Buy-bust operation = inflagrante delicto arrest

The authority of police to arrest persons caught inflagrante delicto for the sale of illegal drugs during a buy-bust operation was upheld by the Supreme Court in People v. Usman,[1] to wit:

To begin with, the accused-appellant can no longer question the legality of his arrest. In People v. Vasquez, the Court reiterated the rule that any objection, defect or irregularity attending an arrest must be made before the accused enters his plea on arraignment, and having failed to move for the quashal of the Information before arraignment, accused-appellant is now estopped from questioning the legality of his arrest. Moreover, any irregularity was cured upon his voluntary submission to the RTC's jurisdiction.

In the same vein, the claim of accused-appellant that he was not ' apprised of the rights of a person taken into custody under R. A. No. 7438, which claim was raised only during appeal and not before he was arraigned, is deemed waived.Be that as it may, the fact of the matter is that the accused-appellant was caught in flagrante delicto of selling illegal drugs to an undercover police officer in a buy-bust operation. His arrest, thus, falls within the ambit of Section 5 (a), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure when an arrest made without warrant is deemed lawful.

In People v. Loks, it was acknowledged that a buy-bust operation is a legally effective and proven procedure, sanctioned by law, for apprehending drug peddlers and distributors. Since accused-appellant was caught by the buy-bust team in flagrante delicto, his immediate arrest was also validly made. The accused was caught in the act and had to be apprehended on the spot.

Accused-appellant's arrest being valid, the subsequent warrantless seizure of the illegal drugs from his person is equally valid. The legitimate warrantless arrest also cloaks the arresting police officer with the authority to validly search and seize from the offender those that may be used to prove the commission of the offense.[2]

[1] G.R. No. 201100, February 4, 2015.
[2] People of the Philippines v. Mhods Usman y Gogo, G.R. No. 201100, February 4, 2015.

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