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Search warrant must particularly describe the place to be searched


Section 4. Requisites for issuing search warrant. — A search warrant shall not issue except upon probable cause in connection with one specific offense to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the things to be seized which may be anywhere in the Philippines.. (Rule 126, Rules of Court)


Warrant issued must particularly describe the place to be searched.


■ A description of a place to be searched is sufficient if the officer with the warrant can, with reasonable effort, ascertain and identify the place intended.

■ A designation or description that points out the place to be searched to the exclusion of all others, and on inquiry unerringly leads the peace officers to it, satisfies the constitutional requirement of definiteness.


■ The affidavit for the search warrant and the search warrant itself described the building to be searched as "the building No. 124 Calle Arzobispo, City of Manila, Philippine Islands." This, without doubt, was a sufficient designation of the premises to be searched. A description of a place to be searched is sufficient if the officer with the warrant can, with reasonable effort, ascertain and identify the place intended. (People vs Veloso, G.R. No. L-23051, October 20, 1925)


■ The search warrant states: "You are hereby commanded to make an immediate search at anytime in the day the house of the accused Estela Tuan at Brgy. Gabriela Silang, Baguio City, and forthwith seize..." Accused insisted that the Search Warrant failed to particularly describe the place to be searched because the house was a two-storey building composed of several rooms.

A description of the place to be searched is sufficient if the officer serving the warrant can, with reasonable effort, ascertain and identify the place intended and distinguish it from other places in the community. A designation or description that points out the place to be searched to the exclusion of all others, and on inquiry unerringly leads the peace officers to it, satisfies the constitutional requirement of definiteness. In the case at bar, the address and description of the place to be searched in the Search Warrant was specific enough. There was only one house located at the stated address, which was accused-appellants residence, consisting of a structure with two floors and composed of several rooms. (People vs Tuan, G.R. No. 176066, August 11, 2010)


■ The NBI filed two applications for search warrants against the incorporators of MASAGANA Gas Corporation for the alleged violation of The Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines. The applications states that petitioners are actually producing, selling, offering for sale and/or distributing LPG products using steel cylinders owned by, and bearing the tradenames, trademarks, and devices of Petron and Pilipinas Shell, without authority and in violation of the rights of the said entities.

Regarding the third issue, petitioners posit that the applications for search warrants of Oblanca did not specify the particular area to be searched, hence, giving the raiding team wide latitude in determining what areas they can search. They aver that the search warrants were general warrants, and are therefore violative of the Constitution. Petitioners also assert that since the MASAGANA compound is about 10,000.00 square meters with several structures erected on the lot, the search warrants should have defined the areas to be searched.

The long standing rule is that a description of the place to be searched is sufficient if the officer with the warrant can, with reasonable effort, ascertain and identify the place intended and distinguish it from other places in the community. Any designation or description known to the locality that points out the place to the exclusion of all others, and on inquiry leads the officers unerringly to it, satisfies the constitutional requirement.

Moreover, in the determination of whether a search warrant describes the premises to be searched with sufficient particularity, it has been held that the executing officers prior knowledge as to the place intended in the warrant is relevant. This would seem to be especially true where the executing officer is the affiant on whose affidavit the warrant had been issued, and when he knows that the judge who issued the warrant intended the compound described in the affidavit.

The search warrants in question commanded any peace officer to make an immediate search on MASAGANA compound located at Governors Drive, Barangay Lapidario, Trece Martires, Cavite City. It appears that the raiding team had ascertained and reached MASAGANA compound without difficulty since MASAGANA does not have any other offices/plants in Trece Martires, Cavite City. Moreover, Oblanca, who was with the raiding team, was already familiar with the MASAGANA compound as he and Alajar had monitored and conducted test-buys thereat.

Even if there are several structures inside the MASAGANA compound, there was no need to particularize the areas to be searched because, as correctly stated by Petron and Pilipinas Shell, these structures constitute the essential and necessary components of the petitioners business and cannot be treated separately as they form part of one entire compound. The compound is owned and used solely by MASAGANA. What the case law merely requires is that, the place to be searched can be distinguished in relation to the other places in the community. Indubitably, this requisite was complied with in the instant case. (Yao vs People, G.R. No. 168306, June 19, 2007)


■ While the address stated in the warrant is merely Binhagan St., San Jose, Quezon City, the trial court took note of the fact that the records of Search Warrant Case No. 160 contained several documents which identified the premises to be searched, to wit: 1) the application for search warrant which stated that the premises to be searched was located in between No. 7 and 11 at Binhagan Street, San Jose, Quezon City; 2) the deposition of witness which described the premises as a house without a number located at Binhagan St., San Jose, Quezon City; and 3) the pencil sketch of the location of the premises to be searched. In fact, the police officers who raided appellants house under the leadership of Police Senior Inspector Rodolfo Aguilar could not have been mistaken as Inspector Aguilar resides in the same neighborhood in Binhagan where appellant lives and in fact Aguilars place is at the end of appellants place in Binhagan. Moreover, the house raided by Aguilars team is undeniably appellants house and it was really appellant who was the target. The raiding team even first ascertained through their informant that appellant was inside his residence before they actually started their operation.

The rule is that a description of the place to be searched is sufficient if the officer with the warrant can, with reasonable effort, ascertain and identify the place intended to be searched. For example, a search warrant authorized a search of Apartment Number 3 of a building at 83 Pleasant Street, Malborough, Massachusetts. As it turned out, there were five apartments in the basement and six apartments on both the ground and top floors and that there was an Apartment Number 3 on each floor. However, the description was made determinate by a reference to the affidavit supporting the warrant that the apartment was occupied by the accused Morris Ferrante of 83 Pleasant Street, Malboro Mass. In this case, the location of accused-appellants house being indicated by the evidence on record, there can be no doubt that the warrant described the place to be searched with sufficient particularity.

In sum, we hold that with respect to the seizure of shabu from accused-appellants residence, Search Warrant No. 160 was properly issued, such warrant being founded on probable cause personally determined by the judge under oath or affirmation of the deposing witness and particularly describing the place to be searched and the things to be seized. (People vs Salanguit, G.R. Nos. 133254-55, April 19, 2001)


■ An apparent typographical error will not necessarily invalidate the search warrant, as long as the application contains the correct address.

Search Warrants No. 20-82[a] and No. 20- 82[b] were used to search two distinct places: No. 19, Road 3, Project 6, Quezon City and 784 Units C & D, RMS Building, Quezon Avenue, Quezon City, respectively. Objection is interposed to the execution of Search Warrant No. 20-82[b] at the latter address on the ground that the two search warrants pinpointed only one place where petitioner Jose Burgos, Jr. was allegedly keeping and concealing the articles listed therein, i.e., No. 19, Road 3, Project 6, Quezon City. This assertion is based on that portion of Search Warrant No. 20- 82[b] which states:

Which have been used, and are being used as instruments and means of committing the crime of subversion penalized under P.D. 885 as amended and he is keeping and concealing the same at 19 Road 3, Project 6, Quezon City.

The defect pointed out is obviously a typographical error. Precisely, two search warrants were applied for and issued because the purpose and intent were to search two distinct premises. It would be quite absurd and illogical for respondent judge to have issued two warrants intended for one and the same place. Besides, the addresses of the places sought to be searched were specifically set forth in the application, and since it was Col. Abadilla himself who headed the team which executed the search warrants, the ambiguity that might have arisen by reason of the typographical error is more apparent than real. The fact is that the place for which Search Warrant No. 20- 82[b] was applied for was 728 Units C & D, RMS Building, Quezon Avenue, Quezon City, which address appeared in the opening paragraph of the said warrant. 7 Obviously this is the same place that respondent judge had in mind when he issued Warrant No. 20-82 [b].

In the determination of whether a search warrant describes the premises to be searched with sufficient particularity, it has been held "that the executing officer's prior knowledge as to the place intended in the warrant is relevant. This would seem to be especially true where the executing officer is the affiant on whose affidavit the warrant had issued, and when he knows that the judge who issued the warrant intended the building described in the affidavit. And it has also been said that the executing officer may look to the affidavit in the official court file to resolve an ambiguity in the warrant as to the place to be searched." (Burgos vs Chief of Staff, G.R. No. L-64261, December 26, 1984)


■ Petitioners observe that the caption of Search Warrant A-1 indicates the address of Uy Chin Ho alias Frank Uy as Hernan Cortes St., Cebu City while the body of the same warrant states the address as Hernan Cortes St., Mandaue City. Parenthetically, Search Warrants A-2 and B consistently state the address of petitioner as Hernan Cortes St., Mandaue City.

The Constitution requires, for the validity of a search warrant, that there be a particular description of the place to be searched and the persons of things to be seized. The rule is that a description of a place to be searched is sufficient if the officer with the warrant can, with reasonable effort, ascertain and identify the place intended and distinguish it from other places in the community. Any designation or description known to the locality that points out the place to the exclusion of all others, and on inquiry leads the officers unerringly to it, satisfies the constitutional requirement.


In this case, it was not shown that a street similarly named Hernan Cortes could be found in Cebu City. Nor was it established that the enforcing officers had any difficulty in locating the premises of petitioner corporation. That Search Warrant A-1, therefore, inconsistently identified the city where the premises to be searched is not a defect that would spell the warrants invalidation in this case. (Uy v. Bureau of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 129651, October 20, 2000)

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