Citizen’s arrest in PH allowed by law--PNP

February 05, 2020

AMID an appeal from the Philippine National Police for Filipinos to make a citizen’s arrest instead of just taking pictures of others including tourists violating the laws of the country, authorities have explained anew the law which allows warrantless arrest of persons which is subject to well-defined limitations and requisites.

Section 1, Rule 113 of the Revised Penal Code defines arrest as the “taking of a person into custody in order that he may be bound to answer for the commission of an offense.

Section 5, Rule 113 of RPC also provides that “a peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person” when in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense; when an offense has just been committed, and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it; and 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 is temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another.”

In the first situation which refers to  “in flagrante delicto” arrest,’ it must be shown that the person to be arrested must execute an overt act indicating he has just committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit a crime; and  such overt act is done in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer.

PNP legal experts explained that under the law, a person caught in the act of stealing money from an establishment or a private residence may be immediately arrested without any warrant.

It is the same in the case of a viral social media post which showed a purported Chinese tourist defecating in a garden pot in the Walled City of Intramuros in Manila or the cases of other foreigners or local men urinating in public. Officials said that a ‘citizen’s arrest’ may be made on such case since the persons to be apprehended are actually committing a crime or violating an ordinance.

At present, the country does not have a national law covering citizen’s arrest although  the Quezon City local government in 2014 passed Ordinance 2307 or the “Citizen’s Arrest Ordinance of Quezon City” which allows citizens with the Q.C. area to arrest a person even without a warrant in the instances mentioned and provided by law.

In 2015, the Baguio City Council also proposed an ordinance giving power to ordinary citizens to apprehend any person committing a crime or violating any law or ordinance in the mountain resort.

Last week, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso ordered the Manila Police District to identify and hunt down the man literally caught with his pants down in Intramuros.

Following the incident, PNP spokesman, Brigadier General Bernard M. Banac appealed to the public to make ‘citizen’s arrest’ instead of just taking viral videos and pictures.

“As Filipinos, it is our duty to get involved in the maintenance of peace and order, and that includes calling out anyone, both locals and foreigners who disrespect or violate our laws and local ordinances, and reporting the incident right away to authorities,” said Banac.

“The PNP reminds foreign visitors, tourists and workers to respect and follow the country’s laws or face arrest,” he added.

However, Banac reminded people to first ensure their safety when making a citizen’s arrest as well as “to make time in reporting and filing a complaint with the police.”

He explained that people who report law violations to the police should also find time to provide their statements or evidence, instead of simply leaving the matter to the PNP.

The PNP spokesperson said it is also important too that Filipinos now are concerned with maintaining order which shows good citizenship.

Although he emphasized that maintaining peace and order is the primary mandate of the 205,000-strong police force, it is also the duty of every Filipino citizen to “get involved in keeping peace in the streets.”

Banac said that just like foreigners like Singaporeans, a truly responsible Filipino citizen should also call the attention of anybody, both locals and foreigners who disrespect  Philippine laws and local ordinances including smoking, drinking and urinating in public.