Monday, February 6, 2012

Romines v People (2010) GR no. 182010

J. Carpio-Morales

Romines was caught in possession of 0.1224 grams of shabu when Cruzin, a police officer in a surveillance operation for a snatcher named Ryan saw her place a sacheted white substance in a cigarette case.
She ran from the policeafter being questioned and was subsequently caught in a stop-and –frisk operation after the law enforcer asked her about the sachet contents.
She and the contents were tested for drug presence. The latter was confirmed to be shabu.
Her alibi was that the evidence was used to frame her when the police dangled a wallet containing shabu near her in the detention facility.
In court, she admitted to the truth of the toxicology report on the substance and the presence of shabu in her body.
The trial court convicted her under RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous drugs Act.
In the Appellate court, she contended that the arrest without a warrant was illegal.
The appellate court found her arrest valid in People v Chua where the stop-and-frisk operation was established as an exception to warrantless arrests.
In the Supreme Court, she contended that Cruzin failed to justify the hunch that there was a criminal act in the placement of something in a case. The OSG contended for a penalty modification.

Issue: Is her arrest without a warrant valid?

Held: Yes. Petition dismissed.

She only raised the issue of warrantless arrest on the AC- clearly an omission on questioning the legality of her arrest.
The circumstances made the arrest as a warranted one. It was instinctive for a law enforcer to notice something suspicious about the white substance.
A stop and frisk operation is part of the exception of a valid search warrant. In such instances where the exception applies, a judicial question can be posed to determine if the circumstance warrants a reasonable search. This includes the manner of the search, the place or thing searched, and the nature of the articles produced by the act.
People v Chua: The policeman must introduce himself and make inquiries and restrain a person who manifests suspicious conduct. He must have a genuine reason to warrant the belief that the person has contraband.
Purpose of stop and frisk is a. general crime prevention under the recognition that a policeman can approach a person for possible criminal behavior, given that the conduct was carried out in an appropriate manner.
Cruzin followed the procedure.
Romines also admitted to the truth of the toxicology reports in reference to her defense. The admission tested her credibility. (which showed her to be unreliable)
The petitioner also failed to present clear and convincing evidence to support her theory of frame-up.

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