Hizon v Court of Appeals; G.R. No. 119619; 13 Dec 1996; 265 SCRA 517

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On the strength of the report submitted by the Task Force Bantay Dagat, the PNP Maritime Group boarded and inspected a big fishing boat with the acquiescence of the boat captain. In the course of the inspection, the police discovered a large aquarium full of live fishes. Some of the fishes were tested to contain cyanide.

Whether or not the search of the fishing boat was lawful.

YES. Search and seizure without search warrant of vessels and aircrafts for violations of customs laws have been the traditional exception to the constitutional requirement of a search warrant. It is rooted on the recognition that a vessel and an aircraft, like motor vehicles, can be quickly moved out of the locality or jurisdiction in which the search warrant must be sought and secured. The same exception ought to apply to seizures of fishing vessels and boats breaching our fishery laws. These vessels are normally powered by high-speed motors that enable them to elude arresting ships of the Philippine Navy, the Coast Guard and other government authorities enforcing our fishery laws.

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