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Republic of the Philippines Supreme Court Baguio City THIRD DIVISION FELICIANO GALVANTE, 2008 Petitioner - versus – HON. ORLANDO C. CASIMIRO, DENNIS L. GARCIA, Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer, SPO4 RAMIL AVENIDO, PO1 EDDIE DEGRAN, PO1 VALENTINO RUFANO, and PO1 FEDERICO BALOLOT Respondents. April 22, x-------------------------- ------------------------------x DECISION AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: Assailed herein by Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court a
  Republic of the PhilippinesSupreme CourtBaguio CityTHIRD DIVISION   FELICIANO GALVANTE, April 22,2008Petitioner - versus –HON. ORLANDO C. CASIMIRO, DENNIS L. GARCIA, Graft Investigation andProsecution Officer, SPO4RAMIL AVENIDO, PO1 EDDIEDEGRAN, PO1 VALENTINORUFANO, and PO1 FEDERICOBALOLOTRespondents.  x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - x  D E C I S I O N AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: Assailed herein by Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus under Rule 65 of theRules of Court are the October 30, 2003 Resolution[1] of the Office of the DeputyOmbudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices - Office of theOmbudsman (Ombudsman) which dismissed for lack of probable cause the criminalcomplaint, docketed as OMB-P-C-02-0109-B, filed by Feliciano Galvante[2] (petitioner)against SPO4 Benjamin Conde, PO1 Ramil Avenido, PO1 Eddie Degran, PO1 ValentinoRufano, and PO1 Federico Balolot (private respondents) for arbitrary detention, illegalsearch and grave threats; and the January 20, 2004 Ombudsman Order[3] whichdenied his motion for reconsideration.  The facts are of record. In the afternoon of May 14, 2001 at Sitio Cahi-an, Kapatungan, Trento, Agusandel Sur, private respondents confiscated from petitioner one colt pistol super .38automatic with serial no. 67973, one short magazine, and nine super .38 liveammunitions.[4] The confiscated materials were covered by an expired MemorandumReceipt dated September 2, 1999.[5]Consequently, the Assistant Provincial Prosecutor filed against petitioner anInformation[6] for Illegal Possession of Firearms and Ammunitions in Relation toCommission on Elections (COMELEC) Resolution No. 3258, docketed as Criminal CaseNo. 5047, before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur. Pending resolution of Criminal Case No. 5047, petitioner filed against privaterespondents an administrative case, docketed as Administrative Case No. IASOB-020007 for Grave Misconduct, before the Internal Affairs Service (IAS), Region XIII,Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG);[7] and a criminal case,docketed as OMB-P-C-02-0109-B for Arbitrary Detention, Illegal Search and Grave Threats, before the Ombudsman.[8]  In the June 21, 2001 Affidavit-Complaint he filed in both cases, petitioner narratedhow, on May 14, 2001, private respondents aimed their long firearms at him,arbitrarily searched his vehicle and put him in detention, thus: 1. That sometime on May 14, 2001 I left my house at around 1:00 o’clock inthe afternoon after having lunch for Sitio Cahi-an, Brgy. Kapatungan, Trento, Agusandel Sur to meet retired police Percival Plaza and inquire about the retirementprocedure for policemen; 2. That upon arrival at the house of retired police Percival Plaza, togetherwith Lorenzo Sanoria, Delfin Ramirez and Pedro Ramas who asked for a ride from thehighway in going to Sitio Cahi-an, I immediately went down of the jeep but before Icould call Mr. Plaza, four policemen in uniform blocked my way; 3. That the four policemen were [private respondents] PO1 Romil AvenidoPNP, PO1 Valentino Rufano, PNP both member of 142nd Company, Regional MobileGroup and PO1 Eddie Degran PNP and PO1 Federico Balolot PNP members of 1403Prov’l Mobile Group, all of Bunawan Brook, Bunawan, Agusan del Sur; who all pointedtheir long firearms ready to fire [at] me, having heard the sound of the release of thesafety lock; 4. That raising my arms, I heard [private respondent] PO1 Avenido saying,“ANG IMONG PUSIL, IHATAG” which means “Give me your firearm,” to which Ianswered, “WALA MAN KO'Y PUSIL” translated as “I have no firearm,” showing mywaistline when I raised my T-shirt; 5. That my other companions on the jeep also went down and raised theirarms and showed their waistline when the same policemen and a person in civilianattire holding an armalite also pointed their firearms to them to which Mr. PercivalPlaza who came down from his house told them not to harass me as I am also aformer police officer but they did not heed Mr. Plaza's statements; 6. That while we were raising our arms [private respondent] SPO4 BenjaminConde, Jr. went near my owner type jeep and conducted a search. To which I askedthem if they have any search warrant; 7. That after a while they saw my super .38 pistol under the floormat of my jeep and asked me of the MR of the firearm but due to fear that their long arms werestill pointed to us, I searched my wallet and gave the asked [sic] document; 8. That immediately the policemen left me and my companions withoutsaying anything bringing with them the firearm; 9. That at about 2:30 p.m., I left Mr. Percival's house and went to TrentoPolice Station where I saw a person in civilian attire with a revolver tucked on hiswaist, to which I asked the police officers including those who searched my jeep toapprehend him also; 10. That nobody among the policemen at the station made a move to apprehendthe armed civilian person so I went to the office of Police Chief Rocacorba whoimmediately called the armed civilian to his office and when already inside his office,the disarming was done; 11. That after the disarming of the civilian I was put to jail with the said person byPolice Chief Rocacorba and was released only at 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon of May16, 2001 after posting a bailbond; 12. That I caused the execution of this document for the purpose of filing cases of Illegal Search, Grave Misconduct and Abuse of Authority against SPO4 Benjamin  Conde, Jr., of Trento Police Station; PO1 Ramil Avenido, PO1 Velantino Rufano, PO1Federico Balolot and PO1 Eddie Degran.[9] Petitioner also submitted the Joint Affidavit[10] of his witnesses, LorenzoSanoria and Percival Plaza. Private respondent Conde filed a Counter-Affidavit dated March 20, 2002,where he interposed the following defenses:First, he had nothing to do with the detention of petitioner as it was Chief of Police/Officer-in-Charge Police Inspector Dioscoro Mehos Rocacorba who ordered thedetention. Petitioner himself admitted this fact in his own Complaint-Affidavit;[11]and Second, he denies searching petitioner's vehicle,[12] but admits that eventhough he was not armed with a warrant, he searched the person of petitioner as thelatter, in plain view, was committing a violation of COMELEC Resolutions No. 3258 andNo. 3328 by carrying a firearm in his person. Private respondents Avenido, Degran, Rufano and Balolot filed their Joint-Affidavitdated March 25, 2002, which contradicts the statements of private respondentConde, viz: 1. that we executed a joint counter-affidavit dated August 28, 2001 where westated among other things, that “we saw Feleciano “Nani” Galvante armed with ahandgun/pistol tucked on his waist;” 2. that this statement is not accurate because the truth of the matter is that thesaid handgun was taken by SPO4 BENJAMIN CONDE, JR., who was acting as our teamleader during the May 14, 2001 Elections, from the jeep of Mr. Galvante aftersearching the same; and 3. that we noticed the aforementioned discrepancy in our affidavit dated August 28,2001 after we have already affixed our signatures thereon.[13] Consequently, petitioner filed an Affidavit of Desistance dated March 25, 2002with both the IAS and Ombudsman, absolving private respondents Avenido, Degran,Rufano and Balolot, but maintaining that private respondent Conde alone beprosecuted in both administrative and criminal cases.[14] On July 17, 2002, the IAS issued a Decision in Administrative Case No. IASOB-020007, finding all private respondents guilty of grave misconduct but penalizedthem with suspension only. The IAS noted however that private respondents weremerely being “[enthusiastic] in the conduct of the arrest in line of duty.” [15] Meanwhile, in Criminal Case No. 5047, petitioner filed with the RTC a Motionfor Preliminary Investigation and to Hold in Abeyance the Issuance of or Recall theWarrant of Arrest.[16] The RTC granted the same in an Order[17] dated August 17,2001. Upon reinvestigation, Prosecutor II Eliseo Diaz, Jr. filed a “Reinvestigation withMotion to Dismiss” dated November 22, 2001, recommending the dismissal of Criminal Case No. 5047 on the ground that “the action of the policemen whoconducted the warrantless search in spite of the absence of any circumstances justifying the same intruded into the privacy of the accused and the security of hisproperty.”[18] Officer-in-Charge Prosecutor II Victoriano Pag-ong approved saidrecommendation.[19]  The RTC granted the prosecution's motion to dismiss in an Order[20] dated January16, 2003.   Apparently unaware of what transpired in Criminal Case No. 5047,Ombudsman Investigation & Prosecution Officer Dennis L. Garcia issued in OMB-P-C-02-0109-B, the October 30, 2003 Resolution, to wit: After a careful evaluation, the undersigned prosecutor finds no probable causefor any of the offenses charged against above-named respondents.  The allegations of the complainant failed to establish the factual basis of the complaint, it appearing from the records that the incident stemmed from a validwarrantless arrest. The subsequent execution of an affidavit of desistance by thecomplainant rendered the complaint even more uncertain and subject to doubt,especially so since it merely exculpated some but not all of the respondents. Thesecircumstances, coupled with the presumption of regularity in the performance of duty, negates any criminal liability on the part of the respondents. WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is hereby recommended that theabove-captioned case be DISMISSED for lack of probable cause.[21] (Emphasissupplied) Upon the recommendation of Director Bienvenido C. Blancaflor, Deputy Ombudsmanfor the Military Orlando C. Casimiro (Deputy Ombudsman) approved the October 30,2003 Resolution.[22] In his Motion for Reconsideration,[23] petitioner called the attention of theOmbudsman to the earlier IAS Decision, the Reinvestigation with Motion to Dismiss of Prosecutor II Eliseo Diaz, Jr. and the RTC Order, all of which declared the warrantlesssearch conducted by private respondents illegal,[24] which are contradicted by theOctober 30, 2003 Ombudsman Resolution declaring the warrantless search legal. The Ombudsman denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration on theground that the latter offered “no new evidence or errors of law which would warrantthe reversal or modification”[25] of its October 30, 2003 Resolution. Petitioner filed the present petition, attributing to Deputy OmbudsmanCasimiro, Director Blancaflor and Prosecutor Garcia (public respondents) the followingacts of grave abuse of discretion: I. Public respondents acted without or in excess of their jurisdiction and/orwith grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when, intheir Resolution dated October 30, 2003, public respondents found that the incidentupon which petitioner's criminal complaint was based stemmed from a validwarrantless arrest and dismissed petitioner's complaint despite the fact that: A. Petitioner has clearly shown that the search conducted by the privaterespondents was made without a valid warrant, nor does it fall under any of theinstances of valid warrantless searches. B. Notwithstanding the absence of a valid warrant, petitioner was arrested anddetained by the private respondents. II. Public respondents acted without or in excess of their jurisdiction and/orwith grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when, intheir Order dated January 20, 2004, public respondents denied the petitioner's motionfor reconsideration in a capricious, whimsical, despotic and arbitrary manner. [26] In its Memorandum,[27] the Office of the Solicitor General argued thatpublic respondents acted within the bounds of their discretion in dismissing OMB-P-C-02-0109-B given that private respondents committed no crime in searching petitionerandconfiscating his firearm as the former were merely performing their duty of enforcingthe law against illegal possession of firearms and the COMELEC ban against thecarrying of firearms outside of one's residence.
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