Thursday, March 22, 2012

Washington Distillers, Inc. vs CA

Facts: On the basis of a search warrant issued by the Judge of the RTC of Manila, 314, 289 pieces of 350cc round white flint bottles were seized by the NBI from the premises of petitioners in San Fernando, Pampanga for alleged violation of RA 623, otherwise known as An act to regulate the use of duly stamped or marked bottles, boxes, casks, kegs, barrels, and other similar containers, as amended by RA 5700. Petitioners filed a motion to quash on the ground that the RTC of Manila has no jurisdiction to issue a warrant to be executed in Pampanga, which was granted. A motion for reconsideration was issued my private respondents but was denied. Thereafter, private respondents filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals and CA set aside the decision of RTC ruling that a search warrant may be enforced outside the territorial jurisdiction of RTC of Manila 

Issue: Whether or not the search warrant issued against petitioners is valid. 

HeldNo. The search warrant issued against petitioners lost its validity as a result of the failure of the NBI to commence criminal prosecution and the bottles seized from them should be returned to petitioners in the absence of any civil action for their recovery. 

What is noticeable about this case is the that possession of the bottles was transferred to private respondents through the expediency of a search warrant, so that instead of merely being an ancillary writ issued either as an incident of criminal proceedings, the proceeding for search warrant have become, for all intents and purposes, the main proceedings by which private respondents have been able to obtain possession of what it claims to be its property. There was neither complaint by which the petitioners could have been informed of the charge against them nor answer by which they could have heard in the defense, before property claimed by them was taken from them and given to private respondents.

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