Pestilos v. People
Joey M. Pestilos, Dwight Macapanas, Miguel Gaces, Jerry Fernandez and Ronald Muñoz v. People of the Philippines
G.R. No. 182601, November 10, 2014
The petitioners were indicted for attempted murder. Petitioners filed an Urgent Motion for Regular Preliminary Investigation on the ground that there no valid warrantless arrest took place. The RTC denied the motion and the CA affirmed the denial.
Records show that an altercation ensued between the petitioners and Atty. Moreno Generoso. The latter called the Central Police District to report the incident and acting on this report, SPO1 Monsalve dispatched SPO2 Javier to go to the scene of the crime and render assistance. SPO2, together with augmentation personnel arrived at the scene of the crime less than one hour after the alleged altercation and saw Atty. Generoso badly beaten.
Atty. Generoso then pointed the petitioners as those who mauled him which prompted the police officers to “invite” the petitioners to go to the police station for investigation. At the inquest proceeding, the City Prosecutor found that the petitioners stabbed Atty. Generoso with a bladed weapon who fortunately survived the attack.
Petitioners aver that they were not validly arrested without a warrant.
Are the petitioners validly arrested without a warrant when the police officers did not witness the crime and arrived only less than an hour after the alleged altercation?
YES, the petitioners were validly arrested without a warrant. Section 5(b), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that:
When an offense has just been committed, and he has probable cause to
believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the
person to be arrested has committed it.
The elements under Section 5(b), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure are: first, an offense has just been committed; and second, the arresting officer has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it.
The Court’s appreciation of the elements that “the offense has just been committed” and ”personal knowledge of facts and circumstances that the person to be arrested committed it” depended on the particular circumstances of the case. The element of ”personal knowledge of facts or circumstances”, however, under Section 5(b), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure requires clarification. Circumstances may pertain to events or actions within the actual perception, personal evaluation or observation of the police officer at the scene of the crime. Thus, even though the police officer has not seen someone actually fleeing, he could still make a warrantless arrest if, based on his personal evaluation of the circumstances at the scene of the crime, he could determine the existence of probable cause that the person sought to be arrested has committed the crime.
However, the determination of probable cause and the gathering of facts or circumstances should be made immediately after the commission of the crime in order to comply with the element of immediacy. In other words, the clincher in the element of ”personal knowledge of facts or circumstances” is the required element of immediacy within which these facts or circumstances should be gathered.
With the facts and circumstances of the case at bar that the police officers gathered and which they have personally observed less than one hour from the time that they have arrived at the scene of the crime, it is reasonable to conclude that the police officers had personal knowledge of the facts and circumstances justifying the petitioners’ warrantless arrests.
Hence, the petitioners were validly arrested and the subsequent inquest proceeding was likewise appropriate.