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People vs. Gueno Case Digest


In lawful arrests, it becomes both the duty and the right of the apprehending officers to conduct a warrantless search not only on the person of the suspect but also in the permissible area within his reach, i.e., that point which is within the effective control of the person arrested, or that which may furnish him with the means of committing violence or of escaping.

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Facts: 

After the conduct of surveillance operations, a group of police officers reported the result of the same to their commanding officer who instructed them to apply for a search warrant. The police officers applied for and were issued a search warrant. They then returned to their commanding officer who hatched a plan that a buy-bust operation be first conducted on the accused Cuenco before the implementation of the search warrant. As planned, the informant introduced PO1 Camantigue to Cuenco who at that time was standing by the door of his store which is just an extension of the house where he was staying. Cuenco asked Camantigue how much worth of marijuana was he buying to which the latter replied he wanted to buy marijuana worth P150.00. Cuenco got the money, called his common-law wife, Florida Fajardo, and instructed her to get marijuana worth P150.00. Fajardo went inside the house and when she returned, she handed Camantigue the marijuana.  Camantigue then removed his cap as a signal to his companions that the sale has been consummated. The police officers arrested Cuenco and proceeded with the search, in the course of which, SPO1 Sarmiento found a box which contained dried flowering tops of marijuana.

The corresponding criminal complaints were filed against the accused Ferdinand Cuenco and Florida Fajardo for the sale and possession of a prohibited drug. The trial court convicted both accused. Cuenco appealed questioning his conviction because of the illegality of the search made in his house. Appellant insinuates a frame-up.


Issue:

Whether or not the search of the house consequent to a lawful arrest is valid.


Held:

Yes. The search of the house is valid as the latter is still within the permissible area of search. The arrest of appellant has been made in the course of a buy-bust operation, thus, in flagrante delicto. A buy-bust operation - a form of entrapment which has repeatedly been accepted to be a valid means of arresting violators of the Dangerous Drugs Law - is far variant from an ordinary arrest. In lawful arrests, it becomes both the duty and the right of the apprehending officers to conduct a warrantless search not only on the person of the suspect but also in the permissible area within his reach, i.e., that point which is within the effective control of the person arrested, or that which may furnish him with the means of committing violence or of escaping.

When the operation took place, it becomes advisable, for the peace officers to forthwith undertake a search of the house as being within the permissible area. The arrest was made in the course of an entrapment, following a surveillance operation, normally performed by police officers in the apprehension of violators of the Dangerous Drugs Act. In the absence of proof of any odious intent on the part of the police authorities to falsely impute a serious crime, the court will not allow their testimony to be overcome by the self-serving and uncorroborated claim of ‘frame-up.’ (People vs. Gueno, G.R.. No. 128277 November 16, 1998)

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