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Mallillin v. People, 553 SCRA 619, [G.R. No.

172953], April 30, 2008


Criminal Law; Appeals; Although the trial court’s findings of fact are entitled to great weight and will
not be disturbed on appeal, this rule does not apply where facts of weight and substance have been
overlooked, misapprehended or misapplied in a case under appeal.—Although the trial court’s
findings of fact are entitled to great weight and will not be disturbed on appeal, this rule does not apply
where facts of weight and substance have been overlooked, misapprehended or misapplied in a case
under appeal. In the case at bar, several circumstances obtain which, if properly appreciated, would
warrant a conclusion different from that arrived at by the trial court and the Court of Appeals.
Same; Same; Same; Presumption of Innocence; Presumption of Regularity; The presumption of
regularity is merely just that—a mere presumption disputable by contrary proof and which when
challenged by the evidence cannot be regarded as binding truth, and it cannot preponderate over the
presumption of innocence that prevails if not overthrown by proof beyond reasonable doubt.— Given
the foregoing deviations of police officer Esternon from the standard and normal procedure in the
implementation of the warrant and in taking post-seizure custody of the evidence, the blind reliance by
the trial court and the Court of Appeals on the presumption of regularity in the conduct of police duty is
manifestly misplaced. The presumption of regularity is merely just that—a mere presumption
disputable by contrary proof and which when challenged by the evidence cannot be regarded as binding
truth. Suffice it to say that this presumption cannot preponderate over the presumption of innocence
that prevails if not overthrown by proof beyond reasonable doubt. In the present case the lack of
conclusive identification of the illegal drugs allegedly seized from petitioner, coupled with the
irregularity in the manner by which the same were placed under police custody before offered in court,
strongly militates a finding of guilt.
Same; Same; Presumption of Innocence; Equipoise Rule; In dubio pro reo—when moral certainty as to
culpability hangs in the balance, acquittal on reasonable doubt inevitably becomes a matter of right.—
In our constitutional system, basic and elementary is the presupposition that the burden of proving the
guilt of an accused lies on the prosecution which must rely on the strength of its own evidence and not
on the weakness of the defense. The rule is invariable whatever may be the reputation of the accused,
for the law presumes his innocence unless and until the contrary is shown. In dubio pro reo. When
moral certainty as to culpability hangs in the balance, acquittal on reasonable doubt inevitably becomes
a matter of right.

People v. Oniza, 700 SCRA 723, [G.R. No. 202709], July 3, 2013
Criminal Law; Dangerous Drugs Act; Chain of Custody Rule; Buy-Bust Operations; Compliance with
the procedures in keeping custody and disposition of seized dangerous drugs, especially the required
physical inventory and photograph of the seized drugs in the presence of the accused, the media, and
responsible government functionaries, would be clear evidence that the police had carried out a
legitimate buy-bust operation.―The law prescribes certain procedures in keeping custody and
disposition of seized dangerous drugs like the shabu that the police supposedly confiscated from
Romeo and Mercy on June 16, 2004. Section 21 of Republic Act (R.A.) 9165 reads: Section 21.
Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized, and/or Surrendered Dangerous Drugs, Plant Sources
of Dangerous Drugs, Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals, Instruments/Paraphernalia
and/or Laboratory Equipment.—The PDEA shall take charge and have custody of all dangerous drugs,
plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, as well as
instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment so confiscated, seized and/or surrendered, for
proper disposition in the following manner: (1) The apprehending team having initial custody and
control of the drugs shall, immediately after seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and
photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom such items were
confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the
Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of
the inventory and be given a copy thereof; x x x. (Emphasis supplied) Compliance with the above,
especially the required physical inventory and photograph of the seized drugs in the presence of the
accused, the media, and responsible government functionaries, would be clear evidence that the police
had carried out a legitimate buy-bust operation. Here, the prosecution was unable to adduce such
evidence, indicating that the police officers did not at all comply with prescribed procedures. Worse,
they offered no excuse or explanation at the hearing of the case for their blatant omission of what the
law required of them.
Same; Same; Same; The procedures outlined in Section 21 of R.A. 9165 are not merely empty
formalities — these are safeguards against abuse, the most notorious of which is its use as a tool for
extortion.―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. The procedures outlined in Section 21 of R.A. 9165 are not merely empty formalities — these are
safeguards against abuse, the most notorious of which is its use as a tool for extortion.

People v. Salim Ismael, [G.R. No. 208093], February 17, 2018


Same; Same; Same; The Supreme Court (SC) has previously held that, “failure to mark the drugs
immediately after they were seized from the accused casts doubt on the prosecution evidence
warranting an acquittal on reasonable doubt.”—It is clear from the above that SPO1 Rodriguez and
SPO1 Santiago did not mark the seized drugs immediately after they were confiscated from appellant.
No explanations were given why markings were not immediately made. At this stage in the chain, there
was already a significant break such that there can be no assurance against switching, planting, or
contamination. The Court has previously held that, “failure to mark the drugs immediately after they
were seized from the accused casts doubt on the prosecution evidence warranting an acquittal on
reasonable doubt.”
Same; Same; Same; It must be shown that the marking was done in the presence of the accused to
assure that the identity and integrity of the drugs were properly preserved. Failure to comply with this
requirement is fatal to the prosecution’s case.—Due to the apparent breaks in the chain of custody, it
was possible that the seized item subject of the sale transaction was switched with the seized items
subject of the illegal possession case. This is material considering that the imposable penalty for illegal
possession of shabu depends on the quantity or weight of the seized drug. Aside from the failure to
mark the seized drugs immediately upon arrest, the arresting officers also failed to show that the
marking of the seized drugs was done in the presence of the appellant. This requirement must not be
brushed aside as a mere technicality. It must be shown that the marking was done in the presence of the
accused to assure that the identity and integrity of the drugs were properly preserved. Failure to comply
with this requirement is fatal to the prosecution’s case. The requirements of making an inventory and
taking of photographs of the seized drugs were likewise omitted without offering an explanation for its
noncompliance. This break in the chain tainted the integrity of the seized drugs presented in court; the
very identity of the seized drugs became highly questionable.

People v. Gayoso, [G.R. No. 206590], March 27, 2017


Same; Same; Same; As a general rule, four (4) links in the chain of custody of the confiscated item
must be established.—As a general rule, four links in the chain of custody of the confiscated item must
be established: 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 drug seized by the
apprehending officer to 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.

People v. Kamad, [G.R. No. 174198], January 20, 2010


Criminal Law; Dangerous Drugs Act; Appeals; The general rule that the trial court’s findings of fact
especially when affirmed by the Court of Appeals are entitled to great weight and will not be disturbed
on appeal admits of exceptions.—As a general rule, the trial court’s findings of fact, especially when
affirmed by the CA, are entitled to great weight and will not be disturbed on appeal.
This rule, however, admits of exceptions and does not apply where facts of weight and substance with
direct and material bearing on the final outcome of the case have been overlooked, misapprehended or
misapplied. After due consideration of the records of this case, the evidence adduced, and the
applicable law and jurisprudence, we hold that a deviation from the general rule is warranted.
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