Case Brief: Luz vs. Philippines

G.R. No. 197788, February 29, 2012
RODEL LUZ y ONG, Petitioner,
vs
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

Facts:
PO3 Emmanuel L. Alteza testified that he saw the accused driving a motorcycle without a helmet and so he flagged him down. He invited the accused to come inside their sub-station since the place where he flagged down the accused is almost in front of the sub-station to where he is assigned as a traffic enforcer. The accused violated a municipal ordinance which requires all motorcycle drivers to wear helmet while driving said motor vehicle. While the officers were issuing a citation ticket for violation of municipal ordinance, PO3 Alteza noticed that the accused was uneasy and kept on reaching something from his jacket. He was alerted and told the accused to take out the contents of his jacket’s pocket as the latter may have a weapon inside it. The accused obliged, slowly put out the contents of his jacket’s pocket which included two plastic sachets of suspected shabu.
The RTC convicted petitioner of illegal possession of dangerous drugs as the substances are positive of methampethamine hydrochloride. Upon appeal, the CA affirmed the RTCs Decision.
Upon a petition for reiew on certiorari, petitioner claims that there was no lawful search and seizure, because there was no lawful arrest. He claims that the finding that there was a lawful arrest was erroneous, since he was not even issued a citation ticket or charged with violation of the city ordinance. Even assuming there was a valid arrest, he claims that he had never consented to the search conducted upon him.

Issue:
Whether or not the arrest, searches and seizure were invalid.

Held:
Yes, there was no valid arrest. When he was flagged down for committing a traffic violation, he was not, ipso facto and solely for this reason, arrested. There being no valid arrest, the warrantless search that resulted from it was likewise illegal.
Under R.A. 4136, or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, the general procedure for dealing with a traffic violation is not the arrest of the offender, but the confiscation of the drivers license of the latter. At the time that he was waiting for PO3 Alteza to write his citation ticket, petitioner could not be said to have been under arrest. rior to the issuance of the ticket, the period during which petitioner was at the police station may be characterized merely as waiting time.
The subject items seized during the illegal arrest are inadmissible. The drugs are the very corpus delicti of the crime of illegal possession of dangerous drugs. Thus, their inadmissibility precludes conviction and calls for the acquittal of the accused.

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