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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 203028 January 15, 2014

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
JOSELITO BERAN y ZAPANTA @ "Jose", Accused-Appellant.

DECISION

REYES, J.:

On appeal is the Decision1 dated March 9, 2012 of the Court of Appeals CA) in CA-G.R. CR-
HC No. 04466 affirming the conviction of accused-appellant Joselito Beran y Zapanta Beran)
rendered by the Regional Trial Court RTC) of Manila, Branch 13, in a Decision2 dated April 19,
2010 in Criminal Case No. 03-218039, for violation of Section 5, Article II of Republic Act
R.A.) No. 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, under an
Information which reads, as follows:

The undersigned accuses JOSELITO BERAN y ZAPANTA @ JOSE of Viol. of Sec. 5 Art. II of
Rep. Act No. 9165, committed as follows:

That on or about August 26, 2003, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, not
having been authorized by law to sell, trade, deliver or give away any dangerous drug, did then
and there willfully, unlawfully and knowingly sell or offer for sale to a poseur buyer one (1) pc.
plastic sachet containing ZERO POINT ZERO THREE ZERO (0.030) gram of white crystalline
substance known as SHABU containing methylamphetamine hydrochloride, which is a
dangerous drug.

Contrary to law.3

At his arraignment on November 5, 2003, Beran pleaded not guilty to the offense charged, and
trial followed.

The Facts

According to the prosecution, between three and four o'clock in the afternoon of August 26,
2003,4 a confidential informant (CI) went to the District Anti-Illegal Drug (DAID) Office of the
Western Police District (WPD) at the United Nations Avenue, Manila, and approached Police
Officer 3 (PO3) Rodolfo Enderina (Enderina) to report that a certain Joselito Beran, alias "Jose,"
a pedicab driver, was selling prohibited drugs, particularly "shabu," in the vicinity of San
Antonio Street in Tondo, Manila. P03 Enderina relayed the information to Police Colonel

1
Marcelino Pedroso, Chief of DAID-WPD, who then ordered him to form a buy-bust team to
apprehend the suspect. At around 5 :00 p.m., the buy-bust team, composed of PO3 Enderina,
PO3 Hipolito Francia, PO3 Benito Decorion (Decorion), PO2 Ernie Reyes, PO2 Alexander
Delos Santos (Delos Santos) and PO3 Knowme Sia (Sia), who was to act as the poseur-buyer,
arrived in Tondo on board an owner-type jeep and two scooters. In the jeep were PO3 Enderina,
PO2 Delos Santos, and the CI, while the rest of the team rode in the scooters. They parked near
the Gat Andres Hospital and proceeded on foot towards San Antonio Street. As arranged, PO3
Sia and the CI walked ahead of the others. PO3 Sia and the CI reached the target area first, and
there the CI saw Beran standing some 10 meters away near a ''poso" or deep-well.

After recognizing and pointing Beran to PO3 Sia, the CI approached him and the two men
conversed briefly. Then the CI signaled to PO3 Sia to join them, and he introduced PO3 Sia to
Beran, who then asked the CI how much PO3 Sia was buying. The CI replied, ''piso lang," or
P100, and Beran took out something from his pocket, a small, heat-sealed plastic sachet, which
he then handed to PO3 Sia. PO3 Sia took the sachet and pretended to examine it discretely, after
which he indicated to Beran that he was satisfied with its content. He then took out a marked
P100 bill which he handed to Beran; all this time the back-up members of the buy-bust team
were watching from strategic locations around the vicinity.

Thereupon, PO3 Sia executed the pre-arranged signal of touching his hair to signify to the back-
up cops that the buy-bust sale of shabu had been consummated, even as he then placed Beran
under arrest. The back-up operatives quickly converged upon Beran, with PO2 Delos Santos
arriving first, to whom PO3 Sia then handed over the custody of Beran, while he kept the plastic
sachet. The buy-bust team brought Beran to the DAID-WPD office, where PO3 Sia marked the
confiscated plastic sachet with the initials of Beran, JB. He also recorded the incident in the
police blotter, and accomplished the Booking Sheet and Arrest Report (Exhibit F and F-1), and
the Request for Laboratory Examination (Exhibit G and G-1. He later brought the seized plastic
sachet to the WPD Crime Laboratory for examination, where after testing it was found to contain
the prohibited drug methylamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.5

In his defense, Beran vehemently denied the above incident. Testifying alone in his defense, he
asserted that on August 26, 2003 at around 2:00 p.m., while he was resting alone upstairs in his
house, five WPD policemen arrived and ordered him to come with them. He resisted and asked
why they were arresting him, but without apprising him of his constitutional rights they
handcuffed and forcibly boarded him in an owner-type jeep and brought him to the WPD
Headquarters. There, two of his arrestors, PO3 Francia and PO3 Sia, demanded from him the
amount of P20,000.00 in exchange for his release without any charge. But he could not produce
the amount they asked, and they trumped up a charge against him of illegal sale of shabu.6

The trial of Beran took all of seven years to wind up, mainly on account of many postponements
allegedly due to supervening illnesses or reassignments of the subpoenaed arresting officers. The
prosecution was able to present two witnesses, PO3 Francia and PO3 Sia, but only PO3 Sia gave
a witness account of the drug buy-bust itself. PO3 Francia admitted that he served as a mere
look-out to prevent any intruder from interfering in the buy-bust operation, and that he did not
witness the buy-bust transaction itself. As for PO3 Decorion, also a member of the buy-bust
team, the RTC per its Order7 dated July 29, 2009 agreed to dispense with his testimony after the

2
parties stipulated that as the designated driver of the buy-bust team, he did not see the actual
exchange of drug and money between Beran and PO3 Sia, nor did he witness the actual arrest of
Beran by PO3 Sia.

Ruling of the RTC

On April 19, 2010, the RTC of Manila, Branch 13 rendered its judgment,8 the dispositive portion
of which reads:

THEREFORE premises considered and the prosecution having established to a moral certainty
the guilt of the accused JOSELITO BERAN y ZAPANTA JOSE of the crime charged, this Court
in the absence of any aggravating circumstance hereby sentences the Accused to LIFE
IMPRISONMENT and to pay the fine of five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00), without
any subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.

In the service of his sentence, the actual confinement under detention during the pendency of this
case shall be deducted from the said prison term in accordance with Article 29 of the Revised
Penal Code.

The evidence presented is ordered transferred to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency
(PDEA) for destruction.

SO ORDERED.9

Beran went up to the CA to interpose the following alleged errors in the RTC decision, to wit:

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING [BERAN] DESPITE THE


ILLEGALITY OF HIS ARREST AND THE INADMISSIBILITY OF THE ALLEGED
CONFISCATED PROHIBITED DRUG.

II.

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING [BERAN] GUILTY BEYOND


REASONABLE DOUBT DESPITE THE PROSECUTION'S FAILURE TO ESTABLISH THE
IDENTITY OF THE PROHIBITED DRUG.

III.

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING [BERAN] DESPITE THE


POLICE OFFICERS' NON-COMPLIANCE WITH SECTION21 OF REPUBLIC ACT NO.
9165.10

Ruling of the CA

3
In affirming in toto the RTC the CA ruled that Beran was caught in flagrante delicto as a result
of a valid and legitimate buy-bust operation, an entrapment to apprehend law breakers while in
the act of executing their criminal plan.11 Relying solely on the testimony of PO3 Sia, it found
that Beran sold the prohibited drug shabu to an undercover buyer, PO3 Sia; that Beran was
arrested at the moment of the consummation of the sale transaction and immediately brought to
the DAID-WPD along with the sachet of illegal drug confiscated from him; that when the
substance was subjected to chemical analysis by the WPD Drug Laboratory, the content thereof
was shown to be methylamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.

The CA further held that the arrest of Beran by PO3 Sia without warrant was valid under Section
5(b) of Rule 113 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, which provides that "a police
officer or a private person may, without a warrant arrest a person when an offense has just been
committed and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or
circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it." It also cited Section 5(a) of Rule
113, wherein it provides that "a police officer can arrest a person without warrant when in his
presence the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to
commit an offense."

Quoted below at length are pertinent portions of the testimony of PO3 Sia which according to the
CA have proved beyond reasonable doubt the material facts attending the buy-bust and
establishing the guilt of Beran:

xxxx

============================
DIRECT EXAMINATION
CONDUCTED BY
ACP LIBERTAD RASA ON WITNESS
PO3 KNOW ME SIA
============================

xxxx

Q: How did you know that there was that informant who arrived at your office giving
information about drugs activities of a certain Beran?

A: PO3 Rodolfo Enderina formed a team in DAID office, ma'am.

Q: Did you know why Enderina formed a group at DAID?

A: He relayed to us that we have an Anti-Illegal Drugs Operation, ma'am.

Q: That you will have an Anti-Illegal Drugs Operation where and against whom?

A: Against one Joselito Beran alias Jose ma am.

4
Q: Where?

A: In the area of San Antonio Street Tondo Manila.

Q: Was there anytime that you saw them in front at your office when he relayed the information
to Enderina?

A: Yes maam.

Q: What time of the day or the night was that?

A: Between 3-4 pm of August 26 2003 ma am.

Q: And what did your team leader Rodolfo Enderina do as soon as he received that information?
A: He formed his men and then he directed all of us and placed the confidential information for
interrogation maam.

Q: As a matter of standard operating procedure what does an operative of SAID or DAID do


before launching a buy-bust operation?

A: First there must be an information to be received then there was a plan of operation and then
the documents are required to be accomplished prior to the conduct of a buy-bust operation
maam.

Q: What documents if any were you required to prepare prior to your operation?

A: Our dispatch record.

Q: Do you have a copy of this dispatch record?

A: Yes maam.

Q: Can you show it to the Court?

A: It is with the custodial of DAID maam.

xxxx

ACP Rasa:

Q: Aside from the dispatch record what other documents did you prepare?

A: The buy-bust money, maam.

Q: Do you have the buy-bust money with you?

5
A: I will bring it on the next hearing maam.

Q: How much buy-bust money did you prepare?

A: P100.00, maam.

Q: Who supplied that P100.00 buy-bust money?

A: Our team leader, maam.

Q: Who is your team leader?

A: PO3 Rodolfo Enderina, Maam.

Q: Aside from the dispatch record, the buy-bust money, what other preparations did you do
before launching on the operation of buy-bust against one Joselito Beran alias Jose?

A: There was a preparation of Pre-Operation Report and Coordination Sheet, however, we


cannot fax to the PDEA because the PDEA fax at that time was not fully operational, maam.

Q: What other documents aside from those already mentioned did you prepare?

A: That s all, maam.

Q: And what were the other instructions given to you by the team leader, Rodolfo Enderina?

A: During our briefing, I was then chosen as the designated poseur-buyer, maam.

Q: What else?

A: The marked money was marked by me and then during the briefing, it was agreed that the
pre-arranged signal was to touch my hair as indication that the deed was done, ma am.

xxxx

Q: What time did you proceed to San Antonio?

A: Around 5:00 of August 26, 2003, maam.

Q: How many vehicles did you use?

A: We utilized one (1) owner type jeep and the others were on their respective motorcycle or
scooter, maam.

Q: And the others were aboard on scooters?

6
A: Yes, Maam.

Q: Who were inside the owner type jeep?

A: PO3 Rodolfo Enderina, the confidential informant and PO1 (sic) Delos Santos, maam. Q:
And who took their scooters?

A: PO3 Benito Decorion and PO2 Ernie Reyes, maam.

Q: One scooter?

A: Two (2) scooters maam.

Q: Where did you park your vehicle?

A: We parked in the area of Gat Andres Hospital, maam.

xxxx

Q: As soon as you had parked your vehicles, what else happened?

A: When we parked our vehicle, PO3 Enderina grouped us and told us that at the area where we
were going, the vehicles could not enter San Antonio Street and after that, the confidential
informant was the first who proceeded to the target place, maam.

Q: You already said that you already parked your vehicles. So how did you arrive at San Antonio
Street?

A: On foot, ma'am.

Q: How did you scout or identify your target person?

A: Upon arrival in the area of San Antonio, the confidential informant was the first who arrived
and then in a few minutes later, the confidential informant pointed to one (1) male person in the
area

of San Antonio, ma'am.

Q: You were saying that, the confidential informant went ahead of you?

A: No, ma'am. We were together, ma'am.

Q: Where did you first notice the presence of the accused?

A: Near the alley, maam, in the middle of San Antonio where there is a "poso".

7
Q: When pointed to you, how far were you from the accused or your target?

A: Approximately 8-10 meters, ma'am.

Q: What was the accused doing when he was pointed at by the confidential informant to you?

A: He was spotted standing, ma'am.

Q: Standing only?

A: Yes, ma'am.

Q: What happened after you saw him standing?

A: The CI went ahead of me to approach the suspect, ma'am.

Q: When you said the CI was ahead of you, about how far away were you following him?

A: 3-4 meters, ma'am.

Q: What else happened?

A: After that, ma am, the CI and the subject were conversing.

Q: Did you hear what the conversation was all about?

A: No, ma'am.

Q: After that conversation, what happened next?

A: The CI signaled to me to come close to them, ma'am.

Q: As soon as you were already with the group or with the CI and the target person, what else
did you do?

A: I approached them, ma am, then the CI introduced me as the buyer of the prospected illegal
drugs.

Q: What was the reply or the action of Beran?

A: He told the CI magkano ba'', ma'am.

Q: And what did the CI say?

A: The CI told him piso lang . Piso means One Hundred Pesos, ma'am.

8
Q: After knowing that you were only interested to buy "piso'', what happened after?

A: After that Beran took out something from his pocket, maam.

Q: What was that?

A: Beran showed me and the CI a small plastic sachet, ma am.

Q After showing to you, what else did Beran do with the plastic?

A: The subject handed to me one (1) plastic sachet, maam.

Q: What did you do after it was handed to you?

A: discretely examined the contents of the plastic sachet and after that, the subject person
demanded for the payment of said stuff, maam.

Q: What did you do?

A: gave the marked buy-bust money, maam.

Q: What happened after that?

A: After that, the pre-arranged signal was executed, maam.

Q What was the pre-arranged signal agreed upon?

A: Touching of the hair, maam.

Q: Who was able to recover that buy-bust money?

A: Me, maam.

Q: What happened next?

A: The other back-up operatives arrived and PO2 Delos Santos was the first to respond x x x and
I gave the suspect to him for custody, maam.

Q: What did you do with that plastic that you bought from the accused Beran?

A: immediately placed him (sic) in my custody, maam, and later on it was marked and
forwarded to WPD Drug Laboratory Office for laboratory examination, maam.

Q: Who brought that plastic sachet for the laboratory examination?

A: Me, maam.

9
Q: Who placed the marking on that plastic sachet?

A: Me, maam.

Q What marking did you place?

A JB, maam.

Q: Where did you place the marking?

A: At the office, maam.

Q: If shown that plastic sachet, will you be able to identify it?

A: Yes, maam.

Q: Why?

A: I recognized the markings, maam.

Q: What did you use to mark it?

A: I think it was a pentel pen, ma'am.

Q: Aside from this drugs (sic) which you said they requested and you personally brought for
examination at the WPD Crime Laboratory, what other things did you do as soon as you arrived
at the office?

A: It was recorded it (sic) in our police blotter, ma'am, and the pertinent documents were
prepared.

Q: Do you have a copy of the police blotter?

A: Yes, ma'am, but it's in the office.

Q: The buy-bust money and the dispatched report are also at your office. Can you bring all of
those?

A: Yes, ma'am.

Q: What was the result of the laboratory examination which you said you personally brought to
the laboratory?

A: It turned out to be positive for Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride, ma'am.

Q: What happened next after the examination?

10
A: After preparing the documents, we presented the case before the inquest fiscal, ma'am.

Q: Did you subject the accused for drug test?

A: I cannot remember, ma'am.

Q: You did not prepare a request for drug test?

A: I prepared the request for drug test, ma'am.

Q: And what was the result of the drug test?

A: I do not know the result, ma'am. Q: Can you bring the result of the drug test?

A: "Sa Crime Lab na lang po", ma'am.

x x x x.12

====================================
CONTINUATION OF DIRECT EXAMINATION
CONDUCTED BY:
FISCAL PURIFICACION A. BARING-TUVERA
====================================

FISCAL TUVERA:

xxxx

Q: Mr. Witness, during your testimony on August 8, 2006, you were asked by former Prosecutor
Rasa if you will be able to identify the specimen which you said you bought from accused
Joselito Beran, do you remember having said that?

A: Yes, ma'am.

Q: Will you still be able to identify the specimen if it will be shown to you again?

A: Yes, ma am. I was the one who. . . (interrupted)

Q: Will you be able to identify it?

A: Yes, ma am.

Q: And how will you be able to identify it, Mr. Witness?

A: I was the one who placed the marking on the alleged shabu.

11
Q: And what were the markings that you placed on the plastic sachet?

A: It was marked JB ma am.

Q: J?

A: JB.

Q: And will you kindly tell us who placed the markings JB on the plastic sachet?

A: I was the one who marked the specimen.

Q: And where did you place the markings Mr. Witness?

A: On the plastic sachet.

Q: At what time did you place the markings on the plastic sachet?

A: After the arrest of the suspect when he was brought to our office for investigation.

Q: In other words, when did you place the markings?

A: After 5 pm of August 23, 2003.

Q: And at what place Mr. Witness?

A: At the office.

Q: I am showing you Mr. Witness a plastic sachet, by the way, how many plastic sachets did you
buy from the accused?

A: One (1) plastic sachet.

Q: One plastic sachet only, Mr. Witness, I am showing you a plastic sachet with markings JB,
will you kindly tell us if that is the same plastic sachet that you bought from the accused and
subsequently marked at the police station?

A: This is the plastic sachet subject of the sale, I marked JB on the said plastic sachet.

FISCAL TUVERA: We manifest Your Honor that [t]he plastic sachet was already marked as
Exhibit B-1 for the prosecution.

Q: What did you use Mr. Witness in buying this shabu?

A: We utilized P100 bill.

12
Q: Do you have the genuine P100 bill with you now Mr. Witness?

(pause)

Q: Nasa iyo ba yung P100 bill?

A: I have it in my custody.

Q: You have it in your custody?

A: But I did not bring it today.

Q: Why did you not bring it today Mr. Witness?

A: I only knew ma am that I have my hearing on Joselito Beran but I forgot to bring it, next
scheduled hearing nalang po.

Q: Mr. Witness, before you used that buy-bust money to buy shabu from the accused Mr.
Witness, did you place markings on the P100 bill?

A: Yes maam

Q: And what were these markings did you place on the P100 bill?

A: I marked DAID at the left portion of the buy-bust money.

Q: And what else did you do aside from placing markings on the P100 bill?

A: The said money was then xeroxed for five (5) pieces and then the original was kept in our
custody.

x x x x.13

(Continuation of Direct-Examination of Witness PO3 Know me Sia by ACP Baring-Tuvera)

xxxx

ACP BARING-TUVERA

Q: Mr. Witness, you are here today for the continuation of your direct-examination. May we
know if you already brought with you the buy-bust money in connection with this case?

THE WITNESS

A: Yes, maam.

13
ACP BARING-TUVERA

Q: Will you kindly bring it out and show it to this Honorable Court so that the Court may be able
to appreciate it?

THE WITNESS

A: Here, maam.

COURT:

Q: The money is attached to a blank sheet of paper. Will you write something about it, the case
number?

THE WITNESS

A: Yes, your Honor.

ACP BARING-TUVERA:

Q: May I just have this identified, your Honor? Mr. Witness, you said that you were the one who
placed the markings on this One Hundred Peso (P100.00) bill. Will you kindly tell us on what
part of this money did you place the markings?

THE WITNESS

A: I marked DAID at the left center portion of the buy-bust money.

xxxx

ACP BARING-TUVERA

Q: Mr. Witness, you said that you were the one -you were the poseur-buyer in this case. If you
will be shown the item again, will you be able to identify it again Mr. Witness?

THE WITNESS

A: Yes, maam.

Q: I am showing to you Mr. Witness -and how will you be able to identify it?

A: I was the one who marked it.

Q: And what markings did you place on the plastic sachet?

A: JB, maam.

14
xxxx

ACP BARING-TUVERA

Q: And who were present when you marked this plastic sachet at the office?

THE WITNESS

A: The arresting officers maam, my companions in the conduct of the buy-bust operation, ma
am. THE COURT:

Q: Who?

THE WITNESS

A: PO3 Rodolfo Enderina, PO2 Hipolito Francia.

THE COURT:

Q: In the presence of your fellow officers?

THE WITNESS

A: Yes, Your Honor.

ACP BARING-TUVERA

Q: How about the police investigator, was he also present when you place this markings?

THE WITNESS

A: In that case maam, I was also the investigator.

Q: You were also the investigator. And after you placed the markings on that plastic sachet Mr.
Witness, the plastic sachet containing shabu, what else did you do?

A: We prepared the laboratory examination, maam.

Q: Who prepared the request for laboratory examination?

A: I prepared it, maam.

Q: Okay. And after you prepared the request for laboratory examination, what else happened?

A: And then we submitted the said specimen to the crime laboratory for laboratory examination.

15
Q: Was the laboratory examination actually conducted on the plastic sachet that you submitted?
A: Yes, maam.

Q: And what was the result of the laboratory examination that was conducted on the specimen
that you submitted?

A: It yielded positive result for Methylamphetamine hydrochloride, maam.

xxxx

ACP BARING-TUVERA

Q: After you have arrested or after the buy-bust operation Mr. Witness, do you remember having
executed any document?

THE WITNESS

A: I executed the Affidavit of Poseur-Buyer. I also prepared the Referral for Inquest, the Request
for Drug Test and the Booking Sheet and Arrest Report.

x x x x.14

On cross-examination, PO3 Sia was asked why he omitted to mention in his affidavit his claimed
marking of the confiscated sachet of shabu. He could not explain his oversight except to say that
he "forgot to include a mention of the said fact, ma'am."15

Our Ruling

According to the CA, the following elements are required to sustain Beran's conviction and these
have been shown to be present in the case below, namely: the identity of the buyer and the seller;
the object of the sale and the consideration; and the delivery of the thing sold and payment
therefor.16 It held that the prosecution was able to establish the following facts: the identities of
the poseur-buyer, PO3 Sia, and the seller, Beran; the object of the sale, shabu contained in a
heat-sealed plastic sachet handed by Beran to PO3 Sia; and, the consideration which PO3 Sia
paid for the staged purchase, a marked P100.00 bill confiscated in the possession of Beran. Thus,
according to the CA, a complete narrative was built of an illegal sale of shabu leading to the
arrest of Beran by PO3 Sia.

We disagree.

The crucial issue in this case is whether, to establish the corpus delicti the integrity and
evidentiary value of the seized drug have been preserved in an unbroken chain of custody. We
find no unbroken chain of custody, and we rule that the prosecution failed to establish the very
corpus delicti of the crime charged. Beran must be set free.

16
Evidentiary gaps in the chain of
custody of the confiscated plastic
sachet cast reasonable doubt on its
integrity.17

It is well-settled that in the prosecution of cases involving the illegal sale or illegal possession of
dangerous drugs, the evidence of the corpus delicti which is the dangerous drug itself, must be
independently established beyond reasonable doubt.18 In People v Pagaduan19 we ruled that
proof beyond reasonable doubt in criminal prosecution for the sale of illegal drugs demands that
unwavering exactitude be observed in establishing the corpus delicti the body of the crime whose
core is the confiscated illicit drug.20 The case of People v. Tan,21 cited in People of the
Philippines v. Datu Not Abdul,22 elucidates and reminds us why:

"By the very nature of anti-narcotics operations, the need for entrapment procedures, the use of
shady characters as informants, the ease with which sticks of marijuana or grams of heroin can
be planted in pockets or hands of unsuspecting provincial hicks, and the secrecy that inevitably
shrouds all drug deals, the possibility of abuse is great." Thus, the courts have been exhorted to
be extra vigilant in trying drug cases lest an innocent person is made to suffer the unusually
severe penalties for drug offenses. Needless to state, the lower court should have exercised the
utmost diligence and prudence in deliberating upon accused-appellants' guilt. It should have
given more serious consideration to the pros and cons of the evidence offered by both the
defense and the State and many loose ends should have been settled by the trial court in
determining the merits of the present case.

Thus, every fact necessary to constitute the crime must be established, and the chain of custody
requirement under R.A. No. 9165 performs this function in buy-bust operations as it ensures that
any doubts concerning the identity of the evidence are removed.23 Blacks Law Dictionary
describes "chain of custody," as follows:

"In evidence, the one who offers real evidence, such as the narcotics in a trial of drug case, must
account for the custody of the evidence from the moment in which it reaches his custody until
the moment in 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."24

Although R.A. No. 9165 does not define the meaning of chain of custody, Section 1(b) of
Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 1, Series of 2002 which implements R.A. No. 9165
nonetheless explains the said term, as follows:

"Chain of Custody" means the duly recorded authorized movements and custody of seized drugs
or 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 court for destruction. Such record of movements and custody of seized item shall
include the identity and signature of the person who held temporary custody of the seized item,
the date and time when such transfer of custody were made in the course of safekeeping and use
in court as evidence, and the final disposition.

17
The purpose of the requirement of proof of the chain of custody is to ensure that the integrity and
evidentiary value of the seized drug are preserved, as thus dispel unnecessary doubts as to the
identity of the evidence. To be admissible, the prosecution must establish by records or
testimony the continuous whereabouts of the exhibit, from the time it came into the possession of
the police officers, until it was tested in the laboratory to determine its composition, and all the
way to the time it was offered in evidence.25

A review of the facts of this case will readily make evident that the appellate decision failed to
take note of vital gaps in the recording by the apprehending officers of authorized movements
and custody of the seized shabu as we shall point out, and these gaps compel us to rule that
reasonable doubt exists as to the identity of the very corpus of the offense herein charged, the
sachet of shabu recovered from Beran. In People v. Alcuizar,26 we reiterated the rule that under
R.A. No. 9165 the dangerous drug itself constitutes the very corpus delicti and that to sustain a
conviction the identity and integrity of the drug must definitely be shown to have been
preserved:

The dangerous drug itself, the shabu in this case, constitutes the very corpus delicti of the offense
and in sustaining a conviction under Republic Act No. 9165, the identity and integrity of the
corpus delicti must definitely be shown to have been preserved. This requirement necessarily
arises from the illegal drug's unique characteristic that renders it indistinct, not readily
identifiable, and easily open to tampering, alteration or substitution either by accident or
otherwise. Thus, to remove any doubt or uncertainty on the identity and integrity of the seized
drug, evidence must definitely show that the illegal drug presented in court is the same illegal
drug actually recovered from the accused-appellant; otherwise, the prosecution for possession
under Republic Act No. 9165 fails.27 (Citation omitted)

Article II, Section 21(a) of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of R.A. No. 9165
provides that to properly preserve the integrity and evidentiary value of the illegal drugs seized
pursuant to a buy-bust operation, or under a search warrant, the following procedures shall be
observed by the apprehending officers, to wit:

xxxx

(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 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: 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, whichever is practicable, in case of warrantless seizures; Provided, further
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;

18
x x x x.28

In People v. Dela Rosa29 we ruled that the prosecution must establish by records or testimony
the continuous whereabouts of the exhibit, from the time it came into the possession of the police
officers until it was tested in the laboratory to determine its composition, and all the way to the
time it is offered in evidence.30 In the instant case, from the testimony of PO3 Sia it is clear that
the apprehending operatives did not, immediately after seizure and confiscation of the illegal
item, physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the accused, his
representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the Department of Justice, and an
elected public official, notwithstanding that they were supposed to have been conducting a
planned sting operation. Indeed, it is not gratuitous to state that they took no efforts whatsoever
to observe even a modicum of the above procedures. Worse, the prosecution did not bother to
explain why they failed to observe them, although they knew these procedures were intended to
preserve the integrity and evidentiary value of the item seized.

Moreover, none of the other witnesses of the prosecution could corroborate the culpatory
narrative of PO3 Sia at any of its material points to create the successive links in the custody of
the seized drug. Of the six-man buy-bust team, only PO3 Sia and PO3 Francia testified in court,
and PO3 Francia himself twice stated that he did not witness the actual buy-bust sale as it was
taking-place:

(On Cross-examination of PO3 Francia by Atty. Anne Geraldine Agar)

xxxx

Q: And what was your participation in this case, Mr. Witness?

A; I acted as alalay or back-up, ma'am.

Q: Did you act as alalay on that day?

A; Yes, ma'am.

COURT:

Did you see what happened while you were acting as alalay or back-up?

WITNESS:

None, your Honor. Malayo po kasi ako.

COURT:

Wala pala, eh ..

ATTY.AGAR:

19
Nothing further, your Honor.

FISCAL:

Redirect, Your Honor.

COURT:

Proceed Fiscal.

Q: P03 Francia, you were one of those appointed to form a team?

A: Yes, maam.

Q: And you said, you were only as alalay ?

A: Yes, back-up, maam.

Q: What does an alalay or back-up do?

A: We are there to prevent any intruder that may prevent our operation, maam.

Q: How far were you positioned from the poseur-buyer?

A: More than 5-7 meters, maam.

Q: Was there any incident or intruder that stopped you from arresting the accused?

A: None, maam.

Q: From where you were, were you able to see the pre-arranged signal by the poseur-buyer?

xxxx

A: No, I did not see, maam.

Q: As a back-up, when did you come to see that the deal was consummated?

A: When my companions moved to Know me Sia to assist him, maam.

Q: And what was your last act at that time?

A: "Umalalay," maam.31

Incidentally, neither did PO3 Francia corroborate PO3 Sia's claim that he and PO3 Enderina
were present when he marked the subject sachet at the precinct.

20
In People v. Morales,32 we acquitted the accused due to the failure of the buy-bust team to
photograph and inventory the seized items or to give justifiable grounds for their non-observance
of the required procedures. In People v. Garcia,33 the accused was acquitted because "no
physical inventory was ever made, and no photograph of the seized items was taken under the
circumstances required by R.A. No. 9165 and its implementing rules."34 We issued the same
ruling in Bondad Jr. v. People,35 where the police without justifiable grounds did not inventory
or photograph the seized items. We reiterated the same ruling in People v. Gutierrez,36 People v.
Denoman,37 People v. Partoza,38 People v. Robles,39 and People v. dela Cruz.40 In all these
cases, we stressed the importance of complying with the required mandatory procedures in
Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 concerning the preservation of the chain of custody of confiscated
drugs in a buy-bust operation.

Further, in Mallillin v. People41 we emphasized 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 was offered in 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
possession of the witness, the condition in which it was received and the condition in which it
was delivered to the next link in the chain.42

The RTC and CA both convicted Beran on the basis alone of the uncorroborated testimony of
PO3 Sia, and despite the buy-bust team s unexplained non-observance of the procedures laid
down in Article II, Section 21(a) of the IRR of R.A. No. 9165. As the Court of last resort, we are
now called upon to correct this error. Unlike in People of the Philippines v. Erlinda Mali y
Quimno a k a "Linda",43 where we found that the prosecution adequately established the
unbroken links in the chain of custody of the confiscated drug, and the apprehending officers
were able to preserve the integrity and evidentiary value of the item seized and justified their
non-compliance with the above procedures, in the instant appeal we rule that the chain of
custody has not been established at all, and thus the integrity and evidentiary value of the drug
seized has not been preserved.

Contrary to the settled rule in a


buy-bust operation, the confiscated
shabu was not (1) marked in the
presence of Beran (2) immediately
upon confiscation.

Concerning the marking of evidence seized in a buy-bust operation or under a search warrant,
vis-a-vis the physical inventory and photograph, it must be noted that there are distinctions as to
time and place under Section 21 of R A No. 9165. Thus, whereas in seizures covered by search
warrants, the physical inventory and photograph must be conducted in the place of the search
warrant, in warrantless seizures such as a buy-bust operation the physical inventory and
photograph shall be conducted at the nearest police station or office of the apprehending
officer/team, whichever is practicable, consistent with the "chain of custody" rule. In People v.
Sanchez44 the Court held that:

21
"Physical inventory and photograph
requirement under Section 21
vis--vis "marking" of seized evidence

While the first sentence of Section 21 (a) of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A.
No. 9165 states that "the apprehending officer/team having initial custody and control of the
drugs shall, immediately after seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the
same," the second sentence makes a distinction between warrantless seizures and seizures by
virtue of a warrant, thus:

"(a) x x x 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, whichever is practicable, in case of warrantless seizures; Provided,
further 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, the venues of the physical inventory and photography of the seized items differ and depend
on whether the seizure was made by virtue of a search warrant or through a warrantless seizure
such as a buy-bust operation.

In seizures covered by search warrants, the physical inventory and photograph must be
conducted in the place where the search warrant was served. On the other hand, in case of
warrantless seizures such as a buy-bust operation, the physical inventory and photograph shall be
conducted at the nearest police station or office of the apprehending officer/team, whichever is
practicable; however, nothing prevents the apprehending officer/team from immediately
conducting the physical inventory and photography of the items at the place where they were
seized, as it is more in keeping with the law's intent of preserving their integrity and evidentiary
value.

What Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 and its implementing rule do not expressly specify is the
matter of marking of the seized items in warrantless seizures to ensure that the evidence seized
upon apprehension is the same evidence subjected to inventory and photography when these
activities are undertaken at the police station rather than at the place of arrest. Consistency with
the "chain of custody" rule requires that the marking of the seized itemsto truly ensure that
they are the same items that enter the chain and are eventually the ones offered in evidence
should be done (1) in the presence of the apprehended violator (2) immediately upon
confiscation. This step initiates the process of protecting innocent persons from dubious and
concocted searches, and of protecting as well the apprehending officers from harassment suits
based on planting of evidence under Section 29 and on allegations of robbery or theft.45
(Citations omitted and emphases in the original)

It needs no elaboration that the immediate marking of the item seized in a buy-bust operation in
the presence of the accused is indispensable to establish its identity in court. PO3 Sia admitted
that he marked the sachet of shabu only at the DAID-WPD precinct, several kilometers from the

22
buy-bust scene, as well as impliedly admitted that Beran was not then present. Indeed, none of
the buy-bust team attested that they saw him take custody of the confiscated shabu and later
mark the sachet at the DAID-WPD office.

Also, the operatives rode in separate vehicles on the trip back to the WPD, and PO3 Sia took a
scooter with another teammate, who could then have attested as to his exclusive custody of the
subject drug, but that person was not presented to affirm this fact. So even granting that P03 Sia
did mark the same sachet at the precinct, breaks in the chain of custody had already taken place,
first, when he confiscated it from Beran without anyone observing him do so and without
marking the subject sachet at the place of apprehension, and then as he was transporting it to the
precinct, thus casting serious doubt upon the value of the said links to prove the corpus delicti.

It has been held that "while a perfect chain of custody is almost always impossible to achieve, an
unbroken chain becomes indispensable and essential in the prosecution of drug cases owing to its
susceptibility to alteration, tampering, contamination and even substitution and exchange."46
Moreover, as the investigator of the case, PO3 Sia claimed that he personally took the drug to the
laboratory for testing, but there is no showing who the laboratory technician was who received
the drug from him. The records also show that he submitted the sachet to the laboratory only on
the next day, without explaining how he preserved his exclusive custody thereof overnight. All
these leave us with no conclusion but that there is serious doubt that the integrity and evidentiary
value of the seized item have not been fatally compromised.

Lapses in the strict compliance with


the requirements of Section 21 of
R.A. No. 9165 must be 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 People v. Coreche,47 we explained that the above-cited rules are intended to narrow the
window of opportunity for tampering with evidence, as expressed in Section 21(1) of R.A. No.
9165.1wphi1 As noted by the Court which is worth stating:

RA 9165 is silent on when and where marking should be done. On the other hand, its
implementing rules provide guidelines on the inventory of the seized drugs, thus: "the physical
inventory x x x shall be conducted at the place where the search warrant is served; or at the
nearest police station or at the office of the apprehending officer/team, whichever is practicable,
in case of warrantless seizures" (Section 21(a) of Implementing Rules and Regulations). In
People v. Sanchez G.R. No. 175832, 15 October 2008, 569 SCRA 194), we drew a distinction
between marking and inventory and held that consistent with the chain of custody rule, the
marking of the drugs seized without warrant must be done "immediately upon confiscation" and
in the presence of the accused.

The concern with narrowing the window of opportunity for tampering with evidence found
legislative expression in Section 21(1) of RA 9165 on the inventory of seized dangerous drugs

23
and paraphernalia by putting in place a three-tiered requirement on the time, witnesses, and proof
of inventory by imposing on the apprehending team having initial custody and control of the
drugs the duty to "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." Although RA 9165 is silent on the
effect of non-compliance with Section 21(1), its implementing guidelines provide 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." We have
interpreted this provision to mean that the prosecution bears the burden of proving "justifiable
cause" (People v. Sanchez, id.; People v. Garcia, G.R. No. 173480, 25 February 2009, 580
SCRA 259).48

In Sanchez, we recognized that under varied field conditions the strict compliance with the
requirements of Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 may not always be possible, and we ruled that
under the implementing guidelines of the said Section "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."49 But we added that the prosecution bears the burden
of proving justifiable cause."

Thus, in Almorfe, we stressed that for the above-saving clause to apply, the prosecution must
explain the reasons behind the procedural lapses, and that the integrity and value of the seized
evidence had nonetheless been preserved.50 In People v. de Guzman,51 we emphasized that the
justifiable ground for non-compliance must be proven as a fact, because the Court cannot
presume what these grounds are or that they even exist.52

In the present case, the prosecution did not bother to offer an explanation for why an inventory
and photograph of the seized evidence was not made either in the place of seizure and arrest or at
the police station, as required by the Implementing Rules in case of warrantless arrests, or why
the marking of the seized item was not made at the place of seizure in the presence of Beran.
Indeed, the very identity of the subject shabu cannot be established with certainty by the
testimony alone of PO3 Sia since the rules insist upon independent proof of its identity, such as
the immediate marking thereof upon seizure. And as we already noted, PO3 Sia claimed that he
personally transported the shabu to the WPD station, yet other than his lone testimony there is no
other evidence of his exclusive and uninterrupted custody during the interval from seizure and
transportation to turn over at the WPD. Then, the record shows that PO3 Sia submitted the sachet
of shabu for laboratory examination only the next day,53 and therefore presumably he retained
custody of the subject sachet overnight. In view of his self-serving admission that he marked the
sachet only at the precinct, but without anyone present, along with his lack of mention of the
laboratory technician or officer who received the sachet from him, the charge that the subject
drug may have been tampered with or substituted is inevitable.

24
WHEREFORE, the foregoing premises considered, the Decision dated March 9, 2012 of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 04466 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. For failure of
the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, Joselito Beran y Zapanta is hereby
ACQUITTED of the charge of violation of Section 5, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165. His
immediate RELEASE from detention is hereby ORDERED unless he is being held for another
lawful cause. Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Director of the Bureau of Corrections,
Muntinlupa City for immediate implementation, who is then also directed to report to this Court
the action he has taken within five (5) days from his receipt of this Decision.

SO ORDERED.

25
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 173483

Appellee, Present:

- versus - QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson, CARPIO


MORALES,

TINGA,

VELASCO, JR., and

BRION, JJ.
MERLIE* DUMANGAY y SALE, Promulgated:

Appellant. September 23, 2008

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION

QUISUMBING, J.:

For review is the Decision1 dated April 28, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C.
No. 01700. The appellate court affirmed the Decision2 dated October 29, 2003 of the Regional
Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 135 in Criminal Case Nos. 02-3568 and 02-3569. The trial
court had convicted appellant Merlie Dumangay y Sale of violation of Sections 5 and 11 of
Article II of Republic Act No. 91653 and sentenced her to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment
and pay the fine of P500,000 in Criminal Case No. 02-3568, and imprisonment of twelve (12)
years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years and to pay the fine of P300,000 in Criminal Case No.
02-3569; and pay the cost of suit.

The Informations4 both dated December 2, 2002 that led to Merlies convictions are as follows:

Criminal Case No. 02-3568

xxxx

That on or about the 29th day of November 2002, in the City of Makati Philippines and a place
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously without being authorized by law, sell, distribute and

26
transport zero point zero one (0.01) gram of [Methamphetamine] hydrochloride (shabu) which is
a dangerous drug in consideration of two hundred (Php 200.00) pesos.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

xxxx

Criminal Case No. 02-3569

xxxx

That on or about the 29th day of November 2002, in the City of Makati Philippines and a place
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, not being lawfully
authorized to possess any dangerous drug and without the corresponding license or prescription,
did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in [her] possession zero point zero
two (0.02) gram of [Methamphetamine] hydrochloride of a dangerous drug.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

xxxx

Upon arraignment on February 21, 2003, appellant pleaded not guilty. Thereafter, trial ensued.

The prosecution presented only one witness, a member of the Makati Anti-Drug Abuse Council
(MADAC), Francisco Barbosa. He testified as follows:

At 7 oclock in the evening of November 29, 2002, an informant reported to the office of
MADAC Cluster 3 that a certain Merlie, later identified as appellant, was engaged in selling
shabu at the corner of Don Pedro and Enriquez Sts., Barangay Poblacion, Makati City. Acting on
the report, MADAC Cluster Head, Barangay Chairman Vic Del Prado, formed a team to conduct
a buy-bust operation with Barbosa as the poseur-buyer. Del Prado also coordinated with the
Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) of the Makati City Police Station.[5]

Thereafter, Del Prado, DEU operative PO1 Jaime Laura, and other MADAC members proceeded
to the place where Merlie was reportedly selling shabu. They found Merlie in front of her house
at 5649 Don Pedro corner Enriquez St., Barangay Poblacion, Makati City; and with the
informant, Barbosa approached Merlie. The informant introduced Barbosa as a buyer of shabu,
while the other members of the team watched from strategic positions. Merlie then asked
Barbosa how much he would buy. Barbosa said, "dalawang daang piso lang," then handed
Merlie the two 100-peso marked money. In exchange, Merlie gave him a small plastic sachet of a
white crystalline substance. After Barbosa pretended to examine it, he gave the pre-arranged
signal to the other members of the team and they arrested Merlie. Barbosa found the marked
money and two more plastic sachets containing white crystalline substance in Merlies
possession and informed Merlie the cause of her arrest and apprised her of her constitutional
rights.[6]

27
Thereafter, Merlie was brought to the DEU of the Makati City Police Station. The three plastic
sachets were sent to the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory for examination. The
laboratory report confirmed that the sachets contained methamphetamine hydrochloride or
shabu. Each sachet weighed 0.01 gram.7

The testimony of the Forensic Chemist who examined the substance and prepared the report was
dispensed with, considering the parties had stipulated that the report was duly accomplished after
the substance examined by the crime laboratory yielded positive of methamphetamine
hydrochloride.8

The defense presented Merlie as its sole witness. Merlie denied the allegations of the
prosecution. She testified that at the time of the alleged buy-bust operation, she was already
sleeping at home with her daughter when a man awakened her. She said that there were two men
who searched the house. According to her, although no illegal item was found, she was still
forced to board a vehicle and was taken to the Sta. Cruz Barangay Hall. There, a certain Minyang
had taken her to a comfort room and told her to strip, but nothing illegal was found on her
person. She also said that no uniformed policemen accompanied the arresting team and that
Barbosa was not among the men who arrested her. She did not file any complaint against the
people who arrested her because she had no relative to help her.9

On October 29, 2003, the trial court found the evidence of the prosecution sufficient to prove
Merlies guilt beyond reasonable doubt and rendered a decision of conviction in Criminal Case
Nos. 02-3568 and 02-3569.

The dispositive portion of the trial courts decision reads:

WHEREFORE, it appearing that the guilt of the accused MERL[I]E DUMANGAY y SALE was
proven beyond reasonable doubt for violation of Sections 5 and 11, Article II of R.A. 9165, as
principal, with no mitigating or aggravating circumstances, accused is hereby sentenced:

1. In Criminal Case No. 02-3568, to suffer life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P500,000.00;

2. In Criminal Case No. 02-3569, to suffer imprisonment for a term of twelve [12] years and one
[1] day to twenty [20] years and to pay a fine of P300,000.00; and

3. To pay the costs.

Let the three [3] plastic sachets each containing zero point zero one [0.01] gram of
[Methamphetamine] Hydrochloride be turned over to the PDEA for proper disposition.

SO ORDERED.10

Merlie appealed. In view of our ruling in People v. Mateo,11 this case was referred to the Court
of Appeals.12

28
Upon review, the Court of Appeals concluded in the Decision dated April 28, 2006 that the trial
court did not err in finding Merlie guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

The appellant and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) opted not to file their supplemental
briefs. But, we find on record their briefs filed with this Court before the case was transferred to
the Court of Appeals. Appellant raised in her brief a single issue:

THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED FOR


VIOLATION OF SECTIONS 5 AND 11, ARTICLE II OF RA 9165 DESPITE THE
PROSECUTIONS FAILURE TO PROVE HER GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.13

Simply stated, the issue in this case is whether appellant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
violating Rep. Act No. 9165.

Appellant challenges the testimony of Barbosa and claims that it was incredible and inconsistent
in regard to her identity. She avers that since there was no surveillance conducted before the buy-
bust operation and the informant was not present at the time, there was no certainty as to the
"Merlie" who was selling the prohibited drugs, named by the informant.14 According to
appellant, although the testimony of Barbosa presented the elements of the crime that would
convince the trial court, it should be taken with caution, since, Barbosa, as a MADAC agent,
could make it appear that there was entrapment when there was none.15 She further argues that
the reason for her conviction shall not be the weakness of her defense but the strength of the
evidence of the prosecution.16

For the State, the OSG maintains that the prosecution had proved the elements of the crime
charged: (1) the presence of the appellant at the scene of the crime; (2) the act of selling one
plastic sachet of shabu; and (3) the recovery of two plastic sachets of shabu at the time of the
entrapment. It also argues that the credibility of Barbosa, whose testimony established the
elements of the crime, was never impeached by the defense.17 The OSG avers that Barbosa
positively identified appellant as the seller of shabu, and such positive identification prevails
over her feeble defense that she was sleeping at their house when the entrapment took place. 18
Moreover, the OSG maintains that the trial court imposed the proper penalty for the crime
charged.19

The pertinent provisions of Article II of Rep. Act No. 9165 provide:

SEC. 5. Sale, Trading, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Distribution and Transportation


of Dangerous Drugs and/or Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals.The penalty of
life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00)
to Ten million pesos (P10,000,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person, who, unless authorized
by law, shall sell, trade, administer, dispense, deliver, give away to another, distribute, dispatch
in transit or transport any dangerous drug, including any and all species of opium poppy
regardless of the quantity and purity involved, or shall act as a broker in any of such transactions.

xxxx

29
SEC. 11. Possession of Dangerous Drugs.The penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine
ranging from Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) to Ten million pesos (P10,000,000.00)
shall be imposed upon any person, who, unless authorized by law, shall possess any dangerous
drug in the following quantities, regardless of the degree of purity thereof:

xxxx

(5) 50 grams or more of methamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu";

xxxx

Otherwise, if the quantity involved is less than the foregoing quantities, the penalties shall be
graduated as follows:

xxxx

(3) Imprisonment of twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years and a fine ranging
from Three hundred thousand pesos (P300,000.00) to Four hundred thousand pesos
(P400,000.00), if the quantities of dangerous drugs are less than five (5) grams of .
methamphetamine hydrochloride.

xxxx

We are convinced that appellant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

The elements of illegal sale of shabu are: (1) the identity of the buyer and the seller, the object
and the consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment therefor. What is
material is the proof that the transaction or sale transpired, coupled with the presentation in court
of the corpus delicti. Corpus delicti is the body or substance of the crime, and establishes the fact
that a crime has been actually committed. It has two elements, namely: (1) proof of the
occurrence of a certain event; and (2) some persons criminal responsibility for the act.20

The straightforward testimony of Barbosa, the poseur-buyer, clearly established that an illegal
sale of shabu actually took place and that appellant was the seller, thus:

FISCAL MORENO:

Q: Mr. Witness, how did you come to know the accused in this particular case, Merlie
Dumangay?

A: Through our informant.

Q: And when did that informant go to your office?

A: November 29, 2002 at 7:00 p.m.

30
Q: [A]nd what was the information given to your office by the informant?

A: That [a] certain Merlie was engaged in selling prohibited drugs.

Q: And after receiving such information Mr. Witness, do you recall if your office did [anything]
to the information?

A: Yes sir.

Q: What Mr. Witness?

A: Our office called up the DEU, Makati police.

Q: Do you know the reason Mr. [W]itness why your office has to call up the DEU office?

A: [Y]es sir.

Q: For what particular purpose Mr. Witness? Why is there a need to call DEU Mr. Witness?

A: [S]o that we can participate in our operation sir.

Q: And what participation did the [DEU] office make in connection with the buy bust operation?

A: He [led] our operation sir.

Q: After the coordination has been made with the [DEU], what happened next?

A: We conducted a briefing sir.

xxxx

Q: After the briefing was conducted Mr. Witness do you recall if ever a buy bust operation was
conducted?

A: There was sir.

Q: Against whom was the buy bust operation Mr. Witness?

A: I could not recall sir.

Q: Do you know if [a] buy bust operation was in fact conducted on November 29, 2002?

A: Yes sir, there was.

Q: Do you recall if somebody was arrested as a result of the buy bust operation Mr. Witness?

31
A: Yes sir.

Q: Who is that particular person?

A: Merlie Dumangay sir.

Q: Where is that Merlie Dumangay now? Will you kindly point her out?

INTERPRETER:

Witness pointing to a woman inside the courtroom [who], when asked, identified herself as
Merlie Dumangay.

FISCAL MORENO:

Q: In connection with the arrest, which you have conducted against the person of Merlie
Dumangay, do you recall if you ever executed a Pinagsanib na Salaysay ng Pag-aresto?

A: Yes sir.

Q: If that Pinagsanib na Salaysay ng Pag-aresto will be shown to you, will you be able to identify
the same?

A: Yes sir.

Q: I am showing to you Mr. Witness this Pinagsanib na Salaysay ng pag-aresto consisting of two
pages. Will you kindly go over this document and tell us if that is the same Pinagsanib na
Salaysay ng Pag-aresto which you said you executed?

A: Yes sir.

xxxx

FISCAL MORENO:

Q: Have you read the contents of this Pinagsanib na Salaysay ng Pag-aresto written in Tagalog?

A: Yes sir.

Q: [D]o you affirm and confirm as to the truthfulness of the allegations contained in this
Pinagsanib na Salaysay ng Pag-aresto?

A: Yes sir.

FISCAL MORENO:

32
For purposes of expediency your Honor and to save the material time of the Honorable Court, we
would like to stipulate with the defense that the allegations contained in this Pinagsanib na
Salaysay ng Pag-aresto will form part of his direct testimony your Honor.

ATTY. QUIAMBAO:

We agree your Honor.21 (Emphasis supplied.)

Barbosa, PO1 Jaime Laura, MADAC members Romeo Lazaro and Marvin Cruz,in the sworn
Pinagsanib na Salaysay ng Pag-aresto,22 recounted the details of the buy-bust operation. They
stated therein that acting on confidential information, a team composed of MADAC and DEU
agents proceeded to the place where Merlie was allegedly selling shabu. The informant made the
introductions and the transaction took place. Barbosa handed the marked money to Merlie while
the latter handed him one plastic sachet of shabu. Thereafter, Merlie was immediately arrested
and upon her arrest, Barbosa found two plastic sachets in her right hand.

The laboratory examination of the crystalline substance confiscated from Merlie and forwarded
to the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory yielded positive of methamphetamine
hydrochloride.

In short, the prosecution clearly and positively established that Merlie agreed to sell shabu to the
poseur-buyer and that the sale was consummated. Moreover, Barbosa identified the three plastic
sachets of shabu and the marked money in court.23

We disagree with appellants contention that inconsistencies in Barbosas testimony are adequate
to demolish the credibility of Barbosa. The inconsistencies alluded to by the appellant in the
testimony of Barbosa are inconsequential and minor to adversely affect his credibility.24 The
inconsistencies do not detract from the fact that Barbosa positively identified her in open court.25
What is essential is that the prosecution witness positively identified the appellant as the one who
sold the shabu to the poseur-buyer. There is also nothing on record that sufficiently casts doubt
on the credibility of the prosecution witness.26 More so, the lack of prior surveillance does not
cast doubt on Barbosas credibility. We have held that a prior surveillance is not necessary
especially where the police operatives are accompanied by their informant during entrapment, as
in this case.27 Contrary to appellants contention, the informant was present during the
entrapment.28

Note that a buy-bust operation is a form of entrapment legally employed by peace officers as an
effective way of apprehending drug dealers in the act of committing an offense. Such police
operation has judicial sanction as long as it is carried out with due regard to constitutional and
legal safeguards.29 The delivery of the contraband to the poseur-buyer and the receipt by the
seller of the marked money successfully consummate the buy-bust transaction between the
entrapping officers and the accused. Unless there is clear and convincing evidence that the
members of the buy-bust team were inspired by any improper motive or were not properly
performing their duty, their testimony on the operation deserves faith and credit.30

33
In light of the clear and convincing evidence of the prosecution, we find no reason to deviate
from the findings of the trial court and the appellate court. More so, appellant failed to present
evidence that Barbosa and the other members of the team had any ill motive to falsely accuse her
of a serious crime. Absent any proof of such motive, the presumption of regularity in the
performance of official duty as well as the findings of the trial court on the credibility of
witnesses shall prevail over appellants self-serving and uncorroborated defenses.31

Lastly, considering that the buy-bust operation in this case is legitimate, the subsequent
warrantless arrest and the warrantless search and seizure are equally valid. In People v. Julian-
Fernandez,32 we held that the interdiction against warrantless searches and seizures is not
absolute and such warrantless searches and seizures have long been deemed permissible by
jurisprudence in instances such as the search incidental to a lawful arrest. This includes a valid
warrantless arrest, for, while as a rule, an arrest is considered legitimate if effected with a valid
warrant of arrest, the Rules of Court recognize an arrest in flagrante delicto as a permissible
warrantless arrest.33 In this case, we find that the appellant, having failed to controvert the
evidence that the other two plastic sachets of shabu were found in her possession, is also guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of illegal possession of shabu.

In sum, we find no reversible error in the decisions of the trial court and the appellate court in
holding appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the offenses charged.

WHEREFORE, the Decision dated April 28, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C.
No. 01700 finding appellant Merlie Dumangay y Sale guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
crimes charged in Criminal Case Nos. 02-3568 and 02-3569 for violation of Sections 5 and 11 of
Rep. Act No. 9165 is AFFIRMED.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

34
Republic of the Philippines
CONGRESS OF THE PHILIPPINES
Metro Manila

Fifteenth Congress
Third Regular Session

Begun and held in Metro Manila, on Monday, the twenty-third day of July, two thousand twelve.

REPUBLIC ACT No. 10591

AN ACT PROVIDING FOR A COMPREHENSIVE LAW ON FIREARMS AND


AMMUNITION AND PROVIDING PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS THEREOF

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress


assembled:

ARTICLE I
TITLE, DECLARATION OF POLICY AND DEFINITION OF TERMS

Section 1. Short Title. This Act shall be known as the "Comprehensive Firearms and
Ammunition Regulation Act".

Section 2. Declaration of State Policy. It is the policy of the State to maintain peace and order
and protect the people against violence. The State also recognizes the right of its qualified
citizens to self-defense through, when it is the reasonable means to repel the unlawful aggression
under the circumstances, the use of firearms. Towards this end, the State shall provide for a
comprehensive law regulating the ownership, possession, carrying, manufacture, dealing in and
importation of firearms, ammunition, or parts thereof, in order to provide legal support to law
enforcement agencies in their campaign against crime, stop the proliferation of illegal firearms or
weapons and the illegal manufacture of firearms or weapons, ammunition and parts thereof.

Section 3. Definition of Terms. As used in this Act:

(a) Accessories refer to parts of a firearm which may enhance or increase the operational
efficiency or accuracy of a firearm but will not constitute any of the major or minor
internal parts thereof such as, hut not limited to, laser scope, telescopic sight and sound
suppressor or silencer.

(b) Ammunition refers to a complete unfixed unit consisting of a bullet, gunpowder,


cartridge case and primer or loaded shell for use in any firearm.

(c) Antique firearm refers to any: (1) firearm which was manufactured at least seventy-
five (75) years prior to the current date but not including replicas; (2) firearm which is
certified by the National Museum of the Philippines to be curio or relic of museum
interest; and (3) any other firearm which derives a substantial part of its monetary value

35
from the fact that it is novel, rare, bizarre or because of its association with some
historical figure, period or event.

(d) Arms smuggling refers to the import, export, acquisition, sale, delivery, movement or
transfer of firearms, their parts and components and ammunition, from or across the
territory of one country to that of another country which has not been authorized in
accordance with domestic law in either or both country/countries.

(e) Authority to import refers to a document issued by the Chief of the Philippine
National Police (PNP) authorizing the importation of firearms, or their parts, ammunition
and other components.

(f) Authorized dealer refers to any person, legal entity, corporation, partnership or
business entity duly licensed by the Firearms and Explosive Office (FEO) of the PNP to
engage in the business of buying and selling ammunition, firearms or parte thereof, at
wholesale or retail basis.

(g) Authorized importer refers to any person, legal entity, corporation, partnership or
business duly licensed by the FEO of the PNP to engage in the business of importing
ammunition and firearms, or parts thereof into the territory of the Republic of the
Philippines for purposes of sale or distribution under the provisions of this Act.

(h) Authorized manufacturer refers to any person, legal entity, corporation, or partnership
duly licensed by the FEO of the PNP to engage in the business of manufacturing
firearms, and ammunition or parts thereof for purposes of sale or distribution.1wphi1

(i) Confiscated firearm refers to a firearm that is taken into custody by the PNP, National
Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), and all
other law enforcement agencies by reason of their mandate and must be necessarily
reported or turned over to the PEO of the PNP.

(j) Demilitarized firearm refers to a firearm deliberately made incapable of performing its
main purpose of firing a projectile.

(k) Duty detail order refers to a document issued by the juridical entity or employer
wherein the details of the disposition of firearm is spelled-out, thus indicating the name
of the employee, the firearm information, the specific duration and location of posting or
assignment and the authorized bonded firearm custodian for the juridical entity to whom
such firearm is turned over after the lapse of the order.

(l) Firearm refers to any handheld or portable weapon, whether a small arm or light
weapon, that expels or is designed to expel a bullet, shot, slug, missile or any projectile,
which is discharged by means of expansive force of gases from burning gunpowder or
other form of combustion or any similar instrument or implement. For purposes of this
Act, the barrel, frame or receiver is considered a firearm.

36
(m) Firearms Information Management System (FIMS) refers to the compilation of all
data and information on firearms ownership and disposition for record purposes.

(n) Forfeited firearm refers to a firearm that is subject to forfeiture by reason of court
order as accessory penalty or for the disposition by the FEO of the PNP of firearms
considered as abandoned, surrendered, confiscated or revoked in compliance with
existing rules and regulations.

(o) Gun club refers to an organization duly registered with and accredited in good
standing by the FEO of the PNP which is established for the purpose of propagating
responsible and safe gun ownership, proper appreciation and use of firearms by its
members, for the purpose of sports and shooting competition, self-defense and collection
purposes.

(p) Gunsmith refers to any person, legal entity, corporation, partnership or business duly
licensed by the FEO of the PNP to engage in the business of repairing firearms and other
weapons or constructing or assembling firearms and weapons from finished or
manufactured parts thereof on a per order basis and not in commercial quantities or of
making minor parts for the purpose of repairing or assembling said firearms or weapons.

(q) Imitation firearm refers to a replica of a firearm, or other device that is so


substantially similar in coloration and overall appearance to an existing firearm as to lead
a reasonable person to believe that such imitation firearm is a real firearm.

(r) Licensed citizen refers to any Filipino who complies with the qualifications set forth in
this Act and duly issued with a license to possess or to carry firearms outside of the
residence in accordance with this Act.

(s) Licensed, juridical entity refers to corporations, organizations, businesses including


security agencies and local government units (LGUs) which are licensed to own and
possess firearms in accordance with this Act.

(t) Light weapons are: Class-A Light weapons which refer to self-loading pistols, rifles
and carbines, submachine guns, assault rifles and light machine guns not exceeding
caliber 7.62MM which have fully automatic mode; and Class-B Light weapons which
refer to weapons designed for use by two (2) or more persons serving as a crew, or rifles
and machine guns exceeding caliber 7.62MM such as heavy machine guns, handheld
underbarrel and mounted grenade launchers, portable anti-aircraft guns, portable anti-
tank guns, recoilless rifles, portable launchers of anti-tank missile and rocket systems,
portable launchers of anti-aircraft missile systems, and mortars of a caliber of less than
100MM.

(u) Long certificate of registration refers to licenses issued to government agencies or


offices or government-owned or -controlled corporations for firearms to be used by their
officials and employees who are qualified to possess firearms as provider in this Act,
excluding security guards.

37
(v) Loose firearm refers to an unregistered firearm, an obliterated or altered firearm,
firearm which has been lost or stolen, illegally manufactured firearms, registered firearms
in the possession of an individual other than the licensee and those with revoked licenses
in accordance with the rules and regulations.

(w) Major part or components of a firearm refers to the barrel, slide, frame, receiver,
cylinder or the bolt assembly. The term also includes any part or kit designed and
intended for use in converting a semi-automatic burst to a full automatic firearm.

(x) Minor parts of a firearm refers to the parts of the firearm other than the major parts
which are necessary to effect and complete the action of expelling a projectile by way of
combustion, except those classified as accessories.

(y) Permit to carry firearm outside of residence refers to a written authority issued to a
licensed citizen by the Chief of the PNP which entitles such person to carry his/her
registered or lawfully issued firearm outside of the residence for the duration and purpose
specified in the authority.

(z) Permit to transport firearm refers to a written authority issued to a licensed citizen or
entity by the Chief of the PNP or by a PNP Regional Director which entitles such person
or entity to transport a particular firearm from and to a specific location within the
duration and purpose in the authority.

(aa) Residence refers to the place or places of abode of the licensed citizen as indicated in
his/her license.

(bb) Shooting range refers to a facility established for the purpose of firearms training
and skills development, firearm testing, as well as for sports and competition shooting
either for the exclusive use of its members or open to the general public, duly registered
with and accredited in good standing by the FEO of the PNP.

(cc) Short certificate of registration refers to a certificate issued by the FEO of the PNP
for a government official or employee who was issued by his/her employer department,
agency or government-owned or -controlled corporation a firearm covered by the long
certificate of registration.

(dd) Small arms refer to firearms intended to be or primarily designed for individual use
or that which is generally considered to mean a weapon intended to be fired from the
hand or shoulder, which are not capable of fully automatic bursts of discharge, such as:

(1) Handgun which is a firearm intended to be fired from the hand, which
includes:

(i) A pistol which is a hand-operated firearm having a chamber integral


with or permanently aligned with the bore which may be self-loading; and

38
(ii) Revolver which is a hand-operated firearm with a revolving cylinder
containing chambers for individual cartridges.

(2) Rifle which is a shoulder firearm or designed to be fired from the shoulder that
can discharge a bullet through a rifled barrel by different actions of loading,
which may be classified as lever, bolt, or self-loading; and

(3) Shotgun which is a weapon designed, made and intended to fire a number of
ball shots or a single projectile through a smooth bore by the action or energy
from burning gunpowder.

(ee) Sports shooting competition refers to a defensive, precision or practical sport


shooting competition duly authorized by the FEO of the PNP.

(ff) Tampered, obliterated or altered firearm refers to any firearm whose serial number or
other identification or ballistics characteristics have been intentionally tampered with,
obliterated or altered without authority or in order to conceal its source, identity or
ownership.

(gg) Thermal weapon sight refers to a battery operated, uncooled thermal imaging device
which amplifies available thermal signatures so that the viewed scene becomes clear to
the operator which is used to locate and engage targets during daylight and from low light
to total darkness and operates in adverse conditions such as light rain, light snow, and dry
smoke or in conjunction with other optical and red dot sights.

ARTICLE II
OWNERSHIP AND POSSESSION OF FIREARMS

Section 4. Standards and Requisites for Issuance of and Obtaining a License to Own and
Possess Firearms. In order to qualify and acquire a license to own and possess a firearm or
firearms and ammunition, the applicant must be a Filipino citizen, at least twenty-one (21) years
old and has gainful work, occupation or business or has filed an Income Tax Return (ITR) for the
preceding year as proof of income, profession, business or occupation.

In addition, the applicant shall submit the following certification issued by appropriate
authorities attesting the following:

(a) The applicant has not been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude;

(b) The applicant has passed the psychiatric test administered by a PNP-accredited
psychologist or psychiatrist;

(c) The applicant has passed the drug test conducted by an accredited and authorized drug
testing laboratory or clinic;

39
(d) The applicant has passed a gun safety seminar which is administered by the PNP or a
registered and authorized gun club;

(e) The applicant has filed in writing the application to possess a registered firearm which
shall state the personal circumstances of the applicant;

(f) The applicant must present a police clearance from the city or municipality police
office; and

(g) The applicant has not been convicted or is currently an accused in a pending criminal
case before any court of law for a crime that is punishable with a penalty of more than
two (2) years.

For purposes of this Act, an acquittal or permanent dismissal of a criminal case before the courts
of law shall qualify the accused thereof to qualify and acquire a license.

The applicant shall pay the reasonable licensing fees as may be provided in the implementing
rules and regulations of this Act.

An applicant who intends to possess a firearm owned by a juridical entity shall submit his/her
duty detail order to the FEO of the PNP.

Section 5. Ownership of Firearms and Ammunition by a Juridical Entity. A juridical person


maintaining its own security force may be issued a regular license to own and possess firearms
and ammunition under the following conditions:

(a) It must be Filipino-owned and duly registered with the Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC);

(b) It is current, operational and a continuing concern;

(c) It has completed and submitted all its reportorial requirements to the SEC; and

(d) It has paid all its income taxes for the year, as duly certified by the Bureau of Internal
Revenue.

The application shall be made in the name of the juridical person represented by its President or
any of its officers mentioned below as duly authorized in a board resolution to that effect:
Provided, That the officer applying for the juridical entity, shall possess all the qualifications
required of a citizen applying for a license to possess firearms.

Other corporate officers eligible to represent the juridical person are: the vice president,
treasurer, and board secretary.

Security agencies and LGUs shall be included in this category of licensed holders but shall be
subject to additional requirements as may be required by the Chief of the PNP.

40
Section 6. Ownership of Firearms by the National Government. All firearms owned by the
National Government shall be registered with the FEO of the PNP in the name of the Republic of
the Philippines. Such registration shall be exempt from all duties and taxes that may otherwise be
levied on other authorized owners of firearms. For reason of national security, firearms of the
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Coast Guard and other law enforcement agencies shall
only be reported to the FEO of the PNP.

Section 7. Carrying of Firearms Outside of Residence or Place of Business. A permit to carry


firearms outside of residence shall be issued by the Chief of the PNP or his/her duly authorized
representative to any qualified person whose life is under actual threat or his/her life is in
imminent danger due to the nature of his/her profession, occupation or business.

It shall be the burden of the applicant to prove that his/her life is under actual threat by
submitting a threat assessment certificate from the PNP.

For purposes of this Act, the following professionals are considered to be in imminent danger
due to the nature of their profession, occupation or business:

(a) Members of the Philippine Bar;

(b) Certified Public Accountants;

(c) Accredited Media Practitioners;

(d) Cashiers, Bank Tellers;

(e) Priests, Ministers, Rabbi, Imams;

(f) Physicians and Nurses;

(g) Engineers; and

(h) Businessmen, who by the nature of their business or undertaking, are exposed to high
risk of being targets of criminal elements.

ARTICLE III
REGISTRATION AND LICENSING

Section 8. Authority to Issue License. The Chief of the PNP, through the FEO of the PNP, shall
issue licenses to qualified individuals and to cause the registration of firearms.

Section 9. Licenses Issued to Individuals. Subject to the requirements set forth in this Act and
payment of required fees to be determined by the Chief of the PNP, a qualified individual may be
issued the appropriate license under the following categories;

41
Type 1 license allows a citizen to own and possess a maximum of two (2) registered
firearms;

Type 2 license allows a citizen to own and possess a maximum of five (5) registered
firearms;

Type 3 license allows a citizen to own and possess a maximum of ten (10) registered
firearms;

Type 4 license allows a citizen to own and possess a maximum of fifteen (15)
registered firearms; and

Type 5 license allows a citizen, who is a certified gun collector, to own and possess
more than fifteen (15) registered firearms.

For Types 1 to 5 licenses, a vault or a container secured by lock and key or other security
measures for the safekeeping of firearms shall be required.

For Types 3 to 5 licenses, the citizen must comply with the inspection and bond requirements.

Section 10. Firearms That May Be Registered. Only small arms may be registered by licensed
citizens or licensed juridical entities for ownership, possession and concealed carry. A light
weapon shall be lawfully acquired or possessed exclusively by the AFP, the PNP and other law
enforcement agencies authorized by the President in the performance of their duties: Provided,
That private individuals who already have licenses to possess Class-A light weapons upon the
effectivity of this Act shall not be deprived of the privilege to continue possessing the same and
renewing the licenses therefor, for the sole reason that these firearms are Class "A" light
weapons, and shall be required to comply with other applicable provisions of this Act.

Section 11. Registration of Firearms. The licensed citizen or licensed juridical entity shall
register his/her/its firearms so purchased with the FEO of the PNP in accordance with the type of
license such licensed citizen or licensed juridical entity possesses. A certificate of registration of
the firearm shall be issued upon payment of reasonable fees.

For purposes of this Act, registration refers to the application, approval, record-keeping and
monitoring of firearms with the FEO of the PNP in accordance with the type of license issued to
any person under Section 9 of this Act.

Section 12. License to Possess Ammunition Necessarily Included. The licenses granted to
qualified citizens or juridical entities as provided in Section 9 of this Act shall include the license
to possess ammunition with a maximum of fifty (50) rounds for each registered firearm:
Provided; That the FEO of the PNP may allow more ammunition to be possessed by licensed
sports shooters.

Section 13. Issuance of License to Manufacture or Deal In Firearms and Ammunition. Any
person desiring to manufacture or deal in firearms, parts of firearms or ammunition thereof, or

42
instruments and implements used or intended to be used in the manufacture of firearms, parts of
firearms or ammunition, shall make an application to:

(a) The Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in the
case of an application for a license to manufacture; and

(b) The Chief of the PNP in the case of a license to deal in firearms and firearms parts,
ammunition and gun repair.

The applicant shall state the amount of capitalization for manufacture or cost of the purchase and
sale of said articles intended to be transacted by such applicant; and the types of firms,
ammunition or implements which the applicant intends to manufacture or purchase and sell
under the license applied for; and such additional information as may be especially requested by
the Secretary of the DILG or the Chief of the PNP.

The Secretary of the DILG or the Chief of the PNP may approve or disapprove such application
based on the prescribed guidelines. In the case of approval, the Secretary of the DILG or the
Chief of the PNP shall indicate the amount of the bond to be executed by the applicant before the
issuance of the license and the period of time by which said license shall be effective, unless
sooner revoked by their authority.

Upon approval of the license to manufacture or otherwise deal in firearms by the Secretary of the
DILG or the Chief of the PNP as the case may be, the same shall be transmitted to the FEO of
the PNP which shall issue the license in accordance with the approved terms and conditions,
upon the execution and delivery by the applicant of the required bond conditioned upon the
faithful compliance on the part of the licensee to the laws and regulations relative to the business
licensed.

Section 14. Scope of License to Manufacture Firearms and Ammunition. The scope of the
License to Manufacture firearms and ammunition shall also include the following:

(a) The authority to manufacture and assemble firearms, ammunition, spare parts and
accessories, ammunition components, and reloading of ammunitions, within sites, areas,
and factories stated therein. The Secretary of the DILG shall approve such license;

(b) The license to deal in or sell all the items covered by the License to Manufacture,
such as parts, firearms or ammunition and components;

(c) The authority to subcontract the manufacturing of parts and accessories necessary for
the firearms which the manufacturer is licensed to manufacture: Provided, That the
subcontractor of major parts or major components is also licensed to manufacture
firearms and ammunition; and

(d) The authority to import machinery, equipment, and firearm parts and ammunition
components for the manufacture thereof. Firearm parts and ammunition components to be
imported shall, however, be limited to those authorized to be manufactured as reflected in

43
the approved License to Manufacture. The Import Permit shall be under the
administration of the PNP.

A licensed manufacturer of ammunition is also entitled to import various reference firearms


needed to test the ammunition manufactured under the License to Manufacture. A licensed
manufacturer of firearms, on the other hand, is entitled to import various firearms for reference,
test and evaluation for manufacture of similar, types of firearms covered by the License to
Manufacture.

An export permit shall, however, be necessary to export manufactured parts or finished products
of firearms and ammunition. The Export Permit of firearms and ammunition shall be under the
administration of the PNP.

Section 15. Registration of Locally Manufactured and Imported Firearms. Local


manufacturers and importers of firearms and major parts thereof shall register the same as
follows:

(a) For locally manufactured firearms and major parts thereof, the initial registration shall
be done at the manufacturing facility: Provided, That firearms intended for export shall
no longer be subjected to ballistic identification procedures; and

(b) For imported firearms and major parts thereof, the registration shall be done upon
arrival at the FEO of the PNP storage facility.

Section 16. License and Scope of License to Deal. The License to Deal authorizes the
purchase, sale and general business in handling firearms and ammunition, major and minor parts
of firearms, accessories, spare parts, components, and reloading machines, which shall be issued
by the Chief of the PNP.

Section 17. License and Scope of License for Gunsmiths. The license for gunsmiths shall allow
the grantee to repair registered firearms. The license shall include customization of firearms from
finished or manufactured parts thereof on per order basis and not in commercial quantities and
making the minor parts thereof, i.e. pins, triggers, trigger bows, sights and the like only for the
purpose of repairing the registered firearm. The license for gunsmiths shall be issued by the
Chief of the PNP.

Section 18. Firearms for Use in Sports and Competitions. A qualified individual shall apply for
a permit to transport his/her registered firearm/s from his/her residence to the firing range/s and
competition sites as may be warranted.

Section 19. Renewal of Licenses and Registration. All types of licenses to possess a firearm
shall be renewed every two (2) years. Failure to renew the license on or before the date of its
expiration shall cause the revocation of the license and of the registration of the firearm/s under
said licensee.

44
The registration of the firearm shall be renewed every four (4) years. Failure to renew the
registration of the firearm on or before the date of expiration shall cause the revocation of the
license of the firearm. The said firearm shall be confiscated or forfeited in favor of the
government after due process.

The failure to renew a license or registration within the periods stated above on two (2) occasions
shall cause the holder of the firearm to be perpetually disqualified from applying for any firearm
license. The application for the renewal of the license or registration may be submitted to the
FEO of the PNP, within six (6) months before the date of the expiration of such license or
registration.

Section 20. Inspection and Inventory. The Chief of the PNP or his/her authorized
representative shall require the submission of reports, inspect or examine the inventory and
records of a licensed manufacturer, dealer or importer of firearms and ammunition during
reasonable hours.

ARTICLE IV
ACQUISITION, DEPOSIT OF FIREARMS, ABANDONED, DEMILITARIZED AND
ANTIQUE FIREARMS

Section 21. Acquisition or Purchase and Sale of Firearms and Ammunition. Firearms and
ammunition may only be acquired or purchased from authorized dealers, importers or local
manufacturers and may be transferred or sold only from a licensed citizen or licensed juridical
entity to another licensed citizen or licensed juridical entity: Provided, That, during election
periods, the sale and registration of firearms and ammunition and the issuance of the
corresponding licenses to citizens shall be allowed on the condition that the transport or delivery
thereof shall strictly comply with the issuances, resolutions, rules and regulations promulgated
by the Commission on Elections.

Section 22. Deposit of Firearms by Persons Arriving From Abroad. A person arriving in the
Philippines who is legally in possession of any firearm or ammunition in his/her country of
origin and who has declared the existence of the firearm upon embarkation and disembarkation
but whose firearm is not registered in the Philippines in accordance with this Act shall deposit
the same upon written receipt with the Collector of Customs for delivery to the FEO of the PNP
for safekeeping, or for the issuance of a permit to transport if the person is a competitor in a
sports shooting competition. If the importation of the same is allowed and the party in question
desires to obtain a domestic firearm license, the same should be undertaken in accordance with
the provisions of this Act. If no license is desired or leave to import is not granted, the firearm or
ammunition in question shall remain in the custody of the FEO of the PNP until otherwise
disposed of in-accordance with law.

Section 23. Return of Firearms to Owner upon Departure from the Philippines. Upon the
departure from the Philippines of any person whose firearm or ammunition is in the custody of
the FEO of the PNP, the same shall, upon timely request, be delivered to the person through the
Collector of Customs. In the case of a participant in a local sports shooting competition, the

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firearm must be presented to the Collector of Customs before the same is allowed to be loaded
on board the carrier on which the person is to board.

Section 24. Safekeeping of Firearms and Ammunition. Any licensee may deposit a registered
firearm to the FEO of the PNP, or any Police Regional Office for safekeeping. Reasonable fees
for storage shall be imposed.

Section 25. Abandoned Firearms and Ammunition. Any firearm or ammunition deposited in
the custody of the FEO of the PNP pursuant to the provisions of this Act, shall be deemed to
have been abandoned by the owner or his/her authorized representative if he/she failed to reclaim
the same within five (5) years or failed to advise the FEO of the PNP of the disposition to be
made thereof. Thereafter, the FEO of the PNP may dispose of the same after compliance with
established procedures.

Section 26. Death or Disability of Licensee. Upon the death or legal disability of the holder of
a firearm license, it shall be the duty of his/her next of kin, nearest relative, legal representative,
or other person who shall knowingly come into possession of such firearm or ammunition, to
deliver the same to the FEO of the PNP or Police Regional Office, and such firearm or
ammunition shall be retained by the police custodian pending the issuance of a license and its
registration in accordance, with this Act. The failure to deliver the firearm or ammunition within
six (6) months after the death or legal disability of the licensee shall render the possessor liable
for illegal possession of the firearm.

Section 27. Antique Firearm. Any person who possesses an antique firearm shall register the
same and secure a collectors license from the FEO of the PNP. Proper storage of antique firearm
shall be strictly imposed. Noncompliance of this provision shall be considered as illegal
possession of the firearm as penalized in this Act.

ARTICLE V
PENAL PROVISIONS

Section 28. Unlawful Acquisition, or Possession of Firearms and Ammunition. The unlawful
acquisition, possession of firearms and ammunition shall be penalized as follows:

(a) The penalty of prision mayor in its medium period shall be imposed upon any person
who shall unlawfully acquire or possess a small arm;

(b) The penalty of reclusion temporal to reclusion perpetua shall be imposed if three (3)
or more small arms or Class-A light weapons are unlawfully acquired or possessed by
any person;

(c) The penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period shall be imposed upon any
person who shall unlawfully acquire or possess a Class-A light weapon;

(d) The penalty of reclusion perpetua shall be imposed upon any person who shall,
unlawfully acquire or possess a Class-B light weapon;

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(e) The penalty of one (1) degree higher than that provided in paragraphs (a) to (c) in this
section shall be imposed upon any person who shall unlawfully possess any firearm
under any or combination of the following conditions:

(1) Loaded with ammunition or inserted with a loaded magazine;

(2) Fitted or mounted with laser or any gadget used to guide the shooter to hit the
target such as thermal weapon sight (TWS) and the like;

(3) Fitted or mounted with sniper scopes, firearm muffler or firearm silencer;

(4) Accompanied with an extra barrel; and

(5) Converted to be capable of firing full automatic bursts.

(f) The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum period shall be imposed upon any person
who shall unlawfully acquire or possess a major part of a small arm;

(g) The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum period shall be imposed upon any
person who shall unlawfully acquire or possess ammunition for a small arm or Class-A
light weapon. If the violation of this paragraph is committed by the same person charged
with the unlawful acquisition or possession of a small arm, the former violation shall be
absorbed by the latter;

(h) The penalty of prision mayor in its medium period shall be imposed upon any person
who shall unlawfully acquire or possess a major part of a Class-A light weapon;

(i) The penalty of prision mayor in its medium period shall be imposed upon any person
who shall unlawfully acquire or possess ammunition for a Class-A light weapon. If the
violation of this paragraph is committed by the same person charged with the unlawful
acquisition or possession of a Class-A light weapon, the former violation shall be
absorbed by the latter;

(j) The penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period shall be imposed upon any
person who shall unlawfully acquire or possess a major part of a Class-B light weapon;
and

(k) The penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period shall be imposed upon any
person who shall unlawfully acquire or possess ammunition for a Class-B light weapon.
If the violation of this paragraph is committed by the same person charged with the
unlawful acquisition or possession of a Class-B light weapon, the former violation shall
be absorbed by the latter.

Section 29. Use of Loose Firearm in the Commission of a Crime. The use of a loose firearm,
when inherent in the commission of a crime punishable under the Revised Penal Code or other
special laws, shall be considered as an aggravating circumstance: Provided, That if the crime

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committed with the use of a loose firearm is penalized by the law with a maximum penalty
which is lower than that prescribed in the preceding section for illegal possession of firearm, the
penalty for illegal possession of firearm shall be imposed in lieu of the penalty for the crime
charged: Provided, further, That if the crime committed with the use of a loose firearm is
penalized by the law with a maximum penalty which is equal to that imposed under the
preceding section for illegal possession of firearms, the penalty of prision mayor in its minimum
period shall be imposed in addition to the penalty for the crime punishable under the Revised
Penal Code or other special laws of which he/she is found guilty.

If the violation of this Act is in furtherance of, or incident to, or in connection with the crime of
rebellion of insurrection, or attempted coup d etat, such violation shall be absorbed as an
element of the crime of rebellion or insurrection, or attempted coup d etat.

If the crime is committed by the person without using the loose firearm, the violation of this Act
shall be considered as a distinct and separate offense.

Section 30. Liability of Juridical Person. The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum to
prision mayor in its medium period shall be imposed upon the owner, president, manager,
director or other responsible officer of/any public or private firm, company, corporation or entity
who shall willfully or knowingly allow any of the firearms owned by such firm, company,
corporation or entity to be used by any person or persons found guilty of violating the provisions
of the preceding section, or willfully or knowingly allow any of them to use unregistered firearm
or firearms without any legal authority to be carried outside of their residence in the course of
their employment.

Section 31. Absence of Permit to Carry Outside of Residence. The penalty of prision
correccional and a fine of Ten thousand pesos (P10,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person
who is licensed to own a firearm but who shall carry the registered firearm outside his/her
residence without any legal authority therefor.

Section 32. Unlawful Manufacture, Importation, Sale or Disposition of Firearms or Ammunition


or Parts Thereof, Machinery, Tool or Instrument Used or Intended to be Used in the
Manufacture of Firearms, Ammunition or Parts Thereof. The penalty of reclusion temporal to
reclusion perpetua shall be imposed upon any person who shall unlawfully engage in the
manufacture, importation, sale or disposition of a firearm or ammunition, or a major part of a
firearm or ammunition, or machinery, tool or instrument used or intended to be used by the same
person in the manufacture of a firearm, ammunition, or a major part thereof.

The possession of any machinery, tool or instrument used directly in the manufacture of
firearms, ammunition, or major parts thereof by any person whose business, employment or
activity does not lawfully deal with the possession of such article, shall be prima facie evidence
that such article is intended to be used in the unlawful or illegal manufacture of firearms,
ammunition or parts thereof.

The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum period to prision mayor in its medium period shall
be imposed upon any laborer, worker or employee of a licensed firearms dealer who shall

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unlawfully take, sell or otherwise dispose of parts of firearms or ammunition which the company
manufactures and sells, and other materials used by the company in the manufacture or sale of
firearms or ammunition. The buyer or possessor of such stolen part or material, who is aware that
such part or material was stolen, shall suffer the same penalty as the laborer, worker or
employee.

If the violation or offense is committed by a corporation, partnership, association or other


juridical entity, the penalty provided for in this section shall be imposed upon the directors,
officers, employees or other officials or persons therein who knowingly and willingly
participated in the unlawful act.

Section 33. Arms Smuggling. The penalty of reclusion perpetua shall be imposed upon any
person who shall engage or participate in arms smuggling as defined in this Act.

Section 34. Tampering, Obliteration or Alteration of Firearms Identification. The penalty of


prision correccional to prision mayor in its minimum period shall be imposed upon any person
who shall tamper, obliterate or alter without authority the barrel, slide, frame, receiver, cylinder,
or bolt assembly, including the name of the maker, model, or serial number of any firearm, or
who shall replace without authority the barrel, slide, frame, receiver, cylinder, or bolt assembly,
including its individual or peculiar identifying characteristics essential in forensic examination of
a firearm or light weapon.

The PNP shall place this information, including its individual or peculiar identifying
characteristics into the database of integrated firearms identification system of the PNP Crime
Laboratory for future use and identification of a particular firearm.

Section 35. Use of an Imitation Firearm. An imitation firearm used in the commission of a
crime shall be considered a real firearm as defined in this Act and the person who committed the
crime shall be punished in accordance with this Act: Provided, That injuries caused on the
occasion of the conduct of competitions, sports, games, or any recreation activities involving
imitation firearms shall not be punishable under this Act.

Section 36. In Custodia Legis. During the pendency of any case filed in violation of this Act,
seized firearm, ammunition, or parts thereof, machinery, tools or instruments shall remain in the
custody of the court. If the court decides that it has no adequate means to safely keep the same,
the court shall issue an order to turn over to the PNP Crime Laboratory such firearm,
ammunition, or parts thereof, machinery, tools or instruments in its custody during the pendency
of the case and to produce the same to the court when so ordered. No bond shall be admitted for
the release of the firearm, ammunition or parts thereof, machinery, tool or instrument. Any
violation of this paragraph shall be punishable by prision mayor in its minimum period to prision
mayor in its medium period.

Section 37. Confiscation and Forfeiture. The imposition of penalty for any violation of this
Act shall carry with it the accessory penalty of confiscation and forfeiture of the firearm,
ammunition, or parts thereof, machinery, tool or instrument in favor of the government which
shall be disposed of in accordance with law.

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Section 38. Liability for Planting Evidence. The penalty of prision mayor in its maximum
period shall be imposed upon any person who shall willfully and maliciously insert; place, and/or
attach, directly or indirectly, through any overt or covert act, any firearm, or ammunition, or
parts thereof in the person, house, effects, or in the immediate vicinity of an innocent individual
for the purpose of implicating or incriminating the person, or imputing the commission of any
violation of the provisions of this Act to said individual. If the person found guilty under this
paragraph is a public officer or employee, such person shall suffer the penalty of reclusion
perpetua.

Section 39. Grounds for Revocation, Cancellation or Suspension of License or Permit. The
Chief of the PNP or his/her authorized representative may revoke, cancel or suspend a license or
permit on the following grounds:

(a) Commission of a crime or offense involving the firearm, ammunition, of major parts
thereof;

(b) Conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude or any offense where the penalty
carries an imprisonment of more than six (6) years;

(c) Loss of the firearm, ammunition, or any parts thereof through negligence;

(d) Carrying of the firearm, ammunition, or major parts thereof outside of residence or
workplace without, the proper permit to carry the same;

(e) Carrying of the firearm, ammunition, or major parts thereof in prohibited places;

(f) Dismissal for cause from the service in case of government official and employee;

(g) Commission of any of the acts penalized under Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise
known as the "Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002;

(h) Submission of falsified documents or misrepresentation in the application to obtain a


license or permit;

(i) Noncompliance of reportorial requirements; and

(j) By virtue of a court order.

Section 40. Failure to Notify Lost or Stolen Firearm or Light Weapon. A fine of Ten thousand
pesos (P10,000.00) shall be imposed upon any licensed firearm holder who fails to report to the
FEO of the PNP that the subject firearm has been lost or stolen within a period of thirty (30) days
from the date of discovery.

Likewise, a fine of Five thousand pesos (P5,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person holding a
valid firearm license who changes residence or office address other than that indicated in the

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license card and fails within a period of thirty (30) days from said transfer to notify the FEO of
the PNP of such change of address.

Section 41. Illegal Transfer/Registration of Firearms. It shall be unlawful to transfer


possession of any firearm to any person who has not yet obtained or secured the necessary
license or permit thereof.

The penalty of prision correccional shall be imposed upon any person who shall violate the
provision of the preceding paragraph. In addition, he/she shall be disqualified to apply for a
license to possess other firearms and all his/her existing firearms licenses whether for purposes
of commerce or possession, shall be revoked. If government-issued firearms, ammunition or
major parts of firearms or light weapons are unlawfully disposed, sold or transferred by any law
enforcement agent or public officer to private individuals, the penalty of reclusion temporal shall
be imposed.

Any public officer or employee or any person who shall facilitate the registration of a firearm
through fraud, deceit, misrepresentation or submission of falsified documents shall suffer the
penalty of prision correccional.

ARTICLE VI
FINAL PROVISIONS

Section 42. Firearms Repository. The FEO of the PNP shall be the sole repository of all
firearms records to include imported and locally manufactured firearms and ammunition. Within
one (1) year upon approval of this Act, all military and law enforcement agencies, government
agencies, LGUs and government-owned or -controlled corporations shall submit an inventory of
all their firearms and ammunition to the PNP.

Section 43. Final Amnesty. Persons in possession of unregistered firearms and holders of
expired license or unregistered firearms shall register and renew the same through the Final
General Amnesty within six (6) months from the promulgation of the implementing rules and
regulations of this Act. During the interim period of six (6) months, no person applying for
license shall be charged of any delinquent payment accruing to the firearm subject for
registration. The PNP shall conduct an intensive nationwide campaign to ensure that the general
public is properly informed of the provisions of this Act.

Section 44. Implementing Rules and Regulations. Within one hundred twenty (120) days from
the effectivity of this Act, the Chief of the PNP, after public hearings and consultation with
concerned sectors of society shall formulate the necessary rules and regulations for the effective
implementation of this Act to be published in at least two (2) national newspapers of general
circulation.

Section 45. Repealing Clause. This Act repeals Sections 1, 2, 5 and 7 of Presidential Decree
No. 1866, as amended, and Section 6 of Republic Act No. 8294 and all other laws, executive
orders, letters of instruction, issuances, circulars, administrative orders, rules or regulations that
are inconsistent herewith.

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Section 46. Separability Clause. If any provision of this Act or any part hereof is held invalid
or unconstitutional, the remainder of the law or the provision not otherwise affected shall remain
valid and subsisting.

Section 47. Effectivity. This Act shall take effect after fifteen (15) days from its publication in
a newspaper of nationwide circulation.

Approved,

(Sgd.) JUAN PONCE ENRILE (Sgd.) FELICIANO BELMONTE JR.


President of the Senate Speaker of the House of Representatives

This Act which is a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 3397 and House Bill No. 5484 was finally
passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives on February 4, 2013 and February 5,
2013, respectively.

(Sgd.) EDWIN B. BELLEN (Sgd.) MARILYN B. BARUA-YAP


Acting Senate Secretary Secretary General
House of Representatives

Approved: May 29, 2013

(Sgd.) BENIGNO S. AQUINO III


President of the Philippines

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