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Page 1 of 7 Equipose Rule Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila SECOND DIVISION PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,

- %e sus G.R. No. 181494 P esent! "UISUM#IN$, J., Chai pe son, CARPIO MORA&ES, TIN$A, VE&ASCO, 'R(, an) #RION, JJ.

MONALYN CERVANTES y SOLAR, P o*ul+ate)! Accuse)-Appellant( Ma ch ,-, .//0 1-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1 DECISION VELASCO, JR., J.: This is an appeal f o* the Decision )ate) 'ul2 ,0, .//- of the Cou t of Appeals 3CA4 in CA-$(R( CR-5(C( No( //6-7 8hich affi *e) the Ap il .9, .//6 Decision in C i*inal Case No( //-,:,0.0 of the Re+ional T ial Cou t 3RTC4, # anch ;9 in Manila( The RTC foun) accuse)appellant Monal2n Ce %antes +uilt2 be2on) easonable )oubt of %iolation of Section ,;, A ticle III of Republic Act No( 3RA4 76.; o the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as a*en)e)( The eco )s sho8 the follo8in+ facts! In an Info *ation )ate) Ap il -, .///, accuse)-appellant an) th ee othe s 8e e cha +e) 8ith %iolation of Sec( ,;, A t( III of RA 76.; 3sellin+ o )ist ibutin+ a e+ulate) ) u+4, alle+e)l2 co**itte) as follo8s! That, on o about Ap il ;, .///, in the Cit2 of Manila, Philippines, an) 8ithin the <u is)iction of this 5ono able Cou t, accuse) ISIDRO AR$USON 2 ARENDE&A, = Tiso2, MONA&>N ?CERVANTES@ 2 SO&AR = Mona, AI&SON DE& MONTE = Ailson an) RIC5ARD RE"UIB = Richa ), conspi in+, confe)e atin+ an) *utuall2 helpin+ one anothe , actin+ in co**on acco ), )i) then an) the e, 8illfull2, unla8full2 an) feloniousl2, fo the a*ount of CIVE 5UNDRED T5OUSAND 3P;//,///(//4 PESOS, Philippine Cu enc2, sell, )eli%e an) +i%e a8a2 to a poseu -bu2e , COUR 5UNDRED SEVENT> T5REE POINT SEVENT> SID 36-9(-74 $RAMS OC MET5AMP5ETAMINE ?5>DROC5&ORIDE@, co**onl2 Eno8n as shabu, a e+ulate) ) u+, 8ithout autho it2 of la8 o the co espon)in+ license the efo ( CONTRAR> TO &AA(?,@ Accuse)-appellant an) he co-accuse) plea)e) not +uilt2 to the cha +e( In the ensuin+ t ial, the p osecution p esente) in e%i)ence the o al testi*onies of Aillia* To)a%ia, PO9 Re2nal)o Ra*os of the Philippine National Police Re+ional Office IV 3PNP R-IV4, an) PFS ( Inspecto &o na T ia, a fo ensic che*ical office of the sa*e e+ional office( The PeopleGs %e sion of the inci)ent, as su**a iHe) b2 the CA in the )ecision no8 on appeal, is as follo8s! On Ap il ;, .///, the Re+ional Special Ope ations $ oup IV 3RSO$-IV4, base) at Ca*p Vicente &i* in Cala*ba, &a+una, ecei%e) a tip f o* a )eep penet ation a+ent 3DPA4 about a + oup of ) u+ t afficEe s le) b2 Isi) o A +uson ope atin+ in Ca%ite( Actin+ on this bit of info *ation, a tea* le) b2 SPO. $e oni*o Past ana, PO9 Ra*os, an) PO. E*e son #alosbalos a an+e) a bu2-bust ope ation to be con)ucte) at A +usonGs est house in Barangay &a*bin+an, TanHa, Ca%ite(?.@ Upon a i%in+ at the est house, PO9 Ra*os an) PO. #alosbalos, actin+ as poseu -bu2e s, 8e e int o)uce) b2 the DPA to A +uson as the bu2e s of PhP ;//,/// 8o th of shabu, si*ultaneousl2 sho8in+ hi* a bun)le of *one2( Since A +uson )i) not ha%e enou+h suppl2 of shabu in the p e*ises, he inst ucte) the 8oul)-be-bu2e s to follo8 hi* to Pasa2 Cit2( Co the pu pose, he hi e) a %ehicle o8ne) b2 To)a%ia( At about th ee oGclocE in the afte noon of that )a2, in f ont of the McDonal)Gs b anch in P( Oca*po St(, Pasa2 Cit2,?9@A +uson inst ucte) the 8oul)-be-bu2e s to 8ait fo so*eone 8ho 8ill co*e out f o* the nea b2 Est ella St( Ve 2 *uch late , accuse)-appellant e*e +e) f o* Est ella St( an) app oache) PO9 Ra*os to checE if he still ha) the *one2( Afte bein+ sho8n the *one2 bun)le, accuse)-appellant left, onl2 to etu n a fe8 *inutes late this ti*e 8ith A +uson, Ailson Del Monte, 8ho 8as hol)in+ a blacE plastic ba+, an) Richa ) ReIuiH( A +uson then tooE f o* Del Monte the ba+, late foun) to contain 6-9(-7 + a*s of shabupacEe) in si1 s*all self-sealin+ t anspa ent ba+s, an) han)e) it to PO. #alosbalos, 8ho

Page 2 of 7 Equipose Rule in tu n +a%e hi* the bun)le of boo)le *one2( Cinall2, PO9 Ra*os +a%e the p e-a an+e) si+nal to in)icate the consu**ation of the ) u+ )eal an) int o)uce) hi*self as police*an( Accuse)-appellant an) he sca*pe in+ co*panions 8e e late a este) an) b ou+ht to an) booEe) at Ca*p Vicente &i*( The blacE plastic ba+ containin+ the si1 s*all self-sealin+ ba+s of 8hite c 2stalline substance 8as liEe8ise taEen to Ca*p Vicente &i* 8he e PO9 Ra*os p epa e) the booEin+ sheets an) a est epo ts an) the eIuest fo a Iualitati%e anal2sis of the seiHe) ite*s( Re+ional C i*e &abo ato 2 Office IV Chief Inspecto 3CFI4 Ma 2 'ean $e oni*o then con)ucte) the stan)a ) ph2sical an) che*ical e1a*inations on the speci*en efe e) to he ( On Ap il 7, .///, CFI $e oni*o p epa e) an) co*plete) Che*ist 2 Repo t No( D-,,;:// on the c 2stalline substance( Pe he epo t, the substance teste) positi%e fo *etha*pheta*ine h2) ochlo i)e o shabu. Apa t f o* the 8itnessesG affi)a%its an) othe )ocu*ents, the p osecution, in the hea in+ of Ma ch 6, .//., offe e) in e%i)ence the follo8in+ e1hibits,?6@ inclusi%e of its sub *a Ein+s, 8hich, as *a2 be e1pecte), 8e e ob<ecte) to b2 the )efense! 3a4Exh ! " #$J K Che*ist 2 Repo t No( D-,,;:// p epa e) b2 CFI $e oni*oL 3b4 Exh ! " #CJ K Me*o an)u* of RSO$-IV )ate) Ap il ;, ./// to the Chief, &abo ato 2 Se %ice, eIuestin+ fo Iualitati%e anal2sis of the contents of the si1 t anspa ent plastic ba+sL 3c4 Exh ! "% #D& '() #D*1& "o #D*+J K #lacE plastic ba+ 8ith *a Ein+sL an) si1 374 self-sealin+ t anspa ent ba+s alle+e)l2 containin+ the confiscate) shabuL an) 3)4 Exh ! " #F& K Receipt of p ope t2 seiHe) si+ne) b2 PO. #alosbalos an) b2 To)a%ia an) PO9 Ra*os as 8itnesses( The CA )ecision liEe8ise su**a iHe) the )efenseGs account of 8hat pu po te)l2 t anspi e), to 8it! Accuse)-appellant testifie) that afte she )i) laun) 2 8o Es at he house in Est ella St eet nea C(#( 5a ison on Ap il 6, .///, he 2oun+est chil) asEe) he to +o to ?McDonal)Gs@, Vito C uH b anch, to bu2 ice c ea*( Ahen the2 a i%e) the eat at about 6!9/ in the afte noon, the e 8as a co**otion +oin+ on in f ont of the estau ant( She then sa8 a 8o*an 8ho ali+hte) f o* a nea b2 %an an) pointe) he out to he co*panions, one of 8ho* ?8as@ an ol) *an boa )e) he insi)e the %an causin+ he to lose hol) of he chil)( The eafte , t8o 3.4 2oun+e *ale pe sons, 8ho* she late ca*e to Eno8 as DE& MONTE an) RE"UIB, 8e e also boa )e) into the sa*e %an( The2 8e e taEen to a ce*ete 2 8he e anothe %ehicle ca*e an) tooE the* to Ca*p Vicente &i*, 8he e she alle+e)l2 *et AR$USON fo the fi st ti*e( On the othe han), accuse) DE& MONTE testifie) that he 8as a pa Ein+ bo2 a oun) Vito C uH an) that on the )a2 in Iuestion, 8hile he 8as 8atchin+ a %ehicle nea ?McDonal)Gs@, Vito C uH b anch, a co**otion happene) nea his post( As he *o%e) bacE8a ) f o* 8he e he stoo), he 8as su))enl2 app oache) b2 a police*an 8ho a este) hi* an) boa )e) hi* insi)e a %ehicle to+ethe 8ith CERVANTES an) RE"UIB, 8ho* he )i) not Eno8 p io to that inci)ent( Co his pa t, accuse) RE"UIB testifie) that on the )ate an) ti*e in Iuestion, he 8as i)in+ a bo o8e) bic2cle on his 8a2 to the Cultu al Cente , passin+ b2 C(#( 5a ison St(, 8hen he bu*pe) a pa Ee) %an, 8he ef o* a *an ali+hte) an) cu se) hi*, sa2in+ Mpulis ako wag kang aalis dyan[ ! J The *an left an) 8hen he etu ne), accuse) CERVANTES 8as 8ith hi*( The eafte , he 8as boa )e) into the %an to+ethe 8ith the othe accuse)(?;@ Ahile not state) in the CA )ecision, Del Monte testifie), liEe accuse)-appellant, that he 8as taEen to a ce*ete 2 so*e8he e inCa%ite 8he e the a estin+ office s lin+e e) fo an hou befo e b in+in+ hi* to Ca*p Vicente &i*(?7@ These testi*onies e*aine) uncont o%e te)( A +uson )ie) )u in+ the cou se of the t ial esultin+ in the )is*issal of the case a+ainst hi*(?-@ On Ap il .9, .//6, the RTC en)e e) <u)+*ent acIuittin+ Del Monte an) ReIuiH but fin)in+ accuse)-appellant +uilt2 as cha +e) an) *etin+ upon he the penalt2 of reclusion perpetua( The fallo of the RTC Decision ea)s! A5ERECORE, in %ie8 of the fo e+oin+, <u)+*ent is he eb2 en)e e)! ,( Cin)in+ accuse) MONA&>N CERVANTES > SO&AR $UI&T> be2on) easonable )oubt of %iolation of Sec( ,;, A ticle III, of Republic Act No( 76.; as a*en)e), an) is sentence) to "eclusion #erpetua an) to pa2 a fine in the a*ount of Php;//,///(//L an) .( Cin)in+ the p osecutionGs e%i)ence insufficient to p o%e the +uilt of accuse) AI&SON DE& MONTE an) RIC5ARD RE"UIB be2on) easonable )oubt, an) 8ho a e he eb2 AC"UITTED(

SO ORDERED(?:@ On Ma2 ,:, .//6, accuse)-appellant file) a Notice of Appeal, pu suant to 8hich the RTC fo 8a )e) the eco )s of the case to this Cou t(

Page 3 of 7 Equipose Rule Confo *abl2 8ith #eople $. %ateo,?0@ the Cou t )i ecte) the t ansfe of the case to the CA 8he e it 8as )ocEete) as CA-$(R( CR-5(C( No( //6-7( #efo e the appellate cou t, accuse)-appellant u +e) he acIuittal on the + oun) of Minsufficienc2 of e%i)ence,J pa ticula l2 statin+ that the Mfo ensic che*ist 8ho actuall2 con)ucte) the labo ato 2 e1a*ination on the speci*ens alle+e)l2 eco%e e) f o* the accuse) 8as not p esente) in cou t 1 1 1 ?an)@ hence, the e 8as no clea i)entification of the contents of the confiscate) sachets(J?,/@ #2 its Decision?,,@ )ate) 'ul2 ,0, .//-, the CA, fin)in+ the ele*ents necessa 2 fo the p osecution of ille+al sale of ) u+s?,.@to ha%e sufficientl2 been satisfie) an) the i)entification of accuse)-appellant ha%in+ been establishe), affi *e) he con%iction( The CA e<ecte) accuse)-appellantGs la*ent about one Inspecto T ia testif2in+ on the che*ist 2 epo t she )i) not p epa e( As the appellate cou t st esse), CFI $e oni*oGs fo ensic epo t Mca ies the p esu*ption of e+ula it2 in the pe fo *ance of official functions ?an)@ the ent ies the eon 1 1 1 a e p i*a facie e%i)ence of the facts the ein state)(J The CA a))e) the obse %ation that absent an2 e%i)ence o%e tu nin+ the p esu*ption of e+ula it2 in the pe fo *ance of official functions, the p obati%e %alue an) a)*issibilit2 of the fo ensic epo t p epa e) b2 CFI $e oni*o, 8ho ha) esi+ne) f o* the se %ice, *ust be uphel) e%en if she )i) not pe sonall2 testif2 in cou t( On Au+ust ,-, .//-, accuse)-appellant file) a Notice of Appeal of the CA affi *ato 2 )ecision( On Ma ch .6, .//:, this Cou t eIui e) the pa ties to sub*it supple*ental b iefs if the2 so )esi e)( The pa ties *anifeste) thei 8illin+ness to sub*it the case on the basis of the eco )s al ea)2 sub*itte), thus %e itabl2 eite atin+ thei p incipal a +u*ents aise) in the CA, 8hich on the pa t of accuse)-appellant 8oul) be! T5E ?CA@ $RAVE&> ERRED IN CINDIN$ T5E ACCUSED-APPE&&ANT $UI&T> OC T5E OCCENSE C5AR$ED DESPITE T5E INSUCCICIENC> OC EVIDENCE COR T5E PROSECUTION( Co its pa t, the People, th u the Office of the Solicito $ene al, counte s that the p osecution has establishe) that the bu2-bust t ansaction tooE place, has i)entifie) accuse)-appellant an) he co*plicit2 in A +usonGs ille+al t a)e, an) has p esente) the corpus delicti, as e%i)ence( Th, Co-."/% R-0 (1 Afte a ci cu*spect stu)2, the Cou t esol%es to acIuit accuse)-appellant, consi)e in+ ce tain ci cu*stances en+en)e in+ easonable )oubt as to he +uilt( Ae sta t off 8ith the *ost basic, the testi*on2 of the p osecutionGs p incipal 8itness, PO9 Ra*os, 8ho i)entifie) accuse)-appellant an) )esc ibe) he ole in the conspi ac2 to sell shabu( In the 8itness bo1, PO9 testifie) that, afte bein+ tol) b2 A +uson to 8ait fo so*eone 8ho 8ill co*e out f o* the st eet 8hence A +uson 8oul) ente , accuse)-appellant e*e +e) f o* sai) st eet, checEe) on the pu chase *one2, asEe) the ope ati%es to 8ait, an) late e-appea e)( Ahat happene) ne1t is captu e) b2 the follo8in+ ans8e s of PO9 Ra*os to the p osecuto Gs Iuestions! 2! Ahat )i) 2ou see 8hen Ce %antes al ea)2 etu ne)N A! Ahen Monal2n etu n the one hol)in+ the plastic ba+ 8as Ailson, si ( 2! AilsonN A! >es, si , to+ethe 8ith Richa ), Ailson, A +uson, the2 8e e fou 364( A""y. C.-3! >ou hono , *a2 8e *o%e to st iEe that out 1 1 1( F %4'0 Fo.5o%o! ThatGs pa t of the ans8e 1 1 1 no8, 8hen all these accuse) he e etu n 8ith Monal2n Ce %antes, 8hat happen?e)@N A! A +uson tooE the plastic ba+ f o* Ailson, si an) han)e) it to #alosbalos, #alosbalos +a%e A +uson the boo)le *one2 8hile I flash the si+nal 1 1 1 then 8e app ehen)e) the*(?,9@ As *a2 be note), PO9 Ra*os cate+o icall2 state) that Del Monte 8as a*on+ the fou 8ho e*e +e) 8ith A +uson f o* a st eet( Aithout hesitation, PO9 Ra*os pointe) to Del Monte as the one hol)in+ the plastic ba+ alle+e)l2 containin+ the p ohibite) substance until A +uson tooE it f o* hi* an) han)e) it o%e to PO. #alosbalos( The e is no su++estion that accuse)-appellant, 8hile at the c i*e scene, e%e han)le) the *e chan)ise o its containe ( >et, the t ial cou t acIuitte) ReIuiH an) Del Monte, but con%icte) accuse)-appellant, statin+! MClea l2, accuse) Monal2n Ce %antesG co*plicit2 8ith accuse) Isi) o A +uson in the sale of shabu has been establishe) b2 the testi*on2 of PO9 Ra*os(J?,6@ #ut t8o pa a+ aphs late , the RTC 8ent on to 8 ite! 1 1 1 Ahile PO9 Ra*os testifie) that the ba+ 8as initiall2 hel) b2 accuse) Del Monte an) then taEen f o* hi* b2 accuse) A +uson, the e is no othe e%i)ence 8hich can suppo t the cha +e of conspi ac2 8ith A +uson an) Ce %antes 1 1 1( The cou t )oes not fin) the e%i)ence sufficient to pass the test of *o al ce taint2 to fin) accuse) Del Monte liable as cha +e)( E%en if PO9 Ra*os sa8 hi* to ha%e hel) the ba+ fo A +uson, it coul) ha%e been possible that he 8as *e el2 asEe) b2 Ce %antes o A +uson to ca 2 the ba+(?,;@ #efo e us then is a situation 8he e t8o pe sonsKK'44-%,)*'66,00'(", a laun) 2 8o*anL an) D,0 Mo(",, a ca pa E bo2, in the co*pan2 of the ostensible pushe , A +uson, )u in+ the actual bu2 bustKKa e bein+ in)icte), on the basis alone of the testi*on2 of a 8itness, 8ith confe)e atin+ 8ith each an) se%e al othe s to sell shabu( The o%e t acts pe fo *e) b2 accuse)-appellant, as in)icia of conspi ac2, consiste) of alle+e)l2 %e if2in+

Page 4 of 7 Equipose Rule 8hethe the poseu -bu2e still ha) the pu chase *one2, )isappea in+ f o* the scene an) then co*in+ bacE 8ith the p incipal pla2e ( On the othe han), Del Monte ca*e acco*pan2in+ A +uson ca 2in+ the ) u+-containin+ plastic ba+ no less( As bet8een the t8o acts pe fo *e), ca 2in+ the ba+ 8oul) elati%el2 ha%e the *o e se ious i*plication bein+ in itself a punishable act of possession of e+ulate) ) u+s( #oth offe e) the )efenses of )enial an) insti+ation, each testif2in+ that the2 <ust happene) to be nea o passin+ b2 McDonal)Gs at about 6!9/ in the afte noon of Ap il 6, ./// 8hen the2 8e e app ehen)e)( #ut the t ial cou t, in its obse %ation that Mit coul) ha%e been possible that ?Del Monte@ 8as *e el2 asEe) b2 1 1 1 A +uson to ca 2 the ba+,J e1ten)e) to Del Monte the Mbenefit of the )oubt,J a bene%olence )enie) to accuse)-appellant 8ithout so *uch of an acceptable e1planation( An2 easonable *in) *i+ht asE! Ah2 the cont astin+ t eat*entN Ah2 consi)e PO9 Ra*os as a hi+hl2 c e)ible e2e8itness as a+ainst accuse)-appellant, but an un eliable one as a+ainst Del Monte, 8hen both accuse) a e co*plete st an+e s to the police*anN To pa aph ase an un2iel)in+ ule, if the inculpato 2 testi*on2 is capable of t8o o *o e e1planations, one consistent 8ith the innocence of the accuse) pe sons an) the othe consistent 8ith thei +uilt, then the e%i)ence )oes not fulfill the test of *o al ce taint2 an) is not sufficient to suppo t a con%iction(?,7@ #ut e%en if 8e 8e e to cast asi)e the fo e+oin+ eIuipoise ule, a e%e sal of the appeale) )ecision is in)icate) on anothe but *o e co*pellin+ + oun)( Ae efe to the postulate that the p osecution, ha%in+ faile) to positi%el2 an) con%incin+l2 p o%e the i)entit2 of the seiHe) e+ulate) substance, is )ee*e) to ha%e also faile) to p o%e be2on) easonable )oubt accuse)-appellantGs +uilt( Ae shall e1plain( In e%e 2 p osecution fo ille+al sale of )an+e ous ) u+, 8hat is c ucial is the i)entit2 of the bu2e an) selle , the ob<ect an) its consi)e ation, the )eli%e 2 of the thin+ sol), an) the pa2*ent fo it( I*plicit in these cases is fi st an) fo e*ost the i)entit2 an) e1istence, couple) 8ith the p esentation to the cou t of the t a)e) p ohibite) substance, this ob<ect e%i)ence bein+ an inte+ al pa t of the corpus?,-@ delicti?,:@ of the c i*e of possession o sellin+ of e+ulate)Fp ohibite) ) u+(?,0@ The e can be no such c i*e 8hen na++in+ )oubts pe sist on 8hethe the speci*en sub*itte) fo e1a*ination an) p esente) in cou t 8as 8hat 8as eco%e e) f o*, o sol) b2, the accuse)(?./@ Essential, the efo e, in app op iate cases is that the i)entit2 of the p ohibite) ) u+ be establishe) 8ith *o al ce taint2( This *eans that on top of the Ee2 ele*ents of possession o sale, the fact that the substance ille+all2 possesse) an) sol) in the fi st place is the sa*e substance offe e) in cou t as e1hibit *ust liEe8ise be establishe) 8ith the sa*e )e+ ee of ce titu)e as that nee)e) to sustain a +uilt2 %e )ict( An) as 8e st esse) in %alillin $. #eople, the Mchain of custo)2 eIui e*ent pe fo *s this function in that it ensu es that unnecessa 2 )oubts conce nin+ the i)entit2 of the e%i)ence a e e*o%e)(J?.,@ So it is that in a sle8 of cases the Cou t has consi)e e) the p osecutionGs failu e to a)eIuatel2 p o%e that the speci*en sub*itte) fo labo ato 2 e1a*ination 8as the sa*e one suppose)l2 seiHe) f o* the offen)in+ selle o possesso as + oun) fo acIuittal(?..@ Sec( ,3b4 of the Dan+e ous D u+s #oa ) Re+ulation No( ,, Se ies of .//., o the M$ui)elines on the Custo)2 an) Disposition of SeiHe) Dan+e ous D u+s, Cont olle) P ecu so s an) Essential Che*icals, an) &abo ato 2 EIuip*ent,J )efines Mchain of custo)2,J thusl2! MChain of Custo)2J *eans the )ul2 eco )e) autho iHe) *o%e*ents an) custo)2 of seiHe) ) u+s o cont olle) che*icals 1 1 1 f o* the ti*e of seiHu eFconfiscation to eceipt in the fo ensic labo ato 2 to safeEeepin+ to p esentation in cou t fo )est uction( Such eco ) of *o%e*ents an) custo)2 of seiHe) ite* shall inclu)e the i)entit2 an) si+natu e of the pe son 8ho hel) te*po a 2 custo)2 of the seiHe) ite*, the )ate an) ti*e 8hen such t ansfe of custo)2 ?8as@ *a)e in the cou se of safeEeepin+ an) use in cou t as e%i)ence, an) the final )isposition(?.9@ As a *o)e of authenticatin+ e%i)ence, the chain of custo)2 ule eIui es that the a)*ission of an e1hibit be p ece)e) b2 e%i)ence sufficient to suppo t a fin)in+ that the *atte in Iuestion is 8hat the p oponent clai*s it to be( In conte1t, this 8oul) i)eall2 inclu)e testi*on2 about e%e 2 linE in the chain, f o* the seiHu e of the p ohibite) ) u+ up to the ti*e it is offe e) into e%i)ence, in such a 8a2 that e%e 2one 8ho touche) the e1hibit 8oul) )esc ibe ho8 an) f o* 8ho* it 8as ecei%e), 8he e it 8as an) 8hat happene) to it 8hile in the 8itnessG possession, the con)ition in 8hich it 8as ecei%e), an) the con)ition in 8hich it 8as )eli%e e) to the ne1t linE in the chain(?.6@ The nee) fo the punctilious obse %ance of the chain-ofcusto)2 p ocess in ) u+- elate) cases is e1plaine) in %alillin in the follo8in+ 8ise! Ahile testi*on2 about a pe fect chain is not al8a2s the stan)a ) because it is al*ost al8a2s i*possible to obtain, '( -(!.o7,( 4h' ( o8 4-%"o)y !,4o5,% () %6,(%'!0, '() ,%%,(" '0 9h,( "h, ",5 o8 .,'0 ,: ),(4, % (o" ) %" (4" :, '() % (o" .,'00y ),(" 8 '!0,, o 8hen its con)ition at the ti*e of testin+ o t ial is c itical, o 8hen a 8itness has faile) to obse %e its uniIueness( The sa*e stan)a ) liEe8ise obtains in case the e%i)ence is susceptible to alte ation, ta*pe in+, conta*ination an) e%en substitution an) e1chan+e( In othe 8o )s, the e1hibitGs le%el of susceptibilit2 to fun+ibilit2, alte ation o ta*pe in+KK8ithout e+a ) to 8hethe the sa*e is a)%e tent o othe 8ise notKK)ictates the le%el of st ictness in the application of the chain of custo)2 ule( 1111 A uniIue cha acte istic of na cotic substances is that the2 a e not ea)il2 i)entifiable as in fact the2 a e sub<ect to scientific anal2sis to )ete *ine thei co*position an) natu e( The Cou t cannot eluctantl2 close its e2es to the liEelihoo), o at least the possibilit2, that at an2 of the linEs in the chain of custo)2 o%e the sa*e the e coul) ha%e been ta*pe in+, alte ation o substitution of substances f o* othe casesKKb2 acci)ent o othe 8iseKKin 8hich si*ila e%i)ence 8as seiHe) o in 8hich si*ila e%i)ence 8as sub*itte) fo labo ato 2 testin+( 5ence, in authenticatin+ the sa*e, a stan)a ) *o e st in+ent than that applie) to cases in%ol%in+ ob<ects 8hich a e ea)il2 i)entifiable *ust be applie), a *o e e1actin+ stan)a ) that entails a chain of custo)2 of the ite* 8ith sufficient co*pleteness if onl2 to

Page 5 of 7 Equipose Rule en)e it i*p obable that the o i+inal ite* has eithe been e1chan+e) 8ith anothe o been conta*inate) o ta*pe e) 8ith(?.;@ 3E*phasis a))e)(4 As the Cou t )istinctl2 notes in this case, of the in)i%i)uals 8ho ca*e into )i ect contact 8ith o ha) ph2sical custo)2 of the seiHe) e+ulate) ite*s, onl2 PO9 Ra*os testifie) fo the specific pu pose of i)entif2in+ the e%i)ence( In the 8itness bo1, ho8e%e , he )i) not in)icate ho8 he an) his co*panions, i+ht afte the bu2 bust, han)le) the seiHe) plastic ba+ an) its contents( 5e )i) not na*e the )ut2 )esE office at Ca*p Vicente &i* to 8ho* he specificall2 tu ne) o%e the confiscate) ba+ an) sachets at least fo eco )in+( Ahat is on eco ) is E1hibit MC,J 8hich, as ea lie )esc ibe), is a *e*o an)u*?.7@ PO9 Ra*os p epa e)?.-@ )ate) Ap il ;, ./// f o* the RSO$-IV Di ecto to the Chief, PNP R-IV C i*e &abo ato 2 Se %ice, sub*ittin+ fo Iualitati%e anal2sis the 8hite c 2stalline substance confiscate) b2 the bu2-bust + oup( Nee)less to st ess, the unna*e) pe son 8ho )eli%e e) the suspecte) shabuan) the ecipient of it at the labo ato 2 8e e no-sho8 in cou t to testif2 on the ci cu*stances un)e 8hich the2 han)le) the speci*en o 8hethe othe pe sons ha) access to the speci*en befo e actual testin+( An) CFI $e oni*o, the anal2Hin+ fo ensic che*ist, 8as not also p esente)( Then, too, no one testifie) on ho8 the speci*en 8as ca e) afte follo8in+ the che*ical anal2sis( As the Cou t obse %e) aptl2 in #eople $. &ng, M?T@hese Iuestions shoul) be ans8e e) satisfacto il2 to )ete *ine 8hethe the inte+ it2 of the e%i)ence 8as co*p o*ise) in an2 8a2( Othe 8ise, the p osecution cannot *aintain that it 8as able to p o%e the +uilt of appellants be2on) easonable )oubt(J?.:@ It cannot be o%e e*phasiHe) that Inspecto T ia 8as eall2 not pa t of the custo)ial chain( An) she )i) not as she coul) not, e%en if she 8ante) to, testif2 on 8hethe o not the speci*en tu ne) o%e fo anal2sis an) e%entuall2 offe e) in cou t as e1hibit 8as the sa*e substance ecei%e) f o* A +uson( $i%en the fo e+oin+ pe specti%e, it is fai l2 e%i)ent that the police ope ati%es t ifle) 8ith the p oce)u es in the custo)2 of seiHe) p ohibite) ) u+s in a bu2-bust ope ation, as e*bo)ie) in Sec( .,3,4, A t( II of RA 0,7;, i(e(, the app ehen)in+ office Ftea* ha%in+ initial custo)2 an) cont ol of the ) u+ %h'00! i**e)iatel2 afte seiHu e an) confiscation, ph2sicall2 in%ento 2 an) photo+ aph the ?) u+@ in the p esence of the accuse) o the pe sonFs f o* 8ho* such ite*s 8e e confiscate) an)Fo seiHe), o hisFhe ep esentati%e o counsel, a ep esentati%e f o* the *e)ia an) the Depa t*ent of 'ustice 3DO'4, an) an2 electe) public official 8ho shall be eIui e) to si+n the copies of the in%ento 2 an) be +i%en a cop2 the eof(?.0@ In this case, no ph2sical in%ento 2 8as *a)e an) no photo+ aph taEen no *a Ein+s *a)e on the seiHe) a ticles at the c i*e scene( PO9 Ra*os a)*itte) as *uch, thus! 2( No8, 2ou 8e e able to a est all the accuse) he e, afte thei a est, 8hat )i) 2ou )oN A. Afte info *in+ thei i+hts an) the eason 8h2 8e a est the* 8e b ou+ht the* i**e)iatel2 to ou office in Canluban+( 1111 2( No8, 8hat about this Shabu, 8ho 8as in possession of this Shabu 1 1 1 8hen 2ou left the place an) p ocee)e) to Canluban+N A( PO. #alosbalos, si ( 1111 2( No8, 8hen 2ou each 2ou office, 8hat )i) 2ou )o the eN A( I *a)e the booEin+ sheet an) I eIueste) fo thei *e)icalFph2sical e1a*ination 1 1 1(?9/@ 'ust as clea is the fact that the e1actin+ chain of custo)2 ule 8as not obse %e)( Aithal, the e is no easonable assu ance that no ta*pe in+ o substitution occu e) bet8een the ti*e the police seiHe) the blacE ba+ in P( Oca*po St( in Manila until its contents 8e e teste) in the labo ato 2 of the PNP R-IV hea)Iua te s in Canluban+, &a+una( In net effect, a hea%2 clou) of )oubt han+s o%e the inte+ it2 an) necessa il2 the e%i)entia 2 %alue of the seiHe) ite*s( The p osecution cannot, thus, i+htfull2 asse t that the si1 sachets seiHe) f o* A +uson 8e e the %e 2 sa*e ob<ects teste) b2 CFI $e oni*o an) offe e) in cou t in p o%in+ the corpus delicti( A))in+ a ne+ati%e )i*ension to the p osecutionGs case is the non-p esentation of CFI $e oni*o an) the p esentation in he stea) of Inspecto T ia to testif2 on the che*ical epo t CFI $e oni*o p epa e)( Ahile Inspecto T ia can plausibl2 testif2 on the fact that CFI $e oni*o p epa e) the che*ical epo t in the e+ula cou se of he )uties, she, Inspecto T ia, 8as inco*petent to state that the speci*en he fo *e collea+ue anal2He) 8as in fact shabu an) 8as the sa*e speci*en )eli%e e) to the labo ato 2 fo che*ical anal2sis( To be su e, the Cou t, notabl2 in #eople $. Bandang, has hel) that the non-p esentation of the fo ensic che*ist in ille+al ) u+ cases is an insufficient cause fo acIuittal( In it, the accuse) pe sons 8e e con%icte) of ille+al sale of shabu e%en if the fo ensic che*ist 8ho p epa e) the co espon)in+ labo ato 2 epo t 8as not p esente)( Thus, 8e 8 ote! 1 1 1 In People %s( U2, 8e ule) that a fo ensic che*ist is a public office an) as such, his epo t ca ies the p esu*ption of e+ula it2 in the pe fo *ance of his function an) )uties( Co olla il2, un)e Section 66 of Rule ,9/, 1 1 1 ent ies in official eco )s *a)e in the pe fo *ance of official )ut2 a e p i*a facie e%i)ence of the facts the ein state)( O*e oGs epo ts that the se%en sachets of 8hite

Page 6 of 7 Equipose Rule c 2stalline substance 8e e Mpositi%e fo 'ethyla'pheta'ine hydrochlorideJ o shabu a e, the efo e, conclusi%e in the absence of e%i)ence p o%in+ the cont a 2, as in this case( Secon), it *ust be st esse) that Att2( En iIueH .' %,% h % o!;,4" o( to the Initial &abo ato 2 Repo t an) Che*ist 2 Repo t No( D,;:;-//o(0y (o9( 5e shoul) ha%e ob<ecte) to thei a)*issibilit2 at the ti*e the2 8e e bein+ offe e)( Othe 8ise, the ob<ection shall be consi)e e) 8ai%e) an) such e%i)ence 8ill fo * pa t of the eco )s of the case as co*petent an) a)*issible e%i)ence( The fa*ilia ule in this <u is)iction is that the a)*issibilit2 of ce tain )ocu*ents 1 1 1 cannot be aise) fo the fi st ti*e on appeal(?9,@ 3E*phasis a))e)(4 It shoul) be pointe) out, ho8e%e , that the Bandang ulin+ 8as cast a+ainst a )iffe ent bacE) op 8he e! 3,4 the seiHe) c 2stalline substance 8as the sa*e ite* e1a*ine) an) teste) positi%e fo shabu an) p esente) in cou t, i*pl2in+ that the i)entit2 an) inte+ it2 of p ohibite) ) u+ 8as safe+ua )e) th ou+hout, a ci cu*stance not obtainin+ in this caseL 3.4 the e 8as a co*pellin+ eason fo not p esentin+ the e1a*inin+ fo ensic che*ist, i(e(, the pa ties stipulate) that the confiscate) se%en plastic ba+s ha%e been i)entifie) an) e1a*ine) an) that the che*ist state) in his epo t that the substance is positi%e fo shabu( In this case, CFI $e oni*oGs esi+nation f o* the se %ice is not, stan)in+ alone, a <ustif2in+ facto fo the p osecution to )ispense 8ith he testi*on2L an) 394 accuse) #an)an+, et al( )i) not aise an2 ob<ection to the che*ical epo t )u in+ t ial, unliEe he e 8he e accuse)-appellant ob<ecte) to Inspecto T iaGs co*petenc2 to testif2 on the $e oni*o che*ical epo t( At an2 ate, Inspecto T iaGs testi*on2 on, an) the p esentation of, the che*ist 2 epo t in Iuestion onl2 establishe), at best, the e1istence, )ue e1ecution, an) authenticit2 of the esults of the che*ist 2 anal2sis(?9.@ It )oes not p o%e co*pliance 8ith the eIuisite chain of custo)2 o%e the confiscate) substance f o* the ti*e of seiHu e of the e%i)ence( In this e+a ), the Cou t in effect state) in %alillin that unless the state can sho8 b2 eco )s o testi*on2 that the inte+ it2 of the e%i)ence has not been co*p o*ise) b2 accountin+ fo the continuous 8he eabouts of the ob<ect e%i)ence at least bet8een the ti*e it ca*e into the possession of the police office s until it 8as teste) in the labo ato 2,?99@ then the p osecution cannot *aintain that it 8as able to p o%e the +uilt of the accuse) be2on) easonable )oubt( So it 8as that in #eople $. (i'ura the Cou t sai) that in establishin+ the corpus delicti, p oof be2on) easonable )oubt )e*an)s that Mun8a%e in+ e1actitu)eJ?96@ be obse %e), a )e*an) 8hich *a2 be a)) esse) b2 he8in+ to the chain-of-custo)2 ule( E%i)entl2, the p osecution has not p o%e) that the substance seiHe) in f ont of the McDonal)Gs 8as the sa*e substance a))uce) in e%i)ence as an in)ispensable ele*ent of corpus delicti of the c i*e, 8hich failu e p o)uces a se ious )oubt as to accuse)-appellantGs +uilt(?9;@ #oth the t ial an) appellate cou ts *a)e *uch of the p esu*ption of e+ula it2 in the pe fo *ance of official functions both 8ith espect to the acts of PO9 Ra*os an) othe PNP pe sonnel at Ca*p Vicente &i*( To a point, the eliance on the p esu*pti%e e+ula it2 is tenable( This p esu*ption is, ho8e%e , )isputable an) *a2 be o%e tu ne) b2 affi *ati%e e%i)ence of i e+ula it2 o failu e to pe fo * a )ut2L?97@ an2 taint of i e+ula it2 %itiates the pe fo *ance an) ne+ates the p esu*ption( An) as ea lie )iscusse), the bu2 bust tea* co**itte) se ious lapses in the han)lin+ of the p ohibite) ite* f o* the %e 2 sta t of its ope ation, the e o of 8hich the PNP R-IV co**an) late co*poun)e)( The Cou t nee) not belabo this *atte ane8( &est it be o%e looEe), the p esu*ption of e+ula it2 in the pe fo *ance of official )ut2 al8a2s 2iel)s to the p esu*ption of innocence an) )oes not constitute p oof be2on) easonable )oubt(?9-@ Ae hel) in one case! The p esu*ption of e+ula it2 in the pe fo *ance of official )ut2 cannot be use) as basis fo affi *in+ accuse)-appellantGs con%iction because, M?f@i st, the p esu*ption is p ecisel2 <ust thatOa *e e p esu*ption( Once challen+e) b2 e%i)ence, as in this case, 1 1 1 ?it@ cannot be e+a )e) as bin)in+ t uth( Secon), the p esu*ption of e+ula it2 in the pe fo *ance of official functions cannot p epon)e ate o%e the p esu*ption of innocence that p e%ails if not o%e th o8n b2 p oof be2on) easonable )oubt(J?9:@ Co failu e then of the p osecution to establish the +uilt of accuse)-appellant be2on) easonable )oubt, she *ust pe fo ce be e1one ate) f o* c i*inal liabilit2( The facts an) the la8 of the case call fo this Ein) of )isposition( #ut a final consi)e ation( The Cou t is co+niHant of the ca*pai+n of the police an) othe ) u+ enfo ce*ent a+encies a+ainst the + o8in+ ) u+ *enace in the count 2( Unfo tunatel2, thei best effo ts, pa ticula l2 successful honest-to-+oo)ness bu2-bust ope ations, so*eti*es still en) up in the acIuittal of ille+al ) u+ *anufactu e s, )ist ibuto s, pushe s an)Fo lesse pla2e s, e%en 8hen nabbe) in flagrante, si*pl2 because ) u+ enfo ce*ent ope ati%es ten) to co*p o*ise the inte+ it2 an) e%i)entia 2 8o th of the seiHe) ille+al ite*s( This abe ation is oftenti*es in tu n att ibutable to the unfa*ilia it2 of police ope ati%es of e1tant ules an) p oce)u es +o%e nin+ the custo)2, cont ol, an) han)lin+ of seiHe) ) u+s( This is, thus, an oppo tune ti*e to e*in) all conce ne) about these ules an) p oce)u es an) the +ui)in+ <u isp u)ence( An) to put thin+s in the p ope pe specti%e, non-co*pliance 8ith the le+al p esc iptions of the Dan+e ous D u+s Act, as a*en)e), is, as 8e *a)e abun)antl2 clea in #eople $. )anche*, not necessa il2 fatal to the p osecution of ) u+- elate) casesL that police p oce)u es *a2 still ha%e so*e lapses( These lapses, ho8e%e , *ust be eco+niHe), a)) esse), an) e1plaine) in te *s of thei <ustifiable + oun)s, an) the inte+ it2 an) e%i)entia 2 %alue of the e%i)ence seiHe) *ust be sho8n to ha%e been p ese %e) b2 the app ehen)in+ office o tea*( To be fo e8a ne) is to be fo ea *e)(

Page 7 of 7 Equipose Rule <HEREFORE, the CA Decision )ate) 'ul2 ,0, .//- in CA-$(R( CR-5(C( No( //6-7, affi *in+ that of the RTC, # anch ;9 in Manila 8hich foun) he +uilt2 of %iolatin+ Sec( ,;, A t( III of RA 76.; an) i*pose) upon he the penalt2 of reclusion perpetuaan) a fine of PhP ;//,///, is he eb2 REVERSED an) SET ASIDE( Accuse)-appellant Monal2n Ce %antes 2 Sola isAC2=ITTED on the + oun) of easonable )oubt an) is acco )in+l2 i**e)iatel2 RELEASED f o* custo)2 unless she is bein+ la8full2 hel) fo so*e la8ful cause( The Di ecto of the #u eau of Co ections is )i ecte) to i*ple*ent this Decision an) to epo t to this Cou t the action taEen he eon 8ithin fi%e 3;4 )a2s f o* eceipt of this Decision( SO ORDERED.