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PEOPLE v. SALVADOR SANCHEZ Y ESPIRITU

This case has been cited 37 times or more.

2016-02-03
PERALTA, J.
As the first step in the chain of custody, "marking" means the placing by the apprehending officer or the police poseur-buyer of his/her initials and signature on the dangerous drug seized. It is meant to ensure that the objects seized are the same items that enter the chain and are eventually offered in evidence, as well as to protect innocent persons from dubious and concocted searches, and the apprehending officers from harassment suits based on planting of evidence.[16] While Section 21 of R.A. 9165 and its implementing rule do not expressly specify a time frame for marking or the place where said marking should be done, the chain of custody rule requires that the marking should be done (1) in the presence of the apprehended violator, and (2) immediately upon confiscation.[17] Marking upon immediate confiscation contemplates even marking at the nearest police station or office of the apprehending team.[18] In this case, the prosecution evidence failed to convincingly show who between P/Insp. Bañares, as poseur-buyer, and P/Insp. Demauro, as back-up and arresting officer, marked the bag of marijuana seized from appellant with the initials "LQE" dated "08-14-2005" at the PDEA Office.
2014-10-13
BERSAMIN, J.
Proof of the transaction must be credible and complete. In every criminal prosecution, it is the State, and no other, that bears the burden of proving the illegal sale of the dangerous drug beyond reasonable doubt.[13] This responsibility imposed on the State accords with the presumption of innocence in favor of the accused, who has no duty to prove his innocence until and unless the presumption of innocence in his favor has been overcome by sufficient and competent evidence.[14]
2014-01-29
PEREZ, J.
In both cases of illegal sale and illegal possession of dangerous drugs, the prosecution must show the chain of custody over the dangerous drug in order to establish the corpus delicti, which is the dangerous drug itself.[14]   The chain of custody rule comes into play as a mode of authenticating the seized illegal drug as evidence.  It includes testimony about every link in the chain, from the moment the item was picked up to the time it is offered into evidence, in such a way that every person who touched the exhibit would describe how and from whom it was received, where it was and what happened to it while in the witness' possession, the condition in which it was received and the condition in which it was delivered to the next link in the chain.  These witnesses would then describe the precautions taken to ensure that there had been no change in the condition of the item and no opportunity for someone not in the chain to have possession of the same. Indeed, it is from the testimony of every witness who handled the evidence from which a reliable assurance can be derived that the evidence presented in court is one and the same as that seized from the accused.[15]  This step initiates the process of protecting innocent persons from dubious and concocted searches, and of protecting as well the apprehending officers from harassment suits based on planting of evidence and on allegations of robbery or theft.[16]
2013-08-28
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.
Although Section 21(a), Article II of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 9165 contains a proviso in the last sentence thereof that may excuse the non-compliance with the required procedures, the same may be availed of only under justifiable grounds and as long as the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items were properly preserved by the apprehending police officers. We held in People v. Sanchez[39] that:We recognize that the strict compliance with the requirements of Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 may not always be possible under field conditions; the police operates under varied conditions, many of them far from ideal, and cannot at all times attend to all the niceties of the procedures in the handling of confiscated evidence. The participation of a representative from the DOJ, the media or an elected official alone can be problematic. For this reason, the last sentence of the implementing rules provides that "non-compliance with these requirements under justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team, shall not render void and invalid such seizures of and custody over said items." Thus, non-compliance with the strict directive of Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 is not necessarily fatal to the prosecution's case; police procedures in the handling of confiscated evidence may still have some lapses, as in the present case. These lapses, however, must be recognized and explained in terms of their justifiable grounds and the integrity and evidentiary value of the evidence seized must be shown to have been preserved.
2013-07-17
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.
This step initiates the process of protecting innocent persons from dubious and concocted searches, and of protecting as well the apprehending officers from harassment suits based on planting of evidence under Section 29 [of Republic act No. 9165] and on allegations of robbery or theft.[55] (Citations omitted.)
2013-07-03
ABAD, J.
Yet, the police officers did not bother to offer any sort of reason or justification for their failure to make an inventory and take pictures of the drugs immediately after their seizure in the presence of the accused and the other persons designated by the law. Both the RTC and the CA misapprehended the significance of such omission. It is imperative for the prosecution to establish a justifiable cause for non-compliance with the procedural requirements set by law.[22] The procedures outlined in Section 21 of R.A. 9165 are not merely empty formalities these are safeguards against abuse,[23] the most notorious of which is its use as a tool for extortion.[24]
2013-06-26
SERENO, C.J.
As we have held in People v. Sanchez,[54] "it is fatal for the prosecution to fail to prove that the specimen submitted for laboratory examination was the same one allegedly seized from the accused."
2013-02-27
PEREZ, J.
In People v. Sanchez,[43] the Court had the occasion to emphasize the necessity of marking the evidence in the presence of the apprehended violator and immediately upon confiscation.  It ratiocinated: x x x x
2012-11-28
BERSAMIN, J.
It is true that the last paragraph of Section 21(a) of the IRR has a saving proviso to ensure that not every non-compliance irreversibly weakens the Prosecution's evidence. But the saving proviso would not help the cause of the Prosecution at all. The application of the saving proviso has been conditioned upon the arresting lawmen recognizing their non-compliance with the procedure and then rendering a plausible explanation or two for the non-compliance.[31]  Here, however, that the members of the buy-bust team did not own up their lapses. How, then, could the Prosecution tender any explanation of the lapses committed by the buy-bust team?
2012-08-29
BERSAMIN, J.
The chain-of-custody requirement ensures that all doubts concerning the identity of the evidence are removed.[38] The requirement has come to be associated with prosecutions for violations of Republic Act No. 9165 (Comprehensive Drugs Act of 2002),[39] by reason of Section 21[40] of Republic Act No. 9165 expressly regulating the actual custody and disposition of confiscated and surrendered dangerous drugs, controlled precursors, essential chemicals, instruments, paraphernalia, and laboratory equipment. Section 21(a) of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 9165 issued by the Dangerous Drugs Board pursuant to its mandate under Section 94 of Republic Act No. 9165 reiterates the requirement, stating: xxx
2012-04-18
BERSAMIN, J.
We clarified in People v. Sanchez[41] that in compliance with Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165, supra, the physical inventory and photographing of the seized articles should be conducted, if practicable, at the place of seizure or confiscation in cases of warrantless seizure. But that was true only if there were indications that petitioner tried to escape or resisted arrest, which might provide the reason why the arresting team was not able to do the inventory or photographing at petitioner's house; otherwise, the physical inventory and photographing must always be immediately executed at the place of seizure or confiscation.
2012-01-30
PERALTA, J.
The prosecution must prove that the petitioner had knowledge of the existence and presence of the drugs in the place under his control and dominion and the character of the drugs.[35]  With the prosecution's failure to prove that the nipa hut was under petitioner's control and dominion, there casts a reasonable doubt as to his guilt.  In considering a criminal case, it is critical to start with the law's own starting perspective on the status of the accused - in all criminal prosecutions, he is presumed innocent of the charge laid unless the contrary is proven beyond reasonable doubt.[36]  Proof beyond reasonable doubt, or that quantum of proof sufficient to produce a moral certainty that would convince and satisfy the conscience of those who act in judgment, is indispensable to overcome the constitutional presumption of innocence.[37]
2012-01-18
BERSAMIN, J.
While the last paragraph of Section 21(a) of the IRR provides a saving mechanism to ensure that not every case of non-compliance irreversibly prejudices the State's evidence, it is significant to note that the application of the saving mechanism to a situation is expressly conditioned upon the State rendering an explanation of the lapse or lapses in the compliance with the procedures.[13] Here, however, the Prosecution tendered no explanation why the buy-bust team had failed to mark the seized shabu immediately after the arrest. Nevertheless, even assuming that marking the shabu at the scene of the crime by the buy-bust team had not been practical or possible for the buy-bust team to do, the saving mechanism would still not be applicable due to the lack of a credible showing of any effort undertaken by the buy-bust team to keep the shabu intact while in transit to the police station.
2012-01-18
BERSAMIN, J.
In a prosecution of the sale and possession of methamphetamine hydrochloride prohibited under Republic Act No. 9165,[15] the State not only carries the heavy burden of proving the elements of the offense of, but also bears the obligation to prove the corpus delicti, failing in which the State will not discharge its basic duty of proving the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. It is settled that the State does not establish the corpus delicti when the prohibited substance subject of the prosecution is missing or when substantial gaps in the chain of custody of the prohibited substance raise grave doubts about the authenticity of the prohibited substance presented as evidence in court.[16] Any gap renders the case for the State less than complete in terms of proving the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.[17] Thus, Relato deserves exculpation, especially as we recall that his defense of frame-up became plausible in the face of the weakness of the Prosecution's evidence of guilt.
2011-10-19
SERENO, J.
While noncompliance with the procedure laid out in Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 is not necessarily fatal to the prosecution's case because the last sentence of the implementing rules provides that "non-compliance with these requirements under justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team, shall not render void and invalid such seizures of and custody over said items," nevertheless, lapses in procedure "must be recognized and explained in terms of their justifiable grounds and the integrity and evidentiary value of the evidence seized must be shown to have been preserved."[35] Otherwise, the procedure set out in the law will be mere lip service.
2011-10-05
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.
Moreover, owing to the built-in dangers of abuse that a buy-bust operation entails, the law prescribes specific procedures on the seizure and custody of drugs, independently of the general procedures geared to ensure that the rights of people under criminal investigation and of the accused facing a criminal charge are safeguarded.[11]
2011-08-03
PEREZ, J.
The clear inconsistencies on important points cannot be disregarded where the issue is one's liberty.  The contradictory statements of the main prosecution witnesses need not even be appreciated together with the defense position.  The proof of the supposed buy-bust operation rests exclusively on the prosecution.[42]
2011-06-06
CARPIO MORALES, J.
Owing to the built-in dangers of abuse that a buy-bust operation entails, the law prescribes specific procedures on the seizure and custody of .drugs, independently o[ the general procedures geared to ensure that the rights of people under criminal investigation and of the accused facing a criminal charge are safeguarded.[16]
2011-04-11
VELASCO JR., J.
Even though non-compliance with Sec. 21 of the IRR is excusable, such cannot be relied upon when there is lack of any acceptable justification for failure to do so. In People v. Lorenzo,[46] citing People v. Sanchez,[47] the Court explained that "this saving clause applies only where the prosecution recognized the procedural lapses, and thereafter explained the cited justifiable grounds."
2011-04-06
PEREZ, J.
The chain of custody rule requires that the marking of the seized items should be done in the presence of the apprehended violator and immediately upon confiscation to ensure that they are the same items that enter the chain and are eventually the ones offered in evidence.[19] In Lopez v. People[20] citing Catuiran v. People,[21] this Court held that: It would include testimony about every link in the chain, from the moment the item was picked up to the time it is offered into evidence, in such a way that every person who touched the exhibit would describe how and from whom it was received, where it was and what happened to it while in the witness' possession, the condition in which it was received and the condition in which it was delivered to the next link in the chain. These witnesses would then describe the precautions taken to ensure that there had been no change in the condition of the item and no opportunity for someone not in the chain to have possession of the same. Indeed, it is from the testimony of every witness who handled the evidence from which a reliable assurance can be derived that the evidence presented in court is one and the same as that seized from the accused.[22]
2011-01-31
VILLARAMA, JR., J.
Of course, People v. Pringas [17] teaches that non-compliance by the apprehending/buy-bust team with Section 21 is not fatal.  Mere failure to comply with Section 21 will not render an accused's arrest illegal or the items seized/confiscated from him inadmissible. But what is of utmost importance is the preservation of the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items, as the same would be utilized in the determination of the guilt or innocence of the accused. [18] This function in buy-bust operations is performed by the chain of custody requirement which ensures that doubts concerning the identity of the evidence are removed.  Hence, in a long line of cases, we have considered it fatal for the prosecution to fail to prove that the specimen submitted for laboratory examination was the same one allegedly seized from the accused. [19] Section 1(b) of Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 1, Series of 2002 which implements R.A. No. 9165 defines "chain of custody" as follows: "Chain of Custody" means the duly recorded authorized movements and custody of seized drugs or controlled chemicals or plant sources of dangerous drugs or laboratory equipment of each stage, from the time of seizure/confiscation to receipt in the forensic laboratory to safekeeping to presentation in court for destruction. Such record of movements and custody of seized item shall include the identity and signature of the person who held temporary custody of the seized item, the date and time when such transfer of custody were made in the course of safekeeping and use in court as evidence, and the final disposition[.] [20]
2011-01-19
BRION, J.
In considering a criminal case, it is critical to start with the law's own starting perspective on the status of the accused - in all criminal prosecutions, he is presumed innocent of the charge laid unless the contrary is proven beyond reasonable doubt.[29] The burden lies on the prosecution to overcome such presumption of innocence by presenting the quantum of evidence required. In so doing, the prosecution must rest on its own merits and must not rely on the weakness of the defense. And if the prosecution fails to meet the required amount of evidence, the defense may logically not even present evidence on its own behalf. In which case, the presumption prevails and the accused should necessarily be acquitted.[30]
2010-12-13
MENDOZA, J.
The Court does not find such to be a justifiable ground to excuse non-compliance. The suddenness of the situation cannot justify non-compliance with the requirements. The police officers were not prevented from preparing an inventory and taking photographs. In fact, Section 21(a) of the IRR of R.A. No. 9165 provides specifically that in case of warrantless seizures, the inventory and photographs shall be done at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the apprehending officer/team. Whatever effect the suddenness of the situation may have had should have dissipated by the time they reached the police station, as the suspects had already been arrested and the items seized.  Moreover, it has been held that in case of warrantless seizures nothing prevents the apprehending officer from immediately conducting the physical inventory and photography of the items at their place of seizure, as it is more in keeping with the law's intent to preserve their integrity and evidentiary value.[38]
2010-11-15
VELASCO JR., J.
Even though non-compliance with Sec. 21 of the IRR may be excused, such cannot be relied upon when there is lack of any acceptable justification for failure to do so. The Court, citing People v. Sanchez,[41] explained that "the saving clause applies only where the prosecution recognized the procedural lapses, and thereafter explained the cited justifiable grounds."[42] In this case, the prosecution provided no explanation as to why there was a contradiction as to the markings on the confiscated drugs. This is similar to what happened in Zarraga v. People,[43] where the Court held that the material inconsistencies with regard to when and where the markings on the shabu were made and the lack of inventory on the seized drugs created reasonable doubt as to the identity of the corpus delicti.
2010-09-08
CARPIO MORALES, J.
Non-compliance with the above-quoted requirements does not of course necessarily render void and invalid the seizure of the dangerous drugs, provided that there are justifiable grounds to warrant exception therefrom.[21] The prosecution must, therefore, explain the reasons behind the procedural lapses[22] and must show that the integrity and value of the seized evidence had been preserved.[23]
2010-08-09
BRION, J.
We recognize that the strict compliance with the requirements of Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 may not always be possible under field conditions; the police operates under varied conditions, and cannot at all times attend to all the niceties of the procedures in the handling of confiscated evidence. For this reason, the last sentence of the implementing rules provides that "non-compliance with these requirements under justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team, shall not render void and invalid such seizures of and custody over said items[.]" Thus, noncompliance with the strict directive of Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 is not necessarily fatal to the prosecution's case; police procedures in the handling of confiscated evidence may still have some lapses, as in the present case. These lapses, however, must be recognized and explained in terms of their justifiable grounds, and the integrity and evidentiary value of the evidence seized must be shown to have been preserved.[39]
2010-08-08
MENDOZA, J.
Although Section 21(1) of R.A. No. 9165 mandates that the apprehending team must immediately conduct a physical inventory of the seized items and photograph them, non-compliance with said section 21 is not fatal as long as there is a justifiable ground therefor, and as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the confiscated/seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending team.[27]  Thus, the prosecution must demonstrate that the integrity and evidentiary value of the evidence seized have been preserved.[28]
2010-06-29
CARPIO MORALES, J.
Without the presumption of regularity, the evidentiary gap in identifying the seized evidence from its turnover by the poseur-buyer, its handling and custody, until its turnover to the forensic laboratory for analysis, stands out in bold relief. This gap renders the case for the prosecution less than complete in terms of proving the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.[14](emphasis and underscoring supplied)
2010-04-23
PEREZ, J.
In People v. Sanchez,[11] we clarified that this saving clause applies only where the prosecution recognized the procedural lapses, and thereafter explained the cited justifiable grounds.
2010-03-29
CARPIO MORALES, J.
x x x [N]on-compliance with the strict directive of Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 is not necessarily fatal to the prosecution's case; police procedures in the handling of confiscated evidence may still have lapses, as in the present case. These lapses, however, must be recognized and explained in terms of their justifiable grounds and the integrity and evidentiary value of the evidence seized must be shown to have been preserved. [16] (italics in the original)
2010-03-26
NACHURA, J.
Thus, even if the defense evidence is weak, the prosecution's whole case still falls. The evidence for the prosecution must stand or fall on its own weight and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the defense.[43]
2009-10-12
VELASCO JR., J.
Accused-appellant broaches the view that SA Isidoro's failure to mark the confiscated shabu immediately after seizure creates a reasonable doubt as to the drug's identity. People v. Sanchez,[21] however, explains that RA 9165 does not specify a time frame for "immediate marking," or where said marking should be done: What Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 and its implementing rule do not expressly specify is the matter of "marking" of the seized items in warrantless seizures to ensure that the evidence seized upon apprehension is the same evidence subjected to inventory and photography when these activities are undertaken at the police station rather than at the place of arrest. Consistency with the "chain of custody" rule requires that the "marking" of the seized items - to truly ensure that they are the same items that enter the chain and are eventually the ones offered in evidence - should be done (1) in the presence of the apprehended violator (2) immediately upon confiscation.
2009-09-04
CARPIO MORALES, J.
Thus, with respect to the marking of dangerous drug by the apprehending officer or team in case of warrantless seizures such as in this case, it must be done at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the apprehending officer/team, whichever is practicable. This is in line with the "chain of custody" rule. People v. Sanchez[22] elucidates: . . . [I]n case of warrantless seizures such as a buy- bust operation, the physical inventory and photograph shall be conducted at the nearest police station or office of the apprehending officer/team, whichever is practicable; however, nothing prevents the apprehending officer/team from immediately conducting the physical inventory and photography of the items at the place where they were seized, as it is more in keeping with the law's intent of preserving their integrity and evidentiary value.
2009-09-04
CARPIO MORALES, J.
A buy-bust operation is a form of entrapment employed by peace officers to apprehend prohibited drug law violators in the act of committing a drug-related offense. Because of the built-in dangers of abuse that the operation entails, it is governed by specific procedures on the seizure and custody of drugs, separately from the general law procedures geared to ensure that the rights of people under criminal investigation and of the accused facing a criminal charge are safeguarded.[18] People v. Tan[19] mirrors these dangers and thus exhorts courts to be extra vigilant in trying drug cases: [B]y the very nature of anti-narcotic operations, the need for entrapment procedures, the use of shady characters as informants, the ease with which sticks of marijuana or grams of heroin can be planted in the pockets or hands of unsuspecting provincial hicks, and the secrecy that inevitably shrouds all drug deals, the possibility of abuse is great. Thus, the courts have been exhorted to be extra vigilant in trying drug cases lest an innocent person is made to suffer the unusually severe penalties for drug offenses. (Underscoring supplied)
2009-08-14
BRION, J.
While the chain of custody has been a critical issue leading to acquittals in drug cases, we have nevertheless held that non-compliance with the prescribed procedures does not necessarily result in the conclusion that the identity of the seized drugs has been compromised so that an acquittal should follow. The last paragraph of Section 21(a), Article II of the IRR of RA No. 9165 provides a saving mechanism to ensure that not every case of non-compliance will irretrievably prejudice the prosecution's case. To warrant application of this saving mechanism, however, the prosecution must recognize and explain the lapse or lapses in the prescribed procedures.[34] The prosecution must likewise demonstrate that the integrity and evidentiary value of the evidence seized have been preserved.[35]
2009-03-17
VELASCO JR., J.
In every prosecution for illegal sale of dangerous drug, what is crucial is the identity of the buyer and seller, the object and its consideration, the delivery of the thing sold, and the payment for it. Implicit in these cases is first and foremost the identity and existence, coupled with the presentation to the court of the traded prohibited substance, this object evidence being an integral part of the corpus[17] delicti[18] of the crime of possession or selling of regulated/prohibited drug.[19] There can be no such crime when nagging doubts persist on whether the specimen submitted for examination and presented in court was what was recovered from, or sold by, the accused.[20] Essential, therefore, in appropriate cases is that the identity of the prohibited drug be established with moral certainty. This means that on top of the key elements of possession or sale, the fact that the substance illegally possessed and sold in the first place is the same substance offered in court as exhibit must likewise be established with the same degree of certitude as that needed to sustain a guilty verdict. And as we stressed in Malillin v. People, the "chain of custody requirement performs this function in that it ensures that unnecessary doubts concerning the identity of the evidence are removed."[21] So it is that in a slew of cases the Court has considered the prosecution's failure to adequately prove that the specimen submitted for laboratory examination was the same one supposedly seized from the offending seller or possessor as ground for acquittal.[22]
2009-02-25
BRION, J.
In People v. Sanchez,[34] we held that in case of warrantless seizure (such as a buy-bust operation) under R.A. No. 9165, the physical inventory and photograph of the items shall be made by the buy-bust team, if practicable, at the place they were seized, considering that such interpretation is more in keeping with the law's intent of preserving the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized drugs.[35] The prosecution, in the present case, failed to explain why the required inventory and photographing of the seized items were not practicable and could not have been done at the place of seizure.