Burgos v Chief of Staff; G.R. No. L-64261; 26 Dec 1984; 133 SCRA 800

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Respondent judge issued two search warrants under which the business addresses of the “Metropolitan Mail” and “We Forum” newspapers were searched, and office and printing machines, equipment, paraphernalia, motor vehicles and other articles used in the printing, publication and distribution of the said newspapers, as well as numerous papers, documents, books and other written literature alleged to be in the possession and control of petitioner, publisher-editor of the “We Forum” newspaper, were seized. The issuance was upon application of an intelligence officer and the joint affidavit of two members of the team which conducted a surveillance of the premises prior to the filing of the application for the search warrant.

Whether or not there was sufficient basis for the finding of a probable cause upon which a warrant may validly issue.

NO. Mere generalization will not suffice. The broad statement in Col. Abadilla’s application is a mere conclusion of law and does not satisfy the requirements of probable cause. Bereft of such particulars as would justify a finding of the existence of probable cause, said allegation cannot serve as basis for the issuance of a search warrant and it was a grave error for respondent judge to have done so. Equally insufficient as basis for the determination of probable cause is the statement contained in the joint affidavit of Alejandro M. Gutierrez and Pedro U. Tango. The Constitution requires no less than personal knowledge by the complainant or his witnesses of the facts upon which the issuance of a search warrant may be justified.

Search warrants issued by respondent judge are declared NULL and VOID and are accordingly SET ASIDE. The prayer for a writ of mandatory injunction for the return of the seized articles is GRANTED and all articles seized thereunder are ordered RELEASED to petitioners.

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