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G.R. No.

235071, January 07, 2019

EVANGELINE PATULOT Y GALIA, Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

Topic: Child Abuse – RA 7610

Facts: Patulot was charged with child abuse, defined and penalized under Republic Act (R.A.)
No. 7610, otherwise known as the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and
Discrimination Act. It was alleged that Patulot committed acts of child abuse upon a three (3) year
old minor, by throwing on him a boiling oil, thereby inflicting upon said victim-minor physical
injuries, which acts are inimical and prejudicial to the child’s normal growth and development. In
his defense, Patulot contended that he had no intention to commit such offense. The RTC found
Patulot guilty of child abuse, which was affirmed by the CA.

Issues: 1.) Whether the CA gravely erred in affirming the petitioner’s conviction of violating Sec.
10(A) of R.A. 7610 despite the fact that she had no intent to degrade and demean the intrinsic
worth and dignity of the private complainant’s children

2.) Whether the CA gravely erred in failing to apply Art. 49 of the RPC with regard to the
imposition of the penalty.

Held: 1.) The CA did not err in affirming the petitioner’s conviction of violating Sec. 10(A) of R.A.
7610.

Section 2 of the Rules and Regulations on the Reporting and Investigation of Child Abuse Cases
defines the term "child abuse" as the infliction of physical or psychological injury, cruelty to, or
neglect, sexual abuse or exploitation of a child. In turn, the same Section defines "physical injury"
as those that include but are not limited to lacerations, fractured bones, burns, internal injuries,
severe injury or serious bodily harm suffered by a child.

It is, therefore, clear from the foregoing that when a child is subjected to physical abuse or injury,
the person responsible therefor can be held liable under R.A. No. 7610 by establishing the
essential facts above. Here, the prosecution duly proved the following allegations in the
Information charging Patulot of child abuse: (1) the minority of both AAA and BBB; (2) the acts
committed by Patulot constituting physical abuse against AAA and BBB; and (3) the fact that said
acts are punishable under R.A. No. 7610. In particular, it was clearly established that at the time
of the incident, AAA and BBB were merely three (3) years old and two (2) months old,
respectively; that Patulot consciously poured hot cooking oil from a casserole on CCC,
consequently injuring AAA and BBB; and that said act constitutes physical abuse specified in
Section 3(b)(1) of R.A. No. 7610.

Patulot's criminal intent is not wanting for as she expressly admitted, she intended on pouring hot
cooking oil on CCC. As such, even granting that it was not her intention to harm AAA and BBB,
she was performing an unlawful act when she threw the hot oil from her casserole on CCC. She
cannot, therefore, escape liability from the same in view of the settled doctrine mentioned
in Mabunot that a person incurs criminal liability although the wrongful act done be different from
that which he intended. As defined in the law, child abuse charged against Patulot is physical
abuse of the child, whether the same is habitual or not. To the Court, her act of pouring hot oil on
AAA and BBB falls squarely within this definition. Thus, in view of the fact that her acts were
proven to constitute child abuse under the pertinent provisions of the law, she must be held liable
therefor.

2.) The CA did not gravely err in failing to apply Art. 49 of the RPC with regard to the imposition of
the penalty.
Patulot maintains that even considering her to have committed child abuse, the CA erred in
determining the imposable penalty for failing to apply Article 49 of the RPC. According to her,
there was error in personae as the oil that was intended for CCC accidentally hit the children,
ending up in the commission of child abuse. Under Article 49, since the penalty of the intended
crime (physical injuries) is less than the crime committed (child abuse), the imposable penalty is
that which refers to physical injuries, in its maximum period. The proper penalty should only be
arresto mayor in its maximum or four (4) months and one (1) day to six (6) months for each count.

However, Section 10(a) of R.A. No. 7610 provides:

SECTION 10. Other Acts of Neglect, Abuse, Cruelty or Exploitation and Other Conditions
Prejudicial to the Child's Development. –

“(a) Any person who shall commit any other acts of child abuse, cruelty or exploitation or to be
responsible for other conditions prejudicial to the child's development including those covered by
Article 59 of Presidential Decree No. 603, as amended, but not covered by the Revised Penal
Code, as amended, shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its minimum period.”

The Rules and Regulations of the statute distinctly and separately defined child abuse, cruelty,
exploitation just, and acts prejudicial to the child's development. Contrary to petitioner's assertion,
an accused can be prosecuted and be convicted under Section 10(a), Article VI of Republic Act
No. 7610 if he commits any of the four acts therein.
G.R. No. 234156, January 07, 2019

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. EMMANUEL OLIVA Y JORJIL,


BERNARDO BARANGOT Y PILAIS AND MARK ANGELO MANALASTAS Y
GAPASIN, Accused-Appellants.

Topic: RA 9165 – Dangerous Drugs Act

Facts: Emmanuel Oliva y Jorjil, Bernardo Barangot y Pilais, and Mark Angelo Manalastas y
Gapasin appealed from the CA, convicting them of Violation of Sections 5 and 11, Art. II of
Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165. They claimed that the arresting officers failed to immediately
conduct a physical inventory of the seized items and photograph the same in the presence of the
accused, their representative or counsel, a representative of the media and the Department of
Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who are required to sign the copies of the inventory.
Thus, according to appellants, the prosecution failed to establish every link in the chain of custody
of the seized items.

Issue: Whether the prosecution failed to establish every link in the chain of custody of seized
items.

Held: The prosecution failed to establish every link the chain of custody of seized items.

Under Section 5, Article II of R.A. No, 9165 or illegal sale of prohibited drugs, in order to be
convicted of the said violation, the following must concur: (1) the identity of the buyer and the
seller, the object of the sale and its consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the
payment therefor. In illegal sale of dangerous drugs, it is necessary that the sale transaction
actually happened and that "the [procured] object is properly presented as evidence in court and
is shown to be the same drugs seized from the accused."

To ensure an unbroken chain of custody, Section 21(1) of R.A. No. 9165 specifies:
(1) The apprehending team having in trial 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.

Under the original provision of Section 21, after seizure and confiscation of the drugs, the
apprehending team was required to immediately conduct a physically inventory and photograph
of the same in the presence of (1) the accused or the person/s from whom such items were
confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, (2) a representative from the
media and (3) the DOJ, and (4) any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies
of the inventory and be given a copy thereof. It is assumed that the presence of these three
persons will guarantee "against planting of evidence and frame up," i.e., they are "necessary to
insulate the apprehension and incrimination proceedings from any taint of illegitimacy or
irregularity." Now, the amendatory law mandates that the conduct of physical inventory and
photograph of the seized items must be in the presence of (1) the accused or the person/s from
whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, (2) with
an elected public official, and (3) a representative of the National Prosecution Service or the
media who shall sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy thereof.

In this case, the absence of a representative of the National Prosecution Service or the media
during the inventory of the seized items was not justifiably explained by the prosecution. A review
of the Transcript of Stenographic Notes does not yield any testimony from the arresting officers
as to the reason why there was no representative from the DOJ or the media. The only one
present to witness the inventory and the marking was an elected official, Barangay Captain
Evelyn Villamor. Neither was there any testimony to show that any attempt was made to secure
the presence of the required witness.
G.R. No. 237809, January 14, 2019

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ROSALINA AURE Y ALMAZAN AND


GINA MARAVILLA Y AGNES, Accused-Appellants.

Topic: RA 9165 – Dangerous Drugs Act

Facts: Appellants Rosalina Aure y Almazan (Rosalina) and Gina Maravilla y Agnes (Gina) was
found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Illegal Sale of Dangerous Drugs, defined and penalized
under Sec. 5, Art. II of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165, otherwise known as the “Comprehensive
Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.” The CA affirmed the RTC’s decision. The CA ruled that the police
officers substantially complied with Sec. 21, Art. II of RA 9165 even though PO3 Cordero was not
able to testify as to the links of chain of custody of the confiscated drug and in spite of the
absence of the Department of Justice (DOJ) representative and the elected public official during
the inventory.

Issue: Whether the CA erred in its decision, ruling that the officers complied with Sec. 21, Art. II
of RA 9165.

Held: The CA erred in ruling that the officers complied with Sec. 21, Art. II of RA 9165.

As part of the chain of custody procedure, the law requires, inter alia, that the marking, physical
inventory, and photography of the seized items be conducted immediately after seizure and
confiscation of the same. The law further requires that the said inventory and photography be
done in the presence of the accused or the person from whom the items were seized, or his
representative or counsel, as well as certain required witnesses, namely: (a) if prior to the
amendment of RA 9165 by RA 10640,"a representative from the media and the Department of
Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official"; or (b) if after the amendment of RA 9165 by RA
10640, "an elected public official and a representative of the National Prosecution Service or the
media." The law requires the presence of these witnesses primarily "to ensure the establishment
of the chain of custody and remove any suspicion of switching, planting, or contamination of
evidence.”

Anent the witness requirement, non-compliance may be permitted if the prosecution proves that
the apprehending officers exerted genuine and sufficient efforts to secure the presence of such
witnesses, albeit they eventually failed to appear. While the earnestness of these efforts must be
examined on a case-to-case basis, the overarching objective is for the Court to be convinced that
the failure to comply was reasonable under the given circumstances.

In this case, a perusal of the Inventory of Seized/Confiscated Item/Property readily reveals that
while the inventory of the plastic sachet purportedly seized from accused-appellants was
conducted in the presence of a media representative, it was nevertheless done without the
presence of any elected public official and DOJ representative, contrary to the afore-described
procedure.

While there have been instances where the Court affirmed the conviction of an accused
notwithstanding the non-presentation of the poseur-buyer in a buy-bust operation, this is
only when the testimony of such poseur-buyer is merely corroborative, and another
eyewitness can competently testify on the sale of the illegal drug. In this case however,
the lone witness for the prosecution was not competent to testify on the sale of the illegal
drug as he merely relied on the pre-arranged signal to apprehend Bartolini.

In view of the following circumstances, namely: (a) the unjustified deviation from the chain of
custody rule which compromised the integrity and evidentiary value of the item purportedly seized
from accused-appellants; and (b) the prosecution's failure to prove an essential element of the
crime charged, i.e., that a sale transaction involving drugs indeed occurred between PO3 Cordero
and accused-appellants, the acquittal of accused-appellants is warranted.
G.R. NO. 232940, January 14, 2019

DENNIS LOAYON Y LUIS, Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

Topic: RA 9165 – Dangerous Drugs Act

Facts: The RTC of Quezon City found petitioner Dennis Loayon y Luis (Loayon) guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of violating Sec. 11, Art. II of Repulic Act (R.A.) No. 9165, otherwise known as
the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.” The accused was arrested during a buy-bust
operation by the police officers from the QCPD Station 9. The CA affirmed the RTC’s ruling. The
petitioner contended that there were no authorized witnesses during the conduct of inventory and
photography of the seized drugs, breaking the links of chain of custody.

Issue: Whether Loayon is guilty of the violation of Sec. 11, Art. II of R.A. 9165.

Held: Loayon is not found guilty beyond reasonable doubt and must acquitted of the crime
charged.

As part of the chain of custody procedure, the law requires, inter alia, that the marking, physical
inventory, and photography of the seized items be conducted immediately after seizure and
confiscation of the same. In this regard, case law recognizes that "[m]arking upon immediate
confiscation contemplates even marking at the nearest police station or office of the
apprehending team." Hence, the failure to immediately mark the confiscated items at the place of
arrest neither renders them inadmissible in evidence nor impairs the integrity of the seized drugs,
as the conduct of marking at the nearest police station or office of the apprehending team is
sufficient compliance with the rules on chain of custody.

The law further requires that the said inventory and photography be done in the presence of the
accused or the person from whom the items were seized, or his representative or counsel, as well
as certain required witnesses, namely: (a) if prior to the amendment of RA 9165 by RA 10640, "a
representative from the media and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public
official"; or (b) if after the amendment of RA 9165 by RA 10640, "[a]n elected public official and a
representative of the National Prosecution Service or the media." The law requires the presence
of these witnesses primarily "to ensure the establishment of the chain of custody and remove any
suspicion of switching, planting, or contamination of evidence."

Anent the witness requirement, non-compliance may be permitted if the prosecution proves that
the apprehending officers exerted genuine and sufficient efforts to secure the presence of such
witnesses, albeit they eventually failed to appear. Thus, mere statements of unavailability, absent
actual serious attempts to contact the required witnesses, are unacceptable as justified grounds
for non-compliance.

In this case, there was a deviation from the witness requirement as the conduct of inventory and
photography was not witnessed by representatives from the DOJ and the media. This may be
easily gleaned from the Inventory of Seized Properties/Items, dated February 24, 2010, which
only confirms the presence of an elected public official, i.e., Brgy. Kagawad Asuncion. Such
finding is confirmed by the testimony of the poseur-buyer, PO2 De Vera on direct and cross-
examination.

It is incumbent upon the prosecution to account for these witnesses' absence by presenting a
justifiable reason therefor or, at the very least, by showing that genuine and sufficient efforts were
exerted by the apprehending officers to secure their presence. Here, while PO2 De Vera
acknowledged the absence of representatives from the DOJ and the media during the conduct of
inventory and photography, he merely offered the perfunctory explanation that "no one was
available" without showing whether the buy-bust team exerted earnest efforts to secure their
attendance therein. In view of this unjustified deviation from the chain of custody rule, the Court is
therefore constrained to conclude that the integrity and evidentiary value of the item purportedly
seized from Loayon was compromised, which consequently warrants his acquittal.
G.R. NO. 238865, January 28, 2019

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. BILLY ACOSTA, Accused-Appellant.

Topic: Right Against Unreasonable Search and Seizure

Facts: Salucana went to the Gingoog City Police station and reported that Billy Acosta (Acosta)
was illegally planting marijuana in his house. The policemen went to his house and seized the
marijuana plants without obtaining first a valid search warrant. The RTC of Gingoog City found
the accused-appellant Acosta (Acosta) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation Sec. 16, Art. II
of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165, otherwise known as the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act
of 2002.” The CA affirmed the RTC ruling.

Issue: Whether there is a violation of Sec. 3(2), Art. III of the 1987 Constitution on unreasonable
searches and seizures.

Held: There has been a violation of the said provision. It could not be said that the discovery of
the marijuana plants was inadvertent.

Section 2, Article III of the 1987 Constitution mandates that a search and seizure must be carried
out through or on the strength of a judicial warrant predicated upon the existence of probable
cause, absent which, such search and seizure become “unreasonable” within the meaning of said
constitutional provision. To protect the people from unreasonable searches and seizures, Section
3 (2), Article III of the 1987 Constitution provides that evidence obtained from unreasonable
searches and seizures shall be inadmissible in evidence for any purpose in any proceeding. In
other words, evidence obtained and confiscated on the occasion of such unreasonable searches
and seizures are deemed tainted and should be excluded for being the proverbial fruit of a
poisonous tree.

One of the recognized exceptions to the need of a warrant before a search may be effected is
when the “plain view” doctrine is applicable.

Objects falling in plain view of an officer who has a right to be in a position to have that view are
subject to seizure even without a search warrant and may be introduced in evidence. The ‘plain
view’ doctrine applies when the following requisites concur: (a) the law enforcement officer in
search of the evidence has a prior justification for an intrusion or is in a position from which he
can view a particular area; (b) the discovery of evidence in plain view is inadvertent; (c) it is
immediately apparent to the officer that the item he observes may be evidence of a crime,
contraband or otherwise subject to seizure. The law enforcement officer must lawfully make an
initial intrusion or properly be in a position from which he can particularly view the area. In the
course of such lawful intrusion, he came inadvertently across a piece of evidence incriminating
the accused. The object must be open to eye and hand and its discovery inadvertent.

Verily, it could not be gainsaid that the discovery was inadvertent when the police officers already
knew that there could be marijuana plants in the area. Armed with such knowledge, they would
naturally be more circumspect in their observations. In effect, they proceeded to Acosta's abode,
not only to arrest him for the mauling incident, but also to verify Salucana's report that Acosta was
illegally planting marijuana. Thus, the second requisite for the "plain view" doctrine is absent.
Considering that the "plain view" doctrine is inapplicable to the present case, the seized
marijuana plants are inadmissible in evidence against Acosta for being fruits of the poisonous
tree. The Court finds Acosta’s conviction to be improper and therefore, acquits him.
G.R. No. 217978, January 30, 2019

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. NANCY LASACA RAMIREZ a.k.a. “ZOY”


or “SOY”, Accused-Appellant.

Topic: R.A. No. 9208 – The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003

Facts: PO1 Nemenzo and 13 other members of the Regional Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force
conducted an entrapment operation based on their surveillance of a widespread secual service
for sale by young girls. During the entrapment operation Nancy Lasaca Ramirez a.k.a. “ZOY” or
“SOY” (Ramirez), approached them and told the policers she could provide the girls, who were
AAA and BBB both minors. The payment was given to BBB. The RTC found Ramirez guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of qualified trafficking of persons in relation to Sec. 4(e) of Republic Act
(R.A.) No. 9208, or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003. The CA affirmed the RTC ruling.

Issue: Whether Ramirez is guilty of R.A. No. 9208.

Held: Ramirez is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating R.A. No. 9208.

Sec. 6(a) of R.A. 9208 provides that a crime is considered trafficking if it involves the “recruitment,
transportation, transfer, harboring[,] or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation” even if it
does not involve any of the means stated under the law. Trafficking is considered qualified when
“the trafficked person is a child[.]” Here, accused-appellant was charged with having violated
qualified trafficking in relation to Sec. 4(e) of R.A. 9208, which provides that it is unlawful for
anyone “[t]o maintain or hire a person to engage in prostitution or pornography[.]”

The accused-appellant cannot use a valid defense either BBB’s and AAA’s consent to the
transaction, or that BBB received the payment of her behalf. In People v. Casio, the Court ruled
that “The victim’s consent is rendered meaningless due to the coercive, abusive or deceptive
means employed by perpetrators of human trafficking. Even without the use of coercive, abusive,
or deceptive means, a minor’s consent is not given out of his or her own free will.” Accused-
appellant hired children to engage in prostitution, taking advantage of their vulnerability as
minors, AAA’s and BBB’s acquiescence to the illicit transactions cannot be considered as a valid
defense.
G.R. No. 234240, February 6, 2019

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. NOEL NAVASERO, SR. Y HUGO,


Accused-Appellant.

Topic: Qualified Rape

Facts: Noel Navasero, Sr. y Hugo (Navasero) was charged with 15 counts of qualified rape.
According to AAA, Navasero’s biological daughter, the latter raped her from 2010 to 2013 for 15
when she was still a minor times, remembering the exact dates of the incidents. Navasero
contended that AAA's testimony should not be given weight for being too generalized and
incredible. He maintains that the rape incidents narrated by AAA were almost identical that in all
occasions. The RTC ruled against Navasero. The CA affirmed the RTC ruling.

Issue: Whether AAA’s testimony should be given weight for being too generalized and incredible.

Held: AAA’s testimony should be given weight despite being too generalized and incredible.

In rape cases, the credibility of the victim is almost always the single most important issue. If the
testimony of the victim passes the test of credibility, which means it is credible, natural,
convincing and consistent with human nature and the normal course of things, the accused may
be convicted solely on that basis.

The rule is settled that when the decision hinges on the credibility of witnesses and their
respective testimonies, the trial court's observations and conclusions deserve great respect and
are accorded finality, unless the records show facts or circumstances of material weight and
substance that the lower court overlooked, misunderstood or misappreciated, and which, if
properly considered, would alter the result of the case. This is so because trial courts are in the
best position to ascertain and measure the sincerity and spontaneity of witnesses through their
actual observation of the witnesses' manner of testifying, their demeanor and their behavior in
court. Trial judges, therefore, can better determine if such witnesses are telling the truth, being in
the ideal position to weigh conflicting testimonies. The rule finds an even more stringent
application where the said findings are sustained by the CA.

Here, both the trial court and appellate court found AAA's testimony to be straight, candid,
spontaneous and steadfast, even on cross-examination. While it is true that AAA's narrations
would always include the fact that Navasero forcibly removed her clothes and inserted his penis
inside her vagina, said fact alone does not necessarily belie her testimony for AAA was merely
recounting the very acts that constitute the crime itself. But even if we assume that AAA's
repeated and almost identical narration of the fifteen (15) times Navasero penetrated her casts
doubt on her credibility, a judicious review of her testimony reveals that she was able to describe
not just the sexual intercourse but also the precise circumstances surrounding each rape incident.
To the Court, AAA's recollection of the unique and notable details before, during, and even after
each act of abuse cannot simply be dismissed as fabricated.
G.R. No. 225744, March 6, 2019

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. JONATHAN VISTRO y BAYSIC,


Accused-Appellant.

Topic: RA 9165 – Dangerous Drugs Act

Facts: Jonathan Vistro y Baysic (appellant) appeals the decision of the CA that affirmed his
conviction for violation of Sec. 5, Art. II of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165, otherwise known as the
Comprehensive Drugs Act of 2002, by the RTC of San Carlos City, Pangasinan. The appellant
argues that he should be exonerated since the prosecution failed to establish the chain of custody
of the seized shabu. He contends that there was noncompliance by the arresting team of PDEA
and police officers with the requirement in Section 21, Article II of R.A. 9165, which was the law
applicable during the commission of the crime charged. Appellant specifically points out the
failure by the PDEA arresting team and police officers to conduct a physical inventory and take
photographs of the seized shabu in the presence of the witnesses mentioned in the law.

Issue: Whether the prosecution failed to establish the chain of custody of the seized shabu.

Held: The prosecution failed to establish the chain of custody of the seized shabu.

Section 21, Article II of R.A. 9165, which was the law applicable during the commission of the
crime, delineates the mandatory procedural safeguards in a buy bust operation. The pertinent
portion 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.”

A justifiable reason for such failure or a showing of any genuine and sufficient effort to
secure the required witnesses under Section 21 of R.A. 9165 must be adduced. In People v.
Umipang, the Court held that the prosecution must show that earnest efforts were employed in
contacting the representatives enumerated under the law. Jurisprudence requires that in the
event that the presence of the essential witnesses was not obtained, the prosecution must
establish not only the reasons for their absence, but also the fact that serious and sincere efforts
were exerted in securing their presence. Failure to disclose the justification for noncompliance
with the requirements and the lack of evidence of serious attempts to secure the presence of the
necessary witnesses result in a substantial gap in the chain of custody of evidence that shall
adversely affect the authenticity of the prohibited substance presented in court.

In this case, while a barangay official signed as a witness in the Certificate of Inventory, there was
no mention that the inventory and photograph of the seized shabu was done in the presence of
representatives from the media and the DOJ. The arresting officer merely testified that the buy-
bust team marked the seized shabu in the police station since the barangay captain and other
officials of the place where the crime was committed were relatives of the appellant. He failed to
provide a justifiable ground for the absence of the representatives from the media and the DOJ
during the inventory and photograph of the seized shabu at the police station. The failure of the
prosecution to secure the attendance of these witnesses, without providing any reasonable
justification therefor, creates doubt as to the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized shabu.
Thus, there is no recourse for this Court other than to reverse the conviction of appellant.
G.R. No. 238117, February 4, 2019

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. EDWIN ALCONDE Y MADLA AND


JULIUS QUERQUELA Y REBACA, Accused-Appellants.

Topic: Chain of custody

Facts: Alconde was charged with illegal possession and sale of dangerous drugs under RA 9165
after being apprehended in a buy-bust operation, wherein he gave 2 sachets of shabu in
exchange for P1000 worth of marked money. 1 sachet of marijuana fruit tops were also
discovered on him after performing a body search. In his defense, Alconde averred that he was
sleeping in a hut when a police officer kicked the door open, pointed a gun at him, tied his hands,
and brought him to the police station. RTC convicted him. CA affirmed.

Issue: Whether the CA correctly upheld accused-appellants' conviction.

Held: CA correctly incorrectly upheld the conviction. Alconde’s appeal is meritorious for failure to
comply with the rules on the chain of custody.

In cases for illegal sale and possession of drugs under RA 9165, it is essential that the identity of
the dangerous drugs be established with moral certainty, since the identity of the drug is an
integral part of the corpus delicti of the crime. Failure to prove this renders the evidence
insufficient to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. The identity of the drug is
established through the chain of custody procedure, which requires that the marking, physical
inventory, and photography of the seized items be conducted immediately after seizure and
confiscation of the same.

The law further requires that the said inventory and photography be done in the presence of the
accused or the person from whom the items were seized, or his representative or counsel, as well
as certain required witnesses, namely: (a) if prior to the amendment of RA 9165 by RA 10640,a
representative from the media AND the Department of Justice, and any elected public official; or
(b) if after the amendment of RA 9165 by RA 10640, an elected public official and a
representative of the National Prosecution Service OR the media

In this case, the inventory and photography of the seized items were not conducted in the
presence of the required witnesses, namely: an elected public official and a representative of the
National Prosecution Service or the media. As the records show, the taking of photographs was
immediately done upon the arrest but only in the presence of accused-appellants. It was only
later when the police officers proceeded to the police precinct that a singular witness, Brgy. Capt.
Malingin (an elected public official), was called to attend the marking and inventory of the
confiscated items. Evidently, this procedure veers away from what is prescribed by law.

At this juncture, it is important to note that compliance with the chain of custody procedure is
strictly enjoined as the same has been regarded "not merely as a procedural technicality but as a
matter of substantive law."
G.R. No. 221428, February 13, 2019

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. RENATO GALUGA Y WAD-AS, Accused-


Appellants.

Topic: Rape

Facts: Galuga was charged with the crime of rape against AAA, with the aggravating
circumstance that AAA was a minor at the time of the crime. Galuga approached AAA while she
was sitting in the park then forcibly dragged her to a parlor in the marketplace after she refused to
accompany him. In the parlor, he took of AAA’s clothes and inserted his penis into her vagina,
and threatened to kill her with a knife protruding from his bag when she resisted. For his defense,
Galuga argued that there were inconsistencies and contradictions in AAA’s testimony, and
highlighted the victim’s failure to immediately inform her parents that she was raped. RTC
convicted Galuga. CA affirmed.

Issue: Whether CA erred in convicting Galuga of the crime charged.

Held: CA did not err in convicting Galuga of the crime charged. SC saw no compelling reason to
reverse or modify the factual findings of the RTC.

The records of the case clearly bear out that accused-appellant had carnal knowledge of AAA
through the use of force, threat, and intimidation. AAA categorically narrated that accused-
appellant had inserted his penis into her vagina against her will.

The RTC found, and the Court of Appeals affirmed, that AAA’s testimony was straightforward,
convincing, and consistent. Between accused-appellant’s plain denial and AAA’s categorical
testimony, the SC gave weight to the latter, especially because accused-appellant admitted that
he was actually found together with AAA in front of N’s Restaurant by AAA’s father and
prosecution witnesses Borja and Garlitos.

AAA could not have been compelled by a motive other than to bring to justice the despoiler of her
virtue. There was no showing that she was moved by anger or any ill motive against accused-
appellant or that she was unduly pressured or influenced by anyone to charge accused-appellant
with the serious crime of rape. Where there is no evidence that the principal witness for the
prosecution was actuated by improper motive, the presumption is that he/she was not so
actuated and his/her testimony is entitled to full credence

SC also denied Galuga’s prayer for withdrawal of his appeal as he is ineligible to apply for either
parole or probation.
G.R. No. 232645, February 18, 2019

PEOPLE OF THE PHlLIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ANTONIO BALDERRAMA Y DE LEON,


Accused-Appellant.

Topic: Chain of Custody – RA 9165

Facts: Balderrama was charged under section 5 of RA 9165 for selling, delivering and distributing
dangerous drugs. Following the version of the Prosecution, a buy-bust operation was carried out
wherein Balderrama was apprehended after exchanging one sachet of shabu for marked money
worth P500. According to the defense, Balderrama was in bed inside his house when 3 men in
civilian attire barged in, held him by the wrists, and searched his house without a warrant. He was
then brought to the police station photographed with sachets of shabu and a P500 bill. RTC
convicted him. CA affirmed.

Issue: Whether CA erred in convicting Balderrama of the crime charged.

Held: CA erred in convicting Balderrama. Balderrama’s appeal is meritorious for failure to comply
with the rules on the chain of custody.

The noncompliance with the custody rule by the apprehending officers is readily apparent
considering that the witnesses required by law during the taking of inventory and photographs
were not present. No representatives from the media and Department of Justice were present
during the conduct of the inventory.

The chain of custody rule does provide a saving clause. Section 21(a) of the IRR states “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.”

Hence, It is well to note that the absence of these required witnesses does not per se render the
confiscated items inadmissible. However, a justifiable reason for such failure or a showing of any
genuine and sufficient effort to secure the required witnesses under Section 21 of RA 9165 must
be adduced.

Verily, mere statements of unavailability, absent actual serious attempts to contact the required
witnesses are unacceptable as justified grounds for non-compliance. These considerations arise
from the fact that police officers are ordinarily given sufficient time - beginning from the moment
they have received the information about the activities of the accused until the time of his arrest -
to prepare for a buy-bust operation and consequently, make the necessary arrangements
beforehand knowing full well that they would have to strictly comply with the set procedure
prescribed in Section 21 of RA 9165. As such, police officers are compelled not only to state
reasons for their non compliance, but must in fact, also convince the Court that they exerted
earnest efforts to comply with the mandated procedure, and that under the given circumstances,
their actions were reasonable. The non-compliance with the rule, aggravated by a failure to
justify, inevitably warrants the acquittal of accused-appellant.
G.R. No. 230615, March 4, 2019

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. HERMOGENES MANAGAT, JR. Y DE


LEON AND DINDO CARACUEL Y SULIT, Accused-Appellants.

Topic: Chain of Custody - RA 9165

Facts: Managat and Caracuel were charged with the illegal sale and possession of dangerous
drugs. The version of the prosecution provides that they were arrested after a buy-bust operation
wherein they handed over a folded newspaper containing dried marijuana leaves after being paid
with marked money. Both Managat and Caracuel denied the charge. According to Managat, he
was at home when 2 police officers knocked at his door, searched his house, and brought him to
the police station. Caracuel testified that he was collecting payment for his longganisa when he
was blocked, frisked and brought to the station by the same police officers. RTC convicted
Managat and Caracuel. CA affirmed, ruling that the chain of custody was unbroken.

Issue: Whether CA erred in convicting Managat and Caracuel for illegal sale of dangerous drugs.

Held: Whether CA erred in convicting the accused-appellants. They are acquitted of the charge
as their guilt had not been established beyond reasonable doubt.

It is crucial that the integrity of the seized drug be preserved; in this regard, the prosecution must
prove an unbroken chain of custody over the subject illegal drug. The prosecution failed to
establish an unbroken chain of custody of the seized drug.

The prosecution has the burden to show "every link in the chain, from the moment the dangerous
drug was seized from the accused until the time it is offered in court as evidence." Failure to
strictly comply with the rule, however, does not ipso facto invalidate or render void the seizure
and custody over the items as long as the prosecution is able to show that "(a) there is justifiable
ground for non-compliance; and (b) the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items are
properly preserved.

While PO2 Ortega testified that he turned over the seized item to PO3 Gibe and PO1 Tamayo,
neither of these investigators were presented in court to testify to the circumstances surrounding
their receipt of the seized drug. Since they did not testify to confirm the receipt and turnover of the
seized item, a gap in the chain of custody is thereby created. Not only this, the Court observed
that the person who received the items at the crime laboratory was not identified by both PO1
Villamayor and PO2 Ortega in their respective testimonies. Notably, the testimony of the forensic
chemist was dispensed with by the prosecution.

Aside from the gaps in the chain of custody of the seized specimen, the Court observes that no
photograph and inventory of the seized item were made in the presence of an elected public
official, a representative of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and of the media. While strict
compliance may not always be possible, the prosecution has the burden to prove justifiable
reasons for non-compliance. No explanation was, however, offered for non-compliance with
Section 21 of RA 9165.
G.R. No. 229099, February 27, 2019

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. JOY ANGELES Y AGBOLOS, Accused-


Appellant.

Topic: RA 9165 - Chain of Custody

Facts: Angeles was charged with illegal sale and illegal possession of dangerous drugs. She was
caught in a buy-bust operation after she handed over 2 sachets of shabu in exchange for P500
worth of marked money. A police officer marked the item he bought from appellant with "RGCL"
He also marked the two sachets recovered from appellant with "RGC2" and "RGC3." He likewise
prepared the Confiscation Receipt at the place of incident, and submitted all these when Angeles
was brought to the police station. For the defense, Angeles claimed that she was trying to buy
medicine for her sick mother and enlisted the help of a tricycle driver. Instead of handing her
medicine, the driver instead gave her a P500 bill, and it was at this point that the police appeared,
poked guns at her, and brought her to the police station. RTC convicted her. CA Affirmed. Both
courts ruled that the elements of the crime were established, and that the chain of custody rule
was observed.

Issue: Whether Angeles is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal sale and possession of
dangerous drugs.

Held: Angeles is found to be guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged. The
prosecution proved with moral certainty the elements of illegal sale and illegal possession of
dangerous drugs.

As regards illegal sale of dangerous drug, the prosecution established: (i) the identity of the seller
(appellant) and the buyer (PO3 Cayabyab), the object (a sachet of shabu) and consideration
(P500.00 marked money) of the sale as well as (ii) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment
for the same.

On the other hand, the elements of illegal possession of dangerous drugs were also proved here.
Appellant was found to be in possession of two heat sealed sachets containing white crystalline
granules, which upon examination, tested positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu).
Likewise, her possession thereof was not shown to be authorized by law; and, she freely and
consciously possessed such illegal drugs

As to the chain of custody rule, the prosecution established that the buy-bust team fully complied
with the requirements under Section 21, RA 9165, as amended.

PO3 Cayabyab immediately marked with his initials and their corresponding numbers ("RGC1,"
"RGC2," and "RGC3") the item subject of the buy-bust sale as well as the two sachets recovered
from appellant. He also promptly conducted an inventory of these items at the place of incident.
Such marking and inventory were made in the presence of an elective public official (Barangay
Kagawad Dizon) and a representative from the DOJ (Prosecutor Catungal). Added to these, PO2
Naungayan took pictures of the marking and inventory of the recovered items.

Thereafter, at the police station, PO3 Cayabyab turned over to their Duty Investigator PO2
Naungayan the seized sachets; in turn, the investigator prepared the necessary request for the
examination of these items; thereafter, PO3 Cayabyab brought the Request and the items to the
Crime Laboratory; PCSI Roderos, the Forensic Chemist at the Crime Laboratory received the
Request and the sachets with these initials: "RGC1," "RGC2," and "RGC3;" she placed thereat
the control number (D-217-2013L), the names of the specimens (A-1, A-2, A-3), their respective
weight (0.1 gram, 0.04 gram, and 0.03 gram), as well as her initials ("EBR"). PCSI Roderos
testified that the subject items tested positive for the presence of methamphetamine
hydrochloride, and that the specimens presented in court were the same ones she earlier
examined at the Crime Laboratory.
G.R. No. 229823, February 27, 2019

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ROGER ACABO, Accused-Appellant.

Topic: Murder

Facts: Acabo was charged with the murder of Paltingca using a short firearm. According to the
Prosecution witness, Paltignca was going uphill to pasture his cow at 6:00 am when he was
waylaid by Acabo and then shot. Paltingca fell down and rolled downhill. Afterwards, the witness
informed the victim’s brother of what she had seen. Acabo, who was employed at a construction
site, claimed he awoke at 5:00 am, washed his clothes, prepared his breakfast, and waited for his
work to begin. RTC convicted Acabo, in part because of the positive identification of the witness.
CA affirmed. Both courts also found that the killing was attended with treachery.

Issue: Whether Acobo is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal sale and possession of
dangerous drugs

Held: SC finds no reason to reverse the CA in affirming the ruling of the RTC finding appellant
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder.

As a rule, the trial courts' findings and conclusions on the credibility of witnesses are accorded
respect because it has the first-hand opportunity to observe the demeanor of witnesses when
they testify. Absent any arbitrariness, oversight or misappropriation of facts, the Court has no
reason to overturn the factual findings of the trial court. Based on Josephine's direct and
straightforward testimony, it was established that appellant was one of the perpetrators of the
crime.

Acobo's defenses of denial and alibi must fail for being self-serving and unreliable as against the
positive identification of the witness that he killed Paltingca. For the defense of alibi to prosper,
not only must the accused prove that he was at some other place at the time of the perpetration
of the crime but also that it was physically impossible for him to be at the place where the crime
was committed. Here, this requirement was not met.

The SC also affirmed the findings of the RTC and the CA that the killing of Paltingca was
attended with treachery, which qualified the crime to murder. There is treachery when the
offender commits any of the crimes against the person, employing means, methods, or forms in
the execution thereof, which tend directly and specially to ensure its execution without risk to
himself arising from the defense that the offended party might make. Paltingca was walking uphill
totally unaware of the impending attack upon him. He was caught off guard when his assailant
suddenly approached and shot him with a gun. The stealth by which the attack was carried out
gave Alberto no chance to evade the same. Indeed, the unexpected assault upon the victim and
the fact that the assailant did not sustain any injury evinces treachery.
G.R. No. 227187, March 4, 2019

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ERIC L. SEVILLA, Accused-Appellant.

Topic: RA 9165 - Chain of custody

Facts: Sevilla was charged with the illegal sale and illegal possession of dangerous drugs, after a
buy-bust operation was conducted wherein Sevilla handed 2 packets of marijuana leaves to
police officers in exchange for P100 of marked money with the initials “JAM”. Sevilla was later
apprehended and frisked, with the officers recovering the marked money and 10 more packets of
marijuana. In his defense, Sevilla testified that he was walking home one evening when 10 men
started following him. One of the men apprehended him and accused him of carrying marijuana.
He was then brought to the police station where photographs of him with marijuana were taken.
The RTC convicted Sevilla, as it found his denial and alibi weak. CA affirmed.

Issue: Whether Sevilla should be convicted of illegal sale and illegal possession.

Held: Sevilla is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Secs. 5 and 11 of Article II of
RA 9165. Prosecution was able to sufficiently establish a clear and unbroken chain of custody of
the seized illegal drugs in the case at bar.

For illegal possession of dangerous drugs, it should be established that the accused was in
possession of an item or object identified to be a prohibited drug, which possession was not
authorized by law and that the accused freely and consciously possessed the drug. Further, apart
from showing that the elements of possession or sale were present, the fact that the dangerous
drug illegally possessed and sold was the same drug offered in court as exhibit must likewise be
established with the same degree of certitude as that needed to sustain a guilty verdict. Hence,
the identity of the dangerous drug must be established with moral certainty.

There is no dispute that the poseur-buyer during the buy-bust operation marked the seized
marijuana at the place and time of the arrest. The buy-bust team then proceeded immediately to
the Panabo City Police Station where they conducted the inventory of the seized items and took
photographs thereof in the presence of appellant, appellant's representative, a member of the
media, an elected official and a representative from the DOJ. Indeed, the police officers complied
the requirements of the law contrary to the protestation of appellant.

During trial, the prosecution was able to establish that after arresting accused-appellant, police
officers marked the marijuana subject of the buy-bust transactions with their signature and initials.
The said items were marked at the scene of the crime in the presence of accused-appellant.
Thereafter, the seized drugs were taken along with the appellant to Panabo City Police Station
where they conducted physical inventory and took photographs of the items. During this time, the
packs of marijuana that were the subject of the buy-bust transaction remained in the possession
of the officers.

Then, the officers brought the drugs to the provincial crime laboratory in Tagum for laboratory
examination examination as evidenced by the Letter Request dated 26 May 2010. The items
were duly received by a member of the laboratory, who weighed the said items and thereafter
placed his signature and final weight of the specimens on each pack. Afterwards, the items were
turned over to the evidence custodian, and then to the forensic chemist for a chemical
examination. All the seized items were found positive for the presence of marijuana as evidenced
by Chemistry Report No. D-040DN-2010 dated 26 May 2010.The Police Superintendent then
placed the markings "A1" and "A2", as well as her signature and the case control number, on the
two packs of marijuana subject of the buy-bust transaction. Finally, the marked packs were turned
over to the evidence custodian of the Provincial Crime Laboratory, and the same was used during
the trial.
G.R. No. 231838, March 4, 2019

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. FRANKIE MAGALONG Y MARAMBA** @


ANGKIE, Accused-Appellant.

Topic: RA 9165 - Chain of custody

Facts: Magalong was charged with violating RA 9165 for the illegal possession and illegal sale of
drugs. Magalong was caught in a buy-bust operation wherein he exchanged a packet containing
shabu for marked money. He was apprehended and frisked, then brought to the police station. As
a defense, Magalong claimed that he was at the Japanese Garden with his cousin, drinking liquor
at the seashore. As he was going, somebody asked him if he was Frankie Magalong. When he
replied in the affirmative, he was instantly grasped and boarded in a red car. He was then brought
to the police station. RTC convicted Magalong. CA affirmed.

Issue: Whether Magalong can be convicted of illegal sale of shabu as prohibited by RA 9165.

Held: Magalong is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Sec. 5 Article II of RA 9165.
He failed to overcome the burden of proof in defeating the presumption that the police officers
properly performed their official duties.

SC found that all the requisites for the sale of an illegal drug were met. Based on the testimonies
of IO1 Tabuyo and Inocencio, which were supported by the documentary evidence offered by the
prosecution and admitted by the trial court, the identities of IO1 Tabuyo as the buyer, Magalong
as the seller, the shabu as the dangerous drug, and the P500.00 bill as the marked money, as
well as the fact that the sale actually took place, have all been proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Moreover, contrary to Magalong’s position, the confidential informant need not be presented in
order to successfully hold him criminally liable. Confidential informants are usually not presented
in court because of the need to hide their identity and preserve their invaluable service to the
police.

Further, the chain of custody does not suffer from any fatal flaw. the links in the chain of custody
that must be established are: (1) the seizure and marking, if practicable, of the illegal drug
recovered from the accused by the apprehending officer; (2) the turnover of the seized illegal
drug by the apprehending officer to the investigating officer; (3) the turnover of the illegal drug by
the investigating officer to the forensic chemist for laboratory examination; and (4) the turnover
and submission of the illegal drug from the forensic chemist to the court.

In this case, Magalong did not present any evidence to substantiate his allegation that the
integrity and evidentiary value of the shabu presented as evidence at the trial have been
compromised at some point. Instead, the body of evidence adduced by the prosecution supports
the conclusion that the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized illegal drug were preserved
and safeguarded through an unbroken chain of custody - from the arresting officers, to the
investigating officer, then to the forensic chemist, and until the dangerous drug was presented in
court. Certainly, the evidence submitted by the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt the
crucial links in the chain, starting from its seizure and confiscation from Magalong until its
presentation as proof of the corpus delicti before the RTC.