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People v Ancheta

Doctrine:
Noncompliance with the required procedure will not necessarily result in the acquittal of the accused if: (1) the noncompliance is on
justifiable grounds; and (2) the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved by the
apprehending team.
Despite the presumption of regularity in the performance of the official duties of law enforcers, we stress that the step-by-step
procedure outlined under R.A. 9165 is a matter of substantive law, which cannot be simply brushed aside as a simple procedural
technicality. The provisions were crafted by Congress as safety precautions to address potential police abuses, especially
considering that the penalty imposed may be life imprisonment.
Facts:
1.PO1 Honorio Marmonejo received confidential information regarding the drug pushing activities of Joker at Llorando Compound
Makati City. This alias Joker was also listed in the said offices watchlist of suspected drug pushers.
2.A buy-bust team of four policemen and eight Makati Anti-Drug Abuse Council operatives was formed. PO1 Marmonejo was to act
as poseur buyer while the rest of the team served as his back-up. Thereafter, five pieces of 100-bills were provided and marked for
use in the operation.
3.In the afternoon of the same day, the buy-bust team arrived at the compound. PO1 Marmonejo accompanied by PO1 Mendoza and
the informant, entered a slightly opened gate through an alleyway where they met a man who asked them where they were going. The
informant replied that they were looking for Joker as they were going to purchase shabu from the latter. The man asked how much
they were going to buy, to which the informant answered him that he was to purchase 500.00-worth of shabu. The man told them to
wait for a while and then called for Joker.
4.Joker came out from inside the house, and it was at this instance that PO1 Marmonejo took out the marked money. Joker, in turn,
gave him one plastic sachet of shabu. The man they met at the alley took the marked money from him and handed it over to Joker.
After having received the buy bust money, Joker faced the man washing clothes who is 3 to 4 meters away from them and gave the
latter one plastic sachet of shabu as payment for his laundry service.
5.After the transaction, the team immediately went inside the house where the entrapment took place and assisted in effecting the
arrest of the accused. Joker was later on identified as Joel Ancheta, the man at the alley was identified as John Llorando, and the one
doing the laundry was Juan Carlos Gernada. After informing all of the accused-appellants of their violations and nature of their arrest
as well as their constitutional rights, they were subsequently brought to the office of the Makati City Police.
6.Llorando denied the charge against him and claimed that he was cooking inside his house when 3 men suddenly entered his house
and poked a gun at him and frisked him. His brother, who was inside the house, tried to intervene, but was not able to do anything.
Meanwhile, a few meters away from his house lived his brother-in-law, Ancheta and the latters adopted son, Gernada.
7.Ancheta and Gernada testified while Gernada was at the kitchen doing the dishes and Ancheta was sleeping in his room
with his wife, 5 men barged into their house without warning and arrested them. They were brought to a white vehicle,
where they saw the Llorando, who was likewise apparently taken by the same group.
RTC: It gave credence to the arresting officers narration of the incident, as they were presumed to have performed their official duties
in a regular manner. It then rejected accused-appellants claims of frame-up.
Ancheta and Llorando were found guilty of violating Section 5 (Sale, Trading, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Distribution
and Transportation of Dangerous Drugs and/or Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals)
Ancheta and Gernada were found guilty of violating Section 11 (Possession of Dangerous Drugs)
Llorando was found guilty of violating Section 15 (Use of Dangerous Drugs)
CA: Affirmed RTC, It also explained that the failure of the arresting officers to comply with the proper procedure for the confiscation
and seizure of dangerous drugs embodied in R.A. 9165 was not fatal to the prosecutions case. The CA then ruled that
noncompliance with the procedure in Section 21 of R.A. 9165 would not absolve accused-appellants of the crimes of which they
were found guilty and would not render their arrest illegal or the seizure of the items inadmissible.
Accused-appellants- question the CA affirmation of their conviction by arguing that the arresting officers failed to comply with the
requirements for the proper custody of seized dangerous drugs under R.A. 9165. They claim that the officers failed to conduct the
following: (1) make a physical inventory of the seized items; (2) take photographs of the items; and (3) establish that a
representative each from the media, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official had been contacted and
was present during the marking of the items.
Accused-appellants then contend that the prosecution did not prove that noncompliance with procedure was on justifiable
grounds. They also aver that the prosecution was unable to establish that the apprehending team properly preserved the
integrity and evidentiary value of the confiscated items.
Issue:
Whether or not noncompliance of the arresting officers with the procedure drawn in Section 21 of R.A. 9165 would discharge
accused-appellants from the crimes of which they were convicted.

Held:
Yes. Though we have recognized that minor deviations from the procedures under R.A. 9165 would not automatically exonerate an
accused we have also declared that when there is gross disregard of the procedural safeguards prescribed in the substantive law
(R.A. 9165), serious uncertainty is generated about the identity of the seized items that the prosecution presented in evidence.
We then ruled that such doubt cannot be remedied by simply invoking the presumption of regularity in the performance of official
duties, for a gross, systematic, or deliberate disregard of the procedural safeguards effectively produces an irregularity in the
performance of official duties. Accordingly, the prosecution is deemed to have failed to fully establish the elements of the crimes
charged, creating reasonable doubt on the criminal liability of the accused.
Here, the records are bereft of any indication that would show that the prosecution was able to establish the arresting officers
compliance with the procedural safeguards under R.A. 9165. Neither do the records contain any physical inventory report or
photograph of the confiscated items. None of the arresting officers testified that they had conducted a physical inventory or taken
pictures of the items. Nor did they state that there was even any attempt to contact a representative from the media and the DOJ, and
an elected public official. Nowhere can it be found that the marking of the items was done in the presence of any of the said thirdparty representatives. In all these major lapses, no one gave so much as an explanation of why the procedure was not followed,
or whether there was a justifiable ground for failing to do so. The arresting officers and the prosecution simply did not bother
discussing these matters.
Indeed, it is the preservation of the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items that is of utmost importance in determining the
admissibility of the evidence presented in court, especially in cases of buy-bust operations. That is why Congress saw fit to fashion a
detailed procedure in order to ensure that the integrity and evidentiary value of the confiscated items would not be compromised. The
marking of the seized items was only a piece in a detailed set of procedural safeguards embodied in R.A. 9165. If the arresting officers
were unable to comply with the other requirements, they were under obligation to explain why the procedure was not followed and
prove that the reason provided a justifiable ground. Otherwise, the requisites under the law would merely be fancy ornaments that may
or may not be disregarded by the arresting officers at their own convenience.