Of road rage and warrantless arrests

Atty. Jerome G. Neri

I FIRST studied road rage sometime in 1996 or 1997, if my memory is correct. This was the case of Rolito Go versus Court of Appeals. In this case, Rolito Go was the accused and main suspect for gunning down a student on Wilson St. in San Juan, Metro Manila. Wilson St. was a one-way road and Rolito Go was going the wrong way.

The student was driving his car in the correct direction and blocked Mr. Go. The latter shot the student in the head and killed him. After the incident, witnesses were able to establish Rolito Go as the main suspect. It was all over the news, but no warrant of arrest was issued yet.

Rolito Go voluntarily went to the San Juan Police station to “clear his name.” Upon his arrival at the police station, he was immediately arrested. Mr. Go contends that his arrest is illegal as there was no warrant. The lower courts ruled that the arrest was legal, thus this case went all the way to the Supreme Court. The high court sided with Mr. Go.
Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Court provides for warrantless arrests and provides:

“Sec. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. — A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person;

(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense;

(b) When an offense has in fact just been committed, and he has personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested has committed it; and

(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another.”

The Supreme Court in the aforementioned case pronounced “none of the ‘arresting’ officers had any ‘personal knowledge’ of facts indicating that petitioner was the gunman who had shot Maguan. The information upon which the police acted had been derived from statements made by alleged eyewitnesses to the shooting — one stated that petitioner was the gunman; another was able to take down the alleged gunman’s car’s plate number which turned out to be registered in petitioner’s wife’s name. That information did not, however, constitute ‘personal knowledge.’”

In the recent road rage incident here that involved David Lim Jr., we see the Mayor posting in Facebook seeking help to identify the gunman, showing he had no personal knowledge. The Mayor then did a warrantless raid on the residence of David Lim, to make himself look like a hero and a champion of the victim. Clearly, the Mayor’s actions were illegal and wrong with no other purpose but for a good photo op. Even if he succeeded in arresting the younger Lim that night, he still would be released by virtue of Rolito Go vs Court of Appeals. It was all form, no substance.

David Lim Jr. voluntarily surrendered through the efforts of Presidential Assistant Michael Dino and Bong Go. Both have been receiving flak for giving a suspect “special treatment.” The “special treatment” is warranted in this case. David Jr. was a suspect but no warrant for his arrest was out yet, thereby giving the government no basis to arrest him. Now he sends feelers to the President’s right hand man that he wants to surrender, at this point David Jr. has no obligation to surrender as there is no warrant yet. Of course as Presidential Assistant you accommodate the request as it saves time and effort for everybody involved in this case. A favor was done to the Filipinos,so why all the brouhaha?

Now that the case is in court, we should let justice take its course. David Jr. can tell his side of the story. I am confident the truth about this incident will come out.

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