Guidelines on the Application for the Enforceability of Search Warrants

At the heart of the present controversy are A.M. No. 99-10-09-SC, Clarifying the Guidelines on the Application for the Enforceability of Search Warrants, which was enacted on January 25, 2000; and A.M. No. 00-5-03-SC, the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, which took effect on December 1, 2000, specifically, Section 2, Rule 126 thereof.  We quote the pertinent portions of the two issuances below:

Administrative Matter No. 99-10-09-SC

 

Resolution Clarifying the Guidelines on the Application for the Enforceability of Search Warrants

            In the interest of an effective administration of justice and pursuant to the powers vested in the Supreme Court by the Constitution, the following are authorized to act on all applications for search warrants involving heinous crimes, illegal gambling, dangerous drugs and illegal possession of firearms.

            The Executive Judge and Vice Executive Judges of Regional Trial Courts, Manila and Quezon City filed by the Philippine National Police (PNP), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOC-TF) and the Reaction Against Crime Task Force (REACT-TF) with the Regional Trial Courts of Manila and Quezon City.

            The applications shall be personally endorsed by the Heads of the said agencies, for the search of places to be particularly described therein, and the seizure of property of things as prescribed in the Rules of Court, and to issue the warrants of arrest, if justified, which may be served in places outside the territorial jurisdiction of said courts.

            The authorized judges shall keep a special docket book listing the details of the applications and the result of the searches and seizures made pursuant to the warrants issued.

            This Resolution is effective immediately and shall continue until further orders from this Court and shall be an exemption to the provisions of Circular No. 13 dated 1 October 1985 and Circular No. 19 dated 4 August 1987. x x x

A.M. No. 00-5-03-SC

            Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure

 

Rule 126

SEARCH AND SEIZURE

            Sec. 2.  Court where application for search warrant shall be filed. – An application for search warrant shall be filed with the following:

(a)                Any court within whose territorial jurisdiction a crime was committed.

(b)               For compelling reasons stated in the application, any court within the judicial region where the crime was committed if the place of the commission of the crime is known, or any court within the judicial region where the warrant shall be enforced.

However, if the criminal action has already been filed, the application shall only be made in the court where the criminal action is pending.

 

          From the above, it may be seen that A.M. No. 99-10-09-SC authorizes the Executive Judge and Vice Executive Judges of the RTCs of Manila and Quezon City to act on all applications for search warrants involving heinous crimes, illegal gambling, dangerous drugs and illegal possession of firearms on application filed by the PNP, NBI, PAOC-TF, and REACT-TF.  On the other hand, Rule 126 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure provides that the application for search warrant shall be filed with: (a) any court within whose territorial jurisdiction a crime was committed, and (b) for compelling reasons, any court within the judicial region where the crime was committed if the place of the commission of the crime is known, or any court within the judicial region where the warrant shall be enforced.

          Petitioners contend that the application for search warrant was defective.  They aver that the application for search warrant filed by SI Lagasca was not personally endorsed by the NBI Head, Director Wycoco, but instead endorsed only by Deputy Director Nasol and that while SI Lagasca declared that Deputy Director Nasol was commissioned to sign the authorization letter in behalf of Director Wycoco, the same was not duly substantiated.  Petitioners conclude that the absence of the signature of Director Wycoco was a fatal defect that rendered the application on the questioned search warrant void per se, and the issued search warrant null and void “because the spring cannot rise above its source.” [24]

          We disagree.  Nothing in A.M. No. 99-10-09-SC prohibits the heads of the PNP, NBI, PAOC-TF and REACT-TF from delegating their ministerial duty of endorsing the application for search warrant to their assistant heads.  Under Section 31, Chapter 6, Book IV of the Administrative Code of 1987, an assistant head or other subordinate in every bureau may perform such duties as may be specified by their superior or head, as long as it is not inconsistent with law.  The said provision reads:

Chapter 6 – POWERS AND DUTIES OF HEADS OF

BUREAUS AND OFFICES

            Sec. 31.  Duties of Assistant Heads and Subordinates. – (1) Assistant heads and other subordinates in every bureau or office shall perform such duties as may be required by law or regulations, or as may be specified by their superiors not otherwise inconsistent with law.

            (2)  The head of bureau or office may, in the interest of economy, designate the assistant head to act as chief of any division or unit within the organization, in addition to his duties, without additional compensation, and

            (3)  In the absence of special restriction prescribed by law, nothing shall prevent a subordinate officer or employee from being assigned additional duties by proper authority, when not inconsistent with the performance of the duties imposed by law.

          Director Wycoco’s act of delegating his task of endorsing the application for search warrant to Deputy Director Nasol is allowed by the above quoted provision of law unless it is shown to be inconsistent with any law.  Thus, Deputy Director Nasol’s endorsement had the same force and effect as an endorsement issued by Director Wycoco himself.  The finding of the RTC in the questioned Orders that Deputy Director Nasol possessed the authority to sign for and in behalf of Director Wycoco is unassailable.

          Petitioners also assert that the questioned Search Warrant was void ab initio.  They maintain that A.M. No. 99-10-09-SC, which was enacted on January 25, 2000, was no longer in effect when the application for search warrant was filed on February 15, 2002.  They argue that the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, which took effect on December 1, 2000, should have been applied, being the later law.  Hence, the enforcement of the search warrant in Angeles City, which was outside the territorial jurisdiction of RTC Manila, was in violation of the law.

          The petitioners’ contention lacks merit.

          A.M. No. 99-10-09-SC provides that the guidelines on the enforceability of search warrants provided therein shall continue until further orders from this Court.  In fact, the guidelines in A.M. No. 99-10-09-SC are reiterated in A.M. No. 03-8-02-SC entitled Guidelines On The Selection And Designation Of Executive Judges And Defining Their Powers, Prerogatives And Duties, which explicitly stated that the guidelines in the issuance of search warrants in special criminal cases by the RTCs of Manila and Quezon City shall be an exception to Section 2 of Rule 126 of the Rules of Court, to wit:[25]

Chapter V. Specific Powers, Prerogatives and Duties of

Executive Judges in Judicial Supervision

Sec. 12.  Issuance of search warrants in special criminal cases by the Regional Trial Courts of Manila and Quezon City. – The Executive Judges and, whenever they are on official leave of absence or are not physically present in the station, the Vice-Executive Judges of the RTCs of Manila and Quezon City shall have authority to act on applications filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Anti-Crime Task Force (ACTAF), for search warrants involving heinous crimes, illegal gambling, illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions as well as violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, the Intellectual Property Code, the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001, the Tariff and Customs Code, as amended, and other relevant laws that may hereafter be enacted by Congress, and included herein by the Supreme Court.

The applications shall be personally endorsed by the heads of such agencies and shall particularly describe therein the places to be searched and/or the property or things to be seized as prescribed in the Rules of Court. The Executive Judges and Vice-Executive Judges concerned shall issue the warrants, if justified, which may be served in places outside the territorial jurisdiction of the said courts.

The Executive Judges and the authorized Judges shall keep a special docket book listing names of Judges to whom the applications are assigned, the details of the applications and the results of the searches and seizures made pursuant to the warrants issued.

This Section shall be an exception to Section 2 of Rule 126 of the Rules of Court. (italics ours)

In sum, we cannot find any irregularity or abuse of discretion on the part of Judge Omar T. Viola for denying petitioners’ Motion to Quash Search Warrant and to Suppress Evidence Illegally Seized.  On the contrary, Judge Guariña III had complied with the procedural and substantive requirements for issuing the questioned search warrant.

http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/jurisprudence/2009/october2009/158467.htm

Advertisements

About Erineus

Born on December 28, 1965, Surallah, South Cotabato, Southern Mindanao, Philippines.
This entry was posted in Criminal Law, Search and Seizures and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s