People v Barros; G.R. No. 90640; 29 Mar 1994; 231 SCRA 557

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While aboard a bus, two peace officers inspected appellant’s carton which the latter placed under his seat and found that it contained marijuana. Appellant was invited to the detachment for questioning as the suspect. The bus conductor was called to identify the owner after appellant denied his ownership.

Whether or not appellant’s constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures had been violated.

YES. There existed no circumstance which might reasonably have excited the suspicion of the two police officers riding in the same bus as appellant Barros. There was nothing to show that appellant Barros was then in the process of “actually committing” or “attempting to commit” a crime. There was nothing on the record that could have reasonably led the police officers to believe that “an offense [had] in fact just been committed” when appellant boarded the bus or when he was asked whether he owned the box at the checkpoint. The police officers had no “personable knowledge of facts indicating that appellant had committed it.” There was, in brief, no basis for a valid warrantless arrest. Accordingly, the search and seizure of the carton box was equally non-permissible and invalid.

Decision of the trial court is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and appellant is ACQUITTED.

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