Valmonte vs. de Villa GR No. 83988

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G.R. No. 83988 September 29, 1989 RICARDO C. VALMONTE AND UNION OF LAWYERS AND ADVOCATES FOR PEOPLE'S RIGHTS (ULAP), petitioners, vs. GEN. RENATO DE VILLA AND NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION DISTRICT COMMAND, respondents. Ricardo C. Valmonte for himself and his co-petitioners. PADILLA, J.: This is a petition for prohibition with preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order, seeking the declaration of checkpoints in Valenzuela, Metro Manila or elsewhere, as unconstitutional and the dismantl
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  G.R. No. 83988 September 29, 1989   RICARDO C. VALMONTE AND UNION OF LAWYERS AND ADVOCATES FORPEOPLE'S RIGHTS (ULAP), petitioners,vs. GEN. RENATO DE VILLA AND NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION DISTRICTCOMMAND, respondents.   Ricardo C. Valmonte for himself and his co-petitioners. PADILLA, J.:    This is a petition for prohibition with preliminary injunction and/or temporaryrestraining order, seeking the declaration of checkpoints in Valenzuela, Metro Manilaor elsewhere, as unconstitutional and the dismantling and banning of the same or, inthe alternative, to direct the respondents to formulate guidelines in theimplementation of checkpoints, for the protection of the people.Petitioner Ricardo C. Valmonte sues in his capacity as citizen of the Republic,taxpayer, member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), and resident ofValenzuela, Metro Manila; while petitioner Union of Lawyers and Advocates forPeople's Rights (ULAP) sues in its capacity as an association whose members areall members of the IBP.The factual background of the case is as follows:On 20 January 1987, the National Capital Region District Command (NCRDC) wasactivated pursuant to Letter of Instruction 02/87 of the Philippine GeneralHeadquarters, AFP, with the mission of conducting security operations within its areaof responsibility and peripheral areas, for the purpose of establishing an effectiveterritorial defense, maintaining peace and order, and providing an atmosphereconducive to the social, economic and political development of the National CapitalRegion. 1 As part of its duty to maintain peace and order, the NCRDC installedcheckpoints in various parts of Valenzuela, Metro Manila.Petitioners aver that, because of the installation of said checkpoints, the residents ofValenzuela are worried of being harassed and of their safety being placed at thearbitrary, capricious and whimsical disposition of the military manning thecheckpoints, considering that their cars and vehicles are being subjected to regularsearches and check-ups, especially at night or at dawn, without the benefit of asearch warrant and/or court order. Their alleged fear for their safety increased when,at dawn of 9 July 1988, Benjamin Parpon, a supply officer of the Municipality ofValenzuela, Bulacan, was gunned down allegedly in cold blood by the members ofthe NCRDC manning the checkpoint along McArthur Highway at Malinta,Valenzuela, for ignoring and/or refusing to submit himself to the checkpoint and forcontinuing to speed off inspire of warning shots fired in the air. Petitioner Valmontealso claims that, on several occasions, he had gone thru these checkpoints where he  was stopped and his car subjected to search/check-up without a court order orsearch warrant.Petitioners further contend that the said checkpoints give the respondents a blanketauthority to make searches and/or seizures without search warrant or court order inviolation of the Constitution; 2   and, instances have occurred where a citizen, whilenot killed, had been harassed.Petitioners' concern for their safety and apprehension at being harassed by themilitary manning the checkpoints are not sufficient grounds to declare thecheckpoints as per se illegal. No proof has been presented before the Court to showthat, in the course of their routine checks, the military indeed committed specificviolations of petitioners' right against unlawful search and seizure or other rights.In a case filed by the same petitioner organization, Union of Lawyers and Advocates for People's Right (ULAP) vs. Integrated National Police  , 3   it was held that individualpetitioners who do not allege that any of their rights were violated are not qualified tobring the action, as real parties in interest.The constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures is a personalright invocable only by those whose rights have been infringed, 4 or threatened to beinfringed. What constitutes a reasonable or unreasonable search and seizure in any particular case  is purely a judicial question, determinable from a consideration of thecircumstances involved. 5   Petitioner Valmonte's general allegation to the effect that he had been stopped andsearched without a search warrant by the military manning the checkpoints, withoutmore, i.e., without stating the details of the incidents which amount to a violation ofhis right against unlawful search and seizure, is not sufficient to enable the Court todetermine whether there was a violation of Valmonte's right against unlawful searchand seizure. Not all searches and seizures are prohibited. Those which arereasonable are not forbidden. A reasonable search is not to be determined by anyfixed formula but is to be resolved according to the facts of each case. 6   Where, for example, the officer merely draws aside the curtain of a vacant vehiclewhich is parked on the public fair grounds, 7 or simply looks into a vehicle, 8 orflashes a light therein, 9 these do not constitute unreasonable search.The setting up of the questioned checkpoints in Valenzuela (and probably in otherareas) may be considered as a security measure to enable the NCRDC to pursue itsmission of establishing effective territorial defense and maintaining peace and orderfor the benefit of the public. Checkpoints may also be regarded as measures tothwart plots to destabilize the government, in the interest of public security. In thisconnection, the Court may take judicial notice of the shift to urban centers and theirsuburbs of the insurgency movement, so clearly reflected in the increased killings incities of police and military men by NPA sparrow units, not to mention theabundance of unlicensed firearms and the alarming rise in lawlessness and violencein such urban centers, not all of which are reported in media, most likely broughtabout by deteriorating economic conditions — which all sum up to what one canrightly consider, at the very least, as abnormal times. Between the inherent right of  the state to protect its existence and promote public welfare and an individual's rightagainst a warrantless search which is however reasonably  conducted, the formershould prevail.True, the manning of checkpoints by the military is susceptible of abuse by the menin uniform, in the same manner that all governmental power is susceptible of abuse.But, at the cost of occasional inconvenience, discomfort and even irritation to thecitizen, the checkpoints during these abnormal times, when conducted withinreasonable limits, are part of the price we pay for an orderly society and a peacefulcommunity.Finally, on 17 July 1988, military and police checkpoints in Metro Manila weretemporarily lifted and a review and refinement of the rules in the conduct of thepolice and military manning the checkpoints was ordered by the National CapitalRegional Command Chief and the Metropolitan Police Director. 10   WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED.SO ORDERED.   Fernan, C.J., Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco,Bidin, Cortes, Griño-Aquino, Medialdea and Regalado, JJ., concur. Separate Opinions   CRUZ, J., dissenting:I dissent. The sweeping statements in the majority opinion are as dangerous as thecheckpoints it would sustain and fraught with serious threats to individual liberty. Thebland declaration that individual rights must yield to the demands of national securityignores the fact that the Bill of Rights was intended precisely to limit the authority ofthe State even if asserted on the ground of national security. What is worse is thatthe searches and seizures are peremptorily pronounced to be reasonable evenwithout proof of probable cause and much less the required warrant. The improbableexcuse is that they are aimed at 'establishing an effective territorial defense,maintaining peace and order, and providing an atmosphere conducive to the social,economic and political development of the National Capital Region. For thesepurposes, every individual may be stopped and searched at random and at any timesimply because he excites the suspicion, caprice, hostility or malice of the officersmanning the checkpoints, on pain of arrest or worse, even being shot to death, if heresists.I have no quarrel with a policeman flashing a light inside a parked vehicle on a darkstreet as a routine measure of security and curiosity. But the case at bar is different.  Military officers are systematically stationed at strategic checkpoint to actively ferretout suspected criminals by detaining and searching any individual who in theiropinion might impair the social, economic and political development of the NationalCapital Region. It is incredible that we can sustain such a measure. And we are noteven under martial law.Unless we are vigilant of our rights, we may find ourselves back to the dark era ofthe truncheon and the barbed wire, with the Court itself a captive of its owncomplaisance and sitting at the death-bed of liberty.   SARMIENTO, J., dissenting:   I join Justice Isagani Cruz in his dissent, delivered so staightforwardly andeloquently. I am agreed that the existence alone of checkpoints makes search donetherein, unreasonable and hence, repugnant to the Constitution.The Charter says that the people enjoy the right of security of person, home, andeffects. (CONST., art. III, sec. 2.) It is also the bedrock — the right of the people tobe left alone — on which the regime of law and constitutionalism rest. It is not, as themajority would put it, a matter of occasional inconveniences, discomfort and evenirritation. (Resolution, 4.) To say that it is, is — so I submit — to trivialize the plaincommand of the Constitution.   Checkpoints, I further submit, are things of martial rule, and things of the past. Theyfirst saw the light of day by virtue of General Order No. 66 (AUTHORIZING THECHIEF OF CONSTABULARY TO ESTABLISH CHECKPOINTS, UPDATE LISTS OFWANTED PERSONS AND CONDUCT DRAGNET OPERATIONS AND FOROTHER PURPOSES), a martial law issuance, as amended by General Order No. 67(AMENDING AND AMPLIFYING PARAGRAPH 7 OF GENERAL ORDER NO. 66DATED SEPTEMBER 12, 1980), yet another martial law issuance. (See O.G. 4224-4226; 4226-4227 [Aug., 1983].) They are, so I strongly submit, repressive measures,the same measures against which we had fought so painstakingly in our quest forliberty, a quest that ended at EDSA and a quest that terminated a dictatorship. Howsoon we forget.While the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, as my brethrenadvance, is a right personal to the aggrieved party, the petitioners, precisely, havecome to Court because they had been, or had felt, aggrieved. I submit that in thatevent, the burden is the State's, to demonstrate the reasonableness of the search.The petitioners, Ricardo Valmonte in particular, need not, therefore, have illustratedthe details of the incident (Resolution, supra  , 4  ) in all their gore and gruesomeness.In any event, the absence alone of a search warrant, as I have averred, makescheckpoint searches unreasonable, and by itself, subject to constitutionalchallenges. (Supra.) As it is, checkpoints , have become search warrants untothemselves a roving one at that.That [n]ot all searches and seizures are prohibited, the majority points out, is fine.And so is a reasonable search is not to be determined by any fixed formula but is tobe resolved according to the facts of each case. ( Supra  ) But the question, exactly,
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