According to the prosecution, at around 1:50 p.m. on April 17, 2006, operatives of the Bacolod City Anti-Illegal Drug Special Operation Task Group conducted a stake-out operation in Purok Sigay, Barangay 2, Bacolod City. During the operation, PO2 Villeran heard noises from one of the houses. He “peeped through its window” and saw Lapi, Sacare, and Lim “having a pot session.”
Lapi, Allen Sacare and Kenneth Lim were charged with violation of Article II, Section 15 of R.A. No. 9165.
On arraignment, Lapi, Sacare, and Lim pleaded not guilty to the crime charged. At pre-trial, Sacare and Lim changed their pleas to guilty, and were sentenced to rehabilitation for six months at a government-recognized center.
Only Lapi was subjected to trial on the merits.
In his defense, Lapi alleged that on the said date, he was on his way home, when two persons approached him and searched his pocket, took his money, handcuffed him, and boarded him on a tricycle with four other persons whom he did not know.
The RTC found Lapi guilty. It ruled that the warrantless arrest against him was legal since he was caught in flagrante delicto.
On appeal, the CA denied the Appeal and affirmed the RTC Decision.
The subsequent MR was likewise denied.
Hence, this Petition.
Whether or not the warrantless arrest against petitioner Simeon M. Lapi was valid.
The CA did not err in affirming the trial court’s finding of guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
The right to question the validity of an arrest may be waived if the accused, assisted by counsel, fails to object to its validity before arraignment.
Petitioner argues that his warrantless arrest was illegal since PO2 Villeran had to peep through the window to ascertain that something illegal was occurring.
Here, however, petitioner admits that he failed to question the validity of his arrest before arraignment. He did not move to quash the Information against him before entering his plea.
The Court has consistently ruled that any objection involving a warrant of arrest or the procedure for the acquisition by the court of jurisdiction over the person of the accused must be made before he enters his plea; otherwise, the objection is deemed waived.
We have also ruled that an accused may be estopped from assailing the illegality of his arrest if he fails to move for the quashing of the information against him before his arraignment. And since the legality of an arrest affects only the jurisdiction of the court over the person of the accused, any defect in the arrest of the accused may be deemed cured when he voluntarily submits to the jurisdiction of the trial court.
We have also held in a number of cases that the illegal arrest of an accused is not a sufficient cause for setting aside a valid judgment rendered upon a sufficient complaint after a trial free from error; such arrest does not negate the validity of the conviction of the accused.
Herein, accused-appellant went into arraignment and entered a plea of not guilty. Thereafter, he actively participated in his trial. He raised the additional issue of irregularity of his arrest only during his appeal to this Court.
He is, therefore, deemed to have waived such alleged defect by submitting himself to the jurisdiction of the court by his counsel-assisted plea during his arraignment; by his actively participating in the trial and by not raising the objection before his arraignment.
It is much too late in the day to complain about the warrantless arrest after a valid information has been filed, the accused arraigned, trial commenced and completed, and a judgment of conviction rendered against him.