Monday, January 30, 2012

Viduya vs. Berdiago, 73 SCRA 553

Facts: The search warrant issued by petitioner Viduya who was the former Collector of Customs is quashed by the lower court upon motion by private respondent Berdiago. The warrant of seizure and detention was issued on the basis of reliable intelligence that fraudulent documents were used by Berdiago in securing the release from the Bureau of Customs of a Rolls Royce, it being made to appear that such car was a 1961 model instead of a 1966, thus enabling respondent to pay lower custom duties. There was a demand for the correct amount due and Respondent expressed his willingness to pay. Unfortunately, he was not able to live up to his promise so a search warrant was issued, pursuant to Section 2099 of the Tariff and Customs Code which requires a search warrant if such goods are located in a dwelling house because the car was located in the Yabut Compound. Moreover, it was not shown that Berdiago did not own the dwelling house which was searched. Nonetheless, respondent judge quashed the warrant.

Issue: Whether or not there was grave abuse of discretion on the part of the judge in quashing the search warrant? Yes

Held: Petition is granted. As the car was kept in a dwelling house in Wakas, Barrio San Dionisio, ParaƱaque, Rizal, petitioner through two of his officers in the Customs Police Service applied for and was able to obtain the search warrant. Had there been no such move on the part of petitioner, the duties expressly enjoined on him by law namely to assess and collect all lawful revenues, to prevent and suppress smuggling and other frauds, and to enforce tariff and customs law would not have been performed.

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