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People v.

Mallilin

Facts:

Police officers raided the residence of Junie Malillin y Lopez (petitioner). The search allegedly yielded two (2) plastic
sachets of shabu and five (5) empty plastic sachets containing residual morsels of the said substance. Petitioner was
charged with violation of Sec. 11, Art. II of RA No. 9165 (The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002).

Petitioner entered a negative plea. At the ensuing trial, the prosecution presented P/Insp Bolanos, Arroyo (forensic
chemist) and PO3 Esternon as witnesses.

The evidence for the defense focused on the irregularity of the search and seizure conducted by the police
operatives. Petitioner testified that PO3 Esternon began the search of the bedroom with Licup and petitioner himself
inside. Petitioner was then asked by a police officer to buy cigarettes at a nearby store.

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, Esternon showed him
"sachet of shabu" which according to him came from a pillow on the bed. Petitioner's account in its entirety was
corroborated in its material respects by Norma (petitioner's mother), barangay kagawad Licup and Sheila (petitioner’s
wife) in their testimonies. Norma and Sheila positively declared that petitioner was not in the house for the entire
duration of the search because at one point he was sent by Esternon to the store to buy cigarettes while Sheila was
being searched by the lady officer. Licup for his part testified on the circumstances surrounding the discovery of the
plastic sachets. He recounted that after the five empty sachets were found, he went out of the bedroom and into the
living room and after about three minutes, Esternon, who was left inside the bedroom, exclaimed that he had just
found two filled sachets.

The trial court declared petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the offense charged. The trial court reasoned
that the fact that shabu was found in the house of petitioner was prima facie evidence of petitioner's animus
possidendi sufficient to convict him of the charge inasmuch as things which a person possesses or over which he
exercises acts of ownership are presumptively owned by him. It also noted petitioner's failure to ascribe ill motives to
the police officers to fabricate charges against him.

Petitioner filed a Notice of Appeal with the CA, calling the attention of the court to certain irregularities in the manner
by which the search of his house was conducted. The OSG advanced that on the contrary, the prosecution evidence
sufficed for petitioner's conviction and that the defense never advanced any proof to show that the members of the
raiding team was improperly motivated to hurl false charges against him and hence the presumption that they had
regularly performed their duties should prevail.

The CA affirmed the judgment of the trial court.

Issue: Whether petitioner's bare denial cannot defeat the positive assertions of the prosecution and that the same
does not suffice to overcome the prima facie existence of animus possidendi.

Held: Yes, petitioner may defeat the positive assertions through proving the failure to follow the chain of custody rule.

The dangerous drug itself constitutes the very corpus delicti of the offense and the fact of its existence is vital to a
judgment of conviction.
o Essential therefore in these cases is that the identity of the prohibited drug be established beyond
doubt.
o Be that as it may, the mere fact of unauthorized possession will not suffice to create in a reasonable
mind the moral certainty required to sustain a finding of guilt. More than just the fact of possession, the
fact that the substance illegally possessed in the first place is the same substance offered in court as
exhibit must also be established with the same unwavering exactitude as that requisite to make a
finding of guilt.

o The chain of custody requirement performs this function in that it ensures that unnecessary doubts
concerning the identity of the evidence are removed.

 As a method of authenticating evidence, the chain of custody rule requires that the admission of an exhibit be
preceded by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what the proponent claims it to
be.

o It would include testimony about every link in the chain, from the moment the item was picked up to the
time it is offered into evidence, in such a way that every person who touched the exhibit 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 was received and the condition in which it was delivered to the
next link in the chain.

o These witnesses would then 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
same.

 An unbroken chain of custody becomes indispensable and essential when the item of real evidence is not
distinctive and is not readily identifiable, or when its condition at the time of testing or trial is critical, or when a
witness has failed to observe its uniqueness.

o The same standard likewise obtains in case the evidence is susceptible to alteration, tampering,
contamination and even substitution and exchange. In other words, the exhibit's level of susceptibility to
fungibility, alteration or tampering—without regard to whether the same is advertent or otherwise not—
dictates the level of strictness in the application of the chain of custody rule.

 A unique characteristic of narcotic substances is that they are not readily identifiable as in fact they are subject to
scientific analysis to determine their composition and nature.

o Hence, in authenticating the same, a standard more stringent than that applied to cases involving
objects which are readily identifiable must be applied, a more exacting standard that entails a chain of
custody of the item with sufficient completeness if only to render it improbable that the original item has
either been exchanged with another or been contaminated or tampered with.

 A mere fleeting glance at the records readily raises significant doubts as to the identity of the sachets of shabu
allegedly seized from petitioner. Of the people who came into direct contact with the seized objects, only
Esternon and Arroyo testified for the specific purpose of establishing the identity of the evidence.

o SPO2 Gallinera, to whom Esternon supposedly handed over the confiscated sachets for recording 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
under which they handled the subject items.

o Any reasonable mind might then ask the question: Are the sachets of shabu allegedly seized from
petitioner the very same objects laboratory tested and offered in court as evidence?

 The prosecution's evidence is incomplete to provide an affirmative answer.

o Considering that it was Gallinera who recorded and marked the seized items, his testimony in court is
crucial to affirm whether the exhibits were the same items handed over to him by Esternon at the place
of seizure and acknowledge the initials marked thereon as his own.

o The same is true of Garcia who could have, but nevertheless failed, to testify on the circumstances
under which she received the items from Esternon, what she did with them during the time they were in
her possession until before she delivered the same to Arroyo for analysis.

 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 explanation for
such failure.

o In effect, there is no reasonable guaranty as to the integrity of the exhibits inasmuch as it failed to rule
out the possibility of substitution of the exhibits, which cannot but inure to its own detriment.

 Also the records disclose a series of irregularities committed by the police officers from the commencement of
the search of petitioner's house until the submission of the seized items to the laboratory for analysis.

o 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.

o Equally telling is the testimony of Bolanos that he posted some of the members of the raiding team at
the door of petitioner's house in order to forestall the likelihood of petitioner fleeing the scene.

o By no stretch of logic can it be conclusively explained why petitioner was sent out of his house on an
errand when in the first place the police officers were in fact apprehensive that he would flee to evade
arrest.

o This fact assumes prime importance because the two filled sachets were allegedly discovered by
Esternon immediately after petitioner returned to his house from the errand, such that he was not able
to witness the conduct of the search during the brief but crucial interlude that he was away.

 It is also strange that, as claimed by Esternon, it was petitioner himself who handed to him the items to be
searched including the pillow from which the two filled sachets allegedly fell. Indeed, it is contrary to ordinary
human behavior that petitioner would hand over the said pillow to Esternon knowing fully well that illegal drugs
are concealed therein.

 Moreover, Section 21 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. No. 9165 clearly outlines the post-
seizure procedure in taking custody of seized drugs.
o It mandates that the officer acquiring initial custody of drugs under a search warrant must conduct the
photographing and the physical inventory of the item at the place where the warrant has been served.

o Esternon deviated from this procedure. It was elicited from him that at the close of the search of
petitioner's house, he brought the seized items immediately to the police station for the alleged purpose
of making a "true inventory" thereof, but there appears to be no reason why a true inventory could not
be made in petitioner's house when in fact the apprehending team was able to record and mark the
seized items and there and then prepare a seizure receipt therefor.

o Lest it be forgotten, the raiding team has had enough opportunity to cause the issuance of the warrant
which means that it has had as much time to prepare for its implementation.

o While the final proviso in Section 21 of the rules 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.

 Given the foregoing deviations of police officer Esternon from the standard and normal procedure in the
implementation of the warrant and in taking post-seizure custody of the evidence, the blind reliance by the trial
court and the Court of Appeals on the presumption of regularity in the conduct of police duty is manifestly
misplaced.

o 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.

o Suffice it to say that this presumption cannot preponderate over the presumption of innocence that
prevails if not overthrown by proof beyond reasonable doubt.

o 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.

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
isACQUITTED on reasonable doubt and is accordingly ordered immediately released from custody unless he is
being lawfully held for another offense.

People Vs. Pagaduan

Facts: Buy-bust operation was conducted by PO3 Almarez, SPO1 Balido and Captain de
Vera. Ruper Pagaduan was arrested and plastic sachet of what appears to be shabu was
marked, request for laboratory examination was done the same day. The plastic sachet was
turned over to PNP Crime Laboratory two days after. He was found guilty by the court and
the same was affirmed by CA
Pagaduan contents among others that the prosecution failed to show an unbroken chain of
custody in the handling of the seized drug. He claims that there was no evidence to show
when the marking were done.

Issue: WON the integrity of the evidence was preserved


Decision: SC acquitted Pagaduan. The prosecution failed to show that the illegal drug
presented in the court is the same illegal drug actually recovered from the Pagaduan. Strict
compliance with the prescribed procedure is required because of the illegal drug’s unique
characteristic rendering it indistinct, not readily identifiable, and easily open to tampering
alteration or substitution either by accident or otherwise.
–––––

We recognize that the strict compliance with the requirements of Section 21 of R.A. No.
9165 may not 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 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 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 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 evidence seized must be shown to have been
preserved
In the present case, the prosecution did not bother to offer any explanation to justify the
failure of the police to conduct the required physical inventory and photograph of the seized
drugs. The apprehending team failed to show why an inventory and photograph of the
seized evidence had not been made either in the place of seizure and arrest or at the
nearest police station (as required by the Implementing Rules in case of warrantless
arrests). We emphasize that for the saving clause to apply, it is important that the
prosecution explain the reasons behind the procedural lapses, and that the integrity and
value of the seized evidence had been preserved. In other words, the justifiable ground for
noncompliance must be proven as a fact. The court cannot presume what these grounds are
or that they even exist.
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 of its transportation to the police station. In the
absence of clear evidence, we cannot presume that PO3 Almarez, as the poseur buyer,
handled the seized sachet to the exclusion of others – during its transfer from the place of
arrest and confiscation to the police station. The prosecution likewise failed to present
evidence pertaining to the identity of the duty desk officer who received the plastic sachet
containing 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 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 evidence
does not show that he was the official who received the marked plastic sachet from the
buy-bust team.
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 by PO2 Dulnuan, and later examined by PSI Quintero.
However, the person from whom PO3 Almarez 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 temporary custody of the
seized items for two days, had not been established.
The procedural lapses mentioned above show the glaring gaps in the chain of custody,
creating a reasonable doubt whether the drugs confiscated from the appellant were the
same drugs that were brought to the crime laboratory for chemical analysis, and eventually
offered in court as evidence. In the absence of concrete evidence on the illegal drugs
bought and sold, the body of the crime the corpus delicti has not been adequately proven.
In effect, the prosecution failed to fully prove the elements of the crime charged, creating
reasonable doubt on the appellants criminal liability.

SALAS vs MATUSALEM

FACTS:

On May 26, 1995, Annabelle Matusalem filed a complaint for Support/Damages against Narciso
Salas in the Regional Trial Court of Cabanatuan City. Respondent claimed that petitioner is the
father of her son Christian Paulo Salas. Petitioner, already 56 years old at the time, enticed her
as she was then only 24 years old, making her believe that he is a widower. Petitioner rented an
apartment where respondent stayed and shouldered all expenses in the delivery of their child,
including the cost of caesarian operation and hospital confinement. However, when respondent
refused the offer of petitioner’s family to take the child from her, petitioner abandoned
respondent and her child and left them to the mercy of relatives and friends. Respondent further
alleged that she attempted suicide due to depression but still petitioner refused to support her
and their child. The testimonial evidence of the owner of the apartment where petitioner
allegedly housed respondent when she was pregnant was one of the basis for respondent’s
claim for support. The RTC ruled in favour of respondent to which the CA affirmed on appeal.

ISSUE: Whether the trial and appellate courts erred in ruling that respondent’s evidence
sufficiently proved that her son Christian Paulo is the illegitimate child of petitioner.

RULING:

Respondent presented the Certificate of Live Birth of Christian Paulo Salas in which the
name of petitioner appears as his father but which is not signed by him. Admittedly, it was only
respondent who filled up the entries and signed the said document though she claims it was
petitioner who supplied the information she wrote therein.

A certificate of live birth purportedly identifying the putative father is not competent
evidence of paternity when there is no showing that the putative father had a hand in the
preparation of the certificate. Thus, if the father did not sign in the birth certificate, the placing of
his name by the mother, doctor, registrar, or other person is incompetent evidence of paternity.
Neither can such birth certificate be taken as a recognition in a public instrument and it has no
probative value to establish filiation to the alleged father.

As to the Baptismal Certificate of Christian Paulo Salas also indicating petitioner as the
father, we have ruled that while baptismal certificates may be considered public documents,
they can only serve as evidence of the administration of the sacraments on the dates so
specified. They are not necessarily competent evidence of the veracity of entries therein with
respect to the child’s paternity.

The rest of respondent’s documentary evidence consists of handwritten notes and letters,
hospital bill and photographs taken of petitioner and respondent inside their rented apartment
unit.

Pictures taken of the mother and her child together with the alleged father are inconclusive
evidence to prove paternity. Showing petitioner and respondent inside the rented apartment unit
thus have scant evidentiary value. The Statement of Account from the Good Samaritan General
Hospital where respondent herself was indicated as the payee is likewise incompetent to prove
that petitioner is the father of her child notwithstanding petitioner’s admission in his answer that
he shouldered the expenses in the delivery of respondent’s child as an act of charity.

As to the handwritten notes of petitioner and respondent showing their exchange of


affectionate words and romantic trysts, these, too, are not sufficient to establish Christian
Paulo’s filiation to petitioner as they were not signed by petitioner and contained no statement of
admission by petitioner that he is the father of said child. Thus, even if these notes were
authentic, they do not qualify under Article 172 (2) vis-à- 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 parent concerned.

G.R. No. 209588, February 18, 2015

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ERIC ROSAURO Y


BONGCAWIL, Accused-Appellant.

Facts: The accused-appelant, Eric Rosauro, was charged with violation of


Sec. 5, Art. II of R. A. No. 9165.

According to the Prosecution, on July 3, 2004, the police authorities


received information that drugs were being distributed at Purok 3,
Barangay Poblacion, Villanueva, Misamis Oriental. Thus a buy-bust
operation was conducted by the Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit of
Misamis Oriental.

There, the officers saw Rosauro negotiate with the confidential agent and
after the transaction, Rosauro was arrested. Thereafter, the confidential
agent handed the sachet to an officer, who taped it, marked it with the
marking “Exhibit A”, and placed it inside his pocket. He also took pictures of
Rosauro and the drugs. In the police station, he prepared a Certificate of
Inventory and a Request for Laboratory Examination. Both the drugs and
Rosauro were then turned over to the Crime laboratory.

The Forensic Chemical Officer of PNP Crime Laboratory conducted a


laboratory examination on the contents of the sachet, on accused-appellant,
and the marked money. The examination of the seized item yielded positive
result for shabu; while the accused-appellant and the marked money tested
positive for the presence of ultra-violet fluorescent powder.6

However, Rosauro claims he was merely a victim of instigation. He testified


that on July 3, 2004, the police asset went to his house four (4) times and
convinced him to do an errand for him. Rosauro refused to buy shabu as he
did not know where to buy one. It was the confidential informant who told
him to buy the prohibited drug from a certain “Kael” and to deliver it to the
former’s house. It was also the informant who gave the money to Rosauro to
buy the shabu. But Rosauro was not able to meet or buy directly from Kael
because it was a young man who got and handed to him the shabu on the
road. When Rosauro went to the house of the confidential informant as
instructed, he was arrested. The sachet of shabu was not even recovered
from him but from the confidential informant.7

The RTC convicted Rosauro after finding the evidence of the prosecution
sufficient to establish the guilt of accused-appellant.
Rosauro appealed before the CA, arguing that the RTC erred in convicting
him since his guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt. The CA
affirmed the RTC Judgment, thus accused-appellant is now before the Court
seeking a review of his conviction.

Issue: Was there irregularity in the chain of custody of the seized item?

Held: NO.

The chain of custody is not established solely by compliance with the


prescribed physical inventory and photographing of the seized drugs in the
presence of the enumerated persons. The Implementing Rules and
Regulations of R. A. No. 9165 on the handling and disposition of seized
dangerous drugs states:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
x x x Provided, further, that non-compliance with these requirements under
justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and evidentiary value of the
seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team, shall
not render void and invalid such seizures of and custody over said items.22

However, this Court has, in many cases, held that while the chain of custody
should ideally be perfect, in reality it is “almost always impossible to obtain
an unbroken chain.” The most important factor is the preservation of the
integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items as they will be used
to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused. Hence, the prosecution’s
failure to submit in evidence the physical inventory and photograph of the
seized drugs as required under Article 21 of R. A. No. 9165, will not render
the accused’s arrest illegal or the items seized from him
inadmissible.21chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

G.R. No. 209588, February 18, 2015

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ERIC ROSAURO Y


BONGCAWIL, Accused-Appellant.

Facts: The accused-appelant, Eric Rosauro, was charged with violation of


Sec. 5, Art. II of R. A. No. 9165.

According to the Prosecution, on July 3, 2004, the police authorities


received information that drugs were being distributed at Purok 3,
Barangay Poblacion, Villanueva, Misamis Oriental. Thus a buy-bust
operation was conducted by the Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit of
Misamis Oriental.

There, the officers saw Rosauro negotiate with the confidential agent and
after the transaction, Rosauro was arrested. Thereafter, the confidential
agent handed the sachet to an officer, who taped it, marked it with the
marking “Exhibit A”, and placed it inside his pocket. He also took pictures of
Rosauro and the drugs. In the police station, he prepared a Certificate of
Inventory and a Request for Laboratory Examination. Both the drugs and
Rosauro were then turned over to the Crime laboratory.

The Forensic Chemical Officer of PNP Crime Laboratory conducted a


laboratory examination on the contents of the sachet, on accused-appellant,
and the marked money. The examination of the seized item yielded positive
result for shabu; while the accused-appellant and the marked money tested
positive for the presence of ultra-violet fluorescent powder.6

However, Rosauro claims he was merely a victim of instigation. He testified


that on July 3, 2004, the police asset went to his house four (4) times and
convinced him to do an errand for him. Rosauro refused to buy shabu as he
did not know where to buy one. It was the confidential informant who told
him to buy the prohibited drug from a certain “Kael” and to deliver it to the
former’s house. It was also the informant who gave the money to Rosauro to
buy the shabu. But Rosauro was not able to meet or buy directly from Kael
because it was a young man who got and handed to him the shabu on the
road. When Rosauro went to the house of the confidential informant as
instructed, he was arrested. The sachet of shabu was not even recovered
from him but from the confidential informant.7

The RTC convicted Rosauro after finding the evidence of the prosecution
sufficient to establish the guilt of accused-appellant.

Rosauro appealed before the CA, arguing that the RTC erred in convicting
him since his guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt. The CA
affirmed the RTC Judgment, thus accused-appellant is now before the Court
seeking a review of his conviction.

Issue: Was there irregularity in the chain of custody of the seized item?

Held: NO.

The chain of custody is not established solely by compliance with the


prescribed physical inventory and photographing of the seized drugs in the
presence of the enumerated persons. The Implementing Rules and
Regulations of R. A. No. 9165 on the handling and disposition of seized
dangerous drugs states:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
x x x Provided, further, that non-compliance with these requirements under
justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and evidentiary value of the
seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team, shall
not render void and invalid such seizures of and custody over said items.22

However, this Court has, in many cases, held that while the chain of custody
should ideally be perfect, in reality it is “almost always impossible to obtain
an unbroken chain.” The most important factor is the preservation of the
integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items as they will be used
to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused. Hence, the prosecution’s
failure to submit in evidence the physical inventory and photograph of the
seized drugs as required under Article 21 of R. A. No. 9165, will not render
the accused’s arrest illegal or the items seized from him
inadmissible.21chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

People vs Constantino

Facts:

On January 20, 2005, at around 2:00 in the afternoon, Police Superintendent (P/Supt.) Mariano
Rodriguez (Rodriquez), the Chief of Police of Tuguegarao City, received a report from a confidential
informant (CI) that a certain Jojit was selling illegal drugs in the said city. P/Supt.

Rodriguez immediately formed a buy-bust group composed of Senior Police Officer (SPO) 2 Noel Taguiam
(Taguiam), SPO2 Alexander Tamang (Tamang), SPO1 Arthur Blaquera (Blaquera), Police Officer (PO) 3
Edwin Hernandez (Hernandez), and PO3 Rolando Domingo (Domingo). PO3 Domingo was designated as
the poseur-buyer. The buy-bust money, consisting of one ₱500.00 bill and five ₱100.00 bills, were dusted
with fluorescent powder and their respective serial numbers were recorded in the police blotter.5

Around 8:00 in the evening of the same day, the team proceeded to Reynovilla St., Caritan Centro,
Tuguegarao City, the place where, according to the CI, Jojit was selling shabu. PO3 Domingo positioned
himself beside a street light while the rest of the team hid behind a nearby concrete fence. After waiting
for about 45 minutes, Constantino arrived on board a tricycle. PO3 Domingo recognized Constantino as
the Jojit described by the CI. PO3 Domingo approached Constantino and asked him if he was Jojit. When
Constantino replied in the affirmative, PO3 Domingo next asked, "Mayroon ka bang stuff?" ("Do you have
stuff?") In response, Constantino inquired of PO3 Domingo how much he wanted to buy. PO3 Domingo
said he wanted to buy ₱1,000.00 worth of shabu, simultaneously handing over the buy-bust money to
Constantino, who, in turn, handed two plastic sachets to PO3 Domingo. Thereupon, PO3 Domingo
turned his cap backwards, the pre-arranged signal for the consummated sale. Upon seeing the signal,
the other members of the buy-bust team approached the scene at once and arrested Constantino, from
whom SPO2 Taguiam recovered the buy-bust money.6

Thereafter, Constantino was brought to the police station where the recovered drugs and money were
turned over to the investigator, SPO2 Tamang.7 The recovered drugs were then marked with the initials
"A-1" and "A-2." The incident was recorded in the police blotter with an inventory of the recovered drugs
and money.8

Later that evening, at around ten o’clock, P/Supt. Rodriguez and SPO2 Tamang submitted to the
Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory Services, Camp Marcelo Adduru, Tuguegarao City, a
request for laboratory examination of two plastic sachets with white crystalline substance marked as "A-
1" and "A-2" to determine the presence of dangerous drugs;9 as well as both hands of Constantino, one
piece ₱500.00 bill, and five pieces ₱100.00 bills, to determine the presence of the ultra violet powder.10
Per Chemistry Report No. D-08-200511 and Physical Identification Report No. PI-04-2005,12 prepared by
Police Senior Inspector (P/SInsp.) Mayra Matote Madria,13 Forensic Chemist, the contents of the two
plastic sachets tested positive for Methamphetamine Hydrochloride; while the other specimens tested
positive for the presence of bright-yellow ultraviolet fluorescent powder.

Constantino denied the accusation against him and asserted that he was merely framed-up.

RTC ruled against the accused, finding him guilty for guilty of the crime of illegal sale of drugs.
Court of Appeals affirmed in toto the judgment of conviction of the RTC and that the defense of
frame-up was not worthy of credence as his version of the incident was not at all corroborated.
Constantino was caught in flagrante delicto selling shabu to PO3 Domingo, who acted as the
poseur-buyer, therefore, he was legally arrested without a warrant. Hence, the appeal

Issue:

W/N the prosecution failed to establish a crucial link in the chain of custody of the shabu in this case.

Held:

Yes. Crucial in proving the chain of custody is the marking of the seized dangerous drugs or other
related items immediately after they are seized from the accused, for the marking upon seizure is the
starting point in the custodial link that succeeding handlers of the evidence will use as reference
point. Moreover, the value of marking of the evidence is to separate the marked evidence from the
corpus of all other similar or related evidence from the time of seizure from the accused until
disposition at the end of criminal proceedings, obviating switching, "planting" or contamination of
evidence. A failure to mark at the time of taking of initial custody imperils the integrity of the chain of
custody that the law requires. (Citation omitted.)
1âwphi1

Herein, the prosecution is completely silent as to why PO3 Domingo, the poseur-buyer, despite
having immediate custody of the two plastic sachets of shabu purchased from Constantino, failed to
immediately mark the seized drugs before turning over the custody of the same to another police
officer. This lapse in procedure opened the door for confusion and doubt as to the identity of the
drugs actually seized from Constantino during the buy-bust and the ones presented before the trial
court, especially considering that three different people, during the interval, supposedly received and
marked the same. To clarify the matter, the prosecution could have presented as witness either
SPO2 Tamang or SPO2 Taguiam to directly validate the marking in court, but unfortunately, the
prosecution chose to dispense with the testimonies of both officers. This omission diminished the
importance of the markings as the reference point for the subsequent handling of the evidence. As a
consequence, an objective person could now justifiably suspect the shabu ultimately presented as
evidence in court to be planted or contaminated. 30

The failure of the prosecution to establish the evidence’s chain of custody is fatal to its case as the
Court can no longer consider or even safely assume that the integrity and evidentiary value of the
confiscated dangerous drug were properly preserved.

People Vs. Mercury Dela Cruz

FACTS:

At around 7:15 o'clock in the evening of November 10, 2006, PO3 Batobalonos, PO1 Reales,
PO1 Bullido and their civilian asset proceeded to Sitio Cogon, A. Lopez St., Barangay
Labangon. When the team went inside the interior portion of Sitio Cogon, PO1 Reales together
with the civilian asset approached the house of Dela Cruz, while PO3 Batobalonos and PO1
Bullido were strategically hidden more or less ten (10) meters away. The civilian asset called
Dela Cruz and told her that they will buy shabu worth P200.00. Thereafter, Dela Cruz handed
PO1 Reales a small plastic containing white crystalline substance and in exchange he handed to
the former the P200.00 bills. Upon getting hold of the money, PO3 Batobalonos and PO1
Bullido, who saw the consummation of the transaction rushed to the scene. When PO3
Batobalonos got hold of Dela Cruz, the latter shouted for help and resisted arrest. Dela Cruz was
able to run and so the team chased her, however, her neighbor Arthur Tabasa Ortega ("Ortega")
blocked their way.

The team introduced themselves as policemen but Ortega did not listen, so PO3 Batobalonos
fired a warning shot as the people likewise started to gather around them. Meanwhile, Dela Cruz
was able to evade arrest. The team then arrested Ortega for obstruction of justice. On their way to
the police station aboard their patrol car, PO1 Reales handed to PO3 Batobalonos the small
plastic containing white crystalline substance which he purchased from Dela Cruz. Thereafter,
upon arrival at the police station, PO3 Batobalonos marked the seized item with "DDM
11/10/06." Afterwards, a Request for Laboratory Examination of the seized item was prepared by
PO3 Batobalonos.

The Request and the seized item were delivered to the Regional Crime Laboratory Office-7,
Camp Sotero Cabahug, Gorordo Avenue, Cebu City by PO1 Reales at around 1:10 o'clock in the
morning of November 11, 2006. Thereafter Forensic Chemist PCI Salinas issued Chemistry
Report No. D-1771-2006," with the finding that the specimen gave positive result for the
presence of Methamphetamine hydrochloride. Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 58, Cebu
City, found the accused-appellant guilty of illegal sale of shabu under Sections 5, Article II of
Republic Act (R.A.) No. 91653 and sentenced him to suffer the penalty life imprisonment and to
pay a fine of P500,000.00.
ISSUE: W/N appellant’s case should be dismissed due to failure of the police officers to comply
with the procedure in the custody and disposition of seized drugs (chain of custody).

HELD: We agree with the lower courts that in the absence of any intent or ill motive on the part
of the police officers to falsely impute commission of a crime against the accused-appellant, the
presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty is entitled to great respect and
deserves to prevail over the bare, uncorroborated denial and self-serving claim of the accused of
frame-up. Also, we reject the appellant’s contention that the police officers failed to comply with
the provisions of Section 21, paragraph 1 of R.A. No. 9165, which provides for the procedure in
the custody and disposition of seized drugs.

Although ideally the prosecution should offer a perfect chain of custody in the handling of
evidence, “substantial compliance with the legal requirements on the handling of the seized
item” is sufficient. This Court has consistently ruled that even if the arresting officers failed to
strictly comply with the requirements under Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165, such procedural lapse
is not fatal and will not render the items seized inadmissible in evidence. What is of utmost
importance is the preservation of the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items, as the
same would be utilized in the determination of the guilt or innocence of the accused. In other
words, to be admissible in evidence, the prosecution must be able to present through records or
testimony, the whereabouts of the dangerous drugs from the time these were seized from the
accused by the arresting officers; turned over to the investigating officer; forwarded to the
laboratory for determination of their composition; and up to the time these are offered in
evidence. For as long as the chain of custody remains unbroken, as in this case, even though the
procedural requirements provided for in Sec. 21 of R.A. No. 9165 were not faithfully observed,
the guilt of the accused will not be affected.

The integrity of the evidence is presumed to have been preserved unless there is a showing of
bad faith, ill will, or proof that the evidence has been tampered with. Accused-appellant bears the
burden of showing that the evidence was tampered or meddled with in order to overcome the
presumption of regularity in the handling of exhibits by public officers and the presumption that
public officers properly discharged their duties. Accusedappellant in this case failed to present
any plausible reason to impute ill motive on the part of the arresting officers. Thus, the
testimonies of the apprehending officers deserve full faith and credit. In fact, accused appellant
did not even question the credibility of the prosecution witnesses. She simply anchored her
defense on denial and alibi.

SPOUSES EDUARDO and LYDIA SILOS vs. PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK

FACTS:

Petitioners secured a revolving credit line of P150,000 from PNB which was increased to P1.5million then
subsequently increased to P2.5 million. These were secured by real estate mortgage of petitioner’s
properties and in addition, petitioners issued eight Promissory Notes8 and signed a Credit Agreement.
This July 1989 Credit Agreement contained a stipulation on interest which provides as follows:
1.03. Interest. (a) The Loan shall be subject to interest at the rate of 19.5% per annum. Interest shall be
payable in advance every one hundred twenty days at the rate prevailing at the time of the renewal.

(b) The Borrower agrees that the Bank may modify the interest rate in the Loan depending on whatever
policy the Bank may adopt in the future, including without limitation, the shifting from the floating
interest rate system to the fixed interest rate system, or vice versa. Where the Bank has imposed on the
Loan interest at a rate per annum, which is equal to the Bank’s spread over the current floating interest
rate, the Borrower hereby agrees that the Bank may, without need of notice to the Borrower, increase or
decrease its spread over the floating interest rate at any time depending on whatever policy it may adopt
in the future. (Emphases supplied)

The eight Promissory Notes, on the other hand, contained a stipulation granting PNB the right to
increase or reduce interest rates "within the limits allowed by law or by the Monetary Board."

The Real Estate Mortgage agreement provided the same right to increase or reduce interest rates "at any
time depending on whatever policy PNB may adopt in the future."

Petitioners claim that interest rates imposed by it are null and void for the reasons that 1) the Credit
Agreements and the promissory notes were signed in blank; 2) interest rates were at short periods; 3) no
interest rates could be charged where no agreement on interest rates was made in writing; 4) PNB fixed
interest rates on the basis of arbitrary policies and standards left to its choosing; and 5) interest rates
based on prime rate plus applicable spread are indeterminate and arbitrary

Respondent argued that this issue (signed in blank) was never raised in the lower court and besides,
documentary evidence prevails over testimonial evidence; Lydia Silos’ testimony in this regard is self-
serving, unsupported and uncorroborated, and for being the lone evidence on this issue. The fact
remains that these documents are in proper form, presumed regular, and endure, against arbitrary
claims by Silos – who is an experienced business person – that she signed questionable loan documents
whose provisions for interest rates were left blank, and yet she continued to pay the interests without
protest for a number of years.

ISSUE: W/N the interest rates are null and void.

HELD:

YES. In a number of decided cases, the Supreme Court (SC) struck down provisions in credit documents
issued by Philippine National Bank (PNB) to, or required of, its borrowers which allow the bank to
increase or decrease interest rates “within the limits allowed by law at any time depending on whatever
policy it may adopt in the future.”

It is basic that there can be no contract in the true sense in the absence of the element of agreement, or
of mutual assent of the parties. If this assent is wanting on the part of the one who contracts, his act has
no more efficacy than if it had been done under duress or by a person of unsound mind. Similarly,
contract changes must be made with the consent of the contracting parties. The minds of all the parties
must meet as to the proposed modification, especially when it affects an important aspect of the
agreement. In the case of loan contracts, it cannot be gainsaid that the rate of interest is always a vital
component, for it can make or break a capital venture. Thus, any change must be mutually agreed upon,
otherwise, it is bereft of any binding effect.Any modification in the contract, such as the interest rates,
must be made with the consent of the contracting parties.

By requiring the petitioners to sign the credit documents and the promissory notes in blank, and then
unilaterally filling them up later on, respondent violated the Truth in Lending Act, and was remiss in its
disclosure obligations.