(Image above provided by Yvan Gumbao Notre Dame of Dadiangas University)

The average citizen thinks that an arrest can be effected only by a police officer or person’s in authority. This is not true.

The tenets of the Philippine Rules of Court, Rule 113, Section 5 are clear. A warrantless arrest, also called “citizen’s arrest,” is lawful under three conditions:

  1. When, in the presence of the officer, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is trying to perpetrate an offense. This is the “in flagrante delicto” rule.
  2. When an offense has just been committed, and the arresting individual has probable cause, based on individual understanding of facts and conditions, that the person to be arrested had committed it. This is  the “hot pursuit” arrest rule.
  3. When the man to be detained is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment.

For the first case (In flagrante delicto warrantless arrest) the elements of immediacy between the period of the violation as well as the time of the arrest is critical. Exemplifying,  the Supreme Court maintained that when the warrantless arrest was made several months following the offense, the arrest was unconstitutional and illegal. A valid warrantless arrest must appear within minutes or an hour after the crime.

In the following video dated November 7, 2015, we see  NAIA officers allegedly planting bullets for the purposes of extortion. Had the victim, an American, decided, he could have effected a valid citizen’s arrest of the officers and the video recording upheld as evidence in court.

If an accused is caught in flagrante delicto, the warrantless arrest is lawful as well as the evidence obtained in a search related to the arrest. All material, whether physical or ephemeral is admissible as evidence. A landmark case illustrating the rule can be found in the records of People vs Lualhati.

The Courts will evaluate the validity of an in flagrante delicto arrest on the basis of the overt acts tending to reveal that the felon has committed or was going to perpetrate a crime. Evidence of guilt isn’t essential. It’s enough if there is probable cause.

Under the rule on “hot pursuit” arrest, the arresting individual should have personal knowledge that the defendant committed the offense. Hot pursuit must again be based on probable cause, which the Supreme Court has defined as “a genuine belief or practical grounds of suspicion.”

Under this particular rule, the arresting individual  doesn’t have to witness the crime constituting the violation. But the officer must have direct knowledge, or perspective of the offense, right after its commission.