dawn of his administration, the President on July 30, 2010, signed Executive Order No. 1 establishing
the Philippine Truth Commission of 2010 (Truth Commission). Pertinent provisions of said executive order read:
EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 1

CREATING THE PHILIPPINE TRUTH COMMISSION OF 2010

WHEREAS, Article XI, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines solemnly enshrines the principle that a public
office is a public trust and mandates that public officers and employees, who are servants of the people, must at all times be
accountable to the latter, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice,
and lead modest lives;

WHEREAS, corruption is among the most despicable acts of defiance of this principle and notorious violation of this mandate;

WHEREAS, corruption is an evil and scourge which seriously affects the political, economic, and social life of a nation; in a
very special way it inflicts untold misfortune and misery on the poor, the marginalized and underprivileged sector of society;

WHEREAS, corruption in the Philippines has reached very alarming levels, and undermined the people’s trust and
confidence in the Government and its institutions;

WHEREAS, there is an urgent call for the determination of the truth regarding certain reports of large scale graft and
corruption in the government and to put a closure to them by the filing of the appropriate cases against those involved, if
warranted, and to deter others from committing the evil, restore the people’s faith and confidence in the Government and in
their public servants;

WHEREAS, the President’s battlecry during his campaign for the Presidency in the last elections "kung walang corrupt,
walang mahirap" expresses a solemn pledge that if elected, he would end corruption and the evil it breeds;

WHEREAS, there is a need for a separate body dedicated solely to investigating and finding out the truth concerning the
reported cases of graft and corruption during the previous administration, and which will recommend the prosecution of the
offenders and secure justice for all;

WHEREAS, Book III, Chapter 10, Section 31 of Executive Order No. 292, otherwise known as the Revised Administrative
Code of the Philippines, gives the President the continuing authority to reorganize the Office of the President.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BENIGNO SIMEON AQUINO III, President of the Republic of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers
vested in me by law, do hereby order:

SECTION 1. Creation of a Commission. – There is hereby created the PHILIPPINE TRUTH COMMISSION, hereinafter
referred to as the "COMMISSION," which shall primarily seek and find the truth on, and toward this end, investigate reports
of graft and corruption of such scale and magnitude that shock and offend the moral and ethical sensibilities of the people,
committed by public officers and employees, their co-principals, accomplices and accessories from the private sector, if any,
during the previous administration; and thereafter recommend the appropriate action or measure to be taken thereon to
ensure that the full measure of justice shall be served without fear or favor.

The Commission shall be composed of a Chairman and four (4) members who will act as an independent collegial body.

SECTION 2. Powers and Functions. – The Commission, which shall have all the powers of an investigative body under
Section 37, Chapter 9, Book I of the Administrative Code of 1987, is primarily tasked to conduct a thorough fact-finding
investigation of reported cases of graft and corruption referred to in Section 1, involving third level public officers and higher,
their co-principals, accomplices and accessories from the private sector, if any, during the previous administration and
thereafter submit its finding and recommendations to the President, Congress and the Ombudsman.

In particular, it shall:

a) Identify and determine the reported cases of such graft and corruption which it will investigate;

b) Collect, receive, review and evaluate evidence related to or regarding the cases of large scale corruption which it has
chosen to investigate, and to this end require any agency, official or employee of the Executive Branch, including
government-owned or controlled corporations, to produce documents, books, records and other papers;

c) Upon proper request or representation, obtain information and documents from the Senate and the House of
Representatives records of investigations conducted by committees thereof relating to matters or subjects being investigated
by the Commission;
d) Upon proper request and representation, obtain information from the courts, including the Sandiganbayan and the Office of
the Court Administrator, information or documents in respect to corruption cases filed with the Sandiganbayan or the regular
courts, as the case may be;

e) Invite or subpoena witnesses and take their testimonies and for that purpose, administer oaths or affirmations as the case
may be;

f) Recommend, in cases where there is a need to utilize any person as a state witness to ensure that the ends of justice be
fully served, that such person who qualifies as a state witness under the Revised Rules of Court of the Philippines be
admitted for that purpose;

g) Turn over from time to time, for expeditious prosecution, to the appropriate prosecutorial authorities, by means of a special
or interim report and recommendation, all evidence on corruption of public officers and employees and their private sector co-
principals, accomplices or accessories, if any, when in the course of its investigation the Commission finds that there is
reasonable ground to believe that they are liable for graft and corruption under pertinent applicable laws;

h) Call upon any government investigative or prosecutorial agency such as the Department of Justice or any of the agencies
under it, and the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission, for such assistance and cooperation as it may require in the discharge
of its functions and duties;

i) Engage or contract the services of resource persons, professionals and other personnel determined by it as necessary to
carry out its mandate;

j) Promulgate its rules and regulations or rules of procedure it deems necessary to effectively and efficiently carry out the
objectives of this Executive Order and to ensure the orderly conduct of its investigations, proceedings and hearings, including
the presentation of evidence;

k) Exercise such other acts incident to or are appropriate and necessary in connection with the objectives and purposes of
this Order.

SECTION 3. Staffing Requirements. – x x x.

SECTION 4. Detail of Employees. – x x x.

SECTION 5. Engagement of Experts. – x x x

SECTION 6. Conduct of Proceedings. – x x x.

SECTION 7. Right to Counsel of Witnesses/Resource Persons. – x x x.

SECTION 8. Protection of Witnesses/Resource Persons. – x x x.

SECTION 9. Refusal to Obey Subpoena, Take Oath or Give Testimony. – Any government official or personnel who,
without lawful excuse, fails to appear upon subpoena issued by the Commission or who, appearing before the Commission
refuses to take oath or affirmation, give testimony or produce documents for inspection, when required, shall be subject to
administrative disciplinary action. Any private person who does the same may be dealt with in accordance with law.

SECTION 10. Duty to Extend Assistance to the Commission. – x x x.

SECTION 11. Budget for the Commission. – The Office of the President shall provide the necessary funds for the
Commission to ensure that it can exercise its powers, execute its functions, and perform its duties and responsibilities as
effectively, efficiently, and expeditiously as possible.

SECTION 12. Office. – x x x.

SECTION 13. Furniture/Equipment. – x x x.

SECTION 14. Term of the Commission. – The Commission shall accomplish its mission on or before December 31, 2012.

SECTION 15. Publication of Final Report. – x x x.


SECTION 16. Transfer of Records and Facilities of the Commission. – x x x.

SECTION 17. Special Provision Concerning Mandate. If and when in the judgment of the President there is a need to
expand the mandate of the Commission as defined in Section 1 hereof to include the investigation of cases and instances of
graft and corruption during the prior administrations, such mandate may be so extended accordingly by way of a
supplemental Executive Order.

SECTION 18. Separability Clause. If any provision of this Order is declared unconstitutional, the same shall not affect the
validity and effectivity of the other provisions hereof.

SECTION 19. Effectivity. – This Executive Order shall take effect immediately.

DONE in the City of Manila, Philippines, this 30th day of July 2010.

(SGD.) BENIGNO S. AQUINO III



By the President:

(SGD.) PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR.



Executive Secretary

Nature of the Truth Commission

As can be gleaned from the above-quoted provisions, the Philippine Truth Commission (PTC) is a mere ad hoc body formed
under the Office of the President with the primary task to investigate reports of graft and corruption committed by third-level
public officers and employees, their co-principals, accomplices and accessories during the previous administration, and
thereafter to submit its finding and recommendations to the President, Congress and the Ombudsman. Though it has been
described as an "independent collegial body," it is essentially an entity within the Office of the President Proper and subject to
his control. Doubtless, it constitutes a public office, as an ad hoc body is one.8

To accomplish its task, the PTC shall have all the powers of an investigative body under Section 37, Chapter 9, Book I of the
Administrative Code of 1987. It is not, however, a quasi-judicial body as it cannot adjudicate, arbitrate, resolve, settle, or
render awards in disputes between contending parties. All it can do is gather, collect and assess evidence of graft and
corruption and make recommendations. It may have subpoena powers but it has no power to cite people in contempt, much
less order their arrest. Although it is a fact-finding body, it cannot determine from such facts if probable cause exists as to
warrant the filing of an information in our courts of law. Needless to state, it cannot impose criminal, civil or administrative
penalties or sanctions.

The PTC is different from the truth commissions in other countries which have been created as official, transitory and non-
judicial fact-finding bodies "to establish the facts and context of serious violations of human rights or of international
humanitarian law in a country’s past."9 They are usually established by states emerging from periods of internal unrest, civil
strife or authoritarianism to serve as mechanisms for transitional justice.

Truth commissions have been described as bodies that share the following characteristics: (1) they examine only past events;
(2) they investigate patterns of abuse committed over a period of time, as opposed to a particular event; (3) they are
temporary bodies that finish their work with the submission of a report containing conclusions and recommendations; and (4)
they are officially sanctioned, authorized or empowered by the State.10"Commission’s members are usually empowered to
conduct research, support victims, and propose policy recommendations to prevent recurrence of crimes. Through their
investigations, the commissions may aim to discover and learn more about past abuses, or formally acknowledge them. They
may aim to prepare the way for prosecutions and recommend institutional reforms."11

Thus, their main goals range from retribution to reconciliation. The Nuremburg and Tokyo war crime tribunals are examples of
a retributory or vindicatory body set up to try and punish those responsible for crimes against humanity. A form of a
reconciliatory tribunal is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa, the principal function of which was to heal
the wounds of past violence and to prevent future conflict by providing a cathartic experience for victims.

The PTC is a far cry from South Africa’s model. The latter placed more emphasis on reconciliation than on judicial retribution,
while the marching order of the PTC is the identification and punishment of perpetrators. As one writer12 puts it:

The order ruled out reconciliation. It translated the Draconian code spelled out by Aquino in his inaugural speech: "To those
who talk about reconciliation, if they mean that they would like us to simply forget about the wrongs that they have committed
in the past, we have this to say: There can be no reconciliation without justice. When we allow crimes to go unpunished, we
give consent to their occurring over and over again."
The Thrusts of the Petitions

Barely a month after the issuance of Executive Order No. 1, the petitioners asked the Court to declare it unconstitutional and
to enjoin the PTC from performing its functions. A perusal of the arguments of the petitioners in both cases shows that they
are essentially the same. The petitioners-legislators summarized them in the following manner:

(a) E.O. No. 1 violates the separation of powers as it arrogates the power of the Congress to create a public office and
appropriate funds for its operation.

(b) The provision of Book III, Chapter 10, Section 31 of the Administrative Code of 1987 cannot legitimize E.O. No. 1 because
the delegated authority of the President to structurally reorganize the Office of the President to achieve economy, simplicity
and efficiency does not include the power to create an entirely new public office which was hitherto inexistent like the "Truth
Commission."

(c) E.O. No. 1 illegally amended the Constitution and pertinent statutes when it vested the "Truth Commission" with quasi-
judicial powers duplicating, if not superseding, those of the Office of the Ombudsman created under the 1987 Constitution
and the Department of Justice created under the Administrative Code of 1987.

(d) E.O. No. 1 violates the equal protection clause as it selectively targets for investigation and prosecution officials and
personnel of the previous administration as if corruption is their peculiar species even as it excludes those of the other
administrations, past and present, who may be indictable.

(e) The creation of the "Philippine Truth Commission of 2010" violates the consistent and general international practice of four
decades wherein States constitute truth commissions to exclusively investigate human rights violations, which customary
practice forms part of the generally accepted principles of international law which the Philippines is mandated to adhere to
pursuant to the Declaration of Principles enshrined in the Constitution.

(f) The creation of the "Truth Commission" is an exercise in futility, an adventure in partisan hostility, a launching pad for trial/
conviction by publicity and a mere populist propaganda to mistakenly impress the people that widespread poverty will
altogether vanish if corruption is eliminated without even addressing the other major causes of poverty.

(g) The mere fact that previous commissions were not constitutionally challenged is of no moment because neither laches nor
estoppel can bar an eventual question on the constitutionality and validity of an executive issuance or even a statute."13

In their Consolidated Comment,14 the respondents, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), essentially questioned
the legal standing of petitioners and defended the assailed executive order with the following arguments:

1] E.O. No. 1 does not arrogate the powers of Congress to create a public office because the President’s executive power
and power of control necessarily include the inherent power to conduct investigations to ensure that laws are faithfully
executed and that, in any event, the Constitution, Revised Administrative Code of 1987 (E.O. No. 292), 15 Presidential Decree
(P.D.) No. 141616 (as amended by P.D. No. 1772), R.A. No. 9970,17 and settled jurisprudence that authorize the President to
create or form such bodies.

2] E.O. No. 1 does not usurp the power of Congress to appropriate funds because there is no appropriation but a mere
allocation of funds already appropriated by Congress.

3] The Truth Commission does not duplicate or supersede the functions of the Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) and
the Department of Justice (DOJ), because it is a fact-finding body and not a quasi-judicial body and its functions do not
duplicate, supplant or erode the latter’s jurisdiction.

4] The Truth Commission does not violate the equal protection clause because it was validly created for laudable purposes.

The OSG then points to the continued existence and validity of other executive orders and presidential issuances creating
similar bodies to justify the creation of the PTC such as Presidential Complaint and Action Commission (PCAC) by President
Ramon B. Magsaysay, Presidential Committee on Administrative Performance Efficiency (PCAPE) by President Carlos P.
Garcia and Presidential Agency on Reform and Government Operations (PARGO) by President Ferdinand E. Marcos.18

From the petitions, pleadings, transcripts, and memoranda, the following are the principal issues to be resolved:

1. Whether or not the petitioners have the legal standing to file their respective petitions and question Executive Order No. 1;
2. Whether or not Executive Order No. 1 violates the principle of separation of powers by usurping the powers of Congress to
create and to appropriate funds for public offices, agencies and commissions;

3. Whether or not Executive Order No. 1 supplants the powers of the Ombudsman and the DOJ;

4. Whether or not Executive Order No. 1 violates the equal protection clause; and

5. Whether or not petitioners are entitled to injunctive relief.

Essential requisites for judicial review

Before proceeding to resolve the issue of the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 1, the Court needs to ascertain whether
the requisites for a valid exercise of its power of judicial review are present.

Like almost all powers conferred by the Constitution, the power of judicial review is subject to limitations, to wit: (1) there must
be an actual case or controversy calling for the exercise of judicial power; (2) the person challenging the act must have the
standing to question the validity of the subject act or issuance; otherwise stated, he must have a personal and substantial
interest in the case such that he has sustained, or will sustain, direct injury as a result of its enforcement; (3) the question of
constitutionality must be raised at the earliest opportunity; and (4) the issue of constitutionality must be the very lis mota of
the case.19

Among all these limitations, only the legal standing of the petitioners has been put at issue.

Legal Standing of the Petitioners

The OSG attacks the legal personality of the petitioners-legislators to file their petition for failure to demonstrate their personal
stake in the outcome of the case. It argues that the petitioners have not shown that they have sustained or are in danger of
sustaining any personal injury attributable to the creation of the PTC. Not claiming to be the subject of the commission’s
investigations, petitioners will not sustain injury in its creation or as a result of its proceedings.20

The Court disagrees with the OSG in questioning the legal standing of the petitioners-legislators to assail Executive Order
No. 1. Evidently, their petition primarily invokes usurpation of the power of the Congress as a body to which they belong as
members. This certainly justifies their resolve to take the cudgels for Congress as an institution and present the complaints on
the usurpation of their power and rights as members of the legislature before the Court. As held in Philippine Constitution
Association v. Enriquez,21

To the extent the powers of Congress are impaired, so is the power of each member thereof, since his office confers a right to
participate in the exercise of the powers of that institution.

An act of the Executive which injures the institution of Congress causes a derivative but nonetheless substantial injury, which
can be questioned by a member of Congress. In such a case, any member of Congress can have a resort to the courts.

Indeed, legislators have a legal standing to see to it that the prerogative, powers and privileges vested by the Constitution in
their office remain inviolate. Thus, they are allowed to question the validity of any official action which, to their mind, infringes
on their prerogatives as legislators.22

With regard to Biraogo, the OSG argues that, as a taxpayer, he has no standing to question the creation of the PTC and the
budget for its operations.23 It emphasizes that the funds to be used for the creation and operation of the commission are to be
taken from those funds already appropriated by Congress. Thus, the allocation and disbursement of funds for the commission
will not entail congressional action but will simply be an exercise of the President’s power over contingent funds.

As correctly pointed out by the OSG, Biraogo has not shown that he sustained, or is in danger of sustaining, any personal
and direct injury attributable to the implementation of Executive Order No. 1. Nowhere in his petition is an assertion of a clear
right that may justify his clamor for the Court to exercise judicial power and to wield the axe over presidential issuances in
defense of the Constitution. The case of David v. Arroyo24 explained the deep-seated rules on locus standi. Thus:

Locus standi is defined as "a right of appearance in a court of justice on a given question." In private suits, standing is
governed by the "real-parties-in interest" rule as contained in Section 2, Rule 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as
amended. It provides that "every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in interest."
Accordingly, the "real-party-in interest" is "the party who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit or the
party entitled to the avails of the suit." Succinctly put, the plaintiff’s standing is based on his own right to the relief sought.
The difficulty of determining locus standi arises in public suits. Here, the plaintiff who asserts a "public right" in assailing an
allegedly illegal official action, does so as a representative of the general public. He may be a person who is affected no
differently from any other person. He could be suing as a "stranger," or in the category of a "citizen," or ‘taxpayer." In either
case, he has to adequately show that he is entitled to seek judicial protection. In other words, he has to make out a sufficient
interest in the vindication of the public order and the securing of relief as a "citizen" or "taxpayer.

Case law in most jurisdictions now allows both "citizen" and "taxpayer" standing in public actions. The distinction was first laid
down in Beauchamp v. Silk, where it was held that the plaintiff in a taxpayer’s suit is in a different category from the plaintiff in
a citizen’s suit. In the former, the plaintiff is affected by the expenditure of public funds, while in the latter, he is but the mere
instrument of the public concern. As held by the New York Supreme Court in People ex rel Case v. Collins: "In matter of mere
public right, however…the people are the real parties…It is at least the right, if not the duty, of every citizen to interfere and
see that a public offence be properly pursued and punished, and that a public grievance be remedied." With respect to
taxpayer’s suits, Terr v. Jordan held that "the right of a citizen and a taxpayer to maintain an action in courts to restrain the
unlawful use of public funds to his injury cannot be denied."

However, to prevent just about any person from seeking judicial interference in any official policy or act with which he
disagreed with, and thus hinders the activities of governmental agencies engaged in public service, the United State
Supreme Court laid down the more stringent "direct injury" test in Ex Parte Levitt, later reaffirmed in Tileston v. Ullman. The
same Court ruled that for a private individual to invoke the judicial power to determine the validity of an executive or
legislative action, he must show that he has sustained a direct injury as a result of that action, and it is not sufficient
that he has a general interest common to all members of the public.

This Court adopted the "direct injury" test in our jurisdiction. In People v. Vera, it held that the person who impugns the
validity of a statute must have "a personal and substantial interest in the case such that he has sustained, or will
sustain direct injury as a result." The Vera doctrine was upheld in a litany of cases, such as, Custodio v. President of the
Senate, Manila Race Horse Trainers’ Association v. De la Fuente, Pascual v. Secretary of Public Works and Anti-Chinese
League of the Philippines v. Felix. [Emphases included. Citations omitted]

Notwithstanding, the Court leans on the doctrine that "the rule on standing is a matter of procedure, hence, can be relaxed for
nontraditional plaintiffs like ordinary citizens, taxpayers, and legislators when the public interest so requires, such as when the
matter is of transcendental importance, of overreaching significance to society, or of paramount public interest."25

Thus, in Coconut Oil Refiners Association, Inc. v. Torres,26 the Court held that in cases of paramount importance where
serious constitutional questions are involved, the standing requirements may be relaxed and a suit may be allowed to prosper
even where there is no direct injury to the party claiming the right of judicial review. In the first Emergency Powers Cases,
27 ordinary citizens and taxpayers were allowed to question the constitutionality of several executive orders although they had

only an indirect and general interest shared in common with the public.

The OSG claims that the determinants of transcendental importance28 laid down in CREBA v. ERC and Meralco29 are non-
existent in this case. The Court, however, finds reason in Biraogo’s assertion that the petition covers matters of
transcendental importance to justify the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court. There are constitutional issues in the petition
which deserve the attention of this Court in view of their seriousness, novelty and weight as precedents. Where the issues are
of transcendental and paramount importance not only to the public but also to the Bench and the Bar, they should be
resolved for the guidance of all.30 Undoubtedly, the Filipino people are more than interested to know the status of the
President’s first effort to bring about a promised change to the country. The Court takes cognizance of the petition not due to
overwhelming political undertones that clothe the issue in the eyes of the public, but because the Court stands firm in its oath
to perform its constitutional duty to settle legal controversies with overreaching significance to society.

Power of the President to Create the Truth Commission

In his memorandum in G.R. No. 192935, Biraogo asserts that the Truth Commission is a public office and not merely an
adjunct body of the Office of the President.31 Thus, in order that the President may create a public office he must be
empowered by the Constitution, a statute or an authorization vested in him by law. According to petitioner, such power cannot
be presumed32 since there is no provision in the Constitution or any specific law that authorizes the President to create a truth
commission.33 He adds that Section 31 of the Administrative Code of 1987, granting the President the continuing authority to
reorganize his office, cannot serve as basis for the creation of a truth commission considering the aforesaid provision merely
uses verbs such as "reorganize," "transfer," "consolidate," "merge," and "abolish."34 Insofar as it vests in the President the
plenary power to reorganize the Office of the President to the extent of creating a public office, Section 31 is inconsistent with
the principle of separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution and must be deemed repealed upon the effectivity thereof.
35

Similarly, in G.R. No. 193036, petitioners-legislators argue that the creation of a public office lies within the province of
Congress and not with the executive branch of government. They maintain that the delegated authority of the President to
reorganize under Section 31 of the Revised Administrative Code: 1) does not permit the President to create a public office,
much less a truth commission; 2) is limited to the reorganization of the administrative structure of the Office of the President;
3) is limited to the restructuring of the internal organs of the Office of the President Proper, transfer of functions and transfer
of agencies; and 4) only to achieve simplicity, economy and efficiency.36 Such continuing authority of the President to
reorganize his office is limited, and by issuing Executive Order No. 1, the President overstepped the limits of this delegated
authority.

The OSG counters that there is nothing exclusively legislative about the creation by the President of a fact-finding body such
as a truth commission. Pointing to numerous offices created by past presidents, it argues that the authority of the President to
create public offices within the Office of the President Proper has long been recognized.37 According to the OSG, the
Executive, just like the other two branches of government, possesses the inherent authority to create fact-finding committees
to assist it in the performance of its constitutionally mandated functions and in the exercise of its administrative functions.
38 This power, as the OSG explains it, is but an adjunct of the plenary powers wielded by the President under Section 1 and

his power of control under Section 17, both of Article VII of the Constitution.39

It contends that the President is necessarily vested with the power to conduct fact-finding investigations, pursuant to his duty
to ensure that all laws are enforced by public officials and employees of his department and in the exercise of his authority to
assume directly the functions of the executive department, bureau and office, or interfere with the discretion of his officials.
40 The power of the President to investigate is not limited to the exercise of his power of control over his subordinates in the

executive branch, but extends further in the exercise of his other powers, such as his power to discipline subordinates,41 his
power for rule making, adjudication and licensing purposes42 and in order to be informed on matters which he is entitled to
know.43

The OSG also cites the recent case of Banda v. Ermita,44 where it was held that the President has the power to reorganize
the offices and agencies in the executive department in line with his constitutionally granted power of control and by virtue of
a valid delegation of the legislative power to reorganize executive offices under existing statutes.

Thus, the OSG concludes that the power of control necessarily includes the power to create offices. For the OSG, the
President may create the PTC in order to, among others, put a closure to the reported large scale graft and corruption in the
government.45

The question, therefore, before the Court is this: Does the creation of the PTC fall within the ambit of the power to reorganize
as expressed in Section 31 of the Revised Administrative Code? Section 31 contemplates "reorganization" as limited by the
following functional and structural lines: (1) restructuring the internal organization of the Office of the President Proper by
abolishing, consolidating or merging units thereof or transferring functions from one unit to another; (2) transferring any
function under the Office of the President to any other Department/Agency or vice versa; or (3) transferring any agency under
the Office of the President to any other Department/Agency or vice versa. Clearly, the provision refers to reduction of
personnel, consolidation of offices, or abolition thereof by reason of economy or redundancy of functions. These point to
situations where a body or an office is already existent but a modification or alteration thereof has to be effected. The creation
of an office is nowhere mentioned, much less envisioned in said provision. Accordingly, the answer to the question is in the
negative.

To say that the PTC is borne out of a restructuring of the Office of the President under Section 31 is a misplaced supposition,
even in the plainest meaning attributable to the term "restructure"– an "alteration of an existing structure." Evidently, the PTC
was not part of the structure of the Office of the President prior to the enactment of Executive Order No. 1. As held in Buklod
ng Kawaning EIIB v. Hon. Executive Secretary,46

But of course, the list of legal basis authorizing the President to reorganize any department or agency in the executive branch
does not have to end here. We must not lose sight of the very source of the power – that which constitutes an express grant
of power. Under Section 31, Book III of Executive Order No. 292 (otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987), "the
President, subject to the policy in the Executive Office and in order to achieve simplicity, economy and efficiency, shall have
the continuing authority to reorganize the administrative structure of the Office of the President." For this purpose, he may
transfer the functions of other Departments or Agencies to the Office of the President. In Canonizado v. Aguirre [323 SCRA
312 (2000)], we ruled that reorganization "involves the reduction of personnel, consolidation of offices, or abolition thereof by
reason of economy or redundancy of functions." It takes place when there is an alteration of the existing structure of
government offices or units therein, including the lines of control, authority and responsibility between them. The EIIB is a
bureau attached to the Department of Finance. It falls under the Office of the President. Hence, it is subject to the President’s
continuing authority to reorganize. [Emphasis Supplied]

In the same vein, the creation of the PTC is not justified by the President’s power of control. Control is essentially the power
to alter or modify or nullify or set aside what a subordinate officer had done in the performance of his duties and to substitute
the judgment of the former with that of the latter.47 Clearly, the power of control is entirely different from the power to create
public offices. The former is inherent in the Executive, while the latter finds basis from either a valid delegation from
Congress, or his inherent duty to faithfully execute the laws.
The question is this, is there a valid delegation of power from Congress, empowering the President to create a public office?

According to the OSG, the power to create a truth commission pursuant to the above provision finds statutory basis under
P.D. 1416, as amended by P.D. No. 1772.48 The said law granted the President the continuing authority to reorganize the
national government, including the power to group, consolidate bureaus and agencies, to abolish offices, to transfer functions,
to create and classify functions, services and activities, transfer appropriations, and to standardize salaries and materials.
This decree, in relation to Section 20, Title I, Book III of E.O. 292 has been invoked in several cases such as Larin v.
Executive Secretary.49

The Court, however, declines to recognize P.D. No. 1416 as a justification for the President to create a public office. Said
decree is already stale, anachronistic and inoperable. P.D. No. 1416 was a delegation to then President Marcos of the
authority to reorganize the administrative structure of the national government including the power to create offices and
transfer appropriations pursuant to one of the purposes of the decree, embodied in its last "Whereas" clause:

WHEREAS, the transition towards the parliamentary form of government will necessitate flexibility in the organization of the
national government.

Clearly, as it was only for the purpose of providing manageability and resiliency during the interim, P.D. No. 1416, as
amended by P.D. No. 1772, became functus oficio upon the convening of the First Congress, as expressly provided in
Section 6, Article XVIII of the 1987 Constitution. In fact, even the Solicitor General agrees with this view. Thus:

ASSOCIATE JUSTICE CARPIO: Because P.D. 1416 was enacted was the last whereas clause of P.D. 1416 says "it was
enacted to prepare the transition from presidential to parliamentary. Now, in a parliamentary form of government, the
legislative and executive powers are fused, correct?

SOLICITOR GENERAL CADIZ: Yes, Your Honor.

ASSOCIATE JUSTICE CARPIO: That is why, that P.D. 1416 was issued. Now would you agree with me that P.D. 1416 should
not be considered effective anymore upon the promulgation, adoption, ratification of the 1987 Constitution.

SOLICITOR GENERAL CADIZ: Not the whole of P.D. [No.] 1416, Your Honor.

ASSOCIATE JUSTICE CARPIO: The power of the President to reorganize the entire National Government is deemed
repealed, at least, upon the adoption of the 1987 Constitution, correct.

SOLICITOR GENERAL CADIZ: Yes, Your Honor.50

While the power to create a truth commission cannot pass muster on the basis of P.D. No. 1416 as amended by P.D. No.
1772, the creation of the PTC finds justification under Section 17, Article VII of the Constitution, imposing upon the President
the duty to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed. Section 17 reads:

Section 17. The President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices. He shall ensure that the
laws be faithfully executed. (Emphasis supplied).

As correctly pointed out by the respondents, the allocation of power in the three principal branches of government is a grant
of all powers inherent in them. The President’s power to conduct investigations to aid him in ensuring the faithful execution of
laws – in this case, fundamental laws on public accountability and transparency – is inherent in the President’s powers as the
Chief Executive. That the authority of the President to conduct investigations and to create bodies to execute this power is not
explicitly mentioned in the Constitution or in statutes does not mean that he is bereft of such authority.51 As explained in the
landmark case of Marcos v. Manglapus:52

x x x. The 1987 Constitution, however, brought back the presidential system of government and restored the separation of
legislative, executive and judicial powers by their actual distribution among three distinct branches of government with
provision for checks and balances.

It would not be accurate, however, to state that "executive power" is the power to enforce the laws, for the President is head
of state as well as head of government and whatever powers inhere in such positions pertain to the office unless the
Constitution itself withholds it. Furthermore, the Constitution itself provides that the execution of the laws is only one of the
powers of the President. It also grants the President other powers that do not involve the execution of any provision of
law, e.g., his power over the country's foreign relations.
On these premises, we hold the view that although the 1987 Constitution imposes limitations on the exercise
of specific powers of the President, it maintains intact what is traditionally considered as within the scope of "executive
power." Corollarily, the powers of the President cannot be said to be limited only to the specific powers enumerated in the
Constitution. In other words, executive power is more than the sum of specific powers so enumerated.

It has been advanced that whatever power inherent in the government that is neither legislative nor judicial has to be
executive. x x x.

Indeed, the Executive is given much leeway in ensuring that our laws are faithfully executed. As stated above, the powers of
the President are not limited to those specific powers under the Constitution.53 One of the recognized powers of the President
granted pursuant to this constitutionally-mandated duty is the power to create ad hoc committees. This flows from the obvious
need to ascertain facts and determine if laws have been faithfully executed. Thus, in Department of Health v. Camposano,
54 the authority of the President to issue Administrative Order No. 298, creating an investigative committee to look into the

administrative charges filed against the employees of the Department of Health for the anomalous purchase of medicines
was upheld. In said case, it was ruled:

The Chief Executive’s power to create the Ad hoc Investigating Committee cannot be doubted. Having been
constitutionally granted full control of the Executive Department, to which respondents belong, the President has the
obligation to ensure that all executive officials and employees faithfully comply with the law. With AO 298 as mandate, the
legality of the investigation is sustained. Such validity is not affected by the fact that the investigating team and the PCAGC
had the same composition, or that the former used the offices and facilities of the latter in conducting the inquiry. [Emphasis
supplied]

It should be stressed that the purpose of allowing ad hoc investigating bodies to exist is to allow an inquiry into matters which
the President is entitled to know so that he can be properly advised and guided in the performance of his duties relative to the
execution and enforcement of the laws of the land. And if history is to be revisited, this was also the objective of the
investigative bodies created in the past like the PCAC, PCAPE, PARGO, the Feliciano Commission, the Melo Commission
and the Zenarosa Commission. There being no changes in the government structure, the Court is not inclined to declare such
executive power as non-existent just because the direction of the political winds have changed.

On the charge that Executive Order No. 1 transgresses the power of Congress to appropriate funds for the operation of a
public office, suffice it to say that there will be no appropriation but only an allotment or allocations of existing funds already
appropriated. Accordingly, there is no usurpation on the part of the Executive of the power of Congress to appropriate funds.
Further, there is no need to specify the amount to be earmarked for the operation of the commission because, in the words of
the Solicitor General, "whatever funds the Congress has provided for the Office of the President will be the very source of the
funds for the commission."55 Moreover, since the amount that would be allocated to the PTC shall be subject to existing
auditing rules and regulations, there is no impropriety in the funding.

Power of the Truth Commission to Investigate

The President’s power to conduct investigations to ensure that laws are faithfully executed is well recognized. It flows from
the faithful-execution clause of the Constitution under Article VII, Section 17 thereof.56 As the Chief Executive, the president
represents the government as a whole and sees to it that all laws are enforced by the officials and employees of his
department. He has the authority to directly assume the functions of the executive department.57

Invoking this authority, the President constituted the PTC to primarily investigate reports of graft and corruption and to
recommend the appropriate action. As previously stated, no quasi-judicial powers have been vested in the said body as it
cannot adjudicate rights of persons who come before it. It has been said that "Quasi-judicial powers involve the power to hear
and determine questions of fact to which the legislative policy is to apply and to decide in accordance with the standards laid
down by law itself in enforcing and administering the same law."58In simpler terms, judicial discretion is involved in the
exercise of these quasi-judicial power, such that it is exclusively vested in the judiciary and must be clearly authorized by the
legislature in the case of administrative agencies.

The distinction between the power to investigate and the power to adjudicate was delineated by the Court in Cariño v.
Commission on Human Rights.59 Thus:

"Investigate," commonly understood, means to examine, explore, inquire or delve or probe into, research on, study. The
dictionary definition of "investigate" is "to observe or study closely: inquire into systematically: "to search or inquire into: x x to
subject to an official probe x x: to conduct an official inquiry." The purpose of investigation, of course, is to discover, to find
out, to learn, obtain information. Nowhere included or intimated is the notion of settling, deciding or resolving a controversy
involved in the facts inquired into by application of the law to the facts established by the inquiry.
The legal meaning of "investigate" is essentially the same: "(t)o follow up step by step by patient inquiry or observation. To
trace or track; to search into; to examine and inquire into with care and accuracy; to find out by careful inquisition;
examination; the taking of evidence; a legal inquiry;" "to inquire; to make an investigation," "investigation" being in turn
described as "(a)n administrative function, the exercise of which ordinarily does not require a hearing. 2 Am J2d Adm L Sec.
257; x x an inquiry, judicial or otherwise, for the discovery and collection of facts concerning a certain matter or matters."

"Adjudicate," commonly or popularly understood, means to adjudge, arbitrate, judge, decide, determine, resolve, rule on,
settle. The dictionary defines the term as "to settle finally (the rights and duties of the parties to a court case) on the merits of
issues raised: x x to pass judgment on: settle judicially: x x act as judge." And "adjudge" means "to decide or rule upon as a
judge or with judicial or quasi-judicial powers: x x to award or grant judicially in a case of controversy x x."

In the legal sense, "adjudicate" means: "To settle in the exercise of judicial authority. To determine finally. Synonymous
with adjudge in its strictest sense;" and "adjudge" means: "To pass on judicially, to decide, settle or decree, or to sentence or
condemn. x x. Implies a judicial determination of a fact, and the entry of a judgment." [Italics included. Citations Omitted]

Fact-finding is not adjudication and it cannot be likened to the judicial function of a court of justice, or even a quasi-judicial
agency or office. The function of receiving evidence and ascertaining therefrom the facts of a controversy is not a judicial
function. To be considered as such, the act of receiving evidence and arriving at factual conclusions in a controversy must be
accompanied by the authority of applying the law to the factual conclusions to the end that the controversy may be decided or
resolved authoritatively, finally and definitively, subject to appeals or modes of review as may be provided by law.60 Even
respondents themselves admit that the commission is bereft of any quasi-judicial power.61

Contrary to petitioners’ apprehension, the PTC will not supplant the Ombudsman or the DOJ or erode their respective
powers. If at all, the investigative function of the commission will complement those of the two offices. As pointed out by the
Solicitor General, the recommendation to prosecute is but a consequence of the overall task of the commission to conduct a
fact-finding investigation."62 The actual prosecution of suspected offenders, much less adjudication on the merits of the
charges against them,63 is certainly not a function given to the commission. The phrase, "when in the course of its
investigation," under Section 2(g), highlights this fact and gives credence to a contrary interpretation from that of the
petitioners. The function of determining probable cause for the filing of the appropriate complaints before the courts remains
to be with the DOJ and the Ombudsman.64

At any rate, the Ombudsman’s power to investigate under R.A. No. 6770 is not exclusive but is shared with other similarly
authorized government agencies. Thus, in the case of Ombudsman v. Galicia,65 it was written:

This power of investigation granted to the Ombudsman by the 1987 Constitution and The Ombudsman Act is not exclusive
but is shared with other similarly authorized government agencies such as the PCGG and judges of municipal trial courts and
municipal circuit trial courts. The power to conduct preliminary investigation on charges against public employees and officials
is likewise concurrently shared with the Department of Justice. Despite the passage of the Local Government Code in 1991,
the Ombudsman retains concurrent jurisdiction with the Office of the President and the local Sanggunians to investigate
complaints against local elective officials. [Emphasis supplied].

Also, Executive Order No. 1 cannot contravene the power of the Ombudsman to investigate criminal cases under Section 15
(1) of R.A. No. 6770, which states:

(1) Investigate and prosecute on its own or on complaint by any person, any act or omission of any public officer or employee,
office or agency, when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient. It has primary jurisdiction
over cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan and, in the exercise of its primary jurisdiction, it may take over, at any stage,
from any investigatory agency of government, the investigation of such cases. [Emphases supplied]

The act of investigation by the Ombudsman as enunciated above contemplates the conduct of a preliminary investigation or
the determination of the existence of probable cause. This is categorically out of the PTC’s sphere of functions. Its power to
investigate is limited to obtaining facts so that it can advise and guide the President in the performance of his duties relative
to the execution and enforcement of the laws of the land. In this regard, the PTC commits no act of usurpation of the
Ombudsman’s primordial duties.

The same holds true with respect to the DOJ. Its authority under Section 3 (2), Chapter 1, Title III, Book IV in the Revised
Administrative Code is by no means exclusive and, thus, can be shared with a body likewise tasked to investigate the
commission of crimes.

Finally, nowhere in Executive Order No. 1 can it be inferred that the findings of the PTC are to be accorded conclusiveness.
Much like its predecessors, the Davide Commission, the Feliciano Commission and the Zenarosa Commission, its findings
would, at best, be recommendatory in nature. And being so, the Ombudsman and the DOJ have a wider degree of latitude to
decide whether or not to reject the recommendation. These offices, therefore, are not deprived of their mandated duties but
will instead be aided by the reports of the PTC for possible indictments for violations of graft laws.

Violation of the Equal Protection Clause

Although the purpose of the Truth Commission falls within the investigative power of the President, the Court finds difficulty in
upholding the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 1 in view of its apparent transgression of the equal protection clause
enshrined in Section 1, Article III (Bill of Rights) of the 1987 Constitution. Section 1 reads:

Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied
the equal protection of the laws.

The petitioners assail Executive Order No. 1 because it is violative of this constitutional safeguard. They contend that it does
not apply equally to all members of the same class such that the intent of singling out the "previous administration" as its sole
object makes the PTC an "adventure in partisan hostility."66 Thus, in order to be accorded with validity, the commission must
also cover reports of graft and corruption in virtually all administrations previous to that of former President Arroyo.67

The petitioners argue that the search for truth behind the reported cases of graft and corruption must encompass acts
committed not only during the administration of former President Arroyo but also during prior administrations where the "same
magnitude of controversies and anomalies"68 were reported to have been committed against the Filipino people. They assail
the classification formulated by the respondents as it does not fall under the recognized exceptions because first, "there is no
substantial distinction between the group of officials targeted for investigation by Executive Order No. 1 and other groups or
persons who abused their public office for personal gain; and second, the selective classification is not germane to the
purpose of Executive Order No. 1 to end corruption."69 In order to attain constitutional permission, the petitioners advocate
that the commission should deal with "graft and grafters prior and subsequent to the Arroyo administration with the strong arm
of the law with equal force."70

Position of respondents

According to respondents, while Executive Order No. 1 identifies the "previous administration" as the initial subject of the
investigation, following Section 17 thereof, the PTC will not confine itself to cases of large scale graft and corruption solely
during the said administration.71 Assuming arguendo that the commission would confine its proceedings to officials of the
previous administration, the petitioners argue that no offense is committed against the equal protection clause for "the
segregation of the transactions of public officers during the previous administration as possible subjects of investigation is a
valid classification based on substantial distinctions and is germane to the evils which the Executive Order seeks to
correct."72 To distinguish the Arroyo administration from past administrations, it recited the following:

First. E.O. No. 1 was issued in view of widespread reports of large scale graft and corruption in the previous administration
which have eroded public confidence in public institutions. There is, therefore, an urgent call for the determination of the truth
regarding certain reports of large scale graft and corruption in the government and to put a closure to them by the filing of the
appropriate cases against those involved, if warranted, and to deter others from committing the evil, restore the people’s faith
and confidence in the Government and in their public servants.

Second. The segregation of the preceding administration as the object of fact-finding is warranted by the reality that unlike
with administrations long gone, the current administration will most likely bear the immediate consequence of the policies of
the previous administration.

Third. The classification of the previous administration as a separate class for investigation lies in the reality that
the evidence of possible criminal activity, the evidence that could lead to recovery of public monies illegally dissipated, the
policy lessons to be learned to ensure that anti-corruption laws are faithfully executed, are more easily established in the
regime that immediately precede the current administration.

Fourth. Many administrations subject the transactions of their predecessors to investigations to provide closure to issues that
are pivotal to national life or even as a routine measure of due diligence and good housekeeping by a nascent administration
like the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), created by the late President Corazon C. Aquino under
Executive Order No. 1 to pursue the recovery of ill-gotten wealth of her predecessor former President Ferdinand Marcos and
his cronies, and the Saguisag Commission created by former President Joseph Estrada under Administrative Order No, 53, to
form an ad-hoc and independent citizens’ committee to investigate all the facts and circumstances surrounding "Philippine
Centennial projects" of his predecessor, former President Fidel V. Ramos.73 [Emphases supplied]

Concept of the Equal Protection Clause


One of the basic principles on which this government was founded is that of the equality of right which is embodied in Section
1, Article III of the 1987 Constitution. The equal protection of the laws is embraced in the concept of due process, as every
unfair discrimination offends the requirements of justice and fair play. It has been embodied in a separate clause, however, to
provide for a more specific guaranty against any form of undue favoritism or hostility from the government. Arbitrariness in
general may be challenged on the basis of the due process clause. But if the particular act assailed partakes of an
unwarranted partiality or prejudice, the sharper weapon to cut it down is the equal protection clause.74

"According to a long line of decisions, equal protection simply requires that all persons or things similarly situated should be
treated alike, both as to rights conferred and responsibilities imposed."75 It "requires public bodies and institutions to treat
similarly situated individuals in a similar manner."76 "The purpose of the equal protection clause is to secure every person
within a state’s jurisdiction against intentional and arbitrary discrimination, whether occasioned by the express terms of a
statue or by its improper execution through the state’s duly constituted authorities."77 "In other words, the concept of equal
justice under the law requires the state to govern impartially, and it may not draw distinctions between individuals solely on
differences that are irrelevant to a legitimate governmental objective."78

The equal protection clause is aimed at all official state actions, not just those of the legislature.79 Its inhibitions cover all the
departments of the government including the political and executive departments, and extend to all actions of a state denying
equal protection of the laws, through whatever agency or whatever guise is taken. 80

It, however, does not require the universal application of the laws to all persons or things without distinction. What it simply
requires is equality among equals as determined according to a valid classification. Indeed, the equal protection clause
permits classification. Such classification, however, to be valid must pass the test of reasonableness. The test has four
requisites: (1) The classification rests on substantial distinctions; (2) It is germane to the purpose of the law; (3) It is not
limited to existing conditions only; and

(4) It applies equally to all members of the same class.81 "Superficial differences do not make for a valid classification."82

For a classification to meet the requirements of constitutionality, it must include or embrace all persons who naturally belong
to the class.83 "The classification will be regarded as invalid if all the members of the class are not similarly treated, both as to
rights conferred and obligations imposed. It is not necessary that the classification be made with absolute symmetry, in the
sense that the members of the class should possess the same characteristics in equal degree. Substantial similarity will
suffice; and as long as this is achieved, all those covered by the classification are to be treated equally. The mere fact that an
individual belonging to a class differs from the other members, as long as that class is substantially distinguishable from all
others, does not justify the non-application of the law to him."84

The classification must not be based on existing circumstances only, or so constituted as to preclude addition to the number
included in the class. It must be of such a nature as to embrace all those who may thereafter be in similar circumstances and
conditions. It must not leave out or "underinclude" those that should otherwise fall into a certain classification. As elucidated in
Victoriano v. Elizalde Rope Workers' Union85 and reiterated in a long line of cases,86

The guaranty of equal protection of the laws is not a guaranty of equality in the application of the laws upon all citizens of the
state. It is not, therefore, a requirement, in order to avoid the constitutional prohibition against inequality, that every man,
woman and child should be affected alike by a statute. Equality of operation of statutes does not mean indiscriminate
operation on persons merely as such, but on persons according to the circumstances surrounding them. It guarantees
equality, not identity of rights. The Constitution does not require that things which are different in fact be treated in law as
though they were the same. The equal protection clause does not forbid discrimination as to things that are different. It does
not prohibit legislation which is limited either in the object to which it is directed or by the territory within which it is to operate.

The equal protection of the laws clause of the Constitution allows classification. Classification in law, as in the other
departments of knowledge or practice, is the grouping of things in speculation or practice because they agree with one
another in certain particulars. A law is not invalid because of simple inequality. The very idea of classification is that of
inequality, so that it goes without saying that the mere fact of inequality in no manner determines the matter of
constitutionality. All that is required of a valid classification is that it be reasonable, which means that the classification should
be based on substantial distinctions which make for real differences, that it must be germane to the purpose of the law; that it
must not be limited to existing conditions only; and that it must apply equally to each member of the class. This Court has
held that the standard is satisfied if the classification or distinction is based on a reasonable foundation or rational basis and
is not palpably arbitrary. [Citations omitted]

Applying these precepts to this case, Executive Order No. 1 should be struck down as violative of the equal protection clause.
The clear mandate of the envisioned truth commission is to investigate and find out the truth "concerning the reported cases
of graft and corruption during the previous administration"87 only. The intent to single out the previous administration is plain,
patent and manifest. Mention of it has been made in at least three portions of the questioned executive order. Specifically,
these are:
WHEREAS, there is a need for a separate body dedicated solely to investigating and finding out the truth concerning the
reported cases of graft and corruption during the previous administration, and which will recommend the prosecution of the
offenders and secure justice for all;

SECTION 1. Creation of a Commission. – There is hereby created the PHILIPPINE TRUTH COMMISSION, hereinafter
referred to as the "COMMISSION," which shall primarily seek and find the truth on, and toward this end, investigate reports
of graft and corruption of such scale and magnitude that shock and offend the moral and ethical sensibilities of the people,
committed by public officers and employees, their co-principals, accomplices and accessories from the private sector, if any,
during the previous administration; and thereafter recommend the appropriate action or measure to be taken thereon to
ensure that the full measure of justice shall be served without fear or favor.

SECTION 2. Powers and Functions. – The Commission, which shall have all the powers of an investigative body under
Section 37, Chapter 9, Book I of the Administrative Code of 1987, is primarily tasked to conduct a thorough fact-finding
investigation of reported cases of graft and corruption referred to in Section 1, involving third level public officers and higher,
their co-principals, accomplices and accessories from the private sector, if any, during the previous administration and
thereafter submit its finding and recommendations to the President, Congress and the Ombudsman. [Emphases supplied]

In this regard, it must be borne in mind that the Arroyo administration is but just a member of a class, that is, a class of past
administrations. It is not a class of its own. Not to include past administrations similarly situated constitutes arbitrariness
which the equal protection clause cannot sanction. Such discriminating differentiation clearly reverberates to label the
commission as a vehicle for vindictiveness and selective retribution.

Though the OSG enumerates several differences between the Arroyo administration and other past administrations, these
distinctions are not substantial enough to merit the restriction of the investigation to the "previous administration" only. The
reports of widespread corruption in the Arroyo administration cannot be taken as basis for distinguishing said administration
from earlier administrations which were also blemished by similar widespread reports of impropriety. They are not inherent in,
and do not inure solely to, the Arroyo administration. As Justice Isagani Cruz put it, "Superficial differences do not make for a
valid classification."88

The public needs to be enlightened why Executive Order No. 1 chooses to limit the scope of the intended investigation to the
previous administration only. The OSG ventures to opine that "to include other past administrations, at this point, may
unnecessarily overburden the commission and lead it to lose its effectiveness."89 The reason given is specious. It is without
doubt irrelevant to the legitimate and noble objective of the PTC to stamp out or "end corruption and the evil it breeds."90

The probability that there would be difficulty in unearthing evidence or that the earlier reports involving the earlier
administrations were already inquired into is beside the point. Obviously, deceased presidents and cases which have already
prescribed can no longer be the subjects of inquiry by the PTC. Neither is the PTC expected to conduct simultaneous
investigations of previous administrations, given the body’s limited time and resources. "The law does not require the
impossible" (Lex non cogit ad impossibilia).91

Given the foregoing physical and legal impossibility, the Court logically recognizes the unfeasibility of investigating almost a
century’s worth of graft cases. However, the fact remains that Executive Order No. 1 suffers from arbitrary classification. The
PTC, to be true to its mandate of searching for the truth, must not exclude the other past administrations. The PTC must, at
least, have the authority to investigate all past administrations. While reasonable prioritization is permitted, it should not be
arbitrary lest it be struck down for being unconstitutional. In the often quoted language of Yick Wo v. Hopkins,92

Though the law itself be fair on its face and impartial in appearance, yet, if applied and administered by public authority with
an evil eye and an unequal hand, so as practically to make unjust and illegal discriminations between persons in similar
circumstances, material to their rights, the denial of equal justice is still within the prohibition of the constitution. [Emphasis
supplied]

It could be argued that considering that the PTC is an ad hoc body, its scope is limited. The Court, however, is of the
considered view that although its focus is restricted, the constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the laws should
not in any way be circumvented. The Constitution is the fundamental and paramount law of the nation to which all other laws
must conform and in accordance with which all private rights determined and all public authority administered.93 Laws that do
not conform to the Constitution should be stricken down for being unconstitutional.94 While the thrust of the PTC is specific,
that is, for investigation of acts of graft and corruption, Executive Order No. 1, to survive, must be read together with the
provisions of the Constitution. To exclude the earlier administrations in the guise of "substantial distinctions" would only
confirm the petitioners’ lament that the subject executive order is only an "adventure in partisan hostility." In the case of US v.
Cyprian,95 it was written: "A rather limited number of such classifications have routinely been held or assumed to be arbitrary;
those include: race, national origin, gender, political activity or membership in a political party, union activity or membership in
a labor union, or more generally the exercise of first amendment rights."
To reiterate, in order for a classification to meet the requirements of constitutionality, it must include or embrace all persons
who naturally belong to the class.96 "Such a classification must not be based on existing circumstances only, or so constituted
as to preclude additions to the number included within a class, but must be of such a nature as to embrace all those who may
thereafter be in similar circumstances and conditions. Furthermore, all who are in situations and circumstances which are
relative to the discriminatory legislation and which are indistinguishable from those of the members of the class must be
brought under the influence of the law and treated by it in the same way as are the members of the class."97

The Court is not unaware that "mere underinclusiveness is not fatal to the validity of a law under the equal protection
clause."98 "Legislation is not unconstitutional merely because it is not all-embracing and does not include all the evils within its
reach."99 It has been written that a regulation challenged under the equal protection clause is not devoid of a rational
predicate simply because it happens to be incomplete.100 In several instances, the underinclusiveness was not considered a
valid reason to strike down a law or regulation where the purpose can be attained in future legislations or regulations. These
cases refer to the "step by step" process.101 "With regard to equal protection claims, a legislature does not run the risk of
losing the entire remedial scheme simply because it fails, through inadvertence or otherwise, to cover every evil that might
conceivably have been attacked."102

In Executive Order No. 1, however, there is no inadvertence. That the previous administration was picked out was deliberate
and intentional as can be gleaned from the fact that it was underscored at least three times in the assailed executive order. It
must be noted that Executive Order No. 1 does not even mention any particular act, event or report to be focused on unlike
the investigative commissions created in the past. "The equal protection clause is violated by purposeful and intentional
discrimination."103

To disprove petitioners’ contention that there is deliberate discrimination, the OSG clarifies that the commission does not only
confine itself to cases of large scale graft and corruption committed during the previous administration.104 The OSG points to
Section 17 of Executive Order No. 1, which provides:

SECTION 17. Special Provision Concerning Mandate. If and when in the judgment of the President there is a need to expand
the mandate of the Commission as defined in Section 1 hereof to include the investigation of cases and instances of graft and
corruption during the prior administrations, such mandate may be so extended accordingly by way of a supplemental
Executive Order.

The Court is not convinced. Although Section 17 allows the President the discretion to expand the scope of investigations of
the PTC so as to include the acts of graft and corruption committed in other past administrations, it does not guarantee that
they would be covered in the future. Such expanded mandate of the commission will still depend on the whim and caprice of
the President. If he would decide not to include them, the section would then be meaningless. This will only fortify the fears of
the petitioners that the Executive Order No. 1 was "crafted to tailor-fit the prosecution of officials and personalities of the
Arroyo administration."105

The Court tried to seek guidance from the pronouncement in the case of Virata v. Sandiganbayan,106 that the "PCGG Charter
(composed of Executive Orders Nos. 1, 2 and 14) does not violate the equal protection clause." The decision, however, was
devoid of any discussion on how such conclusory statement was arrived at, the principal issue in said case being only the
sufficiency of a cause of action.

A final word

The issue that seems to take center stage at present is - whether or not the Supreme Court, in the exercise of its
constitutionally mandated power of Judicial Review with respect to recent initiatives of the legislature and the executive
department, is exercising undue interference. Is the Highest Tribunal, which is expected to be the protector of the
Constitution, itself guilty of violating fundamental tenets like the doctrine of separation of powers? Time and again, this issue
has been addressed by the Court, but it seems that the present political situation calls for it to once again explain the legal
basis of its action lest it continually be accused of being a hindrance to the nation’s thrust to progress.

The Philippine Supreme Court, according to Article VIII, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution, is vested with Judicial Power that
"includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and
enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave of abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government."

Furthermore, in Section 4(2) thereof, it is vested with the power of judicial review which is the power to declare a treaty,
international or executive agreement, law, presidential decree, proclamation, order, instruction, ordinance, or regulation
unconstitutional. This power also includes the duty to rule on the constitutionality of the application, or operation of
presidential decrees, proclamations, orders, instructions, ordinances, and other regulations. These provisions, however, have
been fertile grounds of conflict between the Supreme Court, on one hand, and the two co-equal bodies of government, on the
other. Many times the Court has been accused of asserting superiority over the other departments.
To answer this accusation, the words of Justice Laurel would be a good source of enlightenment, to wit: "And when the
judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not assert any superiority over the other departments; it does
not in reality nullify or invalidate an act of the legislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred obligation assigned to it by
the Constitution to determine conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and to establish for the parties in an actual
controversy the rights which that instrument secures and guarantees to them."107

Thus, the Court, in exercising its power of judicial review, is not imposing its own will upon a co-equal body but rather simply
making sure that any act of government is done in consonance with the authorities and rights allocated to it by the
Constitution. And, if after said review, the Court finds no constitutional violations of any sort, then, it has no more authority of
proscribing the actions under review. Otherwise, the Court will not be deterred to pronounce said act as void and
unconstitutional.

It cannot be denied that most government actions are inspired with noble intentions, all geared towards the betterment of the
nation and its people. But then again, it is important to remember this ethical principle: "The end does not justify the means."
No matter how noble and worthy of admiration the purpose of an act, but if the means to be employed in accomplishing it is
simply irreconcilable with constitutional parameters, then it cannot still be allowed.108 The Court cannot just turn a blind eye
and simply let it pass. It will continue to uphold the Constitution and its enshrined principles.

"The Constitution must ever remain supreme. All must bow to the mandate of this law. Expediency must not be allowed to sap
its strength nor greed for power debase its rectitude."109

Lest it be misunderstood, this is not the death knell for a truth commission as nobly envisioned by the present administration.
Perhaps a revision of the executive issuance so as to include the earlier past administrations would allow it to pass the test of
reasonableness and not be an affront to the Constitution. Of all the branches of the government, it is the judiciary which is the
most interested in knowing the truth and so it will not allow itself to be a hindrance or obstacle to its attainment. It must,
however, be emphasized that the search for the truth must be within constitutional bounds for "ours is still a government of
laws and not of men."110

WHEREFORE, the petitions are GRANTED. Executive Order No. 1 is hereby declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL insofar as it is
violative of the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

As also prayed for, the respondents are hereby ordered to cease and desist from carrying out the provisions of Executive
Order No. 1.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT

Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 164815 September 3, 2009

SR. INSP. JERRY C. VALEROSO, Petitioner, 



vs.

COURT OF APPEALS and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.

RESOLUTION

NACHURA, J.:

For resolution is the Letter-Appeal1 of Senior Inspector (Sr. Insp.) Jerry C. Valeroso (Valeroso) praying that our February 22,
2008 Decision2 and June 30, 2008 Resolution3 be set aside and a new one be entered acquitting him of the crime of illegal
possession of firearm and ammunition.

The facts are briefly stated as follows:

Valeroso was charged with violation of Presidential Decree No. 1866, committed as follows:

That on or about the 10th day of July, 1996, in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused without any authority of law, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and knowingly have in his/her possession and under his/her custody and control

One (1) cal. 38 "Charter Arms" revolver bearing serial no. 52315 with five (5) live ammo.

without first having secured the necessary license/permit issued by the proper authorities.

CONTRARY TO LAW.4

When arraigned, Valeroso pleaded "not guilty."5 Trial on the merits ensued.

During trial, the prosecution presented two witnesses: Senior Police Officer (SPO)2 Antonio Disuanco (Disuanco) of the
Criminal Investigation Division of the Central Police District Command; and Epifanio Deriquito (Deriquito), Records Verifier of
the Firearms and Explosives Division in Camp Crame. Their testimonies are summarized as follows:

On July 10, 1996, at around 9:30 a.m., Disuanco received a Dispatch Order from the desk officer directing him and three (3)
other policemen to serve a Warrant of Arrest, issued by Judge Ignacio Salvador, against Valeroso for a case of kidnapping
with ransom.6

After a briefing, the team conducted the necessary surveillance on Valeroso checking his hideouts in Cavite, Caloocan, and
Bulacan. Eventually, the team members proceeded to the Integrated National Police (INP) Central Police Station in Culiat,
Quezon City, where they saw Valeroso about to board a tricyle. Disuanco and his team approached Valeroso. They put him
under arrest, informed him of his constitutional rights, and bodily searched him. They found a Charter Arms revolver, bearing
Serial No. 52315, with five (5) pieces of live ammunition, tucked in his waist.7

Valeroso was then brought to the police station for questioning. Upon verification in the Firearms and Explosives Division in
Camp Crame, Deriquito presented a certification8 that the subject firearm was not issued to Valeroso, but was licensed in the
name of a certain Raul Palencia Salvatierra of Sampaloc, Manila.9

On the other hand, Valeroso, SPO3 Agustin R. Timbol, Jr. (Timbol), and Adrian Yuson testified for the defense. Their
testimonies are summarized as follows:

On July 10, 1996, Valeroso was sleeping inside a room in the boarding house of his children located at Sagana Homes,
Barangay New Era, Quezon City. He was awakened by four (4) heavily armed men in civilian attire who pointed their guns at
him and pulled him out of the room.10 The raiding team tied his hands and placed him near the faucet (outside the room) then
went back inside, searched and ransacked the room. Moments later, an operative came out of the room and exclaimed, "Hoy,
may nakuha akong baril sa loob!"11
Disuanco informed Valeroso that there was a standing warrant for his arrest. However, the raiding team was not armed with a
search warrant.12

Timbol testified that he issued to Valeroso a Memorandum Receipt13 dated July 1, 1993 covering the subject firearm and its
ammunition, upon the verbal instruction of Col. Angelito Moreno.14

On May 6, 1998, the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 97, Quezon City, convicted Valeroso as charged and sentenced him
to suffer the indeterminate penalty of four (4) years, two (2) months and one (1) day, as minimum, to six (6) years, as
maximum. The gun subject of the case was further ordered confiscated in favor of the government.15

On appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed16 the RTC decision but the minimum term of the indeterminate penalty was
lowered to four (4) years and two (2) months.

On petition for review, we affirmed17 in full the CA decision. Valeroso filed a Motion for Reconsideration18 which was denied
with finality19 on June 30, 2008.

Valeroso is again before us through this Letter-Appeal20 imploring this Court to once more take a contemplative reflection and
deliberation on the case, focusing on his breached constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure.21

Meanwhile, as the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) failed to timely file its Comment on Valeroso’s Motion for
Reconsideration, it instead filed a Manifestation in Lieu of Comment.22

In its Manifestation, the OSG changed its previous position and now recommends Valeroso’s acquittal. After a second look at
the evidence presented, the OSG considers the testimonies of the witnesses for the defense more credible and thus
concludes that Valeroso was arrested in a boarding house. More importantly, the OSG agrees with Valeroso that the subject
firearm was obtained by the police officers in violation of Valeroso’s constitutional right against illegal search and seizure, and
should thus be excluded from the evidence for the prosecution. Lastly, assuming that the subject firearm was admissible in
evidence, still, Valeroso could not be convicted of the crime, since he was able to establish his authority to possess the gun
through the Memorandum Receipt issued by his superiors.

After considering anew Valeroso’s arguments through his Letter-Appeal, together with the OSG’s position recommending his
acquittal, and keeping in mind that substantial rights must ultimately reign supreme over technicalities, this Court is swayed to
reconsider.23

The Letter-Appeal is actually in the nature of a second motion for reconsideration. While a second motion for reconsideration
is, as a general rule, a prohibited pleading, it is within the sound discretion of the Court to admit the same, provided it is filed
with prior leave whenever substantive justice may be better served thereby.24

This is not the first time that this Court is suspending its own rules or excepting a particular case from the operation of the
rules. In De Guzman v. Sandiganbayan,25 despite the denial of De Guzman’s motion for reconsideration, we still entertained
his Omnibus Motion, which was actually a second motion for reconsideration. Eventually, we reconsidered our earlier
decision and remanded the case to the Sandiganbayan for reception and appreciation of petitioner’s evidence. In that case,
we said that if we would not compassionately bend backwards and flex technicalities, petitioner would surely experience the
disgrace and misery of incarceration for a crime which he might not have committed after all.26 Also in Astorga v. People,27 on
a second motion for reconsideration, we set aside our earlier decision, re-examined the records of the case, then finally
acquitted Benito Astorga of the crime of Arbitrary Detention on the ground of reasonable doubt. And in Sta. Rosa Realty
Development Corporation v. Amante,28 by virtue of the January 13, 2004 En Banc Resolution, the Court authorized the
Special First Division to suspend the Rules, so as to allow it to consider and resolve respondent’s second motion for
reconsideration after the motion was heard on oral arguments. After a re-examination of the merits of the case, we granted
the second motion for reconsideration and set aside our earlier decision.

Clearly, suspension of the rules of procedure, to pave the way for the re-examination of the findings of fact and conclusions of
law earlier made, is not without basis.

We would like to stress that rules of procedure are merely tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice. They are
conceived and promulgated to effectively aid the courts in the dispensation of justice. Courts are not slaves to or robots of
technical rules, shorn of judicial discretion. In rendering justice, courts have always been, as they ought to be, conscientiously
guided by the norm that, on the balance, technicalities take a backseat to substantive rights, and not the other way around.
Thus, if the application of the Rules would tend to frustrate rather than to promote justice, it would always be within our power
to suspend the rules or except a particular case from its operation.29

Now on the substantive aspect.


The Court notes that the version of the prosecution, as to where Valeroso was arrested, is different from the version of the
defense. The prosecution claims that Valeroso was arrested near the INP Central Police Station in Culiat, Quezon City, while
he was about to board a tricycle. After placing Valeroso under arrest, the arresting officers bodily searched him, and they
found the subject firearm and ammunition. The defense, on the other hand, insists that he was arrested inside the boarding
house of his children. After serving the warrant of arrest (allegedly for kidnapping with ransom), some of the police officers
searched the boarding house and forcibly opened a cabinet where they discovered the subject firearm.

After a thorough re-examination of the records and consideration of the joint appeal for acquittal by Valeroso and the OSG,
we find that we must give more credence to the version of the defense.

Valeroso’s appeal for acquittal focuses on his constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure alleged to have
been violated by the arresting police officers; and if so, would render the confiscated firearm and ammunition inadmissible in
evidence against him.

The right against unreasonable searches and seizures is secured by Section 2, Article III of the Constitution which states:

SEC. 2. 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.

From this constitutional provision, it can readily be gleaned that, as a general rule, the procurement of a warrant is required
before a law enforcer can validly search or seize the person, house, papers, or effects of any individual.30

To underscore the significance the law attaches to the fundamental right of an individual against unreasonable searches and
seizures, the Constitution succinctly declares in Article III, Section 3(2), that "any evidence obtained in violation of this or the
preceding section shall be inadmissible in evidence for any purpose in any proceeding."31

The above proscription is not, however, absolute. The following are the well-recognized instances where searches and
seizures are allowed even without a valid warrant:

1. Warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest;

2. [Seizure] of evidence in "plain view." The elements are: a) a prior valid intrusion based on the valid warrantless arrest in
which the police are legally present in the pursuit of their official duties; b) the evidence was inadvertently discovered by the
police who have the right to be where they are; c) the evidence must be immediately apparent; and d) "plain view" justified
mere seizure of evidence without further search;

3. Search of a moving vehicle. Highly regulated by the government, the vehicle’s inherent mobility reduces expectation of
privacy especially when its transit in public thoroughfares furnishes a highly reasonable suspicion amounting to probable
cause that the occupant committed a criminal activity;

4. Consented warrantless search;

5. Customs search;

6. Stop and Frisk;

7. Exigent and emergency circumstances.32

8. Search of vessels and aircraft; [and]

9. Inspection of buildings and other premises for the enforcement of fire, sanitary and building regulations.33

In the exceptional instances where a warrant is not necessary to effect a valid search or seizure, what constitutes a
reasonable or unreasonable search or seizure is purely a judicial question, determinable from the uniqueness of the
circumstances involved, including the purpose of the search or seizure, the presence or absence of probable cause, the
manner in which the search and seizure was made, the place or thing searched, and the character of the articles procured.34
In light of the enumerated exceptions, and applying the test of reasonableness laid down above, is the warrantless search
and seizure of the firearm and ammunition valid?

We answer in the negative.

For one, the warrantless search could not be justified as an incident to a lawful arrest. Searches and seizures incident to
lawful arrests are governed by Section 13, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court, which reads:

SEC. 13. Search incident to lawful arrest. – A person lawfully arrested may be searched for dangerous weapons or anything
which may have been used or constitute proof in the commission of an offense without a search warrant.

We would like to stress that the scope of the warrantless search is not without limitations. In People v. Leangsiri,35 People v.
Cubcubin, Jr.,36 and People v. Estella,37 we had the occasion to lay down the parameters of a valid warrantless search and
seizure as an incident to a lawful arrest.

When an arrest is made, it is reasonable for the arresting officer to search the person arrested in order to remove any
weapon that the latter might use in order to resist arrest or effect his escape. Otherwise, the officer’s safety might well be
endangered, and the arrest itself frustrated. In addition, it is entirely reasonable for the arresting officer to search for and seize
any evidence on the arrestee’s person in order to prevent its concealment or destruction.38

Moreover, in lawful arrests, it becomes both the duty and the right of the apprehending officers to conduct a warrantless
search not only on the person of the suspect, but also in the permissible area within the latter’s reach.39 Otherwise stated, a
valid arrest allows the seizure of evidence or dangerous weapons either on the person of the one arrested or within the area
of his immediate control.40 The phrase "within the area of his immediate control" means the area from within which he might
gain possession of a weapon or destructible evidence.41 A gun on a table or in a drawer in front of one who is arrested can be
as dangerous to the arresting officer as one concealed in the clothing of the person arrested.42

In the present case, Valeroso was arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest allegedly for kidnapping with ransom. At that time,
Valeroso was sleeping inside the boarding house of his children. He was awakened by the arresting officers who were heavily
armed. They pulled him out of the room, placed him beside the faucet outside the room, tied his hands, and then put him
under the care of Disuanco.43 The other police officers remained inside the room and ransacked the locked cabinet44 where
they found the subject firearm and ammunition.45 With such discovery, Valeroso was charged with illegal possession of
firearm and ammunition.

From the foregoing narration of facts, we can readily conclude that the arresting officers served the warrant of arrest without
any resistance from Valeroso. They placed him immediately under their control by pulling him out of the bed, and bringing him
out of the room with his hands tied. To be sure, the cabinet which, according to Valeroso, was locked, could no longer be
considered as an "area within his immediate control" because there was no way for him to take any weapon or to destroy any
evidence that could be used against him.

The arresting officers would have been justified in searching the person of Valeroso, as well as the tables or drawers in front
of him, for any concealed weapon that might be used against the former. But under the circumstances obtaining, there was
no comparable justification to search through all the desk drawers and cabinets or the other closed or concealed areas in that
room itself.46

It is worthy to note that the purpose of the exception (warrantless search as an incident to a lawful arrest) is to protect the
arresting officer from being harmed by the person arrested, who might be armed with a concealed weapon, and to prevent
the latter from destroying evidence within reach. The exception, therefore, should not be strained beyond what is needed to
serve its purpose.47 In the case before us, search was made in the locked cabinet which cannot be said to have been within
Valeroso’s immediate control. Thus, the search exceeded the bounds of what may be considered as an incident to a lawful
arrest.48

Nor can the warrantless search in this case be justified under the "plain view doctrine."

The "plain view doctrine" may not be used to launch unbridled searches and indiscriminate seizures or to extend a general
exploratory search made solely to find evidence of defendant’s guilt. The doctrine is usually applied where a police officer is
not searching for evidence against the accused, but nonetheless inadvertently comes across an incriminating object.49

As enunciated in People v. Cubcubin, Jr.50 and People v. Leangsiri:51

What the "plain view" cases have in common is that the police officer in each of them had a prior justification for an intrusion
in the course of which[,] he came inadvertently across a piece of evidence incriminating the accused. The doctrine serves to
supplement the prior justification – whether it be a warrant for another object, hot pursuit, search incident to lawful arrest, or
some other legitimate reason for being present unconnected with a search directed against the accused – and permits the
warrantless seizure. Of course, the extension of the original justification is legitimate only where it is immediately apparent to
the police that they have evidence before them; the "plain view" doctrine may not be used to extend a general exploratory
search from one object to another until something incriminating at last emerges.52

Indeed, the police officers were inside the boarding house of Valeroso’s children, because they were supposed to serve a
warrant of arrest issued against Valeroso. In other words, the police officers had a prior justification for the intrusion.
Consequently, any evidence that they would inadvertently discover may be used against Valeroso. However, in this case, the
police officers did not just accidentally discover the subject firearm and ammunition; they actually searched for evidence
against Valeroso.

Clearly, the search made was illegal, a violation of Valeroso’s right against unreasonable search and seizure. Consequently,
the evidence obtained in violation of said right is inadmissible in evidence against him.1avvphi1

Unreasonable searches and seizures are the menace against which the constitutional guarantees afford full protection. While
the power to search and seize may at times be necessary for public welfare, still it may be exercised and the law enforced
without transgressing the constitutional rights of the citizens, for no enforcement of any statute is of sufficient importance to
justify indifference to the basic principles of government. Those who are supposed to enforce the law are not justified in
disregarding the rights of an individual in the name of order. Order is too high a price to pay for the loss of liberty.53

Because a warrantless search is in derogation of a constitutional right, peace officers who conduct it cannot invoke regularity
in the performance of official functions.54

The Bill of Rights is the bedrock of constitutional government. If people are stripped naked of their rights as human beings,
democracy cannot survive and government becomes meaningless. This explains why the Bill of Rights, contained as it is in
Article III of the Constitution, occupies a position of primacy in the fundamental law way above the articles on governmental
power.55

Without the illegally seized firearm, Valeroso’s conviction cannot stand. There is simply no sufficient evidence to convict him.
56 All told, the guilt of Valeroso was not proven beyond reasonable doubt measured by the required moral certainty for

conviction. The evidence presented by the prosecution was not enough to overcome the presumption of innocence as
constitutionally ordained. Indeed, it would be better to set free ten men who might probably be guilty of the crime charged
than to convict one innocent man for a crime he did not commit.57

With the foregoing disquisition, there is no more need to discuss the other issues raised by Valeroso.

One final note. The Court values liberty and will always insist on the observance of basic constitutional rights as a condition
sine qua non against the awesome investigative and prosecutory powers of the government.58

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the February 22, 2008 Decision and June 30, 2008 Resolution are RECONSIDERED
and SET ASIDE. Sr. Insp. Jerry Valeroso is hereby ACQUITTED of illegal possession of firearm and ammunition.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT

Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 191532 August 15, 2012

MARGARITA AMBRE Y CAYUNI, Petitioner, 



vs.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES Respondent.

PEREZ,*

REYES,**

DECISION

MENDOZA, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to reverse and set aside the November 26, 2009 Decision 1 and the March 9,
2010 Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 31957, which affirmed the September 1, 2008 Decision3 of
the Regional Trial Court, Branch 123, Caloocan City, (RTC) in Criminal Case No .. C-73029, finding petitioner Margarita
Ambre y Cayuni (Ambre) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of violation of Section 15, Article II of Republic
Act (R.A.) No. 9165.

THE FACTS

Two separate Informations were filed against Ambre, and co-accused, Bernie Castro (Castro) and Kaycee
Mendoza (Mendoza), before the RTC charging them with illegal possession of drug paraphernalia docketed as Criminal Case
No. C-73028, and illegal use of methylamphetamine hydrochloride, otherwise known as shabu, docketed as Criminal Case
No. C-73029. The Informations indicting the accused read:

Criminal Case No. C-73028

That on or about 20th day of April 2005 in Caloocan City, Metro Manila and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused, without being authorized by law, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his
possession, custody and control one (1) unsealed transparent plastic sachet containing traces of white crystalline substance,
(METHYLAMPHETAMINE HYDROCHLORIDE), one (1) rolled aluminum foil strip containing traces of white crystalline
substance, (METHYLAMPHETAMINE HYDROCHLORIDE), one (1) folded aluminum foil strip containing traces of white
crystalline substance, (METHYLAMPHETAMINE HYDROCHLORIDE) and two (2) disposable plastic lighters, knowing the
same are paraphernalias instruments apparatus fit or intended for smoking, consuming, administering, ingesting or
introducing dangerous drug (METHYLAMPHETAMINE HYDROCHLORIDE) into the body.

Contrary to law.4

Criminal Case No. C-73029

That on or about the 20th of April 2005 in Caloocan City, Metro Manila and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused, conspiring together and mutually helping with one another, without being authorized by law, did then
and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously use and sniff Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride (Shabu), knowing the same to
be a dangerous drug under the provisions of the above-cited law.

Contrary to law.5

When arraigned, Castro and Mendoza pleaded guilty to both charges. Consequently, they were meted the penalty of
imprisonment of six (6) months and one (1) day to one (1) year and eight (8) months and a fine of ₱25,000.00 in Criminal
Case No. C-73028. For their conviction in Criminal Case No. C-73029, the RTC ordered their confinement at the Center for
the Ultimate Rehabilitation of Drug Dependents (CUREDD) for a period of six (6) months.6

Ambre, on the other hand, entered a plea of not guilty to the charges.7 Trial on the merits ensued.
The Version of the Prosecution

From the testimonies of prosecution witnesses PO3 Fernando Moran (PO3 Moran), PO1 Ronald Allan Mateo (PO1 Mateo),
PO2 Randulfo Hipolito (PO2 Hipolito), and P/Insp. Jessie dela Rosa (P/Insp. dela Rosa), it appeared that on April 20, 2005,
the Caloocan Police Station Anti-Illegal Drug-Special Operation Unit conducted a buy-bust operation pursuant to a tip from a
police informant that a certain Abdulah Sultan (Sultan) and his wife Ina Aderp (Aderp) were engaged in the selling of
dangerous drugs at a residential compound in Caloocan City; that the buy-bust operation resulted in the arrest of Aderp and a
certain Moctar Tagoranao (Tagoranao); that Sultan ran away from the scene of the entrapment operation and PO3 Moran,
PO2 Masi and PO1 Mateo, pursued him; that in the course of the chase, Sultan led the said police officers to his house; that
inside the house, the police operatives found Ambre, Castro and Mendoza having a pot session; that Ambre, in particular,
was caught sniffing what was suspected to be shabu in a rolled up aluminum foil; and that PO3 Moran ran after Sultan while
PO2 Masi and PO1 Mateo arrested Ambre, Castro and Mendoza for illegal use of shabu.

The items confiscated from the three were marked and, thereafter, submitted for laboratory examination. Physical Science
Report No. DT-041-05 to DT-043-05 stated that the urine samples taken from Ambre and her coaccused were positive for the
presence of shabu while Physical Science Report No. D-149-05 showed that the items seized from them were all found
positive for traces of shabu.8

The Version of the Defense

Ambre vehemently denied the charges against her. Through the testimonies of Ambre, Mendoza and Lily
Rosete (Rosete), the defense claimed that on the afternoon of April 20, 2005, Ambre was inside the residential compound in
Caloocan to buy malong; that her mother asked Rosete to accompany her because Rosete’s daughter-in-law, Nancy
Buban (Buban), was a resident of Phase 12, Caloocan City, an area inhabited by Muslims; that when they failed to buy
malong, Rosete and Buban left her inside the residential compound to look for other vendors; that ten minutes later, the
policemen barged inside the compound and arrested her; that she was detained at the Caloocan City Jail where she met
Castro, Mendoza and Tagoranao; and that she was not brought to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory for
drug testing.

Rosete further testified that after she had left Ambre inside the compound to find other malong vendors, she returned fifteen
minutes later and learned that the policemen had arrested people inside the compound including Ambre.

Mendoza, who was convicted in Criminal Case No. C-73029, claimed that no pot session took place on the afternoon of April
20, 2005. She averred that she and Ambre were merely inside the residential compound, when policemen suddenly came in
and pointed guns at them.9

The Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

On September 1, 2008, the RTC rendered its decision declaring that the prosecution was able to establish with certitude the
guilt of Ambre for illegal use of methylamphetamine hydrochloride or violation of Section 15, Article II of R.A. No. 9165. The
RTC, however, acquitted her of the crime of violation of Section 12, Article II of R.A. No. 9165 for failure of the prosecution to
prove with particularity the drug paraphernalia found in her possession. The trial court adjudged:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:

1) In Crim. Case No. C- 73028, finding accused MARGARITA AMBRE Y CAYUNI not guilty of the crime of Violation of Section
12, Article II, RA 9165;

2)In Crim. Case No. C-73029, finding accused MARGARITA AMBRE Y CAYUNI guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime
of Violation of Sec. 15, Art. II RA 9165 and hereby sentences her to be confined and rehabilitated at the government
rehabilitation center in Bicutan, Taguig, Metro Manila for a period of six (6) months. The six (6) month period of rehabilitation
shall commence only from the time that she is brought inside the rehabilitation center and its promulgation by this court for
which the accused shall be notified.

The shabu subject of these cases is hereby confiscated in favor of the government to be disposed of in accordance with the
rules governing the same.

Costs against the accused.

SO ORDERED.10

The Decision of the Court of Appeals


Undaunted, Ambre appealed the judgment of conviction before the CA professing her innocence of the crime. On November
26, 2009, the CA rendered the assailed decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is hereby DENIED. The Decision dated September 1, 2008 of the Regional
Trial Court, Branch 123, Caloocan City is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.11

Ambre's motion for reconsideration was denied by the CA in its March 9, 2010 Resolution. Hence, she filed this petition

THE ISSUES

Ambre raised the following issues:

1. WHETHER OR NOT THE ARREST OF AND THE SEARCH DONE AGAINST THE PETITIONER ON APRIL 20, 2005
(THAT YIELDED ALLEGED DRUG PARAPHERNALIA) CONFORMED WITH THE MANDATED LEGAL PROCEDURES IN
CONDUCTING A BUY-BUST OPERATION.

2. WHETHER OR NOT THE ARREST OF AND THE SEARCH DONE AGAINST THE PETITIONER WERE PART AND
PARCEL OF THE DISMISSED AND DISCREDITED BUY-BUST OPERATIONS OF THE POLICE AND/OR "FRUITS OF THE
POISONOUS TREE" AND HENCE, WERE ILLEGAL.

3. WHETHER OR NOT THE PROSECUTION'S EVIDENCE THAT WERE SEIZED DURING THE ILLEGAL BUY-BUST
OPERATION ARE ADMISSIBLE AS EVIDENCE.

4. WHETHER OR NOT THE EXCLUSION OR DISREGARD OF THE FAVORABLE TESTIMONY OF PETITIONER'S


WITNESS, HER CO-ACCUSED, KAYCEE MENDOZA, ON THE GROUND THAT THE LATTER EARLIER PLED GUILTY TO
SUCH ILLEGAL USE, HAD VIOLATED THE RULE ON INTER ALIOS ACTA UNDER SECTION 26, RULE 130 OF THE
RULES OF COURT.

5. WHETHER OR NOT THE PETITIONER'S PENALTY OF SIX (6) MONTHS REHABILITATION IN A GOVERNMENT
CENTER IS A NULLITY GIVEN THE LACK OF CONFIRMATORY TEST AS REQUIRED UNDER R.A. 9165
("COMPREHENSIVE DANGEROUS DRUGS ACT OF 2002").12

A perusal of the pleadings filed by the parties leads the Court to conclude that the case revolves on the following core issues:

1.) Whether the warrantless arrest of Ambre and the search of her person was valid; and

2.) Whether the items seized are inadmissible in evidence.

Essentially, Ambre insists that the warrantless arrest and search made against her were illegal because no offense was being
committed at the time and the police operatives were not authorized by a judicial order to enter the dwelling of Sultan. She
argues that the alleged "hot pursuit" on Sultan which ended in the latter's house, where she, Mendoza and Castro were
supposedly found having a pot session, was more imaginary than real. In this regard, Ambre cites the April 29, 2005
Resolution of the Prosecutor's Office of Caloocan City dismissing the case against Aderp and Sultan for insufficiency of
evidence because the April 20, 2005 buy-bust operation was highly suspicious and doubtful. She posits that the items
allegedly seized from her were inadmissible in evidence being fruits of a poisonous tree. She claims that the omission of the
apprehending team to observe the procedure outlined in R.A. No. 9165 for the seizure of evidence in drugs cases
significantly impairs the prosecution’s case. Lastly, Ambre maintains that she was not subjected to a confirmatory test and,
hence, the imposition of the penalty of six months rehabilitation was not justified.

For the State, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) urges this Court to affirm the challenged decision for failure of Ambre
to show that the RTC committed any error in convicting her of illegal use of shabu. The OSG insists that Ambre was lawfully
arrested in accordance with Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of Court. It is of the opinion that the credible and compelling
evidence of the prosecution could not be displaced by the empty denial offered by Ambre.

THE COURT'S RULING

The conviction of Ambre stands.


Section 2, Article III13 of the Constitution mandates that a search and seizure must be carried out through or on the strength of
a judicial warrant predicated upon the existence of probable cause, absent which such search and seizure becomes
"unreasonable" within the meaning of said constitutional provision. Evidence obtained and confiscated on the occasion of
such an unreasonable search and seizure is tainted and should be excluded for being the proverbial fruit of a poisonous tree.
In the language of the fundamental law, it shall be inadmissible in evidence for any purpose in any proceeding.14

This exclusionary rule is not, however, an absolute and rigid proscription. One of the recognized exception established by
jurisprudence is search incident to a lawful arrest.15 In this exception, the law requires that a lawful arrest must precede the
search of a person and his belongings. As a rule, an arrest is considered legitimate if effected with a valid warrant of arrest.
Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, however, recognizes permissible warrantless arrests:

"Sec. 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 actually committing, or is attempting to
commit an offense;

(b) When an offense has in fact just been committed, and he has personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be
arrested has committed it; and

(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is serving final
judgment or temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to
another. (Emphasis supplied)

Section 5, above, provides three (3) instances when warrantless arrest may be lawfully effected: (a) arrest of a suspect in
flagrante delicto; (b) arrest of a suspect where, based on personal knowledge of the arresting officer, there is probable cause
that said suspect was the perpetrator of a crime which had just been committed; (c) arrest of a prisoner who has escaped
from custody serving final judgment or temporarily confined during the pendency of his case or has escaped while being
transferred from one confinement to another.

In arrest in flagrante delicto, the accused is apprehended at the very moment he is committing or attempting to commit or has
just committed an offense in the presence of the arresting officer. Clearly, to constitute a valid in flagrante delicto arrest, two
requisites must concur: (1) the person to be arrested must execute an overt act indicating that he has just committed, is
actually committing, or is attempting to commit a crime; and (2) such overt act is done in the presence or within the view of
the arresting officer.16

In the case at bench, there is no gainsaying that Ambre was caught by the police officers in the act of using shabu and, thus,
can be lawfully arrested without a warrant. PO1 Mateo positively identified Ambre sniffing suspected shabu from an aluminum
foil being held by Castro.17 Ambre, however, made much of the fact that there was no prior valid intrusion in the residence of
Sultan. The argument is specious.

Suffice it to state that prior justification for intrusion or prior lawful intrusion is not an element of an arrest in flagrante
delicto. Thus, even granting arguendo that the apprehending officers had no legal right to be present in the dwelling of Sultan,
it would not render unlawful the arrest of Ambre, who was seen sniffing shabu with Castro and Mendoza in a pot session by
the police officers. Accordingly, PO2 Masi and PO1 Mateo were not only authorized but were also duty-bound to arrest Ambre
together with Castro and Mendoza for illegal use of methamphetamine hydrochloride in violation of Section 15, Article II of
R.A. No. 9165.

To write finis to the issue of validity and irregularity in her warrantless arrest, the Court holds that Ambre is deemed to have
waived her objections to her arrest for not raising them before entering her plea.18

Considering that the warrantless arrest of Ambre was valid, the subsequent search and seizure done on her person was
likewise lawful. After all, a legitimate warrantless arrest necessarily cloaks the arresting police officer with authority to validly
search and seize from the offender (1) dangerous weapons, and (2) those that may be used as proof of the commission of an
offense.19

Further, the physical evidence corroborates the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses that Ambre, together with Castro
and Mendoza, were illegally using shabu. The urine samples taken from them were found positive for the presence of shabu,
as indicated in Physical Science Report No. DT-041-05 to DT-043-05. It was likewise found that the items seized from the
three were all positive for traces of shabu as contained in Physical Science Report No. D-149-05 dated April 21, 2005. These
findings were unrebutted.

Ambre's assertion that her conviction was incorrect, because the evidence against her was obtained in violation of the
procedure laid down in R.A. No. 9165, is untenable.
While ideally the procedure on the chain of custody should be perfect and unbroken, in reality, it is not as it is almost always
impossible to obtain an unbroken chain.20 This Court, however, has consistently held that the most important factor is the
preservation of the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items.21 In this case, the prosecution was able to demonstrate
that the integrity and evidentiary value of the confiscated drug paraphernalia had not been compromised. Hence, even
though the prosecution failed to submit in evidence the physical inventory and photograph of the drug paraphernalia with
traces of shabu, this will not render Ambre's arrest illegal or the items seized from her inadmissible.

Records bear out that after the arrest of Ambre with Castro and Mendoza, the following items were confiscated from them:
one (1) unsealed sachet with traces of suspected shabu; one (1) strip of rolled up aluminum foil with traces of suspected
shabu; one (1) folded piece of aluminum foil with traces of white crystalline substance also believed to be shabu; and two (2)
yellow disposable lighters. Upon arrival at the police station, PO3 Moran turned over the seized items to PO2 Hipolito who
immediately marked them in the presence of the former. All the pieces of evidence were placed inside an improvised
envelope marked as "SAID-SOU EVIDENCE 04-20-05." With the Request for Laboratory Examination, PO2 Hipolito brought
the confiscated items to the PNP Crime Laboratory and delivered them to P/Insp. dela Rosa, a forensic chemist, who found
all the items, except the disposable lighters, positive for traces of shabu. Verily, the prosecution had adduced ample evidence
to account for the crucial links in the chain of custody of the seized items.

Even if the Court strikes down the seized drug paraphernalia with traces of shabu as inadmissible, Ambre will not be
exculpated from criminal liability. First, let it be underscored that proof of the existence and possession by the accused of
drug paraphernalia is not a condition sine qua non for conviction of illegal use of dangerous drugs. The law merely considers
possession of drug paraphernalia as prima facie evidence that the possessor has smoked, ingested or used a dangerous
drug and creates a presumption that he has violated Section 15 of R.A. No. 9165.22

Secondly, the testimonies of the police officers have adequately established with moral certainty the commission of the crime
charged in the information and the identity of Ambre as the perpetrator. At this juncture, the Court affirms the RTC's finding
that the police officers' testimonies deserve full faith and credit. Appellate courts, generally, will not disturb the trial court's
assessment of a witness' credibility unless certain material facts and circumstances have been overlooked or arbitrarily
disregarded.23 The Court finds no reason to deviate from this rule in this case.

Likewise, the Court upholds the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties. The presumption remains
because the defense failed to present clear and convincing evidence that the police officers did not properly perform their
duty or that they were inspired by an improper motive. The presumption was not overcome as there was no showing that PO3
Moran, PO1 Mateo, PO2 Hipolito, and P/Insp. dela Rosa were impelled with improper motive to falsely impute such offense
against Ambre.

As against the positive testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, the defense of denial offered by Ambre must simply fail.
Bare denials cannot prevail over positive identification made by the prosecution witnesses.24 Besides, this Court has held in a
catena of cases that the defense of denial or frame-up has been viewed with disfavor for it can just as easily be concocted
and is a common and standard ploy in most prosecutions for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act.25

Finally, Ambre contends that the penalty of six months of rehabilitation in a government center imposed on her was a nullity,
in view of the alleged lack of confirmatory test. The Court is not persuaded.

It must be emphasized that in no instance did Ambre challenge, at the RTC, the supposed absence of confirmatory drug test
conducted on her. Ambre only questioned the alleged omission when she appealed he·r conviction before the CA. It was too
late in the day for her to do so. Wellentrenched is the rule that litigants cannot raise an issue for the first time on appeal as
this would contravene the basic rules of fair play and justice.26

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed November 26, 2009 Decision and the March 9, 2010 Resolution of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 31957 are hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT

Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 191366 December 13, 2010

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, 



vs.

ARNOLD MARTINEZ Y NGELES, EDGAR DIZON Y FERRER, REZIN MARTINEZ Y CAROLINO, and RAFAEL
GONZALES Y CUNANAN, Accused-Appellants.

DECISION

MENDOZA, J.:

This is an appeal from the August 7, 2009 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA), in CA-G.R. HC-NO. 03269, which affirmed
the February 13, 2008 Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 41, Dagupan City (RTC), in Criminal Case No.
2006-0525-D, finding the accused guilty of violating Section 13, in relation to Section 11, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 for
Possession of Dangerous Drugs During Parties, Social Gatherings or Meetings.

The Facts

The Information indicting the accused reads:

That on or about the 2nd day of September 2006, in the City of Dagupan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, ARNOLD MARTINEZ y ANGELES, EDGAR DIZON y FERRER, REZIN
MARTINEZ y CAROLINO, ROLAND DORIA y DIAZ and RAFAEL GONZALES y CUNANAN, without authority of law,
confederating together, acting jointly and helping one another, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and criminally, sniff and
possess dangerous drugs (shabu residues) contained in empty plastic sachets and rolled aluminum foil, during a party, or at a
social gathering or meeting, or in the proximate company of at least two (2) person[s].

Contrary to Section 13, Article II, R.A. 9165.3

Version of the Prosecution

As culled from the testimonies of prosecution witnesses, Police Officer 1 Bernard Azardon (PO1 Azardon), one of the
apprehending officers, and Police Inspector Lady Ellen Maranion (P/Insp. Maranion), the forensic chemical officer, it appears
that on September 2, 2006, at around 12:45 o’clock in the afternoon, PO1 Azardon was on duty at the Police Community
Precinct II along Arellano Street, Dagupan City, when a concerned citizen entered the precinct and reported that a pot
session was going on in the house of accused Rafael Gonzales (Gonzales)in Trinidad Subdivision, Dagupan City. Upon
receipt of the report, PO1 Azardon, PO1 Alejandro Dela Cruz (PO1 Dela Cruz), and members of the Special Weapons and
Tactics (SWAT) team hied to Trinidad Subdivision, Dagupan City. Upon inquiry from people in the area, the house of
Gonzales was located.

As the police officers entered the gate of the house, they saw accused Orlando Doria (Doria) coming out of the side door and
immediately arrested him. Inside the house, they saw accused Gonzales, Arnold Martinez (A. Martinez), Edgar
Dizon (Dizon), and Rezin Martinez (R. Martinez) in a room. The four were surprised by the presence of the police. In front of
them were open plastic sachets (containing shabu residue), pieces of rolled used aluminum foil and pieces of used aluminum
foil.

The accused were arrested and brought to the police precinct. The items found in the room were seized and turned over to
the Pangasinan Provincial Police Crime Laboratory Officer, P/Insp. Maranion. The latter conducted a laboratory examination
on the seized items and all 115 plastic sachets, 11 pieces of rolled used aluminum foil, and 27 of the 49 pieces of used
aluminum foil tested positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride. The accused were subjected to a drug test and, except for
Doria, they were found to be positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride.

Version of the Defense

The defense, through its witnesses, accused A. Martinez, Dizon, and R. Martinez, claimed that in the morning of September
2, 2006, the three of them were along Arellano Street in Trinidad Subdivision, Dagupan City, to meet with a certain Apper who
bumped the passenger jeep of R. Martinez and who was to give the materials for the painting of said jeep. As they were
going around the subdivision looking for Apper, they saw Gonzales in front of his house and asked him if he noticed a person
pass by. While they were talking, Doria arrived. It was then that five to seven policemen emerged and apprehended them.
They were handcuffed and brought to the police station in Perez, Dagupan City, where they were incarcerated and charged
with sniffing shabu.

The Ruling of the RTC

The case against Doria was dismissed on a demurrer to evidence.

On February 13, 2008, the RTC rendered its decision, the dispositve portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused ARNOLD MARTINEZ y Angeles, EDGAR
DIZON y Ferrer, REZIN MARTINEZ y Carolino, and RAFAEL GONZALES y Cunanan GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime of Possession of Dangerous Drugs During Parties, Social Gatherings or Meetings defined and penalized under
Section 13 in relation to Section 11, Article II of Republic Act 9165, and each of them is sentenced to suffer the penalty of life
imprisonment and to pay the fine in the amount of P500,000.00, and to pay the cost of suit.

The subject items are hereby forfeited in favor of the government and to be disposed of in accordance with the law.

SO ORDERED.4

The RTC was of the view that the positive testimony of prosecution witness PO1 Azardon, without any showing of ill-motive
on his part, prevailed over the defenses of denial and alibi put up by the accused. The accused were held to have been in
constructive possession of the subject items. A conspiracy was also found present as there was a common purpose to
possess the dangerous drug.

The Ruling of the CA

The CA ruled that there was sufficient evidence to support the findings of the RTC as to the constructive possession of the
dangerous drugs by the accused. It further held that although the procedure regarding the custody and disposition of
evidence prescribed by Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 was not strictly complied with, the integrity and evidentiary value of the
evidence were nonetheless safeguarded. The CA was of the view that the presumption of regularity in the performance of
official duty was not sufficiently controverted by the accused.

Not in conformity, the accused now interposes this appeal before this Court praying for the reversal of the subject decision,
presenting the following

Assignment of Errors

For accused Arnold Martinez, Edgar Dizon and Rezin Martinez

1. The lower court erred in finding the accused-appellants to be having a pot session at the time of their arrest;

2. The lower court erred in not seeing through the antics of the police to plant the shabu paraphernalia to justify the
arrest of the accused-appellants without warrant;

3. The lower court erred in not finding that the corpus delicti has not been sufficiently established;

4. The lower court erred in not finding the uncorroborated testimony of PO1 Azardon insufficient to convict the
accused-appellants of the crime charged;

5. The lower court erred in not acquitting the accused-appellants.

For accused Rafael Gonzales

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT DESPITE THE PROSECUTION’S
FAILURE TO OVERTHROW THE CONSTITUTIONAL PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE.
II

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT DESPITE THE PROSECUTION’S
FAILURE TO ESTABLISH THE CHAIN OF CUSTODY OF THE ALLEGED CONFISCATED DRUG.

After an assiduous assessment of the evidentiary records, the Court finds that the prosecution failed to prove the guilt of the
accused. The principal reasons are 1] that the evidence against the accused are inadmissible; and 2] that granting the same
to be admissible, the chain of custody has not been duly established.

Illegal Arrest, Search and Seizure

Indeed, the accused is estopped from assailing the legality of his arrest if he fails to raise such issue before arraignment.
5 However, this waiver is limited only to the arrest. The legality of an arrest affects only the jurisdiction of the court over the

person of the accused. A waiver of an illegal warrantless arrest does not carry with it a waiver of the inadmissibility of
evidence seized during the illegal warrantless arrest.6

Although the admissibility of the evidence was not raised as in issue by the accused, it has been held that this Court has the
power to correct any error, even if unassigned, if such is necessary in arriving at a just decision,7especially when the
transcendental matter of life and liberty is at stake.8 While it is true that rules of procedure are intended to promote rather than
frustrate the ends of justice, they nevertheless must not be met at the expense of substantial justice. Time and again, this
Court has reiterated the doctrine that the rules of procedure are mere tools intended to facilitate the attainment of justice,
rather than frustrate it. Technicalities should never be used to defeat substantive rights.9 Thus, despite the procedural lapses
of the accused, this Court shall rule on the admissibility of the evidence in the case at bench. The clear infringement of the
accused’s right to be protected against unreasonable searches and seizures cannot be ignored.

The State cannot, in a manner contrary to its constitutional guarantee, intrude into the persons of its citizens as well as into
their houses, papers and effects.10 Sec. 2, Art. III, of the 1987 Constitution provides:

Section 2. - 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.

This constitutional guarantee, however, is not a blanket prohibition against all searches and seizures without warrant. Arrests
and seizures in the following instances are allowed even in the absence of a warrant — (i) warrantless search incidental to a
lawful arrest;11 (ii) search of evidence in "plain view;" (iii) search of a moving vehicle; (iv) consented warrantless search; (v)
customs search; (vi) stop and frisk; and (vii) exigent and emergency circumstances.12

This case would appear to fall under either a warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest or a plain view search, both of
which require a lawful arrest in order to be considered valid exceptions to the constitutional guarantee. Rule 113 of the
Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides for the circumstances under which a warrantless arrest is lawful. Thus:

Sec. 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 actually 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.

In cases falling under paragraphs (a) and (b) above, the person arrested without a warrant shall be forthwith delivered to the
nearest police station or jail and shall be proceeded against in accordance with section 7 of Rule 112.

A review of the facts reveal that the arrest of the accused was illegal and the subject items were confiscated as an incident
thereof. According to the testimony of PO1 Azardon and his Joint Affidavit13 with PO1 Dela Cruz, they proceeded to, and
entered, the house of accused Gonzales based solely on the report of a concerned citizen that a pot session was going on in
said house, to wit:
Q: I go back to the information referred to you by the informant, did he not tell you how many persons were actually
conducting the pot session?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: When you went to the place of Rafael Gonzales, of course you were not armed with a search warrant, correct?

A: None, sir.

Q: Before the information was given to you by your alleged informant, you did not know personally Rafael Gonzales?

A: I have not met [him] yet but I heard his name, sir.

Q: When this informant told you that he was told that there was [an] ongoing pot session in the house of Rafael Gonzales,
was this report to you placed in the police blotter before you proceeded to the house of Rafael Gonzales?

A: I think it was no longer recorded, sir.

Q: In other words, you did not even bother to get the personal data or identity of the person who told you that he was
allegedly informed that there was an ongoing pot session in the house of Rafael Gonzales?

A: What I know is that he is a jeepney driver of a downtown jeepney but he does not want to be identified because he was
afraid, sir.

Q: And likewise, he did not inform you who told him that there was an ongoing pot session in the house of Rafael Gonzales?

A: No more, sir.

Q: But upon receiving such report from that jeepney driver you immediately formed a group and went to the place of Rafael
Gonzales?

A: Yes, sir.

xxx

Q: When you were at the open gate of the premises of Rafael Gonzales, you could not see what is happening inside the
house of Rafael Gonzales?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: You did not also see the alleged paraphernalia as well as the plastic sachet of shabu on the table while you were outside
the premises of the property of Rafael Gonzales?

xxx

Q: Before they entered the premises they could not see the paraphernalia?

COURT: Answer.

A: Of course because they were inside the room, how could we see them, sir.

Q: But still you entered the premises, only because a certain person who told you that he was informed by another person
that there was an ongoing pot session going on inside the house of Rafael Gonzales?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: And that is the only reason why you barged in inside the house of Rafael Gonzales and you arrested the persons you
saw?

A: Yes, sir.14
Paragraph (c) of Rule 113 is clearly inapplicable to this case. Paragraphs (a) and (b), on the other hand, may be applicable
and both require probable cause to be present in order for a warrantless arrest to be valid. Probable cause has been held to
signify a reasonable ground of suspicion supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to warrant a cautious
man’s belief that the person accused is guilty of the offense with which he is charged.15

Although this Court has ruled in several dangerous drugs cases16 that tipped information is sufficient probable cause to effect
a warrantless search,17 such rulings cannot be applied in the case at bench because said cases involve either a buy-bust
operation or drugs in transit, basically, circumstances other than the sole tip of an informer as basis for the arrest. None of
these drug cases involve police officers entering a house without warrant to effect arrest and seizure based solely on an
informer’s tip. The case of People v. Bolasa18 is informative on this matter.

In People v. Bolasa, an anonymous caller tipped off the police that a man and a woman were repacking prohibited drugs at a
certain house. The police immediately proceeded to the house of the suspects. They walked towards the house accompanied
by their informer. When they reached the house, they peeped inside through a small window and saw a man and woman
repacking marijuana. They then entered the house, introduced themselves as police officers, confiscated the drug
paraphernalia, and arrested the suspects. This Court ruled:

The manner by which accused-appellants were apprehended does not fall under any of the above-enumerated categories.
Perforce, their arrest is illegal. First, the arresting officers had no personal knowledge that at the time of their arrest, accused-
appellants had just committed, were committing, or were about to commit a crime. Second, the arresting officers had no
personal knowledge that a crime was committed nor did they have any reasonable ground to believe that accused-appellants
committed it. Third, accused-appellants were not prisoners who have escaped from a penal establishment.

Neither can it be said that the objects were seized in plain view. First, there was no valid intrusion. As already discussed,
accused-appellants were illegally arrested. Second, the evidence, i.e., the tea bags later on found to contain marijuana, was
not inadvertently discovered. The police officers intentionally peeped first through the window before they saw and
ascertained the activities of accused-appellants inside the room. In like manner, the search cannot be categorized as a
search of a moving vehicle, a consented warrantless search, a customs search, or a stop and frisk; it cannot even fall under
exigent and emergency circumstances, for the evidence at hand is bereft of any such showing.

On the contrary, it indicates that the apprehending officers should have conducted first a surveillance considering that the
identities and address of the suspected culprits were already ascertained. After conducting the surveillance and determining
the existence of probable cause for arresting accused-appellants, they should have secured a search warrant prior to
effecting a valid arrest and seizure. The arrest being illegal ab initio, the accompanying search was likewise illegal. Every
evidence thus obtained during the illegal search cannot be used against accused-appellants; hence, their acquittal must
follow in faithful obeisance to the fundamental law.19

It has been held that personal knowledge of facts in arrests without warrant must be based upon probable cause, which
means an actual belief or reasonable grounds of suspicion. The grounds of suspicion are reasonable when the suspicion, that
the person to be arrested is probably guilty of committing an offense, is based on actual facts, that is, supported by
circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to create the probable cause of guilt of the person to be arrested. 20

As to paragraph (a) of Section 5 of Rule 113, the arresting officers had no personal knowledge that at the time of the arrest,
accused had just committed, were committing, or were about to commit a crime, as they had no probable cause to enter the
house of accused Rafael Gonzales in order to arrest them. As to paragraph (b), the arresting officers had no personal
knowledge of facts and circumstances that would lead them to believe that the accused had just committed an offense. As
admitted in the testimony of PO1 Azardon, the tip originated from a concerned citizen who himself had no personal
knowledge of the information that was reported to the police:

Q: Mr. Witness, you claimed that the reason for apprehending all the accused was based on a tip-off by an informant?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: What exactly [did] that informant tell you?

A: He told us that somebody told him that there was an ongoing pot session in the house of one of the accused Rafael
Gonzales, sir.

Q: You mean to say that it was not the informant himself to whom the information originated but from somebody else?

A: That was what he told me, sir.

Q: Because of that you proceeded to where the alleged pot session was going on? [No Answer]
Q: Did you[r] informant particularly pinpointed [sic] to where the alleged pot session was going on?

A: No more because he did not go with us, sir.

Q: So you merely relied on what he said that something or a pot session was going on somewhere in Arellano but you don’t
know the exact place where the pot session was going on?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: And your informant has no personal knowledge as to the veracity of the alleged pot session because he claimed that
he derived that information from somebody else?

A: This is what he told us that somebody told him that there was an ongoing pot session, sir.

Q: Despite of [sic] that information you proceeded to where?

A: Trinidad Subdivision, sir.

xxx

Q: Mr. Witness, did your informant named [sic] those included in the alleged pot session?

A: No, sir.

Q: That was, because your informant don’t [sic] know physically what was really happening there?

A: He was told by another person that there was an ongoing pot session there, sir.21 [Emphasis supplied]

Neither can it be said that the subject items were seized in plain view. The elements of plainview are: (a) a prior valid intrusion
based on the valid warrantless arrest in which the police are legally present in the pursuit of their official duties; (b) the
evidence was inadvertently discovered by the police who have the right to be where they are; (c) the evidence must be
immediately apparent; and, (d) "plain view" justified mere seizure of evidence without further search.22

The evidence was not inadvertently discovered as the police officers intentionally entered the house with no prior surveillance
or investigation before they discovered the accused with the subject items. If the prior peeking of the police officers in Bolasa
was held to be insufficient to constitute plain view, then more so should the warrantless search in this case be struck down.
Neither can the search be considered as a search of a moving vehicle, a consented warrantless search, a customs search, a
stop and frisk, or one under exigent and emergency circumstances.

The apprehending officers should have first conducted a surveillance considering that the identity and address of one of the
accused were already ascertained. After conducting the surveillance and determining the existence of probable cause, then a
search warrant should have been secured prior to effecting arrest and seizure. The arrest being illegal, the ensuing search as
a result thereof is likewise illegal. Evidence procured on the occasion of an unreasonable search and seizure is deemed
tainted for being the proverbial fruit of a poisonous tree and should be excluded.23 The subject items seized during the illegal
arrest are thus inadmissible. The drug, being the very corpus delicti of the crime of illegal possession of dangerous drugs, its
inadmissibility thus precludes conviction, and calls for the acquittal of the accused.

As has been noted previously by this Court, some lawmen, prosecutors and judges have glossed over illegal searches and
seizures in cases where law enforcers are able to present the alleged evidence of the crime, regardless of the methods by
which they were obtained. This attitude tramples on constitutionally-guaranteed rights in the name of law enforcement. It is
ironic that such enforcement of the law fosters the breakdown of our system of justice and the eventual denigration of society.
While this Court appreciates and encourages the efforts of law enforcers to uphold the law and to preserve the peace and
security of society, we nevertheless admonish them to act with deliberate care and within the parameters set by the
Constitution and the law.24

Chain of Custody

Even granting that the seized items are admissible as evidence, the acquittal of the accused would still be in order for failure
of the apprehending officers to comply with the chain of custody requirement in dangerous drugs cases.
The accused contend that the identity of the seized drug was not established with moral certainty as the chain of custody
appears to be questionable, the authorities having failed to comply with Sections 21 and 86 of R.A. No. 9165, and Dangerous
Drug Board (DDB) Resolution No. 03, Series of 1979, as amended by Board Regulation No. 2, Series of 1990. They argue
that there was no prior coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), no inventory of the confiscated
items conducted at the crime scene, no photograph of the items taken, no compliance with the rule requiring the accused to
sign the inventory and to give them copies thereof, and no showing of how the items were handled from the time of
confiscation up to the time of submission to the crime laboratory for testing. Therefore, the corpus delicti was not proven,
thereby producing reasonable doubt as to their guilt. Thus, they assert that the presumption of innocence in their favor was
not overcome by the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty.

The essential requisites to establish illegal possession of dangerous drugs are: (i) the accused was in possession of the
dangerous drug, (ii) such possession is not authorized by law, and (iii) the accused freely and consciously possessed the
dangerous drug.25 Additionally, this being a case for violation of Section 13 of R.A. No. 9165, an additional element of the
crime is (iv) the possession of the dangerous drug must have occurred during a party, or at a social gathering or meeting, or
in the proximate company of at least two (2) persons.

The existence of the drug is the very corpus delicti of the crime of illegal possession of dangerous drugs and, thus, a
condition sine qua non for conviction. In order to establish the existence of the drug, its chain of custodymust be sufficiently
established. The chain of custody requirement is essential to ensure that doubts regarding the identity of the evidence are
removed through the monitoring and tracking of the movements of the seized drugs from the accused, to the police, to the
forensic chemist, and finally to the court.26 Malillin v. People was the first in a growing number of cases to explain the
importance of chain of custody in dangerous drugs cases, to wit:

As a method of authenticating evidence, the chain of custody rule requires that the admission of an exhibit be preceded by
evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what the proponent claims it to be. It would include
testimony about every link in the chain, from the moment the item was picked up to the time it is offered into evidence, in such
a way that every person who touched the exhibit would describe how and from whom it was received, where it was and what
happened to it while in the witness' possession, the condition in which it was received and the condition in which it was
delivered to the next link in the chain. These witnesses would then describe the precautions taken to ensure that there had
been no change in the condition of the item and no opportunity for someone not in the chain to have possession of the same.
27

Section 1(b) of DDB Regulation No. 1, Series of 2002,28 defines chain of custody as follows:

b. "Chain of Custody" means the duly recorded authorized movements and custody of seized drugs or controlled chemicals
or plant sources of dangerous drugs or laboratory equipment of each stage, from the time of seizure/confiscation to receipt in
the forensic laboratory to safekeeping to presentation in court for destruction. Such record of movements and custody of
seized item shall include the identity and signature of the person who held temporary custody of the seized item, the date and
time when such transfer of custody were made in the course of safekeeping and used in court as evidence, and the final
disposition;

Paragraph 1, Section 21, Article II of R.A. No. 9165, provides for safeguards for the protection of the identity and integrity of
dangerous drugs seized, to wit:

SEC. 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized, and/or Surrendered Dangerous Drugs, Plant Sources of
Dangerous Drugs, Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals, Instruments/Paraphernalia and/or Laboratory
Equipment. – The PDEA shall take charge and have custody of all dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs
controlled precursors and essential chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment so
confiscated, seized and/or surrendered, for proper disposition in the following manner:

(1) The apprehending team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, immediately after seizure and confiscation,
physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom such items were
confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the Department of
Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy
thereof.

People v. Habana thoroughly discusses the proper procedure for the custody of seized or confiscated items in dangerous
drugs cases in order to ensure their identity and integrity, as follows:

Usually, the police officer who seizes the suspected substance turns it over to a supervising officer, who would then send it by
courier to the police crime laboratory for testing. Since it is unavoidable that possession of the substance changes hand a
number of times, it is imperative for the officer who seized the substance from the suspect to place his marking on its plastic
container and seal the same, preferably with adhesive tape that cannot be removed without leaving a tear on the plastic
container. At the trial, the officer can then identify the seized substance and the procedure he observed to preserve its
integrity until it reaches the crime laboratory.

If the substance is not in a plastic container, the officer should put it in one and seal the same. In this way the substance
would assuredly reach the laboratory in the same condition it was seized from the accused. Further, after the laboratory
technician tests and verifies the nature of the substance in the container, he should put his own mark on the plastic container
and seal it again with a new seal since the police officer’s seal has been broken. At the trial, the technician can then describe
the sealed condition of the plastic container when it was handed to him and testify on the procedure he took afterwards to
preserve its integrity.

If the sealing of the seized substance has not been made, the prosecution would have to present every police officer,
messenger, laboratory technician, and storage personnel, the entire chain of custody, no matter how briefly one’s possession
has been. Each of them has to testify that the substance, although unsealed, has not been tampered with or substituted while
in his care.29

Section 21(a) of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of R.A. No. 9165 further elaborates, and provides for, the
possibility of non-compliance with the prescribed procedure:

(a) The apprehending officer/team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, immediately after seizure and
confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom such
items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the
Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be
given a copy thereof: Provided, that the physical inventory and photograph shall be conducted at the place where the search
warrant is served; or at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the apprehending officer/team, whichever is
practicable, in case of warrantless seizures; Provided, further that non-compliance with these requirements under justifiable
grounds, as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending
officer/team, shall not render void and invalid such seizures of and custody over said items. [Emphasis supplied]

Accordingly, non-compliance with the prescribed procedural requirements will not necessarily render the seizure and custody
of the items void and invalid, provided that (i) there is a justifiable ground for such non-compliance, and (ii) the integrity and
evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved. In this case, however, no justifiable ground is found availing,
and it is apparent that there was a failure to properly preserve the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items to ensure
the identity of the corpus delicti from the time of seizure to the time of presentation in court. A review of the testimonies of the
prosecution witnesses and the documentary records of the case reveals irreparably broken links in the chain of custody.

According to the apprehending police officers in their Joint Affidavit, the following were confiscated from the accused, to wit:

a) Several pcs of used empty plastic sachets containing suspected shabu residues.

b) Eight used (8) disposable lighters ( two (2) pcs colored orange, two (2) pcs colored yellow, one (1) pc colored green & one
(1) pc colored white ).

c) Several pcs of used rolled aluminum foil containing suspected shabu residues.

d) Several pcs of used cut aluminum foil containing suspected shabu residues.

e) One (1) pc glass tube containing suspected shabu residues.30

[Emphases supplied]

At the police station, the case, the accused, and the above-mentioned items were indorsed to Duty Investigator Senior Police
Officer 1 Pedro Urbano, Jr. (SPO1 Urbano) for proper disposition.31 A letter-request for laboratory examination was prepared
by Police Superintendent Edgar Orduna Basbag for the following items:

a) Pieces of used empty small plastic sachets with suspected shabu residues marked "DC&A-1."

b) Pieces of used rolled and cut aluminum foil with suspected shabu residues marked "DC&A-2."

c) Pieces of used cut aluminum foil with suspected shabu residues marked "DC&A-3."32

[Emphases supplied]
The letter-request and above-mentioned items were submitted to P/Insp. Maranion by SPO3 Froilan Esteban (SPO3
Esteban). Final Chemistry Report No. D-042-06L listed the specimens which were submitted for testing, to wit:

SPECIMENS SUBMITTED:

A – A1 to A115 – One Hundred fifteen (115) open transparent plastic sachet with tag each containing suspected shabu
residue without markings.

B – B1 to B11 – Eleven (11) rolled used aluminum foil with tag each containing suspected shabu residue without markings.

C – C1 to C49 – Forty-nine (49) used aluminum foil with tag each containing suspected shabu residue without markings.33

[Emphases supplied]

Three days after the subject items were seized, or on September 5, 2006, a Confiscation Receipt was issued by PO1
Azardon and PO1 Dela Cruz, which reads:

DCPS AID SOTG 05 September 2006

CONFISCATION RECEIPT

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

THIS IS TO CERTIFY that on or about 12:45 noon of September 4, 2006, we together with our precinct supervisor, SPO4
Pedro Belen Jr., and SWAT members composed of SPO1 Marlon Decano, PO3 Manuel Garcia, PO2 Adriano Cepiroto and
PO1 Aldrin Guarin apprehended the following names of persons of ARNOLD MARTINEZ Y ANGELES, 37 yrs old, married,
jobless, a resident of Lucao Dist., this city; EDGAR DIZON Y FERRER, 36 yrs old, single, tricycle driver, a resident of 471
Lucao Dist., this city. REZIN MARTINEZ Y CAROLINO, 44 yrs old, married, jitney driver, a resident of Lucao Disttrict this city;
ROLAND DORIA Y DIAZ, 39 yrs old, married, businessman, resident of Cabeldatan, Malasiqui, Pangasinan and RAFAEL
GONZALES Y CUNANAN, 49 yrs old, separated, jobless and a resident of Trinidad Subd., Arellano-Bani this city.

Suspects were duly informed of their constitutional rights and were brought to Dagupan City Police Station, Perez Market Site
Dagupan City and indorsed to Duty Desk Officer to record the incident and the sachet of suspected Shabu
Paraphernalias were brought to PNP Crime Laboratory, Lingayen, Pangasinan for Laboratory Examination.

Seizing Officer:

(sgd.)
PO1 Bernard B Azardon
Affiant
(sgd.)
PO1 Alejandro Dela Cruz
Affiant
Remarks:

Refused to Signed

Refused to Signed

Refused to Signed

Refused to Signed

Refused to Signed34

[Emphases supplied]

The 115 open transparent plastic sachets, 11 pieces of rolled used aluminum foil, and 27 (of the 49) pieces of used aluminum
foil, all containing shabu residue, as identified in the Final Chemistry Report, were presented in court and marked as Exhibits
"H" and series, "I" and series, and "J" and series, respectively. Said items were identified by PO1 Azardon and P/Insp.
Maranion at the witness stand.35
The CA ruled that the integrity and evidentiary value of the subject items were properly preserved as there was sufficient
evidence to prove that the items seized from the accused were the same ones forwarded to the crime laboratory for
examination, as shown in the Confiscation Receipt and the letter-request for laboratory examination.

A review of the chain of custody indicates, however, that the CA is mistaken.

First, the apprehending team failed to comply with Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165. After seizure and confiscation of the subject
items, no physical inventory was conducted in the presence of the accused, or their representative or counsel, a
representative from the media and the DOJ, and any elected public official. Thus, no inventory was prepared, signed, and
provided to the accused in the manner required by law. PO1 Azardon, in his testimony,36admitted that no photographs were
taken. The only discernable reason proffered by him for the failure to comply with the prescribed procedure was that the
situation happened so suddenly. Thus:

Q: But upon receiving such report from that jeepney driver you immediately formed a group and went to the place of Rafael
Gonzales?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Such that you did not even inform the PDEA before you barged in that place of Rafael Gonzales?

A: It was so suddenly, [sic] sir.

Q: And that explains the reason why you were not able to have pictures taken, is that correct?

A: Yes, sir.37

[Emphasis supplied]

The Court does not find such to be a justifiable ground to excuse non-compliance. The suddenness of the situation cannot
justify non-compliance with the requirements. The police officers were not prevented from preparing an inventory and taking
photographs. In fact, Section 21(a) of the IRR of R.A. No. 9165 provides specifically that in case of warrantless seizures, the
inventory and photographs shall be done at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the apprehending officer/
team. Whatever effect the suddenness of the situation may have had should have dissipated by the time they reached the
police station, as the suspects had already been arrested and the items seized. Moreover, it has been held that in case of
warrantless seizures nothing prevents the apprehending officer from immediately conducting the physical inventory and
photography of the items at their place of seizure, as it is more in keeping with the law’s intent to preserve their integrity and
evidentiary value.38

This Court has repeatedly reversed conviction in drug cases for failure to comply with Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165, resulting
in the failure to properly preserve the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items. Some cases are People v. Garcia,
39 People v. Dela Cruz,40 People v. Dela Cruz,41 People v. Santos, Jr.,42 People v. Nazareno,43 People v. Orteza,44 Zarraga v.

People,45 and People v. Kimura.46

Second, the subject items were not properly marked. The case of People v. Sanchez is instructive on the requirement of
marking, to wit:

What Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 and its implementing rule do not expressly specify is the matter of "marking" of the seized
items in warrantless seizures to ensure that the evidence seized upon apprehension is the same evidence subjected to
inventory and photography when these activities are undertaken at the police station rather than at the place of arrest.
Consistency with the "chain of custody" rule requires that the "marking" of the seized items - to truly ensure that they are the
same items that enter the chain and are eventually the ones offered in evidence - should be done (1) in the presence of the
apprehended violator (2) immediately upon confiscation. This step initiates the process of protecting innocent persons
from dubious and concocted searches, and of protecting as well the apprehending officers from harassment suits based on
planting of evidence under Section 29 and on allegations of robbery or theft.

For greater specificity, "marking" means the placing by the apprehending officer or the poseur-buyer of his/her initials and
signature on the item/s seized. x x x Thereafter, the seized items shall be placed in an envelope or an evidence bag unless
the type and quantity of the seized items require a different type of handling and/or container. The evidence bag or container
shall accordingly be signed by the handling officer and turned over to the next officer in the chain of custody.47 [Emphasis in
the original]
Nowhere in the testimony of PO1 Azardon or in his Joint Affidavit with PO1 Dela Cruz does it appear that the subject items
were at all marked. It was only in the letter-request for laboratory examination that the subject items were indicated to have
been marked with "DC&A-1," "DC&A-2" and "DC&A-3." There is no showing, however, as to who made those markings and
when they were made. Moreover, those purported markings were never mentioned when the subject items were identified by
the prosecution witnesses when they took the stand.

The markings appear to pertain to a group of items, that is, empty plastic sachets, rolled and cut aluminium foil, and cut
aluminium foil, but do not specifically pertain to any individual item in each group. Furthermore, it was only in the Chemistry
Report48 that the precise number of each type of item was indicated and enumerated. The Court notes that in all documents
prior to said report, the subject items were never accurately quantified but only described as "pieces,"49 "several pcs,"50 and
"shabu paraphernallas."51 Strangely, the Chemistry Report indicates that all the subject items had "no markings," although
each item was reported to have been marked by P/Insp. Maranion in the course of processing the subject items during
laboratory examination and testing.52Doubt, therefore, arises as to the identity of the subject items. It cannot be determined
with moral certainty that the subject items seized from the accused were the same ones subjected to the laboratory
examination and presented in court.

This Court has acquitted the accused for the failure and irregularity in the marking of seized items in dangerous drugs cases,
such as Zarraga v. People,53 People v. Kimura,54 and People v. Laxa.55

Third, the Confiscation Receipt relied upon by the prosecution and the courts below gives rise to more uncertainty. Instead of
being prepared on the day of the seizure of the items, it was prepared only three days after. More important, the receipt did
not even indicate exactly what items were confiscated and their quantity. These are basic information that a confiscation
receipt should provide. The only information contained in the Confiscation Receipt was the fact of arrest of the accused and
the general description of the subject items as "the sachet of suspected Shabu paraphernallas were brought to the PNP
Crime Laboratory." The receipt is made even more dubious by PO1 Azardon’s admission in his testimony56 that he did not
personally prepare the Confiscation Receipt and he did not know exactly who did so.

Fourth, according to the Certification57 issued by the Dagupan Police Station, the subject items were indorsed by PO1 Dela
Cruz to Duty Investigator SPO1 Urbano for proper disposition. These were later turned over by SPO3 Esteban to P/Insp.
Maranion. There is, however, no showing of how and when the subject items were transferred from SPO1 Urbano to SPO3
Esteban.

Fifth, P/Insp. Maranion appears to be the last person in the chain of custody. No witness testified on how the subject items
were kept after they were tested prior to their presentation in court. This Court has highlighted similar shortcomings in People
v. Cervantes,58 People v. Garcia,59 People v. Sanchez,60 and Malillin v. People.61

More irregularities further darken the cloud as to the guilt of the accused. Contrary to PO1 Azardon’s testimony62that they
were tipped off by a concerned citizen while at the police station, the Letter63 to the Executive Director of the DDB states that
the apprehending officers were tipped off "while conducting monitoring/surveillance." Said letter also indicates, as does the
Confiscation Receipt, that the arrest and seizure occurred on September 4, 2006, and not September 2, 2006, as alleged in
the Information. It was also mentioned in the aforementioned Certification of the Dagupan Police and Joint Affidavit of the
police officers that a glass tube suspected to contain shabu residue was also confiscated from the accused. Interestingly, no
glass tube was submitted for laboratory examination.

In sum, numerous lapses and irregularities in the chain of custody belie the prosecution’s position that the integrity and
evidentiary value of the subject items were properly preserved. The two documents specifically relied on by the CA, the
Confiscation Receipt and the letter-request for laboratory examination, have been shown to be grossly insufficient in proving
the identity of the corpus delicti. The corpus delicti in dangerous drugs cases constitutes the drug itself. This means that proof
beyond reasonable doubt of the identity of the prohibited drug is essential before the accused can be found guilty.64

Regarding the lack of prior coordination with the PDEA provided in Section 86 of R.A. No. 9165, in People v. Sta. Maria,65 this
Court held that said section was silent as to the consequences of such failure, and said silence could not be interpreted as a
legislative intent to make an arrest without the participation of PDEA illegal, nor evidence obtained pursuant to such an arrest
inadmissible. Section 86 is explicit only in saying that the PDEA shall be the "lead agency" in the investigation and
prosecution of drug-related cases. Therefore, other law enforcement bodies still possess authority to perform similar functions
as the PDEA as long as illegal drugs cases will eventually be transferred to the latter.

Let it be stressed that non-compliance with Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 does not affect the admissibility of the evidence but
only its weight.66 Thus, had the subject items in this case been admissible, their evidentiary merit and probative value would
be insufficient to warrant conviction.

It may be true that where no ill motive can be attributed to the police officers, the presumption of regularity in the performance
of official duty should prevail. However, such presumption obtains only when there is no deviation from the regular
performance of duty.67 Where the official act in question is irregular on its face, the presumption of regularity cannot stand.
In this case, the official acts of the law enforcers were clearly shown and proven to be irregular. When challenged by the
evidence of a flawed chain of custody, the presumption of regularity cannot prevail over the presumption of innocence of the
accused.68

This Court once again takes note of the growing number of acquittals for dangerous drugs cases due to the failure of law
enforcers to observe the proper arrest, search and seizure procedure under the law.69 Some bona fide arrests and seizures in
dangerous drugs cases result in the acquittal of the accused because drug enforcement operatives compromise the integrity
and evidentiary worth of the seized items. It behooves this Court to remind law enforcement agencies to exert greater effort to
apply the rules and procedures governing the custody, control, and handling of seized drugs.

It is recognized that strict compliance with the legal prescriptions of R.A. No. 9165 may not always be possible. Thus, as
earlier stated, non-compliance therewith is not necessarily fatal. However, the lapses in procedure must be recognized,
addressed and explained in terms of their justifiable grounds, and the integrity and evidentiary value of the evidence seized
must be shown to have been preserved.70

On a final note, this Court takes the opportunity to be instructive on Sec. 1171 (Possession of Dangerous Drugs) and Sec.
1572 (Use of Dangerous Drugs) of R.A. No. 9165, with regard to the charges that are filed by law enforcers. This Court notes
the practice of law enforcers of filing charges under Sec. 11 in cases where the presence of dangerous drugs as basis for
possession is only and solely in the form of residue, being subsumed under the last paragraph of Sec. 11. Although not
incorrect, it would be more in keeping with the intent of the law to file charges under Sec. 15 instead in order to rehabilitate
first time offenders of drug use, provided that there is a positive confirmatory test result as required under Sec. 15. The
minimum penalty under the last paragraph of Sec. 11 for the possession of residue is imprisonment of twelve years and one
day, while the penalty under Sec. 15 for first time offenders of drug use is a minimum of six months rehabilitation in a
government center. To file charges under Sec. 11 on the basis of residue alone would frustrate the objective of the law to
rehabilitate drug users and provide them with an opportunity to recover for a second chance at life.

In the case at bench, the presence of dangerous drugs was only in the form of residue on the drug paraphernalia, and the
accused were found positive for use of dangerous drugs. Granting that the arrest was legal, the evidence obtained
admissible, and the chain of custody intact, the law enforcers should have filed charges under Sec. 15, R.A. No. 9165 or for
use of dangerous drugs and, if there was no residue at all, they should have been charged under Sec. 1473 (Possession of
Equipment, Instrument, Apparatus and Other Paraphernalia for Dangerous Drugs During Parties, Social Gatherings or
Meetings). Sec. 14 provides that the maximum penalty under Sec. 1274 (Possession of Possession of Equipment, Instrument,
Apparatus and Other Paraphernalia for Dangerous Drugs) shall be imposed on any person who shall possess any
equipment, instrument, apparatus and other paraphernalia for dangerous drugs. Under Sec. 12, the maximum penalty is
imprisonment of four years and a fine of ₱50,000.00. In fact, under the same section, the possession of such equipment,
apparatus or other paraphernalia is prima facie evidence that the possessor has used a dangerous drug and shall be
presumed to have violated Sec. 15.1avvphi1

In order to effectively fulfill the intent of the law to rehabilitate drug users, this Court thus calls on law enforcers and
prosecutors in dangerous drugs cases to exercise proper discretion in filing charges when the presence of dangerous drugs
is only and solely in the form of residue and the confirmatory test required under Sec. 15 is positive for use of dangerous
drugs. In such cases, to afford the accused a chance to be rehabilitated, the filing of charges for or involving possession of
dangerous drugs should only be done when another separate quantity of dangerous drugs, other than mere residue, is found
in the possession of the accused as provided for in Sec. 15.

WHEREFORE, the August 7, 2009 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. HC-NO. 03269 is REVERSED and SET
ASIDE and another judgment entered ACQUITTING the accused and ordering their immediate release from detention, unless
they are confined for any other lawful cause.

Let a copy of this decision be furnished the Director of the Bureau of Corrections, Muntinlupa City, for immediate
implementation. The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is directed to report to this Court within five days from receipt of
this decision the action he has taken. Copies shall also be furnished the Director-General, Philippine National Police, and the
Director-General, Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency, for their information and guidance.

The Regional Trial Court, Branch 41, Dagupan City, is directed to turn over the seized items to the Dangerous Drugs Board
for destruction in accordance with law.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines



SUPREME COURT

Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 188611 June 16, 2010

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, 



vs.

BELEN MARIACOS, Appellant.

DECISION

NACHURA, J.:

Before this Court is an appeal from the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 02718, which affirmed
the decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 29, San Fernando City, La Union, in Criminal Case No. 7144, finding
appellant Belen Mariacos guilty of violating Article II, Section 5 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165, or the Comprehensive
Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

The facts of the case, as summarized by the CA, are as follows:

Accused-appellant Belen Mariacos was charged in an Information, dated November 7, 2005 of violating Section 5, Article II of
Republic Act [No.] 9165, allegedly committed as follows:

"That on or about the 27th day of October, 2005, in the Municipality of San Gabriel, Province of La Union, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously transport, deliver 7,030.3, (sic) grams of dried marijuana fruiting tops without the necessary permit or authority
from the proper government agency or office.

CONTRARY TO LAW."

When arraigned on December 13, 2005, accused-appellant pleaded not guilty. During the pre-trial, the following were
stipulated upon:

"1. Accused admits that she is the same person identified in the information as Belen Mariacos;

2. That accused is a resident of Brgy. Lunoy, San Gabriel, La Union;

3. That at the time of the arrest of the accused, accused had just alighted from a passenger jeepney;

4. That the marijuana allegedly taken from the possession of the accused contained in two (2) bags were submitted for
examination to the Crime Lab;

5. That per Chemistry Report No. D-109-2005, the alleged drug submitted for examination gave positive result for the
presence of marijuana;

6. That the drugs allegedly obtained from the accused contained (sic) and submitted for examination weighed 7,030.3 grams;

7. The Prosecutor admits the existence of a counter-affidavit executed by the accused; and

8. The existence of the affidavits executed by the witnesses of the accused family (sic): Lyn Punasen, Mercedes Tila and
Magdalena Carino."

During the trial, the prosecution established the following evidence:

On October 26, 2005, in the evening, the San Gabriel Police Station of San Gabriel, La Union, conducted a checkpoint near
the police station at the poblacion to intercept a suspected transportation of marijuana from Barangay Balbalayang, San
Gabriel, La Union. The group at the checkpoint was composed of PO2 Lunes B. Pallayoc ("PO2 Pallayoc"), the Chief of
Police, and other policemen. When the checkpoint did not yield any suspect or marijuana, the Chief of Police instructed PO2
Pallayoc to proceed to Barangay Balbalayang to conduct surveillance operation (sic).

At dawn on October 27, 2005, in Barangay Balbalayang, PO2 Pallayoc met with a secret agent of the Barangay Intelligence
Network who informed him that a baggage of marijuana had been loaded on a passenger jeepney that was about to leave for
the poblacion. The agent mentioned three (3) bags and one (1) blue plastic bag. Further, the agent described a backpack bag
with an "O.K." marking. PO2 Pallayoc then boarded the said jeepney and positioned himself on top thereof. While the vehicle
was in motion, he found the black backpack with an "O.K." marking and peeked inside its contents. PO2 Pallayoc found
bricks of marijuana wrapped in newspapers. He then asked the other passengers on top of the jeepney about the owner of
the bag, but no one knew.

When the jeepney reached the poblacion, PO2 Pallayoc alighted together with the other passengers. Unfortunately, he did
not notice who took the black backpack from atop the jeepney. He only realized a few moments later that the said bag and
three (3) other bags, including a blue plastic bag, were already being carried away by two (2) women. He caught up with the
women and introduced himself as a policeman. He told them that they were under arrest, but one of the women got away.

PO2 Pallayoc brought the woman, who was later identified as herein accused-appellant Belen Mariacos, and the bags to the
police station. At the police station, the investigators contacted the Mayor of San Gabriel to witness the opening of the bags.
When the Mayor arrived about fifteen (15) minutes later, the bags were opened and three (3) bricks of marijuana wrapped in
newspaper, two (2) round bundles of marijuana, and two (2) bricks of marijuana fruiting tops, all wrapped in a newspaper,
were recovered.

Thereafter, the investigators marked, inventoried and forwarded the confiscated marijuana to the crime laboratory for
examination. The laboratory examination showed that the stuff found in the bags all tested positive for marijuana, a
dangerous drug.

When it was accused-appellant’s turn to present evidence, she testified that:

On October 27, 2005, at around 7:00 in the morning, accused-appellant, together with Lani Herbacio, was inside a passenger
jeepney bound for the poblacion. While the jeepney was still at the terminal waiting for passengers, one Bennie Lao-ang
("Lao-ang"), her neighbor, requested her to carry a few bags which had been loaded on top of the jeepney. At first, accused-
appellant refused, but she was persuaded later when she was told that she would only be carrying the bags. When they
reached the poblacion, Lao-ang handed accused-appellant and her companion, Lani Herbacio, the bags, and then Lao-ang
suddenly ran away. A few moments later, PO2 Pallayoc was upon them, arresting them. Without explanation, they were
brought to the police station. When they were at the police station, Lani Herbacio disappeared. It was also at the police
station that accused-appellant discovered the true contents of the bags which she was asked to carry. She maintained that
she was not the owner of the bags and that she did not know what were contained in the bags. At the police station (sic) she
executed a Counter-Affidavit.3

On January 31, 2007, the RTC promulgated a decision, the dispositive portion of which states:

WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused Belen Mariacos GUILTY as charged and sentences here (sic) to suffer the
penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine of ₱500,000.00.

The 7,030.3 grams of marijuana are ordered confiscated and turned over to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for
destruction in the presence of the Court personnel and media.

SO ORDERED.4

Appellant appealed her conviction to the CA. She argued that the trial court erred in considering the evidence of the
prosecution despite its inadmissibility.5 She claimed that her right against an unreasonable search was flagrantly violated by
Police Officer (PO)2 Pallayoc when the latter searched the bag, assuming it was hers, without a search warrant and with no
permission from her. She averred that PO2 Pallayoc’s purpose for apprehending her was to verify if the bag she was carrying
was the same one he had illegally searched earlier. Moreover, appellant contended that there was no probable cause for her
arrest.6

Further, appellant claimed that the prosecution failed to prove the corpus delicti of the crime.7 She alleged that the
apprehending police officers violated Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 3, Series of 1979, as amended by Board
Regulation No. 2, Series of 1990, which prescribes the procedure in the custody of seized prohibited and regulated drugs,
instruments, apparatuses, and articles. The said regulation directs the apprehending team having initial custody and control
of the drugs and/or paraphernalia, immediately after seizure or confiscation, to have the same physically inventoried and
photographed in the presence of appellant or her representative, who shall be required to sign copies of the inventory. The
failure to comply with this directive, appellant claimed, casts a serious doubt on the identity of the items allegedly confiscated
from her. She, likewise, averred that the prosecution failed to prove that the items allegedly confiscated were indeed
prohibited drugs, and to establish the chain of custody over the same.

On the other hand, the People, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), argued that the warrantless arrest of
appellant and the warrantless seizure of marijuana were valid and legal,8 justified as a search of a moving vehicle. It averred
that PO2 Pallayoc had reasonable ground to believe that appellant had committed the crime of delivering dangerous drugs
based on reliable information from their agent, which was confirmed when he peeked into the bags and smelled the
distinctive odor of marijuana.9 The OSG also argued that appellant was now estopped from questioning the illegality of her
arrest since she voluntarily entered a plea of "not guilty" upon arraignment and participated in the trial and presented her
evidence.10 The OSG brushed aside appellant’s argument that the bricks of marijuana were not photographed and
inventoried in her presence or that of her counsel immediately after confiscation, positing that physical inventory may be done
at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the apprehending team, whichever was practicable.11

In a Decision dated January 19, 2009, the CA dismissed appellant’s appeal and affirmed the RTC decision in toto.12 It held
that the prosecution had successfully proven that appellant carried away from the jeepney a number of bags which, when
inspected by the police, contained dangerous drugs. The CA ruled that appellant was caught in flagrante delicto of "carrying
and conveying" the bag that contained the illegal drugs, and thus held that appellant’s warrantless arrest was valid. The
appellate court ratiocinated:

It must be stressed that PO2 Pallayoc had earlier ascertained the contents of the bags when he was aboard the jeep. He saw
the bricks of marijuana wrapped in newspaper. That said marijuana was on board the jeepney to be delivered to a specified
destination was already unlawful. PO2 Pallayoc needed only to see for himself to whom those bags belonged. So, when he
saw accused-appellant carrying the bags, PO2 Pallayoc was within his lawful duty to make a warrantless arrest of accused-
appellant.

xxxx

Firstly, this Court opines that the invocation of Section 2, Article III of the Constitution is misplaced. At the time, when PO2
Pallayoc looked into the contents of the suspicious bags, there was no identified owner. He asked the other passengers atop
the jeepney but no one knew who owned the bags. Thus, there could be no violation of the right when no one was entitled
thereto at that time.

Secondly, the facts of the case show the urgency of the situation. The local police has been trying to intercept the transport of
the illegal drugs for more than a day, to no avail. Thus, when PO2 Pallayoc was tipped by the secret agent of the Barangay
Intelligence Network, PO2 Pallayoc had no other recourse than to verify as promptly as possible the tip and check the
contents of the bags.

Thirdly, x x x the search was conducted in a moving vehicle. Time and again, a search of a moving vehicle has been justified
on the ground that the mobility of motor vehicles makes it possible for the vehicle to move out of the locality or jurisdiction in
which the warrant must be sought. Thus, under the facts, PO2 Pallayoc could not be expected to secure a search warrant in
order to check the contents of the bags which were loaded on top of the moving jeepney. Otherwise, a search warrant would
have been of no use because the motor vehicle had already left the locality.13

Appellant is now before this Court, appealing her conviction.

Once again, we are asked to determine the limits of the powers of the State’s agents to conduct searches and seizures. Over
the years, this Court had laid down the rules on searches and seizures, providing, more or less, clear parameters in
determining which are proper and which are not.1avvphi1

Appellant’s main argument before the CA centered on the inadmissibility of the evidence used against her. She claims that
her constitutional right against unreasonable searches was flagrantly violated by the apprehending officer.

Thus, we must determine if the search was lawful. If it was, then there would have been probable cause for the warrantless
arrest of appellant.

Article III, Section 2 of the Philippine Constitution provides:

Section 2. 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.
Law and jurisprudence have laid down the instances when a warrantless search is valid. These are:

1. Warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest recognized under Section 12 [now Section 13], Rule 126 of the Rules of
Court and by prevailing jurisprudence;

2. Seizure of evidence in "plain view," the elements of which are:

(a) a prior valid intrusion based on the valid warrantless arrest in which the police are legally present in the pursuit of their
official duties;

(b) the evidence was inadvertently discovered by the police who had the right to be where they are;

(c) the evidence must be immediately apparent[;] and;

(d) "plain view" justified mere seizure of evidence without further search.

3. Search of a moving vehicle. Highly regulated by the government, the vehicle's inherent mobility reduces expectation of
privacy especially when its transit in public thoroughfares furnishes a highly reasonable suspicion amounting to probable
cause that the occupant committed a criminal activity;

4. Consented warrantless search;

5. Customs search;

6. Stop and Frisk; and

7. Exigent and Emergency Circumstances.14

Both the trial court and the CA anchored their respective decisions on the fact that the search was conducted on a moving
vehicle to justify the validity of the search.

Indeed, the search of a moving vehicle is one of the doctrinally accepted exceptions to the Constitutional mandate that no
search or seizure shall be made except by virtue of a warrant issued by a judge after personally determining the existence of
probable cause.15

In People v. Bagista,16 the Court said:

The constitutional proscription against warrantless searches and seizures admits of certain exceptions. Aside from a search
incident to a lawful arrest, a warrantless search had been upheld in cases of a moving vehicle, and the seizure of evidence in
plain view.

With regard to the search of moving vehicles, this had been justified on the ground that the mobility of motor vehicles makes it
possible for the vehicle to be searched to move out of the locality or jurisdiction in which the warrant must be sought.

This in no way, however, gives the police officers unlimited discretion to conduct warrantless searches of automobiles in the
absence of probable cause. When a vehicle is stopped and subjected to an extensive search, such a warrantless search has
been held to be valid only as long as the officers conducting the search have reasonable or probable cause to believe before
the search that they will find the instrumentality or evidence pertaining to a crime, in the vehicle to be searched.

It is well to remember that in the instances we have recognized as exceptions to the requirement of a judicial warrant, it is
necessary that the officer effecting the arrest or seizure must have been impelled to do so because of probable cause. The
essential requisite of probable cause must be satisfied before a warrantless search and seizure can be lawfully conducted.
17 Without probable cause, the articles seized cannot be admitted in evidence against the person arrested.18

Probable cause is defined as a reasonable ground of suspicion supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves
to induce a cautious man to believe that the person accused is guilty of the offense charged. It refers to the existence of such
facts and circumstances that can lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed,
and that the items, articles or objects sought in connection with said offense or subject to seizure and destruction by law are
in the place to be searched.19
The grounds of suspicion are reasonable when, in the absence of actual belief of the arresting officers, the suspicion that the
person to be arrested is probably guilty of committing the offense is based on actual facts, i.e., supported by circumstances
sufficiently strong in themselves to create the probable cause of guilt of the person to be arrested. A reasonable suspicion
therefore must be founded on probable cause, coupled with good faith on the part of the peace officers making the arrest.20

Over the years, the rules governing search and seizure have been steadily liberalized whenever a moving vehicle is the
object of the search on the basis of practicality. This is so considering that before a warrant could be obtained, the place,
things and persons to be searched must be described to the satisfaction of the issuing judge – a requirement which borders
on the impossible in instances where moving vehicle is used to transport contraband from one place to another with impunity.
21

This exception is easy to understand. A search warrant may readily be obtained when the search is made in a store, dwelling
house or other immobile structure. But it is impracticable to obtain a warrant when the search is conducted on a mobile ship,
on an aircraft, or in other motor vehicles since they can quickly be moved out of the locality or jurisdiction where the warrant
must be sought.22

Given the discussion above, it is readily apparent that the search in this case is valid. The vehicle that carried the contraband
or prohibited drugs was about to leave. PO2 Pallayoc had to make a quick decision and act fast. It would be unreasonable to
require him to procure a warrant before conducting the search under the circumstances. Time was of the essence in this
case. The searching officer had no time to obtain a warrant. Indeed, he only had enough time to board the vehicle before the
same left for its destination.

It is well to remember that on October 26, 2005, the night before appellant’s arrest, the police received information that
marijuana was to be transported from Barangay Balbalayang, and had set up a checkpoint around the area to intercept the
suspects. At dawn of October 27, 2005, PO2 Pallayoc met the secret agent from the Barangay Intelligence Network, who
informed him that a baggage of marijuana was loaded on a passenger jeepney about to leave for the poblacion. Thus, PO2
Pallayoc had probable cause to search the packages allegedly containing illegal drugs.

This Court has also, time and again, upheld as valid a warrantless search incident to a lawful arrest. Thus, Section 13, Rule
126 of the Rules of Court provides:

SEC. 13. Search incident to lawful arrest.—A person lawfully arrested may be searched for dangerous weapons or anything
which may have been used or constitute proof in the commission of an offense without a search warrant.23

For this rule to apply, it is imperative that there be a prior valid arrest. Although, generally, a warrant is necessary for a valid
arrest, the Rules of Court provides the exceptions therefor, to wit:

SEC. 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 actually 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.

In cases falling under paragraphs (a) and (b) above, the person arrested without a warrant shall be forthwith delivered to the
nearest police station or jail and shall be proceeded against in accordance with section 7 of Rule 112.24

Be that as it may, we have held that a search substantially contemporaneous with an arrest can precede the arrest if the
police has probable cause to make the arrest at the outset of the search.25

Given that the search was valid, appellant’s arrest based on that search is also valid.

Article II, Section 5 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 states:

SEC. 5 Sale, Trading, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Distribution and Transportation of Dangerous Drugs and/or
Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals. – The penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from Five
hundred thousand pesos (₱500,000.00) to Ten million pesos (₱10,000,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person, who,
unless authorized by law, shall sell, trade, administer, dispense, deliver, give away to another, distribute, dispatch in transit or
transport any dangerous drug, including any and all species of opium poppy regardless of the quantity and purity involved, or
shall act as a broker in any of such transactions.

The penalty of imprisonment ranging from twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years and a fine ranging from One
hundred thousand pesos (₱100,000.00) to Five hundred thousand pesos (₱500,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person
who, unless authorized by law, shall sell, trade, administer, dispense, deliver, give away to another, distribute, dispatch in
transit or transport any controlled precursor and essential chemical, or shall act as a broker in such transactions.

In her defense, appellant averred that the packages she was carrying did not belong to her but to a neighbor who had asked
her to carry the same for him. This contention, however, is of no consequence.

When an accused is charged with illegal possession or transportation of prohibited drugs, the ownership thereof is immaterial.
Consequently, proof of ownership of the confiscated marijuana is not necessary.26

Appellant’s alleged lack of knowledge does not constitute a valid defense. Lack of criminal intent and good faith are not
exempting circumstances where the crime charged is malum prohibitum, as in this case.27 Mere possession and/or delivery of
a prohibited drug, without legal authority, is punishable under the Dangerous Drugs Act.28

Anti-narcotics laws, like anti-gambling laws, are regulatory statutes. They are rules of convenience designed to secure a more
orderly regulation of the affairs of society, and their violation gives rise to crimes mala prohibita. Laws defining crimes mala
prohibita condemn behavior directed not against particular individuals, but against public order.29

Jurisprudence defines "transport" as "to carry or convey from one place to another."30 There is no definitive moment when an
accused "transports" a prohibited drug. When the circumstances establish the purpose of an accused to transport and the
fact of transportation itself, there should be no question as to the perpetration of the criminal act.31 The fact that there is
actual conveyance suffices to support a finding that the act of transporting was committed and it is immaterial whether or not
the place of destination is reached.32

Moreover, appellant’s possession of the packages containing illegal drugs gave rise to the disputable presumption33 that she
is the owner of the packages and their contents.34 Appellant failed to rebut this presumption. Her uncorroborated claim of lack
of knowledge that she had prohibited drug in her possession is insufficient.

Appellant’s narration of facts deserves little credence. If it is true that Bennie Lao-ang merely asked her and her companion to
carry some baggages, it is but logical to first ask what the packages contained and where these would be taken. Likewise, if,
as appellant said, Lao-ang ran away after they disembarked from the jeepney, appellant and her companion should have ran
after him to give him the bags he had left with them, and not to continue on their journey without knowing where they were
taking the bags.

Next, appellant argues that the prosecution failed to prove the corpus delicti of the crime. In particular, she alleged that the
apprehending police officers failed to follow the procedure in the custody of seized prohibited and regulated drugs,
instruments, apparatuses, and articles.

In all prosecutions for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act, the existence of all dangerous drugs is a sine qua non for
conviction. The dangerous drug is the very corpus delicti of that crime.35

Thus, Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 prescribes the procedure for custody and disposition of seized dangerous drugs, to wit:

Section 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized, and/or Surrendered Dangerous Drugs, Plant Sources of
Dangerous Drugs, Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals, Instruments/Paraphernalia and/or Laboratory Equipment.
– The PDEA shall take charge and have custody of all dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled
precursors and essential chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment so confiscated, seized
and/or surrendered, for proper disposition in the following manner:

(1) The apprehending team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, immediately after seizure and confiscation,
physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom such items were
confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the Department of
Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy
thereof.

The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of R.A. No. 9165 further provides:
SECTION 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized and/or Surrendered Dangerous Drugs, Plant Sources
of Dangerous Drugs, Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals, Instruments/Paraphernalia and/or Laboratory
Equipment. – The PDEA shall take charge and have custody of all dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs,
controlled precursors and essential chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment so
confiscated, seized and/or surrendered, for proper disposition in the following manner:

(a) The apprehending officer/team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, immediately after seizure and
confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom such
items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the
Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be
given a copy thereof: Provided, that the physical inventory and photograph shall be conducted at the place where the search
warrant is served; or at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the apprehending officer/team, whichever is
practicable, in case of warrantless seizures; Provided, further, that non-compliance with these requirements under justifiable
grounds, as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending
officer/team, shall not render void and invalid such seizures of and custody over said items.

PO2 Pallayoc testified that after apprehending appellant, he immediately brought her to the police station. At the station, the
police requested the Mayor to witness the opening of the bags seized from appellant. When the Mayor arrived, he opened the
bag in front of appellant and the other police officers. The black bag yielded three bricks of marijuana wrapped in newspaper,
while the plastic bag yielded two bundles of marijuana and two bricks of marijuana fruiting tops.36 PO2 Pallayoc identified the
bricks. He and PO3 Stanley Campit then marked the same. Then the seized items were brought to the PNP Crime Laboratory
for examination.

It is admitted that there were no photographs taken of the drugs seized, that appellant was not accompanied by counsel, and
that no representative from the media and the DOJ were present. However, this Court has already previously held that non-
compliance with Section 21 is not fatal and will not render an accused’s arrest illegal, or make the items seized inadmissible.
What is of utmost importance is the preservation of the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items.37

Based on the testimony of PO2 Pallayoc, after appellant’s arrest, she was immediately brought to the police station where
she stayed while waiting for the Mayor. It was the Mayor who opened the packages, revealing the illegal drugs, which were
thereafter marked and sent to the police crime laboratory the following day. Contrary to appellant’s claim, the prosecution’s
evidence establishes the chain of custody from the time of appellant’s arrest until the prohibited drugs were tested at the
police crime laboratory.

While it is true that the arresting officer failed to state explicitly the justifiable ground for non-compliance with Section 21, this
does not necessarily mean that appellant’s arrest was illegal or that the items seized are inadmissible. The justifiable ground
will remain unknown because appellant did not question the custody and disposition of the items taken from her during the
trial.38 Even assuming that the police officers failed to abide by Section 21, appellant should have raised this issue before the
trial court. She could have moved for the quashal of the information at the first instance. But she did not. Hence, she is
deemed to have waived any objection on the matter.

Further, the actions of the police officers, in relation to the procedural rules on the chain of custody, enjoyed the presumption
of regularity in the performance of official functions. Courts accord credence and full faith to the testimonies of police
authorities, as they are presumed to be performing their duties regularly, absent any convincing proof to the contrary.39

In sum, the prosecution successfully established appellant’s guilt. Thus, her conviction must be affirmed.

WHEREFORE, the foregoing premises considered, the appeal is DISMISSED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. CR-HC No. 02718 is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.
FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 164605 October 27, 2006

CATERPILLAR, INC., petitioner, 



vs.

MANOLO P. SAMSON, respondent.

DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

This is a Petition For Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Court, as amended, seeking to set aside the
Decision1 of the Court of Appeals dated 25 May 2004. The Court of Appeals in its assailed Decision upheld the Order2 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Mandaluyong City, Branch 214, dated 16 May 2003, in Search Warrant Cases Nos. 02-044 to
02-048 directing the immediate release of the articles seized pursuant to the search warrants issued therein; and the
Order3 dated 10 November 2003 denying the motion for reconsideration thereof.

Petitioner Caterpillar, Inc. is a foreign corporation engaged in the business of manufacturing shoes, clothing items, among
others. Upon the request of petitioner, the Regional Intelligence Investigation Division-National Capital Region Police Office
(RIID- NCRPO) filed on 22 August 2002 search warrant applications against respondent Manolo P. Samson for violations of
unfair competition, provided under Section 168.3(a) in relation to Sections 131.3, 123(e) and 170 of Republic Act No. 8293,
otherwise known as the Intellectual Property Code.4On the same day, the trial court issued five search warrants (Search
Warrants Nos. 02-044 to 02-048) against respondent and his business establishments, namely: Itti Shoes Corporation,
Kolm’s Manufacturing, and Caterpillar Boutique and General Merchandise. Pursuant to the aforementioned search warrants,
various merchandise-- garments, footwear, bags, wallets, deodorant sprays, shoe cleaners and accessories-- all bearing the
trademarks "CAT," "CAT AND DESIGN," "CATERPILLAR," "CATERPILLAR AND DESIGN," "WALKING MACHINES" and/or
"Track-type Tractor and Design" were seized on 27 August 2002.5

On 21 October 2002, respondent filed a Consolidated Motion to Quash Search Warrants Nos. 02-044 to 02-048. Pending the
resolution thereof, RIID-NCRPO filed five complaints against the respondent and his affiliate entities before the Department of
Justice (DOJ). On 16 May 2003, the trial court issued an order denying the respondent’s motion to quash, but nevertheless
directed the release of the articles seized on the ground that no criminal action had been commenced against respondent.
6 The dispositive portion of the said Order7 is quoted hereunder:

WHEREFORE, all the foregoing considered, the consolidated motions (sic) to quash Search Warrants (SW-02-044 to
SW-02-048) is DENIED. However, since no criminal action has been commenced yet, private complainant is directed to
immediately return to respondent the seized items, as (sic) per inventory submitted to this court, and now kept at the Nissan
Gallery, 138 Quezon Avenue, Quezon City with the undertaking from the latter that said seized items be produced when
required by the court.

The Motion for Partial Reconsideration filed by the petitioner on 30 May 2003 was denied by the trial court in an Order dated
10 November 2003.8

The petitioner filed an appeal via certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Court. In a Decision dated 25 May 2004, the
Court of Appeals denied the Petition for lack of merit ruling that there was no arbitrariness in the way the trial court exercised
its discretionary power to release the items seized in the absence of a criminal action filed in court. The Court of Appeals also
noted that the criminal complaints filed before the DOJ that underwent preliminary investigation were all dismissed by the
investigating prosecutor. It further reasoned that even if the DOJ’s order of dismissal is overturned, the respondent executed
an undertaking to produce the said items in court, if so ordered. Moreover, the respondent never denied the existence of the
items and raised as his defense his right as a prior registrant.9

Hence, this petition, where petitioner raised the following issues:

I.
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS REVERSIBLE ERROR IN UPHOLDING THE IMMEDIATE RETURN OF
THE SEIZED ITEMS ON THE GROUND THAT NO CRIMINAL ACTION HAD BEEN FILED IN COURT AGAINST THE
PRIVATE RESPONDENT.

II.

THE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN RULING THAT THE SUBSEQUENT DISMISSAL BY THE
INVESTIGATING STATE PROSECUTOR OF THE CRIMINAL COMPLAINTS AGAINST RESPONDENT JUSTIFIES THE
RETURN OF THE SEIZED ITEMS.10

This petition must be denied.

Pending the disposition of this case, the Chief State Prosecutor, in a Joint Resolution11 dated 18 June 2004, denied the
motion for reconsideration filed by the petitioner seeking to set aside the Joint Resolution issued by the State
Prosecutor12 dated 21 August 2003, dismissing the complaints filed against the respondent. The respondent alleged this in
his Comment dated 30 September 200413 and again in his Memorandum, filed on 4 May 2005.14 The records, however, show
that the petitioner failed to allege that it filed a petition for review before the Secretary of Justice to appeal the aforementioned
Joint Resolution, in accordance with the 2000 National Prosecution Service Rules on Appeal. Thus, it may be reasonably
concluded that the Joint Resolution of the DOJ has become final, and no criminal case will be filed in connection with the five
search warrants that were issued by the trial court. Furthermore, no civil case was filed in connection with the articles seized.
Since there is no pending criminal and civil case in connection with the articles seized, the return of the said articles to the
respondent are, but, a matter of course.

Notwithstanding that the Joint Resolution, dated 18 June 2004, had rendered moot the issues raised by the petitioner before
this Court, the issue of whether the trial court acted arbitrarily when it denied the motion to quash the Warrants of Search and
Seizure and yet released the articles seized, would still need to be resolved. The petitioner asserts that the seized articles
can only be returned when a criminal case can no longer possibly materialize since the seized articles are crucial to the
eventual prosecution of the respondent.15

The petitioner’s assertion is incongruent with the peculiar circumstances of this case. The articles seized – the thousands of
articles of clothing, footwear, and accessories, among others - had little, if any, evidentiary value for the criminal action for
unfair competition, which the petitioner expected to file.

An action for unfair competition is based on the proposition that no dealer in merchandise should be allowed to dress his
goods in simulation of the goods of another dealer, so that purchasers desiring to buy the goods of the latter would be
induced to buy the goods of the former.16 The most usual devices employed in committing this crime are the simulation of
labels and the reproduction of form, color and general appearance of the package used by the pioneer manufacturer or
dealer.17

In this case, the petitioner specifically identified the device employed by the respondent in deceiving the public into believing
the goods that the latter sells are those manufactured by the former – the imitation of the trademarks allegedly owned by the
petitioner, namely, "CAT," "CATERPILLAR," "CATERPILLAR AND DESIGN," "WALKING MACHINES" and/or "Track-type
Tractor and Design" and the depictions of heavy machinery and equipment, which the petitioner uses to market its products,
as well as the statements "LICENSED MERCHANDISE CATERPILLAR, INC." and "WE SHAPE THE THINGS WE BUILD,
THEREAFTER THEY SHAPE US" found on the articles themselves or on their packaging.

The respondent does not dispute the use of such trademarks and admitted that he owned the articles seized. He even raises
the defense that he is the registered owner of the aforementioned trademarks, and that he had prior use of such trademarks
for his line of products in the Philippines, which he extensively marketed. He also claims that, even at present, petitioner
markets its products only in some Duty Free shops, therefore has not established any goodwill in the Philippines that will
enable the consumers to confuse the respondent’s products with those of the petitioner’s.18

The admissions of the respondent are sufficient to establish that he used such trademarks in order to sell merchandise at a
commercial scale, and that the actual products manufactured by the respondent need not be presented to prove such fact. In
addition, the Court of Appeals correctly notes in its assailed Decision19 that:

Moreover, granting arguendo that the DOJ order of dismissal would be overturned, to guarantee the return of the seized
items, the public respondent required the execution of an undertaking that the private respondent would produce the said
items in court if so ordered. If the private respondent would not comply with the court order, the petitioner could avail of legal
safeguards and remedies like having the private respondent be cited in contempt of court. He could also move that the
criminal court take judicial notice of the legal seizure or consider the list of the seized items as secondary evidence thereof.
Also in his favor is the presumption that the seized items if (not) produced, would be adverse to the party withholding them.
Should there have been a need to examine the actual merchandise sold by the respondent, sufficient sample has already
been obtained by the prosecution. It is alleged in the Affidavits that were executed pursuant to the Application for the Search
Warrants Nos. MC-02-044 to MC-02-048,20 and in the Motion for Reconsideration (of the 21 August 2003 Joint Resolution),
21 filed on 19 September 2003 before the DOJ, attached as Annex "J" of the petitioner’s Petitioner for Certiorari before the

Court of Appeals, that as part of the investigation was conducted by the RIID-NCRPO, sample purchases were made of
leather shoes, shoe conditioner, jeans, shirts, socks, belt, and a wallet from various branches of stores owned by the
respondent. The samples obtained from the sample purchases are sufficient to represent the thousands of articles that were
seized, making it doubtful that the prosecution would have presented each and every article seized from the respondent’s
stores. More likely, the court would not have allowed the presentation of superfluous evidence. The merchandise was also
photographed, and more detailed photographs were taken of the particular parts of the merchandise where the trademarks in
dispute were attached or used. These photographs were in fact attached to the aforementioned affidavits and Motion for
Reconsideration, and respondent had not denied that these were items bought from his store. Given the availability of actual
samples, as well as their photographs, there is no need for the court to take custody of the countless articles seized.

Lastly, it should be noted that there is no law prohibiting the trial court from returning the articles seized before a case is
actually filed in court and even before the final determination of the prosecutor or the DOJ on whether a case should be filed
in court. In most cases, the release of the articles seized would be unjustified. However, in the particular circumstances of this
case, the return of the items would better serve the purposes of justice and expediency.

There exists a constitutional safeguard against unreasonable searches and seizures,22 which refers to the immunity of one’s
person from interference by the government, included in which is his residence, his papers and other possessions.23 The
Constitution, however, does not provide a blanket prohibition against all searches and seizures, rather the fundamental
protection accorded by the search and seizure clause is that between persons and the police, there must stand the protective
authority of a magistrate clothed with the power to issue or refuse such search warrant.24 Yet, the responsibilities of the
magistrate do not end with the granting of the warrant, but extends to the custody of the articles seized. In exercising custody
over these articles, the property rights of the owner should be balanced with the social need to preserve evidence, which will
be used in the prosecution of a case.

In the instant case, no criminal action had been prosecuted for almost a year. Thus, the court had been left with the custody
of highly depreciable merchandise. More importantly, these highly depreciable articles would have been superfluous if
presented as evidence for the following reasons: (1) the respondent had already admitted that he is the owner of the
merchandise seized, which made use of the trademarks in dispute; (2) the court required the respondent to execute an
undertaking to produce the articles seized when the court requires and had already in its possession a complete inventory of
the items seized as secondary evidence; (3) actual samples of the respondent’s merchandise are in the possession of the
police officers who had applied for the search warrant, and photographs thereof had been made part of the records, and
respondent did not dispute that these were obtained from his stores. Where the purpose of presenting as evidence the
articles seized is no longer served, there is no justification for severely curtailing the rights of a person to his property.

In ordering the return of the articles seized, the trial court had reasonably exercised its discretion in determining from the
circumstances of the case what constitutes a reasonable and unreasonable search and seizure. The belief that to value the
privacy of home and person and to afford its constitutional protection against the long reach of the government is no less than
to value human dignity, and that this privacy must not be disturbed except in the overriding social need, and then only under
the stringent procedural rules.25

WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court DENIES this petition, and AFFIRMS the Decision of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. SP No. 80899, dated 25 May 2004. Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.