Law experts weigh on gated village altercation: Cops cannot enter private property

April 27, 2020 - 6:01 PM
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Dasmarinas Village Gate
Entrance gate of Dasmariñas Village in Makati. (Judgefloro via Wikimedia Commons)

Legal experts maintained that police officers cannot enter one’s private property as reports of an altercation between a police officer and a male resident in gated Dasmariñas Village in Makati City took place amid the enhanced community quarantine.

Makati police officer Roland Madrona attempted to arrest Javier Parra after the latter’s househelp, Cherelyn, was spotted without face mask while she watered plants in Parra’s property.

Reports said that Cherelyn went back inside the house then Parra confronted Madrona, who argued that the sanction was unnecessary since it occurred within a private property.

A video of the altercation surfaced on social media which has since gone viral on Monday morning.

Based on the video that was sent to Philstar.com, Parra’s wife pleaded with the police officer while the latter attempted to hold Parra to the ground. It happened outside the house but it happened within residential property of the Parras.

RELATED: Alleged quarantine violation leads to altercation at gated Makati village

The police officer managed to hold Parra down with an arm drag but did not cuff him.

Parra’s wife also begged Madrona to stop because Parra has a severe back injury, which the latter confirmed in a statement.

“I also suffer of a spinal injury which causes me immense pain in my lower back and legs. Having been thrown on the floor and brutalized and attempted to be illegally arrested, has caused me immense physical pain,” Parra said.

Dasmariñas barangay captain Rosanna Hwang defended Madrona and said that Parra was in a sidewalk when parts of the altercation happened, which she said is a “public place.”

She added that Madrona initially approached Parra in an “unfazed and cool manner” as he “tried to explain that he was reminding them to follow the law.”

A statement released by Brgy. Dasmariñas to Philstar.com revealed that the police officer “was not fining anyone” but only “reprimanding” Parra.

Makati City previously released a city ordinance requiring its “residents, workers, and all other persons in the city” to wear face masks “while outdoors or in public places” amid the state of public health emergency imposed in the Philippines.

Is arrest within a private property legal?

The incident caught the attention of some law experts who shared their take on the matter as parts of the altercation occurred in a residential property.

Retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said that a driveway, which was where Parra was held on the ground by Madrona, is also “considered private property.”

“Police can’t just enter, without a court order,” he said in an interview.

Human rights lawyer Rosselle Tugade also said that the Revised Penal Code (RPC) punishes “violation of domicile” which pertains to the entering of a public officer or employee in private property without a search warrant and is “against the will of the owner.”

The particular provision on RPC states:

“The penalty of prision correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed upon any public officer or employee who, not being authorized by judicial order, shall enter any dwelling against the will of the owner thereof, search papers or other effects found therein without the previous consent of such owner, or having surreptitiously entered said dwelling, and being required to leave the premises, shall refuse to do so.”

The 1987 Philippine Constitution also protects one’s right to “liberty of abode” or an individual’s right to leave one’s residence within the limits prescribed by law, although it could be waived in health-related interests.

Meanwhile, in a vlog titled “Kailan pwede pumasok ang pulis sa inyong bahay?” posted Sunday, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno advised the public on when authorities can barge inside private houses.

Diokno said police officers, members of the Army and local government officials cannot enter a private citizen’s house without a search warrant from a magistrate.

The human rights lawyer was reacting to a separate online complaint of a resident in Cavite who was allegedly questioned for drinking coffee on their yard amid the COVID-19 quarantine.