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SECOND DIVISION CONTRARY TO LAW.

G.R. No. 172953 April 30, 2008 Petitioner entered a negative plea.9 At the ensuing trial, the prosecution presented Bolanos, Arroyo and
Esternon as witnesses.
JUNIE MALILLIN Y. LOPEZ, petitioner,
vs. Taking the witness stand, Bolanos, the leader of the raiding team, testified on the circumstances
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent. surrounding the search as follows: that he and his men were allowed entry into the house by petitioner
after the latter was shown the search warrant; that upon entering the premises, he ordered Esternon and
DECISION barangay kagawad Licup, whose assistance had previously been requested in executing the warrant, to
conduct the search; that the rest of the police team positioned themselves outside the house to make
sure that nobody flees; that he was observing the conduct of the search from about a meter away; that
TINGA, J.:
the search conducted inside the bedroom of petitioner yielded five empty plastic sachets with suspected
shabu residue contained in a denim bag and kept in one of the cabinets, and two plastic sachets
The presumption of regularity in the performance of official functions cannot by its lonesome overcome containing shabu which fell off from one of the pillows searched by Esternona discovery that was
the constitutional presumption of innocence. Evidence of guilt beyond reasonable doubt and nothing made in the presence of petitioner.10 On cross examination, Bolanos admitted that during the search, he
else can eclipse the hypothesis of guiltlessness. And this burden is met not by bestowing distrust on the was explaining its progress to petitioner's mother, Norma, but that at the same time his eyes were fixed
innocence of the accused but by obliterating all doubts as to his culpability. on the search being conducted by Esternon.11

In this Petition for Review1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, Junie Malillin y Lopez (petitioner) assails Esternon testified that the denim bag containing the empty plastic sachets was found "behind" the door
the Decision2 of the Court of Appeals dated 27 January 2006 as well as its Resolution3 dated 30 May of the bedroom and not inside the cabinet; that he then found the two filled sachets under a pillow on the
2006 denying his motion for reconsideration. The challenged decision has affirmed the Decision4 of the bed and forthwith called on Gallinera to have the items recorded and marked.12 On cross, he admitted
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Sorsogon City, Branch 525 which found petitioner guilty beyond reasonable that it was he alone who conducted the search because Bolanos was standing behind him in the living
doubt of illegal possession of methamphetamine hydrochloride, locally known as shabu, a prohibited room portion of the house and that petitioner handed to him the things to be searched, which included
drug. the pillow in which the two sachets of shabu were kept;13 that he brought the seized items to the Balogo
Police Station for a "true inventory," then to the trial court14 and thereafter to the laboratory.15
The antecedent facts follow.
Supt. Lorlie Arroyo (Arroyo), the forensic chemist who administered the examination on the seized items,
On the strength of a warrant6 of search and seizure issued by the RTC of Sorsogon City, Branch 52, a was presented as an expert witness to identify the items submitted to the laboratory. She revealed that
team of five police officers raided the residence of petitioner in Barangay Tugos, Sorsogon City on 4 the two filled sachets were positive of shabu and that of the five empty sachets, four were positive of
February 2003. The team was headed by P/Insp. Catalino Bolanos (Bolanos), with PO3 Roberto containing residue of the same substance.16 She further admitted that all seven sachets were delivered
Esternon (Esternon), SPO1 Pedro Docot, SPO1 Danilo Lasala and SPO2 Romeo Gallinera (Gallinera) to the laboratory by Esternon in the afternoon of the same day that the warrant was executed except that
as members. The searchconducted in the presence of barangay kagawad Delfin Licup as well as it was not she but rather a certain Mrs. Ofelia Garcia who received the items from Esternon at the
petitioner himself, his wife Sheila and his mother, Normaallegedly yielded two (2) plastic sachets of laboratory.17
shabu and five (5) empty plastic sachets containing residual morsels of the said substance.
The evidence for the defense focused on the irregularity of the search and seizure conducted by the
Accordingly, petitioner was charged with violation of Section 11,7 Article II of Republic Act No. 9165, police operatives. Petitioner testified that Esternon began the search of the bedroom with Licup and
otherwise known as The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, in a criminal information whose petitioner himself inside. However, it was momentarily interrupted when one of the police officers
inculpatory portion reads: declared to Bolanos that petitioner's wife, Sheila, was tucking something inside her underwear.
Forthwith, a lady officer arrived to conduct the search of Sheila's body inside the same bedroom. At that
That on or about the 4th day of February 2003, at about 8:45 in the morning in Barangay point, everyone except Esternon was asked to step out of the room. So, it was in his presence that
Tugos, Sorsogon City, Philippines, the said accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully Sheila was searched by the lady officer. Petitioner was then asked by a police officer to buy cigarettes at
and feloniously have in his possession, custody and control two (2) plastic sachets of a nearby store and when he returned from the errand, he was told that nothing was found on Sheila's
methamphetamine hydrochloride [or] "shabu" with an aggregate weight of 0.0743 gram, and body.18 Sheila was ordered to transfer to the other bedroom together with her children.19
four empty sachets containing "shabu" residue, without having been previously authorized by
law to possess the same. Petitioner asserted that on his return from the errand, he was summoned by Esternon to the bedroom
and once inside, the officer closed the door and asked him to lift the mattress on the bed. And as he was
doing as told, Esternon stopped him and ordered him to lift the portion of the headboard. In that instant, Prosecutions for illegal possession of prohibited drugs necessitates that the elemental act of possession
Esternon showed him "sachet of shabu" which according to him came from a pillow on the bed.20 of a prohibited substance be established with moral certainty, together with the fact that the same is not
Petitioner's account in its entirety was corroborated in its material respects by Norma, barangay authorized by law. The dangerous drug itself constitutes the very corpus delicti of the offense and the
kagawad Licup and Sheila in their testimonies. Norma and Sheila positively declared that petitioner was fact of its existence is vital to a judgment of conviction.33 Essential therefore in these cases is that the
not in the house for the entire duration of the search because at one point he was sent by Esternon to identity of the prohibited drug be established beyond doubt.34 Be that as it may, the mere fact of
the store to buy cigarettes while Sheila was being searched by the lady officer.21 Licup for his part unauthorized possession will not suffice to create in a reasonable mind the moral certainty required to
testified on the circumstances surrounding the discovery of the plastic sachets. He recounted that after sustain a finding of guilt. More than just the fact of possession, the fact that the substance illegally
the five empty sachets were found, he went out of the bedroom and into the living room and after about possessed in the first place is the same substance offered in court as exhibit must also be established
three minutes, Esternon, who was left inside the bedroom, exclaimed that he had just found two filled with the same unwavering exactitude as that requisite to make a finding of guilt. The chain of custody
sachets.22 requirement performs this function in that it ensures that unnecessary doubts concerning the identity of
the evidence are removed.35
On 20 June 2004 the trial court rendered its Decision declaring petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt
of the offense charged. Petitioner was condemned to prison for twelve years (12) and one (1) day to As a method of authenticating evidence, the chain of custody rule requires that the admission of an
twenty (20) years and to pay a fine of P300,000.00.23 The trial court reasoned that the fact that shabu exhibit be preceded by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what the
was found in the house of petitioner was prima facie evidence of petitioner's animus possidendi sufficient proponent claims it to be.36 It would include testimony about every link in the chain, from the moment the
to convict him of the charge inasmuch as things which a person possesses or over which he exercises item was picked up to the time it is offered into evidence, in such a way that every person who touched
acts of ownership are presumptively owned by him. It also noted petitioner's failure to ascribe ill motives the exhibit would describe how and from whom it was received, where it was and what happened to it
to the police officers to fabricate charges against him.24 while in the witness' possession, the condition in which it was received and the condition in which it was
delivered to the next link in the chain. These witnesses would then describe the precautions taken to
Aggrieved, petitioner filed a Notice of Appeal.25 In his Appeal Brief26 filed with the Court of Appeals, ensure that there had been no change in the condition of the item and no opportunity for someone not in
petitioner called the attention of the court to certain irregularities in the manner by which the search of the chain to have possession of the same.37
his house was conducted. For its part, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) advanced that on the
contrary, the prosecution evidence sufficed for petitioner's conviction and that the defense never While testimony about a perfect chain is not always the standard because it is almost always impossible
advanced any proof to show that the members of the raiding team was improperly motivated to hurl false to obtain, an unbroken chain of custody becomes indispensable and essential when the item of real
charges against him and hence the presumption that they had regularly performed their duties should evidence is not distinctive and is not readily identifiable, or when its condition at the time of testing or trial
prevail.27 is critical, or when a witness has failed to observe its uniqueness.38 The same standard likewise obtains
in case the evidence is susceptible to alteration, tampering, contamination39 and even substitution and
On 27 January 2006, the Court of Appeals rendered the assailed decision affirming the judgment of the exchange.40 In other words, the exhibit's level of susceptibility to fungibility, alteration or tampering
trial court but modifying the prison sentence to an indeterminate term of twelve (12) years as minimum to without regard to whether the same is advertent or otherwise notdictates the level of strictness in the
seventeen (17) years as maximum.28 Petitioner moved for reconsideration but the same was denied by application of the chain of custody rule.
the appellate court.29 Hence, the instant petition which raises substantially the same issues.
Indeed, the likelihood of tampering, loss or mistake with respect to an exhibit is greatest when the exhibit
30
In its Comment, the OSG bids to establish that the raiding team had regularly performed its duties in is small and is one that has physical characteristics fungible in nature and similar in form to substances
the conduct of the search.31 It points to petitioner's incredulous claim that he was framed up by Esternon familiar to people in their daily lives.41 Graham vs. State42 positively acknowledged this danger. In that
on the ground that the discovery of the two filled sachets was made in his and Licup's presence. It case where a substance later analyzed as heroinwas handled by two police officers prior to
likewise notes that petitioner's bare denial cannot defeat the positive assertions of the prosecution and examination who however did not testify in court on the condition and whereabouts of the exhibit at the
that the same does not suffice to overcome the prima facie existence of animus possidendi. time it was in their possessionwas excluded from the prosecution evidence, the court pointing out that
the white powder seized could have been indeed heroin or it could have been sugar or baking powder. It
ruled that unless the state can show by records or testimony, the continuous whereabouts of the exhibit
This argument, however, hardly holds up to what is revealed by the records.
at least between the time it came into the possession of police officers until it was tested in the
laboratory to determine its composition, testimony of the state as to the laboratory's findings is
Prefatorily, although the trial court's findings of fact are entitled to great weight and will not be disturbed inadmissible.43
on appeal, this rule does not apply where facts of weight and substance have been overlooked,
misapprehended or misapplied in a case under appeal.32 In the case at bar, several circumstances
A unique characteristic of narcotic substances is that they are not readily identifiable as in fact they are
obtain which, if properly appreciated, would warrant a conclusion different from that arrived at by the trial
subject to scientific analysis to determine their composition and nature. The Court cannot reluctantly
court and the Court of Appeals.
close its eyes to the likelihood, or at least the possibility, that at any of the links in the chain of custody
over the same there could have been tampering, alteration or substitution of substances from other
casesby accident or otherwisein which similar evidence was seized or in which similar evidence was It is also strange that, as claimed by Esternon, it was petitioner himself who handed to him the items to
submitted for laboratory testing. Hence, in authenticating the same, a standard more stringent than that be searched including the pillow from which the two filled sachets allegedly fell. Indeed, it is contrary to
applied to cases involving objects which are readily identifiable must be applied, a more exacting ordinary human behavior that petitioner would hand over the said pillow to Esternon knowing fully well
standard that entails a chain of custody of the item with sufficient completeness if only to render it that illegal drugs are concealed therein. In the same breath, the manner by which the search of Sheila's
improbable that the original item has either been exchanged with another or been contaminated or body was brought up by a member of the raiding team also raises serious doubts as to the necessity
tampered with. thereof. The declaration of one of the police officers that he saw Sheila tuck something in her underwear
certainly diverted the attention of the members of petitioner's household away from the search being
A mere fleeting glance at the records readily raises significant doubts as to the identity of the sachets of conducted by Esternon prior to the discovery of the two filled sachets. Lest it be omitted, the Court
shabu allegedly seized from petitioner. Of the people who came into direct contact with the seized likewise takes note of Esternon's suspicious presence in the bedroom while Sheila was being searched
objects, only Esternon and Arroyo testified for the specific purpose of establishing the identity of the by a lady officer. The confluence of these circumstances by any objective standard of behavior
evidence. Gallinera, to whom Esternon supposedly handed over the confiscated sachets for recording contradicts the prosecution's claim of regularity in the exercise of duty.
and marking, as well as Garcia, the person to whom Esternon directly handed over the seized items for
chemical analysis at the crime laboratory, were not presented in court to establish the circumstances Moreover, Section 2144 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. No. 9165 clearly outlines the
under which they handled the subject items. Any reasonable mind might then ask the question: Are the post-seizure procedure in taking custody of seized drugs. In a language too plain to require a different
sachets of shabu allegedly seized from petitioner the very same objects laboratory tested and offered in construction, it mandates that the officer acquiring initial custody of drugs under a search warrant must
court as evidence? conduct the photographing and the physical inventory of the item at the place where the warrant has
been served. Esternon deviated from this procedure. It was elicited from him that at the close of the
The prosecution's evidence is incomplete to provide an affirmative answer. Considering that it was search of petitioner's house, he brought the seized items immediately to the police station for the alleged
Gallinera who recorded and marked the seized items, his testimony in court is crucial to affirm whether purpose of making a "true inventory" thereof, but there appears to be no reason why a true inventory
the exhibits were the same items handed over to him by Esternon at the place of seizure and could not be made in petitioner's house when in fact the apprehending team was able to record and
acknowledge the initials marked thereon as his own. The same is true of Garcia who could have, but mark the seized items and there and then prepare a seizure receipt therefor. Lest it be forgotten, the
nevertheless failed, to testify on the circumstances under which she received the items from Esternon, raiding team has had enough opportunity to cause the issuance of the warrant which means that it has
what she did with them during the time they were in her possession until before she delivered the same had as much time to prepare for its implementation. While the final proviso in Section 21 of the rules
to Arroyo for analysis. would appear to excuse non-compliance therewith, the same cannot benefit the prosecution as it failed
to offer any acceptable justification for Esternon's course of action.
The prosecution was thus unsuccessful in discharging its burden of establishing the identity of the seized
items because it failed to offer not only the testimony of Gallinera and Garcia but also any sufficient Likewise, Esternon's failure to deliver the seized items to the court demonstrates a departure from the
explanation for such failure. In effect, there is no reasonable guaranty as to the integrity of the exhibits directive in the search warrant that the items seized be immediately delivered to the trial court with a true
inasmuch as it failed to rule out the possibility of substitution of the exhibits, which cannot but inure to its and verified inventory of the same,45 as required by Rule 126, Section 1246 of the Rules of Court. People
own detriment. This holds true not only with respect to the two filled sachets but also to the five sachets v. Go47 characterized this requirement as mandatory in order to preclude the substitution of or tampering
allegedly containing morsels of shabu. with said items by interested parties.48 Thus, as a reasonable safeguard, People vs. Del Castillo49
declared that the approval by the court which issued the search warrant is necessary before police
officers can retain the property seized and without it, they would have no authority to retain possession
Also, contrary to what has been consistently claimed by the prosecution that the search and seizure was
thereof and more so to deliver the same to another agency.50 Mere tolerance by the trial court of a
conducted in a regular manner and must be presumed to be so, the records disclose a series of
contrary practice does not make the practice right because it is violative of the mandatory requirements
irregularities committed by the police officers from the commencement of the search of petitioner's house
of the law and it thereby defeats the very purpose for the enactment. 51
until the submission of the seized items to the laboratory for analysis. The Court takes note of the
unrebutted testimony of petitioner, corroborated by that of his wife, that prior to the discovery of the two
filled sachets petitioner was sent out of his house to buy cigarettes at a nearby store. Equally telling is Given the foregoing deviations of police officer Esternon from the standard and normal procedure in the
the testimony of Bolanos that he posted some of the members of the raiding team at the door of implementation of the warrant and in taking post-seizure custody of the evidence, the blind reliance by
petitioner's house in order to forestall the likelihood of petitioner fleeing the scene. By no stretch of logic the trial court and the Court of Appeals on the presumption of regularity in the conduct of police duty is
can it be conclusively explained why petitioner was sent out of his house on an errand when in the first manifestly misplaced. The presumption of regularity is merely just thata mere presumption disputable
place the police officers were in fact apprehensive that he would flee to evade arrest. This fact assumes by contrary proof and which when challenged by the evidence cannot be regarded as binding truth.52
prime importance because the two filled sachets were allegedly discovered by Esternon immediately Suffice it to say that this presumption cannot preponderate over the presumption of innocence that
after petitioner returned to his house from the errand, such that he was not able to witness the conduct prevails if not overthrown by proof beyond reasonable doubt.53 In the present case the lack of conclusive
of the search during the brief but crucial interlude that he was away. identification of the illegal drugs allegedly seized from petitioner, coupled with the irregularity in the
manner by which the same were placed under police custody before offered in court, strongly militates a
finding of guilt.
In our constitutional system, basic and elementary is the presupposition that the burden of proving the
guilt of an accused lies on the prosecution which must rely on the strength of its own evidence and not
on the weakness of the defense. The rule is invariable whatever may be the reputation of the accused,
for the law presumes his innocence unless and until the contrary is shown.54 In dubio pro reo. When
moral certainty as to culpability hangs in the balance, acquittal on reasonable doubt inevitably becomes
a matter of right.

WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 27 January 2006 affirming with
modification the judgment of conviction of the Regional Trial Court of Sorsogon City, Branch 52, and its
Resolution dated 30 May 2006 denying reconsideration thereof, are REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
Petitioner Junie Malillin y Lopez is ACQUITTED on reasonable doubt and is accordingly ordered
immediately released from custody unless he is being lawfully held for another offense.

The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is directed to implement this Decision and to report to this
Court the action taken hereon within five (5) days from receipt.

SO ORDERED.

Quisumbing,Chairperson Carpio-Morales, Velasco, Jr., Brion, JJ., concur.


THIRD DIVISION After this briefing, the buy-bust team went to Bintawan Road, Solano, Nueva Vizcaya to conduct the
entrapment operation.7 PO3 Almarez and the informant rode a tricycle, while Captain de Vera and SPO1
G.R. No. 179029 August 12, 2010 Balido followed on board a tinted van.8 The buy-bust team arrived at the target area at around 4:30 p.m.,
and saw the appellant already waiting for the informant. The informant approached the appellant and
introduced PO3 Almarez to him as a buyer. PO3 Almarez told the appellant that he needed shabu worth
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee,
P200, and inquired from him (appellant) if he had a "stock." The appellant replied in the affirmative, and
vs.
then handed one heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance to PO3
FELIMON PAGADUAN y TAMAYO, Appellant.
Almarez. PO3 Almarez, in turn, gave the two pre-marked P100 bills to the appellant.9 Immediately after,
PO3 Almarez made the pre-arranged signal to his companions, who then approached the appellant.
DECISION Captain de Vera took the marked money from the appellants right pocket, and then arrested him.10 PO3
Almarez, for his part, marked the sachet with his initials.11 Thereafter, the buy-bust team brought the
BRION, J.: appellant to the Diadi Police Station for investigation.12

We review the decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01597 which affirmed in At the police station, Captain de Vera prepared a request for laboratory examination (Exh. "C").13 The
toto the decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 27, Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, in Criminal appellant was transferred to the Diadi Municipal Jail where he was detained.14 Two days later, or on
Case No. 4600, finding appellant Felimon Pagaduan y Tamayo (appellant) guilty beyond reasonable December 29, 2003, PO3 Almarez transmitted the letter-request, for laboratory examination, and the
doubt of illegal sale of shabu, under Section 5, Article II of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165 or the seized plastic sachet to the PNP Crime Laboratory, where they were received by PO2 Fernando
Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. Dulnuan.15 Police Senior Inspector (PSI) Alfredo Quintero, the Forensic Chemist of the PNP Crime
Laboratory, conducted an examination on the specimen submitted, and found it to be positive for the
BACKGROUND FACTS presence of shabu (Exh. "B").16

The prosecution charged the appellant before the RTC with violation of Section 5, Article II of R.A. No. On the hearing of August 13, 2004, the prosecution offered the following as exhibits:
9165 under an Information that states:
Exhibit "A" the shabu confiscated from the appellant
That on or about December 27, 2003 at about 4:30 oclock (sic) in the afternoon, in the Municipality of
Solano, Province of Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the Exhibit "B" the report by the PNP Crime Laboratory
above-named accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously sell, trade, dispense,
deliver and give away 0.01 gram, more or less, of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu), a Exhibit "C" the request for laboratory examination
dangerous drug, as contained in a heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet to PO3 Peter C. Almarez, a
member of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) who posed as a buyer of shabu in the
Exhibits "D" and "E" the buy-bust money
amount of P200.00, to the damage and prejudice of the Republic of the Philippines.

Exhibit "F" - the request for laboratory examination received by Forensic Chemist Quintero
CONTRARY TO LAW.3

The defense presented a different version of the events, summarized as follows:


The appellant pleaded not guilty on arraignment. Trial on the merits, thereafter, followed.

At around 4:30 p.m. of December 27, 2003, Jojo Jose came to the appellants house and informed him
The evidence for the prosecution reveals the following facts.
that Captain de Vera was inviting him to be an "asset." The appellant and Jojo boarded a tricycle and
proceeded to the SSS Building where Captain de Vera was waiting for them.17 As the tricycle
After having received information that the appellant was selling illegal drugs in Nueva Vizcaya, Captain approached the Methodist Church along Bintawan Road, Jojo dropped his slippers and ordered the
Jaime de Vera called, on his cellular phone, PO3 Peter Almarez and SPO1 Domingo Balido who were driver to stop. Immediately after, a van stopped in front of the tricycle; Captain de Vera alighted from the
both in Santiago City and informed them of a planned buy-bust operation. They agreed to meet at the van and handcuffed the appellant. Captain de Vera brought the appellant inside the van, frisked him, and
SSS Building near LMN Hotel in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya.4 On their arrival there, Captain de Vera took P200 from his pocket.18 Afterwards, Captain de Vera took the appellant to the SSS Building, where
conducted a briefing and designated PO3 Almarez as the poseur buyer. Thereafter, Captain de Vera he (Captain de Vera) and the building manager drank coffee. Captain de Vera then brought the appellant
introduced PO3 Almarez to the police informant (tipster),5 and gave him (PO3 Almarez) two P100 bills to the Diadi Municipal Jail where he was detained for almost two days.19
(Exhibits "D" and "E") which the latter marked with his initials.6
On the morning of December 29, 2003, the appellant was transferred to the Provincial Jail. He signed a THE COURTS RULING
document without the assistance of a lawyer after being told that it would result in his immediate
release.20 After due consideration, we resolve to acquit the appellant for the prosecutions failure to prove his guilt
beyond reasonable doubt. Specifically, the prosecution failed to show that the police complied with
The RTC, in its decision21 of August 16, 2005, convicted the appellant of the crime charged, and paragraph 1, Section 21, Article II of R.A. No. 9165, and with the chain of custody requirement of this
sentenced him to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment. The RTC likewise ordered the appellant to pay Act.
a P500,000.00 fine.
The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs
The appellant appealed to the CA, docketed as CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01597. The CA, in its decision 22
dated May 22, 2007, affirmed the RTC decision. Act: A Brief Background

The CA found unmeritorious the appellants defense of instigation, and held that the appellant was R.A. No. 9165 was enacted in 2002 to pursue the States policy to "safeguard the integrity of its territory
apprehended as a result of a legitimate entrapment operation. It explained that in inducement or and the well-being of its citizenry particularly the youth, from the harmful effects of dangerous drugs on
instigation, an innocent person is lured by a public officer or private detective to commit a crime. In the their physical and mental well-being, and to defend the same against acts or omissions detrimental to
case at bar, the buy-bust operation was planned only after the police had received information that the their development and preservation."
appellant was selling shabu.
R.A. No. 9165 repealed and superseded R.A. No. 6425, known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972.
The CA also held that the failure of the police to conduct a prior surveillance on the appellant was not Realizing that dangerous drugs are one of the most serious social ills of the society at present, Congress
fatal to the prosecutions case. It reasoned out that the police are given wide discretion to select effective saw the need to further enhance the efficacy of the law against dangerous drugs. The new law thus
means to apprehend drug dealers. A prior surveillance is, therefore, not necessary, especially when the mandates the government to pursue an intensive and unrelenting campaign against the trafficking and
police are already accompanied by their informant. use of dangerous drugs and other similar substances through an integrated system of planning,
implementation and enforcement of anti-drug abuse policies, programs and projects.25
The CA further ruled that the prosecution was able to sufficiently prove an unbroken chain of custody of
the shabu. It explained that PO3 Almarez sealed the plastic sachet seized from the appellant, marked it Illegal Sale of Drugs under Section 5
with his initials, and transmitted it to the PNP Crime Laboratory for examination. PSI Quintero conducted
a qualitative examination and found the specimen positive for the presence of shabu. According to the
vis--vis the Inventory and Photograph
CA, the prosecution was able to prove that the substance seized was the same specimen submitted to
the laboratory and presented in court, notwithstanding that this specimen was turned over to the crime
laboratory only after two days. Requirement under Section 21

In his brief,23 the appellant claims that the lower courts erred in convicting him of the crime charged In a prosecution for illegal sale of a prohibited drug under Section 5 of R.A. No. 9165, the prosecution
despite the prosecutions failure to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. He harps on the fact that must prove the following elements: (1) the identity of the buyer and the seller, the object, and the
the police did not conduct a prior surveillance on him before conducting the buy-bust operation. consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment therefor. All these require evidence
that the sale transaction transpired, coupled with the presentation in court of the corpus delicti, i.e., the
body or substance of the crime that establishes that a crime has actually been committed, as shown by
The appellant further contends that the prosecution failed to show an unbroken chain of custody in the
presenting the object of the illegal transaction.26 To remove any doubt or uncertainty on the identity and
handling of the seized drug. He claims that there was no evidence to show when the markings were
integrity of the seized drug, evidence must definitely show that the illegal drug presented in court is the
done. Moreover, a period of two days had elapsed from the time the shabu was confiscated to the time it
same illegal drug actually recovered from the appellant; otherwise, the prosecution for possession or for
was forwarded to the crime laboratory for examination.
drug pushing under R.A. No. 9165 fails.27

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) counters with the argument that the chain of custody of the
The required procedure on the seizure and custody of drugs is embodied in Section 21, paragraph 1,
shabu was sufficiently established. It explained that the shabu was turned over by the police officers to
Article II of R.A. No. 9165, which states:
the PNP Crime Laboratory, where it was found by the forensic chemist to be positive for the presence of
shabu. The OSG likewise claimed that the appellant failed to rebut the presumption of regularity in the
performance of official duties by the police. The OSG further added that a prior surveillance is not (1) The apprehending team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, immediately after
indispensable to a prosecution for illegal sale of drugs.24 seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the
accused or the person/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her
representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and A: When we were already in Diadi Police Station, we first put him in jail in the Municipal Jail of
any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy Diadi, Nueva Vizcaya, sir.
thereof[.]
Q: What did you do with the shabu?
This is implemented by Section 21(a), Article II of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. No.
9165, which reads: A: The request for laboratory examination was prepared and was brought to the Crime Lab.
of Solano, Nueva Vizcaya, sir.
(a) The apprehending officer/team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, immediately after
seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the accused xxxx
or the person/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or
counsel, a representative from the media and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public
Q: After making the request, what did you do next[,] if any[,] Mr. Witness?
official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy thereof: Provided,
that the physical inventory and photograph shall be conducted at the place where the search warrant is
served; or at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the apprehending officer/team, A: After submission of the request to the Crime Lab.[,] we prepared our joint affidavit for
whichever is practicable, in case of warrantless seizures; Provided, further, that non-compliance with submission of the case to the Court, sir.29
these requirements under justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the
seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team, shall not render void and invalid From the foregoing exchanges during trial, it is evident that the apprehending team, upon confiscation of
such seizures of and custody over said items[.] the drug, immediately brought the appellant and the seized items to the police station, and, once there,
made the request for laboratory examination. No physical inventory and photograph of the seized items
Strict compliance with the prescribed procedure is required because of the illegal drug's unique were taken in the presence of the accused or his counsel, a representative from the media and the
characteristic rendering it indistinct, not readily identifiable, and easily open to tampering, alteration or Department of Justice, and an elective official. PO3 Almarez, on cross-examination, was unsure and
substitution either by accident or otherwise.28 The records of the present case are bereft of evidence could not give a categorical answer when asked whether he issued a receipt for the shabu confiscated
showing that the buy-bust team followed the outlined procedure despite its mandatory terms. The from the appellant.30 At any rate, no such receipt or certificate of inventory appears in the records.
deficiency is patent from the following exchanges at the trial:
In several cases, we have emphasized the importance of compliance with the prescribed procedure in
PROSECUTOR [EMERSON TURINGAN]: the custody and disposition of the seized drugs. We have repeatedly declared that the deviation from the
standard procedure dismally compromises the integrity of the evidence. In People v. Morales,31 we
acquitted the accused for failure of the buy-bust team to photograph and inventory the seized items,
Q: After you handed this buy-bust money to the accused, what happened next?
without giving any justifiable ground for the non-observance of the required procedures. People v.
Garcia32 likewise resulted in an acquittal because no physical inventory was ever made, and no
[PO3 ALMAREZ:] photograph of the seized items was taken under the circumstances required by R.A. No. 9165 and its
implementing rules. In Bondad, Jr. v. People,33 we also acquitted the accused for the failure of the police
A: When the shabu was already with me and I gave him the money[,] I signaled the two, Captain Jaime to conduct an inventory and to photograph the seized items, without justifiable grounds.
de Vera and SPO1 Balido, sir.
We had the same rulings in People v. Gutierrez,34 People v. Denoman,35 People v. Partoza,36 People v.
xxxx Robles,37 and People v. dela Cruz,38 where we emphasized the importance of complying with the
required mandatory procedures under Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165.
Q: After you gave that signal, what happened?
We recognize that the strict compliance with the requirements of Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 may not
A: Then they approached us and helped me in arresting Felimon Pagaduan, sir. always be possible under field conditions; the police operates under varied conditions, and cannot at all
times attend to all the niceties of the procedures in the handling of confiscated evidence. For this reason,
the last sentence of the implementing rules provides that "non-compliance with these requirements
Q: After Pagaduan was arrested, what happened next?
under justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items are
properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team, shall not render void and invalid such seizures of
A: After arresting Pagaduan[,] we brought him directly in Diadi Police Station, sir. and custody over said items[.]" Thus, noncompliance with the strict directive of Section 21 of R.A. No.
9165 is not necessarily fatal to the prosecutions case; police procedures in the handling of confiscated
Q: What happened when you brought the accused to the Police Station in Diadi? evidence may still have some lapses, as in the present case. These lapses, however, must be
recognized and explained in terms of their justifiable grounds, and the integrity and evidentiary value of The first link in the chain of custody starts with the seizure of the heat-sealed plastic sachet from the
the evidence seized must be shown to have been preserved.39 appellant. PO3 Almarez mentioned on cross-examination that he placed his initials on the confiscated
sachet "after apprehending" the appellant. Notably, this testimony constituted the totality of the
In the present case, the prosecution did not bother to offer any explanation to justify the failure of the prosecutions evidence on the marking of the seized evidence. PO3 Almarezs testimony, however,
police to conduct the required physical inventory and photograph of the seized drugs. The apprehending lacked specifics on how he marked the sachet and who witnessed the marking. In People v. Sanchez,
team failed to show why an inventory and photograph of the seized evidence had not been made either we ruled that the "marking" of the seized items to truly ensure that they are the same items that enter
in the place of seizure and arrest or at the nearest police station (as required by the Implementing Rules the chain and are eventually the ones offered in evidence should be done (1) in the presence of the
in case of warrantless arrests). We emphasize that for the saving clause to apply, it is important that the apprehended violator (2) immediately upon confiscation. In the present case, nothing in the records
prosecution explain the reasons behind the procedural lapses, and that the integrity and value of the gives us an insight on the manner and circumstances that attended the marking of the confiscated
seized evidence had been preserved.40 In other words, the justifiable ground for noncompliance must be sachet. Whether the marking had been done in the presence of the appellant is not at all clear from the
proven as a fact. The court cannot presume what these grounds are or that they even exist.41 evidence that merely mentioned that the evidence had been marked after the appellants apprehension.

The "Chain of Custody" Requirement The second link in the chain of custody is its turnover from the apprehending team to the police station.
PO3 Almarez testified that the appellant was brought to the Diadi Police Station after his arrest.
However, he failed to identify the person who had control and possession of the seized drug at the time
Proof beyond reasonable doubt demands that unwavering exactitude be observed in establishing the
of its transportation to the police station. In the absence of clear evidence, we cannot presume that PO3
corpus delicti - the body of the crime whose core is the confiscated illicit drug. Thus, every fact
Almarez, as the poseur buyer, handled the seized sachet to the exclusion of others - during its transfer
necessary to constitute the crime must be established. The chain of custody requirement performs this
from the place of arrest and confiscation to the police station. The prosecution likewise failed to present
function in buy-bust operations as it ensures that doubts concerning the identity of the evidence are
evidence pertaining to the identity of the duty desk officer who received the plastic sachet containing
removed.42
shabu from the buy-bust team. This is particularly significant since the seized specimen was turned over
to the PNP Crime Laboratory only after two days. It was not, therefore, clear who had temporary custody
Blacks Law Dictionary explains chain of custody in this wise: of the seized items during this significant intervening period of time. Although the records show that the
request for laboratory examination of the seized plastic sachet was prepared by Captain de Vera, the
In evidence, the one who offers real evidence, such as the narcotics in a trial of drug case, must account evidence does not show that he was the official who received the marked plastic sachet from the buy-
for the custody of the evidence from the moment in which it reaches his custody until the moment in bust team.
which it is offered in evidence, and such evidence goes to weight not to admissibility of evidence. Com.
V. White, 353 Mass. 409, 232 N.E.2d 335. As for the subsequent links in the chain of custody, the records show that the seized specimen was
forwarded by PO3 Almarez to the PNP Crime Laboratory on December 29, 2003, where it was received
Likewise, Section 1(b) of Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 1, Series of 2002 which implements by PO2 Dulnuan, and later examined by PSI Quintero. However, the person from whom PO3 Almarez
R.A. No. 9165 defines "chain of custody" as follows: received the seized illegal drug for transfer to the crime laboratory was not identified. As earlier
discussed, the identity of the duty desk officer who received the shabu, as well as the person who had
"Chain of Custody" means the duly recorded authorized movements and custody of seized drugs or temporary custody of the seized items for two days, had not been established.
controlled chemicals or plant sources of dangerous drugs or laboratory equipment of each stage, from
the time of seizure/confiscation to receipt in the forensic laboratory to safekeeping to presentation in The procedural lapses mentioned above show the glaring gaps in the chain of custody, creating a
court for destruction. Such record of movements and custody of seized item shall include the identity and reasonable doubt whether the drugs confiscated from the appellant were the same drugs that were
signature of the person who held temporary custody of the seized item, the date and time when such brought to the crime laboratory for chemical analysis, and eventually offered in court as evidence. In the
transfer of custody were made in the course of safekeeping and use in court as evidence, and the final absence of concrete evidence on the illegal drugs bought and sold, the body of the crime the corpus
disposition[.] delicti has not been adequately proven.44 In effect, the prosecution failed to fully prove the elements of
the crime charged, creating reasonable doubt on the appellants criminal liability.
In Malillin v. People,43 the Court explained that the chain of custody rule requires that there be testimony
about every link in the chain, from the moment the object seized was picked up to the time it is offered in Presumption of Regularity in the Performance of Official Duties
evidence, in such a way that every person who touched it would describe how and from whom it was
received, where it was and what happened to it while in the witness possession, the condition in which it In sustaining the appellants conviction, the CA relied on the evidentiary presumption that official duties
was received and the condition in which it was delivered to the next link in the chain. have been regularly performed. This presumption, it must be emphasized, is not conclusive.45 It cannot,
by itself, overcome the constitutional presumption of innocence. Any taint of irregularity affects the whole
In the present case, the prosecutions evidence failed to establish the chain that would have shown that performance and should make the presumption unavailable. In the present case, the failure of the
the shabu presented in court was the very same specimen seized from the appellant. apprehending team to comply with paragraph 1, Section 21, Article II of R.A. No. 9165, and with the
chain of custody requirement of this Act effectively negates this presumption. As we explained in Malillin
v. People:46

The presumption of regularity is merely just that - a mere presumption disputable by contrary proof and
which when challenged by the evidence cannot be regarded as binding truth. Suffice it to say that this
presumption cannot preponderate over the presumption of innocence that prevails if not overthrown by
proof beyond reasonable doubt. In the present case the lack of conclusive identification of the illegal
drugs allegedly seized from petitioner, coupled with the irregularity in the manner by which the same
were placed under police custody before offered in court, strongly militates a finding of guilt.

We are not unmindful of the pernicious effects of drugs in our society; they are lingering maladies that
destroy families and relationships, and engender crimes. The Court is one with all the agencies
concerned in pursuing an intensive and unrelenting campaign against this social dilemma. Regardless of
how much we want to curb this menace, we cannot disregard the protection provided by the
Constitution, most particularly the presumption of innocence bestowed on the appellant. Proof beyond
reasonable doubt, or that quantum of proof sufficient to produce moral certainty that would convince and
satisfy the conscience of those who act in judgment, is indispensable to overcome this constitutional
presumption. If the prosecution has not proved, in the first place, all the elements of the crime charged,
which in this case is the corpus delicti, then the appellant deserves no less than an acquittal.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby REVERSE and SET ASIDE the May 22, 2007 Decision
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01597. Appellant Felimon Pagaduan y Tamayo is
hereby ACQUITTED for failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. He is
ordered immediately RELEASED from detention unless he is confined for another lawful cause.

Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Director, Bureau of Corrections, Muntinlupa City for
immediate implementation. The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is directed to report the action he
has taken to this Court within five days from receipt of this Decision.

SO ORDERED.

ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice
FIRST DIVISION is a single mother as she had a child by her former boyfriend in Italy. He then brought her to a motel,
promising that he will take care of her and marry her. She believed him and yielded to his advances, with
G.R. No. 180284, September 11, 2013 the thought that she and her child will have a better life. Thereafter, they saw each other weekly and
NARCISO SALAS, Petitioners, v.ANNABELLE MATUSALEM, Respondent. petitioner gave her money for her child. When she became pregnant with petitioners child, it was only
then she learned that he is in fact not a widower. She wanted to abort the baby but petitioner opposed it
DECISION because he wanted to have another child.5
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
On the fourth month of her pregnancy, petitioner rented an apartment where she stayed with a
housemaid; he also provided for all their expenses. She gave birth to their child on December 28, 1994
at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Cabanatuan City. Before delivery, petitioner even walked her at the
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari which seeks to reverse and set aside the Decision 1
hospital room and massaged her stomach, saying he had not done this to his wife. She filled out the
dated July 18, 2006 and Resolution2 dated October 19, 2007 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R.
form for the childs birth certificate and wrote all the information supplied by petitioner himself. It was also
CV No. 64379.
petitioner who paid the hospital bills and drove her baby home. He was excited and happy to have a son
at his advanced age who is his look-alike, and this was witnessed by other boarders, visitors and
The factual antecedents:
Grace Murillo, the owner of the apartment unit petitioner rented. However, on the 18th day after the
babys birth, petitioner went to Baguio City for a medical check-up. He confessed to her daughter and
On May 26, 1995, Annabelle Matusalem (respondent) filed a complaint for Support/Damages against
eventually his wife was also informed about his having sired an illegitimate child. His family then decided
Narciso Salas (petitioner) in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) ofCabanatuan City (Civil Case No. 2124-AF).
to adopt the baby and just give respondent money so she can go abroad. When she refused this offer,
petitioner stopped seeing her and sending money to her. She and her baby survived through the help of
Respondent claimed that petitioner is. the father of her son Christian Paulo Salas who was born on
relatives and friends. Depressed, she tried to commit suicide by drug overdose and was brought to the
December 28, 1994. Petitioner, already 56 years old at the time, enticed her as she was then only 24
hospital by Murillo who paid the bill. Murillo sought the help of the Cabanatuan City Police Station which
years old, making her believe that he is a widower. Petitioner rented an apartment where respondent
set their meeting with petitioner. However, it was only petitioners wife who showed up and she was very
stayed and shouldered all expenses in the delivery of their child, including the cost of caesarian
mad, uttering unsavory words against respondent.6
operation and hospital confinement. However, when respondent refused the offer of petitioners family to
take the child from her, petitioner abandoned respondent and her child and left them to the mercy of
Murillo corroborated respondents testimony as to the payment by petitioner of apartment rental, his
relatives and friends. Respondent further alleged that she attempted suicide due to depression but still
weekly visits to respondent and financial support to her, his presence during and after delivery of
petitioner refused to support her and their child.
respondents baby, respondents attempted suicide through sleeping pills overdose and hospitalization
for which she paid the bill, her complaint before the police authorities and meeting with petitioners wife
Respondent thus prayed for support pendente lite and monthly support in the amount of P20,000.00, as
at the headquarters.7
well as actual, moral and exemplary damages, and attorneys fees.
On April 5, 1999, the trial court rendered its decision8 in favor of respondent, the dispositive portion of
Petitioner filed his answer4 with special and affirmative defenses and counterclaims. He described
which reads:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
respondent as a woman of loose morals, having borne her first child also out of wedlock when she went
to work in Italy. Jobless upon her return to the country, respondent spent time riding on petitioners WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against
jeepney which was then being utilized by a female real estate agent named Felicisima de Guzman. the defendant as follows:
Respondent had seduced a senior police officer in San Isidro and her charge of sexual abuse against
said police officer was later withdrawn in exchange for the quashing of drug charges against 1. Ordering the defendant to give as monthly support of TWO
respondents brother-in-law who was then detained at the municipal jail. It was at that time respondent THOUSAND (P2,000.00) PESOS for the child Christian Paulo through
introduced herself to petitioner whom she pleaded for charity as she was pregnant with another child. the mother;
Petitioner denied paternity of the child Christian Paulo; he was motivated by no other reason except 2. Directing the defendant to pay the plaintiff the sum of P20,000.00 by
genuine altruism when he agreed to shoulder the expenses for the delivery of said child, unaware of way of litigation expenses; and
respondents chicanery and deceit designed to scandalize him in exchange for financial favor.
3. To pay the costs of suit.
At the trial, respondent and her witness Grace Murillo testified. Petitioner was declared to have waived SO ORDERED. 9
his right to present evidence and the case was considered submitted for decision based on respondents
evidence.
Petitioner appealed to the CA arguing that: (1) the trial court decided the case without affording him the
Respondent testified that she first met petitioner at the house of his kumadre Felicisima de Guzman at right to introduce evidence on his defense; and (2) the trial court erred in finding that petitioner is the
Bgy. Malapit, San Isidro, Nueva Ecija. During their subsequent meeting, petitioner told her he is already putative father of Christian Paulo and ordering him to give monthly support.
a widower and he has no more companion in life because his children are all grown-up. She also
learned that petitioner owns a rice mill, a construction business and a housing subdivision (petitioner By Decision dated July 18, 2006, the CA dismissed petitioners appeal. The appellate court found no
offered her a job at their family-owned Ma. Cristina Village). Petitioner at the time already knows that she reason to disturb the trial courts exercise of discretion in denying petitioners motion for postponement
on April 17, 1998, the scheduled hearing for the initial presentation of defendants evidence, and the RESIDENTS OF BRGY. MALAPIT, SAN ISIDRO, NUEVA ECIJA.
motion for reconsideration of the said order denying the motion for postponement and submitting the
case for decision. 2. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN PRONOUNCING THAT PETITIONER WAS
AFFORDED THE FULL MEASURE OF HIS RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW AND IN UPHOLDING
On the paternity issue, the CA affirmed the trial courts ruling that respondent satisfactorily established THAT THE TRIAL COURT DID NOT GRAVELY ABUSE ITS DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR
the illegitimate filiation of her son Christian Paulo, and consequently no error was committed by the trial EXCESS OF JURISDICTION WHEN IT DECIDED THE INSTANT CASE WITHOUT AFFORDING
court in granting respondents prayer for support. The appellate court thus PETITIONER THE RIGHT TO INTRODUCE EVIDENCE IN HIS DEFENSE.
held:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
3. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE FILIATION OF
Christian Paulo, in instant case, does not enjoy the benefit of a record of birth in the civil registry which CHRISTIAN PAULO WAS DULY ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO ARTICLE 175 IN RELATION TO
bears acknowledgment signed by Narciso Salas. He cannot claim open and continuous possession of ARTICLE 172 OF THE FAMILY CODE AND EXISTING JURISPRUDENCE AND THEREFORE
the status of an illegitimate child. ENTITLED TO SUPPORT FROM THE PETITIONER.11
It had been established by plaintiffs evidence, however, that during her pregnancy, Annabelle was
provided by Narciso Salas with an apartment at a rental of P1,500.00 which he paid for (TSN, October 6, We grant the petition.
1995, p. 18). Narciso provided her with a household help with a salary of P1,500.00 a month (TSN,
October 6, 1995, ibid). He also provided her a monthly food allowance of P1,500.00 (Ibid, p. 18). Narciso It is a legal truism that the rules on the venue of personal actions are fixed for the convenience of the
was with Annabelle at the hospital while the latter was in labor, walking her around and massaging her plaintiffs and their witnesses. Equally settled, however, is the principle that choosing the venue of an
belly (Ibid, p. 11). Narciso brought home Christian Paulo to the rented apartment after Annabelles action is not left to a plaintiffs caprice; the matter is regulated by the Rules of Court. 12
discharge from the hospital. People living in the same apartment units were witnesses to Narcisos
delight to father a son at his age which was his look alike. It was only after the 18 th day when Annabelle In personal actions such as the instant case, the Rules give the plaintiff the option of choosing where to
refused to give him Christian Paulo that Narciso withdrew his support to him and his mother. file his complaint. He can file it in the place (1) where he himself or any of them resides, or (2) where the
defendant or any of the defendants resides or may be found.13 The plaintiff or the defendant must be
Said testimony of Annabelle aside from having been corroborated by Grace Murillo, the owner of the residents of the place where the action has been instituted at the time the action is commenced.14
apartment which Narciso rented, was never rebutted on record. Narciso did not present any evidence,
verbal or documentary, to repudiate plaintiffs evidence. However, petitioner raised the issue of improper venue for the first time in the Answer itself and no prior
motion to dismiss based on such ground was filed. Under the Rules of Court before the 1997
In the cases of Lim vs. CA (270 SCRA 1) and Rodriguez vs. CA (245 SCRA 150), the Supreme Court amendments, an objection to an improper venue must be made before a responsive pleading is filed.
made it clear that Article 172 of the Family Code is an adaptation of Article 283 of the Civil Code. Said Otherwise, it will be deemed waived.15 Not having been timely raised, petitioners objection on venue is
legal provision provides that the father is obliged to recognize the child as his natural child x x 3) when therefore deemed waived.
the child has in his favor any evidence or proof that the defendant is his father.
As to the denial of the motion for postponement filed by his counsel for the resetting of the initial
In fact, in Ilano vs. CA (230 SCRA 242, 258-259), it was held that presentation of defense evidence on April 17, 1998, we find that it was not the first time petitioners
motion for postponement was denied by the trial court.
The last paragraph of Article 283 contains a blanket provision that practically covers all the other cases
in the preceding paragraphs. Any other evidence or proof that the defendant is the father is broad Records disclosed that after the termination of the testimony of respondents last witness on November
enough to render unnecessary the other paragraphs of this article. When the evidence submitted in the 29, 1996, the trial court as prayed for by the parties, set the continuation of hearing for the reception of
action for compulsory recognition is not sufficient to meet [the] requirements of the first three evidence for the defendant (petitioner) on January 27, February 3, and February 10, 1997. In the Order
paragraphs, it may still be enough under the last paragraph. This paragraph permits hearsay and dated December 17, 1996, petitioner was advised to be ready with his evidence at those hearing dates
reputation evidence, as provided in the Rules of Court, with respect to illegitimate filiation. earlier scheduled. At the hearing on January 27, 1997, petitioners former counsel, Atty. Rolando S. Bala,
As a necessary consequence of the finding that Christian Paulo is the son of defendant Narciso Salas, requested for the cancellation of the February 3 and 10, 1997 hearings in order to give him time to
he is entitled to support from the latter (Ilano vs. CA, supra). prepare for his defense, which request was granted by the trial court which thus reset the hearing dates
to March 3, 14 and 17, 1997. On March 3, 1997, upon oral manifestation by Atty. Bala and without
It shall be demandable from the time the person who has the right to recover the same needs it for objection from respondents counsel, Atty. Feliciano Wycoco, the trial court again reset the hearing to
maintenance x x. (Art. 203, Family Code of the Philippines).10 March 14 and 17, 1997. With the non-appearance of both petitioner and Atty. Bala on March 14, 1997,
the trial court upon oral manifestation by Atty. Wycoco declared their absence as a waiver of their right to
present evidence and accordingly deemed the case submitted for decision.16
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but it was denied by the CA.
On July 4, 1997, Atty. Bala withdrew as counsel for petitioner and Atty. Rafael E. Villarosa filed his
Hence, this petition submitting the following arguments:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary appearance as his new counsel on July 21, 1997. On the same date he filed entry of appearance, Atty.
1. THE VENUE OF THE CASE WAS IMPROPERLY LAID BEFORE THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF Villarosa filed a motion for reconsideration of the March 14, 1997 Order pleading for liberality and
CABANATUAN CITY CONSIDERING THAT BOTH PETITIONER AND RESPONDENT ARE ACTUAL magnanimity of the trial court, without offering any explanation for Atty. Balas failure to appear for the
initial presentation of their evidence. The trial court thereupon reconsidered its March 14, 1997 Order, petitioner.
finding it better to give petitioner a chance to present his evidence. On August 26, 1997, Atty. Villarosa
received a notice of hearing for the presentation of their evidence scheduled on September 22, 1997. On Under Article 175 of the Family Code of the Philippines, illegitimate filiation may be established in the
August 29, 1997, the trial court received his motion requesting that the said hearing be re-set to October same way and on the same evidence as legitimate children.
10, 1997 for the reason that he had requested the postponement of a hearing in another case which was
incidentally scheduled on September 22, 23 and 24, 1997. As prayed for, the trial court reset the hearing Article 172 of the Family Code of the Philippines states:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
to October 10, 1997. On said date, however, the hearing was again moved to December 15, 1997. On
February 16, 1998, the trial court itself reset the hearing to April 17, 1998 since it was unclear whether The filiation of legitimate children is established by any of the following:
Atty. Wycoco received a copy of the motion.17
(1) The record of birth appearing in the civil register or a final judgment; or
On April 17, 1998, petitioner and his counsel failed to appear but the trial court received on April 16,
1998 an urgent motion to cancel hearing filed by Atty. Villarosa. The reason given by the latter was the (2) An admission of legitimate filiation in a public document or a private handwritten instrument and
scheduled hearing on the issuance of writ of preliminary injunction in another case under the April 8, signed by the parent concerned.
1998 Order issued by the RTC of Gapan, Nueva Ecija, Branch 36 in Civil Case No. 1946. But as clearly
stated in the said order, it was the plaintiffs therein who requested the postponement of the hearing and In the absence of the foregoing evidence, the legitimate filiation shall be proved by:
it behoved Atty. Villarosa to inform the RTC of Gapan that he had a previous commitment considering
that the April 17, 1998 hearing was scheduled as early as February 16, 1998. Acting on the motion for (1) The open and continuous possession of the status of a legitimate child; or
postponement, the trial court denied for the second time petitioners motion for postponement. Even at
the hearing of their motion for reconsideration of the April 17, 1998 Order on September 21, 1998, Atty. (2) Any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws. (Underscoring supplied.)
Villarosa failed to appear and instead filed another motion for postponement. The trial court thus ordered
that the case be submitted for decision stressing that the case had long been pending and that petitioner Respondent presented the Certificate of Live Birth24 (Exhibit A-1) of Christian Paulo Salas in which the
and his counsel have been given opportunities to present their evidence. It likewise denied a second name of petitioner appears as his father but which is not signed by him. Admittedly, it was only
motion for reconsideration filed by Atty. Villarosa, who arrived late during the hearing thereof on respondent who filled up the entries and signed the said document though she claims it was petitioner
December 4, 1998.18 who supplied the information she wrote therein.

A motion for continuance or postponement is not a matter of right, but a request addressed to the sound We have held that a certificate of live birth purportedly identifying the putative father is not competent
discretion of the court. Parties asking for postponement have absolutely no right to assume that their evidence of paternity when there is no showing that the putative father had a hand in the preparation of
motions would be granted. Thus, they must be prepared on the day of the hearing.19 Indeed, an order the certificate.25 Thus, if the father did not sign in the birth certificate, the placing of his name by the
declaring a party to have waived the right to present evidence for performing dilatory actions upholds the mother, doctor, registrar, or other person is incompetent evidence of paternity.26 Neither can such birth
trial courts duty to ensure that trial proceeds despite the deliberate delay and refusal to proceed on the certificate be taken as a recognition in a public instrument27 and it has no probative value to establish
part of one party.20 filiation to the alleged father.28

Atty. Villarosas plea for liberality was correctly rejected by the trial court in view of his own negligence in As to the Baptismal Certificate29 (Exhibit B) of Christian Paulo Salas also indicating petitioner as the
failing to ensure there will be no conflict in his trial schedules. As we held in Tiomico v. Court of father, we have ruled that while baptismal certificates may be considered public documents, they can
Appeals21:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary only serve as evidence of the administration of the sacraments on the dates so specified. They are not
Motions for postponement are generally frowned upon by Courts if there is evidence of bad faith, malice necessarily competent evidence of the veracity of entries therein with respect to the childs paternity. 30
or inexcusable negligence on the part of the movant. The inadvertence of the defense counsel in failing
to take note of the trial dates and in belatedly informing the trial court of any conflict in his schedules of The rest of respondents documentary evidence consists of handwritten notes and letters, hospital bill
trial or court appearances, constitutes inexcusable negligence. It should be borne in mind that a client is and photographs taken of petitioner and respondent inside their rented apartment unit.
bound by his counsels conduct, negligence and mistakes in handling the case.22
Pictures taken of the mother and her child together with the alleged father are inconclusive evidence to
prove paternity.31 Exhibits E and F32 showing petitioner and respondent inside the rented apartment
With our finding that there was no abuse of discretion in the trial courts denial of the motion for unit thus have scant evidentiary value. The Statement of Account33 (Exhibit C) from the Good
postponement filed by petitioners counsel, petitioners contention that he was deprived of his day in Samaritan General Hospital where respondent herself was indicated as the payee is likewise
court must likewise fail. The essence of due process is that a party is given a reasonable opportunity to incompetent to prove that petitioner is the father of her child notwithstanding petitioners admission in his
be heard and submit any evidence one may have in support of ones defense. Where a party was answer that he shouldered the expenses in the delivery of respondents child as an act of charity.
afforded an opportunity to participate in the proceedings but failed to do so, he cannot complain of
deprivation of due process. If the opportunity is not availed of, it is deemed waived or forfeited without As to the handwritten notes34 (Exhibits D to D-13) of petitioner and respondent showing their
violating the constitutional guarantee.23 exchange of affectionate words and romantic trysts, these, too, are not sufficient to establish Christian
Paulos filiation to petitioner as they were not signed by petitioner and contained no statement of
We now proceed to the main issue of whether the trial and appellate courts erred in ruling that admission by petitioner that he is the father of said child. Thus, even if these notes were authentic, they
respondents evidence sufficiently proved that her son Christian Paulo is the illegitimate child of do not qualify under Article 172 (2) vis-- vis Article 175 of the Family Code which admits as competent
evidence of illegitimate filiation an admission of filiation in a private handwritten instrument signed by the would write the check at home and saw Artemio sign the check (TSN, p. 49, 7/18/73). Both Artemio and
parent concerned.35 Nilda admitted that the check and signature were those of Artemio (TSN, p. 53, 10/17/77; TSN, p. 19,
10/9/78).
Petitioners reliance on our ruling in Lim v. Court of Appeals36 is misplaced. In the said case, the
handwritten letters of petitioner contained a clear admission that he is the father of private respondents During the time that Artemio and Leoncia were living as husband and wife, Artemio has shown concern
daughter and were signed by him. The Court therein considered the totality of evidence which as the father of Merceditas (sic). When Merceditas (sic) was in Grade 1 at the St. Joseph Parochial
established beyond reasonable doubt that petitioner was indeed the father of private respondents School, Artemio signed the Report Card of Merceditas (sic) (Exh. H) for the fourth and fifth grading
daughter. On the other hand, in Ilano v. Court of Appeals,37 the Court sustained the appellate courts period(s) (Exh. H-1 and H-2) as the parent of Merceditas (sic). Those signatures of Artemio [were]
finding that private respondents evidence to establish her filiation with and paternity of petitioner was both identified by Leoncia and Merceditas (sic) because Artemio signed Exh. H-1 and H-2 at their
overwhelming, particularly the latters public acknowledgment of his amorous relationship with private residence in the presence of Leoncia, Merceditas (sic) and of Elynia (TSN, p. 57, 7/18/73; TSN, p. 28,
respondents mother, and private respondent as his own child through acts and words, her testimonial 10/1/73). x x x.
evidence to that effect was fully supported by documentary evidence. The Court thus ruled that
respondent had adduced sufficient proof of continuous possession of status of a spurious child. xxx xxx xxx

Here, while the CA held that Christian Paulo Salas could not claim open and continuous possession of When Artemio run as a candidate in the Provincial Board of Cavite[,] Artemio gave Leoncia his picture
status of an illegitimate child, it nevertheless considered the testimonial evidence sufficient proof to with the following dedication: To Nene, with best regards, Temiong. (Exh. I). (pp. 19-20, Appellants
establish his filiation to petitioner. Brief)

An illegitimate child is now also allowed to establish his claimed filiation by any other means allowed by The mere denial by defendant of his signature is not sufficient to offset the totality of the evidence
the Rules of Court and special laws, like his baptismal certificate, a judicial admission, a family Bible in indubitably showing that the signature thereon belongs to him. The entry in the Certificate of Live Birth
which his name has been entered, common reputation respecting his pedigree, admission by silence, that Leoncia and Artemio was falsely stated therein as married does not mean that Leoncia is not
the testimonies of witnesses, and other kinds of proof admissible under Rule 130 of the Rules of Court.38 appellees daughter. This particular entry was caused to be made by Artemio himself in order to avoid
Reviewing the records, we find the totality of respondents evidence insufficient to establish that embarrassment.39
petitioner is the father of Christian Paulo.

The testimonies of respondent and Murillo as to the circumstances of the birth of Christian Paulo, In sum, we hold that the testimonies of respondent and Murillo, by themselves are not competent proof
petitioners financial support while respondent lived in Murillos apartment and his regular visits to her at of paternity and the totality of respondents evidence failed to establish Christian Paulos filiation to
the said apartment, though replete with details, do not approximate the overwhelming evidence, petitioner.
documentary and testimonial presented in Ilano. In that case, we sustained the appellate courts ruling
anchored on the following factual findings by the appellate court which was quoted at length in the Time and again, this Court has ruled that a high standard of proof is required to establish paternity and
ponencia:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary filiation. An order for recognition and support may create an unwholesome situation or may be an irritant
to the family or the lives of the parties so that it must be issued only if paternity or filiation is established
It was Artemio who made arrangement for the delivery of Merceditas (sic) at the Manila Sanitarium and by clear and convincing evidence.40
Hospital. Prior to the delivery, Leoncia underwent prenatal examination accompanied by Artemio (TSN,
p. 33, 5/17/74). After delivery, they went home to their residence at EDSA in a car owned and driven by Finally, we note the Manifestation and Motion41 filed by petitioners counsel informing this Court that
Artemio himself (id. p. 36). petitioner had died on May 6, 2010.

Merceditas (sic) bore the surname of Ilano since birth without any objection on the part of Artemio, the The action for support having been filed in the trial court when petitioner was still alive, it is not barred
fact that since Merceditas (sic) had her discernment she had always known and called Artemio as her under Article 175 (2)42 of the Family Code. We have also held that the death of the putative father is not
Daddy (TSN, pp. 28-29, 10/18/74); the fact that each time Artemio was at home, he would play with a bar to the action commenced during his lifetime by one claiming to be his illegitimate child.43 The rule
Merceditas (sic), take her for a ride or restaurants to eat, and sometimes sleeping with Merceditas (sic) on substitution of parties provided in Section 16, Rule 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, thus
(id. p. 34) and does all what a father should do for his child bringing home goodies, candies, toys and applies.
whatever he can bring her which a child enjoys which Artemio gives to Merceditas (sic) (TSN, pp. 38-39,
5/17/74) are positive evidence that Merceditas (sic) is the child of Artemio and recognized by Artemio as SEC. 16. Death of party; duty of counsel. Whenever a party to a pending action dies, and the claim is
such. Special attention is called to Exh. E-7 where Artemio was telling Leoncia the need for a frog test not thereby extinguished, it shall be the duty of his counsel to inform the court within thirty (30) days after
to know the status of Leoncia. such death of the fact thereof, and to give the name and address of his legal representative or
representatives. Failure of counsel to comply with his duty shall be a ground for disciplinary action.
Plaintiff pointed out that the support by Artemio for Leoncia and Merceditas (sic) was sometimes in the
form of cash personally delivered to her by Artemio, thru Melencio, thru Elynia (Exhs. E-2 and E-3, The action must be brought within the same period specified in Article 173, except when the action is
and D-6), or thru Merceditas (sic) herself (TSN, p. 40, 5/17/74) and sometimes in the form of a check based on the second paragraph of Article 172, in which case the action may be brought during the
as the Manila Banking Corporation Check No. 81532 (Exh. G) and the signature appearing therein lifetime of the alleged parent.
which was identified by Leoncia as that of Artemio because Artemio often gives her checks and Artemio
The heirs of the deceased may be allowed to be substituted for the deceased, without requiring the
appointment of an executor or administrator and the court may appoint a guardian ad litem for the minor
heirs.

The court shall forthwith order said legal representative or representatives to appear and be substituted
within a period of thirty (30) days from notice.

If no legal representative is named by the counsel for the deceased party, or if the one so named shall
fail to appear within the specified period, the court may order the opposing party, within a specified time
to procure the appointment of an executor or administrator for the estate of the deceased and the latter
shall immediately appear for and on behalf of the deceased. The court charges in procuring such
appointment, if defrayed by the opposing party, may be recovered as costs.

WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is GRANTED. The Decision dated July 18, 2006 and
Resolution dated October 19, 2007 of the Court of Appeals in CA-GR. CV No. 64379 are hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Civil Case No. 2124-AF of the Regional Trial Court of Cabanatuan City,
Branch 26 is DISMISSED.

No pronouncement as to costs. chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

SO ORDERED.

Sereno, C.J., (Chairperson), Leonardo-De Castro, Bersamin, and Reyes, JJ., concur.
SECOND DIVISION 3) That together with said request, was a brown envelope marked as Exhibit "B" which
contained two (2) plastic sachets marked as Exhibits "B-1" and "B-2;"
G.R. No. 196973 July 31, 2013
4) That he thereafter conducted the requested laboratory examination and, in connection
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, therewith, he submitted Chemistry Report marked as Exhibit "C;"
vs.
RUPER POSING y ALAYON, Accused-Appellant. 5) That the findings thereon showing the specimen positive for methylamphetamine
hydrochloride was marked as Exhibit "C-1;"
DECISION
6) That he likewise issued a Certification marked as Exhibit "D" and thereafter turned over the
PEREZ, J.: specimen to the Evidence Custodian and retrieved the same for the trial scheduled today;
For review through this appeal1 is the Decision2 dated 30 November 2010 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in and
CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 03858 which affirmed the conviction of herein accused-appellant RUPER POSING 7) That he has no personal knowledge about the circumstances surrounding the arrest of the
y ALAYON of illegal sale and illegal possession of dangerous drugs in violation of Sections 53 and 114 accused as well as the source of the substance subject of his examination. 12
respectively, Article II of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of
2002. As regards PO2 Sales:
The factual antecedents of the case are as follows: 1) That he was the investigator assigned to investigate this case;
The prosecution presented SPO1 Purisimo Angeles (SPO1 Angeles), who testified that while on duty on 2) That in connection with the investigation he conducted and took the Affidavit of Arrest of
13 August 2003, at the Station Anti Illegal Drugs (SAID), an asset based at Makabayan St., Brgy. Obrero PO1 Nicart, PO1 Cortez and SPO1 Angeles (Exhibit "E");
informed the duty officer about the illegal activities of certain Ruper Posing (Posing), a known drug
pusher in their barangay. As a result, Chief P/Inspector Arturo Caballes (Chief Caballes) formed a team 3) That the two (2) plastic sachets marked as Exhibits "B-1" and "B-2" were turned over to
to conduct a buy bust operation.5 A one hundred peso bill (P100.00) was given by Chief Caballes with him by the arresting officers;
his initials, to serve as the marked money.6 4) That he prepared a request for laboratory examination marked as Exhibit "A" and in
SPO1 Angeles together with PO1 Jesus Cortez (PO1 Cortez), PO1Ralph Nicart (PO1 Nicart) and the connection therewith he received a copy of the Chemistry Report, the original of which was
informant were dispatched to Makabayan St., Brgy. Obrero, Kamuning, Quezon City, and upon arrival, marked as Exhibit "C;"
the informant and SPO1 Angeles proceeded to the squatters area. On the other hand, his companions 5) That the buy bust money consisting of one (1) P100.00 bill marked as Exhibit "F" was
positioned themselves within viewing distance.7 likewise turned over to him with the updated "Watchlist of Illegal Drug Personalities" of Bgy.
SPO1 Angeles met Posing beside the basketball court, where he was introduced by the informant as a Obrero, Quezon City (Exhibit "G");
buyer of shabu. The former asked if he could buy one hundred peso (P100.00) worth of shabu for 6) That he thereafter prepared the letter referral to the Office of the City Prosecutor, Quezon
personal use. Posing then pulled out one (1) transparent plastic sachet from his pocket and gave it to City marked as Exhibit "H;" and
SPO1 Angeles in exchange for the buy-bust money. Afterwards, SPO1 Angeles took out his cap to alert
his companions that the deal was already concluded. PO1 Cortez and PO1 Nicart rushed to the scene 7) That he has no personal knowledge about the circumstances surrounding the arrest of the
and introduced themselves as police officers. Posing was frisked, and the buy-bust money and another accused as well as the source of the substance subject of his investigation. 13
transparent plastic sachet were recovered from him. On the contrary, Posing testified that on 13 August 2004, between 4:00 to 5:00 oclock in the afternoon,
Afterwards, the suspect and the evidence were taken to the station.8 he was walking along a basketball court at Makabayan St., Kamuning, Quezon City, when he was
arrested by PO1 Cortez and PO1 Nicart, who he came to know based on their name plates.14 When he
Prior to the turnover of the evidence to the desk officer, SPO1 Angeles placed his marking on the two (2) asked the officers what his violation was, they replied: "Nag-mamaang-maangan ka pa."15 He was then
small heat sealed transparent plastic sachets.9 The same were then turned over to PO2 John Sales led to their vehicle and was brought to Station 10 wherein he was asked to point to a certain "Nene"
(PO2 Sales), who prepared a request for laboratory examination.10 whom he did not know. He refused, which was why he was detained and charged with violation of R.A.
On the same day, the specimens were delivered by PO1 Nicart to the Philippine National Police (PNP) No. 9165.16
Crime Laboratory for quantitative and qualitative examination, wherein each sachet was found to contain Based on the above, the following were filed against the accused:
0.03 gram and tested positive for methylamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, a dangerous drug.11
For Criminal Case No. Q-03-120266 for violation of Section 5, Article II of R.A. No. 9165:
Both parties agreed to dispense with the testimonies of the following witnesses, and entered into
stipulations, to wit: That on or about the 13th day of August, 2003, in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused, not being
authorized by law to sell, dispense, deliver, transport, distribute any dangerous drug, did then and there,
As regards Engr. Leonard Jabonillo (Engr. Jabonillo): willfully and unlawfully sell, dispense, deliver, transport, distribute or act as broker in the said transaction,
1) That he is a Forensic Chemist of the [PNP]; 0.03 (zero point zero three) gram of white crystalline substance containing Methylamphetamine
Hydrochloride, a dangerous drug.17
2) That his office received a request for laboratory examination marked as Exhibit "A;"
For Criminal Case No. Q-03-120267 for violation of Section 11, Article II of R.A. No. 9165:
That on or about the 13th day of August, 2003, in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused, not being In the instant appeal, accused-appellant, merely reiterated his previous arguments before the appellate
authorized by law to possess or use any dangerous drug, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and court that the prosecution failed to establish the complete and unbroken chain of custody of the plastic
knowingly have in his/her possession and control 0.03 (zero point zero three) gram of white crystalline sachets of shabu allegedly sold and possessed by accused-appellant.29
substance containing Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride, a dangerous drug.18
Posed for resolution is whether or not the accused-appellant is guilty of illegal sale and possession of
Upon arraignment on 2 December 2003, Posing entered a plea of "not guilty" on both charges.19 dangerous drugs, and in the course of the investigation and trial, whether the integrity of the evidence
was preserved.
On 2 December 2008, the trial court found Posing GUILTY of violation of both Sections 5 and 11, Article
II, of R.A. 9165 in Criminal Case No. Q-03-120266 and Criminal Case No. Q-03-120267, respectively. We uphold the ruling of both the trial and the appellate court.
The disposition reads:
Both agreed that the illegal sale of shabu was proven beyond reasonable doubt. For the successful
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgement is hereby rendered as follows: prosecution of offenses involving the illegal sale of drugs under Section 5, Article II of R.A. No. 9165, the
following elements must be proven: (1) the identity of the buyer and seller, object and consideration; and
(a) Re: Criminal Case No. Q-03-120266 The Court finds accused RUPER POSING y (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment therefor. What is material to the prosecution for illegal
ALAYON guilty beyond reasonable doubt of a violation of Section 5, Article II of R. A. 9165. sale of dangerous drugs is the proof that the transaction or sale actually took place, coupled with the
Accordingly, he is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of LIFE IMPRISONMENT and to presentation in court of evidence of corpus delicti.30
pay a fine in the amount of Five Hundred Thousand (P500,000.00) PESOS.
SPO1 Angeles testified thus:
(b) Re: Criminal Case No. Q-03-120267 The Court finds accused RUPER POSING y
ALAYON guilty beyond reasonable doubt of a violation of Section 11, Article II of R. A. 9165. Q: Now Mr. Witness did you report for duty on August 13, 2003?
Accordingly, he is hereby sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of
TWELVE (12) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY as MINIMUM to FOURTEEN (14) YEARS as A: Yes, sir.
MAXIMUM and to pay a fine in the amount of THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND (P300,000.00) Q: What happened while you were...What time did you report for duty?
PESOS.
A: I reported at around 10:00 in the morning.
The Branch Clerk of Court is hereby ordered to turn over the possession of custody of the dangerous
drugs subject hereof to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for proper disposition and final Q: What happened while you were on duty on that date and time?
disposal.20 A: At around 5:30 in the afternoon, one of our asset which is based at Makabayan St., Brgy. Obrero,
On appeal, the accused-appellant, contended that the trial court gravely erred when it failed to consider came to our office and informed our duty officer about a certain Ruper Posing who was known as drug
the police officers failure to comply with the proper procedure in the handling and custody of the seized pusher at their Barangay.
drugs, as provided under Section 21 of R. A. No. 9165, which ultimately affected the chain of custody of Q: What happened after this report was given to the desk officer?
the confiscated drugs.21 Further, it was posited that there was no prior surveillance conducted to verify
the informants tip and that there was no coordination made with the Philippine Drug Enforcement A: Since the suspect is also included in our drug watch list, our Chief SAID immediately formed a team
Agency (PDEA).22 Furthermore, the accused-appellant invoked his right to be presumed innocent until to conduct buy-bust operation against the suspect.31
proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.23
xxxx
The People, through the Office of the Solicitor General, countered that although the requirements under
Q: What else transpired Mr. Witness?
Section 21 of R. A. No. 9165 has been held to be mandatory, non-compliance with the same, does not
necessarily warrant an acquittal.24 In addition, it was averred that the police officers are entitled to the A: After forming the said team, our Chief SAID P/Insp. Arturo Caballes gave me one (1) piece Php 100.
presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties. Finally, the accused-appellant did not
interpose any evidence in support of his defense aside from his bare denial.25 Q: What did he do?

The CA affirmed the ruling of the trial court. The dispositive portion reads: A: He gave me one (1) piece Php100 which will be used as the buy bust money.32

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 82, dated 2 December xxxx
2008, in Criminal Cases Nos. Q-03-120266 and Q-03-120267, is AFFIRMED.26 Q: What happened next Mr. Witness after placing your initial on that Php 100?
The appellate court ruled that the requisites laid down under Section 21 of R. A. No. 9165 were complied A: After that we were immediately dispatched to the location at Makabayan St., Brgy. Obrero.
with, more particularly, through the testimonies of the police officers which sufficiently established that
the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items were preserved.27 As to the alleged non- xxxx
coordination with the PDEA, it was held that although the PDEA is the lead agency, it is not to be Q: Where in Quezon City?
considered as the exclusive agency, in enforcing drug-related matters. Lastly, the evidence presented by
the prosecution clearly showed that the elements of illegal sale and possession of dangerous drugs were A: Kamuning, Your Honor.
proven by competent evidence, as compared to the bare denial interposed by the accused-appellant.28
Q: District of Kamuning?
A: Yes, Your Honor. Q: Which buy-bust money are you referring to?
Q: What time was that when you were dispatched? A: Which I gave to the suspect.
A: We were dispatched at about 5:40 and we arrived at the location at around 5:45. It was just a 5- Q: If that buy-bust money is shown to you will you be able to identify the same?
minute drive from our station.
A: Yes, sir. I have already identified it.
Q: And who were with you at that time, Mr. Witness?
xxxx
A: PO1 Cortez and PO1 Nicart.
Q: Im showing you Mr. Witness two (2) transparent plastic sachets marked as Exhibits "B-1" and "B-2,"
Q: Who else? kindly examine these two (2) plastic sachets and tell this Honorable Court the relation of these sachets
to the one you said you bought and recovered from the accused?
A: PO1 Cortez.
A: This one with marking RT1 is the one I bought from the suspect and the other heat sealed transparent
Q: Who else? plastic sachet which is marked as RT2 which I recovered from his left palm.33
A: And the informant, Your Honor. In cases involving violations of Dangerous Drugs Act, credence should be given to the narration of the
Q: So how many were you all in all? incident by the prosecution witnesses especially when they are police officers who are presumed to have
performed their duties in a regular manner, unless there is evidence to the contrary. In this regard, the
A: Four (4), sir. defense failed to show any ill motive or odious intent on the part of the police operatives to impute such
Q: What happened when you arrived there? a serious crime that would put in jeopardy the life and liberty of an innocent person, such as in the case
of appellant. Incidentally, if these were simply trumped-up charges against him, it remains a question
A: Upon arrival thereat, I, together with the informant went to the squatters area of Makabayan St., and why no administrative charges were brought against the police operatives. Moreover, in weighing the
my companions positioned themselves in the viewing distance so that they will be able to monitor the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses vis--vis those of the defense, it is a well-settled rule that in the
transaction. We were able to meet the suspect beside the basketball court of Makabayan Street. absence of palpable error or grave abuse of discretion on the part of the trial judge, the trial courts
evaluation of the credibility of witnesses will not be disturbed on appeal.34
Q: And what happened when you met the suspect?
With the illegal sale of dangerous drugs established beyond reasonable doubt, the handling of the
A: I was introduced by the informant as the buyer of shabu and I asked the suspect if I can purchase
evidence, or the observance of the proper chain of custody, which is also an indispensable factor in
worth Php100 just for my personal use?
prosecution for illegal sale of dangerous drugs, is the next matter to be resolved.
Q: You asked him?
The accused-appellant, argued that the following instances would constitute a break in the chain of
A: Yes, sir. custody of the seized plastic sachets of shabu: (1) SPO1 Angeles failed to identify the duty officer to
whom he turned over the alleged confiscated shabu; (2) SPO1 Angeles was not able to recall who
Q: What was his reply? brought the drug specimens to the crime laboratory; (3) SPO1 Angeles failed to mark the confiscated
A: Immediately, he pulled out one (1) transparent plastic sachet. sachets at the crime scene immediately after the accused-appellant was arrested; and (4) the police
officers failed to prepare an inventory report of the confiscated drugs, no photographs of the same were
Q: Where did he get that plastic sachet? taken in the presence of the accused-appellant and that of a representative from the media or the
A: Inside his pocket, sir. Department of Justice or any elected public official.35

Q: And what happened next Mr. Witness? Section 1(b) of Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 1, Series of 2002 which implements R.A. No.
9165 defines "Chain of Custody" as follows:
A: After the exchange, I immediately took out my cap signifying completion of the drug deal.
"Chain of Custody" means the duly recorded authorized movements and custody of seized drugs or
Q: After making the pre-arranged signal, what happened next? What is your pre-arranged signal? controlled chemicals or plant sources of dangerous drugs or laboratory equipment of each stage, from
the time of seizure/confiscation to receipt in the forensic laboratory to safekeeping to presentation in
A: Removing my cap, Your Honor. After that, my two (2) companions PO1 Nicart and PO1 Cortez
court for destruction. Such record of movements and custody of seized item shall include the identity and
immediately rushed to the scene, took hold of the suspect and introduced themselves as police officers.
signature of the person who held temporary custody of the seized item, the date and time when such
Q: How about you, what did you do? transfer of custody were made in the course of safekeeping and use in court as evidence, and the final
disposition.
A: Im just beside the suspect.
In Malillin v. People,36 we laid down the chain of custody requirements that must be met in proving that
Q: And what happened when your companion arrested the suspect? the seized drugs are the same ones presented in court: (1) testimony about every link in the chain, from
A: Then I conducted body frisk on the suspect and I was able to recover the buy bust money and the moment the item was picked up to the time it is offered into evidence; and (2) witnesses should
another transparent plastic sachet inside his left palm. describe the precautions taken to ensure that there had been no change in the condition of the item and
no opportunity for someone not in the chain to have possession of the item.
In this case, the prosecution was able to prove, through the testimonies of its witnesses that the integrity explanation of such possession - the onus probandi is shifted to the accused, to explain the
of the seized item was preserved every step of the process. After the sale of shabu and another sachet absenceofknowledge or animus possidendi.43
was discovered in the person of accused-appellant, SPO1 Angeles, who was the poseur-buyer in the
buy-bust operation, marked the drug specimens, and then turned over the same to the desk officer, who In fine, considering the pieces of evidence presented by the prosecution, the denial of the accused-
in turn handed it to PO1 Sales. The latter then prepared a Request for Laboratory Examination, and on appellant fails.1wphi1 Courts generally view the defense of denial with disfavor due to the facility with
the same day, the specimens were delivered by PO1 Nicart to the PNP Crime Laboratory for quantitative which an accused can concoct it to suit his or her defense. As evidence that is both negative and self-
and qualitative examination, conducted by Engr. Jabonillo.37 serving, this defense cannot attain more credibility than the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses
who testify clearly, providing thereby positive evidence on the various aspects of the crime committed. 44
The same was corroborated by PO1 Sales and Engr. Jabonillo, whose testimonies were dispensed with,
and formed part of the stipulations of facts agreed upon by both the prosecution and defense.38 Also, it is a well-entrenched principle that findings of fact of the trial court as to the credibility of
witnesses are accorded great weight and respect when no glaring errors, gross misapprehension of
The defense kept on harping on alleged lapses in the procedure observed by the apprehending officers, facts, and speculative, arbitrary and unsupported conclusions can be gathered from such findings. The
like SPO1 Angeles failure to recall the duty officer to whom he turned over the specimens, and the rationale behind this rule is that the trial court is in a better position to decide the credibility of witnesses,
officer who brought the specimens to the crime laboratory. Also, they questioned the absence of an having heard their testimonies and observed their deportment and manner of testifying during trial. This
inventory report of the confiscated drugs and that there were no photographs taken in the presence of rule finds an even more stringent application where said findings are sustained by the Court of
the accused-appellant and that of a representative from the media or the Department of Justice or any Appeals.45 This Court does not find any convincing reason to depart from the ruling of the trial court,
elected public officer. which was affirmed by the appellate court.
Section 21, paragraph 1, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 provides: WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is DENIED. Accordingly, the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 30
November 2010 in CA-G. R. CRHC No. 03858 is hereby AFFIRMED.
Section 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized, and/or Surrendered Dangerous Drugs,
Plant Sources of Dangerous Drugs, Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals, SO ORDERED.
Instruments/Paraphernalia and/or Laboratory Equipment. The PDEA shall take charge and have
custody of all dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ
chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment so confiscated, seized Associate Justice
and/or surrendered, for proper disposition in the following manner:
(1) The apprehending team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, immediately after
seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the accused
or the person/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or
counsel, a representative from the media and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public
official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy thereof; x x x
But time and again, jurisprudence is consistent in stating that less than strict compliance with the
procedural aspect of the chain of custody rule does not necessarily render the seized drug items
inadmissible.39
As held in People v. Llanita40 as cited in People v. Ara:41
RA 9165 and its subsequent Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) do not require strict compliance
as to the chain of custody rule. x x x We have emphasized that what is essential is "the preservation of
the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items, as the same would be utilized in the
determination of the guilt or innocence of the accused." Briefly stated, non-compliance with the
procedural requirements under RA 9165 and its IRR relative to the custody, photographing, and
drugtesting of the apprehended persons, is not a serious flaw that can render void the seizures and
custody of drugs in a buy-bust operation.
As to the charge of illegal possession of dangerous drugs, the prosecution must establish the following
elements: (1) the accused is in possession of an item or object, which is identified to be a prohibited or
regulated drug; (2) such possession is not authorized by law; and (3) the accused freely and consciously
possessed the drug.42 In the case at hand, the prosecution was able to prove that the accused-appellant
was in possession of one (1) plastic sachet of shabu, when he was frisked on the occasion of his arrest.
There was also no showing that he had the authority to possess the drugs that was in his person. This
Court held in a catena of cases that mere possession of a regulated drug per se constitutes prima facie
evidence of knowledge or animus possidendi sufficient to convict an accused absent a satisfactory
FIRST DIVISION marked as Exhibit "B-1" and the signature of the forensic chemist over her typewritten name
likewise as appearing on the report was marked as Exhibit "B-2;"
G.R. No. 198318 November 27, 2013
5) The existence of the four (4) plastic sachets, but not their source or origin, the contents of
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, which were the subject of the Request for Laboratory Examination, which were marked in
vs. evidence as follows: as Exhibit "C" (the brown envelope), as Exhibits "C-1" (the plastic sachet
ASIR GANI y ALIH and NORMINA GANI y GALOS, Accused-Appellants. containing white crystals with markings ("ES-1"); as Exhibit "C-2" (the plastic sachet
DECISION containing white crystals with markings "ES-2"); and as Exhibit "C-3" (the plastic sachet
containing lesser crystals with markings "ES-1").5
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
Thereafter, trial ensued.
On appeal is the Decision1 dated April 1, 2011 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 02625,
which affirmed in toto the Decision2 dated October 16 2006 of the Regional Trial Court R TC), Branch The prosecution presented the testimonies of Special Investigator (SI) Elson Saul (Saul),6 SI Joel Otic
70, City of Pasig, in Criminal Case No. 13491-D, finding accused-appellants Asir A. Gani and Normina (Otic),7 SI Salvador Arteche, Jr. (Arteche),8 SI Melvin Escurel (Escurel),9 and Atty. Ross Jonathan
G. Gani guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal sale of dangerous drugs defined and penalized under Galicia (Galicia),10 all of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) assigned to the Special Enforcement
Article II, Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9165 otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, in Services of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). The prosecution dispensed with the
relation to Paragraph 2, Article 62 of the Revised Penal Code. presentation of the testimony of NBI Forensic Chemist II Rommel G. Patingo, who conducted the
chemical analysis of the specimens submitted for his examination, since the subject matter of his
Accused-appellants were charged m conspiracy with one another under the following criminal testimony had already been stipulated during the pre-trial conference.
information:
The documentary evidence for the prosecution consisted of the NBI-PDEA Pre-Operation Report11
The undersigned Assistant Provincial Prosecutor accuses P02 ASIR GANI y Alih and NORMINA GANI y dated May 6, 2004; Coordination Letter12 dated May 6, 2004 of NBI-PDEA to the Chief of Police of
Galos @ ROHAIMA of the crime of Violation of Section 5, Art. II, R.A. 9165 in relation to Art. 62, Par. 2, Taguig, City; Joint Affidavit of Arrest13 dated May 7, 2004 signed by several members of the buy-bust
of the Revised Penal Code, committed as follows: team, namely, SI Saul, SI Otic, SI Arteche, Atty. Galicia, SI Antonio Erum, SI Garry I. Meez, SI Bertrand
That on or about the 6th day of May 2004 in the Municipality of Taguig, Metro Manila, Philippines and Gamaliel A. Mendoza, and SI Junnel Malaluan; Booking Sheet and Arrest Report14 of each accused-
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above named accused, in conspiracy with one appellant; Inventory of Seized Properties15 signed by SI Saul and two witnesses; buy-bust money
another, acting as an organized/syndicated crime group, without being authorized by law, did then and consisting of two P1,000.00 bills and several pieces of P20.00 bills;16 request dated May 7, 2004 for the
there willfully, unlawfully and knowingly sell, deliver and give away to a poseur buyer, SI Saul, 98.7249 laboratory examination of "two (2) transparent heat-sealed plastic sachets containing undetermined
grams of white crystalline substance contained in two (2) heat sealed transparent plastic bags, which amount of white crystalline substance" recovered from accused-appellants and marked "ES-1 05-06-04"
substance was found positive to the test for Methamphetamine Hydrochloride also known as "shabu," and "ES-2 05-06-04";17 Dangerous Drugs Report No. DD-04-16118 dated May 13, 2004 prepared by
which is a dangerous drug, in consideration of the agreed amount of Php150,000.00 in violation of the NBI Forensic Chemist II Patingo and Forensic Chemist III Aida R. Viloria-Magsipoc (Viloria-Magsipoc); a
above cited law.3 brown envelope and four plastic sachets of shabu, including the two sachets marked "ES-1 05-06-04"
and "ES-2 05-06-04";19 and the Toxicology Report Nos. TDD-04-1788 and TDD-04-178920 prepared by
When arraigned on July 28, 2004, accused-appellants pleaded not guilty.4 At the pre-trial conference NBI Forensic Chemist II Patingo and Forensic Chemist III Viloria-Magsipoc.
held on September 15, 2004, the parties arrived at the following stipulation of facts:
Based on the totality of the evidence submitted, the prosecution presented the following version of the
STIPULATION OF FACTS events which led to accused-appellants arrest:
xxxx On May 5, 2004, SI Saul received information from a confidential informant that accused-appellant
Normina Gani (Normina), alias Rohaima, was looking for a buyer of shabu. SI Saul agreed to meet the
1) The qualification as an expert Forensic Chemist, P/Insp. Rommel Patingo of the NBI
informant and accused-appellant Normina for negotiation at the Pearl Hotel in Manila, just in front of the
Forensic Chemistry Division;
NBI Headquarters. They eventually met at Jollibee restaurant beside the Pearl Hotel. SI Saul was
2) The due execution and genuineness of the Request for Laboratory Examination dated May introduced by the informant to accused-appellant Normina as an interested buyer of shabu. Accused-
7, 2004, which was marked in evidence as Exhibit "A." In addition, the entries therein under appellant Normina initially offered to sell 500 grams of shabu to SI Saul, but the two later on agreed on
paragraph SPECIMENS SUBMITTED was marked as Exhibit "A-1" and the rubber stamp the sale of 100 grams of shabu for One Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos (P150,000.00) to be
showing receipt thereof by the NBI Forensic Chemistry Division was marked as Exhibit "A-2;" consummated in the afternoon of the following day, May 6, 2004, at FTI Complex corner Vishay Street,
Taguig City.
3) That the said Request for Laboratory Examination together with the specimen mentioned
therein were delivered to, and received by, the NBI Forensic Chemistry Division, Taft Avenue, After the meeting, SI Saul reported back to the NBI Headquarters to tell his superior, Atty. Ruel Lasala
Manila, for chemical examination/analysis of the specimen; (Lasala), about the transaction. Atty. Lasala instructed SI Saul to coordinate with the PDEA and formed a
buy- bust team composed of, among other people, SI Saul, SI Otic, SI Arteche, SI Escurel, and Atty.
4) The due execution and genuineness, as well as the truth of the contents, of Dangerous Galicia. SI Saul was designated as the poseur-buyer and was given the marked money constituting of
Drugs Report No. DE-04 dated May 7, 2004 issued by Forensic Chemist P/Insp. Rommel two P1,000.00 bills, with several P20.00 bills in between, to make it appear that the money was worth
Patingo of the NBI Chemistry Division, Taft Avenue, Manila, who conducted the examination, One Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos (P150,000.00), the purchase price agreed upon by SI Saul and
which was marked as Exhibit "B." In addition, the FINDINGS as appearing on the report was accused-appellant Normina for the shabu.
At around 1:00 in the afternoon on May 6, 2004, the buy-bust team was dispatched to the vicinity of FTI asked if she was Rohaimas sister-in-law. When accused-appellant Normina answered in the affirmative,
Complex in Taguig City. Upon their arrival, the members of the buy-bust team strategically positioned the man handed her a bag and directed her to give the same to Rohaima.
themselves around the arranged meeting place. SI Saul arrived at around 2:00 in the afternoon; while
accused-appellant got there at around 4:30 in the afternoon, riding in tandem on a motorcycle with a Meanwhile, at around 2:30 in the afternoon of the same day, accused-appellant Asir decided to follow
man, later on identified as accused-appellant Asir Gani (Asir). When SI Saul approached accused- accused-appellant Normina to Sunshine Mall. When accused-appellant Asir did not find accused-
appellants, the latter asked the former about the money. SI Saul then showed them the marked money appellant Normina at the mall, he decided to go back home. However, on his way home, accused-
wrapped in transparent plastic inside a clutch bag. SI Saul, in turn, asked accused-appellants about the appellant Asir chanced upon accused-appellant Normina near the market. Accused-appellant Normina
shabu. Accused-appellants showed SI Saul the plastic packs of shabu inside a blue bag. SI Saul handed asked accused-appellant Asir to accompany her to the Pepsi compound where she would meet Rohaima
over the marked money to accused-appellant Gani. Accused-appellant Gani passed on the marked to deliver the bag.
money to accused-appellant Normina and turned over the possession of the shabu to SI Saul. Upon reaching the parking lot of the Pepsi compound at around 4:30 in the afternoon, accused-appellant
After the exchange of money and shabu , SI Saul lighted a cigarette, which was the pre-arranged signal Normina alighted from the motorcycle with the bag in hand. As accused-appellant Normina was walking,
to the rest of the buy-bust team that the transaction had been consummated. When SI Saul already saw a van suddenly arrived from which five police officers in civilian clothes alighted. The police officers
the buy-bust team members approaching, he grabbed accused-appellant Asirs hands and introduced poked their guns at accused-appellant Asir and restrained accused-appellant Normina, taking the bag
himself as an NBI agent. Accused-appellants were arrested and duly advised of their constitutional away from her. The police officers then hit accused-appellant Asir on different parts of his body and
rights. During the search incidental to accused-appellants arrest, the buy-bust team seized from slapped accused-appellant Normina. Accused-appellant Asir repudiated the police officers accusation
accused-appellants possession two other sachets of shabu, the marked money, accused-appellant that he was selling drugs, and accused-appellant Normina denied the police officers charge that she
Asirs .45 caliber pistol, and the motorcycle. The buy- bust team and accused-appellants then proceeded was Rohaima and that she had knowledge of the contents of the bag she was about to deliver.
to the FTI Barangay Hall. Thereafter, the police officers boarded accused-appellants on separate vehicles and brought them to the
NBI Headquarters where accused-appellant Asir was further interrogated and mauled. After accused-
At the FTI Barangay Hall, SI Saul conducted an inventory of the items recovered from accused- appellants had spent several days in detention, a "piyansadora" from NBI approached accused-appellant
appellants, including the two plastic sachets of shabu subject of the sale, which SI Saul marked "ES-1 Normina, who offered the dropping of the charges against accused-appellants in exchange for Two
05-06-04" and "ES-2 05-06-04," representing SI Sauls initials and the date of the buy-bust. All these Hundred Thousand Pesos (P200,000.00). Accused-appellant Normina declined because she did not
were done in the presence of accused-appellants and two barangay officials. SI Sauls inventory report, have the money.
however, did not include the two other sachets of shabu seized from accused-appellants possession.
Thereafter, the buy-bust team brought accused-appellants to the NBI Headquarters in Manila. After trial, the RTC rendered its Decision on October 16, 2006. Weighed against the prosecutions
testimonial and documentary evidence, including the corpus delicti of the crime, the RTC found accused-
At the NBI Headquarters, accused-appellants were booked and further investigated. The following day, appellants defenses of denial and alibi implausible and devoid of credence. In the end, the RTC found
May 7, 2004, several members of the buy- bust team executed the Joint Affidavit of Arrest of accused- accused-appellants guilty of the crime charged and sentenced them, thus:
appellants. SI Saul also executed an incident report, requested for laboratory examination of the
contents of the plastic sachets marked "ES-1 05-06-04" and "ES-2 05-06-04," and submitted the said WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused PO2 ASIR GANI and
specimens to the NBI Forensic Chemistry Division where they were received by NBI Forensic Chemist II NORMINA GANI GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the offense of violation of Section 5, Article II, of
Patingo. Republic Act 9165 (Illegal Sale of Dangerous Drugs), and are both hereby sentenced to LIFE
IMPRISONMENT and each to pay a FINE of FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P500,000.00).
The two plastic sachets submitted for laboratory examination had a combined weight of 98.7249 grams.
Based on the forensic analysis by NBI Forensic Chemist II Patingo and Forensic Chemist III Viloria- Considering the penalty imposed by the Court on herein accused PO2 Asir Gani and Normina Gani, their
Magsipoc, the contents of said sachets tested positive for Methamphetamine Hydrochloride. immediate commitment to the New Bilibid Prisons, National Penitentiary, Muntinlupa City and the
Correctional Institute for Women, Mandaluyong City, respectively, is hereby ordered. Pursuant to Section
The evidence for the defense consisted of accused-appellants testimonies.21 Both denied the crime 21 of Republic Act 9165, representatives from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) are
charged against them and claimed that they were the victims of extortion. They were charged only hereby ordered to take charge and have custody of the sachets of shabu, subject matter of this case, for
because they failed to produce the money demanded from them. proper disposition.
The sequence of events according to the combined testimonies of accused-appellants is as follows: Costs against the accused.22
On May 6, 2004, accused-appellants were at their house located at Sitio Imelda, Upper Bicutan, Taguig Accused-appellants appealed the foregoing RTC judgment to the Court of Appeals,23 based on a lone
City. At around 11:30 in the morning, Accused-appellant Normina informed her husband, accused- assignment of error:
appellant Asir, that she will accompany accused-appellant Asirs cousin, a certain Rohaima Sulayman
(Rohaima), who will meet someone at the Sunshine Mall in Taguig City. At about 12:00 noon, accused- THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS WHOSE
appellant Normina and Rohaima arrived at Sunshine Mall. Rohaima borrowed accused-appellant GUILT HAS NOT BEEN PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.24
Norminas cellphone several times to call up the person she was supposed to meet. At around 3:30 in On April 1, 2011, the Court of Appeals promulgated its Decision affirming accused-appellants
the afternoon, the person who Rohaima was waiting for arrived. Rohaima then instructed accused- conviction.1wphi1 The appellate court accorded weight to the assessment by the RTC of the veracity of
appellant Normina to go to Signal Village to accept a package from another person and, thereafter, to the witnesses testimonies. The prosecution witnesses gave a clear and candid narration of the buy-bust
deliver it to Rohaima at the Pepsi compound nearby. As instructed by Rohaima, accused-appellant operation against accused-appellants; while accused-appellants denial and alibi fail in the absence of
Normina went to Signal Village and waited. A man, wearing a white shirt and jeans, later arrived and clear and convincing evidence of ill motive or bad faith on the part of the buy-bust team. The appellate
court also declared that there was substantial compliance with the rule on the chain of custody of the 04" and with a total weight of 98.7249 grams, together with two other sachets, were duly presented as
seized drugs, thus, preserving the integrity and evidentiary value of the same. Hence, the Court of evidence by the prosecution before the RTC.
Appeals decreed:
Contrary to accused-appellants averment, prosecution witness, SI Saul, was able to explain why there
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is hereby DISMISSED. The 16 October 2006 Decision were a total of four sachets of shabu presented during trial, when SI Saul only bought two sachets during
of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 70 is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.25 the buy- bust operation. SI Saul testified that in addition to the two plastic sachets of shabu sold to him
by accused-appellants, there were two more sachets of shabu recovered from accused-appellants
Hence, the instant appeal. possession by the buy-bust team during the body search conducted incidental to accused-appellants
Since the parties manifested that they would no longer submit any supplemental brief,26 the Court lawful arrest.28
considers the same arguments raised by the parties before the Court of Appeals. The Court further finds that the arresting officers had substantially complied with the rule on the chain of
In their Brief, accused-appellants assert that the prosecution failed to comply with the rules on the custody of the dangerous drugs as provided under Section 21 of Republic Act No. 9165. Jurisprudence
custody of seized drugs provided under Section 21 of Republic Act No. 9165. According to accused- has decreed that, in dangerous drugs cases, the failure of the police officers to make a physical
appellants, there is no showing that the inventory and picture-taking of the shabu were conducted in their inventory and to photograph the sachets of shabu, as well as to mark the sachets at the place of arrest,
presence, as well as in the presence of a representative from the media, the Department of Justice do not render the seized drugs inadmissible in evidence or automatically impair the integrity of the chain
(DOJ), and any elected public official, immediately after accused-appellants arrest and seizure of the of custody of the said drugs.29 What is of utmost importance is the preservation of the integrity and the
shabu purportedly sold by them. When accused-appellants were brought by the buy-bust team to the evidentiary value of the seized items, as these would be utilized in the determination of the guilt or
barangay hall following their arrest, there was already a typewritten inventory report for signature by the innocence of the accused.30
barangay officials, which, accused-appellants surmise, was already prepared at the NBI Office. It is In this case, testimonial and documentary evidence for the prosecution proved that immediately after
likewise not clearly established where and when the markings on the plastic sachets of shabu were accused-appellants arrest, they were brought to the FTI Barangay Hall. It was there, in the presence of
made. Accused-appellants reason that the suspicions regarding the actual conduct of an inventory of the two barangay officials, that SI Saul conducted an inventory of the two plastic sachets of shabu subject of
shabu allegedly sold by them could have been avoided had the prosecution presented the testimonies of the buy-bust operation, plus the other items seized from accused-appellants possession during the
the barangay officials who signed the inventory report. search conducted incidental to accused-appellants arrest. It was also at the barangay hall where SI Saul
Accused-appellants further point out that the prosecutions evidence conflicted as to the number of marked the two plastic sachets of shabu sold to him by accused-appellants as "ES-1 05-06-04" and "ES-
sachets of shabu seized from them. It was stipulated during the pre-trial that there were four plastic 2 05-06-04," representing SI Sauls initials and the date of the buy-bust operation. Thereafter, the buy-
sachets of shabu but prosecution witness SI Saul testified that as poseur-buyer, he bought and received bust team, with accused-appellants, proceeded to the NBI Headquarters. At the NBI Headquarters, SI
only two sachets of shabu from accused-appellants. No details were provided about the seizure of the Saul made a request for examination of the two plastic sachets of shabu, marked "ES-1 05-06-04" and
other two sachets of shabu. "ES-2 05-06-04," and personally handed the same to NBI Forensic Chemist II Patingo. NBI Forensic
Chemist II Patingo, together with NBI Forensic Chemist III Viloria-Magsipoc, conducted the laboratory
Plaintiff-appellee, in its Brief, maintains that the rule on the chain of custody of the seized shabu had examination of the contents of the two sachets marked "ES-1 05-06-04" and "ES-2 05-06-04" and kept
been substantially complied with and the issues raised by accused-appellants are trivial and unfounded. said sachets in his custody until the same were submitted to the RTC as evidence during trial.
The Court finds the appeal bereft of merit. Thus, the Court of Appeals was correct in its observation that the failure of the buy-bust team to take
The combined testimonial, documentary, and object evidence of the prosecution produced a detailed pictures of the seized drugs immediately upon seizure and at the site of accused-appellants
account of the buy-bust operation against accused-appellants and proved all the essential elements of apprehension, and to mark and make an inventory of the same in the presence of all the persons named
the crime charged against them. in Section 21 of Republic Act No. 9165, are not fatal and did not render the seized drugs inadmissible in
evidence given that the prosecution was able to trace and establish each and every link in the chain of
In the prosecution for the crime of illegal sale of prohibited drugs, the following elements must concur: custody of the seized drugs and, hence, the identity and integrity of the said drugs had been duly
(1) the identities of the buyer and seller, object, and consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold preserved. For the same reasons, it was not imperative for the prosecution to present as witnesses
and the payment thereof. What is material to the prosecution for illegal sale of dangerous drugs is the before the RTC the two barangay officials who witnessed the conduct of the inventory. At best, the
proof that the transaction or sale actually occurred, coupled with the presentation in court of the testimonies of these two barangay officials will only be corroborative, and would have no significant
substance seized as evidence.27 impact on the identity and integrity of the seized drugs.
It has been clearly established herein that a buy-bust operation took place on May 6, 2004 conducted by Moreover, accused-appellants uncorroborated defenses of denial and frame-up cannot prevail over the
a team of NBI agents. SI Saul, as the poseur-buyer, and accused-appellants, as the sellers, agreed on prosecution witnesses positive testimonies, coupled with the presentation in court by the prosecution of
the price of One Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos (P150,000.00) for One Hundred (100) grams of shabu. the corpus delicti. Prosecutions involving illegal drugs depend largely on the credibility of the police
After SI Saul handed over the buy-bust money to accused-appellants, the latter gave him, in exchange, officers who conducted the buy-bust operation. Oft-repeated is the rule that in cases involving violations
two plastic sachets containing white crystalline substance. Thereafter, accused-appellants were of Republic Act No. 9165, credence is given to prosecution witnesses who are police officers (or in this
immediately arrested by the buy-bust team. During the search incidental to accused-appellants arrest, case, NBI agents) for they are presumed to have performed their duties in a regular manner, unless
a .45 caliber handgun, the buy-bust money, and two more sachets of suspected shabu were recovered there is evidence to the contrary. Absent any indication that the NBI agents herein were ill motivated in
from their possession. Chemical examination confirmed that the contents of the two plastic sachets sold testifying against accused-appellants, their testimonies deserve full credence.31 In contrast, the
to SI Saul were indeed shabu. These two sachets of shabu, marked "ES-1 05-06-04" and "ES-2 05-06- defenses of denial and frame-up have been invariably viewed by this Court with disfavor for it can easily
be concocted and is a common and standard defense ploy in prosecutions for violation of Republic Act
No. 9165. In order to prosper, the defenses of denial and frame-up must be proved with strong and WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision dated April 1, 2011 of the Court of Appeals in CA-
convincing evidence.32 Accused-appellants presented no such evidence in this case. G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 02625, which affirmed in toto the Decision dated October 16, 2006 of the RTC,
Branch 70, of the City of Pasig, in Criminal Case No. 13491-D, is hereby AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED.
The penalty for illegal sale of shabu, regardless of the quantity and purity involved, under Article II,
Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9165, shall be life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from Five TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00) to Ten Million Pesos (P10,000,000.00). Hence, the imposition Associate Justice
of the penalty of life imprisonment upon accused-appellants and an order for each of them to pay a fine
of Five Hundred Thousand Pesos PS00,000.00) are correct.