331 SCRA 55


The  Forest  Protection  and  Law  Enforcement  Team  of  the  Community Environment  and  Natural  Resources  Office  of  the  DENR  apprehended  two trucks carrying with it illegally sourced lumber.  The drivers failed to show
any legal documents.   Thereafter,  the trucks and  lumber  were seized.   A criminal complaint was filed against them.  
The  trucks  were  taken  forcibly  by  the  two  drivers  from  the  custody  of DENR.    This  prompted  the  department  to  file  charges  but  these  were dismissed.    Again  though,  the  trucks  were  then  caught  and  seized,  for
carrying illegally sourced lumber once again.  Subsequently, an action for replevin was filed by the private respondents.  The trial court granted the application for replevin and the CA affirmed this decision.


Since there was a violation of the Revised Forestry  Code  and the seizure was  in  accordance  with  law,  the  subject  vehicles  were  validly  deemed  in custodia legis.  It could not be subject to an action for replevin.  For it is
property  lawfully  taken  by  virtue  of  legal  process  and  considered  in  the custody of the law, and not otherwise.