Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Duropan and Coloma v. People G.R. No. 230825, June 10, 2020 In Flagrante Delicto Arrest, Unlawful Arrest J. Leonen

FACTS:

Pascasio Duropan and Raymond Nixer Coloma were Barangay Kagawad and Barangay Tanod, respectively, of Lincod, Maribojoc, Bohol.

On March 7, 2009 at 11:30 a.m., Duropan, Coloma, and another barangay official saw William Pacis, et al harvesting nipa palm in a plantation. Coloma approached them and asked who gave them authority to harvest. Pacis replied that they were members of the Abatan Lincod Mangroves Nipa Growers Organization or simply, “ALIMANGO”, a cooperative duly registered with the Cooperative Development Authority, and authorized to develop, utilize, and protect the Mangrove-Nipa Area in Lincod. Its members cut, gather, and weave nipa palms.

Doubting Pacis’ claim, Duropan and Coloma pushed Pacis and his companions on board two (2) paddle boats. Pacis then protested and inquired whether Duropan and Coloma can arrest them without a warrant. Despite their objections, Pacis’ group was brought to the Police Station of Maribojoc.

Duropan and Colomo were charged with Unlawful Arrest. Of which they were found guilty by the Municipal Circuit Trial Court.

The RTC affirmed Duropan and Coloma’s guilt. It found that Pacis and his companions did not manifest any suspicious behavior that justified an in flagrante delicto arrest.

The CA denied the appeal and affirmed the trial court’s Decision. 

Duropan and Coloma moved for reconsideration, but the motion was denied.

Hence, this Petition for Review on Certiorari.

ISSUE:

Whether or not there was reasonable ground to arrest Pacis, which warrants petitioners’ acquittal from the charge of unlawful arrest.

RULING:

An in flagrante delicto arrest that does not comply with the overt act test is constitutionally infirm. 

Two elements must concur, the person to be arrested must execute an overt act indicating that he or she has just committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit a crime; and that such overt act is done in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer.

Petitioners were charged with the crime of unlawful arrest penalized under Article 269 of the Revised Penal Code, which states:

ARTICLE 269. Unlawful Arrest. — The penalty of arresto mayor and a fine not exceeding 500 pesos shall be imposed upon any person who, in any case other than those authorized by law, or without reasonable ground therefor, shall arrest or detain another for the purpose of delivering him to the proper authorities.

The crime of unlawful arrest punishes an offender’s act of arresting or detaining another to deliver him or her to the proper authorities, when the arrest or detention is not authorized, or that there is no reasonable ground to arrest or detain the other.

As worded, any person may be indicted for the crime of unlawful arrest. This was affirmed in People v. Malasugui, where this Court considered whether a public officer may be held liable under this crime.

Malasugui explained that:

[U]nder the law, members of the Insular Police or Constabulary as well as those of the municipal police and of chartered cities like Manila and Baguio, and even of townships may make arrests without judicial warrant, not only when a crime is committed or about to be committed in their presence, but also when there is reason to believe or sufficient ground to suspect that one has been committed and that it was committed by the person arrested by them. . . An arrest made under said circumstances is not unlawful but perfectly justified

Malasugui inferred that a public officer who does not have the authority to arrest shall be criminally liable. Even when a public officer is authorized to arrest, he or she must have a judicial warrant. However, when the enumerated circumstances exist, the absence of a judicial warrant is justified and does not expose the public officer to criminal liability.

To prosecute accused of the crime of unlawful arrest successfully, the following elements must be proved:

(1) that the offender arrests or detains another person;

(2) that the arrest or detention is to deliver the person to the proper authorities; and

(3) that the arrest or detention is not authorized by law or that there is no reasonable ground to.

We affirm the findings of the three tribunals that all the elements constituting the crime of unlawful arrest are present in this case. Hence, petitioners’ guilt beyond reasonable doubt is likewise affirmed.

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