Suppose you are standing on a street in broad daytime or sitting in your vehicle while waiting for the stoplight to change or merely inside your parked vehicle

Suppose you are standing on a street in broad daytime or sitting in your vehicle while waiting for the stoplight to change or merely inside your parked vehicle. Unexpectedly, you notice that a police officer is coming towards you with a large canine. Without saying any word or an explanation and even if there is an absence of a little suspicion of any unlawful activity, the police conducts a sniff by walking the canine around you or your vehicle. Surprisingly, the canine stops by your side and makes an alert which shows that the canine suspects that it has sensed the existence of contraband. Because of this alert, the police officer then commands you to give your bag or to go out of your car and give in to a search. This is not considered as a request but a command that you may not decline.
In these circumstances, would you be intimidated by the action of the police officer? Would you feel terrified? Would you feel that there was a violation of your privacy from the intrusion of the government? Would you feel that the sniff conducted on your person or your vehicle is considered as a search?
Imagine another situation. Assume that the government is capable of discovering an unlawful activity by a technique or a device that would not expose any information relating to lawful activities or items. Would the information acquired under these instances signify an “unreasonable search” under the Constitution?
The most notable reality in which this inquiry arises concerns canine sniffer dogs, which, by using their sense of smell, can alarm to the presence of illegal drugs and other contrabands.
In this modern era, there is a continuous modernization in police inspection techniques. One which has become prevalent is the use of police canines/sniffer dogs in conducting inspection among private individuals. Police officers utilize canines in assisting them with their work, particularly in detecting illegal drugs. After getting extensive training, sniffer dogs can easily disclose several kinds of illegal substances. However, their use has not been without criticism.
The investigative tools used by law enforcement agents are becoming more improved and signify a growing implication for privacy. Though we may agree in renouncing some of our personal privacy for the common good, for instance in times of war, but in general, privacy is something that must be ardently protected.
The purpose of the law is to guarantee that its citizens are protected from any unreasonable intrusion by the government. Article III, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution states that, “The right an individual to be protected against searches and seizures which are unreasonable in whatever nature shall be inviolable”.
Moreover, Section 3 of the same Article solidifies the prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures by providing the exclusionary rule, thus, “Any evidence acquired in violation thereof is inadmissible”.
It is well-recognized that the 1987 Constitution guarantees an individual’s right against unreasonable searches and seizure. The objective of the law is to protect its citizen from any arbitrary intrusion by the government. It follows innately that this affects law enforcement officers’ demand for technologies — such as x-ray scanners, thermal imaging devices, and drug sniffing canines— that would improve their abilities on detecting unlawful activities.
Nonetheless, one particular cause of confusion which may arise is the use of sniffer dogs in effecting warrantless searches and seizures as it involves a non-intrusive search and seizure. Because of its lack of intrusiveness, it conflicts with a person’s perception of what constitutes a “search”.
Whenever police authorities engage in a search and seizure, there rules and exceptions that are applicable depending on the circumstance. In some cases, police officers need to obtain a warrant. In other circumstances, police officers must have probable cause or a reasonable suspicion. Because of the extensive range of rules that can apply to searches and seizures, a number of questions or problems may arise.
In the Philippines, there is no jurisprudence on the issue of whether or not the use of police canine sniffer dogs constitutes as “search “as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution. The deployment of canine sniffer dogs has not been subjected to any scrutiny and its justifiability is yet to be ascertained.

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