G.R. No. 130805. April 27, 2004

FACTS

In 1994, Narcotics Command received information that a certain Koichi Kishi and Rey Plantilla were engaged in the selling of illegal drugs at the Cash and Carry Supermarket, Makati City. A buy-bust operation was launched which led to the capture of Koichi and allegedly pointed Kimura and Kizaki as his friends/suppliers  who will fetch him. That in the parking lot Kimura handed a package wrapped in a newspaper which found to contain marijuana to a certain person named Boy. Kimura was arrested however Kizaki allegedly escaped.

Department of Justice filed a case against Kimura and Kizaki of violation of Section 4, Article II of Republic Act 6425, as amended by R.A. 7659, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972. Appellants’ defense is denial and alibi. Kimura claims that he saw marijuana placed at the car trunk and Kizaki was not with him.  On the other hand, appellant Kizaki testified that on the date that the alleged crime was committed, he was in the company of his friends which was corroborated by his housemaid and friend, and he was arrested 2 days after the incident.

The RTC rendered judgment that the appellants are guilty beyond reasonable doubt in violation of Section 4 of Republic Act 6425, on the ground that that alibi and denial are inherently a weak defense. For alibi to prosper, the accused must show that it was impossible for him to have been at the scene of the commission of the crime at the time of its commission. Although the evidence show that there is a doubt in the illegality of the arrest of accused Kimura by Major Dayco, the jurisprudence is that “the illegality of warrantless arrest cannot deprive the state of its right to convict the guilty when all the facts on record point to their culpability.

Appellants claim that although the defense of alibi and denial are weak, it is still the duty of the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. Kizaki argues that he was arrested without a valid warrant of arrest and  he could not have been caught in flagrante delicto to justify the warrantless arrest when he was arrested.

ISSUE

Whether or not there was a valid warrant of arrest

HELD

No. Rule 113, Section 5 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that a peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person only under the following circumstances:

(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.

It bears stressing that none of the arresting officers of appellant Kizaki was present on the night of June 27 where appellant Kizaki allegedly sold and transported marijuana and escaped, thus the arresting officers had no personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that appellant Kizaki committed the crime. None of the exceptions enumerated above was present to justify appellant Kizaki’s warrantless arrest.

The failure of the operatives to place any markings on the seized marijuana immediately after they had allegedly apprehender the appellants, failed to prove that the marijuana presented in court was the very same marijuana seized from appellants. Evidently, the prosecution has not proven the indispensable element of corpus delicti of the crime which failure produces a grievous doubt as to the guilt of the appellants. In criminal cases, proof beyond reasonable doubt is required to establish the guilt of the accused. Similarly, in establishing the corpus delicti, that unwavering exactitude is necessary. Every fact necessary to constitute the crime must be established by proof beyond reasonable doubt. The conviction of the accused must rest not on the weakness of the defense but on the strength of the prosecution.

DISPOSITIVE PORTION

WHEREFORE, the decision of the trial court in Criminal Case No. 94-5606 is hereby REVERSED and appellants Tomohisa Kimura and Akira Kizaki, are hereby ACQUITTED on ground of reasonable doubt. They are ordered immediately released from prison, unless they are being detained for some other lawful cause. The Director of Prisons is DIRECTED to inform this Court of the action taken hereon within five (5) days from receipt hereof.

Let the PNP Director be furnished a copy of herein decision for the proper information and guidance of his police operatives. The marijuana is hereby ordered confiscated in favor of the government for its proper disposition under the law. Costs de oficio.

SO ORDERED.

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