ELI LUI and LEO ROJAS, petitioners,
SPOUSES EULOGIO and PAULINA MATILLANO, respondents.
G.R. No. 141176
May 27, 2004
Sometime in September 1987, then seventeen-year-old Elenito Lariosa visited his aunt, Paulina Matillano. Lariosa was employed as a laborer at the Davao United Products Enterprise store, owned by Leong Shiu Ben and King Kiao. Lariosa was tasked to close the store during lunchtime and after store hours. Ben himself opened the store in the mornings and after lunchtime. Adjacent to the said store was another store owned by Kiao’s son, Eli Lui, who also happened to be Ben’s nephew.
On October 17, 1988, Lariosa was taken ill and was permitted to take the day off. He went to the house of spouses Matillano, where he rested until the next day, October 18, 1988. Lariosa reported for work the day after, or on October 19, 1988, but Kiao told him that his employment was terminated. Lariosa was not paid his salary for the month of October.
Ben informed his nephew, Eli Lui, that he had lost P45,000.00 in cash at the store. Ben reported the matter to NBI Senior Agent Ruperto Galvez, and forthwith executed an affidavit wherein he alleged that after Lariosa’s employment was terminated on October 19, 1988, he discovered that he had lost P45,000.00 in cash. He suspected that Lariosa was the culprit because the latter, as a former employee, had a duplicate key to the side door of the United Products Enterprise Store.
An incident occurred wherein Lui mauled Lariosa and tried to force the latter to admit that he had stolen Ben’s money. Lariosa refused to do so. Lui then brought Lariosa to the comfort room of the store and pushed his face into the toilet bowl, in an attempt to force him into confessing to the crime. Lariosa still refused to admit to anything. Lui then made a telephone call to the Metrodiscom (PNP) based in Davao City.
Sgt. Alberto Genise of the Metrodiscom (PNP) issued Mission Order No. MRF-A-004-88 dated November 6, 1988, directing Pat. Leo Rojas “to follow up a theft case committed in Davao City from 12:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.” Rojas was directed to coordinate with the nearest PNP headquarters and/or stations. He was authorized to carry his firearm for the mission. He then left the police station on board a police car and proceeded to the location of the store.
In search of the allegedly missing amount of P45,000.00 owned by the employer, the residence of a relative of the suspect was forcibly open by the authorities by kicking the kitchen door to gain entry into the house. Thereafter, they confiscated different personal properties therein which were allegedly part of those stolen from the employer. They were in possession of a mission order but later on claimed that the owner of the house gave his consent to the warrantless search.
An information was filed in the RTC of Davao City, charging Lariosa with robbery with force upon things. Lariosa was acquitted of the crime charged on reasonable doubt. The trial court held that Lui procured Lariosa’s confession through force and intimidation, in connivance with police authorities.
Lariosa’s parents on the other hand, as well as Paulina Matillano, filed a complaint for robbery, violation of domicile, unlawful arrest and/or arbitrary detention against Leo Rojas, Eli Lui, et al.
The RTC ordered the dismissal of the complaint for plaintiffs’ failure to prove their claims. The trial court also dismissed the defendants’ counterclaims. The trial court gave credence to the collective testimonies of the defendants, that plaintiff Paulina Matillano voluntarily allowed them to enter her house, and that the latter voluntarily turned over the subject items to them.
The CA reveresed the RTC.
Whether or not respondent Paulina Matillano consented to the petitioners’ entry into her house, as well as to the taking of the clothes, shoes and pieces of jewelry owned by her and her family;
The evidence of the respondents show that the petitioners, Tan and Mendoza, guns drawn and with the handcuffed Lariosa in tow, kicked the kitchen door and barged into the house of the respondents. They proceeded to the sala where respondent Paulina Matillano was. Over her vehement protests, and because of petitioner Lui’s warning that she might be harmed, respondent Matillano was forced to accompany the petitioner and his cohorts to the second floor of their house.
The petitioners’ claim that respondent Paulina Matillano allowed them and their cohorts inside the house and voluntarily gave their personal belongings is belied by the unshaken testimony of respondent Paulina Matillano, corroborated by Erlinda Clarin.
Petitioner Rojas’ reliance on Mission Order No. MRF-A-004-98 issued to him by Sergeant Alberto Genise is misplaced. It bears stressing that the petitioner was merely tasked in the said order to “follow up a theft case within the area of responsibility of the Metrodiscom, Davao City.” The petitioner was not authorized, under the said order, to commit or tolerate the commission of a crime, such as violation of domicile as defined in Article 128 of the Revised Penal Code, viz:
ART. 128. Violation of domicile — The penalty of prision correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed upon any public officer or employee who, not being authorized by judicial order, shall enter any dwelling against the will of the owner thereof, search papers or other effects found therein without the previous consent of such owner, or, having surreptitiously entered said dwelling, and being required to leave the premises, shall refuse to do so. xxx
In this case, the petitioners failed to prove, with clear and convincing evidence, that respondent Paulina Matillano waived her right against unreasonable search and seizure by consenting thereto, either expressly or impliedly. Admittedly, respondent Paulina Matillano did not object to the opening of her wooden closet and the taking of their personal properties. However, such failure to object or resist did not amount to an implied waiver of her right against unreasonable search and seizure. The petitioners were armed with handguns; petitioner Lui threatened and intimidated her. Respondent Eulogio Matillano, her husband, was out of the house when the petitioner and his cohorts conducted the search and seizure. He could, thus, not have waived his constitutional right.
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