People of the Philippines v Nazareno Villareal; G.R. No. 201363; 18 Mar 2013

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Accused-appellant was arrested after he was seen by the arresting officer who was driving a motorcycle about 8 to 10 meters away holding and scrutinizing in his hand a plastic sachet of shabu. Arresting officer had previously arrested accused-appellant for illegal drug possession.

Whether or not the arrest was valid.

NO. Without an overt act that would pin liability against appellant, it is clear that the arresting officer was only impelled to apprehend appellant on acocunt of the latter’s previous charge for the same offense. However, a previous arrest or existing criminal record, even for the same offense will not suffice to satisfy the exacting requirements provided under Section 5, Rule 113 in order to justify a lawful warrantless arrest. To interpret “personal knowledge” as referring to a person’s reputation or past criminal citations would create a dangerous precedent and unnecessarily stretch the authority and power of police officers to effect warrantless arrests based solely on knowledge of a person’s previous criminal infractions.

Appellant’s act of walking along the street and holding something in his hands, even if they appeared to be dubious, coupled with his previous criminal charge for the same offense are not by themselves sufficient to incite suspicion of criminal activity, or to create probable cause enough to justify a warrantless arrest.

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