People vs Alejandro (GR No. 205227 April 7, 2014)

People of the Philippines vs Alejandro
GR No. 205227 April 7, 2014

Facts: On or about July 12, 2006, in the City of Muntinlupa and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable court, accused Marco Alejandro along with Imelda Solema and Jerry del Rosario, conspiring and confederating together and mutually helping and aiding one another, not being authorized by law did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously sell, trade, deliver and give away to another, methamphethamine hydrochloride, a dangerous drug weighing 98.51g contains in 1 heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet in violation of section 5, article II of Republic Act No. 9165. It was alleged that when the marking of the said illegal drugs was done. It was done not in accordance with the rules whereby the inventory and said marking was done in the absence of the local officials of the place.

Issue: Whether or not the failure to comply with the guidelines renders the evidence for the violation of RA 9165 inadmissible.

Held: No. Firmly established in our jurisprudence is the rule that in the prosecution for illegal sale of drugs, the following essential elements must be proven: 1.) That the transaction or sale took place; 2.) The corpus delicti or the illicit drug was presented as evidence; and 3.) That the buyer and seller were identified. Implicit in all these is the need for proof that the transaction or sale actually took place, coupled with the presentation in court of the confiscated prohibited or regulated drug as evidence.

What determines if there was, indeed, a sale of dangerous drugs in a buy-bust operation is proof of the concurrence of all the elements of the offense, to wit: 1.) The identity of the Buyer and the seller, the object, and the consideration; and 2.) The delivery of the thing sold and the payment therefore.

Clearly all the elements of the crime were established by both the oral and object evidence presented in court. It is settled that in cases involving violation of the dangerous drugs act, credence is given to prosecution witnesses who are police officers for they enjoy the presumption of having performed their duties in a regular manner, unless, of course, there is evidence to the contrary suggesting ill motive on their part or deviation from the regular performance of their duties. Since no proof of such ill-motive on the part of the PDEA buy-bust team was adduced by appellant, the RTC and CA did not err in giving full faith and credence to the prosecution’s account of the buy-bust operation. This court has repeatedly stressed that a buy-busy operation is a valid means arresting violators of RA 9165.

Under section 1(b) of dangerous drugs board resolution no. 1 series of 2002, which implements RA 9165 “Chain of Custody” is defined as the duly recorded authorized movements and custody of seized drugs or controlled chemicals or plant sources of dangerous drugs or laboratory equipment of each stage, from the time of seizure/confiscation to receipt in the forensic laboratory to safekeeping to presentation in court for destruction. Such record of movements and custody of seized items shall include the identity and signature of the person who held temporary custody of the seized items, the date and time when such transfer of custody were made in the course of safekeeping and use in court as evidence, and the final disposition.

The failure of the prosecution to show that the police officers conducted the required physical inventory and photography of the evidence confiscated pursuant to the guidelines, is not fatal.

The links that the prosecution must establish in the chain of custody in a buy-bust situation to be are: first, the seizure and marking, if practicable, of the illegal drug recovered from the accused by the apprehending officer; second, the turnover of the illegal drugs seized by the apprehending officer to the investigating officer; third, the turnover by the investigating officer; third, the turnover by the investigating officer of the illegal drug to the forensic chemist for laboratory examination; and fourth, the turnover and submission of the marked illegal drug seized from the forensic chemist to the court.

The non-presentation as witnesses of other persons such as the investigation and the receiving clerk of the PNP regional crime laboratory is not crucial point against the prosecution. The matter of presentation as witnesses by the prosecution is not for the cour to decide. The prosecution had the discretion as to how to present its case and it has the right to choose whom it wishes to present as witnesses. Further, there is nothing in RA 9165 or in it implementing rules, which requires each and every one who came into contact with the seized drugs to testify in court. As long as the chain of custody of the seized drug was clearly established to have not been broken and the prosecution did not fail to identify properly the drugs seized, it is not indispensable that each and every person who came into possession of the drugs should take the witness stand.

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