Criminal Law,  Legally Yours

People v. Adriano

Criminal Law. Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act. Chain of Custody Requirement.
People of the Philippines v. Edward Adriano y Sales
G.R. No. 208169, October 8, 2014
Perez, J.:FACTS:
Accused-appellant was charged with the crime of illegal sale of shabu punishable under Section 5, Article II of RA 9165. The RTC and the CA found the accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged.

Acting on a report received from a barangay official and an informant that Adriano was selling drugs, the police formed a team to conduct a buy-bust operation to entrap Adriano, designating PO1 Morales as the poseur-buyer, and marking the buy-bust money consisting of ten P100.00 bills with the initials “PC”. PO1 Morales bought P200.00 worth of shabu from Adriano. Upon giving Adriano the marked money and after receiving a plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance, PO1 Morales signaled his team to arrest Adriano. PO2 Ronnie Fabroa immediately arrested Adriano.

Accused-appellant avers that the shabu allegedly seized from his possession is inadmissible because the warrantless arrest of his person is invalid and that the arresting officers violated Section 21 of RA 9165.

ISSUE:
Is the accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of illegal sale of shabu?

HELD:
YES, the prosecution was able to prove accused-appellants guilt beyond reasonable doubt. In prosecutions for illegal sale of dangerous drugs, the following two (2) elements must be duly established: (1) proof that the transaction or sale took place; and (2) the presentation in court of the corpus delicti or the illicit drug as evidence. In the case at bar, the prosecution duly established the two (2) elements: (1) to account that the transaction or sale indeed took place, PO1 Morales narrated the transaction in a clear and direct manner; and (2) the seized illegal drugs and marked money were presented before the trial court as proof of the identity of the object of the crime and of the corpus delicti.

The argument on the arresting officers’ noncompliance with Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 deals with the procedure for the custody and disposition of confiscated, seized or surrendered dangerous drugs. The Implementing Rules of RA 9165, however, offer some measure of flexibility through the proviso, “non-compliance with these requirements under justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team, shall not render void and invalid such seizures of and custody over said items”. Otherwise stated, non-compliance does not invalidate the seizure or render the arrest of the accused illegal or the items seized from him as inadmissible as long as the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items are preserved.

To prove that the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items are preserved, the Implementing Rules allow the prosecution to establish an unbroken chain of custody of the seized item, which in this case, has been duly established by the prosecution. “Chain of custody” means the duly recorded authorized movements and custody of seized drugs or controlled chemicals from the time of seizure/confiscation to receipt in the forensic laboratory to safekeeping to presentation in court for destruction.

Despite the arresting officers’ failure to strictly observe the requirements of Section 21 on the custody and disposition of the seized items, the violation of the CDDA of 2002 was duly proven. The arresting officers duly recorded the movements and custody of the seized items from the time of seizure/confiscation to receipt by the forensic laboratory to
safekeeping up to presentation in court.

With regard to the warrantless arrest, the defense’s contention that the buy-bust team should have procured a search warrant for the validity of the buy-bust operation is misplaced for accused-appellant is clearly arrested in flagrante delicto by virtue of the entrapment proceedings.

As such, accused-appellant’s guilt of the violation of RA 9165 is proven beyond reasonable doubt.

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