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[ GR No. L-19550, Jun 19, 1967 ]



126 Phil. 738

[ G. R. No. L-19550, June 19, 1967 ]




Upon application of the officers of the government named on the margin[1]- hereinafter referred to as Respondent-Prosecutors - several judges[2] - hereinafter referred to as Respondent-Judges - issued, on different dates,[3] a total of 42 search warrants against petitioners herein[4] and/or the corporations of which they were officers,[5] directed to any peace officer, to search the persons above-named and/or the premises of their offices, warehouses and/or re­sidences, and to seize and take possession of the follow­ing personal property to wit:

"Books of accounts, financial records, vouchers, correspondence, receipts, ledgers, journals, portfolios, credit journals, type­writers, and other documents and/or papers showing all business transactions including disbursements receipts, balance sheets and profit and loss statements and Bobbins (cigarette wrappers)."
as "the subject of the offense; stolen or embezzled and pro­ceeds or fruits of the offense," or "used or intended to be used as the means of committing the offense," which is de­scribed in the applications adverted to above as "violation of Central Bank Laws, Tariff and Customs Laws, Internal Re­venue (Code) and the Revised Penal Code."

Alleging that the aforementioned search warrants are null and void, as contravening the Constitution and the Rules of Court - because, inter alia:  (1) they do not describe with particularity the documents, books and things to be seized; (2) cash money, not mentioned in the warrants, were actually seized; (3) the warrants were issued to fish evidence against the aforementioned petitioners in deportation cases filed against them; (4) the searches and seizures were made in an illegal manner; and (5) the documents, papers and cash money seized were not delivered to the courts that issued the war­rants, to be disposed of in accordance with law - on March 20, 1962, said petitioners filed with the Supreme Court this original action for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus and injunction, and prayed that, pending final disposition of the present case, a writ of preliminary injunction be issued re­straining Respondent-Prosecutors, their agents and/or repre­sentatives from using the effects seized as aforementioned, or any copies thereof, in the deportation cases already ad­verted to, and that, in due course, thereafter, decision be rendered quashing the contested search warrants and declaring the same null and void, and commanding the respondents, their agents or representatives to return to petitioners herein, in accordance with Section 3, Rule 67, of the Rules of Court, the documents, papers, things and cash moneys seized or confiscated under the search warrants in question.

In their answer, respondents-prosecutors alleged[6] (1) that the contested search warrants are valid and have been issued in accordance with law; (2) that the defects of said warrants, if any, were cured by petitioners' consent; and (3) that, in any event, the effects seized are admissible in evidence against herein petitioners, regardless of the alleged illegality of the aforementioned searches and seizures.

On March 22, 1962, this Court issued the writ of prelimi­nary injunction prayed for in the petition.  However, by re­solution dated June 29, 1962, the writ was partially lifted or dissolved, insofar as the papers, documents and things seized from the offices of the corporations above mentioned are con­cerned; but, the injunction was maintained as regards the papers, documents and things found and seized in the residences of petitioners herein.[7]

Thus, the documents, papers, and things seized under the alleged authority of the warrants in question may be split into two (2) major groups, namely:  (a) those found and seized in the of­fices of the aforementioned corporations, and (b) those found and seized in the residences of petitioners herein.

As regards the first group, we hold that petitioners herein have no cause of action to assail the legality of the contested warrants and of the seizures made in pursuance thereof, for the simple reason that said corporations have their respective per­sonalities, separate and distinct from the personality of herein petitioners, regardless of the amount of shares of stock or of the interest of each of them in said corporations, and whatever the offices they hold therein may be.[8] Indeed, it is well set­tled that the legality of a seizure can be contested only by the party whose rights have been impaired thereby,[9] and that the objection to an unlawful search and seizure is purely personal and cannot be availed of by third parties.[10] Consequently, petitioners herein may not validly object to the use in evidence against them of the documents, papers and things seized from the offices and premises of the corporations adverted to above, since the right to object to the admission of said papers in evidence belongs exclusively to the corporations, to whom the seized effects belong, and may not be invoked by the corporate officers in proceedings against them in their individual capacity.[11] In­deed, it has been held:

x x x that the Government's action in gain­ing possession of papers belonging to the corporation did not relate to nor did it affect the personal defendants.  If these papers were unlawfully seized and thereby the constitutional rights of or any one were invaded, they were the rights of the corporation and not the rights of the other defendants.  Next, it is clear that a question of the law­fulness of a seizure can be raised only by one whose rights have been invaded.  Certainly, such a seiz­ure, if unlawful, could not affect the constitu­tional rights of defendants whose property had not been seized or the privacy of whose homes had not been disturbed; nor could they claim for themselves the benefits of the Fourth Amendment, when its violation, if any, was with reference to the rights of another.  Remus vs. United States (C.C.A.) 291 F501, 511.  It follows, therefore, that the question of the admissibility of the evidence based on an alleged unlawful search and seizure does not ex­tend to the personal defendants but embraces only the corporation whose property was taken.  x x x." (A. Guckenheimer & Bros. Co. vs. United States, [1925] 3 F. 2d, 786, 789, underscoring supplied.)

With respect to the documents, papers and things seized in the residences of petitioners herein, the aforementioned resolution of June 29, 1962, denied the lifting of the writ of preliminary injunction previously issued by this Court,[12] thereby, in effect, restraining herein Respondent-Prosecutors from using them in evidence against petitioners herein.

In connection with said documents, papers and things, two (2) important questions need be settled, namely:  (1) whe­ther the search warrants in question, and the searches and seizures made under the authority thereof, are valid or not; and (2) if the answer to the preceding question is in the negative, whether said documents, papers and things may be used in evidence against petitioners herein.

Petitioners maintain that the aforementioned search war­rants are in the nature of general warrants and that, accord­ingly, the seizures effected upon the authority thereof are null and void.  In this connection, the Constitution[13] provides:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, to be determined 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."

Two points must be stressed in connection with this con­stitutional mandate, namely:  (1) that no warrant shall issue but upon probable cause, to be determined by the judge in the manner set forth in said provision; and (2) that the warrant shall particularly describe the things to be seized.

None of these requirements has been complied with in the contested warrants.    Indeed, the same were issued upon appli­cations stating that the natural and juridical persons therein named had committed a "violation of Central Bank Laws, Tariff and Customs Laws, Internal Revenue (Code) and Revised Penal Code." In other words, no specific offense had been alleged in said applications.  The averments thereof with respect to the offense committed were abstract.  As a consequence, it was impossible for the judges who issued the warrants to have found the existence of probable cause, for the same presup­poses the introduction of competent proof that the party against whom it is sought has performed particular acts, or committed specific omissions, violating a given provision of our criminal laws.  As a matter of fact, the applications in­volved in this case do not allege any specific acts performed by herein petitioners.  It would be a legal heresy, of the highest order, to convict anybody of a "violation of Central Bank Laws, Tariff and Customs Laws, Internal Revenue (Code) and Revised Penal Code," - as alleged in the aforementioned applications - without reference to any determinate provision of said laws or codes.

To uphold the validity of the warrants in question would be to wipe out completely one of the most fundamental rights guaranteed in our Constitution, for it would place the sanctity of the domicile and the privacy of communication and correspond­ence at the mercy of the whims, caprice or passion of peace of­ficers.  This is precisely the evil sought to be remedied by the constitutional provision above quoted - to outlaw the so-called general warrants.  It is not difficult to imagine what would happen, in times of keen political strife, when the party in power feels that the minority is likely to wrest it, even though by legal means.

Such is the seriousness of the irregularities committed in connection with the disputed search warrants, that this Court deemed it fit to amend Section 3 of Rule 122 of the former Rules of Court[14] by providing in its counterpart under the Revised Rules of Court[15] that "a search warrant shall not issue but upon probable cause in connection with one specific of­fense."  Not satisfied with this qualification, the Court added thereto a paragraph, directing that "no search warrant shall is­sue for more than one specific offense."

The grave violation of the Constitution made in the appli­cation for the contested search warrants was compounded by the description therein made of the effects to be searched for and seized, to wit:

"Books of accounts, financial records, vouchers, journals, correspondence, receipts, ledgers, portfolios, credit journals, type­writers, and other documents and/or papers showing all business transactions including disbursement receipts, balance sheets and re­lated profit and loss statements."

Thus, the warrants authorized the search for and seizure of records pertaining to all business transactions of peti­tioners herein, regardless of whether the transactions were legal or illegal.  The warrants sanctioned the seizure of all records of the petitioners and the aforementioned corporations, whatever their nature, thus openly contravening the explicit command of our Bill of Rights - that the things to be seized be particularly described - as well as tending to defeat its major objective: the elimination of general warrants.

Relying upon Moncado vs. People's Court (80 Phil. 1), Respondent-Prosecutors maintain that, even if the searches and seizures under consideration were unconstitutional, the documents, papers and things thus seized are admissible in evidence against petitioners herein.  Upon mature delibera­tion, however, we are unanimously of the opinion that the position taken in the Moncado case must be abandoned.  Said position was in line with the American common law rule, that the criminal should not be allowed to go free merely "because the constable has blundered,"[16] upon the theory that the constitutional prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures is protected by means other than the exclusion of evidence unlawfully obtained,[17] such as the common-law action for damages against the searching officer, against the party who procured the issuance of the search warrant and against those assisting in the execution of an illegal search, their criminal punishment, resistance, without liability to an unlawful seizure, and such other legal re­medies as may be provided by other laws.

However, most common law jurisdictions have already given up this approach and eventually adopted the exclusionary rule, realizing that this is the only practical means of enforcing the constitutional injunction against unreasonable searches and seizures.  In the language of Judge Learned Hand:

"As we understand it, the reason for the ex­clusion of evidence competent as such, which has been unlawfully acquired, is that exclusion is the only practical way of enforcing the constitu­tional privilege.  In earlier times the action of trespass against the offending official may have been protection enough; but that is true no longer.  Only in case the prosecution which itself controls the seizing officials, knows that it cannot profit by their wrong, will that wrong be repressed."[18]

In fact, over thirty (30) years before, the Federal Su­preme Court had already declared:

"If letters and private documents can thus be seized and held and used in evidence against a citizen accused of an offense, the protection of the 4th Amendment, declaring his rights to be secure against such searches and seizures, is of no value, and, so far as those thus placed are concerned, might as well be stricken from the Constitution.  The efforts of the courts and their officials to bring the guilty to punish­ment, praiseworthy as they are, are not to be aided by the sacrifice of those great princi­ples established by years of endeavor and suf­fering which have resulted in their embodiment  in the fundamental law of the land."[19]

This view was, not only reiterated, but, also broadened in subsequent decisions of the same Federal Court.[20] After reviewing previous decisions thereon, said Court held, in Mapp vs. Ohio (supra.):

"x x x Today we once again examine the Wolf's constitutional documentation of the right of privacy free from unreasonable state intrusion, and, after its dozen years on our books, are led by it to close the only courtroom door remaining open to evidence secured by official lawlessness in flagrant abuse of that basic right, reserved to all persons as a speci­fic guarantee against that very same unlawful conduct.  We held that all evidence obtained by searches and seizures in violation of the Constitution is, by that same authority, inadmissible in a State court.
"Since the Fourth Amendment's right of privacy has been declared enforceable against the States through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth, it is enforceable against them by the same sanction of exclusion as it used against the Federal Govern­ment.  Were it otherwise, then just as without the Weeks rule the assurance against unreasonable federal searches and seizures would be 'a form of words', valueless and underserving of mention in a perpetual charter of inestimable human liberties, so too, with­out that rule the freedom from state invasions of privacy would be so ephemeral and so neatly severed from its conceptual nexus with the freedom from all brutish means of coercing evidence as not to permit this Court's high regard as a freedom 'implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.' At the time that the Court held in Wolf that the Amendment was applicable to the States through the Due Process Clause, the cases of this Court as we have seen, had steadfastly held that as to federal officers the Fourth Amendment included the exclusion of the evidence seized in viola­tion of its provisions.  Even wolf 'stoutly ad­hered' to that proposition.  The right to privacy, when conceded operatively enforceable against the States, was not susceptible of des­truction by avulsion of the sanction upon which its protection and enjoyment had always been deemed dependent under the Boyd, Weeks and Silverthorne Cases.  Therefore, in extending the substantive protections of due process to all constitutionally un­reasonable searches - state or federal - it was logi­cally and constitutionally necessary that the exclu­sion doctrine - an essential part of the right to privacy - be also insisted upon as an essential ingredient of the right newly recognized by the Wolf Case.  In short, the admission of the new constitu­tional right by Wolf could not consistently toler­ate denial of its most important constitutional privilege, namely, the exclusion of the evidence which an accused had been forced to give by rea­son of the unlawful seizure.  To hold otherwise is to grant the right but in reality to withhold its privilege and enjoyment.  Only last year the Court itself recognized that the purpose of the exclusionary rule 'is to deter - to compel respect for the constitutional guaranty in the only effectively available way - by removing the incentive to disregard it.'  x x x.
"The ignoble shortcut to conviction left open to the State tends to destroy the entire system of constitutional restraints on which the liberties of the people rest.  Having once recognized that the right to privacy embodied in the Fourth Amendment is enforceable against the States, and that the right to be secure against rude invasions of privacy by state officers is, therefore constitu­tional in origin, we can no longer permit that right to remain an empty promise.  Because it is enforceable in the same manner and to like effect as other basic rights secured by the Due Process Clause, we can no longer_permit it to be revocable at the whim of any police officer who, in the name of law enforcement itself, chooses to suspend its enjoyment.  Our decision, founded on reason and truth, gives to the individual no more than that which the Constitution guarantees him, to the police officer no less than that to which honest law enforce­ment is entitled, and, to the courts, that judicial integrity so necessary in the true administration of justice."  (Underscoring ours.)

Indeed, the non-exclusionary rule is contrary, not only to the letter, but, also, to spirit of the constitutional injunction against unreasonable searches and seizures.  To be sure, if the applicant for a search warrant has competent evi­dence to establish probable cause of the commission of a given crime by the party against whom the warrant is intended, then there is no reason why the applicant should not comply with the requirements of the fundamental law.  Upon the other hand, if he has no such competent evidence, then it is not possible for the Judge to find that there is probable cause, and, hence, no justification for the issuance of the warrant.  The only possible explanation (not justification) for its issuance is the necessity of fishing evidence of the commission of a crime.  But, then, this fishing expedition is indicative of the absence of evidence to establish a probable cause.

Moreover, the theory that the criminal prosecution of those who secure an illegal search warrant and/or make un­reasonable searches or seizures would suffice to protect the constitutional guarantee under consideration, overlooks the fact that violations thereof are, in general, committed by agents of the party in power, for, certainly, those belonging to the minority could not possibly abuse a power they do not have.  Regardless of the handicap under which the minority usually - but, understandably - finds itself in prosecuting agents of the majority, one must not lose sight of the fact that the psychological and moral effect of the possibility[21] of securing their conviction, is watered down by the pardoning power of the party for whose benefit the illegality had been committed.

In their Motion for Reconsideration and Amendment of the Resolution of this Court dated June 29, 1962, petition­ers allege that Rooms Nos. 81 and 91 of Carmen Apartments, House No. 2008, Dewey Boulevard, House No. 1436, Colorado Street, and Room No. 304 of the Army-Navy Club, should be included among the premises considered in said Resolution as residences of herein petitioners, Harry S. Stonehill, Robert P. Brook, John J. Brooks and Karl Beck, respectively, and that, furthermore, the records, papers and other ef­fects seized in the offices of the corporations above referred to include personal belongings of said petitioners and other effects under their exclusive possession and con­trol, for the exclusion of which they have a standing under the latest rulings of the federal courts of the United States.[22]

We note, however, that petitioners' theory, regarding their alleged possession of and control over the aforemen­tioned records, papers and effects, and the alleged "personal" nature thereof, has been advanced, not in their petition or amended petition herein, but in the Motion for Recon­sideration and Amendment of the Resolution of June 29, 1962.  In other words, said theory would appear to be a readjustment of that followed in said petitions, to suit the approach in­timated in the Resolution sought to be reconsidered and amend­ed.  Then, too, some of the affidavits or copies of alleged affidavits attached to said motion for reconsideration, or submitted in support thereof, contain either inconsistent allegations, or allegations inconsistent with the theory now advanced by petitioners herein.

Upon the other hand, we are not satisfied that the alle­gations of said petitions and motion for reconsideration, and the contents of the aforementioned affidavits and other papers submitted in support of said motion, have sufficiently esta­blished the facts or conditions contemplated in the cases relied upon by the petitioners, to warrant application of the views therein expressed, should we agree thereto.  At any rate, we do not deem it necessary to express our opinion thereon, it being best to leave the matter open for determi­nation in appropriate cases in the future.

We hold, therefore, that the doctrine adopted in the Mon­cado case must be, as it is hereby, abandoned; that the war­rants for the search of three (3) residences of herein petitioners, as specified in the Resolution of June 29, 1962, are null and void; that the searches and seizures therein made are illegal; that the writ of preliminary injunction hereto­fore issued, in connection with the documents, papers and other effects thus seized in said residences of herein peti­tioners is hereby made permanent; that the writs prayed for are granted, insofar as the documents, papers and other ef­fects so seized in the aforementioned residences are concern­ed; that the aforementioned motion for Reconsideration and Amendment should be, as it is hereby, denied; and that the petition herein is dismissed and the writs prayed for denied, as regards the documents, papers and other effects seized in the twenty-nine (29) places, offices and other premises enumerated in the same Resolution, without special pronouncement as to costs.


Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P., Zaldivar, and Sanchez, JJ. concur.
Castro, J. concurred and dissented in a separate opinion.

[1] Hon. Jose W. Diokno, in his capacity as Secretary of Jus­tice, Jose Lukban, in his capacity as Acting Director Na­tional Bureau of Investigation, Special Prosecutors Pedro D. Cenzon, Efren I. Plana and Manuel Villareal, Jr., and Assistant Fiscal Manases G. Reyes, City of Manila.

[2] Hon. Amado Roan, Judge of the Municipal (now City) Court of Manila, Hon. Roman Cansino, Judge of the Municipal (now City) Court of Manila, Hon. Hermogenes Caluag, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Quezon City Branch, Hon. Eulogio Mencias, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Pasig Branch, and Hon. Damian Jimenez, Judge of the Municipal (now City) Court of Quezon City.

[3] Covering the period from March 3 to March 9, 1962.

[4] Harry S. Stonehill, Robert P. Brooks, John J. Brooks and Karl Beck.

[5] U. S. Tobacco Corporation, Atlas Cement Corporation, Atlas Development Corporation, Far East Publishing Corporation (Evening News), Investment Inc., Industrial Business Manage­ment Corporation, General Agricultural Corporation, Ameri­can Asiatic Oil Corporation, Investment Management Corpora­tion, Holiday Hills, Inc., Republic Glass Corporation, In­dustrial and Business Management Corporation, United Housing Corporation, The Philippine Tobacco-Flue-Curing and Redrying Corporation, Republic Real Estate Corporation and Merconsel Corporation.

[6] Inter alia.

[7] "Without prejudice to explaining the reasons for this order in the decision to be rendered in the case, the writ of prelimi­nary injunction issued by us in this case against the use of the papers, documents and things from the following premises:  (1) The office of the US Tobacco Corp. at the Ledesma Bldg., Arzobispo St., Manila; (2) 932 Gonzales, Ermita, Manila; (3) office at Atlanta St. bounded by Chicago, 15th & 14th Sts., Port Area, Mla; (4) 527 Rosario St., Mla.; (5) Atlas Cement Corp. and/or Atlas Development Corp., Magsaysay Bldg., San Luis, Ermita, Mla.; (6) 205 13th St., Port Area, Mla.; (7) No. 224 San Vicente St., Mla.; (8) Warehouse No. 2 at Chicago & 23rd Sts., Mla.; (9) Warehouse at 23rd St., between Muelle de San Francisco & Boston, Port Area, Mla.; (10) Investment Inc., 24th St. & Boston; (11) IBMC, Magsaysay Bldg., San Luis, Mla.; (12) General Agricultural Corp., Magsaysay Bldg., San Luis, Manila; (13) American Asiatic Oil Corp., Magsaysay Bldg., San Luis, Manila; (14) Room 91, Carmen Apts., Dewey Blvd., Manila; (15) Warehouse Railroad St. between 17 & 12 Sts., Port Area, Manila; (16) Rm 304, Army & Navy Club, Manila South Blvd.; (17) Warehouse Annex Bldg., 18th St., Port Area, Manila; (18) Rm. 81 Carmen Apts., Dewey Blvd., Manila; (19) Holiday Hills, Inc., Trinity Bldg., San Luis, Manila; (20) No. 2008 Dewey Blvd.; (21) Premises of 24th St. & Boston, Port Area, Manila; (22) Republic Glass Corp., Trinity Bldg., San Luis, Manila; (23) IBMC, 2nd Flr., Trinity Bldg., San Luis, Manila; (24) IBMC, 2nd Flr., Go­changco Bldg., 610 San Luis Manila; (25) United Housing Corp., Trinity Bldg., San Luis Manila; (26) Republic Real Estate Corp., Trinity Bldg., San Luis, Manila; (27) 1437 Colorado St., Malate Manila; (28) Phil. Tobacco Flue-Curing, Magsaysay Bldg., San Luis, Manila and (29) 14 Baldwin St., Sta. Cruz, Manila, in the hearing of Deportation Cases Nos. R-953 and 955 against petitioner before the Deportation Board, is hereby lifted.  The preliminary injunction shall continue as to the papers, documents and things found in the other premises namely:  in those of the resi­dences of petitioners, as follows:  (1) 13 Narra Road, Forbes Park, Makati, Rizal; (2) 15 Narra Road, Forbes Park, Makati, Rizal; and (3) 8 Urdaneta Avenue, Urdaneta Village, Makati, Rizal.

[8] Newingham, et al. vs. United States, 4 F. 2d. 490.

[9] Lesis vs. U.S., 6 F. 2d. 22.

[10] In re Dooley (1931) 48 F. 2d. 121; Rouda vs. U.S., 10 F. 2d 916; Lusco v. U.S. 287 F. 69; Ganci vs. U.S., 287 F. 60; Moris vs. U.S. 26 F. 2d 444.

[11] U.S. vs. Gass, 17 F. 2d. 997; People vs. Rubio, 57 Phil., 384, 394.

[12] On March 22, 1962.

[13] Section 1, paragraph 3, of Article III thereof.

[14] Reading:  xxx A search warrant shall not issue but upon probable cause to be determined by the judge or justice of the peace after examination under oath or affirmation of the complaint and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

[15] xxx A search warrant shall not issue but upon probable cause in connection with one specific offense to be determined by the judge or justice of the peace after examination under oath or affirmation of the complaint and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and persons or things to be seized.

No search warrant shall issue for more than one specific offense.  (Sec. 3, Rule 126.)                  

[16] People v. Defore, 140 NE 585.

[17] Wolf vs. Colorado, 93 L. ed 1782.

[18] Pugliese (1945) 153 F. 2d. 497.

[19] Weeks vs. United States (1914) 232 US 383, 58 L. ed. 652, 34 S. Ct. 341; underscoring supplied.

[20] Gouled vs. United States (1921) 255 US 298, 65 L. ed. 647, 41 S. Ct. 261; Olmstead vs. United States (1928) 277 US 438, 72 L. ed. 944, 48 S. Ct. 564; Wolf vs. Colorado, 338 US 25, 93 L. ed. 1782, 69 S. Ct. 1359; Elkins vs. United State, 364 US 206, 4 L. ed. 2d. 1669, 80 S. Ct. 1437 (1960); Mapp vs. Ohio L91961), 367 US 643, 6 L. ed 2d. 1081, 81 S. Ct. 1684.

[21] Even if remote.

[22] Particularly, Jones vs. U.S., 362 U.S. 257; Alioto vs. Republic, 216 Fed. Supp. 48; U.S. vs. Jeffries, 72 S. Ct. 93; Villano vs. U.S., 300 Fed. 2d 680; and Henzel vs. U.S. 296 Fed. 2d 650.