Mata vs. Bayona

Standard

G.R. No. L-50720, 26 March 1984

ARRESTS, SEARCHES AND SEIZURES > Examination of witnesses

FACTS: Soriano Mata was accused under Presidential Decree (PD) 810, as amended by PD 1306, the information against him alleging that Soriano Mata offered, took and arranged bets on the Jai Alai game by “selling illegal tickets known as ‘Masiao tickets’ without any authority from the Philippine Jai Alai & Amusement Corporation or from the government authorities concerned.” Mata claimed that during the hearing of the case, he discovered that nowhere from the records of the said case could be found the search warrant and other pertinent papers connected to the issuance of the same, so that he had to inquire from the City Fiscal its whereabouts, and to which inquiry Judge Josephine K. Bayona, presiding Judge of the City Court of Ormoc replied, “it is with the court”. The Judge then handed the records to the Fiscal who attached them to the records. This led Mata to file a motion to quash and annul the search warrant and for the return of the articles seized, citing and invoking, among others, Section 4 of Rule 126 of the Revised Rules of Court. The motion was denied by the Judge on 1 March 1979, stating that the court has made a thorough investigation and examination under oath of Bernardo U. Goles and Reynaldo T. Mayote, members of the Intelligence Section of 352nd PC Co./Police District II INP; that in fact the court made a certification to that effect; and that the fact that documents relating to the search warrant were not attached immediately to the record of the criminal case is of no moment, considering that the rule does not specify when these documents are to be attached to the records. Mata’s motion for reconsideration of the aforesaid order having been denied, he came to the Supreme Court, with the petition for certiorari, praying, among others, that the Court declare the search warrant to be invalid for its alleged failure to comply with the requisites of the Constitution and the Rules of Court, and that all the articles confiscated under such warrant as inadmissible as evidence in the case, or in any proceedings on the matter.

ISSUE: WON the judge must before issuing the warrant personally examine on oath or affirmation the complainant and any witnesses he may produce and take their depositions in writing, and attach them to the record, in addition to any affidavits presented to him?

HELD:YES. Under the Constitution “no search warrant shall issue but upon probable cause to be determined by the Judge or such other responsible officer as may be authorized by law after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce”. More emphatic and detailed is the implementing rule of the constitutional injunction, The Rules provide that the judge must before issuing the warrant personally examine on oath or affirmation the complainant and any witnesses he may produce and take their depositions in writing, and attach them to the record, in addition to any affidavits presented to him. Mere affidavits of the complainant and his witnesses are thus not sufficient. The examining Judge has to take depositions in writing of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce and to attach them to the record. Such written deposition is necessary in order that the Judge may be able to properly determine the existence or nonexistence of the probable cause, to hold liable for perjury the person giving it if it will be found later that his declarations are false. We, therefore, hold that the search warrant is tainted with illegality by the failure of the Judge to conform with the essential requisites of taking the depositions in writing and attaching them to the record, rendering the search warrant invalid.

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