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confiscated in favor of the Government to be disposed of in accordance with law and

January 18, 2017 regulations. No pronouncement as to costs.

G.R. No. 215942 SO ORDERED.6

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee In so ruling, the RTC gave credence to the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses: Police
vs. Inspector (P/Insp.) Penel Ramas; and Senior Police Officers (SPOs)2 Ricky Bagas, Jameson
KUSAIN AMIN y AMPUAN, a.k.a. "Cocoy,", Accused-Appellant. Alvior, Jr., and Benjamin Dacara (Ret.). 7 The trial court held that the prosecution had
successfully proved the existence of all the essential elements of the crime, accused-appellant
DECISION having been "positively identified by the police officers who conducted the buy-bust operation
as the seller of the shabu presented in the case."8 Likewise, the prosecution established that
SERENO, CJ.: the "sale actually occurred and that one sachet of shahu was sold for the price of ₱100.00." 9
P/Insp. Ramas testified that he was about 10 to 15 meters away when the confidential
This is an appeal assailing the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. informant/poseur-buyer handed the marked money to accused-appellant in exchange for
01179, which affirmed the Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 40, Cagayan de shahu. 10 After relying on the signal given by the poseur-buyer (i.e. removing his eyeglasses),
Oro City, in Criminal Case No. 2004-010. The RTC found accused-appellant guilty beyond they proceeded to frisk accused-appellant and arrest him immediately. They were able to
reasonable doubt of the crime of illegal sale of prohibited drugs under Section 5, paragraph 1, recover the marked money in the latter’s possession.11
Article II of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165.
Moreover, the RTC found that the identity of the dangerous drug was sufficiently proven
Accused-appellant was charged under the following Information: because the prosecution was able to establish the chain of custody, from the time it was sold
by accused-appellant to when it was presented in court.12 SPO2 Dacara testified that he had
That on January 2, 2004, at 5:40 p.m. more or less, at Landless, Colrai, Macabalan, Cagayan personally received the sachet of shabu from their poseur-buyer at the place of arrest and
de Oro City, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named brought it to their office later. After making the appropriate markings (the letter "A" and his
accused without authority of law, did then and there wilfully and feloniously have in his initials) on the sachet, he turned it over to SPO2 Bagas for delivery to the Philippine National
possession custody and control one (1) small heated-sealed transparent plastic sachet of white Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory. 13 SPO2 Alvior then identified the sachet as the same item that
crystalline substance locally known as shabu with approx. weight of 0.09 gram valued to more he had received on 3 January 2004 from SPO3 Sagas at the PNP Crime Laboratory Office, and
or less P100 and sold it to a poseur-buyer of PNP-CDO for a consideration of P100.00 marked that he later turned over to the examining forensic chemist, Police Senior Inspector (P/SI) April
money one (1) pc one hundred pesos bill with serial number FA246643, well knowing it to be a Garcia Carbajal. 14
dangerous drug.
In light of the positive testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, the trial court gave scant
Contrary to law. 3 consideration to the uncorroborated self-serving allegations of accused-appellant that he had
been framed. He was sentenced to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine of
Upon arraignment, accused-appellant, assisted by counsel, pleaded not guilty to the charge.4 five hundred thousand pesos (₱500,000) for the crime of illegal sale of prohibited drugs. 15
Hence, trial ensued.
Upon intermediate appellate review, the CA rendered a Decision on 16 October 2014, the
On 14 June 2013, the RTC rendered a Decision, 5 the dispositive portion of which is herein dispositive portion of which reads:
quoted:
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED. The Judgment dated June 14, 2013 of the Regional Trial
WHEREFORE, the foregoing considered, the prosecution having established all the elements Court of Misamis Oriental, 10th Judicial Region, Branch 40 in Criminal Case No. 2004-010 is
of the crime of illegal sale of a dangerous drug, the Court hereby finds the accused, Kusain hereby AFFIRMED in toto.
Amin y Ampuan GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Violation of Sec. 5, par. 1,
Article II of R.A. 9165, and hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty of LIFE IMPRISONMENT SO ORDERED. 16
and to pay a fine of ₱500,000.00. The sachet of shabu described in the Information is ordered

1
In convicting appellant of the crimes charged, the CA disregarded his position that there was presumption of innocence in favor of the accused, who has no duty to prove his innocence until
no valid buy-bust operation, because the arresting team had not coordinated the matter with and unless the presumption of innocence in his favor has been overcome by sufficient and
the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). 17 The appellate court maintained that competent evidence.25
neither R.A. 9165 nor its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) required PDEA's
participation in any buy-bust operation. After all, a buy-bust is "just a form of an injlagrante arrest In the same case, we emphasized that "[t]here would have been no issue against [the buy-bust
sanctioned by Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of Court [sic], which police authorities may operation], except that none of the members of the buy-bust team had directly witnessed the
rightfully resort to in apprehending violators x x x. A buy-bust operation is not invalidated by transaction, if any, between Andaya and the poseur buyer due to their being positioned at a
mere non-coordination with the PDEA." 18 distance from the poseur buyer and Andaya at the moment of the supposed transaction."26 It
On accused-appellant's contention that the prosecution's failure to present the poseur-buyer was even noted in that case that the "members of the buy-bust team arrested Andaya on the
weakened the arresting team's testimonies, the CA held that the non-presentation of the poseur- basis of the pre-arranged signal from the poseur-buyer."27
buyer is fatal only if there is no other eyewitness to the illicit transaction, as held in People v. While there is a "need to hide [the poseur-buyers] identit[ies] and preserve their invaluable
Berdadero. 19 In any case, the testimonies of SPO2 Dacara and P/Insp. Ramas, who were both service to the police,"28 this consideration cannot be applied to this case, because, as in
within clear seeing distance, "presented a complete picture, providing every detail of the buy- Andaya, the "poseur-buyer and the confidential informant were one and the same. Without the
bust operation."20 poseur buyer's testimony, the State did not credibly incriminate [the accused]."29
Finally, as regards the failure of the police officers to immediately mark the alleged shabu at the The testimonies of prosecution witnesses SPO2 Bagas, SPO2 Alvior, Jr., SPO2 Dacara, and
crime scene (but only at the police station), the CA ruled that "failure to strictly comply with P/Insp. Ramas (who was 10 meters away) cannot be considered as eyewitness accounts of the
Section 21 (1), Article 11 of RA No. 9165 does not necessarily render an accused's arrest illegal illegal sale. There was no indication that they directly saw an illegal drug being sold to the
or the items seized or confiscated from him inadmissible."21 It further emphasized that "[w]hat poseur-buyer. In People v. Guzon, 30 we held that "the police officer, who admitted that he was
is of utmost importance is the preservation of the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized seven (7) to eight (8) meters away from where the actual transaction took place, could not be
items, as these would be utilized in the determination of the guilt or innocence of the deemed an eyewitness to the crime." 31
accused."22
At this juncture, We reiterate our point in Andaya:
We now resolve the appeal.
Secondly, the reliance on the supposed signal to establish the consummation of the transaction
ISSUE between the poseur buyer and Andaya was unwarranted because the unmitigatedly hearsay
character of the signal rendered it entirely bereft of trustworthiness. The arresting members of
From the foregoing, the sole issue before us is whether or not the RTC and the CA erred in the buy-bust team interpreted the signal from the anonymous poseur buyer as the sign of the
finding the testimonial evidence of the prosecution witnesses sufficient to warrant appellant's consummation of the transaction. Their interpretation, being necessarily subjective without the
conviction for the crimes charged. testimony of the poseur buyer, unfairly threatened the libe1iy of Andaya. We should not allow
that threat to perpetuate itself. And, lastly, the reliance on the signal would deprive Andaya the
THE COURT'S RULING We reverse the appellate court. While prior coordination with the PDEA right to confront and test the credibility of the poseur buyer who supposedly gave it. 32 This
is not necessary to make a buy-bust operation valid,23 we are constrained to reverse the interpretation is premised on the legal reasoning that "when the inculpatory facts and
findings of the CA because the non-presentation of the poseur-buyer is fatal to the cause of the circumstances are capable of two (2) or more explanations, one of which is consistent with the
prosecution. In People v. Andaya, 24 the importance of presenting the poseur-buyer's testimony innocence of the accused and the other consistent with his guilt, then the evidence does not
before the trial court was underscored by the Court in this wise: The justification that underlies fulfill the test of moral ce1iainty and is not sufficient to support a conviction."33 In light of the
the legitimacy of the buy-bust operation is that the suspect is arrested in flagranti delicto, that pronouncements above, We deem it unnecessary to discuss other issues raised by both parties.
is, the suspect has just committed, or is in the act of committing, or is attempting to commit the
offense in the presence of the arresting police officer or private person. The arresting police WHEREFORE, the Court REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the Court of Appeals Decision dated
officer or private person is favored in such instance with the presumption of regularity in the 16 October 2014 in CA-GR. CR-I-LC. No. 01179 affirming the Decision dated 14 June 2013
performance of official duty. issued by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 40, Cagayan de Oro City, in Criminal Case No. 2004-
010; and ACQUITS accused-appellant KUSAIN AMIN y AMPUAN of the crime charged in
Proof of the transaction must be credible and complete. In every criminal prosecution, it is the Criminal Case No. 2004-010 on the ground of reasonable doubt. The Director of the Bureau of
State, and no other, that bears the burden of proving the illegal sale of the dangerous drug Corrections is hereby ORDERED to immediately release accused-appellant KUSAIN AMIN y
beyond reasonable doubt. This responsibility imposed on the State accords with the AMPUAN from custody, unless he is being detained for some other lawful cause.

2
G.R. No. 183700 October 13, 2014 bills to the asset. Upon reaching the designated place, the team members alighted from their
vehicles and occupied different positions where they could see and observe the asset. The
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, asset knocked on the door of Pablito's house. Pablito came out. Pablito and the asset talked
vs. briefly. The asset gave Pablito the marked money. The asset received something from
PABLITO ANDAYA y REANO, Accused-Appellant. appellant. The pre-arranged signal signifying consummation of the transaction was given. The
team members approached Pablito and the asset, introduced themselves as police officers and
DECISION arrested accused. He was brought to the police station. The arrival of the team was recorded in
the police blotter. The merchandise handed by accused to the asset was sent to the Regional
BERSAMIN, J.: Crime Laboratory in Camp Vicente Lim, Canlubang, Laguna. The specimen was positive for
methampethamine Hydrochloride (shabu), a dangerous drug.
The non-presentation of the confidential informant as a witness does not ordinarily weaken the
State's case against the accused. However, if the arresting lawmen arrested the accused based SPO2 Lopez received the person of the accused, the marked money and the item accused
on the pre-arranged signal from the confidential informant who acted as the poseur buyer, his handed to the asset. Lopez prepared the request for laboratory examination. He also prepared
nonpresentation must be credibly explained and the transaction established by other ways in the documents required for filing of the case with the Public Prosecutor.
order to satisfy the quantum of proof beyond reasonable doubt because the arresting lawmen
did not themselves participate in the buy-bust transaction with the accused. SPO2 Danilo Mercado recorded the marked bills in the police blotter before the buy-bust. Upon
the team's return, the marked money and the merchandise from accused were turned over to
Antecedents SPO2 Mercado. He prepared a complaint sheet. Thereafter, he turned over accused and the
evidence to the Police Investigator.
On February 7, 2003, an information for violation of Section 5 of Republic Act No. 91651 (RA
9165) was filed charging Pablito Andaya y Reano (Andaya). The accusatory portion of the SPo4 Protacio Marasigan received a written request for laboratory examination of the subject
information reads: merchandise. He brought the request to the crime laboratory in Laguna.

That on or about December 16, 2002 at around 9:50 o'clock in the evening at Brgy. San Jose Jupri Delantar, a Forensic Chemical Officer in Camp Vicente Lim, Laguna, conducted the
Sico, Batangas City, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above- examination. The merchandise tested positive for shabu.
named accused, not being authorized by law, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously, sell, dispense or deliver, more or less 0.09 gram(s) of Methamphetamine Accused-appellant denied the charge. He stated that at about 9: 15 in the evening of December
Hydrochloride (shabu), a dangerous drug, which is a clear violation of the above-cited law. 16, 2002 he was at home watching TV with his family when police officers arrived. When he
CONTRARY TO LAW.2 opened the door, a police officer poked his gun at him. Somebody else held a long firearm.
Pablito was handcuffed and brought outside. He refused to negotiate and asked for a warrant.
Upon arraignment,3 Andaya pleaded not guilty to the charge. Thereafter, trial on the merits The policemen searched the house, turned over the beddings and uncovered their furniture. No
ensued. gun nor shabu was found. Pablito was brought to the police station and detained. After three
(3) days he was released. He received a subpoena from the Public Prosecutor afterwards.
The CA summed up the versions of the parties, as follows:4
His wife Crisanta, corroborated appellants' testimony. She added having told her husband about
Five (5) witnesses were presented by the prosecution, namely: SPO4 Delfin Alea, SPO3 Nelio the loss of their cellphone and the money in his wallet. She was asked to produce ₱5,000.00
Lopez, SPO2 Danilo Mercado, SPO4 Protasio Marasigan and Jupri Delantar. which she was unable to do. She was able to raise only ₱2,000.00.

SPO2 Delfin Alea testified that at about 8:00 o'clock in the evening of December 16, 2002, their Judgment of the RTC
asset who was conducting surveillance of Pablito Andaya in Barangay San Jose Sico, Batangas
City, arrived at their station. Said asset reported that he had arranged to buy shabu from Pablito. On February 21, 2006, the Regional Trial Court, Branch 4, in Batangas City (R TC) rendered its
A team composed of SPO1 Aguila, SPO1 Cabungcal, Eric de Chavez, PO1 Lindberg Yap, judgment convicting Andaya as charged, and meted him the penalty of life imprisonment,5 viz:
Edwalberto Villar and asset Bagsit was constituted to conduct a buy-bust. Two (2) pieces of
₱100.00 bills both duly marked "X" were recorded in the police blotter. Alea gave the marked

3
In the case at bar, the buy-bust operation conducted on the night of December 16, 2002 is still watching T.V. These actuations of the accused tend to support the fact that the police asset
supported by the police blotter wherein not only was the depaiiure and arrival of the operatives had made a deal with the accused for the sale of shabu and was expecting the asset to come
have been duly recorded but also the two (2) pieces of marked one hundred peso bills. The that night.
arrest of the accused was made after the police asset had given the pre-arranged signal outside
his house. The marked money was recovered from the very hand of the accused while the deck In the light of all foregoing considerations, the Court is left with no alternative than to find the
of crystalline substances given to the asset upon the latter's handing over to the accused the herein accused criminally liable for the offense charged in the information.
marked money has been turned over to the police by the asset. The crystalline substance when
examined at the police crime laboratory was found to contain methamphetamine hydrochloride Wherefore, accused Pablito Andaya y Reano is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of
a dangerous and prohibited drug and weighed 0.09 gram. violating Section 5, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165. He is therefore sentenced to undergo
life imprisonment and to pay the costs of this action. The 0.09 gram of methamphetamine
These foregoing facts have been clearly testified to by the Prosecution witnesses who are hydrochloride subject of this case is confiscated and directed to be proceeded against pursuant
members of the Philippine Integrated National Police Force stationed at Batangas City. No ill- to law.
motive has been imputed to any of these police officers prior to and at the time the herein
accused was arrested on the night of December 16, 2002. The accused may be credited with his preventive imprisonment if he is entitled to any.

The accused and his wife as a defense denied the sale of shabu that fateful night. There were SO ORDERED.6
allegations in their testimonies that the police demanded money from them. The wife of the
accused even testified that she gave P 1,500.00 to the police officer who then eventually Decision of the CA
released said accused. And early on, she even claimed money and a cellphone were missing
after the accused was arrested in their house. In his appeal, Andaya contended:

The testimonies of the accused and his wife are bereft of any corroborating evidence emanating I.
from a disinterested source. It is no less than self-serving devoid of any credence considering
the following circumstances: THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT'S
SEARCH AND ARREST AS ILLEGAL.
1. Scrutinizing the entirety of the testimony of the accused and his wife Crisanta Andaya, there
are material variances gleaned therefrom. The accused himself never testified that he was II.
pushed to a chair and yet witness Crisanta Andaya said she saw her husband pushed to a chair.
Also, the accused said there were two guns poked at him when he opened the door but his wife THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF THE
said only one was holding a gun while another had a long firearm on his shoulder. CRIME CHARGED DESPITE THE FAIL URE OF THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE HIS GUILT
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.7
2. The testimony of the accused was that only ₱500.00 was taken by the police before his
release. But the wife said ₱1,500.00 was given to the police before the accused was released. On February 11, 2008, the CA promulgated its assailed decision affirming the conviction,8 viz:
3. The accused and his wife never made any complaint to the proper authorities as regards the
alleged loss of money and cellphone when the accused was arrested on December 16, 2002. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the appeal is DISMISSED. The decision of Branch IV,
Neither was there any complaint filed by them for the alleged ₱500.00 or Pl1500.00 demanded RTC, Fourth Judicial Region, Batangas City, in Criminal Case No. 12771 is AFFIRMED in toto.
from and given by them to the police.
SO ORDERED.9
4. The accused was a resident of Barangay San Jose Sico, Batangas City since the 1980's why
was it that it was at Rosario, Batangas where the accused was arrested. The Defense gave no Issues
evidence to contest the presumption of guilt based on flight.
Hence, Andaya appeals, insisting that the search of his house and his person and his arrest by
5. It is significant to note also that the accused never bothered to ask who was knocking at his the police officers violated his constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures;
door past 9:00 o'clock in the evening. While his family was already lying in bed to sleep he was

4
and that the Prosecution's nonpresentation of the confidential informant was adverse to the The CA did not find anything wrong or odd in the non-presentation of the poseur buyer as a
Prosecution, indicating that his guilt was not proved beyond reasonable doubt. witness against the accused. In fact, it justified the non-presentation as follows:

Ruling Appellant also questioned the failure of the prosecution to present the informer. The court is
aware of the considerations why confidential informants are usually not presented by the
The appeal is meritorious. prosecution. There is the need to hide their identity and preserve their invaluable service to the
police. (People v. Khor, 307 SCRA 295 [1999], citing People v. Gireng, 241 SCRA 11 [1995].)
To secure the conviction of the accused who is charged with the illegal sale of dangerous drugs Foremost is the desire to protect them from being objects or targets of revenge by the criminals
as defined and punished by Section 5, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 (Comprehensive they implicate once they become known. (People vs. Ong, G.R. No. 137348, June 21, 2004.)
Drugs Act of 2002), the State must establish the concurrence of the following elements, namely:
(a) that the transaction or sale took place between the accused and the poseur buyer; and ( b) In People vs Lopez (214 SCRA 323), it was held that there was no need for the prosecution to
that the dangerous drugs subject of the transaction or sale is presented in court as evidence of present the confidential informer as the poseur buyer himself positively identified the accused
the corpus delicti.10 as the one who sold to him one deck of methamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu." The trial
court then properly relied on the testimonies of the police officers despite the decision of the
We reiterate that a buy-bust operation is a valid and legitimate form of entrapment of the drug prosecution not to present the informer.15
pusher.11 In such operation, the poseur buyer transacts with the suspect by purchasing a
quantity of the dangerous drug and paying the price agreed upon, and in turn the drug pusher The foregoing justification by the CA was off-tangent and does not help the State's cause
turns over or delivers the dangerous drug subject of their agreement in exchange for the price any.1âwphi1 It is obvious that the rulings cited to supp01i the need to conceal the confidential
or other consideration. Once the transaction is consummated, the drug pusher is arrested, and infonnants' identities related to the confidential informants who gave information against
can be held to account under the criminal law. The justification that underlies the legitimacy of suspected drug dealers. The presentation of the confidential informants as witnesses for the
the buy-bust operation is that the suspect is arrested in jlagranti delicto, that is, the suspect has Prosecution in those instances could be excused because there were poseur buyers who
just committed, or is in the act of committing, or is attempting to commit the offense in the directly incriminated the accused. In this case, however, it was different, because the poseur
presence of the arresting police officer or private person.12 The arresting police officer or private buyer and the confidential informant were one and the same. Without the poseur buyer's
person is favored in such instance with the presumption of regularity in the performance of testimony, the State did not credibly incriminate Andaya.
official duty.
Indeed, Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9165 punishes "any person, who, unless authorized by
Proof of the transaction must be credible and complete. In every criminal prosecution, it is the law, shall sell, trade, administer, dispense, deliver, give away to another, distribute, dispatch in
State, and no other, that bears the burden of proving the illegal sale of the dangerous drug transit or transport any dangerous drug, including any and all species of opium poppy regardless
beyond reasonable doubt.13 This responsibility imposed on the State accords with the of the quantity and purity involved, or shall act as a broker in any of such transactions." Under
presumption of innocence in favor of the accused, who has no duty to prove his innocence until the law, selling was any act "of giving away any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor
and unless the presumption of innocence in his favor has been overcome by sufficient and and essential chemical whether for money or any other consideration;"16 while delivering was
competent evidence.14 any act "of knowingly passing a dangerous drug to another, personally or otherwise, and by any
means, with or without consideration."17 Given the legal characterizations of the acts
Here, the confidential informant was not a police officer. He was designated to be the poseur constituting the offense charged, the members of the buy-bust team could not incriminate
buyer himself. It is notable that the members of the buy-bust team arrested Andaya on the basis Andaya by simply declaring that they had seen from their positions the poseur buyer handing
of the pre-arranged signal from the poseur buyer. The pre-arranged signal signified to the something to Andaya who, in turn, gave something to the poseur buyer. If the transaction was
members of the buy-bust team that the transaction had been consummated between the poseur a sale, it was unwarranted to infer from such testimonies of the members of the buy-bust team
buyer and Andaya. However, the State did not present the confidential informant/poseur buyer that what the poseur buyer handed over were the marked ₱100.00 bills and that what Andaya
during the trial to describe how exactly the transaction between him and Andaya had taken gave to the poseur buyer was the shabu purchased.
place. There would have been no issue against that, except that none of the members of the
buy-bust team had directly witnessed the transaction, if any, between Andaya and the poseur Another mark of suspicion attending the evidence of guilt related to the reliance by the members
buyer due to their being positioned at a distance from the poseur buyer and Andaya at the of the buy-bust team on the pre-arranged signal from the poseur buyer. To start with, the record
moment of the supposed transaction. does not show what the prearranged signal consisted of. It is fundamental enough to expect the
State to be clear and definite about its evidence of guilt, particularly here where the conviction

5
of Andaya would require him to spend the rest of his natural life behind bars. Nothing less should lustrous, he should not fear a conviction for any crime, least of all one as grave as drug pushing,
be done here. Secondly, the reliance on the supposed signal to establish the consummation of unless the evidence against him was clear, competent and beyond reasonable doubt.
the transaction between the poseur buyer and Andaya was unwarranted because the Otherwise, the presumption of innocence in his favor would be rendered empty.
unmitigatedly hearsay character of the signal rendered it entirely bereft of trustworthiness. The
arresting members of the buy-bust team interpreted the signal from the anonymous poseur WHEREFORE, the Court REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the decision promulgated on February
buyer as the sign of the consummation of the transaction. Their interpretation, being necessarily 11, 2008; ACQUITS accused Pablito Andaya y Reano for failure to prove his guilt beyond
subjective without the testimony of the poseur buyer, unfairly threatened the liberty of Andaya. reasonable doubt; and ORDERS his immediate release from confinement at the National
We should not allow that threat to perpetuate itself. And, lastly, the reliance on the signal would Penitentiary in Muntinlupa City.
deprive Andaya the right to confront and test the credibility of the poseur buyer who supposedly
gave it. The Court DIRECTS that the Director of the Bureau of Corrections to implement the immediate
release of Pablito Andaya y Reano, unless he is confined for any other lawful cause; and to
We should look at the situation of Andaya with utmost caution because of what our judicial report his compliance within ten days from receipt.
experience through the years has told us about unscrupulous lawmen resorting to stratagems
of false incrimination in order to arrest individuals they target for ulterior reasons. In this case, SO ORDERED.
the arrest did not emanate from probable cause, for the formless signal from the anonymous
poseur buyer did not establish beyond reasonable doubt the elements of illegal sale of
dangerous drugs under Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9165.1âwphi1

In affirming the RTC's conviction of the accused, the CA observed that the defense of frame-up
put up by the accused was discredited by the absence of proof of "any intent on the paii of the
police authorities to falsely impute such crime against the accused, the presumption of regularity
in the performance of official duty stands."18 Such outright rejection by the lower courts of
Andaya's defense of frame-up is not outrightly binding. For sure, the frame-up defense has been
commonly used in prosecutions based on buy-bust operations that have led to the an-est of the
suspects.19 Its use might be seen as excessive, but the failure of the accused to impute any ill
motives to falsely incriminate them should not deter us from scrutinizing the circumstances of
the cases brought to us for review. We should remind ourselves that we cannot presume that
the accused committed the crimes they have been charged with. The State must fully establish
that for us. If the imputation of ill motive to the lawmen is the only means of impeaching them,
then that would be the end of our dutiful vigilance to protect our citizenry from false arrests and
wrongful incriminations. We are aware that there have been in the past many cases of false
arrests and wrongful incriminations, and that should heighten our resolve to strengthen the
ramparts of judicial scrutiny.

Nor should we shirk from our responsibility of protecting the liberties of our citizenry just because
the lawmen are shielded by the presumption of the regularity of their performance of duty. The
presumed regularity is nothing but a purely evidentiary tool intended to avoid the impossible
and time-consuming task of establishing every detail of the performance by officials and
functionaries of the Government. Conversion by no means defeat the much stronger and much
firmer presumption of innocence in favor of every person whose life, property and liberty comes
under the risk of forfeiture on the strength of a false accusation of committing some crime.20
The criminal accusation against a person must be substantiated by proof beyond reasonable
doubt. The Court should steadfastly safeguard his right to be presumed innocent. Although his
innocence could be doubted, for his reputation in his community might not be lily-white or

6
SECOND DIVISION EMV 1 to EMV 3.� The three (3) sachets of shabu were turned over to the Batangas Provincial
G.R. No. 207993, January 21, 2015 Crime Laboratory, pursuant to the request for laboratory examination of P/Supt. Fausto
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, v. GERARDO ENUMERABLE Y DE Manzanilla, Jr., Chief of Police, Batangas City PNP on May 27, 2004 at 5:25 p.m.� However,
VILLA, Appellant. that Crime laboratory indorsed the request with the specimens on June 4, 2004 at 2:30 p.m. to
DECISION the Regional Crime Laboratory in Calamba City.
CARPIO, J.:
The Case Police Inspector and Forensic Chemist Donna Villa P. Huelgas found the specimens positive
for the presence of methamphetamine hydrochloride, a dangerous drug, as shown by Chemistry
On appeal is the 31 January 2013 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR HC No. Report No. D-566-04, the authenticity and genuineness of which were admitted by accused
04948.� The Court of Appeals affirmed the 15 February 2011 Decision2 of the Regional Trial during the pre-trial.5
Court, Branch 12 of Lipa City convicting appellant Gerardo Enumerable y De Villa for violation
of Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9165.cralawred Appellant filed a Comment with Motion for Leave to File Demurrer, 6 which motion was denied
The Facts by the trial court for appellant�s failure to adduce any reason
therefor.7chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
The Information dated 27 August 2004 reads:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
That on or about the 27th day of May, 2004 at about 11:30 o�clock in the morning at Petron The trial court found appellant guilty of the offense charged.� The dispositive portion of the
Gasoline Station, located at B. Morada Ave., Lipa City, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of trial court�s decision reads:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, without authority of law, did then and there WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused GERARDO ENUMERABLE y DE VILLA guilty beyond
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously sell, deliver, dispose or give away to a police officer-poseur reasonable doubt as principal by direct participation of the crime of drug pushing as defined and
buyer, 9.88 grams of Methamphetamine Hydrochloride locally known as �shabu�, a penalized under Section 5, Article II of Republic Act [No.] 9165 otherwise known as the
dangerous drug, contained in three (3) plastic sachets. Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and hereby impose on him the penalty of life
imprisonment and to pay a fine of P500,000.00.� The 9.88 grams of shabu are hereby ordered
Contrary to Law.3 destroyed pursuant to the provisions of Section 21(4) and (7) of RA 9165.

Appellant pleaded not guilty to the offense charged.4 Trial ensued. The period of detention of the accused shall be deducted in his service of sentence.

The prosecution presented two witnesses, namely:� Police Officer (PO) 3 Edwalberto Villas Let a commitment order be issued for the transfer of custody of the accused from the BJMP
and Police Inspector Danilo Balmes.� On the other hand, appellant waived the presentation Lipa City to the National Penitentiary, Muntinlupa City.
of any defense evidence.
SO ORDERED.8
As found by the trial court, the facts are as follows:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
From the evidence adduced by the People, the Court finds that based on the information about Appellant filed a Notice of Appeal.9� The Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction of appellant
a deal in shabu between the asset of PO3 Edwalberto Villas and a certain Gerry of San Pablo for the offense charged.
City, a buy-bust operation was conducted by the elements of the Batangas City Police Station
with the assistance of Police Inspector Danilo Balmes of the CIDG Batangas Province on May Hence, this appeal.cralawred
27, 2004 at 11:30 o�clock in the morning at the Petron Gasoline Station along B. Morada Ave., The Ruling of the Court of Appeals
Lipa City.
In sustaining appellant�s conviction for the offense charged, the Court of Appeals held that
Using two (2) pieces of marked P500.00 bills and boodle money to make the appearance of the testimony of PO3 Villas identifying the three plastic sachets of shabu as the same ones
about P24,000.00, the police asset who posed as a buyer transacted with the alias Gerry upon seized from appellant rendered insignificant appellant�s allegation that PO3 Villas did not
his arrival at the gas station.� After the exchange of the marked money and the three (3) plastic immediately put markings on the three sachets of shabu at the place of arrest.� The Court of
sachets of shabu placed in a black plastic box, alias Gerry was placed under arrest.� He was Appeals further ruled that the failure of the arresting officers to conduct a physical inventory and
later identified as Gerardo Enumerable y de Villa.� The marked money was recovered from to take photographs of the seized items is not fatal as long as the integrity and evidentiary value
his possession by PO3 Villas who also took custody of the specimen shabu which he marked of the seized items are properly preserved, as in this case.
7
police officers attending to drugs cases, still, such officers must present justifiable reason
According to the Court of Appeals, the prosecution was able to prove the unbroken chain for their imperfect conduct and show that the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized
of custody of the prohibited drug from the time PO3 Villas confiscated the plastic sachets items had been preserved. x x x. (Emphasis supplied)
from appellant and marked them at the place of arrest, to the time PO3 Villas brought the
plastic sachets to the police station and turned them over to the investigator on-duty until In People v. Climaco,12 citing Malillin v. People,13 the Court
the time SPO1 de Castro submitted the marked plastic sachets to the Regional Crime held:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Laboratory Office Calabarzon for laboratory examination.cralawred x x x [T]o establish guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt in cases involving
The Issue dangerous drugs, it is important that the substance illegally possessed in the first place be
the same substance offered in court as exhibit.� This chain of custody requirement
The issue boils down to whether the prosecution established the identity and integrity of ensures that unnecessary doubts are removed concerning the identity of the evidence.�
the confiscated illegal drug, which is the corpus delicti of the offense charged against When the identity of the dangerous drug recovered from the accused is not the same
appellant.cralawred dangerous drug presented to the forensic chemist for review and examination, nor the
The Ruling of the Court same dangerous drug presented to the court, the identity of the dangerous drug is not
preserved due to the broken chain of custody.� With this, an element in the criminal cases
We grant the appeal. for illegal sale and illegal possession of dangerous drugs, the corpus delicti, is not proven,
and the accused must then be acquitted based on reasonable doubt.� For this reason,
While appellant waived the presentation of evidence for his defense, he disputes the [the accused] must be acquitted on the ground of reasonable doubt due to the broken chain
identity and integrity of the illegal drug which is the corpus delicti of the offense charged of custody over the dangerous drug allegedly recovered from him.
against him.� Appellant maintains that the prosecution failed to prove the unbroken chain
of custody of the illegal drug which gravely impairs its identity. Without the identity of In this case, there was a glaring gap in the custody of the illegal drug since the prosecution
the corpus delicti being sufficiently established,� appellant claims that he should be failed to sufficiently establish who had custody of the illegal drug from the moment it was
acquitted. allegedly transmitted to the Batangas Provincial Crime Laboratory on 27 May 2004 until it
was allegedly delivered to the Regional Crime Laboratory on 4 June 2004.� There was
It is settled that in prosecutions for illegal sale of dangerous drug, not only must the no evidence presented how the confiscated sachets of shabu were stored, preserved or
essential elements of the offense be proved beyond reasonable doubt, but likewise the labeled nor who had custody prior to their delivery to the Regional Crime Laboratory and
identity of the prohibited drug. The dangerous drug itself constitutes the corpus delicti of their subsequent presentation before the trial court.� This is evident from the testimony of
the offense and the fact of its existence is vital to a judgment of PO3 Villas, who stated he had no knowledge on who had custody of the sachets of shabu
conviction.10chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary from 27 May 2004 until 4 June 2004.� PO3 Villas testified thus:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Q But when the accused was arrested on May 27, 2004, records will show that the
Necessarily, the prosecution must establish that the substance seized from the accused is
specimen was submitted to the crime laboratory on June 4, 2004 which is
the same substance offered in court as exhibit.� In this regard, the prosecution must
practically several days after.� Am I right?
sufficiently prove the unbroken chain of custody of the confiscated illegal drug.� In People
v. Watamama,11 the Court held:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary A It was turned over to the duty investigator.
In all prosecutions for the violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, Q Who brought the specimen to the crime laboratory?
the existence of the prohibited drug has to be proved.� The chain of custody rule A I don�t know from the duty investigator, sir.
requires that testimony be presented about every link in the chain, from the moment
Q So you are not aware who brought the specimen to the crime laboratory?
the item was seized up to the time it is offered in evidence. To this end, the prosecution
must ensure that the substance presented in court is the same substance seized from the A Yes, sir.
accused. Q But between May 27 and June 4, 2004, who was in custody of the specimen?
A I turned it over to the duty investigator, sir.
While this Court recognizes substantial adherence to the requirements of R.A. No. 9165
Q On what date?
and its implementing rules and regulations, not perfect adherence, is what is demanded of
8
A On May 27 after we turned over the suspect to the investigator, sir. A�� Yes, ma�am.
Q So your statement which says that the accused was released simply because Q�� I am showing to you a document, the indorsement which came from the Office of
the specimen or the result of the examination � would not catch up with the the Chief of Police of Batangas City dated May 27, 2004, can you please go over
investigation is not correct because you have not submitted immediately the the same and tell the Court what is the relevance of that document regarding the
specimen to the crime laboratory? delivery of specimen to the crime laboratory?
COURT A�� This is the request prepared by our investigator dated May 27 in relation to the
Q Because it was submitted seven (7) days after the apprehension? arrest of Gerardo Enumerable wherein the subject were three (3) plastic sachets
of shabu, it was delivered to Batangas Provincial Crime Laboratory on the same
A I was not the one who is concerned with the submission of the specimen
date, ma�am.
to the crime laboratory.� We turned it over to the duty investigator and the
duty investigator marked the specimen, Your Honor. Q�� How did you come to know it was delivered on the same date?
ATTY. GAJITOS A�� There was a stamp receipt by the Provincial Crime Laboratory office delivered by
SPO1 De Castro and received by PO3 Llarena at Batangas Provincial Crime
Q But you will agree that the specimen was submitted to the crime laboratory by
your investigator only on June 4, 2004 or practically a week after the Laboratory, ma�am.
apprehension? Q�� You likewise identified during the direct examination chemistry report coming
A from Camp Vicente Lim, how would you reconcile the fact the specimen was
I don�t know, sir.� It is only now that I came to know, sir.14 (Emphasis
supplied) delivered to the Provincial Crime Laboratory and the result came from Camp
Vicente Lim?
The prosecution attempted to fill the gap in the chain of custody. However, such effort A�� It was the Provincial Crime Laboratory of Batangas PPO who made the
proved futile.� On re-direct examination, PO3 Villas, who earlier testified that he had no indorsements from Batangas Provincial Police Office to the Crime Laboratory,
knowledge on who had custody of the illegal drugs prior and during their delivery to the Camp Vicente Lim, ma�am.
crime laboratories,� merely restated the contents of the 3 June 2004 Memorandum from Q�� Do you have proof to show that fact?
the Chief of the Batangas Police addressed to the Regional Chief, corresponding to the A�� Yes, ma�am.
questions of the prosecutor.� In other words, PO3 Villas testified on a piece of document Q�� What is that?
he had no participation in the preparation or execution thereof.� PO3 Villas testified as
follows:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary A�� Letter request made by the Batangas Crime Laboratory to the Crime Laboratory,
Camp Vicente Lim, ma�am.
CROSS-EXAMINATION� OF ATTY. GAJITOS
Q�� This is the same request made by the Batangas Provincial Crime Laboratory
Q Do you admit there are no significant markings on this black box for possession addressed to Regional Crime Laboratory, was there a proof to show that the
or identification more particularly the signature or initial of the arresting officer? specimen together with the indorsement was actually received by the Crime
A No, sir. Laboratory Camp Vicente Lim.
ATTY. GAJITOS A�� Yes, there was a stamp of the Regional Crime Laboratory office delivered by PO3
No further question, Your Honor. Vargas and received by PO3 Macabasco of the Regional Crime Laboratory,
COURT ma�am.
Re-direct. Q�� What date?
PROSECUTOR A�� It was delivered on June 3 and the specimen was received on June 4, ma�am.
Q�� During your cross-examination, you were asked regarding the fact as a reply to Q�� Why was it necessary for your office to deliver the specimen to the Provincial
the question of the defense it was after 7 days that the specimen was actually Crime Laboratory, why not directly to the Crime Laboratory of Camp Vicente Lim?
brought to the laboratory for examination, your answer that was correct?

9
A�� During that time there was no chemist who examined the specimen in the thereof, were entered into during pre-trial only in order to dispense with the testimony of
Provincial Crime Laboratory so what they did was they delivered the specimen the forensic chemist and abbreviate the proceedings. x x x.17
to the Regional Crime Laboratory, ma�am.
Since the failure of the prosecution to establish every link in the chain of custody of the
Q�� My question is, why not deliver it directly to Camp Vicente Lim?
illegal drug gravely compromised its identity and integrity, which illegal drug is the corpus
A�� The PNP during that time did not have any budget, ma�am. delicti of the offense charged against appellant, his acquittal is therefore in
Q�� How much would it need to deliver the specimen? order.chanrobleslaw
A�� It was cheap, sir.� The problem was that the Provincial Crime Laboratory did
not have any chemist, they delivered the specimen to the Regional Crime WHEREFORE, we GRANT the appeal and ACQUIT appellant Gerardo Enumerable y De
Laboratory that is why there are many accused who remained at large, ma�am. Villa based on reasonable doubt and we ORDER his immediate release from detention,
unless he is detained for any other lawful cause.
xxxx
Q�� Who brought the specimen to the PNP Crime Laboratory? SO ORDERED.cralawlawlibrary
A�� The officer on duty, Your Honor.
Q�� From Batangas to Camp Vicente Lim, do you know the officer?
A�� The person who delivered there, it is stated in the document, Your Honor.
Q�� Who was in custody of this specimen from Batangas PNP to the Provincial
Crime Laboratory?
A�� The officer, Your Honor.15� (Emphasis supplied)

Clearly, PO3 Villas had no personal knowledge on (1) how the illegal drugs were delivered
and who delivered the drugs from the Batangas Provincial Crime Laboratory to the
Regional Crime Laboratory; (2) who received the drugs in the Regional Crime Laboratory;
and (3) who had custody of the drugs from 27 May 2004 to 3 June 2004 until their
presentation before the trial court.� The testimony of PO3 Villas merely attests to the
existence of the Memorandum from the Chief of the Batangas Provincial Crime Laboratory
to the Regional Crime Laboratory.

While appellant admitted during the pre-trial the authenticity and due execution of the
Chemistry Report, prepared by Police Inspector and Forensic Chemist Donna Villa P.
Huelgas,� this admission merely affirms the existence of the specimen and the request
for laboratory examination and the results thereof.� Appellant�s admission does not
relate to the issue of chain of custody.� In fact, appellant qualified his admission that the
specimens were not taken or bought from him.16 In People v. Gutierrez, the Court
stated:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
x x x That the defense stipulated on these matters,viz: that the specimen exists, that a
request has been made by the arresting officers for examination thereof, that a forensic
chemist examined it, and that it tested positive for methylamphetamine hydrochloride has
no bearing on the question of chain of custody.� These stipulations, which merely affirm
the existence of the specimen, and the request for laboratory examination and the results
10
G.R. No. 198450
Appellant put in a negative plea. Trial then followed.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,
vs. The prosecution’s case is essentially erected upon the testimonies of PO2 Miguel R. Enriquez6
FERNANDO RANCHE HAVANA a.k.a. FERNAMDO RANCHE ABANA, Accused-Appellant. (PO2 Enriquez), SPO1 Rogelio J. Cañete, Jr. (SPO1 Cañete), and Police Chief Inspector
Mutchit G. Salinas (PCI Salinas), all members of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Police
DECISION Station 10, Punta Princesa, Cebu City and documentary exhibits pertaining to the buy-bust
operation. The combined testimonies and the documentary exhibits tended to establish these
DEL CASTILLO, J.: facts:

"Statutory rules on preserving the chain of custody of confiscated prohibited drugs and related On the afternoon of November 4, 2005, a civilian informant, one "Droga", went to Police Station
items are designed to ensure the integrity and reliability of the evidence to be presented against 10, Punta Princesa, Cebu City and reported to the duty officer SPO1 Vicente R. Espenido, Jr.
the accused. Their observance is the key to the successful prosecution of illegal possession or (SPO1 Espenido) that the appellant was actively engaged in the illegal drug trade at Sitio
illegal sale of dangerous drugs."1 Mangga, Punta Princesa, Cebu City. SPO1 Espenido immediately assembled a buy-bust team,
with him as the team leader, the civilian asset and with PO2 Enriquez, SPO1 Cañete, and SPO1
At issue in this case is whether appellant Fernando Ranche Havana a.k.a. Fernando Ranche Jasper C. Nuñez (PO2 Nuñez) as back-up. The police team designated the unnamed "civilian
Abana did in fact sell or deliver to an alleged poseur-buyer some 0.03 gram of the banned informant" as poseur-buyer and provided him with a P100.00 marked money bill, with its serial
substance Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride, locally known as "shabu" on the late afternoon number (SN003332) noted in the police blotter,7 to be used for the purpose of buying shabu
of November 4, 2005. The appellant insists that he never did. The prosecution asserts the from appellant. The buy-bust operation was allegedly coordinated with the Office of the
contrary. Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).8 When the police team reached the target area,
the "civilian informant" went to the house of appellant and called the latter. Hidden from view,
On appeal is the May 31, 2010 Decision2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. some 15 meters away from the house, the back-up operatives, PO2 Enriquez and SPO1
00688, affirming the February 28, 2007 Decision3 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu Cañete, saw the civilian informant talking with the appellant. Not long after, they saw the "civilian
City, Branch 58 finding Fernando Havana y Ranche a.k.a Fernando Abruia y Ranche (appellant) informant" handling over the marked P100.00 bill to the appellant, who in exchange gave to the
guilty of violating Section 5, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 (RA 9165) otherwise known as former a plastic pack containing 0.03 gram white crystalline substance which these two
the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of suspected as shabu. The "civilian informant" then placed a face towel on his left shoulder to
life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P500,000.00. signal that the sale had been consummated. SPO1 Espenido and his two companions rushed
towards the "civilian informant" and the appellant and arrested the latter after apprising him of
Factual Antecedents his constitutional rights. SPO1 Espenido recovered the P100.00 marked money from the
appellant while the plastic pack was given by the "civilian informant" to SPO1 Espenido.
In an Information4 dated November 18, 2005, the appellant was charged with illegal sale of
dangerous drugs committed as follows: The appellant was taken to the police station for investigation. The P100.00 marked money and
the plastic pack containing the suspected shabu were turned over to SPO2 Nuñez who marked
That on or about the 4th day of November, 2005, at about 6:30 p.m., in the City of Cebu, the plastic pack with "FA" the initials of herein appellant. He then prepared a letter requesting
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, with deliberate for examination9 of the item seized from the appellant addressed to the PNP Crime Laboratory.
intent and without authority of law, did then and there sell, deliver or give away to a poseur[- PCI Salinas, a forensic chemist of the PNP Crime Laboratory of Brgy. Apas, Cebu City, testified
]buyer the following: that he conducted a laboratory examination of the recovered specimen10 that yielded "positive
result for the presence of methylamphetamine hydrochloride, a dangerous drug."11
One (1) heat-sealed transparent plastic packet containing 0.03 gram of white crystalline
substance The appellant denied that he was a shabu-seller; he also denied that he was arrested in a buy-
bust operation.1âwphi1 He claimed that on that evening of November 4, 2005 he was eating
containing Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride, locally known as "SHABU", a dangerous drug. bread when SPO2 Nuñez barged inside his house, handcuffed him and brought him to the
police precinct. He claimed that he was mistaken for his neighbor "Narding" the real shabu-
CONTRARY TO LAW.5 seller. His daughter, Maria Theresa, corroborated him.

11
The appellant contends that the belated submission of the pre-operation report to the PDEA
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court after the buy-bust operation violates RA 9165; and that the non-presentation of the unnamed
"civilian informant" who allegedly brokered the transaction with him casts serious doubts on the
The RTC found appellant guilty as charged and sentenced him to suffer the penalty of life factuality of the buy-bust operation.15
imprisonment and to pay a fine of P500,000.00.
There is no merit in this contention.
From this judgment, appellant appealed to the CA.
We held in People v. Abedin16 that coordination with the PDEA is not an indispensable
Ruling of the Court of Appeals requirement before police authorities may carry out a buy-bust operation; that in fact, even the
absence of coordination with the PDEA will not invalidate a buy-bust operation.17 Neither is the
On appeal, the CA upheld the RTC ruling. The appellate court held that the non-submission of presentation of the informant indispensable to the success in prosecuting drug-related cases.18
the pre-operation report to the PDEA did not at all render the buy-bust operation irregular. What Informers are almost always never presented in court because of the need to preserve their
it held as important is that the police officers were able to call the PDEA prior to the operation. invaluable service to the police. Unless their testimony is absolutely essential to the conviction
The CA was convinced that all the elements of the offense charged were established by the of the accused, their testimony may be dispensed with since their narrations would be merely
prosecution. The CA held that the integrity and evidentiary value of the confiscated item had corroborative to the testimonies of the buy-bust team.
been preserved, despite the fact that the police officers did not strictly adhere to the procedure
outlined in Section 21 of RA 9165 which governs the so-called "buy-bust" operations. It held Adherence to the chain of custody rule not established.
that the police officers regularly performed their functions. Thus, in its Decision of May 31, 2010,
the CA decreed dispositively – In this ultimate recourse, appellant focuses his principal argument on the alleged failure of the
prosecution to establish a continuous and unbroken chain of custody of the seized illegal drug
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Appeal is hereby DISMISSED. The Decision dated and the lack of integrity of the evidence in view of the police officers’ non-compliance with
February 28, 2007 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 58, Cebu City, in Criminal Case Section 21, Article II of RA 9165.
No. CBU-75283, is AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED.12 "In a prosecution for illegal sale of dangerous drugs, the following elements must be duly
established: (1) proof that the transaction or sale took place; and (2) the presentation in court
Aggrieved, appellant is now before us seeking the reversal of his conviction faulting the courts of the corpus delicti or the illicit drug as evidence."19 The dangerous drug itself constitutes the
below for convicting him of the crime charged. He questions in his Supplemental Brief: (1) the very corpus delicti of the offense and the fact of its existence beyond reasonable doubt plus the
lack of pre-coordination with the PDEA regarding the buy-bust operation, (2) the non- fact of its delivery and/or sale are both vital and essential to a judgment of conviction in a criminal
presentation in court of the unnamed "civilian informant" as poseur-buyer, (3) the non- case.20 And more than just the fact of sale, "[o]f prime importance therefore x x x is that the
compliance by the police officers with the prescribed procedure under Section 21, Article II of identity of the dangerous drug be likewise established beyond reasonable doubt. In other words,
RA 9165 and lastly, the dubious chain of custody of the subject shabu. it must be established with unwavering exactitude that the dangerous drug presented in court
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) prays for the affirmance of the appealed Decision as evidence against the accused is the same as that seized from him in the first place. The
arguing that the essential elements of the offense charged had been adequately established chain of custody requirement performs this function in that in ensures that unnecessary doubts
and that the appellant’s bare denial cannot prevail over the positive and straightforward concerning the identity of the evidence are removed."21
testimonies of the police operatives who are presumed to have performed their duties regularly. The Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 1, Series of 2002, defines chain of custody as
"duly recorded authorized movements and custody of seized drugs or controlled chemicals or
Our Ruling plant sources of dangerous drugs or laboratory equipment of each stage, from the time of
The appeal is well-taken. Prefatorily, we stress again that generally, the trial court’s findings of seizure/confiscation to receipt in the forensic laboratory to safekeeping, to presentation in court for
fact, especially when affirmed by the CA, are entitled to great weight, and will not be disturbed destruction."
on appeal.13 Even as this Court must defer to this salutary rule, it must likewise pay homage to As a method of authenticating evidence, the chain of custody rule requires that the admission of an exhibit
a higher duty which is to dispense real, conscientious and honest-to-goodness justice by be preceded by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what the proponent
claims it to be. It would include testimony about every link in the chain, from the moment the item was
conducting a thorough examination of the entire records of the case based on the settled
picked up to the time it is offered in evidence, in such a way that every person who touched the exhibit
principle that an appeal in a criminal case opens the whole case for review on all questions would describe how and from whom it was received, where it was and what happened to it while in the
including those not raised by the parties.14 witness’ possession, the condition in which it was received and the condition in which it was delivered to
the next link in the chain. These witnesses would then describe the precautions taken to ensure that there

12
had been no change in the condition of the item and no opportunity for someone not in the chain to have neither of the two police officers testified that the substance delivered to the crime laboratory for chemical
possession of the same. analysis and later presented in court was the same substance seized from the appellant.

While the testimony about a perfect chain is not always the standard because it is almost always Nor can the prosecution gain from the testimony of the forensic chemist PCI Salinas. The records show
impossible to obtain, an unbroken chain of custody becomes indispensable and essential when the item that there is nothing positive and convincingly clear from the testimony of PCI Salinas. She did not at all
of real evidence is not distinctive and is not readily identifiable, or when its condition at the time of testing categorically and straightforwardly assert that the alleged chemical substance that was submitted for
or trial is critical, or when a witness has failed to observe its uniqueness. The same standard obtains in laboratory examination and thereafter presented in court was the very same substance allegedly
case the evidence is susceptible of alteration, tampering, contamination and even substitution and recovered from the appellant. If anything, the sum and substance of her testimony is that the alleged pack
exchange. In other words, the exhibit’s level of susceptibility to fungibility, alteration or tampering –without of shabu submitted to her for laboratory examination showed that it was positive for methamphetylane
regard to whether the same is advertent or otherwise not – dictates the level of strictness in the application hydrochloride or shabu. She never testified where the substance came from. Her testimony was limited
of the chain or custody rule.22 only on the result of the examination she conducted and not on the source of the substance.

Measured by the foregoing yardstick, we find that the prosecution utterly failed to establish convincingly "[W]hile the chain of custody should ideally be perfect [and unbroken], in reality it is not, ‘as it is almost
the chain of custody of the alleged seized plastic pack subject matter hereof. In fact only PO2 Enriquez always impossible to obtain an unbroken chain.’"23 As such, what is of utmost importance "is the
and SPO1 Cañete testified in respect to the identity of the alleged evidence. However, from their preservation of the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items as they will be used to determine
testimonies, the prosecution was not able to account for the linkages in the chain while the plastic pack the guilt or innocence of the accused."24 In the case at bench, this Court finds it exceedingly difficult to
was not or no longer in their respective possession. believe that the integrity and evidentiary value of the drug have been properly preserved by the
apprehending officers. The inexplicable failure of the police officers to testify as to what they did with the
While both witnesses testified that after the sale and apprehension of the appellant, the poseur-buyer alleged drug while in their respective possession resulted in a breach or break in the chain of custody of
turned over the subject pack of shabu to their team leader SPO1 Espenido, there is no record as to what the drug. In some cases,25 the Court declared that the failure of the prosecution to offer the testimony of
happened after the turn-over. SPO1 Espenido to whom the specimen was allegedly surrendered by the key witnesses to establish a sufficiently complete chain of custody of the shabu plus the irregular manner
poseur-buyer was not presented in court to identify the person to whom it was given thereafter and the which plagued the handling of the evidence before the same was offered in court, whittles down the
condition thereof while it was in his possession and control. The prosecution did not bother to offer any chances of the government to obtain a successful prosecution in a drug-related case.
explanation for his non-presentation as a witness. This is a significant gap in the chain of custody of the
illegal stuff. Here, apart from the utter failure of the prosecution to establish an unbroken chain of custody, yet another
procedural lapse casts further uncertainty about the identity and integrity of the subject shabu. We refer to
The prosecution’s cause is also marred by confusion and uncertainty regarding the possessor of the pack the non-compliance by the buy-bust team with the most rudimentary procedural safeguards relative to the
of shabu when it was brought to the police station. By PO2 Enriquez’s account, it was SPO2 Nuñez who custody and disposition of the seized item under Section 21(1),26 Article II of RA 9165. Here, the alleged
was in possession of the same – an account which is at loggerheads with the claim of SPO1 Cañete that apprehending team after the alleged initial custody and control of the drug, and after immediately seizing
he was in custody and possession thereof and that he personally brought the same to the police station. and confiscating the same, never ever made a physical inventory of the same, nor did it ever photograph
These police officers cannot seem to agree on a point over which there could hardly be a disagreement. the same in the presence of the appellant from whom the alleged item was confiscated. There was no
It must be observed that SPO2 Nuñez who had supposedly taken custody of the substance following PO2 physical inventory and photograph of the item allegedly seized from appellant. Neither was there any
Enriquez’s account was likewise not presented in court to testify. Worse, the prosecution did not even try explanation offered for such failure.
to reconcile this inconsistency. Moreover, the prosecution failed to show how, when and from whom SPO2
Nuñez or SPO1 Cañete received the evidence. There was no evidence on how they came into possession While this Court in certain cases has tempered the mandate of strict compliance with the requisite under
of the pack of shabu. Again, this is a clear missing link in the chain of custody of the specimen after it left Section 21 of RA 9165, such liberality, as stated in the Implementing Rules and Regulations27 can be
the hands of SPO1 Espenido. applied only when the evidentiary value and integrity of the illegal drug are properly preserved as we
stressed in People v. Guru.28 In the case at bar, the evidentiary value and integrity of the alleged illegal
We also take note that the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses failed to identify the person to whom drug had been thoroughly compromised. Serious uncertainty is generated on the identity of the item in
the specimen was given at the police station. All that has been said is that the investigator, SPO2 Nuñez, view of the broken linkages in the chain of custody. In this light, the presumption of regularity in the
marked the specimen. But this statement did not necessarily mean that he was the same officer who performance of official duty accorded the buy-bust team by the courts below cannot arise.
received the same from either PO2 Enriquez or SPO1 Cañete. In fact, there is a total want of evidence
tending to prove that fact. It must be recalled that SPO2 Nuñez did not take the witness stand to identify WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R CR-HC No. 00688
the specific marking on the alleged specimen; neither did the prosecution adduce conclusive proof as to dated May 31, 2010 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Appellant Fernando Ranche Havana a.k.a. Fernando
the author of the handwriting affixed therein and admit the same as his own handwriting. Ranche Abana is hereby ACQUITTED of the charge, his guilt not having been established beyond
reasonable doubt.
True, PO2 Enriquez claimed that he personally delivered to the crime laboratory the specimen attached
to the letter-request; nonetheless, he did not categorically testify that the substance presented in court The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is hereby ORDERED to immediately RELEASE the accused
was the very same substance delivered to the crime laboratory for analysis. In fact, going by the records from custody, unless he is held for another lawful cause. SO ORDERED.

13
G.R. No. 188698 July 22, 2015 On February 2, 2003, at about 12:30 in the afternoon, accused-appellant was at home with her
son John Bernel and friends Jan Ticson and Rebecca Agana. They had just finished eating
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, lunch and accused appellant was, then, washing the dishes when she heard a knock on the
vs. door. At the door were PO3 Cleto Montenegro, PO1 Filnar Mutia and two others. They were
SONIA BERNEL NUARIN, Appellant. looking for a certain Bogart. When accused-appellant said that she did not know where Bogart
was, the police officers entered the house and searched the premises for about an hour. When
DECISION the search did not yield anything incriminatory, the police brought accused-appellant and the
other occupants of the house to Camp Karingal In Quezon City. There, the police extorted
BRION, J.: ₱40,000.00 in exchange of accused-appellant’s release. When the money was not produced,
accused-appellant was charged by the police officers.9
We decide the appeal filed by appellant Sonia Bemel Nuarin (appellant) from the April 28, 2009
decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 02886. In its joint decision10 of May 25, 2007, the RTC found the appellant guilty of the illegal sale of
0.03 gram of shabu penalized under Section 5, Article II of R.A. No. 9165. The RTC held that
The appealed decision affirmed the May 25, 2007 joint decision2 of the Regional Trial Court the prosecution was able to prove, through testimonial and documentary evidence, that an
(RTC), Branch 80, Quezon City, finding the appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal sale of drugs took place between the appellant and the poseur-buyer, PO1 Manalo. It
violation of Section 5, Article II of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165, otherwise known as the added that the police were presumed to have regularly performed their official duties in the
Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. absence of any evidence to rebut this presumption. The RTC likewise found no merit in the
appellant’s defenses of denial and extortion as she failed to substantiate these. Accordingly,
Background Facts the RTC sentenced the appellant to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment, and ordered her to
pay a ₱500,000.00 fine. The RTC, however, acquitted the appellant of illegal possession of
The prosecution charged the appellant with violation of Sections 53 and 11,4 respectively, of dangerous drugs in Criminal Case No. Q-03-114919 for insufficiency of evidence.
R.A. No. 9165 before the RTC, docketed as Criminal Case Nos. Q-03-114918 and Q-03-
114919. The appellant was duly arraigned; she pleaded not guilty to the charges laid. The On appeal, the CA affirmed the RTC decision in toto. The CA held that the prosecution
prosecution presented Police Officer 1 (PO1) Roberto Manalo at the trial on the merits that successfully proved all the elements of illegal sale of shabu under Section 5, Article II of R.A.
followed, while the parties stipulated5 the testimony of Forensic Chemist, Police Senior No. 9165. It further ruled that the integrity and evidentiary value of the confiscated shabu had
Inspector (P/Sr. Insp.) Bernardino Banac. The appellant took the witness stand for the defense. been preserved. The CA also disregarded the appellant’s denial in the light of the positive
identification made by PO1 Manalo.
PO1 Manalo testified that on February 2, 2003, members of the District Drug Enforcement
Group of the Central Police District, composed of himself, PO1 Filnar Mutia, PO3 Cleto In her brief on appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court gravely erred in convicting her
Montenegro, PO3 Eduardo Datul, and PO3 Rommel Bautista went to Barangay Old Balara, of the crime charged despite the prosecution’s failure to establish that a buy-bust operation took
Quezon City, to conduct a buy-bust operation against the appellant.6 When they arrived there place. She also maintained that the chain of custody over the seized shabu had been broken.
at around 12:30 p.m., the informant introduced PO1 Manalo to the appellant. PO1 Manalo told For the State, the office of the Solicitor General (OSG) counters that the prosecution was able
the appellant that he wanted to buy ₱100.00 worth of shabu. The appellant handed a sachet to establish that the sale of shabu between the appellant and the poseur-buyer was
containing white crystalline substances to PO1 Manalo who, in turn, gave him the marked consummated. It also maintained that the nonpresentation in court of the original marked
money. Immediately after, PO1 Manalo made the prearranged signal to his companions.7 The money, the forensic chemist, the informant, and the original marked money was not fatal in the
other members of the entrapment team rushed to the scene and introduced themselves as prosecution for illegal drugs.
policemen; PO1 Mutia searched the appellant and found two other plastic sachets inside the
appellant’s coin purse. Thereafter, the police brought the appellant and the seized items to the Our Ruling
police station.8
After due consideration, we resolve to acquit the appellant for the prosecution’s failure to prove
The defense presented a different picture of the events. The appellant’s testimony was aptly her guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
summarized by the CA as follows:

14
A successful prosecution for the sale of illegal drugs requires more than the perfunctory
presentation of evidence establishing each element of the crime: the identities of the buyer and Q: After the recovered money by PO1 Mutia and after you arrived at the station[,] what did you
seller, the transaction or sale of the illegal drug, and the existence of the corpus delicti. do?

In securing or sustaining a conviction under R.A. No. 9165, the intrinsic worth of these pieces A: We turned it over to the desk officer and the desk officer put the initial RM.
of evidence, especially 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 Q: After the marking[,] what happened next?
characteristic that renders it indistinct, not readily identifiable, and easily open to tampering,
alteration, or substitution either by accident or otherwise. A: The investigator prepared a request to the crime laboratory and brought the drug to the crime
lab.
Thus, to remove any doubt 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 Q: Who brought it if you know?
from the accused-appellant.11 It is in this respect that the prosecution failed.
A: I can no longer remember.13
The ‘Marking’ Requirement vis-à-vis the Chain of Custody Rule
In the latter part of his direct examination, however, PO1 Manalo claimed that he was the one
Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 1, Series of 2002, which implements R.A. No. 9165, who marked the sachets. To directly quote from the records:
defines chain of custody as "the duly recorded authorized movements and custody of seized
drugs or controlled chemicals or plant sources of dangerous drugs or laboratory equipment of PROSECUTOR JOSEPHUS ASIS:
each stage, from the time of seizure/confiscation to receipt in the forensic laboratory to
safekeeping to presentation in court for destruction." Q: Now you mentioned that you were able to purchase drug from the accused. If the drug will
be shown to you[,] would you be able to identify it?
A crucial step in proving chain of custody is the marking of the seized drugs or other related
items immediately after they are seized from the accused. "Marking" means the placing by the PO1 MANALO:
apprehending officer or the poseur-buyer of his/her initials and signature on the items seized.
Marking after seizure is the starting point in the custodial link; hence, it is vital that the seized A: I have my marking there[,] sir.
contraband be immediately marked because succeeding handlers of the specimens will use the
markings as reference. The marking of the evidence serves to separate the marked evidence Q: Will you please go over the same and tell me what is the relation of the said sachet with the
from the corpus of all other similar or related evidence from the time they are seized from the substance with the one you were able to buy (sic)?
accused until they are disposed of at the end of the criminal proceedings, thus preventing
switching, "planting," or contamination of evidence.12 Q: This is the same stuff that I bought, this is my marking.

In the present case, the prosecution’s lone witness, PO1 Manalo, gave conflicting statements PROS ASIS:
as to who marked the seized sachets. In his direct testimony, he claimed that it was the desk
officer who marked the sachets, thus: Witness identified the sachet previously marked Exhibit "F-3." May we request that the marking
placed by the witness in the sachet be marked as Exhibit "F-3-B."
PROSECUTOR JOSEPHUS ASIS:
xxxx
Q: After you were able to arrest the accused and while going travelling (sic) to your office[,] who
was holding the drug that you were able to buy from the accused? Q: How sure are you that the sachet that you have just identified is also the sachet that you
recovered during the operation?
PO1 MANALO:
A: Nobody held it except me.
A: I, Sir.

15
Q: How did you identify the sachet? of the sachets in the logbook and conducted a physical, chemical, and confirmatory test on the
submitted specimen; that he found them positive for the presence of shabu; and that he put his
A: The marking that I made.14 [emphasis supplied] markings on the sachet and placed it in an improvised envelope before forwarding it to the
evidence custodian. Notably, the RTC held that P/Sr. Insp. Banac "has no personal knowledge
In his cross-examination, PO1 Manalo again stated that he was the one who marked the from whom the subject specimen presented before this court was taken (sic)."18 Simply put,
confiscated plastic sachets with "RM." the stipulated testimony of the forensic chemical officer has no bearing on the question of
whether the specimen submitted for chemical analysis and subsequently presented in court
We point out that succeeding handlers of the specimen will use the initial markings as reference. were the same as that seized from the appellant.
If at the first instance or opportunity, there are already doubts on who really placed the markings
on the seized sachets (or if the markings were made in accordance with the required procedure), The requirements of paragraph 1, Section 21
serious uncertainty hangs over the identification of the seized shabu that the prosecution of Article II of R.A. No. 9165
introduced into evidence.
The required procedure on the seizure and custody of drugs is embodied in Section 21,
In addition, the records do not show that the sachets were marked in the presence of the paragraph 1,Article II of R.A. No. 9165, which states:
appellant. In People v. Sanchez,15 we explained that the "marking" of the seized items to truly
ensure that they are the same items that enter the chain and are eventually the ones offered in 1) The apprehending team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, immediately
evidence should be done (1) in the presence of the apprehended violator (2) immediately upon after seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence
confiscation.16 We explained therein that [t]his step initiates the process of protecting innocent of the accused or the person/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her
persons from dubious and concocted searches, and of protecting as well the apprehending representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the Department of Justice
officers from harassment suits based on planting of evidence under Section 29and on (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory
allegations of robbery or theft. and be given a copy thereof. [emphasis ours]

Significantly, PO1 Manalo and PO1 Mutia did not even mention that they marked the seized This is implemented by Section 21(a), Article II of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of
plastic sachet in their Joint Affidavit of Arrest. R.A. No. 9165, which reads:

In People of the Philippines v. Merlita Palomares y Costuna,17 the Court acquitted the accused (a) The apprehending officer/team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall,
for the prosecution’s failure to clearly establish the identity of the person who marked the seized immediately after seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the
drugs; the place where marking was made; and whether the marking had been made in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized,
accused’s presence. 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
As to the subsequent links in the chain of custody, PO1 Manalo stated that he handed the inventory and be given a copy thereof: Provided, that the physical inventory and photograph
seized plastic sachets to the desk officer at the police station.1âwphi1 Curiously, the identity of shall be conducted at the place where the search warrant is served; or at the nearest police
this desk officer was never revealed during trial. This is particularly significant since no reference station or at the nearest office of the apprehending officer/team, whichever is practicable, in
was ever made as to the person who submitted the seized specimen to the PNP Crime case of warrantless seizures; Provided, further, that non-compliance with these requirements
Laboratory for examination. PO1 Manalo, in fact, testified that he could not remember the under justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items
person who brought the seized plastic sachets to the crime laboratory. Notably, the specimen are properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team, shall not render void and invalid such
was forwarded to the crime laboratory only at 10:35 p.m. It was not clear, therefore, who had seizures of and custody over said items; [emphasis ours]
temporary custody of the seized items when they left the hands of PO1 Manalo until they were
brought to the crime laboratory for qualitative analysis. This procedure, however, was not shown to have been complied with by the members of the
buy-bust team, asPO1 Manalo himself admitted that the police did not make an inventory and
The stipulation on the testimony of the forensic chemist does nothing to help fill the gap as photograph the seized items either at the place of seizure or at the police station. In addition,
regards the custody and possession of the sachets from the police station to the crime the police did not offer any acceptable reason why they failed to do a basic requirement like a
laboratory. To recall, the parties merely stipulated that P/Sr. Insp. Banac received a request for physical inventory of the seized drugs, considering that there were only three (3) sachets taken
laboratory examination, together with the specimen to be examined; that he recorded the receipt from the appellant.

16
to overcome this constitutional presumption. If the prosecution has not proved, in the first place,
In the recent case of People of the Philippines v. Rosalinda Casabuena,19 we acquitted the all the elements of the crime charged, which in this case is the corpus delicti, then the appellant
accused for failure of the police to make an inventory and to photograph the seized shabu. We deserves no less than an acquittal.22
explained that strict compliance with the prescribed procedure is required because of the illegal
drug's unique characteristic rendering it indistinct, not readily identifiable, and easily open to WHEREFORE, premises considered, we REVERSE and SET ASIDE the April 28, 2009
tampering, alteration, or substitution either by accident or otherwise. decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 02886. Sonia Bemel Nuarin is hereby
ACQUITTED for the failure of the prosecution to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt. She
No Presumption of Regularity in the Performance of Official Duties is ordered immediately RELEASED from detention unless she is confined for another lawful
cause.
The courts a quo erred in giving weight to the presumption of regularity in performance that a
police officer enjoys in the absence of any taint of irregularity and of ill motive that would induce Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Superintendent, Correctional Institution for Women,
him to falsify his testimony. The regularity of the performance of the police officers’ duties leaves Mandaluyong City, for immediate implementation. The Superintendent of the Correctional
much to be desired in this case given the lapses in their handling of the allegedly confiscated Institution for Women is directed to report the action she has taken to this Court within five (5)
shabu. The totality of all the procedural lapses we previously discussed effectively produced days from receipt of this Decision.
serious doubts on the integrity and identity of the corpus delicti, especially in the face of
allegations of frame up and extortion. We have previously held that these lapses negate the SO ORDERED.
presumption that official duties have been regularly performed by the police officers. Any taint
of irregularity affects the whole performance and should make the presumption unavailable.20
We also entertain serious doubts on PO1 Manalo’s claim that they coordinated with the
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) before the buy-bust operation, as he admitted
that there was no pre-operation report or coordination sheet prepared by the police.
Significantly, PO1 Manalo likewise admitted that the police did not coordinate with the barangay
officials of the subject area. To our mind, these circumstances vis-à-vis the lapses made in the
handling and safekeeping of the alleged sachets of shabu puts in doubt the claim of the police
that they had conducted a legitimate buy-bust operation.

In fine, the totality of evidence presented in the instant case does not support the appellant's
conviction for violation of Section 5, Article II, R.A. No. 9165, since the prosecution failed to
prove beyond reasonable doubt all the elements of the offense. We reiterate that the
prosecution’s failure to comply with Section 21, Article II of R.A. No. 9165, and with the chain of
custody requirement of this Act, compromised the identity of the item seized, which is the corpus
delicti of the crime charged against appellant. Following the constitutional mandate, when the
guilt of the appellant has not been proven with moral certainty, as in this case, the presumption
of innocence prevails and his exoneration should be granted as a matter of right.21

A final note.

We are mindful of the pernicious effects of drugs in our society; they are lingering maladies that
destroy families and relationships, and engender crimes. The Court is one with all the agencies
concerned in pursuing an intensive and unrelenting campaign against this social dilemma.
Regardless of our desire to curb this menace, we cannot disregard the protection provided by
the Constitution, most particularly on the presumption of innocence bestowed on the appellant.
Proof beyond reasonable doubt, or that quantum of proof sufficient to produce moral certainty
that would convince and satisfy the conscience of those who act in judgment, is indispensable

17
G.R. No. 210610 That on or about the 22nd day of January, 2008, at about 11:00 o'clock in the evening, at
Barangay Maguihan, Municipality of Lemery, Province of Batangas, Philippines and within the
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, without authority of law, did then
vs. and there willfully and unlawfully have in her possession, custody and control one (1) small
MARILOU HILARIO y DIANA and LALINE GUADAYO y ROYO, Accused heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet containing methamphetamine hydrochloride commonly
known as "shabu", weighing 0.03 gram, referred to as specimen B (NBS-2) in Chemistry Report
DECISION No. BD-012-08, a dangerous drug.4

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.: The Information in Crim. Case No. 13-2008 was similarly worded to that in Crim. Case No. 11-
2008, except that it incriminated Guadayo for illegal possession of "one (1) small heat-sealed
This is an appeal filed by accused-appellant Marilou D. Hilario (Hilario) of the Decision1 dated transparent plastic sachet containing methamphetamine hydrochloride commonly known as
July 18, 2013 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 05244, affirming with modification 'shabu,' weighing 0.04 gram, a dangerous drug."5
the Decision2 dated August 23, 2011 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Lemery, Batangas,
Branch 5 in Criminal (Crim.) Case Nos. 10-2008, 11-2008, and 13-2008. In its assailed Decision, When arraigned on April 29, 2008, Hilario and Guadayo pleaded not guilty to the charges
the appellate court found Hilario guilty of illegal sale of dangerous drugs, in violation of Article against them.6
II, Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous
Drugs Act of 2002; but acquitted Hilario and her co-accused Lalaine R. Guadayo (Guadayo) of The prosecution presented a lone witness, Police Officer (PO) 1 Nemesio Brotonel de Sagun
illegal possession of dangerous drugs, penalized under Article II, Section 11 of Republic Act (de Sagun) of the Philippine National Police (PNP), then assigned in Lemery, Batangas. PO1
No. 9165. The RTC had previously convicted Hilario and Guadayo of all charges against them. de Sagun testified that on January 22, 2008, at around 11:00 in the evening, he was with P02
Arnold Magpantay (Magpantay) and POI Melvin Cabungcal (Cabungcal) in Sitio Bagong Barrio,
On January 25, 2008, three Informations were filed before the RTC against Hilario and Barangay (Brgy.) Maguihan, Lemery, Batangas, to conduct surveillance and a buy-bust
Guadayo, to wit: operation. POI de Sagun, in civilian clothes, acted as poseur-buyer and was able to buy shabu
for ₱500.00 from Hilario. Upon consummation of the sale, POI de Sagun personally arrested
Docket No. Accused Charge Hilario and marked the ₱500.00-bill he paid Hilario as "NBS-1" and the shabu Hilario sold to
Crim. Case No. 10-2008 Hilario Illegal Sale of Dangerous Drugs (Article II, Section 5 of him as "NBS-2." After the arrest, POI de Sagun brought Hilario to the Lemery police station and
R.A. No. 9165) turned over custody of Hilario to the investigator-on-duty, but PO1 de Sagun could not recall
Crim. Case No. 11-2008 Hilario Illegal Possession of Dangerous Drugs (Article II, the name of said investigator. PO1 de Sagun also claimed that he prepared an inventory of the
Section 11 of R.A. No. 9165) seized items in the presence of "Ma'm Orlina" and Sims Garcia, representatives from the
Crim. Case No. 13-2008 Guadayo Illegal Possession of Dangerous Drugs (Article II, Department of Justice (DOJ) and the media, respectively. PO1 de Sagun then brought the
Section 11 of R.A. No. 9165) seized items to the Batangas Provincial Crime Laboratory Office for examination, and according
The Information in Crim. Case No. 10-2008 accused Hilario of illegal sale of dangerous drugs, to him, the submitted specimen tested positive for shabu. 7
allegedly committed as follows:
PO1 de Sagun further recounted that during the buy-bust operation, Guadayo ran away, so
That on or about the 22nd day of January, 2008, at about 11 :00 o'clock in the evening, at PO2 Magpantay had to chase after her. When P02 Magpantay subsequently caught up with
Barangay Maguihan, Municipality of Lemery, Province of Batangas, Philippines and within the Guadayo, he recovered and confiscated from her another sachet of shabu. PO1 de Sagun,
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, without authority of law, did then though, admitted that he was not personally present when PO2 Magpantay seized the sachet
and there willfully and unlawfully sell, deliver and give away one (1) small heat-sealed of shabu from Guadayo.
transparent plastic sachet containing methamphetamine hydrochloride commonly known as
"shabu", weighing 0.04 gram, referred to as specimen A (NBS-1) in Chemistry Report No. BD- During PO1 de Sagun's direct examination, a brown sealed envelope was presented, and when
012-08, a dangerous drug.3 opened, it contained two heat-sealed transparent sachets of shabu. When questioned as to why
there were two sachets of shabu, PO1 De Sagun maintained that he confiscated only one
Hilario was also charged with illegal possession of dangerous drugs under the Information in sachet from Hilario, and suggested that the other sachet was the one seized by PO2 Magpantay
Crim. Case No. 11-2008, thus: from Guadayo. Between the two sachets of shabu, PO1 de Sagun identified the sachet marked
"NBS-1" as the one which he confiscated from Hilario.8

18
put in jail. On January 23, 2008, Hilario and Guadayo were subjected to a drug test, and on
When PO1 de Sagun was subjected to cross-examination, he reiterated that he had marked January 24, 2008, they were brought to Batangas City for inquest proceedings.
the ₱500.00-bill used in the buy-bust operation as "NBSI" and the sachet of shabu bought from
Hilario as "NBS-2." When pressed further by the defense counsel on the fact that he identified On August 23, 2011, the RTC promulgated its Decision, finding Hilario and Guadayo guilty of
the sachet of shabu marked as "NBS- I" as the one he seized from Hilario, PO1 de Sagun all the charges against them. The RTC highlighted that this was a case of a buy-bust operation
confirmed the apparent discrepancies in his testimony.9 and adjudged that the prosecution was able to prove all the elements of the offenses charged,
to wit, the prosecution witness, PO1 de Sagun, testified on how the buy-bust transaction took
Also in the course of PO1 de Sagun's cross-examination, he attested that he, PO2 Magpantay, place and properly identified the poseur-buyer and seller, plus the illegal drug was presented
and PO1 Cabungcal went to Brgy. Maguihan on January 22, 2008 based on information as evidence in court. The RTC sentenced Hilario and Guadayo as follows:
gathered from concerned citizens that sale of dangerous drugs was rampant in the area; they
prepared a pre-operation report but he did not have a copy of the same with him at the trial; WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:
they did not know nor did they conduct a surveillance of Hilario and Guadayo prior to January
22, 2008; and when they went to Brgy. Maguihan, they were not certain of the subject of their 1. In Criminal Case No. 10-2008, accused Marilou Hilario y Diana, is hereby found guilty beyond
buy-bust operation. reasonable doubt for violating Sec. 5 of Republic Act 9165 and is hereby sentenced to suffer
the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (₱500,000.00);
The prosecution additionally submitted as evidence the Magkalakip na Sinumpaang Salaysay
dated January 22, 2008 of POI de Sagun and P02 Magpantay; Chemistry Report No. BD-012- 2. In Criminal Case No. 11-2008, accused Marilou Hilario y Diana, is hereby found guilty beyond
08 dated January 23, 2008 issued by Police Chief Inspector (P/CInsp.) Jupri Caballegan reasonable doubt for violating Sec. 11 of Republic Act 9165 and is hereby sentenced to suffer
Delantar, Forensic Chemical Officer, of the Batangas Provincial Crime Laboratory Office, PNP; the penalty of twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years of imprisonment;
the sachet of shabu with marking "NBS-1 ;" and photocopy of the P500.00-bill with Serial No.
665579 and marking "NBS-1." Chemistry Report No. BD-012-08 stated that two specimens 3. In Criminal Case No. 13-2008, accused Lalaine Guadayo y Royo, is hereby found guilty
were seized from Hilario, i.e., Specimens A (NBSl) and B (NBS-2), weighing 0.04 gram and beyond reasonable doubt for violating Sec. 11 of Republic Act 9165 and is hereby sentenced
0.03 gram, respectively, which both tested positive for Methamphetamine Hydrochloride, a to suffer the penalty of twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years of
dangerous drug. imprisonment.12

For its part, the defense called Hilario10 and Guadayo11 to the witness stand. Hilario used to The Motion for Reconsideration of Hilario and Guadayo was denied for lack of merit by the RTC
live in Tondo, Manila, but their house was demolished, so she and her family moved to Brgy. in an Order13 dated September 26, 2011. Hilario and Guadayo filed a Notice of Appeal,14
Maguihan in Lemery, Batangas in March 2007. Guadayo lived with and served as a babysitter which the RTC granted in an Order15 dated October 5, 2011.
for Hilario's sister-in-law.
The appeal of Hilario and Guadayo before the Court of Appeals was docketed as CA-G.R. CR.-
According to the combined narrative of Hilario and Guadayo, on January 22, 2008, at about H.C. No. 05244.
10:00 in the evening, they were both at Hilario's house. Hilario was tending to her sick 12-year-
old daughter, and Guadayo was there to help Hilario with the laundry. A neighbor, Feliciano In its Decision dated July 18, 2013, the Court of Appeals partially granted the appeal.
Anuran (Anuran), had just arrived to borrow a DVD, when three police officers entered Hilario's
house. Among the police officers, Hilario already knew PO1 de Sagun at that time because the The Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction of Hilario for illegal sale of dangerous drugs in
latter frequented their place. The police officers demanded that Hilario show them the money Crim. Case No. 10-2008, finding PO1 de Sagun's testimony on the completed buy-bust
and shabu. Hilario replied that she did not have any money and shabu. Without presenting any operation· credible. It was amply proven by PO1 de Sagun's testimony that a sale of shabu
warrant, the police officers, particularly, PO1 de Sagun, then searched Hilario's house, but found transpired between Hilario as the ·seller and PO1 de Sagun as the poseur-buyer. The appellate
nothing. At this point, Anuran ran out of the house and was chased by the police officers. When court also cited the presumption of regularity in PO1 de Sagun's performance of his official
the police officers returned, they invited Hilario and Guadayo to the police station to answer duties; the absence of proof of ill motive on PO1 de Sagun's part to falsely impute a serious
some of the police officers' questions. When Hilario further inquired as to the reason for the crime against Hilario; and substantial compliance with the procedure on custody of evidence in
invitation, the police officers told her to just go with them. The police officers brought Hilario, drug cases since PO1 de Sagun took custody of the sachet of shabu seized from Hilario and
Guadayo, and even Hilario's sick daughter to the police station, and after only a short stay at personally delivered the same to the crime laboratory for examination, wherein it was tested
an office in the police station, and without actually being asked any questions, all three were positive for shabu.

19
The Court of Appeals though, in the same Decision, acquitted Hilario in Crim. Case No. 11- Unfortunately, the record is bereft of proof on the chain of custody of the shabu taken from
2008 and Guadayo in Crim. Case No. 13-2008, for the following reasons: appellant Guadayo. PO1 De Sagun did not state that the sachet of shabu was handed to him
by PO1 Magpantay after it was confiscated from appellant Guadayo. The chain of custody rule
Criminal Case No. 11-2008 requires that the testimony be presented about every link in the chain, from the moment the
item was seized up to the time it is offered in evidence. Notably, in this case, the prosecution
On the other hand, this Court disagrees with the trial court in finding accused-appellant Hilario failed to put on witness stand PO1 Magpantay who allegedly ran after appellant Guadayo and
guilty for violation of Section 11 of R.A. No. 9165. seized the shabu.

xxxx Corollary thereto, there was a break in the chain of custody because no mention was made as
to what happened to the substance from the time it was seized from the appellant [Guadayo],
In prosecution for illegal possession of a dangerous drug, it must be shown that (1) the accused how it got to the laboratory and how it was kept before being offered in evidence.
was in possession of an item or an object identified to be a prohibited or regulated drug; (2)
such possession is not authorized by law; and (3) the accused was freely and consciously aware More importantly, no shabu allegedly seized from appellant, Guadayo was identified before the
of being in possession of the drug. trial court.

Significantly, in the present case, only one sachet of shabu was confiscated from accused- As aptly held by the Supreme Court in Malillin v. People:
appellant [Hilario], the one subject of the sale. No evidence was shown that she was further
apprehended in possession of another quantity of prohibited drugs not covered by or included The dangerous drug itself constitutes the very corpus delicti of the offense and the fact of its
in the sale. As correctly argued by the plaintiff-appellee, the accused cannot be convicted for existence is vital to a judgment of conviction. Essential therefore in these cases is that the
possession of the prohibited drugs she sold because possession of dangerous drugs is identity of the prohibited drug be established beyond doubt.
generally inherent in the crime of sale.
Likewise, the Supreme Court made an enlightening disquisition on this matter in People v.
In People v. Posada, the Supreme Court ruled that possession of prohibited or dangerous drugs Doria, viz.:
is absorbed in the sale thereof, citing the case of People v. Lacema x x x.
Given the high concern for the due recording of the authorized movements and custody of the
xxxx seized drugs or controlled chemicals or plant sources of dangerous drugs or laboratory
equipment, the presentation as evidence in court of the dangerous drugs subject of and
To reiterate, only one (1) shabu sold by accused-appellant, Hilario was established. There was recovered during the illegal sale is material in every prosecution for the illegal sale of dangerous
no other evidence that another shabu was found in her possession, not covered by the sale and drugs. Without such dangerous drugs being presented as evidence, the State does not establish
probably intended for a different purpose like another sale or for her own use was proven. the corpus delicti, which, literally translated from Latin, refers to the body of the crime, or the
Accordingly, she cannot be convicted separately for illegal possession and for illegal sale actual commission by someone of the particular offense charged.
because in this particular case possession is absorbed in the act of sale thereof.
With crucial portions of the chain of custody not clearly accounted for and the alleged shabu
Criminal Case No. 13-2008 confiscated from appellant Guadayo not clearly established, reasonable doubt is thus created
as to her guilt. Appellant, Guadayo is therefore entitled to an acquittal for violation of Section 11
Anent, accused-appellant, Guadayo, this Court is convinced that the trial court erred in finding of Article II of R.A. No. 9165.16
the accused guilty for violation of Section 11 of R.A. No. 9165.
Ultimately, the Court of Appeals decreed:
The prosecution was able to establish that appellant Guadayo was in possession of a sachet of
shabu as testified to by PO1 De Sagun who recounted that PO1 Magpantay pursued and WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court PARTIALLY GRANTS the instant appeal. The
arrested Guadayo x x x. assailed Decision of RTC of Lemery, Batangas, (Branch 5) dated 23 August 2011 is MODIFIED
as follows;
xxxx

20
1. Appellant Hilario is hereby ACQUITTED in Criminal Case No. 11-2008 for violation of Section In this case, the Court of Appeals affirmed the RTC judgment finding Hilario guilty of illegal sale
11 of RA No. 9165 as being considered absorbed in the commission of Section 5 of RA No. of dangerous drugs and imposing upon her the sentence of reclusion perpetua. Hilario filed a
9165 under Criminal Case No. 10- 2008; and Notice of Appeal with the appellate court in accordance with Rule 122, Section 3(e), in relation
to Rule 124, Section 13(c), of the Rules of Court, which provide:
2. Appellant Guadayo is hereby ACQUITTED in Criminal Case No. 13-2008 for violation of
Section 11 of R.A. No. 9165 on reasonable doubt and is ordered immediately RELEASED from Rule 122
detention, unless she is confined for any other lawful case. APPEAL

Other aspects of the Decision are hereby AFFIRMED. xxxx

The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is DIRECTED to IMPLEMENT this Decision and to SEC. 3. How appeal taken. –
report to this Court the action taken hereon within five (5) days from receipt.17
xxxx
Hilario's Notice of Appeal was given due course by the appellate court in a Resolution18 dated
August 13, 2013. (e) Except as provided in the last paragraph of section 13, Rule 124, all other appeals to the
Supreme Court shall be by petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45.
In a Resolution19 dated February 19, 2014, this Court required the parties to file their respective
Supplemental Briefs if they so desire. Both parties manifested that they are no longer filing a Rule 124
Supplemental Brief.20 PROCEDURE IN THE COURT OF APPEALS

In her Brief filed before the Court of Appeals, Hilario argued that the prosecution failed to xxxx
establish the elements of illegal sale of dangerous drugs, penalized under Article II, Section 5
of Republic Act No. 9165. Hilario contended that PO1 de Sagun only made a blanket declaration SEC. 13. Certification or appeal of case to the Supreme Court. - x x x
that as poseur-buyer, he was able to buy shabu from Hilario and his testimony lacked clear and
complete details of the supposed buy-bust operation. Hilario likewise averred that the identity xxxx
of the shabu supposedly bought and confiscated from Hilario was not established with certainty
by the prosecution, pointing out that PO1 de Sagun's confusion as to the markings affixed on (c) In cases where the Court of Appeals imposes reclusion perpetua, life imprisonment or a
the seized item was apparent. Thus, Hilario asserted that serious doubts arose as to whether lesser penalty, it shall render and enter judgment. imposing such penalty. The judgment may
the sachet of suspected shabu submitted for laboratory examination were the same as that be appealed to the Supreme Court by notice of appeal filed with the Court of Appeals.
purportedly bought and confiscated from her.
Therefore, Hilario's appeal opens the entire case for review by the Court on any question,
There is merit in this appeal. whether or not the questions were raised by Hilario as accused-appellant and whether they are
questions of fact or mixed questions of fact and law.
At the outset, the Court establishes that an appeal is a proceeding undertaken to have a
decision reconsidered by bringing it to a higher court authority. The right to appeal is neither a Undeniably, Hilario challenges the sufficiency of evidence to support her conviction for illegal
natural right nor is it a component of due process. It is a mere statutory privilege, and may be sale of dangerous drugs. The RTC and the Court of Appeals gave total faith and credence to
exercised only in the manner and in accordance with the provisions of law. When the Court of the testimony of PO1 de Sagun, the sole prosecution witness.
Appeals imposed a penalty of reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, an accused may: (1) file
a notice of appeal under Rule 124, Section 13(c) of the Rules of Court to avail of an appeal as The rule that this Court generally desists from disturbing the conclusions of the trial court on the
a matter of right before the Court and open the entire case for review on any question; or (2) credibility of witnesses will not apply where the evidence of record fails to support or
file a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 to resort to an appeal as a matter of substantiate the findings of fact and conclusions of the lower court; or where the lower court
discretion and raise only questions of law.21 overlooked certain facts of substance and value that, if considered, would affect the outcome of
the case; or where the disputed decision is based on a misapprehension of facts.22 All of these
exceptional circumstances are availing in the present case.

21
In People v. Ismael, 23 the Court pronounced: A No sir, we were in civilian.

To secure a conviction for illegal sale of dangerous drugs under Section 5, Article II of RA 9165, Q So after buying shabu you arrested the accused?
the prosecution must establish the following elements: (1) the identity of the buyer and the seller,
the object of the sale and its consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment A Yes, sir.
therefor. What is important is that the sale transaction of drugs actually took place and that the
object of the transaction is properly presented as evidence in court and is shown to be the same Q Were you alone or together with other police officers in arresting the accused?
drugs seized from the accused.
A I was with PO1 Cabungcal, sir.
xxxx
Q Who actually among you arrested accused Marilou Hilario?
In cases of illegal sale and illegal possession of dangerous drugs, the dangerous drug seized
from the accused constitutes the corpus delicti of the offense. Thus, it is of utmost importance A I, sir.24
that the integrity and identity of the seized drugs must be shown to have been duly preserved.
"The chain of custody rule performs this function as it ensures that unnecessary doubts It's a generic narrative of any buy-bust operation, offering no distinctive detail except for Hilario's
concerning the identity of the evidence are removed." (Citations omitted.) name as alleged seller. PO1 de Sagun failed to describe how he came to know that Hilario was
selling shabu; where Hilario was and what she was doing that time; how he approached her
PO1 de Sagun's testimony - consisting of generalizations which lacked material details, riddled and asked to buy shabu from her; how they came to agree on the purchase price for the shabu;
with inconsistencies, and uncorroborated - failed to establish the elements of the offense where Hilario got the sachet of shabu she handed to him; and what his pre-arranged signal was
charged with proof beyond reasonable doubt. to show the other police officers that the sale had been consummated and Hilario could already
be arrested - details which police officers who carried out legit buy-bust operations should be
PO1 de Sagun described the alleged buy-bust operation only m general terms, thus: able to provide readily and completely.

Q Will you please tell the Honorable Court why did your group arrest accused Marilou Hilario When pressed for details during his cross-examination, PO1 de Sagun was unable to give
on January 22, 2008 at about 11 o'clock in the evening? enlightening answers -

A Through the buy-bust operation we conducted I was able to buy shabu from her, sir. Q Prior to the conduct of the buy-bust operation, can you tell us what are the preparations you
made?
Q Alright in other words you pretended yourself to buy shabu. Were you able to buy shabu from
the said accused? A We prepared a pre-operation report, ma'am.

A Yes, sir. Q What is the basis of your pre-operation report?

Q How much shabu did you buy [from] Marilou Hilario? A Due to the sale of the illegal drugs, ma'am.

A Five hundred (₱500.00) pesos only, sir. Q You mean to tell us because of the alleged information that there was a rampant selling of
illegal drugs?
Q After buying shabu from the accused in the amount of five hundred pesos (₱500.00), what
happened next? A Yes, ma'am.

A We immediately arrested the person, sir. Q By the way Mr. witness did you conduct surveillance against Marilou Hilario and Lalaine
Guadayo prior to January 22, 2008?
Q Were you in uniform on that time when you conducted the buybust operation?

22
A No, ma'am. To determine whether there was a valid entrapment or whether proper procedures were
undertaken in effecting the buy-bust operation, it is incumbent upon the courts to make sure
Q By the way, do you know this Marilou Hilario on January 22, 2008 or before that day? that the details of the operation are clearly and adequately laid out through relevant, material
and competent evidence. For, the courts could not merely rely on but must apply with studied
A No, ma'am. restraint the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty by law enforcement
agents. This presumption should not by itself prevail over the presumption of innocence and the
Q How about accused Lalaine Guadayo? constitutionally protected rights of the individual. It is the duty of courts to preserve the purity of
their own temple from the prostitution of the criminal law through lawless enforcement. Courts
A No, ma'am. should not allow themselves to be used as instruments of abuse and injustice lest innocent
persons are made to suffer the unusually severe penalties for drug offenses.
Q So, that was the first time that you saw on January 22, 2008 these Marilou Hilario and Lalaine
Guadayo? In People v. Doria, we stressed the "objective" test in buy-bust operations. We ruled that in such
operations, the prosecution must present a complete picture detailing the transaction, which
A Yes, ma'am. "must start from the initial contact between the poseur-buyer and the pusher, the offer to
purchase, the promise or payment of the consideration until the consummation of the sale by
xxxx the delivery of the illegal drug subject of the sale. We emphasized that the manner by which the
initial contact was made, the offer to purchase the drug, the payment of the 'buy-bust' money,
Q Do you have a copy of your pre-operation report? and the delivery of the illegal drug must be the subject of strict scrutiny by courts to insure that
law-abiding citizens are not unlawfully induced to commit an offense."
A I have no copy of the pre-operation report, ma'am.25
In the case at bar, the prosecution evidence about the buy-bust operation is incomplete. The
So according to PO1 de Sagun, he and his fellow police officers conducted a buy-bust operation confidential informant who had sole knowledge of how the alleged illegal sale of shabu started
in Brgy. Maguihan based on information from unnamed source/s that selling of drugs was and how it was perfected was not presented as a witness. His testimony was given instead by
rampant in the area; they prepared a pre-operation report which was not produced in court; they SPO 1 Gonzales who had no personal knowledge of the same. On this score, SPOl Gonzales'
went to Brgy. Maguihan without a specific target/subject; they did not conduct any surveillance testimony is hearsay and possesses no probative value unless it can be shown that the same
prior to the buy-bust operation on January 22, 2008; and they did not know Hilario or Guadayo falls within the exception to the hearsay rule. To impart probative value to these hearsay
prior to the buy-bust operation and the arrest of the two. How then were the police officers able statements and convict the appellant solely on this basis would be to render nugatory his
to identify Hilario or Guadayo, from all the other residents of Brgy. Maguihan, as the ones selling constitutional right to confront the witness against him, in this case the informant, and to
drugs in Brgy. Maguihan and who would be the subject of their buy-bust operation? examine him for his truthfulness. As the prosecution failed to prove all the material details of the
buy-bust operation, its claim that there was a valid entrapment of the appellants must fail.
The lack of specific details on the planning and conduct of the buybust operation on January (Emphases supplied, citations omitted.)
22, 2008 in Brgy. Maguihan casts serious doubts that it actually took place and/or that the police
officers carried out the same in the regular performance of their official duties. Relevant herein Furthermore, the prosecution failed to present during the trial the corpus delicti. There were
is the following discourse of the Court on buy-bust operations in People v. Ong26: material inconsistencies between PO1 de Sagun's testimony vis-a-vis the object and
documentary evidence submitted by the prosecution itself which rendered highly questionable
A buy-bust operation is a form of entrapment, which in recent years has been accepted as a whether the dangerous drug presented before the RTC during trial was actually the same as
valid means of arresting violators of the Dangerous Drugs Law. It is commonly employed by that seized from Hilario during the buy-bust operation.
police officers as an effective way of apprehending law offenders in the act of committing a
crime. In a buy-bust operation, the idea to commit a crime originates from the offender, without During his direct examination, PO1 de Sagun recalled the chain of custody of the items seized
anybody inducing or prodding him to commit the offense. Its opposite is instigation or from Hilario during the buy-bust operation, thus:
inducement, wherein the police or its agent lures the accused into committing the offense in
order to prosecute him. Instigation is deemed contrary to public policy and considered an Q After buying shabu from the accused in the amount of five hundred pesos (₱500.00), what
absolutory cause. happened next?

23
A We immediately arrested the person, sir. A Yes, sir.

xxxx Q Why will you be able to identify the shabu you bought from the accused during the buy-bust
operation?
Q Who actually among you arrested accused Marilou Hilario?
A Yes, because of the marking, sir.
A I, sit.
xxxx
Q After arresting the accused, what did you do next, if any?
Q What did you do with the shabu you bought from the accused in this case?
A We placed the markings "NBS-1" to the marked money and in the alleged shabu, "NBS-2",
sir. A We brought them to the Crime Laboratory, for examination, sir.

Q You mean to tell before the Court that immediately after the arrest of the accused you placed Q Do you know what was the result of the laboratory examination of the specimen pertaining to
markings on the money used in buying shabu and the shabu itself? this case?

A Yes, sir. A It gives positive result, sir.27 (Emphases supplied.)

Q In the place where the accused was arrested? However, when the public prosecutor opened the brown sealed envelope purportedly containing
the dangerous drugs seized from Hilario, there were two sachets of shabu inside, marked as
A Yes, sir. "NBS-1" and "NBS-2." Upon further questioning, PO1 de Sagun testified:

Q Who actually placed the marking in the shabu? FISCAL PEREZ

A I, sir. Q How many sachets of shabu have you taken from the accused aside from the one you bought
from the accused?
Q What marking did you place in the money you used in buying shabu?
A Only one, sir.
A "NBS-1 ", sir.
Q I will ask you, you pretended to buy shabu from the accused as in fact you were able to buy
Q What was the denomination of the money you used in buying shabu? shabu?

A A five hundred (₱500.00) peso bill, sir. A Yes, sir.

Q What about in the shabu you obtained ,from the accused in buying the same, what marking Q The shabu you bought you marked in evidence as "NBS"?
did you place?
A Yes, sir.
A "NBS-2", sir.
xxxx
xxxx
FISCAL PEREZ
Q You stated earlier, you marked the sachet of shabu you bought from the accused. If the same
sachet of shabu will be shown to you, will you be able to identify or recognize the same? Q Can you please explain why there are two (2) sachets of shabu here?

24
A I bought only one·(l) sachet, sir.
A Yes, sir.
COURT
COURT
Q What about the other one?
Q Were you present?
A PO1 Magpantay ran after one Lalaine, your Honor.
A No, Your Honor.
Q The other sachet of shabu was allegedly taken from one Lalaine?
Q You were not certain whether Magpantay is present?
A Yes, Your Honor.
A Yes, sir.
FISCAL PEREZ
FISCAL PEREZ
Q That's why a case was filed against that Lalaine?
Q So, in other words you were not present when Magpantay took the shabu from Lalaine?
A Yes, sir.
A Yes, sir.
Q So, you were present, who is the police officer who confiscated the sachet of shabu from
Lalaine? xxxx

A P02 Magpantay, sir. Q I am showing you sachets of suspected shabu, will you please tell the Honorable Court which
among the two (2) sachets of shabu you bought from Marilou Hilario?
Q Were you not present when P02 Magpantay took the shabu from
A The one with marking "NBS-1", sir.
Lalaine?
Q Why did you say that "NBS-I is the sachet of shabu you bought from Marilou?
A Yes, sir.
A Because of the marking, sir.
COURT
Q What marking is that?
Q Were you present?
A NBS-1, sir.
A No, Your Honor.
COURT
Q You were not certain whether Magpantay is present?
Q What is that NBS stands for?
A Yes, sir.
A Nemesio Brotonel de Sagun, Your Honor.28 (Emphases supplied.)
FISCAL PEREZ
PO 1 de Sagun himself admitted the discrepancies during his cross-examination:
Q So, in other words you were not present when Magpantay took
Q And you likewise stated that you were able to buy shabu from accused Marilou Hilario?
the shabu from Lalaine?

25
A Yes, ma'am. Third, PO2 Magpantay did not testify before the RTC. PO1 de Sagun conceded that he was not present when PO2
Magpantay supposedly apprehended Guadayo and seized one sachet of shabu from her possession, so PO1 de
Sagun's testimony on said matters are hearsay.
Q You likewise stated that marked money was marked as NBS-1?
And finally, the two sachets of shabu presented before the RTC were marked with "NBS," the initials of PO1 de
A Yes, ma'am. Sagun.1âwphi1 It makes no sense that the sachet of shabu taken by PO2 Magpantay from Guadayo be marked with
PO1 de Sagun's initials. As the documentary evidence of the prosecution itself showed, the sachet of shabu supposedly
seized from Guadayo was appropriately marked "AAM-1," presumably, PO2 Magpantay's initials.
Q And that suspected shabu which you allegedly bought from accused Marilou Hilario was
marked as NBS-2? Hence, it could not be said that one of the two sachets of shabu presented against Hilario during the trial before the
RTC was purportedly seized from Guadayo.
A Yes, ma' am.
Clearly, the identity and integrity of the sachet of shabu allegedly seized by PO1 de Sagun from Hilario were not
preserved, despite PO1 de Sagun's assertion that he had been in possession of the said sachet from its seizure from
Q But when the Public Prosecutor presented to you the alleged shabu which you allegedly Hilario until its turnover to the crime laboratory. The prosecution failed to establish the identity of the corpus delicti,
bought from the accused which you identified because of the marking NBS- 1, right? much less, the identity of the corpus delicti with moral certainty. When there are doubts on whether the seized substance
was the same substance examined and established to be the prohibited drug, there can be no crime of illegal
possession or illegal sale of a prohibited drug. The prosecution's failure to prove that the specimen allegedly seized
A Yes, ma'am. from Hilario was the same one presented in court is fatal to its case.34
Q So, there was a discrepancy with your marking because you stated before, the marked money
was marked as NBS-1 and the shabu which you allegedly bought from accused Marilou Hilario It is fundamental in the Constitution35 and basic in the Rules of Court36 that the accused in a criminal case enjoys the
presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Likewise, it is well-established in jurisprudence that the prosecution bears
was already marked as NBS- I, right?
the burden to overcome such presumption. If the prosecution fails to discharge this burden, the accused deserves a
A Yes, ma'am.29
judgment of acquittal. On the other hand, if the existence of proof beyond reasonable doubt is established by the
prosecution, the accused gets a guilty verdict.37 In order to merit conviction, the prosecution must rely on the strength
PO1 de Sagun was insistent that he seized only one sachet of shabu from Hilario; and that he marked the ₱500.00-bill
of its own evidence and not on the weakness of evidence presented by the defense.38
used in the buy-bust operation as "NBS-1" and the sachet of shabu from Hilario as "NBS-2." Yet, confronted with two
The evidence for the prosecution were insufficient in material details and fraught with discrepancies and contradictions.
sachets of shabu, marked as "NBS-1" and "NBS- 2," he identified the sachet marked as "NBS-1" as the one he bought
PO1 de Sagun himself, who claimed to have seized, marked, and kept custody of the sachet of shabu seized from
from Hilario.
Hilario, could not positively identify which between the two sachets of shabu he was presented with at the trial, marked
as "NBS-I" and "NBS-2," was the one he actually seized from Hilario. Absent proof beyond reasonable doubt, the Court
PO1 de Sagun could not explain how there were two sachets of shabu even though he testified that the items seized
cannot merely rely on the presumption that PO1 de Sagun regularly performed his official duties.
from the buy-bust operation were in his custody the entire time from the arrest of Hilario, until their inventory at the
As the Court declared in Mallillin v. People,39 the presumption of regularity is merely just that - a mere presumption
police station, and finally, until the delivery of the suspected shabu to the crime laboratory for examination. The
disputable by contrary proof and which, when challenged by the evidence, cannot be regarded as binding truth. Suffice
prosecution claimed that the other sachet of shabu was the one seized by PO2 Magpantay from Guadayo.
it to say that this presumption cannot preponderate over the presumption of innocence that prevails if not overthrown
by proof beyond reasonable doubt. The lack of conclusive identification of the illegal drugs allegedly seized from Hilario
The Court is not persuaded.
in this case strongly militates against a finding of guilt.
First, from the very beginning, the prosecution charged Hilario before the RTC through two separate Informations: (a)
Also worth reproducing hereunder is the declaration of the Court in People v. Pagaduan40that:
Crim. Case No. 10-2008 for illegal sale of dangerous drugs, which involved a sachet of shabu weighing 0.04 gram,
referred to as "specimen A (NBS-1);" and (b) Crim. Case No. l I- 2008 for illegal possession of dangerous drugs, which
We are not unmindful of the pernicious effects of drugs in our society; they are lingering maladies that destroy families
involved a sachet of shabu weighing 0.03 gram, referred to as "specimen B (NBS-2)." However, the prosecution
and relationships, and engender crimes. The Court is one with all the agencies concerned in pursuing an intensive and
changed its theory before the Court of Appeals, stating in its Brief for the Appellee that only one sachet of shabu was
unrelenting campaign against this social dilemma. Regardless of how much we want to curb this menace, we cannot
confiscated from Hilario and agreeing in the acquittal of Hilario in Crim. Case No. 11-2008 for the reason that she
disregard the protection provided by the Constitution, most particularly the presumption of innocence bestowed on the
"cannot be convicted for possession of the prohibited drugs she sold because possession of dangerous drugs is
appellant. Proof beyond reasonable doubt, or that quantum of proof sufficient to produce moral certainty that would
generally inherent in the crime of sale of illegal drugs. Conviction for both crimes is not feasible."30 Meanwhile, the
convince and satisfy the conscience of those who act in judgment, is indispensable to overcome this constitutional
Information in Crim. Case No. 13-2008 for illegal possession of dangerous drugs against Guadayo involved a sachet
presumption. If the prosecution has not proved, in the first place, all the elements of the crime charged, which in this
of shabu weighing 0.04 gram.
case is the corpus delicti, then the appellant deserves no less than an acquittal.
Second, the documentary evidence of the prosecution, particularly, (a) the Inventories31 of the items seized, dated
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision dated July 18, 2013 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C.
January 22, 2008, prepared by PO1 de Sagun and witnessed by Mrs. Loma Orlina and Simplico "Sims" Garcia,
No. 05244 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accused-appellant Marilou D. Hilario is ACQUITTED of the charge of illegal
representatives of the DOJ and the media, respectively; (b) the Laboratory Examination Requests32 dated January 23,
sale of dangerous drugs, under Article II, Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive
2008 for the specimens seized, prepared by Police Superintendent Gaudencio Del Valle Pucyutan; and (c) Chemistry
Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, for failure of the prosecution to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt. She is
Report Nos. BD-O12-08 and BD-OI3-0833 dated January 23, 2008, issued by P/Cinsp. Delantar, all consistently state
ORDERED immediately RELEASED from detention unless she is confined for another lawful cause.
that there were two sachets of shabu from Hilario marked as "NBS-I" (weighing 0.04 gram) and "NBS-2" (weighing 0.03
gram) and one sachet of shabu from Guadayo marked as "AAM-1."

26
G.R. No. 200748 July 23, 2014 number to the complainants, and when the latter gave the number a ring, they were instructed
to proceed to the Gorordo Police Office located along Gorordo Avenue, Cebu City. In the said
JAIME D. DELA CRUZ, Petitioner, police office, they met "James" who demanded from them ₱100,000, later lowered to ₱40,000,
vs. in exchange for the release of Ariel. After the meeting, the complainants proceeded to the NBI-
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. CEVRO to file a complaint and narrate the circumstances of the meeting to the authorities.
While at the NBI-CEVRO, Charitoeven received calls supposedly from "James" instructing her
DECISION to bring the money as soon as possible.

SERENO, CJ: The special investigators at the NBI-CEVRO verified the text messages received by the
complainants.1âwphi1 A team was immediately formed to implement an entrapment operation,
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari, filed by petitioner Jaime D. dela Cruz, from the which took place inside a Jollibee branch at the corner of Gen. Maxilom and Gorordo Avenues,
Decision1 dated 22 June 2011 issued by the Twentieth Division of the Court of Appeals (CA) Cebu City. The officers were able to nab Jaime dela Cruz by using a pre-marked 500 bill dusted
and Resolution2 dated 2 February 2012 issued by the Former Twentieth Division of the CA in with fluorescent powder, which was made part of the amount demanded by "James" and
CA-G.R. C.R. No. 00670. handed by Corazon. Petitioner was later brought to the forensic laboratory of the NBI-CEVRO
where forensic examination was done by forensic chemist Rommel Paglinawan. Petitioner was
THE ANTECEDENT FACTS required to submit his urine for drug testing. It later yielded a positive result for presence of
dangerous drugs as indicated in the confirmatory test result labeled as Toxicology
Petitioner Jaime D. dela Cruz was charged with violation of Section 15, Article II of Republic Act (DangerousDrugs) Report No. 2006-TDD-2402 dated 16 February 2006.
No. (R.A.) 9165, or The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, by the Graft
Investigation and Prosecution Officer of the Office of the Ombudsman - Visayas, in an VERSION OF THE DEFENSE
Information3 dated 14 February 2006, which reads:
The defense presented petitioner as the lone witness. He denied the charges and testified that
That on or about the 31st day of January 2006, at Cebu City, Philippines, and within the while eating at the said Jollibee branch, he was arrested allegedly for extortion by NBI agents.
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, JAIME D. DE LA CRUZ, a public When he was at the NBI Office, he was required to extract urine for drug examination, but he
officer, having been duly appointed and qualified to such public position as Police Officer 2 of refused saying he wanted it to be done by the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory
the Philippine National Police (PNP) assigned in the Security Service Group of the Cebu City and not by the NBI. His request was, however, denied. He also requested to be allowed to call
Police Office, after having beenarrested by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) his lawyer prior to the taking of his urine sample, to no avail.
in an entrapment operation, was found positive for use of METHAMPHETAMINE
HYDROCHLORIDEcommonly known as "Shabu", the dangerous drug after a confirmatory test THE RULING OF THE RTC
conducted on said accused.
The Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 58 of Cebu City, in its Decision4 dated 6 June 2007,
CONTRARY TO LAW. found the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 15, Article II of R.A. 9165
and sentenced him to suffer the penalty of compulsory rehabilitation for a period of not less than
When arraigned, petitioner, assisted by counsel de parte, pleaded not guilty to the charge. The six (6) months at the Cebu Center for the Ultimate Rehabilitation of Drug Dependents located
records do not reveal whether De la Cruz was likewise charged for extortion. at Salinas, Lahug, Cebu City.5

VERSION OF THE PROSECUTION Petitioner filed an appeal assigning as error the RTC’s validation of the result of the urine test
despite its dubiousness having been admitted in spite of the lack of legal basis for itsadmission.
The evidence of the prosecution reveals that at 8:00 a.m. of 31 January 2006, the agents and First, he alleges that the forensic laboratory examination was conducted despite the fact that
special investigators of the National Bureau of Investigation, Central Visayas Regional Office he was not assisted by counsel, in clear violation of his constitutional right. Secondly, he was
(NBI-CEVRO) or simply NBI, received a Complaint from Corazon Absin (Corazon) and Charito allegedly held guilty beyond reasonable doubt notwithstanding the lack of sufficient basis to
Escobido (Charito). The complainants claimed that at 1:00 a.m. of that same day, Ariel Escobido convict him.
(Ariel), the live-in partner of Corazon and son of Charito, was picked up by several unknown
male persons believed to be police officers for allegedly selling drugs. An errand boy gave a THE RULING OF THE CA

27
The RTC subsequently convicted petitioner, ruling that the following elements of Section 15
The CA found the appeal devoid of merit and affirmed the ruling of the RTC. were established: (1) the accused was arrested; (2) the accused was subjected to drug test;
and (3) the confirmatory test shows that he used a dangerous drug.
Petitioner filed a timely Motion for Reconsideration. He argued that the CA overlooked prevailing
jurisprudence, which states that drug testing conducted under circumstancessimilar to his would Disregarding petitioner’s objection regarding the admissibility of the evidence, the lower court
violate a person’s right to privacy. The appellate court nevertheless denied the motion. also reasoned that "a suspect cannot invoke his right to counsel when he is required to extract
urine because, while he is already in custody, he is not compelled to make a statement or
Petitioner thus filed the present Petition for Review on certiorari. He assigns as errors the use testimony against himself. Extracting urine from one’s body is merely a mechanical act, hence,
of hearsay evidence as basis for his conviction and the questionable circumstances surrounding falling outside the concept of a custodial investigation."
his arrest and drug test.
We find the ruling and reasoning of the trial court, as well as the subsequent affirmation by the
Respondent, through the Office of the Solicitor General, filed its Comment,6 saying that CA, erroneous on three counts.
"petitioner’s arguments cannot be the subject of a petition for review on certiorariunder Rule 45,
as they involve questions of facts which may not be the subject thereof; after his arraignment, The drug test in Section 15 does not cover persons apprehended or arrested for any unlawful
he can no longer contest the validity of his arrest, less so at this stage of the proceedings; his act, but only for unlawful acts listed under Article II of R.A. 9165.
guilt has been adequately established by direct evidence; and the manner in which the
laboratory examination was conducted was grounded on a valid and existing law. First, "[a] person apprehended orarrested" cannot literally mean any person apprehended or
arrested for any crime.The phrase must be read in context and understood in consonance with
THE ISSUE R.A. 9165. Section 15 comprehends persons arrested or apprehended for unlawful acts listed
under Article II of the law.
We deem it proper to give due course to this Petition by confronting head-on the issue of
whether or not the drug test conducted upon the petitioner is legal. Hence, a drug test can be made upon persons who are apprehended or arrested for, among
others, the "importation,"9 "sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and
OUR RULING transportation",10 "manufacture"11 and "possession"12 of dangerous drugs and/or controlled
precursors and essential chemicals; possession thereof "during parties, social gatherings or
We declare that the drug testconducted upon petitioner is not grounded upon any existing law meetings"13 ; being "employees and visitors of a den, dive or resort";14 "maintenance of a den,
or jurisprudence. dive or resort";15 "illegal chemical diversion of controlled precursors and essential chemicals"16
; "manufacture or delivery"17 or "possession"18 of equipment, instrument, apparatus, and other
We gloss over petitioner’s non-compliance with the Resolution7 ordering him to submit clearly paraphernalia for dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals;
legible duplicate originals or certified true copies of the assailed Decision and Resolution. possession of dangerous drugs "during parties, social gatherings or meetings"19 ;
Petitioner was charged with use of dangerous drugs in violation of the law, the pertinent "unnecessary"20 or "unlawful"21 prescription thereof; "cultivation or culture of plantsclassified
provision of which reads: as dangerous drugs or are sources thereof";22 and "maintenance and keeping of original
records of transactions on dangerous drugs and/orcontrolled precursors and essential
Section 15. Use of Dangerous Drugs. – A person apprehended or arrested, who is found to be chemicals."23 To make the provision applicable to all persons arrested or apprehended for any
positive for use of any dangerous drug, after a confirmatory test, shall be imposed a penalty of crime not listed under Article II is tantamount to unduly expanding its meaning. Note
a minimum of six (6) months rehabilitation in a government center for the first offense, subject thataccused appellant here was arrested in the alleged act of extortion.
to the provisions of Article VIII of this Act. If apprehended using any dangerous drug for the
second time, he/she shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment ranging from six (6) years and one A charge for violation of Section 15 of R.A. 9165 is seen as expressive of the intent of the law
(1) day to twelve (12) years and a fine ranging from Fifty thousand pesos (₱50,000.00) to Two to rehabilitate persons apprehended or arrested for the unlawful acts enumerated above instead
hundred thousand pesos (₱200,000.00): Provided,That this Section shall not be applicable of charging and convicting them of other crimes with heavier penalties. The essence of the
where the person tested is also found to have in his/her possession such quantity of any provision is more clearly illustrated in People v. Martinez24 as follows:
dangerous drug provided for under Section 11 of this Act, in which case the provisions stated
therein shall apply.8 On a final note, this Court takes the opportunity to be instructive on Sec. 11 (Possession of
Dangerous Drugs) and Sec. 15 (Use of Dangerous Drugs) of R.A. No. 9165, withregard to the

28
charges that are filed by law enforcers. This Court notes the practice of law enforcers of filing x x x [M]andatory drug testing can never be random and suspicionless. The ideas of
charges under Sec. 11 in cases where the presence of dangerous drugs as basis for possession randomness and being suspicionless are antithetical to their being made defendants in a
is only and solely in the form of residue, being subsumed under the last paragraph of Sec. 11. criminal complaint. They are not randomly picked; neither are they beyond suspicion. When
Although not incorrect, it would be more in keeping withthe intent of the law to file charges under persons suspected of committing a crime are charged, they are singled out and are impleaded
Sec. 15 instead in order to rehabilitate first time offenders of drug use, provided thatthere is a against their will. The persons thus charged, by the bare fact of being haled before the
positive confirmatory test result as required under Sec. 15.The minimum penalty under the last prosecutor’s office and peaceably submitting themselves to drug testing, if that be the case, do
paragraph of Sec. 11 for the possession of residue isimprisonment of twelve years and one day, not necessarily consent to the procedure, let alone waive their right to privacy. To impose
while the penalty under Sec. 15 for first time offenders of drug use is a minimum of six months mandatory drug testing on the accused is a blatant attempt to harness a medical test as a tool
rehabilitation in a government center. To file charges under Sec. 11 on the basis of residue for criminal prosecution, contrary to the stated objectives of RA 6195. Drug testing in this case
alone would frustrate the objective of the law to rehabilitate drug users and provide them with would violate a person’s right to privacy guaranteed under Sec. 2, Art. III of the Constitution.
an opportunity to recover for a second chance at life. Worse still, the accused persons are veritably forced to incriminate themselves. (Emphasis
supplied)
In the case at bench, the presence of dangerous drugs was only in the form of residue on the
drug paraphernalia, and the accused were found positive for use of dangerous drugs. Granting The drug test is not covered by allowable non-testimonial compulsion.
that the arrest was legal, the evidence obtained admissible, and the chain of custody intact, the
law enforcers should have filed charges under Sec. 15, R.A. No. 9165 or for use of dangerous We find that petitioner never raisedthe alleged irregularity of his arrest before his arraignment
drugs and, if there was no residue at all, they should have been charged under Sec. 14 and raises the issue only now before this tribunal; hence, he is deemed to have waived his right
(Possession of Equipment, Instrument, Apparatus and Other Paraphernalia for Dangerous to question the validity of his arrest curing whatever defect may have attended his arrest.26
Drugs During Parties, Social Gatherings or Meetings). Sec. 14 provides that the maximum However, "a waiver of an illegal warrantless arrest does not mean a waiver of the inadmissibility
penalty under Sec. 12(Possession of Equipment, Instrument, Apparatus and Other of evidence seized during an illegal warrantless arrest."27
Paraphernalia for Dangerous Drugs) shall be imposed on any person who shall possess any
equipment, instrument, apparatus and other paraphernalia for dangerous drugs. Under Sec. 12, We are aware of the prohibition against testimonial compulsion and the allowable exceptions to
the maximum penalty is imprisonment of four years and a fine of ₱50,000.00. In fact, under the such proscription. Cases where non-testimonial compulsion has been allowed reveal, however,
same section, the possession of such equipment, apparatus or other paraphernalia is prima that the pieces of evidence obtained were all material to the principal cause of the arrest.
facieevidence that the possessor has used a dangerous drug and shall be presumed to have
violated Sec. 15. The constitutional right of an accused against self-incrimination proscribes the use of physical
or moral compulsion to extort communications from the accused and not the inclusion of his
In order to effectively fulfill the intent of the law to rehabilitate drug users, this Court thus calls body in evidence when it may be material. Purely mechanical acts are not included in the
on law enforcers and prosecutors in dangerous drugs cases to exercise proper discretion in prohibition as the accused does not thereby speak his guilt, hence the assistance and guiding
filing charges when the presence of dangerous drugs isonly and solely in the form of residue hand ofcounsel is not required. (People vs. Olvis, 238 Phil. 513 [1987]) The essence of the right
and the confirmatory test required under Sec. 15 is positive for use of dangerous drugs.In such against selfincrimination is testimonial compulsion, that is, the giving of evidence against himself
cases, to afford the accused a chance to be rehabilitated, the filing of charges for or involving through a testimonial act. (People vs. Casinillo, 213 SCRA 777 [1992]; People vs. Tranca, 235
possession of dangerous drugs should only be done when another separate quantity of SCRA 455 [1994]; People vs. Rondero, 378 Phil. 123 [1999]) Hence,it has been held that a
dangerous drugs, other than mere residue, is found in the possession of the accused as woman charged with adultery may be compelled to submit to physical examination to determine
provided for in Sec. 15. (Emphasis supplied) her pregnancy; (Villaflor vs. Summers, 41 Phil. 62 [1920]) and an accused may be compelled
to submit to physical examination and to have a substance taken from his body for medical
Furthermore, making the phrase "a person apprehended or arrested" in Section 15 applicable determination as to whether he was suffering from gonorrhea which was contracted by his
to all persons arrested or apprehended for unlawful acts, not only under R.A. 9165 but for all victim;(U.S. vs. Tan Teng, 23 Phil. 145 [1912]) to expel morphine from his mouth; (U.S. vs. Ong
other crimes, is tantamount to a mandatory drug testing of all persons apprehended or arrested Siu Hong, 36 Phil. 735 [1917]) to have the outline of his foot traced todetermine its identity with
for any crime. To overextend the application of thisprovision would run counter to our bloody footprints; (U.S. vs. Salas, 25 Phil. 337 [1913]; U.S. vs. Zara, 42 Phil. 308 [1921]) and to
pronouncement in Social Justice Society v. Dangerous Drugs Board and Philippine Drug be photographed or measured, or his garments or shoes removed or replaced, or to move his
Enforcement Agency,25 to wit: body to enable the foregoing things to be done.(People vs. Otadora, 86 Phil. 244 [1950])28
(Emphasis supplied)

29
In the instant case, we fail to see howa urine sample could be material to the charge of
extortion.1âwphi1 The RTC and the CA, therefore, both erred when they held that the extraction The pertinent provisions in Article III of the Constitution are clear:
of petitioner’s urine for purposes of drug testing was "merely a mechanical act, hence, falling
outside the concept of a custodial investigation." Section 2. The right of the people to be securein their persons, houses, papers, and effects
against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be
We note a case where a urine sample was considered as admissible. In Gutang v. People,29 inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause
the petitioner therein and his companions were arrested in connection with the enforcement of to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the
a search warrant in his residence. A PNP-NARCOM team found and confiscated shabu complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be
materials and paraphernalias. The petitioner and his companions in that case were also asked searched and the persons or things to be seized.
to give urine samples, which yielded positive results. Later, the petitioner therein was found
guilty of the crime of illegal possession and use of prohibited drugs. Gutang claimed that the Section 17. No person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.
latter’s urine sample was inadmissible in evidence, since it was derived in effect from an
uncounselled extrajudicial confession. In the face of these constitutional guarantees, we cannot condone drug testing of all arrested
persons regardless of the crime or offense for which the arrest is being made.
In the Gutang et al.case, the Court clarified that "what the Constitution prohibits is the use of
physical or moral compulsion to extort communication from the accused, but not an inclusion of While we express our commendation of law enforcement agents as they vigorously track down
his body in evidence, when it may be material." The situation in Gutangwas categorized as offenders intheir laudable effort to curb the pervasive and deleterious effects of dangerous drugs
falling among the exemptions under the freedom from testimonial compulsion since what was on our society, they must, however, be constantly mindful of the reasonable limits of their
sought tobe examined came from the body of the accused. The Court said: authority, because it is not unlikely that in their clear intent to purge society of its lawless
elements, they may be knowingly or unknowingly transgressing the protected rights of its
This was a mechanical act the accused was made to undergo which was not meant to unearth citizens including even members of its own police force.
undisclosedfacts but to ascertain physical attributes determinable by simple observation. In fact,
the record shows that petitioner and his co-accused were not compelled to give samples of their WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed Decision dated 22 June 2011 issued by the
urine but they in fact voluntarily gave the same when they were requested to undergo a drug Twentieth Division, and the Resolution dated 2 February 2012 issued by the former Twentieth
test. Division of the Court of Appeals, in CA-G.R. C.R. No. 00670 are SET ASIDE. Petitioner is
hereby ACQUITTED.
Assuming arguendothat the urine samples taken from the petitioner are inadmissible in
evidence, we agree with the trial court that the record is replete with other pieces of credible SO ORDERED.
evidence including the testimonial evidence of the prosecution which point to the culpability of
the petitioner for the crimes charged.

We emphasize that the circumstances in Gutangare clearly different from the circumstances of
petitioner in the instant case.1awp++i1 First, Gutang was arrested in relation to a drug case.
Second, he volunteered to give his urine. Third, there were other pieces of evidence that point
to his culpability for the crimes charged. In the present case, though, petitioner was arrested for
extortion; he resisted having his urine sample taken; and finally, his urine sample was the only
available evidencethat was used as basis for his conviction for the use of illegal drugs.

The drug test was a violation of petitioner’s right to privacy and right against self-incrimination.

It is incontrovertible that petitioner refused to have his urine extracted and tested for drugs. He
also asked for a lawyer prior to his urine test. He was adamant in exercising his rights, but all of
his efforts proved futile, because he was still compelled to submit his urine for drug testing under
those circumstances.

30
G.R. No. 189833 February 5, 2014 beyond reasonable doubt and are ordered immediately released from custody unless held for
some other lawful cause.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,
vs. The methamphetamine hydrochloride ordered retained by the Court as representative sample
JAVIER MORILLA Y AVELLANO, Accused-Appellant. which is still in the custody of the PNP Crime Laboratory is ordered turned over to the Philippine
Drug Enforcement Agency for proper disposition.6
RESOLUTION
The trial court found valid the search conducted by police officers on the vehicles driven by
PEREZ, J.: Mayor Mitra and Morilla, one with control number 888 and the other an ambulance with plate
number SFK-372, as the police officers have already acquired prior knowledge that the said
Before us is an appeal filed by accused-appellant Javier Morilla y Avellano (Morilla) from the vehicles were suspected to be used for transportation of dangerous drugs. During the
Decision1 of the Court of Appeals which affirmed his conviction and that of his co-accused checkpoint in Real, Quezon, the information turned out to be accurate and indeed, the two
Ronnie Mitra y Tena (Mayor Mitra) by the trial court, sentencing them2 to suffer the penalty of accused had in their motor vehicles more than five hundred kilos of methamphetamine
life imprisonment and to pay a fine of ₱10,000,000.00 each. hydrochloride.7

The Regional Trial Court Judgment The trial court dismissed the arguments of Mayor Mitra that he was without any knowledge of
the contents of the sacks and that he was merely requested to transport them to Manila on
On 15 October 2001, Morilla, Mayor Mitra, Willie Yang y Yao (Yang) and Ruel Dequilla y board his Starex van. He explained that he only accommodated the request of a certain Ben
Regodan (Dequilla) were charged in a criminal information as follows: Tan because the latter bought his fishing boat. It likewise dismissed the defense of ambulance
driver Morilla of lack of knowledge of the illegality of the contents. Morilla insisted that he thought
That on or about October 13, 2001, in Barangay Kiloloran, Municipality of Real, Province of that he was just transporting wooden tiles and electronic spare parts together with Dequilla. The
Quezon, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named other passenger of the ambulance, Yang, in his defense, did not bother to inquire about the
accused, one of them an incumbent mayor of the Municipality of Panukulan, Quezon Province, contents of the vehicle as he was merely an accommodated passenger of the ambulance.
who all belong to an organized/syndicate crime group as they all help one another, for purposes
of gain in the transport of illegal drugs, and in fact, conspiring and confederating together and The court rejected the defenses presented by Morilla and Mayor Mitra as they were caught in
mutually aiding and abetting one another, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully, and feloniously flagrante delicto of transporting dangerous drugs in two vehicles driven by each of them. Absent
transport by means of two (2) motor vehicles, namely a Starex van bearing plate number RWT- any convincing circumstance to corroborate their explanations, the validity of their apprehension
888 with commemorative plate to read "Mayor" and a municipal ambulance of Panukulan, was sustained.8
Quezon Province, methamphetamine hydrochloride, a regulated drug which is commonly
known as shabu, and with an approximate weight of five hundred three point sixty eight (503.68) The ruling of conspiracy between Mayor Mitra and Morilla was based on the testimonies of the
kilos, without authority whatsoever.3 four accused themselves. It was found by the trial court that the two vehicles, the Starex van
driven by Mayor Mitra and the ambulance van driven by Morilla, left Infanta, Quezon en route
After trial, the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City4 on 1 August 2007 convicted Morilla and his to Manila. The Starex van which was ahead of the ambulance was able to pass the checkpoint
co-accused Mayor Mitra, then incumbent Mayor of Panukulan, Quezon, of illegal transport5 of set up by the police officers. However, the ambulance driven by Morilla was stopped by police
methamphetamine hydrochloride, commonly known as shabu, with an approximate weight of officers. Through the untinted window, one of the police officers noticed several sacks inside
five hundred three point sixty eight (503.68) kilos. However, it absolved Dequilla and Yang due the van. Upon inquiry of the contents, Morilla replied that the sacks contained narra wooden
to the prosecution’s failure to present sufficient evidence to convict them of the offense charged. tiles.
The dispositive of the decision reads:
Unconvinced, the police officers requested Morilla to open the rear door of the car for further
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused Ronnie inspection. When it was opened, the operatives noticed that white crystalline granules were
Mitra y Tena and Javier Morilla y Avellana GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the offense scattered on the floor, prompting them to request Morilla to open the sacks. At this moment,
charged. Accordingly, both accused are hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of life Morilla told the police officers that he was with Mayor Mitra in an attempt to persuade them to
imprisonment and to pay a fine of ₱10,000,000.00 each. Accused Willie Yang y Yao and Ruel let him pass.9 His request was rejected by the police officers and upon inspection, the contents
Dequilla y Regodan are hereby ACQUITTED for failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt of the sacks turned out to be sacks of methamphetamine hydrochloride.10 This discovery

31
prompted the operatives to chase the Starex van of Mayor Mitra. The police officers were able
to overtake the van and Mayor Mitra was asked to stop. They then inquired if the mayor knew Even assuming that his assertion is correct, the issue of defect in the information, at this point,
Morilla. On plain view, the operatives noticed that his van was also loaded with sacks like the is deemed to have been waived due to Morilla’s failure to assert it as a ground in a motion to
ones found in the ambulance. Thus, Mayor Mitra was also requested to open the door of the quash before entering his plea.18
vehicle for inspection. At this instance, Mayor Mitra offered to settle the matter but the same
was rejected. Upon examination, the contents of the sacks were likewise found to contain sacks Further, it must be noted that accused Morilla participated and presented his defenses to
of methamphetamine hydrochloride.11 contradict the allegation of conspiracy before the trial and appellate courts. His failure or neglect
to assert a right within a reasonable time warrants a presumption that the party entitled to assert
The two other accused in this case, Dequilla and Yang, were acquitted by the trial court for it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it.19
failure on the part of the prosecution to establish their guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The court
ruled that Dequilla’s and Yang’s mere presence inside the vehicle as passengers was The finding of conspiracy by both courts is correct.
inadequate to prove that they were also conspirators of Mayor Mitra and Morilla.12
A conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the
The Court of Appeals Decision commission of a felony and decide to commit it.20 To determine conspiracy, there must be a
common design to commit a felony.21
On 13 July 2009, the appellate court affirmed the ruling of the trial court. It upheld the finding of
conspiracy between Mayor Mitra and Morilla in their common intent to transport several sacks Morilla argues that the mere act of driving the ambulance on the date he was apprehended is
containing methamphetamine hydrochloride on board their respective vehicles. The singularity not sufficient to prove that he was part of a syndicated group involved in the illegal transportation
of their intent to illegally transport methamphetamine hydrochloride was readily shown when of dangerous drugs.
Morilla agreed to drive the ambulance van from Infanta, Quezon to Manila together with Mayor
Mitra, who drove the lead vehicle, the Starex van.13 This argument is misplaced.

The appellate court likewise dismissed the argument of lack of knowledge of the illegal contents In conspiracy, it need not be shown that the parties actually came together and agreed in
of the sacks. The claim that the sacks were loaded with wooden tiles was implausible due to express terms to enter into and pursue a common design. The assent of the minds may be and,
the obvious disparity of texture and volume.14 from the secrecy of the crime, usually inferred from proof of facts and circumstances which,
taken together, indicate that they are parts of some complete whole.22 In this case, the totality
Court’s Ruling of the factual circumstances leads to a conclusion that Morilla conspired with Mayor Mitra in a
common desire to transport the dangerous drugs. Both vehicles loaded with several sacks of
We affirm the ruling but modify the penalty imposed. dangerous drugs, were on convoy from Quezon to Manila. Mayor Mitra was able to drive through
the checkpoint set up by the police operatives. When it was Morilla’s turn to pass through the
In his supplemental brief, Morilla raised the issues: (1) whether he may be convicted for checkpoint, he was requested to open the rear door for a routinary check. Noticing white
conspiracy to commit the offense charged sans allegation of conspiracy in the Information, and granules scattered on the floor, the police officers requested Morilla to open the sacks. If indeed
(2) whether the prosecution was able to prove his culpability as alleged in the Information.15 he was not involved in conspiracy with Mayor Mitra, he would not have told the police officers
that he was with the mayor.
We dismiss his arguments.
His insistence that he was without any knowledge of the contents of the sacks and he just
Morilla primarily cites the provision on Sec. 1(b), Rule 115 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure16 obeyed the instruction of his immediate superior Mayor Mitra in driving the said vehicle likewise
to substantiate his argument that he should have been informed first of the nature and cause of bears no merit.
the accusation against him. He pointed out that the Information itself failed to state the word
conspiracy but instead, the statement "the above-named accused, one of them an incumbent Here, Morilla and Mayor Mitra were caught in flagrante delicto in the act of transporting the
mayor of the Municipality of Panukulan, Quezon Province, who all belong to an dangerous drugs on board their vehicles. "Transport" as used under the Dangerous Drugs Act
organized/syndicated crime group as they all help one another, did then and there wilfully, means "to carry or convey from one place to another."23 It was well established during trial that
unlawfully and feloniously transport x x x." He argued that conspiracy was only inferred from the Morilla was driving the ambulance following the lead of Mayor Mitra, who was driving a Starex
words used in the Information.17 van going to Manila. The very act of transporting methamphetamine hydrochloride is malum

32
prohibitum since it is punished as an offense under a special law. The fact of transportation of retroactive application, it being more favorable to the petitioner in view of its having a less stricter
the sacks containing dangerous drugs need not be accompanied by proof of criminal intent, punishment.1âwphi1
motive or knowledge.24
We agree. In People v. Doroja, we held:
In a similar case of People v. Libnao,25 this Court upheld the conviction for illegal transportation
of marijuana of Libnao and Nunga, who were caught carrying a bag full of marijuana leaves "In People v. Martin Simon (G.R. No. 93028, 29 July 1994) this Court ruled (a) that the
when they were flagged down on board a passing tricycle at a checkpoint. amendatory law, being more lenient and favorable to the accused than the original provisions
of the Dangerous Drugs Act, should be accorded retroactive application, x x x."
However, we modify the penalty imposed by the trial court as affirmed by the Court of Appeals.
And, since "reclusion perpetua is a lighter penalty than life imprisonment, and considering the
Originally, under Section 15 of Republic Act No. 6425,26 the penalty for illegal transportation of rule that criminal statutes with a favorable effect to the accused, have, as to him, a retroactive
methamphetamine hydrochloride was imprisonment ranging from six years and one day to effect," the penalty imposed by the trial court upon petitioner is proper. Consequently, the Court
twelve years and a fine ranging from six thousand to twelve thousand pesos. Pursuant to sustains the penalty of imprisonment, which is reclusion perpetua, as well as the amount of fine
Presidential Decree No. 1683,27 the penalty was amended to life imprisonment to death and a imposed by the trial court upon petitioner, the same being more favorable to him.31
fine ranging from twenty to thirty thousand pesos. The penalty was further amended in Republic
Act No. 7659,28 where the penalty was changed to reclusion perpetua to death and a fine WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED and the assailed 13 July 2009
ranging from five hundred thousand pesos to ten million pesos. Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. 02967 is AFFIRMED WITH
MODIFICATION with respect to the penalty to be imposed as Reclusion Perpetua instead of
From the foregoing, we sustain the imposed penalty of fine of ₱10,000,00.00 to be paid by each Life Imprisonment and payment of fine of ₱10,000,000.00 by each of the accused.
of the accused but amend the penalty to reclusion perpetua following the provisions of Republic
Act No. 7659 and the principle of retroactive application of lighter penalty. Reclusion perpetua SO ORDERED.
entails imprisonment for at least thirty (30) years after which the convict becomes eligible for
pardon. It also carries with it accessory penalties, namely: perpetual special disqualification,
etc. Life imprisonment, on the other hand, does not appear to have any definite extent or
duration and carries no accessory penalties.29

The full particulars are in Ho Wai Pang v. People,30 thus:

As to the penalties imposed by the trial court and as affirmed by the appellate court, we find the
same in accord with law and jurisprudence. It should be recalled that at the time of the
commission of the crime on September 6, 1991, Section 15 of R.A. No. 6425 was already
amended by Presidential Decree No. 1683. The decree provided that for violation of said
Section 15, the penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from ₱20,000.00 to
₱30,000.00 shall be imposed. Subsequently, however, R.A. No. 7659 further introduced new
amendments to Section 15, Article III and Section 20, Article IV of R.A. No. 6425, as amended.
Under the new amendments, the penalty prescribed in Section 15 was changed from "life
imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from ₱20,000.00 to ₱30,000.00" to "reclusion
perpetua to death and a fine ranging from ₱500,000.00 to ₱10 million." On the other hand,
Section 17 of R.A. No. 7659 amended Section 20, Article IV of R.A. No. 6425 in that the new
penalty provided by the amendatory law shall be applied depending on the quantity of the
dangerous drugs involved.

The trial court, in this case, imposed on petitioner the penalty of reclusion perpetua under R.A.
No. 7659 rather than life imprisonment ratiocinating that R.A. No. 7659 could be given

33
SERENO, JJ.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,

Appellee,

Promulgated:

July 6, 2011

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

- versus -

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

ROLANDO LAYLO y CEPRES,

Appellant.
The Case
G.R. No. 192235

Present:
Before the Court is an appeal assailing the Decision1 dated 28 January 2010 of the Court of
Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 03631. The CA affirmed the Decision2 dated 16
September 2008 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Binangonan, Rizal, Branch 67, in Criminal
CARPIO, J., Chairperson, Case No. 06-017, convicting appellant Rolando Laylo y Cepres (Laylo) of violation of Section
26(b), Article II (Attempted Sale of Dangerous Drugs)3 of Republic Act No. 91654 (RA 9165) or
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,* the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

BRION, The Facts

PEREZ, and

34
On 21 December 2005, two separate Informations against appellant Laylo and Melitona Ritwal replied, Bakit mayroon ka ba? Laylo then brought out two plastic bags containing shabu and
(Ritwal) were filed with the RTC of Binangonan, Rizal, Branch 67, docketed as Criminal Case told the police officers, Dos (P200.00) ang isa. Upon hearing this, the police officers introduced
Nos. 06-017 and 06-018, respectively. The information against Laylo states: themselves as cops. PO1 Reyes immediately arrested Laylo. Ritwal, on the other, tried to get
away but PO1 Pastor caught up with her. PO1 Pastor then frisked Ritwal and found another
sachet of shabu in a SIM card case which Ritwal was carrying.

Criminal Case No. 06-017 PO1 Reyes and PO1 Pastor marked the three plastic sachets of shabu recovered from Laylo
and Ritwal and forwarded them to the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory for forensic
That on or about the 17th day of December, 2005, in the Municipality of Binangonan, Province testing. Forensic Chemist Police Inspector Yehla C. Manaog conducted the laboratory
of Rizal, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named examination on the specimens submitted and found the recovered items positive for
accused, not being authorized by law to sell any dangerous drug, did then and there willfully, methylamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, a dangerous drug.
unlawfully, and knowingly attempt to sell, deliver, and give away shabu to PO1 Angelito G.
Reyes, 0.04 gram of white crystalline substance contained in two (2) heat-sealed transparent
plastic sachets which were found positive to the test for Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride,
also known as shabu, a dangerous drug, thus commencing the commission of the crime of The police officers charged Laylo for attempted sale of illegal drugs and used the two plastic
illegal sale but did not perform all the acts of execution which would produce such crime by sachets containing shabu as basis while Ritwal was charged for possession of illegal drugs
reason of some cause or accident other than the accuseds own spontaneous desistance, that using as basis the third sachet containing 0.02 grams of shabu.
is, said PO1 Angelito G. Reyes introduced himself as policeman, arrested the accused and
confiscated the two (2) above-mentioned sachets from the latter.

The defense, on the other hand, presented different versions of the facts. The witnesses
presented were: appellant Laylo; Laylos three neighbors namely Rodrigo Panaon, Jr., Marlon
CONTRARY TO LAW.5 de Leon, and Teresita Marquez.

Upon arraignment, both accused pleaded not guilty. Joint trial on the merits ensued. However, Laylo testified that while he and his common-law wife, Ritwal, were walking on the street, two
during the trial, Ritwal jumped bail and was tried in absentia. Thus, Ritwal was deemed to have men grabbed them. The two men, who they later identified as PO1 Reyes and PO1 Pastor,
waived the presentation of her evidence and the case was submitted for decision without any dragged them to their house. Once inside, the police officers placed two plastic sachets in each
evidence on her part. of their pockets. Afterwards, they were brought to the police station where, despite protests and
claims that the drugs were planted on them, they were arrested and charged.
The prosecution presented two witnesses: Police Officer 1 (PO1) Angelito G. Reyes (PO1
Reyes) and PO1 Gem A. Pastor (PO1 Pastor), the poseur-buyers in the attempted sale of illegal
drugs.
To corroborate Laylos testimony, the defense presented Laylos three neighbors. Marlon de
Leon (de Leon), also a close friend of the couple, testified that he was taking care of the Laylo
and Ritwals child when he heard a commotion. He saw men, whom de Leon identified as assets,
The prosecution summed up its version of the facts: In the afternoon of 17 December 2005, holding the couple and claimed that he saw one of them put something, which he described as
PO1 Reyes and PO1 Pastor, both wearing civilian clothes, were conducting anti-drug plastic, in the left side of Laylos jacket.
surveillance operations at Lozana Street, Calumpang, Binangonan, Rizal. While the police
officers were in front of a sari-sari store at around 5:40 p.m., appellant Laylo and his live-in
partner, Ritwal, approached them and asked, Gusto mong umiskor ng shabu? PO1 Reyes

35
Rodrigo Panaon, Jr. (Panaon) narrated that on 17 December 2005, at around 5:00 or 6:00 p.m.,
he was on his way home when he saw Laylo arguing with three men in an alley. He overheard
Laylo uttering, Bakit ba? Bakit ba? Later, Panaon saw a commotion taking place at Laylos Let the drug samples in this case be forwarded to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency
backyard. The three men arrested Laylo while the latter shouted, Mga kapitbahay, tulungan (PDEA) for proper disposition. Furnish PDEA with a copy of this Decision per OCA Circular No.
ninyo kami, kamiy dinadampot. Then Panaon saw someone place something inside the jacket 70-2007.
of Laylo as he heard Laylo say, Wala kayong makukuha dito.

SO ORDERED.6
Teresita Marquez (Marquez) testified that while she was fetching water from the well on 17
December 2005, at around 5:00 or 6:00 p.m., she heard Laylos son shouting, Amang, Amang.
Marquez then saw the child run to his father, who was with several male companions. Then
someone pulled Laylos collar and frisked him. Marquez overheard someone uttering, Wala po, Laylo filed an appeal with the CA. Laylo imputed the following errors on the RTC:
wala po. Marquez went home after the incident. At around 9:00 in the evening, Ritwals daughter
visited her and borrowed money for Laylo and Ritwals release. Marquez then accompanied
Ritwals daughter to the municipal hall, where a man demanded P40,000.00 for the couples
release. I. THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-
APPELLANT OF THE OFFENSE CHARGED DESPITE THE PROSECUTION WITNESS
PATENTLY FABRICATED ACCOUNTS.

In its Decision dated 16 September 2008, the RTC found Laylo and Ritwal guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of violations of RA 9165. The RTC gave credence to the testimonies of the
police officers, who were presumed to have performed their duties in a regular manner. The II. THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-
RTC stated that Reyes and Pastor were straightforward and candid in their testimonies and APPELLANT OF THE OFFENSE CHARGED WHEN HIS GUILT WAS NOT PROVEN BEYOND
unshaken by cross-examination. Their testimonies were unflawed by inconsistencies or REASONABLE DOUBT.
contradictions in their material points. The RTC added that the denial of appellant Laylo is weak
and self-serving and his allegation of planting of evidence or frame-up can be easily concocted.
Thus, Laylos defense cannot be given credence over the positive and clear testimonies of the
prosecution witnesses. The dispositive portion of the decision states: III. THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-
APPELLANT DESPITE THE APPREHENDING OFFICERS FAILURE TO PRESERVE THE
INTEGRITY OF THE ALLEGED SEIZED SHABU.7

We thus find accused Rolando Laylo GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section
26(b) of R.A. No. 9165 and sentence him to suffer a penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a
fine of P500,000.00. We also find accused Melitona Ritwal GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt
of violating Section 11 of R.A. No. 9165 and illegally possessing a total of 0.02 grams of
Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride or shabu and accordingly sentence her to suffer an The Ruling of the Court of Appeals
indeterminate penalty of 12 years and one day as minimum to 13 years as maximum and to pay
a fine of P300,000.00.

36
In a Decision dated 28 January 2010, the CA affirmed the decision of the RTC. The dispositive A: When we were making standby at a nearby store there was a man talking with a woman, the
portion of the decision states: man asked me if we want to have a shot of shabu.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The Q: What was your reply?
challenged decision of the court a quo is AFFIRMED. Costs against the accused-appellant.
A: Bakit, meron ka ba?

SO ORDERED.8
Q: How did that other person react to that question, what did he tell you, if any?
Hence, this appeal.
A: Gusto mong umiskor ng shabu?

Q: What happened after that?


The Ruling of the Court
A: I replied, Bakit meron ka ba? then he showed me two small plastic bags containing shabu,
Maam.

The appeal lacks merit.

Q: How big is that bag, Mr. Witness?

The elements necessary for the prosecution of illegal sale of drugs are: (1) the identity of the A: Small, Maam.
buyer and seller, the object, and the consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the
payment.9

Q: Can you tell us the size?

In the present case, PO1 Reyes narrated in court the circumstances of the illegal sale: A: (Demonstrating) Almost one inch the size of a cigarette, Maam.

PROS. ARAGONES:

Q: What time did you proceed to that place of surveillance? COURT: It was in a plastic not in foil?

A: 5:40 p.m., Maam. A: Yes, your Honor.

Q: And what happened when you and PO1 Gem Pastor went there?

37
Q: At that time they approached you during the time you were conducting surveillance at Lozana
PROS. ARAGONES: Street, what happened?

Q: After showing you two plastic bags, what happened? A: The male person approached PO1 Reyes and asked if iiskor, Maam.

A: I introduced myself as a police officer then I caught this man and confiscated the two small
plastic bag containing shabu.
Q: What was the reply of PO1 Reyes?

A: He answered Bakit meron ka ba?


Q: How about the lady?

A: My partner caught the woman because she was intending to run away and he got from her
right hand Smart SIM card case containing one small plastic.10 Q: When that answer was given by Reyes, what did that male person do?

A: He produced two (2) small plastic sachets containing allegedly shabu and he said dos ang
isa.
PO1 Pastor corroborated the testimony of PO1 Reyes:

COURT: What do you mean by dos ang isa?


PROS. ARAGONES:
A: Php 200.00, Your Honor.
Q: Mr. Witness, while you were conducting surveillance on December 17, 2005, what
happened?

A: While we were conducting surveillance at Lozana Street, Calumpang, Binangonan, Rizal, PROS. ARAGONES:
while we were at the store, two (2) persons approached us, one male and one female, Maam.
Q: Where were you when that male person produced two (2) small plastic sachets?

A: I was beside PO1 Reyes, Maam.


Q: Who were those persons? Did you come to know the name of those persons?

A: At that time I dont know the names but when they were brought to the police station I came
to know their names, Maam. Q: After he showed the plastic sachets containing drugs, what happened next?

A: We introduced ourselves as policemen, Maam.

Q: What are the names of these two persons?

A: Rolando Laylo and Melitona Ritwal, Maam. Q: After you introduced yourselves, what happened next?

38
aborted when the police officers identified themselves and placed appellant and Ritwal under
A: PO1 Reyes arrested the male person while I arrested the female person, Maam. arrest. From the testimonies of the witnesses, the prosecution was able to establish that there
was an attempt to sell shabu. In addition, the plastic sachets were presented in court as
evidence of corpus delicti. Thus, the elements of the crime charged were sufficiently established
by evidence.
Q: Why did you arrest the woman?

A: At that time, she was about to run I confiscated from her a SIM card case, Maam.
Appellant claims that he was a victim of a frame up. However, he failed to substantiate his claim.
The witnesses presented by the defense were not able to positively affirm that illegal drugs were
planted on appellant by the police officers when they testified that they saw someone place
COURT: What was the contents of the SIM card case? something inside appellants jacket. In Quinicot v. People,13 we held that allegations of frame-
up and extortion by police officers are common and standard defenses in most dangerous drugs
A: One (1) piece of alleged shabu, Your Honor.11 cases. They are viewed by the Court with disfavor, for such defenses can easily be concocted
and fabricated.

Appellant asserts that it is unbelievable that he would be so foolish and reckless to offer to sell
From the testimonies given, PO1 Reyes and PO1 Pastor testified that they were the poseur- shabu to strangers. In People v. de Guzman,14 we have ruled that peddlers of illicit drugs have
buyers in the sale. Both positively identified appellant as the seller of the substance contained been known, with ever increasing casualness and recklessness, to offer and sell their wares for
in plastic sachets which were found to be positive for shabu. The same plastic sachets were the right price to anybody, be they strangers or not. What matters is not the existing familiarity
likewise identified by the prosecution witnesses when presented in court. Even the between the buyer and the seller, or the time and venue of the sale, but the fact of agreement
consideration of P200.00 for each sachet had been made known by appellant to the police as well as the act constituting the sale and delivery of the prohibited drugs.
officers. However, the sale was interrupted when the police officers introduced themselves as
cops and immediately arrested appellant and his live-in partner Ritwal. Thus, the sale was not
consummated but merely attempted. Thus, appellant was charged with attempted sale of
dangerous drugs. Section 26(b), Article II of RA 9165 provides: Further, appellant did not attribute any ill-motive on the part of the police officers. The
presumption of regularity in the performance of the police officers official duties should prevail
over the self-serving denial of appellant.15

Section 26. Attempt or Conspiracy. Any attempt or conspiracy to commit the following unlawful In sum, we see no reason to disturb the findings of the RTC and CA. Appellant was correctly
acts shall be penalized by the same penalty prescribed for the commission of the same as found to be guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 26(b), Article II of RA 9165.
provided under this Act:

xxx
WHEREFORE, we DISMISS the appeal. We AFFIRM the Decision dated 28 January 2010 of
(b) Sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of any the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 03631.
dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical;
SO ORDERED.
xxx

Here, appellant intended to sell shabu and commenced by overt acts the commission of the
intended crime by showing the substance to PO1 Reyes and PO1 Pastor.12 The sale was

39