Criminal Law

Dangerous Drugs Cases resolved following the amendment of RA 9165 by RA 10640

PEOPLE VS. LUMAYA March 2018

Under varied field conditions, strict compliance with the requirements of Sec. 21, Art. II of R.A. No. 9165 may not always be possible; the IRR of R.A. No. 9165 which is now crystallized into statutory law with the passage of R.A. No. 10640 provides that the said inventory and photography may be conducted at the nearest police station or office of the apprehending team in instances of warrantless seizure, and that non-compliance with the requirements of Sec. 21, Art. II of R.A. No. 9165, under justifiable grounds, will not render void and invalid the seizure and custody over the seized items so long as the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending officer or team; the failure of the apprehending team to strictly comply with the procedure laid out in Sec. 21, Art. II of R.A. No. 9165 and its IRR does not ipso facto render the seizure and custody over the items as void and invalid, provided that the prosecution satisfactorily proves that: (a) there is justifiable ground for non-compliance; and (b) the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved; People v. Almorfe and People v. De Guzman, cited. 

PEOPLE VS. SOOD  June 2018

Sec. 21, Art. II of R.A. No.  9165 was amended by R.A. No. 10640 which imposed less stringent requirements in the procedure; the amendment was approved only on July 15, 2014; as the crime in this case was committed on January 28, 2009, the original version of Sec. 21 is applicable; the plain import of Sec. 21 of R.A. No. 9165 is that the buy-bust team is to conduct the physical inventory and photographing of the seized items immediately after seizure and confiscation in the presence of the accused, his counsel, or representative, a representative of the DOJ, the media, and an elected public official, who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy thereof; and only if this is not practicable, can the inventory and photographing be done as soon as the buy-bust team reaches the nearest police station or the nearest office of the apprehending officer/team; here, the buy-bust team admittedly failed to comply with the foregoing requirements. 

PEOPLE VS. SIPIN  June 2018

The failure of the prosecution to establish an unbroken chain of custody was compounded by the police officers’ non-compliance with the procedure for the custody and disposition of seized dangerous drugs as set forth in Sec. 21(1), Art. II of R.A. No. 9165; Sec. 21(a), Art. II of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of R.A. No. 9165 filled in the details as to where the inventory and photographing of seized items had to be done, and added a saving clause in case the procedure is not followed; R.A. No. 10640, which amended Sec. 21 of R.A. No. 9165, now only requires two (2) witnesses to be present during the conduct of the physical inventory and taking of photograph of the seized items, namely: (a) an elected public official; and (b) either a representative from the National Prosecution Service or the media; however, under the original provision of Sec. 21 and its IRR, which is applicable at the time the appellant committed the crimes charged, the apprehending team was required to immediately conduct a physical inventory and photograph the drugs after their seizure and confiscation in the presence of no less than three (3) witnesses; purpose. 

PEOPLE VS. GA-A  June 2018

R.A. No. 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, being the law in place at the time of the commission of the offense and being more favorable to the accused than its successor, R.A. No. 10640, shall apply in this case; Sec. 3(ii), Art. I of R.A. No. 9165 defines “selling” as any act of giving away any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical whether for money or any other consideration; in the context of a buy-bust operation, its elements are: 1) that the transaction or sale took place between the accused and the poseur buyer; and 2) that the dangerous drugs subject of the transaction or sale is presented in court as evidence of the corpus delicti. 

PEOPLE VS. ANDRADA  June 2018

Sec. 1 of R.A. No, 10640, which amended Sec. 21 (1) of R.A. No. 9165, now requires only two (2) witnesses to be present during the conduct of the physical inventory and taking of photograph of the seized items, namely: (a) an elected public official; and (b) either a representative from the National Prosecution Service or the media. 

PEOPLE v. BATTUNG June 2018

R.A. No. 10640, which amended Sec. 21 of R.A. No. 9165, now only requires two (2) witnesses to be present during the conduct of the physical inventory and taking of photograph of the seized items, namely: (a) an elected public official; and (b) either a representative from the National Prosecution Service or the media.

PEOPLE VS. LUNA March 2018

The law puts in place requirements of time, witnesses and proof of inventory with respect to the custody of seized dangerous drugs, to wit: 

1) the initial custody requirements must be done immediately after seizure or confiscation; 

2) the physical inventory and photographing must be done in the presence of: a. the accused or his representative or counsel; b. the required witnesses: i. a representative from the media and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official for offenses committed during the effectivity of R.A. No. 9165 and prior to its amendment by R.A. No. 10640; ii. an elected public official and a representative of the National Prosecution Service of the DOJ or the media for offenses committed during the effectivity of R.A. No. 10640. 

PEOPLE VS. CRISPO March 2018

The procedure in Sec. 21 of R.A. No. 9165, as amended by R.A. No. 10640, is a matter of substantive law, and cannot be brushed aside as a simple procedural technicality; or worse, ignored as an impediment to the conviction of illegal drug suspects; as such, since the prosecution failed to provide justifiable grounds for non-compliance with Sec. 21 of R.A. No. 9165, as amended by R.A. No. 10640, as well as its IRR, the accused’s acquittal is perforce in order.

PEOPLE V. ACUB June 2019 [Leonen, J.]

Narcotic substances are not readily identifiable. To determine their composition and nature, they must undergo scientific testing and analysis. Narcotic substances are also highly susceptible to alteration, tampering, or contamination. It is imperative, therefore, that the drugs allegedly seized from the accused are the very same objects tested in the laboratory and offered in court as evidence. The chain of custody, as a method of authentication, ensures that unnecessary doubts involving the identity of seized drugs are removed.

Section 21 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, as amended by R. A. No. 10640, provides the manner of custody and disposition of confiscated, seized, and/or surrendered drugs and/or drug paraphernalia.

PEOPLE v. DELOCIEMBRE June 2018

Section 21, Article II of RA 9165 outlines the procedure which the police officers must follow when handling the seized drugs in order to preserve their integrity and evidentiary value. Under the said section, prior to its amendment by RA 10640, the apprehending team shall, among others, immediately after seizure and confiscation conduct a physical inventory and photograph the seized items in the presence of the accused or the person from whom the items were seized, or his representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the DOJ, and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy of the same. Indeed, the x x x presence of such witnesses would have preserved an unbroken chain of custody.”

PEOPLE VS. BINTAIB April 2018

The saving clause in the IRR, which is now incorporated in Sec. 21 of R.A. No. 9165, as amended by R.A. No. 10640, may operate because non-compliance with the prescribed procedural requirements would not automatically render the seizure and custody of the illegal drug invalid; however, this is true only when: (1) there is a justifiable ground for such noncompliance; and (2) the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized item/s are preserved; the prosecution failed to satisfy both conditions.

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