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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION

G.R. Nos. 78813-14 November 8, 1993


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
FARHAD HATANI y ABOLHASSAN, accused-appellant.
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
Nestor I. Madlansacay, counsel de parte for accused-appellant.
Nasser A. Marohomsalic, collaborating counsel for accused-appellant.

QUIASON, J.:
This is an appeal from the decisions of the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 105, Quezon City, convicting appellant in Criminal Cases No.
Q-11867 and No. Q-11868.
The dispositive portion of the decision in Criminal Case No. Q-11867
reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court
finds the accused Farhad Hatani y Abolhassan,
GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of illegal
practice of medicine in violation of R.A. 2382
otherwise known as the Medical Act of 1959
(Secs. 8, 10) penalized by Section 28 thereof with
"a fine of not less than one thousand pesos nor
more than ten thousand pesos with subsidiary
imprisonment in case of insolvency, or by
imprisonment of not less than one year nor more
than five years, or by both such fine and
imprisonment, in the discretion of the court; and
considering the circumstances of the case and the
ignominy caused by him to his two teen-aged,
female, then unmarried victims, this Court
exercising its discretion granted under said
Section 28 of the law, hereby SENTENCES said
accused FARHAD HATANI Y ABOLHASSAN to
pay a fine of ten thousand pesos (P10,000.00)
with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency
AND to suffer imprisonment of five (5) years; and
to pay the costs.
This Court further recommends that after service
of his sentence the accused be deported as
undesirable alien (Rollo, p. 35).
The dispositive portion of the decision in Criminal Case No. Q-11868
reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court
finds the accused, FARHAD HATANI y

ABOLHASSAN, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt


of the crime of rape punishable under Article 335
of the Revised Penal Code and hereby
SENTENCES said accused to suffer life
imprisonment orreclusion perpetua; and to
indemnify the complainant, Precila Borja, in the
sum of fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) and to
pay costs (Rollo, p. 41).
The information in Criminal Case No. Q-11867 charged appellant with
illegal practice of medicine, in violation of R.A. No. 2382, otherwise
known as the Medical Act of 1959, committed as follows:
That on or about the 6th day of July, 1979, in
Quezon City, Philippines the above named
accused, knowing fully well that he has not
satisfactorily passed the corresponding Board
Examination, neither is he a holder of a valid
Certificate of Registration duly issued by the Board
of Medical Examiners, as in fact he does not even
appear to have taken or completed the course
leading to a medical degree, did, then and there,
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously for
compensation, fee and salary, paid to him directly,
physically examined Priscila (sic) Borja Y Loquero
and Wilma Borja Y Loquero, diagnosed, treated
and administer injections on the persons of
Prescila (sic) Borja Y Loquero and Wilma Borja Y
Loquero, in Violation of Section 10, in relation to
Section 28, Republic Act No. 2382 (Records, Vol.
I, p. 1).
The information in Criminal Case No. Q-11868, charged appellant with
Rape, committed as follows:
That on or about the 6th day of July, 1979, in
Quezon City, Philippines, the above-named
accused, with lewd designs, and while she was
deprived of reason or unconscious after having
been drugged or administered medicine, did, then
and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have
sexual intercourse with the undersigned PRECILA
BORJA Y LOQUERO without her consent and
against her will, to her damage and prejudice in
such amount as may be awarded under the
provisions of the Civil Code (Records, Vol. II, p. 1).
It appears that in the morning of July 6, 1979, Agustina Borja visited
her comadre, Maura Fontreras, and requested malunggay leaves as
medication for her 16-year old daughter, Precila, who had high fever
and loose bowel movement. Upon learning that Precila was sick,
Marita, Maura's daughter, introduced Agustina to her husband,
appellant herein, whom she said was a medical doctor. Marita
suggested that her husband treat Precila and Agustina agreed.
Appellant and Marita went to the Borja residence, where he examined
Precila. He gave her tablets to take and administered two injections (to
her), one in the morning and the second at noon. After each injection,
Precila would feel dizzy and fall asleep.
It was appellant's diagnosis that Precila was a drug addict and required
further observation and treatment. Appellant offered to attend to Precila
at his house and again, Agustina agreed in the belief that her daughter
was a drug addict.

In the evening of the same day, Precila was fetched by appellant and
Marita and was brought to appellant's house. Again, Precila was given
an injection which caused her to sleep. When she awoke, she realized
that she was naked and her entire body was in pain. Appellant was
seated on the bed and was fondling her private parts. Shocked, Precila
called for her mother and tried to get up. Appellant, however, punched
her on the chest and forced her to lie down. He pressed a pillow on her
face and injected her again, causing her to fall asleep.

The Handwriting Identification Report (Exh. "I") on the prescription slips


showed that these were written by the appellant himself. The report on
the chemistry examination of the seized tablets and capsules (Exhs.
"J" "J-1") confirmed the presence of mogadon, dalmane and valium.

When Precila awoke the second time, she found appellant in bed with
her. He was naked and fondling her private parts. The pain all over her
body lingered. When Precila touched her private parts, she saw blood
stains on her hand. She tried to stand up but she was too weak.
Appellant gave her another injection rendering her unconscious.

The defense's version is that in the evening of July 6, 1976, Agustina


and Precila Borja visited the mother-in-law of the appellant, Maura
Fontreras. In the course of the conversation, Agustina asked Marita if
she could help Precila. Marita obliged and agreed to take care of
Precila for the night and allow her to sleep in her bedroom.

The following morning, Agustina went to fetch Precila. Upon reaching


the Fontreras' residence, she went straight to the bedroom, where, to
her great dismay, she found Precila and appellant both asleep and
naked. She hurriedly dressed up Precila and brought her home.

Precila and Marita chatted the whole night. Accordingly, Precila


confessed that she was not really sick. She merely related her
personal problems, involving her parents. She also admitted her vice,
such as drinking, smoking and taking drugs.

When Precila woke up, she noticed she was already home and her
mother was crying. Precila remained dizzy, with throbbing pains all
over her body. When talked to, she was incoherent.

Their talk lasted until the wee hours of the morning and during their
conversation, appellant would occasionally enter the room but he
never joined their discussion.

That evening, Precila's oldest sister, Josefina, a nurse by profession,


came home and saw Precila looking very weak. Her mother, who was
crying narrated what she had witnessed that morning. She also told
Josefina that appellant was in the other bedroom, treating another
sister, Wilma whom he also diagnosed as a drug addict. Josefina
immediately proceeded to the bedroom and saw appellant about to
inject Wilma.

Precila and Marita shared the same bed. Appellant; who was wearing
only his pajama pants, slept on the floor at the opposite end of the
room.

Josefina saw the open bag of appellant, which contained empty


capsules of dalmane and empty vials of valium. She inquired on the
need of the injection and appellant replied that a second shot of plain
distilled water was required to cure Wilma of her drug addiction.
Josefina told appellant to stop but he persisted. Only upon threat that
she would call the police did appellant stop. Appellant and his wife then
left the Borja residence.
The following day, Agustina and Josefina brought Precila and Wilma to
the Philippine Constabulary Headquarters at Camp Crame, Quezon
City, where Josefina and Wilma gave their statements (Exhs. "D" and
"F"). Precila was physically examined by a doctor, whose medical
report stated that Precila's hymen and "deep, healing lacerations" and
that "subject is in non-virgin state physically" (Exh. A). Several needle
puncture marks were also found on Precila's arms and buttocks.
A physical examination was likewise done on Wilma, which showed
that she too had a needle puncture, as shown in the Medico-Legal
Report (Exh. "L").
Acting on the complaint filed before the Constabulary Anti-Narcotics
Unit (CANU), a surveillance of appellant's residence was conducted.
Subsequently, a search warrant was secured from Judge Jose P.
Castro of the Court of First Instance of Quezon City. Armed with the
warrant, CANU agents raided appellant's residence on July 15, 1979.
Assorted drugs, such as dalmane, valium and mogadon, as well as
prescription pads in the name of Dr. Jesus Yap (Exhs. "H" "H-4") and
other medical instruments, such as a "thermometer, a
"hygomonometer (sic), stethoscope, syringes and needles, were
seized.

After the preliminary investigation, separate informations for rape and


violation of R.A. No. 2382 were filed. Appellant pleaded not guilty to
both crimes.

The following morning Agustina arrived and Marita related some of


Precila's problems. Nothing untoward happened that day and Agustina
headed for home while Precila and Marita followed later.
At past midnight of July 15, 1979, a raid was conducted by CANU
agents in the house of the appellant under the supervision of C1C
Agustin Timbol, Jr. The raid was made upon Josefina's complaint for
illegal possession of drugs.
Appellant and his wife were driven out of their bedroom, while threemen remained. Later, appellant was called to join them in the bedroom
and he was shocked to see assorted drugs scattered around. Appellant
denied owning them. Photographs were taken of him with the drugs. A
barangay official was called to attest to the list of the confiscated
drugs. Appellant, however, refused to sign the said list.
C1C Timbol offered to fur the case in exchange of money. Instead of
acceding, appellant demanded to see the search warrant. C1C Timbol
failed to show a warrant on the pretext that they were military men
without need of any identification or search warrant. Appellant, his wife
and brother-in-law were forced to join C1C Timbol for questioning in
Camp Crame. Upon boarding the van, appellant saw Josefina aboard
kissing C1C Timbol and both exchanged victory signs.
The trial court rendered two separate decisions and convicted the
appellant of both crimes. In finding appellant guilty of illegal purchase
of medicine, considerable weight was given to the prosecution's
exhibits.
The Professional Regulation Commission certified that appellant is not
among the list of registered physicians nor among those with special
permit to practice medicine in a limited scope (Exh. "K").
Appellant failed to refute the Handwriting Identification Report (Exh. "I")
released by the PC Crime Laboratory showing that the signature of Dr.
Jesus D. Yap (Exhs. "H" "H-4") prescribing medicine belonged to

him. The pictures also taken during the raid (Exhs. "G" - "G-8'"
undeniably reveal several medical equipment used by practicing
physicians.
Notwithstanding the trial court's finding that there was no direct
evidence of rape, it concluded that circumstantial evidence indicate
that rape was consummated by appellant considering the following:
1. The medico-legal examination of victim Precila,
taken on July 8, 1979 at 10:25 in the morning or
less than 48 hours from the evening of July 6,
1979 found "hymen with deep, healing lacerations
at 4, 6 and 9 o'clock position"; thus indicating that
the lacerations were recent as they are in the
process of healing; (Exh. "A-1")
2. The above undeniable findings of the expert
confirms the statement of the victim, a young girl
of 16 or 17 years of age, that when she held
private parts which were painful then, she noticed
blood. (tsn. Alma, Feb. 9, 1984, pp. 4-5).
The fresh laceration of the hymen further confirms the carnal assault.
(People vs. Ocampo, L-47335, Aug. 13, 1986)
3. In the two short waking moments of the victim
she noticed she was naked and beside her on the
same bed was the accused, also naked. (tsn.
Alma, Feb. 9, 1984, pp. 3-5)
4. The accused, then 21 years of age was in the
prime of youth, and the unconscious girl beside
him was just 16 or 17 years of age, thus in the full
bloom of womanhood. The sexual excitement on
the part of the accused was therefore exceedingly
great.
5. When the mother, Agustina, came into the room
of the accused that early morning of July 7, 1979
she saw her daughter and the accused on the
same bed and both naked. (tsn., Rogato, Jan. 27,
1981, p. 9)
6. The medico-legal found several needle
puncture marks on the arms and buttocks of
Precila (Exh. "A"); thus confirming Precila's
testimony that she had been injected by the
accused, rendering her unconscious (tsn. Alma,
Feb. 9, 1984, pp. 4-5; tsn., Nenita, May 21, 1984,
pp. 3-6; also pp. 29-30).
7. The medico-legal found the victim "in non-virgin
state physically." (Exh; "A-i")
8. At the time of the medico-legal examination, i.e.
morning of July 8, 1979, the victim was found to
be "incoherent." (Exh. A) after effect of the
injections or drugs.
9. At the time of the incident (July 6, 1979) the
Borjas and Frontreras (sic) were "comadres" and
neighbors. There is no enmity between and
among them.

10. Between accused and Marita on one hand,


and the victim, her mother, and sisters, on the
other hand, there was no misunderstanding before
the incident. There is absolutely absence of any
ulterior motive for the teen-aged victim or her
family to file the serious charge of rape which
would expose her to embarrassment of
examination of her private parts and public trial
(Rollo, pp. 38-39).
In his first assignment of error, appellant questions the credibility of the
prosecution witnesses.
Appellant faults complainant for recounting her ordeal only after four
years when she took the witness stand. This argument is misleading.
The record shows that the day after the rape, Josefina and Wilma
Borja, accompanied by their mother, Agustina, issued their statements
at Camp Crame. Agustina gave her statement twice on separate days.
Precila did not give any statement due to her weak condition but it
cannot be denied that she was instead physically examined. Suffice it
to say, the Medico Legal Report (Exh. "A") indicates swellings and
lacerations and concludes that Precila was no longer a virgin. Although
the records fail to show any sworn statement by Precila, such is not
fatal where the sworn affidavits of her mother, her two sisters and the
medico-legal report are sufficient to show probable cause of rape
(People v. Yambao, 193 SGRA 571 [1991]).
Precila was either dizzy or unconscious at the time she was sexually
abused. We find her testimony consistent and credible. While her
testimony is limited to the times when she would gain her
consciousness, it is not unlikely that such traumatic incidents would still
be engraved on her mind even four years after.
Appellant's assertion that Precila failed to inform her family of his
misdeeds is explainable. As correctly pointed out by the Solicitor
General, Precila was still dizzy and incoherent as a consequence of
the injections administered by appellant. In fact, when Precila was
physically examined by the doctor the day after, she was still sleepy
and groggy (TSN, March 31, 1980, pp. 7-8).
Appellant also finds it strange that considering the acts allegedly
committed by him against Precila, the medico-legal report fails to
specify any injuries on the body of Precila. Appellant need not inflict
heavy blows on Precila for the simple reason that she was under
sedation. The absence of the injuries does not negate the commission
of rape (People v. Torrevillas, 203 SCRA 576 [1991]; People v. Arenas,
198 172 [1991]) for rape may be committed after rendering a woman
unconscious (Art. 335, Revised Penal Code; People v. Gerones, 193
SCRA 263 [1991]).
Appellant alleges that Precila was no longer a virgin on that fateful day
and that her bleeding was actually the start of her menstrual cycle. It is
settled jurisprudence that virginity is not an essential element of rape
(People v. Corro, 197 SCRA 121 [1991]; People v. Banayo, 195 SCRA
543 [1991]). To claim that Precila's menstrual cycle began on that day
is highly speculative.
Appellant claims that the sworn statements of the Borjas (Exhs. "D",
"E" and "F") were antedated and were prepared after the illegal search
was conducted in his residence. He also cites some inconsistencies in
said statements. We find the claim to be devoid of merit. It is only now
on appeal that appellant disputes the execution of these affidavits.
When they were presented and offered as evidence, appellant failed to
raise such objections and to refute them.

The alleged inconsistencies in the testimony of the prosecution


witnesses merely refer to minor details, which cannot destroy their
credibility (People v. Doctolero, 193 SCRA 632 [1991]). This is also
true where statements made while on the witness stand are claimed to
be inconsistent with the affidavit, which are generally incomplete
(People v. Lagota, 194 SCRA 92 [1991]; People v. Avanzado, 158
SCRA 427 [1988]).
With regard to the second assignment of error, appellant insists that his
conviction arose from insufficient evidence and his failure to prove his
innocence.
Indeed, the circumstantial evidence established at the trial are more
than sufficient to prove the guilt of appellant. The Medico-Legal Report
on Precila, taken within 48 hours from the commission of rape
confirmed that her hymen had "deep, healing lacerations at 4, 6 and 9
o'clock position" and Precila was "in non-virgin state physically" (Exh.
"A"). Furthermore, the report confirms that Precila had at least six
needle puncture marks and swellings, which confirm that appellant had
injected her several times.
On the two occasions that Precila woke up, she positively stated that
appellant was with her on the bed and that they were both naked. She
also tried to free herself on both attempts from accused, but, he made
her unconscious through injections (TSN, February 9, 1984, pp. 3-5).
This is corroborated by the testimony of Agustina, who saw her
daughter and accused together naked on bed (TSN, January 27, 1981,
p. 9). These unbroken chain of events leads one to a fair and
reasonable conclusion that accused actually raped Precila.
As held in People v. Yambao, supra, credence is given to the findings
of the trial court where the rape victim's testimony is buttressed by the
corroborative testimony of the mother and the medico-legal report, as
well as the report of the police investigator.
It must also be borne in mind that at the time of the commission of the
crime, Precila was just sixteen years old. No young lady at the prime of
her youth would concoct a story of defloration, allow an examination of
her intimate parts and later bare herself to the disgrace brought to her
honor in a public trial unless she was motivated solely by a desire to
have the culprit apprehended and brought to justice (People v. Patilan,
197 SCRA 354 [1991]; People v. Yambao, 193 SCRA 571 [1991]).
Appellant claims that his right to be presumed innocent was violated.
He cites the trial court's decision holding that it.
. . . finds that with these circumstantial evidences
(sic) pieced together the prosecution has proved
the crime of rape, and the burden shifted on the
defense to show the contrary (Rollo, p. 40).
Appellant was afforded a fair trial and in fact he availed of surrebuttal
evidence. The statement of the trial court, as correctly argued by the
Solicitor General, implies that the circumstantial evidence is sufficient
to support appellant's conviction unless the defense is able to provide
evidence to the contrary.

perusal of the photographs showing accused during the raid, fails to


indicate any protestation by him. In fact, the other photographs (Exhs.
"G-l", "G-2", "G-4" "G-8") do not bear any sign of disorder, in
contrast to appellant's testimony that his room was made into a mess
during the raid.
The records fail to disclose a copy of a search warrant. However, the
prosecution was able to present its return (Exh. "ZZ") and we are
satisfied that indeed a lawful search warrant was obtained. Besides,
the judge who granted the search warrant was the same judge who
initially heard both criminal cases. It can therefore be presumed, that
the search was made with a search warrant and absent of any showing
that it was procured maliciously, the items seized are admissible in
evidence (People v. Umali, 193 SCRA 493 [1991]).
The evidence is overwhelming that appellant actually treated and
diagnosed Precila and Wilma Borja. The positive testimony of
Agustina, Precila, Wilma and Josefina Borja; the medico-legal reports
(Exhs. "A", "A-7", "C", "L" and "L-1") which attest to the needle marks;
the Handwriting Identification Report (Exh. I); the photographs (Exhs.
"G-l "G-8") showing assorted drugs and medical equipment in
appellant's room; and the chemistry reports (Exhs. "J" "J-1") prove
that appellant was engaged in the practice of medicine. And as to his
allegation that there was no proof of payment, the law specifically
punishes said act whether or not done for a fee.
Appellant claims that Precila admitted in her cross-examination that
she was in school the whole day of July 6, 1979 and it was therefore
impossible for him to have treated and diagnosed her on that date. An
accurate reading of the transcript, however, will show that Precila's
testimony was in response to a question regarding her school schedule
for that day.
Finally, appellant claims that the ponente of both decisions was not the
trial judge, ergo said judge was thus deprived of the opportunity to
assess the credibility of the prosecution witnesses.
Admittedly, the ponente's participation was limited to the resolution of
the cases. The fact that the judge who heard the evidence is not the
one who rendered the judgment, and for that reason the latter did not
have the opportunity to observe the demeanor of the witnesses during
the trial but merely relied on the records of the case, does not render
the judgment erroneous (People v. Ramos, Jr., 203 SCRA 237 [1991];
People v. Villamayor, 199 SCRA 472 [1991]), especially where the
evidence on record is sufficient to support its conclusion.
WHEREFORE, the judgments appealed from are AFFIRMED in toto.
Costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila

THIRD DIVISION
With respect to his conviction of illegal practice of medicine, appellant
presented inconsistent claims. On one hand, he claims that the
drugs and other paraphernalia were planted by the raiding team; while
on the other hand, he claims that these were seized without any
warrant.
If indeed the evidence were all planted, how can appellant explain his
handwriting on the prescription pads in the name of Dr. Jesus Yap? A

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


Plai
ntiff-Appellee,

Pr

V
PE

- versus -

JUAN MENDOZA y VICENTE,


Accuse
d-Appellant.
x ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x
DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:

This is an appeal assailing the June 5, 2008 Decision[1]of the Court


of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. HC-No. 02734 which affirmed with modification
the February 6, 2007 Decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court, Baguio City,
Branch 61(RTC). The RTC found accused Juan Mendoza y Vicente guilty
of having violated Section 5 and Section 11, Article II of Republic Act ( R.A.)
No. 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Version of the Prosecution
The evidence for the prosecution shows that Senior
Police Officer 4 Edelfonso Sison (SPO4 Sison) received information from a
long-serving unidentified informant of the Baguio City Police Offices
(BCPO) Drug Enforcement Section (DES) that the accused contacted him and
offered to sell shabu worth P1,000.00 to any interested buyer. The accused
then suggested that they meet at the stairs of the Cresencia Barangay Hall
along Bokawkan Road.
After interviewing the informant, Police Senior Inspector Myles
Pascual (PSI Pascual) decided to conduct a buy-bust operation to entrap the
accused. PSI Pascual made arrangements for the informant, the accused,
and the poseur buyer officer to meet on April 14, 2005 around 2:30
oclock in the afternoon at the stairs below the Cresencia Barangay Hall
along Bokawkan Road. He planned for an entrapment operation and put
together a team, with SPO4 Sison, as team leader; Police Officer 3 Ricky
Calamiong (PO3 Calamiong) and PO3 Roy Mateo (PO3 Mateo), as back-up
officers; and Police Officer 2 Edgar Antolin (PO2 Antolin), as the poseur
buyer.
In coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement
Agency (PDEA), the entrapment team proceeded to the area at 2:00
oclock in the afternoon, half an hour before the scheduled time. The team
parked their vehicle 20 to 30 meters away from the designated transaction
area. PO2 Antolin and the informant alighted and proceeded to the stairway to
wait for the accused.
Twenty minutes later, the accused arrived and approached the
informant. The latter introduced PO2 Antolin as the buyer. After the accused
asked if the buyer had the money, PO2 Antolin handed over P1,000.00. The
accused then gave him two (2) sachets containing white crystalline substance.
PO2 Antolin raised his right hand, the pre-arranged signal, signifying to the
other team members that the transaction had been consummated. The team
rushed to assist PO2 Antolin, who arrested the accused and recovered the buybust-money. PO2 Antolin frisked the accused and recovered five (5) more
small transparent sachets with white crystalline substance from the pants
pocket of the accused. He turned over the same to the team leader, SPO4
Sison.
SPO4 Sison informed the accused in Tagalog the
reason why he was being arrested and apprised him of his constitutional
rights. The accused merely nodded but otherwise kept silent. [3] The buybust team then took the accused to the BCPO, where PO2 Antolin identified
him as Juan Mendoza, alias Ampi.
In a preliminary test, the white crystalline substance
recovered from the accused tested positive for the presence of
Methamphetamine Hydrochloride or shabu, a dangerous drug.[4] The case
records state that after the conduct of such preliminary test, the items
confiscated from the accused were turned over to the Philippine National

Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory Service at Camp Bado Dangwa, La Trinidad,


Benguet for further analysis and disposition.[5]

A confirmatory test conducted on the same day by Police Inspector


and Forensic Chemical Officer Cecile Akiangan Bullong yielded the same
result.[6]

Version of the Accused


The accused alleges that in the afternoon of April 14,
2005, he was walking down Sepic Road, Baguio City, on his way home from
his brothers house in Guisad, where he had just finished washing diapers
and clothes. A vehicle stopped beside him and SPO4 Sison alighted. The
accused knew SPO4 Sison because the latter arrested him for a drug offense
way back in 1997, for which he was convicted and incarcerated
in Camp Sampaguita for five years.
SPO4 Sison showed him a photograph and demanded
information about the person in the photo. When he insisted that he did not
know who it was, SPO4 Sison invited him to the BCPO-DES. As he could
not decline, he went along with him.
At the DES, the police again asked him if he knew the person in
the photo and a certain Gary Chua, but he replied in the negative. He was also
questioned whether he knew someone who was selling drugs, and he again
replied in the negative. He told the police that since his release from prison,
he no longer dabbled in the drug trade, as he already had a family. When he
told SPO4 Sison that he did not know anyone who was selling drugs, SPO4
Sison got angry.
After an hour, he was informed that he would be subjected to a
drug test. Again, unable to refuse, he was subjected to a drug test at the BCPO
Station 7 laboratory, in front of the DES. He was then brought to the Baguio
General Hospital (BGH) for a medical examination, and later back to the
police station.
During the interrogation at the police office, he did not have a
counsel present.[7] SPO4 Sison did not inform him that he was being
arrested for the possession of the 5 heat-sealed plastic sachets
containing shabu.[8]
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
In its Decision dated February 6, 2007, the RTC found
the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt in both Criminal Case No. 24384R and Criminal Case No. 24385-R. The dispositive portion thereof reads:
WHEREFORE, in Criminal
Case No. 24384-R, judgment is rendered finding
the accused GUILTY beyond any reasonable doubt
and he is hereby sentenced to suffer Life
Imprisonment and to pay a fine of 500,000.00
and in Criminal Case No. 24385-R, judgment is
rendered finding the accused GUILTY beyond any
reasonable doubt and he is hereby sentenced to
suffer an indeterminate sentence of Twelve (12)
Years and One (1) Day to Fourteen (14) Years, and
to pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.[9]
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
In its Decision[10] dated June 5, 2008, the CA affirmed
with modification the RTC decision. The dispositive portion of the RTC
decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered,
the appeal is DENIED for lack of merit. The
Decision dated 06 February 2007 of the Regional
Trial Court of Baguio City, Branch 61 finding the
accused-appellant JUAN MENDOZA Y VICENTE
guilty beyond reasonable doubt for violations of
Sections 5 and 11, Article II of Republic Act No.
9165 in Criminal Case Nos. 24384-R and 24385-R
and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of life

imprisonment and to pay a fine of 500,00[0].00,


and the indeterminate penalty of twelve (12) years
and one (1) day to fourteen (14) years, respectively,
is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION in that said
accused-appellant is hereby ordered to pay a fine
of 300,000.00 in Criminal Case No. 24385-R.
SO ORDERED.[11]
ASSIGNMENT OF ERRORS
In his Supplemental Brief for the Accused-Appellant,
[12]
the accused submits that the court a quo erred:
In not finding that the
procedures for the custody and disposition of
confiscated dangerous drugs in Section 21 of R.A.
No. 9165 were not complied with, rendering the
evidence compromised.
In convicting the accusedappellant notwithstanding the fact that his guilt was
not established beyond reasonable doubt.[13]

Ruling of the Court


The Court finds the arguments of the accused bereft of
merit.
In crimes involving the sale of illegal drugs, two essential elements
must be satisfied: (1) identities of the buyer, the seller, the object, and the
consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment for it.[14]
In the prosecution for illegal possession of dangerous drugs, on the
other hand, it must be shown that: (1) the accused is in possession of an item
or an object identified to be a prohibited or a regulated drug; (2) such
possession is not authorized by law; and (3) the accused freely and
consciously possessed the said drug.[15] In this case, all these elements were
satisfactorily proven by the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt through
testimonial, documentary and object evidence presented during the trial. PO2
Antolin, the designated poseur-buyer, testified as to the circumstances
surrounding the apprehension of the accused, and the seizure and marking of
the illegal drugs recovered from the accused. [16] Then, SPO4 Sison
corroborated PO2 Antolins testimony and confirmed that all the confiscated
items recovered from the accused were turned over to him as team leader.[17]

5.

Existence of the pre-operation report and the


request for drug test.[19] [Emphases supplied]

The prosecution also presented several documents that traced how


the evidence changed hands.
The Inventory in the Presence of Witnesses [20] (Exhibit D)
listed six small transparent heat-sealed plastic sachets, each weighing
approximately 0.3g and containing white crystalline substance suspected to be
Methamphetamine Hydrochloride or shabu, previously marked as ECA
04/14/05[21], and showed the corresponding photos taken during the inventory
(Exhibit N).[22]
The Certificate of Preliminary Test[23] (Exhibit F) prepared
under the signature of Marites Vizcara Tamio of the BCPO DES and
addressed to the Baguio City Prosecutor, certified that on April 14, 2005, at
3:00 oclock in the afternoon, she conducted a preliminary test on the same
marked items[24] by using Simons reagent on the white crystalline substance
contained in the individually heat-sealed plastic sachets. All the items yielded
a dark blue color, indicating the presence of Methamphetamine
Hydrochloride, a dangerous drug. The same certificate stated that the alleged
confiscated pieces of evidence were turned over the to the PNP Crime
Laboratory Service at Camp Bado Dangwa, La Trinidad, Benguet for
chemistry analysis and disposition.
Finally, Chemistry Report No. D-044-2005[25] (Exhibit G)
issued by the PNP Regional Crime Laboratory Office at Camp Bado
Dangwa, La Trinidad, Benguet stated that following a qualitative examination
conducted on the same marked items, [27] it was found that the specimens
produced a positive result for the presence of Methamphetamine
Hydrochloride, a dangerous drug.
[26]

The illegal drugs subject of the buy-bust transaction and those


recovered from the person of the accused were positively identified by PO2
Antolin, marked and presented as evidence during trial:
Q x x x I am showing you two
sachets marked as Exhibit A
ECA. 04/14/05 BB and a signature. Now
tell us the relation of these sachets
which the accused gave to you in
exchange of the 1,000.00?
WITNESS:

The accused also argues that the procedure in the


custody and disposition of the dangerous drugs was not observed. The
Court finds, however, that the compliance with the chain of custody rule was
sufficiently established in this case.
In the chain of custody in a buy-bust situation, the following links
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.[18]
Regarding the turnover by the investigating officer of the illegal
drug to the forensic chemist for laboratory examination, the parties admitted
the following facts during pre-trial:
1.

The fact that the forensic chemist examined


the drugs and prepared the report thereon but
qualified that it did not come from the
accused;

2.

Medico-legal Report;

3.

The witnesses to the inventory witnessed the


inventory taking, signed the inventory but they
have no knowledge that the drugs came from
the accused.

4.

Order of detention, booking sheet and


preliminary test;

A These are the buy bust item,


sir.
PROS. CATRAL:
Q Now what does ECA stands
(sic) for again?
A Edgar Cortes Antolin, sir.
Q And that will be you
A Yes, sir.
Q And 04/14/05 would be the
date of the transaction?
A Yes, sir.
Q And BB. What would those
letters mean?
A buy bust, sir.
Q How about this signature,
whose signature would that be?
A My signature, sir.
xxx
Q I am presenting to you five
sachets which your office marked as
Exhibit CDEF and G with the marking
ECA, 04/14/05 signature and a letter R.
Are these the same items which you
referred a while back?

A Yes, sir.
Q And for the record, what does
ECA stands (sic) for?

Once again, on the strength of the prosecution's evidence, we uphold


the state's compliance with the chain of custody rule and sustain the
conviction1 of accused-appellant of the crimes of illegal sale and illegal
possession of shabu.

WITNESS:
The Facts

A Edgar Cortes Antolin, sir.


PROS. CATRAL:
Q And
does 04/14/05 means (sic)?
A The date, sir.

what

Q The date of what?


A The date of the transaction,
sir.
Q And what does R in the
five sachets represents (sic)?
A Recovered, sir.

PROS. CATRAL:
For purposes of identification, may we
have the two sachets marked as BB be
marked as Exhibit M-1 and M-2 which
are the subject for sale and the other five
other sachets with marking R be marked
as M-3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 to constitute the
charge for possession.
COURT:
Mark it. [28]
From the foregoing circumstances, it is unmistakable that there is
no break in the chain of custody of the seized dangerous drugs from the time
that it came to the possession of PO2 Antolin to the point when such items
were presented and identified during trial. Clearly, there is no doubt that the
integrity and evidentiary value of the seized dangerous drug were properly
preserved, in compliance with what the law requires.
WHEREFORE, the June 5, 2008 Decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. HC-No. 02734 is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

Accused-appellant identified himself as "John Brian Amarillo, 25 years


old, a resident of Laperal Compound, Guadalupe Viejo, Makati City,
single, a washing boy."2 The records do not indicate when, how and
upon whose liking the a.k.a. "Jao Mapa" came to be associated with
the accused.
"Jao Mapa," the "washing boy" who was acquitted for violation of
Sections 5 and 11, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise known
as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 in Criminal Case
Nos. 03-2044-45,3in 2004, and whose name appeared in the drugs
Watchlist of Barangay Guadalupe Viejo, Makati City,4 was again
charged with illegal sale and illegal possession of shabu this time
allegedly committed in 2006.
The accusatory portions of the separate Informations both dated 10
April 2006 filed and raffled to the Regional Trial Court, Branch 65,
Makati read:
[Criminal Case No. 06-750
That on or about the 8th day of April 2006, in the City of Makati,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, [JOHN
BRIAN AMARILLO y MAPA alias "Jao Mapa/Jao"], without the
corresponding license or prescription, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously sell, give away, distribute and deliver zero
point zero three (0.03) gram of Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride
(shabu), which is a dangerous drug.
CONTRARY TO LAW.5
[Criminal Case No. 06-751
That on or about the 8th day of April 2006, in the City of Makati,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, [JOHN
BRIAN AMARILLO y MAPA alias "Jao Mapa/Jao"], not being lawfully
authorized by law, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously have in his possession direct custody and control the
following items with markings, to wit:
"JAO 1" - 0.03 gram

SECOND DIVISION
"JAO 2" - 0.02 gram
G.R. No. 194721

August 15, 2012


"JAO 3" - 0.02 gram

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
JOHN BRIAN AMARILLO y MAPA a.k.a. JAO MAPA, AccusedAppellant.
VILLARAMA, JR.*

"JAO 5" - 0.02 gram


"JAO 6" - 0.02 gram

DECISION
PEREZ, J.:

"JAO 4" - 0.02 gram

"JAO 7" - 0.02 gram


"JAO 8" - 0.01 gram

"JAO 9" - 0.02 gram


"JAO 10" - 0.03 gram
"JAO 11" - 0.02 gram
"JAO 12" - 0.02 gram
"JAO 13" - 0.03 gram
"JAO 14" - 0.02 gram
with a total weight of zero point three three (0.33) gram of
Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride (shabu) which is a dangerous drug,
in violation of the above-cited law.
CONTRARY TO LAW.6
On 8 May 2006, accused-appellant pleaded not guilty. During pretrial,
the forensic chemist and PO2 Rafael Castillo, the police investigator
assigned to the case, appeared in court. The parties stipulated on the
following: "qualification of the forensic chemist as an expert witness;
existence of the documents relative to the examination conducted by
the forensic chemist; substance, subject matter of [the] case; existence
of the Final Investigation [R]eport; and Acknowledgement
Receipt,"7 after which, the court ordered that the testimony of the
forensic chemist and the police investigator be dispensed with.8
On trial, the prosecution presented the following witnesses: PO1
Percival Mendoza9 (PO1 Mendoza) and PO3 Julius Lique10 (PO3
Lique), both of the Station Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task
Force of the Makati Central Police Station; and Barangay Captain
Angelito Gatchalian11 (Barangay Captain Gatchalian)
of BarangayGuadalupe Viejo. The defense, on the other hand,
presented the accused as its lone witness.12
The Court of Appeals summarized the version of the prosecution in the
following manner:

the former. Upon receipt, PO1 Mendoza examined the contents thereof
and asked the Accused-Appellant, "Panalo to ha?" The AccusedAppellant replied with "Ako pa! Amin ang pinakamagandang bato dito."
When PO1 Mendoza was certain that the plastic sachet
contained shabu, he lit a cigarette, a pre-arranged signal, and
motioned to his team members to arrest the Accused-Appellant. PO1
Mendoza subsequently introduced himself as a police officer and
arrested the latter. A few seconds later, his other team members
arrived. A procedural body search was conducted resulting in the
discovery of a small Mercury Drug plastic bag containing seventeen
(17) small heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets with
suspected shabu, the marked money, and several Peso bills of
different denominations. The confiscated items were immediately
marked, photographed, and inventoried at the place of arrest and in
the presence of Brgy. Capt. Gatchalian. The photographs of the seized
items were taken by PO3 Lique. Thereafter, the Accused-Appellant
was brought to the Makati Police Station for further investigation.
Subsequently, the seized plastic sachets were brought to the Crime
Laboratory to determine the presence of shabu. The results thereof
showed that the substances therein were positive
for Methylamphetamine,Hydrochloride, a dangerous drug.13
The version of the defense, on the other hand, consisted of the sole
testimony of the accused, to wit:
The Accused-Appellant testified that, on April 8, 2006, at around 3:00
oclock in the afternoon, he was watching a game at the basketball
court in Laperal Compound, Guadalupe Viejo, Makati City, when
several men arrived and asked him if he knew the whereabouts of a
certain Alvin. When he could not give any information, they brought
him to the Makati Police Station. It was only after he was detained that
he learned that charges were being filed against him for the sale and
possession of dangerous drugs.14
After trial, the court found accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of both crimes.15 The dispositive portion of the Decision dated 28
July 2008 reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered
as follows:

xxxx
On April 8, 2006, PO1 Mendoza x x x received a telephone call from an
informant that a certain Jao Mapa (later identified as the AccusedAppellant) was selling prohibited narcotics at Laperal Compound,
Guadalupe Viejo, Makati City. Immediately, a briefing for a buy-bust
operation was conducted. The buy-bust team prepared Three Hundred
Pesos (PhP 300.00) worth of marked money and designated PO1
Mendoza as the poseur-buyer. The other members of the team were
PO2 Lique, PO1 Randy Santos, and PO1 Voltaire Esquerra. The team
coordinated with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency before
proceeding to the target area.
At around 9:15 oclock in the evening of the same day, the team
proceeded to the basketball court inside Laperal Compound where the
Accused-Appellant was sighted. Once inside, PO1 Mendoza and the
informant, with the help of sufficient lights coming from the nearby
shanties and sari-sari stores, saw a man wearing a camouflage short
pants and a dark t-shirt casually standing beside one of the basketball
courts post while talking to two (2) men. The informant called the
attention of the Accused-Appellant and introduced PO1 Mendoza to
the latter as a buyer intending to purchase Three Hundred Pesos
(PhP 300.00) worth of shabu. PO1 Mendoza then handed the marked
money to the Accused-Appellant who, in turn, took from his right
pocket a small plastic sachet allegedly containing shabu and gave it to

1. In Criminal Case No. 06-750, finding the accused JOHN BRIAN


AMARILLO y MAPA, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the charge for
violation of Section 5, Article II, R.A. No. 9165 and sentences him to
suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine of five hundred
thousand pesos (P500,000.00);
2. In Criminal Case No. 06-751, finding the same accused JOHN
BRIAN AMARILLO y MAPA, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
charge for violation of Section 11, Article II, R.A. No. 9165 and
sentences him to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of twelve (12)
years and one (1) days as minimum to twenty (20) years as maximum
and to pay a fine of three hundred thousand pesos (P300,000.00).16
On appeal, the Court of Appeals AFFIRMED17 the decision of the trial
court. Hence, this automatic review of the accused conviction.
Our Ruling
We sustain the conviction of appellant.
To prove illegal sale of shabu, the following elements must be present:
"(a) the identities of the buyer and the seller, the object of the sale, and

the consideration; and (b) the delivery of the thing sold and the
payment for the thing.18 And, to secure conviction, it is material to
establish that the transaction or sale actually took place, and to bring to
the court the corpus delicti as evidence.19

Q: Mr. Witness, after the inventory what did you do next, if


theres any?

In the instant case, the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt


that accused-appellant, not being authorized by law, sold a sachet
of shabu to PO1 Mendoza in a buy-bust operation. PO1 Mendoza
testified that, during the buy-bust operation, the informant introduced
him to accusedappellant; that informant asked accused-appellant if he
could help PO1 Mendoza buy shabu; that accused-appellant agreed to
sell him Three Hundred Peso-worth of shabu; that PO1 Mendoza,
counted the pre-marked bills in front of accused-appellant and gave
them to him; and that accused-appellant, in turn, handed him a small
transparent plastic sachet, which he took from the pocket of his short
pants, and which tested for shabu based on the result of the laboratory
examination. PO1 Lique corroborated the testimony of PO1 Mendoza
by stating that he saw accused-appellant hand something to the
poseur-buyer. Further, the seized items, together with the result of the
laboratory examination and the marked money were all presented in
court.

Q: And what did you do when you reached your office?

As to the crime of illegal possession of shabu, the prosecution clearly


proved the presence of the following essential elements of the crime:
"(a) the accused [was] in possession of an item or object that is
identified to be a prohibited or dangerous drug; (b) such possession
[was] not authorized by law; and (c) the accused freely and
consciously possessed the drug."20 After the arrest of the accusedappellant, seventeen (17) heat-sealed sachets of white substance
were found in his possession. The chemistry report showed that the
white substance in the plastic sachets tested for shabu. And, there was
no showing that such possession was authorized by law.
We find no merit in the arguments of the defense that the arresting
officers did not testify that the marking of the seized items were done in
the presence of the persons mentioned by the law and its
implementing rules; and that testimonies on how the confiscated items
were turned over to the investigator for examination were lacking.

A: We proceeded to our office, SAID SOFT office, sir.

A: We made the necessary documents for filing the case, sir.


Q: What did you do with the items you recovered from the
accused?
A: We turned it over to the investigator together with the
subject person to SOCO crime laboratory for drug test
examination and for laboratory examination,
sir.23 (Emphasis supplied.)
The testimony, in turn, is well-supported by a copy of the Request for
Laboratory Examination (Exhibit "A") showing that it was PO1
Mendoza himself who brought the request to the PNP Crime
Laboratory. Stamped on the face of the receiving copy of the request
were the following:
PNP CRIME LABORATORY
SOUTHERN POLICE DISTRICT OFFICE
F. ZOBEL, MAKATI CITY
CONTROL NO. 1204-06
T/D RECEIVED: 11:55 PM 8 APRIL 06
RECEIVED BY: NVP DE RANIA
DELIVERED BY: PO1 PERCIVAL MENDOZA

The Joint Affidavit of Arrest21 executed by PO1 Mendoza and PO1


Randy C. Santos, the allegations of which PO1 Mendoza affirmed and
confirmed during his direct testimony, is clear on two points: (1) that
the seized items were marked and inventoried at the place where
accused-appellant was arrested; and (2) that the integrity of the seized
items was preserved. Thus:
4. That immediately thereafter, together with the confiscated pieces of
evidence marked and inventoried at the place of suspects
apprehension, the confiscated pieces of evidence, together with
suspect AMARILLO, were immediately brought at SAID SOTF office,
for formal dispositions and proper investigations.
5. That, before the SAID SOTF office, the investigator on case
acknowledge the complaint, and in preparation for the formal filing of
formal charges against herein suspects, same was subjected to the
procedural Drug Test at SOCO/SPD and mandatory MEDICO LEGAL
examinations at OSMAK Malugay as assisted by the same arresting
officers, xxx. The confiscated pieces of evidence, only in so far with the
suspected illegal drugs and the small white plastic Mercury Drug were
referred at SOCO SPD for laboratory examinations and safe keeping.22
The Joint Affidavit of Arrest is consistent with the following testimony of
PO1 Mendoza on direct examination:

CASE NO. D-284-0624 (Emphasis supplied)


As to the required "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, and any elected public official," Section 21,
Article II of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of R.A.
9165 specifically provides:
SECTION 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized,
and/or Surrendered Dangerous Drugs, Plant Sources of
Dangerous Drugs, Controlled Drugs, Controlled Precursors and
Essential Chemicals, Instruments/Paraphernalia and/or
Laboratory Equipment. x x x:
1) The apprehending officer/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, and
any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of
the inventory and be given a copy thereof:Provided, that the physical
inventory and photograph shall be conducted at the place where the
search warrant is served; or at the nearest police station or at the

nearest office of the apprehending officer/team, whichever is


practicable, in case of warrantless seizures; Provided, further, that noncompliance 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;
x x x x (Emphasis supplied)
This has been substantially complied with after the prosecution was
able to show that the accused, the arresting officers and a public
official were all present during the inventory of the seized items as
evidenced by the testimonies of the witnesses, the photographs, and
the Acknowledgement Receipt of the items seized.
Even assuming for the sake of argument that all of these were
defective for one reason or another, the defense failed to consider the
following well-settled principle:
The failure of the prosecution to show that the police officers
conducted the required physical inventory and photograph of the
evidence confiscated pursuant to said guidelines, is not fatal and does
not automatically render accused-appellants arrest illegal or the items
seized/confiscated from him inadmissible. xxx25
The Court has long settled that an accused may still be found guilty,
despite the failure to faithfully observe the requirements provided
under Sec. 21 of RA 9165, for as long as the chain of custody remains
unbroken.26
As to the credibility of the witnesses and their testimonies, we hold, as
we have done time and again, that "the determination by the trial court
of the credibility of witnesses, when affirmed by the appellate court, is
accorded full weight and credit as well as great respect, if not
conclusive effect"27 and that "findings of the trial courts which are
factual in nature and which involve credibility are accorded respect
when no glaring errors; gross misapprehension of facts; or speculative,
arbitrary, and unsupported conclusions can be gathered from such
findings."28
Also, after a thorough examination of the records, we find the
testimonies of the witnesses for the prosecution credible. For instance,
after the cross examination of Barangay Captain Gatchalian, the
presiding judge asked him a number of clarificatory questions, which
he readily answered in a straightforward manner. Thus:
Q: May we know xxx if you knew all along before the buy bust
operation where to be conducted by the said anti-narcotics team?
A: Yes, sir, because I am the Cluster head, every time we have an
operation beforehand they tell me the operation.

PO3 Lique corroborated material facts in the testimony of PO1


Mendoza, to the effect that the sale of shabubetween accusedappellant and PO1 Mendoza was consummated, and
that Barangay Captain Gatchalian was present during the inventory of
the seized items.
The doctrine of presumption of regularity in the performance of official
duty is likewise applicable in the instant case there being no showing
of any ill motive on the part of the arresting officers to falsely accuse
accused-appellant of the crimes charged. In fact, he himself testified
that "he did not know any of the persons who arrested him and that he
did not also have any misunderstanding with any one of them."30 The
Court elucidated:
xxx. And in the absence of proof of any intent on the part of the police
authorities to falsely impute such a serious crime against appellant, as
in this case, the presumption of regularity in the performance of official
duty, . . ., must prevail over the self-serving and uncorroborated claim
of appellant that she had been framed.31
Finally, we find the penalties imposed by the trial court in order.
Under Sec. 5, Article II of R.A. No. 9165, a person found guilty of
unauthorized sale of shabu shall suffer the penalty of life imprisonment
to death and a fine ranging from Five Hundred Thousand Pesos
(P 500,000.00) to Ten Million Pesos (P10,000,000.00).32
On the other hand, under Section 11, Article II of the same Act, the
crime of illegal possession of shabu weighing less than five (5) grams
is punishable by imprisonment of twelve (12) years and one (1) day to
twenty (20) years, and a fine ranging from Three Hundred Thousand
Pesos (P300,000.00) to Four Hundred Thousand Pesos
(P400,000.00).33
Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law in the determination of the
appropriate penalty,34 the trial court correctly imposed the following
penalties: (1) in Criminal Case No. 06-750 for the crime of illegal sale
of shabu, life imprisonment and a fine of Five Hundred Thousand
Pesos (P500.000.00) considering that these arc within the period and
range of the fine prescribed by law35 and (2) in Criminal Case No. 06751 for the crime of illegal possession of 0.33 gram
of shabu, imprisonment for an indeterminate term of twelve (12) years
and one (1) day, as minimum, to twenty (20) years, as maximum, and
a fine of Three Hundred Thousand Pesos (P300,000.00), which is
within the range of the amount imposable therefor. 36
WHEREFORE, the Decision dated 31 May 2010 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 03579 isAFFIRMED, and, thereby the
28 July 20C'8 Decision of the Regional Trial Court in Criminal Case
Nos. 06-750-751 is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.
SO ORDERED.

Q: So you knew all along that you will be called to act as the witness
when the inventory would be prepared?

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

A: Yes, [Y]our Honor.

SECOND DIVISION

Q: When you reached the place where the incident happened, was the
inventory sheet already accomplished wherein the items allegedly
seized from the accused were listed?

G.R. No. 132135

A: Not yet, when I arrived, thats the time they prepared the inventory
sheet, so, when I arrived, then they started to write the
items.29 (Emphasis supplied)

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee,


vs.
DOMINGO SABARDAN, appellant.

May 21, 2004

DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
Before us is an appeal from the Decision1 of the Regional Trial Court of
Binangonan, Rizal, Branch 69, in Criminal Case No. 1590-B convicting
appellant Domingo Sabardan of serious illegal detention with rape,
sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, and
ordering the appellant to indemnify the private complainant, Richelle
Banluta, the sum of P50,000.00.
The Information2 against the appellant reads:
That about and during the period beginning the 15th day of
September 1991, to the 30th day of September 1991, in the
Municipality of Binangonan, Rizal, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully, feloniously
and by force and intimidation, detain and keep lock one
Richelle Banluta, a girl twelve (12) years of age in his rented
apartment at No. 5 Linaluz St., SCH-Subdivision-Tayuman,
Binangonan, Rizal, from September 15 to September 30,
1991, or a period of fifteen (15) days, under restraint and
against the will of said Richelle Banluta, and said accused
during said period of detention did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously have a carnal knowledge of the
complainant Richelle Banluta while she is deprived of reason
or otherwise unconscious by reason of a drug which he
administered to her, against her will and consent.
Contrary to law.
When arraigned on June 9, 1992, the appellant pleaded not guilty. Trial
thereafter ensued.
The Case for the Prosecution
Richelle Banluta was born on August 10, 1979. When she was about
four (4) years old, Nimfa Banluta, a beach resort owner, allowed
Richelle to stay in their house and considered her as a natural
daughter. Nimfa had Richelle enrolled in the elementary school using
her surname, "Banluta."
Sometime in 1990, the Banluta family transferred their residence to No.
5, Linaluz Street, San Carlos Subdivision, Tayuman, Binangonan,
Rizal. Opposite their house was that of Elizabeth de Luna. Another
neighbor of the Banluta family was the appellant, then fifty-year-old
Domingo Sabardan, a cathecist who resided in a two-storey apartment
about fifteen meters away from the Banluta residence. The appellant
came to meet Richelle as he frequented the Banluta house and
befriended Rico Banluta, Nimfas twenty- one-year-old son.
At about 10:00 p.m. on September 15, 1991, Nimfa berated Richelle
for playing with the diaper of her niece. Richelle, who was then a little
more than twelve years old, placed some underwear, shorts, long
pants, and four shirts in her school bag and surreptitiously left the
house. She passed by the appellants apartment while the latter was
on his way out to throw garbage. The appellant inquired where she
was going, and Richelle replied that she was earlier berated by her
mother and was leaving the house. The appellant invited Richelle to
his apartment, and to spend the night therein. Richelle agreed. She felt
happy, thinking that she was in good hands.3 Besides, she had
nowhere to go.4

The appellant led Richelle to a room on the second floor of the


apartment, where she slept without removing her pants and
underwear. The following morning, the appellant served breakfast to
Richelle in her room. He told Richelle that Ella, who stayed in the
house, had left earlier at 5:00 a.m. The room where Richelle slept had
three padlocked windows with jalousies.5
Later that day, the appellant served lunch and dinner to Richelle in her
room. That night, the appellant entered the room completely naked.
Surprised, Richelle asked what he was doing in the room, but the
appellant did not respond. Richelle kicked him and pulled his hair, and
told him to get out. The appellant left the room.
The next morning, Richelle told the appellant that she wanted to go
home already. The appellant dissuaded her from leaving and told
Richelle that her mother might get angry if she found out that she had
slept in his apartment.
The appellant later left the house. When Richelle tried to open the
door, she found out that it was locked from the outside.6
In the evening of the fourth day of her detention, or on September 18,
1991, Richelle was seated on a coach in the sala on the ground floor of
the apartment.7 The appellant forced her to drink a glass of ice cold
beer. When she refused, the appellant threatened to kill her. Afraid for
her life, she drank the beer from a glass. The appellant then embraced
her, kissed her and touched her breasts. Richelle resisted.
Momentarily, she felt dizzy and fell unconscious.
Early the next morning, Richelle woke up and found herself lying in bed
completely naked. She felt severe pains in her vagina. She saw the
appellant beside her, also completely naked.8 She noticed that her
vagina was bleeding profusely. She asked Sabardan what he did to her
and he told her nothing.9 Richelle washed her vagina with water.10
In the evening of the fifth day of her detention, or on September 19,
1991, while Richelle was sitting on the sofa on the ground floor, the
appellant again forced her to drink beer. She resisted but the appellant
threatened to kill her anew. She drank the beer, but consumed only
about one-half of the contents of the glass. She felt dizzy and lost
consciousness. When she woke up in the morning, she again felt
severe pains in her vagina and saw blood in it.11
The appellant forced Richelle to drink either beer or juice on four other
occasions. Richelle felt dizzy afterwards, and would wake up
completely naked, feeling pains in her vagina.
On September 30, 1991, the appellant left the house, but closed the
door outside with three padlocks. At about 5:00 a.m. on that same day,
Elizabeth de Luna, a housewife who lived about thirty meters away
from the appellant, heard someone hysterically shouting,
"Mang Domeng!"12 Elizabeth sensed that the voice was that of
Richelles. She looked out of the window of her house and saw the
appellant in the upper floor of his apartment, walking to and fro.13
Elizabeth waited for daybreak, and at 6:00 a.m. reported the incident to
Val Banluta, Richelles brother. Elizabeth and Val went to the
appellants house and knocked on the door. No one responded. The
two left and kept the incident to themselves.14 At about 11:00 a.m.,
Elizabeth sensed that someone in the appellants house was watching
television. She related the incident to Richelles other brother, Rico
Banluta, who climbed the wall of the appellants house which abutted a
vacant lot, and through the window saw Richelle inside the apartment.
Rico informed Val of his discovery. They proceeded to the police
station where they reported the incident. Three policemen arrived, and

along with Rico and Val, they proceeded to the appellants apartment.
They saw that it was locked from the outside with three padlocks.
Instead of destroying the padlocks, the policemen asked Rico and the
latters friends to climb over the wall. Toto and Binoy, who were friends
of Rico, climbed the wall, and managed to extricate Richelle from the
second floor of the apartment through the window, after removing the
jalousies.15 The appellant was not in the house at that time.
Richelle was, thereafter, brought to the police station for investigation.
There, she executed a written sworn statement dated October 2, 1991.
She also signed a criminal complaint charging the appellant of serious
illegal detention with rape.16
Dr. Jesusa O. Nieves, a medico-legal officer of the PNP Crime
Laboratory Service, conducted a physical and medical examination on
the private complainant on October 3, 1991. She prepared a MedicoLegal Report,17 with the following findings:

General and Extragenital:


Fairly developed, fairly nourished and coherent
female subject. Breasts are hemi-spherical with
light brown areola and nipples from which no
secretions could be pressed out. Abdomen is flat
and soft.
Genital:
There is lanugo-type growth of pubic hair. Labia
majora are full, convex and slightly gaping with the
pinkish brown labia minora presenting in between.
On separating, the same is disclosed an elastic,
fleshly-type hymen with deep, healed laceration at
7 oclock. External vaginal orifice offers moderate
resistance to the introduction of examining index
finger and the virgin-sized vaginal speculum.
Vaginal canal is narrow with prominent rugosities.
Cervix is normal in size, color and consistency.

According to the appellant, he never saw Richelle during the period of


September 15, 1991 to September 30, 1991, nor did he invite her to
stay in his apartment.20 He further asserted that he had nothing to do
with the offense charged and that Richelle was merely trying to exact
money from him.21
Prosperidad Sabardan Soriano, the appellants sister, testified that she
customarily paid a visit to her brothers apartment. During the period of
September 15, 1991 up to September 30, 1991, she visited her brother
on four different occasions. The first was on September 17, 1991,
which was the appellants birthday; the second was on September 25,
1991, the witness natal day. The third was on September 29, 1991;
and finally, on September 30, 1991. She never saw Richelle in her
brothers apartment.22
After due trial, the court rendered judgment on October 25, 1997, the
decretal portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of Serious Illegal Detention
with Rape, and therefore sentence (sic) him to suffer the
penalty of reclusion perpetua, and to indemnify the private
complainant the sum of P50,000.00 and to pay the cost.
SO ORDERED.23
The appellant now appeals the decision, contending that:
I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE
ACCUSED SINCE THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED DID NOT
CONFORM TO THE CRIME CHARGED.
II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT
PRIVATE COMPLAINANT HAD SUFFERED DETENTION
OR THAT SHE HAD BEEN RAPED.
III. THE PROSECUTIONS EVIDENCE DOES NOT
JUSTIFY THE AWARD OF DAMAGES.24
The Courts Ruling

The Defense of the Appellant

Anent the first and second assigned errors, the appellant contends that
he was deprived of his right to be informed of the nature and cause of
the accusation against him because he was charged of detaining and
raping the private complainant in his apartment at No. 5 Linaluz Street,
San Carlos Heights Subdivision, Tayuman, Binangonan, Rizal.
However, the prosecutions evidence shows that she was detained and
raped at No. 11-C Luz Street, San Carlos Heights Subdivision,
Tayuman, Binangonan, Rizal. Furthermore, the appellant asserts that
under the allegations of the Information, the private complainant was
raped when she was "deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious by
reason of a drug" which the appellant supposedly administered to her.
The prosecution, however, failed to adduce evidence that he
administered any drug to the private complainant before she was
raped.25 If this were true, Richelle could not have known that she was
raped by the appellant since she testified that she felt dizzy and lost
consciousness after drinking beer and juice.

The appellant denied having raped Richelle. He testified that he was


single, 56 years of age, and was residing at No. 11 Luz Street, San
Carlos Heights Subdivision, Tayuman, Binangonan, Rizal.18 He alleged
that he taught catechism in front of the Central School of Angono and
the school in Barangay Pag-asa.19 He was a person of good moral
character and could not have perpetrated the crime charged.

The appellant asserts that the prosecution failed to prove that Richelle
was illegally detained by the appellant in his apartment, and that he
forced her to have sexual intercourse with him. The evidence on
record, the appellant insists, shows that Richelle agreed to stay with
him in his apartment after leaving their house and consented to having
sexual intercourse with him. From the time Richelle arrived at his

CONCLUSION:
Subject is in non-virgin state physically.
There are no external signs of recent application
of any form of violence.
REMARKS:
Vaginal and peri-urethral smears are negative for
gram-negative diplococci and for spermatozoa.

apartment in the evening of September 15, 1991 up to September 30,


1991, she never tried to escape, nor shouted for help, despite the
proximity of the appellants apartment to their house and that of
Elizabeth de Luna.

Richelle testified, thus:


Q Question No. 22, Madam Witness, Bukod sa ginawa
niyang paghahalik at paghimas niya sa iyong dede na una
mong binanggit, mayroon pa ba siyang ginawa sa iyo?

The contention of the appellant does not persuade.


The verisimilitude and probative weight of the testimony of Richelle,
that the appellant detained her against her will and raped her in his
apartment, were not debilitated by her mistake in declaring that the
apartment of the appellant was at No. 5-C Linaluz Street, when, in fact,
it was at No. 11-C Luz Street, San Carlos Heights Subdivision,
Tayuman, Binangonan, Rizal. It must be stressed that the situs
criminis is not an essential element in rape. The gravamen of the
felony is the carnal knowledge by the accused of the private
complainant under any of the circumstances provided in Article 335 of
the Revised Penal Code, as amended. Richelles mistake was only
minor and collateral to the gravamen of the crime charged. She
consistently testified that the appellant detained and raped her in his
apartment, only about thirty meters away from their house in San
Carlos Heights Subdivision, Tayuman, Binangonan, Rizal. The
appellant admitted that he resided in the said apartment, and that
Richelle and her family were his neighbors. In People vs.
Monieva,26 we stressed that where the inconsistency is not an
essential element of the crime, such inconsistency is insignificant and
cannot have any bearing on the essential fact testified to. It has been
held that inconsistencies and discrepancies in the testimony, referring
to minor details and not upon the basic aspect of the crime, do not
diminish the witnesses credibility.

Sagot: Noon pong ikatlong araw, meaning on the 17th, sa


bahay ni Mang Domeng pagdating niya galing sa pagtuturo
ng religion ay pilit niya akong pinainom ng beer at matapos
kong mainom ang halos kalahati ng isang boteng beer sa
kapipilit niya ay nawalan na ako ng malay at nang magising
ako ng madaling araw ay naramdaman ko na masakit ang
aking katawan pati na ang aking kike at katabi ko na si
Mang Domeng na hubot hubad kung kaya tinanong ko siya
kung ano ang nangyari at bakit ko siya katabi at sinabi sa
akin na wala at umalis na siya sa aking kwarto, at halos
hindi na siya umaalis ng bahay at kung umalis man ay
sandali lang at bumabalik agad ito at kung ilang gabi niya
akong pilit na pinaiinom ng beer o kaya ay juice at tuwing
nakakainom ako ng mga ito ay nawawalan ako ng malay tao
at tuwing magigising ako ay katabi ko na si Mang Domeng
na palaging hubot hubad at wala ang aking panty. Do you
confirm this?
A Yes, sir.
Q How many times did the accused ask you to drink juice?
A Seven (7) times, sir.

The case for the prosecution was not enfeebled by its failure to adduce
in evidence the substance or drug which the appellant forced Richelle
to drink and which made her dizzy and unconscious, or its failure to
present an expert witness to testify on the presence of any sedative in
the beer and juice which Richelle was made to drink.
First. The drug or substance in question is only corroborative to
Richelles testimony that she became dizzy and unconscious when the
appellant forced her to drink beer and juice. There can be no other
conclusion than that the appellant mixed a sedative in the beverage
which he forced Richelle to drink. It must be stressed that Richelle was
then barely twelve years old. The alcoholic content of the beer must
have caused her to feel dizzy and lose consciousness. She was
rendered to such stupor, weakness of body and mind as to prevent
effectual resistance and preclude the possibility of consent.
Second. In People vs. Del Rosario,27 we held that a test to determine
the presence of any sedative or drug in the drinks given to a victim is
not an indispensable element in the prosecution for rape:
True, there was no test conducted to determine the presence of any
sedative or drug in the drinks given to the victims which caused them
to lose momentary control of their faculties. But this is of little
consequence as the same is not an indispensable element in the
prosecution for rape. Under the circumstances, it suffices that the
victim was found to have been unconscious at the time the offender
had carnal knowledge of her.28
Richelle testified that during the fourth and fifth days of her captivity,
before she was rescued on September 30, 1991, the appellant forced
her to drink beer or juice, threatening to kill her if she refused. Despite
her resistance, the appellant succeeded in forcing her to drink the
beverage. Richelle felt dizzy and unconscious as a consequence, and
when she came to, found herself completely naked with the appellant
beside her who was also completely nude.29

Q The equal number of times you were asked to drink beer,


is it not?
A Yes, sir. Sometimes beer, sometimes juice, but I was
asked to drink for seven (7) times.
COURT:
Q So that, it is a fact that you were made to drink beer for
seven (7) times?
A Yes, Your Honor.
Q How about juice, how many times did he made (sic) you
[to] drink juice?
A Sometimes he asked me to drink juice and sometimes
beer for seven (7) times, Your Honor.
Q So that, what you want to tell us on those seven (7)
occasions that you were made to drink it was either beer or
juice?
A Yes, Your Honor.
ATTY. MENDOZA:
Q Do you recall how many times you were asked to drink
beer?
A I dont know, sir. I just know juice and beer.

Q Do you recall how many times you were asked to drink


juice?
A No, sir.
Q Was there any instance that the accused asked you to
drink beer and juice at the same time?

Q On the 5th day when you wake (sic) up in the sofa was
your vagina bleeding?
A Yes, sir.

A None, sir.

Q On the 4th, on the 5th day that your vagina was bleeding,
Madame witness, is it not a fact that you washed your
vagina?

Q When you were asked by the accused to drink juice, is it


not a fact that you were asked to drink juice while you were
in the sofa or downstairs?

A I washed it, sir.


Q What did you use in washing your vagina?

A Sometimes in the sofa, sometimes in the room, sir.30


A Water, sir.
Understandably, Richelle could not have seen the appellant insert his
penis into her vagina since she lost consciousness after drinking the
beer and juice. However, in rape cases, carnal knowledge of the victim
by the accused may be proven not only by direct evidence but also by
circumstantial evidence, provided that there is more than one
circumstance; the facts from which the inferences are derived are
proven; the combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce
a conviction beyond reasonable doubt.31
In the case at bar, the evidence on record shows that, on the fourth
and fifth day of Richelles captivity, and while seated on the sofa in the
sala of the ground floor of the appellants apartment, the appellant
forced her to drink beer. She felt dizzy and lost consciousness, and
when she came to, found herself in the room on the second floor of the
apartment, completely naked, with the appellant beside her. Richelle
felt severe pains in her vagina and was petrified when she saw plenty
of blood on it. She washed her bloodied vagina with water. To quote
the testimony of Richelle:

Q With a soap?
A No, sir.33
The testimony of Richelle, that the appellant succeeded in raping her,
is corroborated by Dr. Jesusa Nieves medical findings that Richelle
was no longer in a virgin state physically and that her hymen had a
deep laceration at seven oclock when she was examined on October
3, 1991.
Q Can you please tell us your findings with regard to the
genital of the victim?
A Upon the examination of the genie layer, the sex organ of
the victim, the only pertinent findings Ive got was the
laceration, a deep healed laceration at the hymen, sir.

Q Madam witness, lets go back to the 4th day that you were
inside the room and that the following day you wake (sic) up
early in the morning nude where the accused was nowhere
in that place, when you wake (sic) up in that morning, what
did you feel in your body?

Q What does that signifies (sic)?

A My vagina is (sic) painful, sir.

Q I notice in this findings (sic) of yours there is a laceration


at 7:00 oclock, can you please clarify this?

Q That is (sic) all that you felt, your vagina is (sic) painful, is
it not?
A Yes, sir.
Q As a matter of fact, there was no blood in your vagina, is it
not?
A There was, sir.

A That a hard blunt object was forcefully inserted to the


genie layer of the victim, sir.

A The laceration at the 7 oclock only means that since the


hymen is circular in appearance, it is being correlated to the
face of the watch so when we say that the laceration is
located at 7 oclock then it only means the same that the
laceration or the tear is located in the same position as the
number 7 of the clock, sir.
Q Now, you claimed that upon your examination, one of your
findings that [there]is a laceration of (sic) 7 oclock, what
could have cause (sic) the laceration of (sic) 7 oclock?

Q Small quantity or big quantity?


Atty. Mendoza:
A Big quantity, sir.
Q What did you do with your vagina with full of blood as you
testified?

Already answered, Your Honor, the forceful insertion by blunt


instrument.
Fiscal Tacla:

A I was afraid, sir.32

Q Would you consider the penis or a male organ as the blunt


instrument which to have put (sic) into her organ?

COURT:
Answer.

A Yes, sir.
Witness:
Q What was the state of the virginity of the lady when you
conducted an examination upon her person?

A Ayaw ko na po iyong ginagawa niya sa akin. Gusto ko


nang umuwi sa amin.

A She is no longer a virgin, sir.


ATTY. MENDOZA:
Q What made you conclude that thing?
A That is based on my findings at the hymen, sir.34
We reject the appellants submission that he could not have raped
Richelle during the period of September 17, 1991 to September 30,
1991 because when she was examined by Dr. Nieves on October 3,
1991, the lacerations in her hymen had already healed. The appellants
reliance on the testimony of Dr. Nieves, that the healing period of the
lacerations on the hymen was seven (7) days from the infliction of such
lacerations, is misplaced. The doctor did not testify that the laceration
in the hymen of Richelle could not have been healed in less than
seven days. Indeed, the healing of wounds is dependent on several
factors: (a) vascularity; (b) age of the person; (c) degree of rest or
immobilization; and (d) nature of injury.35
In fine, although the lacerations were already healed by the time
Richelle was examined by Dr. Nieves on October 3, 1991, it is not
impossible that Richelle was raped by the appellant for the first time on
the fourth day of her captivity. It is well settled that healed lacerations
do not necessarily negate rape.36
The appellant asserted that Richelle consented to having sex with him,
because she shouted, "Mang Domeng, tama na, ayaw ko na!," when
he kissed and embraced her, and mashed her breasts. The appellant
asserts that, in saying, "ayaw ko na," twelve-year-old Richelle was
consenting to his prior sexual assaults. Richelles testimony reads:
Q Throughout these days that the accused embraced you,
kissed you and got hold of your breast, you did not shout?
A I shouted everyday, sir.
Q Will you tell this Court what words you used when you
shouted?
A I shouted, "Mang Domeng, tama na, ayaw ko na."
Q Why, Madame witness, when you said "ayaw ko na," was
there any instance that you agreed to Mang Domeng?
FISCAL TACLA:
What is that agreement all about, Your Honor?
ATTY. MENDOZA:
Well, "ayaw ko na" Your Honor, she presumed that ayaw na
niya iyong nagaganap sa kanya. My question is on what was
happening to her that she is now testifying, was there any
occasion that she agreed.

Q In all that occasions you did not box nor kick the accused,
is it not?
A I tried to fight back and I even pulled his hair, sir.37
The appellants contention deserves scant consideration. As gleaned
from Richelles testimony, she had been shouting and pleading to the
appellant everyday to stop the lascivious acts and the sexual advances
on her. She resolutely fought back and even pulled the appellants hair.
In fine, when the appellant subjected Richelle to his bestial desires,
Richelle resisted, to no avail. If, as claimed by the appellant, Richelle
had consented to having sexual intercourse with him from September
16, 1991 to September 30, 1991, there would no longer have been a
need for him to force her to drink beer and juice to render her dizzy
and unconscious.
The testimony of Richelle should not be considered in its truncated
parts but in its entirety. The meaning of the words in a portion of the
testimony of a witness should be considered, taking into account the
entirety of the latters testimony. Besides, bearing in mind the chastity
and bashfulness of a typical Filipina, especially one in her tender
years, it is highly inconceivable for Richelle, a young girl, to consent to
sexual acts with the appellant. Richelle was barely in her teens when
the harrowing experience took place. We find it deviant for a twelveyear-old nave and unsophisticated grade school student to be
consenting to sexual intercourse with the appellant. Richelles
unwaivering sincerity and candor while testifying in court convinces us
that she was constrained by her desire to seek justice for the bestial
act committed upon her person.38 In fact, Richelle cried while recalling
the sexual assaults on her.
The appellant harped on his being a catechist of good moral character
to escape conviction. This hardly justifies the conclusion that he is
innocent of the crime charged. Indeed, religiosity is not always a badge
of good conduct and faith is no guarantee against any sexual
perversion. In the case of People vs. Diopita,39 this Court pronounced
that an accused is not entitled to an acquittal simply because he is of
good moral character and exemplary conduct. The affirmance or
reversal of his conviction must be resolved on the basic issue of
whether the prosecution had discharged its duty of proving his guilt
beyond reasonable doubt. Since the evidence of the crime in the
instant case is more than sufficient to convict, the evidence of the
appellants good moral character cannot prevail.
The appellant contends that Richelle consented to stay in his
apartment; hence, he cannot be convicted of serious illegal detention.
We agree with the appellants assertion that he is not guilty of serious
illegal detention, but we do not agree that Richelle consented to stay in
his apartment from September 17, 1991 until she was rescued on
September 30, 1991. Understandably, Richelle did not leave the
appellants apartment on September 30, 1991. She had just
surreptitiously left their house in a rebellious mood and had nowhere to
go. She believed, at that time, that she was safe with the appellant,
who was their neighbor and her brothers friend. However, when the

appellant sat on her bed in the evening of the same day, completely
naked, Richelle decided to leave the next day. She balked at leaving
only when the appellant warned her that her mother, Nimfa, would
berate her for sleeping at his apartment. Obviously, in warning Richelle
of what to expect from her mother, the appellant wanted to instill fear in
her mind to force her to remain in his apartment. Richelle should have
left the apartment and returned home that day, and contend with her
mothers anger for leaving their house and sleeping in the appellants
apartment. However, Richelle, then barely twelve years old and a mere
grade six pupil, cannot be expected to react and decide like an adult
would. She could not have foreseen the appellants evil intent of raping
her. Moreover, even if she wanted to leave the appellants apartment,
she could not do so because the appellant did not allow her to leave.
Frustrated in his first attempt, the appellant was determined to deflower
Richelle. And the appellant succeeded, because on the fourth day of
Richelles stay in the appellants apartment, the appellant forced her to
drink beer which caused her to feel dizzy and rendered her
unconscious. The appellant forthwith raped her.
In light of the evidence on record, the original and primordial intention
of the appellant in keeping Richelle in his apartment was to rape her
and not to deprive her of her liberty. Hence, the appellant is guilty only
of rape under Article 335, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code, and
not of the complex crime of serious illegal detention with rape under
Article 267, in relation to Articles 335 and 48 of the Code.40 Hence, the
trial court correctly sentenced the appellant to reclusion perpetua.
Richelle could not have escaped from the appellants apartment during
her stay therein from September 17, 1991 until September 30, 1991,
because the appellant locked the door from the outside whenever he
would go out. Richelle could move around the house, but the windows
on the ground and second floors had grills with smoked
glass.41 Richelle tried to open the windows, but she could not.
We, likewise, find it incredible for Richelle to contrive a story of rape
which would expose herself to a lifetime of shame, allow an
examination of her private parts and face public trial.42 A rape victim
who testifies in a categorical, straightforward, spontaneous and frank
manner, and remains consistent, is a credible witness. The bare denial
of the appellant cannot prevail over the positive testimony of Richelle.
Well-settled is the rule that testimonies of young victims of rape
deserve full credence and should not be so easily dismissed as a mere
fabrication.43 In the case at bar, the trial court found the testimony of
the victim to be trustworthy and convincing. It has been held in a long
line of cases that the findings of the trial court on the credibility of
witnesses and their testimonies are afforded great respect, since it is
the trial judge who observes and monitors the behavior and demeanor
of the witnesses.

was not presented to pursue or give light on this allegation.


At any rate, the mother of the offended party, Nimfa Banluta,
testified that she got the insinuation that the sister of the
accused was willing to settle the case through her friend
living near the street of the accused.44
It is rudimentary that where there is no showing that the private
complainant was impelled by any improper motive in making the
accusation against the appellant, her complaint is entitled to full faith
and credit. Hence, when the appellant could not present any sensible
justification as to why the private complainant had accused him, such
fact logically proves that no improper motive propelled the latter to
charge the former of such a serious offense as rape.45
The trial court correctly awarded Richelle civil indemnity of P50,000.
This is in the nature of actual and compensatory damages, and is
obligatory upon conviction for rape.46 In addition, she is entitled to
moral damages in the amount of P50,000. Moral damages are
automatically awarded to rape victims without the necessity of proof,
for it is assumed that she suffered moral injuries entitling her to such
award. Such award is separate and distinct from civil indemnity.47
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the Decision of the Regional
Trial Court of Binangonan, Rizal, Branch 69, in Criminal Case No.
1590-B, finding the appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of serious illegal detention with rape is MODIFIED.
Appellant DOMINGO SABARDAN is found guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of rape under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code and is
sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. The appellant
is ORDERED to pay the victim, Richelle Banluta, P50,000 as civil
indemnity and P50,000 as moral damages. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Baguio City
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 205227

April 7, 2014

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
MARCO P. ALEJANDRO, Accused-Appellant.
DECISION

Finally, the assertion of the appellant that the charge against him was
motivated by Richelles desire to extort money from him is
preposterous. The appellants testimony to prove his claim is hearsay
because he was merely told by his counsel of Richelles desire for
money. The appellant failed to present his counsel to prove his claim.
Besides, the appellant was merely a catechist and had no apparent
sustainable means of livelihood, and only survived through the support
given to him by his siblings. We agree with the findings of the trial
court, viz:
The accused tried to insinuate ulterior or improper motive on
the part of the complainant by alleging that complainant
Richelle charge[d] him with this offense because they are
asking money as told [to] him by Atty. Mendoza.
This allegation is patently unmeritorious and cannot be given
any value by the court, as it was hearsay, and Atty. Mendoza

VILLARAMA, JR., J.:


On appeal is the Decision1 dated November 11, 2011 of the Court of
Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 03483 which affirmed the
judgment2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Muntinlupa City, Branch
204 convicting appellant of illegal sale of methamphetamine
hydrochloride (shabu) under Section 5, Article II of Republic Act (R.A.)
No. 9165 (The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002). In its
Resolution3 dated March 14, 2012, the CA denied the motion for
reconsideration filed by appellant.
The Facts
Marco P. Alejandro (appellant), along with Imelda G. Solema and
Jenny V. del Rosario, were charged with violation of Section 5, Article II
of R.A. No. 9 l 65 under the following Information:

That on or about the 12th day of July, 2006, in the City of Muntinlupa,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused, conspiring and confederating together and
mutually helping and aiding one another, not being authorized by law
did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously sell, trade deliver
and give away to another, Methamphetamine Hydrochloride, a
dangerous drug weighing 98.51 grams contained in one (1) heatsealed transparent plastic sachet, in violation of the above-cited law.
Contrary to law.4
When arraigned, all three accused pleaded not guilty. Upon demurrer
to evidence filed by accused Jenny del Rosario, the trial court rendered
judgment acquitting her of the crime charged considering that her mere
presence in the car used by appellant is not indicative of conspiracy in
the sale of illegal drugs.5
At the pre-trial, the parties stipulated on the following:
1. The identity of the accused as the persons charged;
2. The jurisdiction of this Court over the persons of the
accused;
3. Police Inspector Ruben Mamaril Apostol Jr. is a member
of a PNP Crime Laboratory Office as of July 12, 2006 and he
is an expert in Forensic Chemistry;
4. That a request for laboratory examination was made for
the specimens allegedly confiscated from the accused;
5. The existence and authenticity of the request for
examination of the seized items and Request for a drug test
on the persons of the accused;
6. That pursuant to the requests for the drug test and
examination of the specimens, the corresponding Regional
Crime Laboratory Office, Calabarzon issued two (2)
chemistry reports, D-267-06 and CRIM[D]T-286-06 that
subject specimens submitted are positive for
methamphetamine hydrochloride; and
7. That only a representative sample of the specimens
submitted were examined by the Forensic Chemist which
consist of one (1) transparent sachet containing white
crystalline substance in black and red markings.6
Version of the Prosecution
The prosecution presented the following factual milieu based on the
testimonies of SPO1 Jaime A. Cariaso (poseur-buyer), SPO1 Norman
Jesus P. Platon and Police Inspector Ruben M. Apostol, Jr. (Forensic
Chemical Officer):
In the morning of July 11, 2006, a Confidential Informant (CI) went to
the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Regional Office 4-A
(CALABARZON) at Camp Vicente Lim in Calamba City, Laguna. The
CI informed Regional Director P/Supt. Raul L. Bargamento that he was
able to set up a deal with a certain "Aida" who directed him to look for
a buyer of 100 grams of shabu for the price of P360,000.00.7
Immediately, P/Supt. Bargamento instructed Police Chief Inspector
Julius Ceasar V. Ablang to form a team who will conduct a buy-bust

operation. PCI Ablang organized the team composed of eleven police


officers and made the proper coordination with PDEA. Since the target
area is situated in Barangay Bayanan, Muntinlupa City, Metro Manila,
the team likewise obtained the requisite "Authority to Operate Outside
AOR".8 During the briefing, SPO1 Cariaso was designated as poseurbuyer while SPO1 Platon will be his back-up arresting officer. Four
pieces of five hundred peso (P500) bills were then prepared and
marked by SPO1 Cariaso. The said bills stacked on the boodle money
were placed inside SPO1 Cariasos belt bag. On the same day, SPO1
Cariaso and SPO1 Platon, along with the CI, conducted a surveillance
of the house of "Aida" and vicinity. Prior to these preparations, the CI
had contacted "Aida" through her cellphone and arranged the 2:00
p.m. meeting/sale transaction the following day.9
The next day, July 12, 2006, at around 12:00 noon, the team
accompanied by the CI boarded two service vehicles and proceeded to
the target area. They arrived at Barangay Bayanan at 1:45 p.m. SPO1
Cariaso and the CI parked the Toyota Revo infront of the house of
"Aida" while SPO1 Platon and the rest of the team, who rode on
another vehicle (Isuzu Crosswind), waited at a distance. As agreed
during the briefing, SPO1 Platon positioned himself in a spot where he
could see SPO1 Cariaso. The other police officers posted themselves
where they could see SPO1 Platon as the latter will wait for a "missed
call" from SPO1 Cariaso.10
SPO1 Cariaso and the CI alighted from the Revo and went to the gate
of the house of "Aida". They called the attention of a woman whom the
CI identified as "Aida". The woman came out of the house and the CI
introduced SPO1 Cariaso to her as the buyer of shabu. After the
introduction, the CI left. The woman asked SPO1 Cariaso where the
money is and he opened his belt bag to show her the money. SPO1
Cariaso in turn asked her where the shabu is and she replied that he
should wait for Marco (appellant). SPO1 Cariaso and the woman then
went inside the Revo and waited for appellant. After about five minutes,
a Toyota Vios arrived and parked infront of the Revo. The woman told
SPO1 Cariaso that the driver of the Vios was appellant.11
Appellant alighted from the Vios and went inside the Revo. The woman
introduced appellant to SPO1 Cariaso as the buyer. After appellant
ascertained that SPO1 Cariaso had the money with him, he went down
and got something from the Vios. When appellant returned, he was
carrying an item wrapped in newspaper. Inside the Revo, appellant
uncovered the item and SPO1 Cariaso saw a transparent plastic
sachet containing white crystalline substance which appellant handed
to him. Appellant then demanded for the money. SPO1 Cariaso gave
appellant the belt bag containing the marked bills and boodle money
and quickly pressed the call key of his cellphone, the pre-arranged
signal for the team that the sale had been consummated.12
Within fifteen seconds, SPO1 Platon rushed towards the Revo and the
rest of the team followed. The team introduced themselves as PDEA
agents. SPO1 Cariaso arrested appellant and the woman ("Aida") who
was later identified as Imelda G. Solema. Meanwhile, SPO1 Platon
arrested the woman passenger in the Vios who was later identified as
Jenny del Rosario.
The seized plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance was
marked by SPO1 Cariaso with his initials "EXH. A J.A.C. July 12, 2006"
and signed it at the bottom. SPO1 Cariaso also recovered the
marked P500 bills and boodle money from appellant. The three
accused and the confiscated items were brought to the PDEA Regional
Office in Camp Vicente Lim.13
At the PDEA regional office, appellant and his co-accused were
booked and the confiscated items were inventoried by the investigator
in the presence of SPO1 Cariaso, a media representative and a

barangay councilor. A request for laboratory examination of the seized


transparent plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance,
weighing 98.51 grams, was prepared and signed by P/Supt.
Bargamento. There were also requests made for the physical
examination and drug test of the arrested persons. The request for
laboratory examination and the specimen marked "EXH. A J.A.C. July
12, 2006" were brought by SPO1 Cariaso to the Philippine National
Police (PNP) Regional Crime Laboratory Office 4A. Result of the
chemical analysis performed by Pol. Insp. Apostol, Jr. showed that the
said specimen is positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride or
shabu. Appellant and his co-accused likewise were found positive for
methamphetamine based on screening and confirmatory test done on
their urine samples.14
The prosecution presented and offered the following evidence: (1) PreOperation Report dated July 12, 2006 submitted by PCI Ablang (Team
Leader) and noted by P/Supt. Bargamento; (2) Authority to Operate
Outside AOR dated July 12, 2006 granted by PDEA Police Chief
Inspector Emmanuel Salvador L. Enriquez; (3) Certificate of
Coordination dated July 12, 2006 from PDEA; (4) Request for
Laboratory Examination dated July 12, 2006 of specimen marked
"EXH A J.A.C. July 12, 2006" with signature of poseur-buyer; (5)
Request for Drug Test of arrested persons dated July 12, 2006 signed
by P/Supt. Bargamento; (6) Request for Physical/Medical Examination
of arrested persons signed by P/Supt. Bargamento; (7) Chemistry
Report No. D-267-06 dated July 13, 2006 submitted by Pol. Insp.
Apostol, Jr. showing positive findings on specimen marked "EXH A
J.A.C. July 12, 2006"; (8) Chemistry Report No. CRIMDT-268-06 to
270-06 submitted by Pol. Insp. Apostol, Jr. showing positive findings on
the urine samples taken from appellant and his co-accused; (9)
Certification dated July 12, 2006 issued by Medico-Legal Officer Dr.
Roy A. Camarillo of the PNP Regional Crime Laboratory 4A stating that
"there are no external signs of recent application of any form of trauma
noted during the time of examination" on the persons of appellant and
his co-accused; (10) Certificate of Inventory prepared by PCI Ablang
and signed/witnessed by a media representative (Lyka Manalo) and
Barangay Councilor (Jerusalem Jordan); (11) One transparent plastic
sachet containing white crystalline substance with markings "EXH A
J.A.C. July 12, 2006" and signed by poseur-buyer SPO1 Cariaso; (12)
Affidavit of Poseur-Buyer dated July 13, 2006 executed by SPO1
Cariaso; (13) Affidavit of Back-Up/Arresting Officer dated July 13, 2006
executed by SPO1 Platon; (14) Booking Sheet and Arrest Reports of
appellant and his co-accused containing their fingerprints, but which
only Imelda Solema signed while appellant and Jenny del Rosario
refused to sign; and (15) four pieces P500 bills marked money with
serial numbers CM180235, YA867249, ZS853938 and ZW337843.15
Version of the Defense
Appellants defense is anchored on the claim that no buy-bust took
place. He testified that on July 12, 2006, at around 1:30 p.m., he went
to the house of his co-accused Imelda Solema whom he knows is
called "Im". The purpose of his visit to Im was to rent her apartment
because his girlfriend is arriving from Japan. Along the way, he saw
Jenny del Rosario with her baby and let them rode on his car (Vios) as
they were going the same way. Upon reaching Ims house at 1:45 p.m.,
he parked his vehicle infront of said house but a barangay tanod told
him not to park there as it was a towing area. And so he parked his
Vios inside the garage of Ims house which has a steel gate and
knocked at its door. Meanwhile, Jenny del Rosario was left inside the
Vios.16
Upon entering the house of Im, appellant claimed he was immediately
grabbed by a man who made him lie down. He would later learn at
PDEA that the mans name is "Toto" and his female companion is
Maam Carla. These PDEA agents took his belt bag containing cash
(P48,000) and his jewelry. He was also handcuffed and brought inside

his car where Toto, Ablang and a driver also boarded. He saw SPO1
Cariaso for the first time at the PDEA office. He likewise does not know
SPO1 Platon. At the PDEA office, appellant and his co-accused were
photographed after they were made to change clothes. Appellant
further claimed that PCI Ablang demanded money (P1 million) from
him in exchange for his release. When he was unable to give such
amount, they just detained him and his co-accused. Their urine
samples were taken and submitted for drug testing.17
As to the shabu allegedly seized from him in a buy-bust operation,
appellant vehemently denied having such drug in his possession at the
time. They have already been detained for two days when they were
photographed with the said item. The taking of photographs was done
in the presence of PDEA personnel, barangay officials from Canlubang
and the media.18
On cross-examination, appellant explained that he had talked to his
lawyer regarding the filing of a case against the PDEA officers who
tried to extort money from him but his lawyer suggested they should
first do something about this case. He added that he does not know of
any reason why SPO1 Cariaso is accusing him of selling an illegal
drug.19
Imelda G. Solema testified that on July 12, 2006 between 1:00 to 2:00
in the afternoon, she was inside her house watching TV together with
her seven-year-old son when some persons carrying long firearms
arrived asking if she is "Aida". She shouted to them that she is not
"Aida" but "Im." These armed persons searched her house for shabu
and when she shouted she was pushed into a chair. After ten minutes
of searching, nothing was found in her house. When somebody
knocked on the door, one of the armed men opened it and they saw
appellant. They pulled appellant inside, poked a gun at him, made him
lie down and handcuffed him. She and appellant were brought outside
the house and boarded into the Revo. They waited for the other car for
the armed men to board appellant there. Thereafter, they were brought
to the PDEA office in Canlubang where they were detained. 20
On cross-examination, Imelda Solema admitted that appellant was her
friend even prior to their arrest because he was the "kumpare" of her
sister. Appellant went to her house at the time as they had an
agreement that he will rent one of the units of her apartment.21
The defense presented another witness, Rowena S. Gutierrez, a
siomai/sago vendor who allegedly saw what transpired at the house of
Imelda Solema from a distance of 6-8 meters. She testified that on July
12, 2006 at past 2:00 p.m., a red car immediately parked infront of the
house of Imelda Solema, whom they call "Im." A man and a woman
(whom she later learned were police officers) alighted from said car
and entered the house of Im. Not too long after, a silver car also
arrived which was supposed to park in the area but there were
barangay tanods and so it parked instead in the garage of the mother
of Im. She later learned that the driver of the silver car was appellant.
Appellant went out of his car and proceeded to Ims house. When
appellant was already inside Ims house, two vehicles (Revo and
Crosswind) suddenly arrived and there were armed men who alighted
from said vehicles and entered Ims house. Thereafter, she heard Im
crying as she was being held by a woman and a man. The armed men
forced Im and appellant into the Revo. The persons left were a female
and a child who eventually drove the silver car.22
On cross-examination, the witness admitted that the relatives of her
friend Im asked her to testify because the others who also saw the
incident were afraid to do so.23
Ruling of the RTC

The RTC found that the police officers complied with all the
requirements in conducting a buy-bust operation, and that their
testimonies were spontaneous, straightforward and consistent on all
material points. On the other hand, the RTC observed that the
testimonies of defense witnesses do not jibe or are inconsistent with
each other. It held that appellants denial of the crime charged is a
negative self-serving evidence and cannot prevail over the positive and
straightforward testimonies of the witnesses for the prosecution who,
being police officers, are presumed to have performed their duties in
accordance with law, and who have no reason to fabricate the charges
against the accused.
Convinced that appellant and his co-accused Imelda Solema had
conspired in selling shabu, the RTC noted that it was the latter who
called up the former about the offer of the poseur-buyer SPO1 Cariaso
to buy shabu. Appellant thus brought the pack of shabu to be sold to
SPO1 Cariaso, unaware of the entrapment plan of the police officers.
As to their warrantless arrest, the RTC held that such arrest was legal
since the accused were caught in flagrante delicto selling shabu, a
dangerous drug, to a poseur-buyer who turned out to be a police
officer, in a legitimate buy-bust operation.
Accordingly, the RTC rendered judgment as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered and finding the accused MARCO
ALEJANDRO y PINEDA and IMELDA SOLEMA y GUTIERREZ
GUILTY of violating Sec. 5 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs
Act of 2002 beyond reasonable doubt, they are sentenced to LIFE
IMPRISONMENT and to suffer all the accessory penalties provided by
law and to pay a fine of ONE MILLION PESOS (Php 1,000,000.00)
each with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.
The Acting Branch Clerk of Court is directed to transmit the subject
"shabu" contained in a transparent plastic sachet which was marked as
Exhibit "J" to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for proper
disposition.
Accused MARCO ALEJANDRO y PINEDA is ordered committed to the
National Bilibid Prisons and accused IMELDA SOLEMA y GUTIERREZ
is ordered committed to the Philippine Correctional for Women until
further orders.
The preventive imprisonment undergone by the accused shall be
credited in their favor.
SO ORDERED.24
Ruling of the CA
By Decision dated November 11, 2011, the CA affirmed appellants
conviction. The CA rejected appellants argument that there is no proof
beyond reasonable doubt that a sale transaction of illegal drugs took
place as there appeared to be no prior meeting or conversation
between him and appellant, and hence they could not have agreed on
a price certain for a specified weight of drugs to be sold. It stressed
that from the prosecutions narration of facts, the basis of the meeting
between the poseur-buyer and "Aida" was the arrangement made by
the CI for the sale of shabu; hence there was already an agreement for
the sale of 100 grams of shabu for the amount of P360,000.00.
The CA was likewise convinced that the corpus delicti of the crime has
been established. It held that the failure to strictly comply with the
requirements of Section 21, Article II of R.A. No. 9165 does not
necessarily render an accuseds arrest illegal or the items seized from
him inadmissible.

Our Ruling
The appeal lacks merit.
Firmly established in our jurisprudence is the rule that in the
prosecution for illegal sale of dangerous drugs, the following essential
elements must be proven: (1) that the transaction or sale took place;
(2) the corpus delicti or the illicit drug was presented as evidence; and
(3) that the buyer and seller were identified. Implicit in all these is the
need for proof that the transaction or sale actually took place, coupled
with the presentation in court of the confiscated prohibited or regulated
drug as evidence.25
What determines if there was, indeed, a sale of dangerous drugs in a
buy-bust operation is proof of the concurrence of all the elements of
the offense, to wit: (1) the identity of the buyer and the seller, the
object, and the consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and
the payment therefor.26
The above elements were satisfactorily established by the prosecution.
Poseur-buyer SPO1 Cariaso identified appellant as the seller of shabu.
While the police officers were initially unaware of the identity of
appellant, as their CI had only informed them about appellants coaccused, "Aida" (Imelda Solema) with whom the CI had set up a drug
deal for 100 grams of shabu for the price of P360,000.00, appellants
presence at the buy-bust scene, and his act of delivering the shabu
directly to SPO1 Cariaso clearly identified him as the seller who
himself demanded and received the payment from SPO1 Cariaso after
giving the shabu to the latter.
Appellants arrival at the house of Imelda Solema at the appointed time
of the sale transaction arranged the previous day by the CI, and with
Imelda Solema informing SPO1 Cariaso that they should wait for
appellant after SPO1 Cariaso asked for the shabu, were clear
indications that they acted in coordination and conspiracy to effect the
sale of shabu to a buyer brought by the CI and who turned out to be a
police officer detailed with the PDEA. SPO1 Cariaso placed his initials
and date of buy-bust on the plastic sachet containing white crystalline
substance sold to him by appellant. After Forensic Chemical Officer
Pol. Insp. Apostol, Jr. conducted a chemical analysis of the said
specimen, the result yielded positive for methamphetamine
hydrochloride or shabu, a dangerous drug. The same specimen was
presented in court as evidence after it was properly identified by SPO1
Cariaso and Pol. Insp. Apostol, Jr. to be the same substance handed
by appellant to SPO1 Cariaso and examined by Pol. Insp. Apostol, Jr.
SPO1 Platon corroborated the testimony of SPO1 Cariaso that they
conducted a buy-bust operation as he positioned himself across the
street 15 meters from the house of Imelda Solema. From his vantage,
SPO1 Platon saw the following transpired: SPOI Cariaso accompanied
by the CI in front of the house of Imelda Solema; SPO1 Cariaso
conversing with Imelda Solema; the subsequent arrival of appellant on
board the Vios; appellant going inside the Revo where SPO1 Cariaso
and Imelda Solema waited for him; appellant getting something from
the Vios and returning to the Revo carrying the said item. Upon
hearing the call from SPO1 Cariasos cellphone, SPO1 Platon
immediately proceeded to the scene and arrested Jenny del Rosario
who was still inside the Vios. At that moment, SPO1 Cariaso had
already arrested appellant and Imelda Solema, confiscated the
transparent plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance and
recovered the marked money from appellant.
Clearly, all the elements of the crime were established by both the oral
and object evidence presented in court. It is settled that in cases
involving violations of the Dangerous Drugs Act, credence is given to
prosecution witnesses who are police officers for they enjoy the

presumption of having performed their duties in a regular manner,


unless, of course, there is evidence to the contrary suggesting illmotive on their part or deviation from the regular performance of their
duties.27 Since no proof of such ill-motive on the part of the PDEA buybust team was adduced by appellant, the RTC and CA did not err in
giving full faith and credence to the prosecutions account of the buybust operation. This Court has repeatedly stressed that a buy-bust
operation (which is a form of entrapment) is a valid means of arresting
violators of R.A. No. 9165.28
Appellant assails the CA in not correctly interpreting the requirements
set forth in Section 21, Article II of R.A. No. 9165 and its implementing
rules and regulations. He harps on the failure to immediately mark the
seized shabu at the scene of the incident and photograph the same,
and the inventory of the confiscated items which was not shown to
have been done in the presence of the accused. As to the absence of
testimony by the investigator and the receiving employee of the PNP
Regional Crime Laboratory, appellant argues this is fatal to the case of
the prosecution. He thus contends that the chain of custody was
broken in this case.
We sustain the CAs ruling on the chain of custody issue.
Under Section 1(b) of Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 1,
Series of 2002, which implements R.A. No. 9165, "chain of custody" is
defined as the duly recorded authorized movements and custody of
seized drugs or controlled chemicals or plant sources of dangerous
drugs or laboratory equipment of each stage, from the time of
seizure/confiscation to receipt in the forensic laboratory to safekeeping
to presentation in court for destruction. Such record of movements and
custody of seized item shall include the identity and signature of the
person who held temporary custody of the seized item, the date and
time when such transfer of custody were made in the course of
safekeeping and use in court as evidence, and the final disposition.
Section 21, Article II of R.A. No. 9165 laid down the procedure for the
custody and disposition of confiscated, seized or surrendered
dangerous drugs.
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;
(2) Within twenty-four (24) hours upon confiscation/seizure
of dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs,
controlled precursors and essential chemicals, as well as
instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment, the
same shall be submitted to the PDEA Forensic Laboratory
for a qualitative and quantitative examination;

(3) A certification of the forensic laboratory examination


results, which shall be done under oath by the forensic
laboratory examiner, shall be issued within twenty-four (24)
hours after the receipt of the subject item/s: Provided, That
when the volume of the dangerous drugs, plant sources of
dangerous drugs, and controlled precursors and essential
chemicals does not allow the completion of testing within the
time frame, a partial laboratory examination report shall be
provisionally issued stating therein the quantities of
dangerous drugs still to be examined by the forensic
laboratory: Provided, however, That a final certification shall
be issued on the completed forensic laboratory examination
on the same within the next twenty-four (24) hours;
xxxx
On the other hand, Section 21(a) of the Implementing Rules and
Regulations (IRR) of R.A. No. 9165 reads:
(a) The apprehending officer/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: Provided, that the physical inventory and photograph
shall be conducted at the place where the search warrant is served; or
at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the
apprehending officer/team, whichever is practicable, in case of
warrantless seizures; Provided, further, 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[.] (Emphasis supplied.)
In this case, while SPO1 Cariaso testified that he immediately marked
the transparent plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance
sold to him by appellant, there was no statement as to whether such
marking was made at the place of arrest. From the records it is clear
that such marking was done upon reaching the PDEA office before its
turnover to the investigator on duty. What is important is that the seized
specimen never left the custody of SPO1 Cariaso as he was present
throughout the physical inventory being conducted by the said
investigator.
This Court has already ruled in several cases that the failure of the
prosecution to show that the police officers conducted the required
physical inventory and photograph of the evidence confiscated
pursuant to the guidelines, is not fatal. It does not automatically render
accused-appellants arrest illegal or the items seized/confiscated from
him inadmissible. What is of utmost importance is the preservation of
the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items, as the same
would be utilized in the determination of the guilt of the accused.29
Records reveal that only the marked money was photographed at the
PDEA office. The Certificate of Inventory, though not signed by the
accused, was duly signed by team leader PCI Ablang, a representative
from the media and a barangay councilor. We thus find substantial
compliance with the requirements of Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 and
IRR.
Time and again, jurisprudence is consistent in stating that substantial
compliance with the procedural aspect of the chain of custody rule
does not necessarily render the seized drug items inadmissible.30 In
the instant case, although the police officers did not strictly comply with

the requirements of Section 21, Article II of R.A. No. 9165, their


noncompliance did not affect the evidentiary weight of the drugs seized
from appellant as the chain of custody of the evidence was shown to
be unbroken under the circumstances of the case.
In the case of People v. Kamad,31 the Court enumerated the links that
the prosecution must establish in the chain of custody in a buy-bust
situation to be as follows: 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.32
The first link in the chain of custody starts with the seizure of the
transparent plastic sachet containing shabu during the buy-bust
operation. Records show that from the time appellant handed to SPO1
Cariaso the said item, only SPO1 Cariaso was in possession of the
same until it was brought to the PDEA office. SPO1 Cariaso himself
marked the said sachet of shabu with his initials and date of buy-bust:
"EXH A J.A.C. July 12, 2006." While the marking was not immediately
made at the crime scene, it does not automatically impair the integrity
of the chain of custody as long as the integrity and evidentiary value of
the seized items have been preserved.33
The second link is the turnover of the shabu at the PDEA office. SPO1
Cariaso testified that he turned over the seized plastic sachet
containing shabu with his markings "EXH A J.A.C. July 12, 2006" to the
investigator who proceeded with the inventory thereof, along with the
marked money also confiscated from appellant. He was present next to
the investigator while the latter was conducting the inventory.
The third link constitutes the delivery of the request for laboratory
examination and the specimen to the PNP Regional Crime Laboratory.
It was likewise SPO1 Cariaso who brought the said request and the
specimen to the PNP Regional Crime Laboratory on the same day. He
personally turned over the specimen marked "EXH A J.A.C. July 12,
2006" to the receiving clerk as evidenced by the stamp receipt on the
said request bearing the time and date received as "10:25 PM July 12,
2006."34
The fourth link seeks to establish that the specimen submitted for
laboratory examination is the one presented in court. Forensic
Chemical Officer Pol. Insp. Apostol, Jr. testified that the transparent
plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance which was
marked "EXH A J.A.C. July 12, 2006", was given to him by the
receiving clerk. Within twenty-four hours, he conducted the chemical
analysis by taking a representative sample from the specimen, even
explaining in detail the process of testing the specimen for shabu. He
identified the specimen with markings "EXH. A J.A.C. July 12, 2006"
presented as evidence in court (Exhibit "J") as the same specimen he
examined and which he found positive for methamphetamine
hydrochloride or shabu.1wphi1

seized, it is not indispensable that each and every person who came
into possession of the drugs should take the witness stand."36
With the unbroken chain of custody duly established by the
prosecution evidence, the CA did not err in giving the same full
credence in contrast to the denial by appellant who failed to
substantiate his allegation of frame-up and extortion. Frame-up, like
alibi, is generally viewed with caution by the Court because it is easy to
contrive and difficult to disprove. It is a common and standard line of
defense in prosecutions of violations of the Dangerous Drugs Act.37 To
substantiate such defense, the evidence must be clear and convincing
and should show that the members of the buy-bust team were inspired
by any improper motive or were not properly performing their duty.
Otherwise, the police officers' testimonies on the operation deserve full
faith and credit.38 No such evidence was presented by appellant in this
case. The CA even quoted in part the decision of the RTC which
highlighted the irreconcilable inconsistencies in the testimonies of
defense witnesses on what transpired during the buy-bust operation.
Under Section 5, Article II of R.A. No. 9165, the penalty of life
imprisonment to death and fine, ranging fromP500,000.00
to P10,000,000.00 shall be imposed upon any person, who, unless
authorized by law, shall sell, trade, administer, dispense, deliver, give
away to another, distribute, dispatch in transit or transport any
dangerous drug, including any and all species of opium poppy
regardless of the quantity and purity involved. Hence, the RTC, as
affirmed by the CA, correctly imposed the penalty of life imprisonment
and a fine ofP1,000,000.00.
WHEREFORE, the present appeal is DISMISSED. The Decision dated
November 11, 2011 of the Court of Appeals in CA-GR. CR-H.C. No.
03483 is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.
With costs against the accused-appellant.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 202709

July 3, 2013

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, APPELLEE,


vs.
ROMEO ONIZA Y ONG AND MERCY ONIZA Y
CABARLE, APPELLANTS.
DECISION
ABAD, J.:

The non-presentation as witnesses of other persons such as the


investigator and the receiving clerk of the PNP Regional Crime
Laboratory is not a crucial point against the prosecution. The matter of
presentation of witnesses by the prosecution is not for the court to
decide. The prosecution has the discretion as to how to present its
case and it has the right to choose whom it wishes to present as
witnesses.35 Further, there is nothing in R.A. No. 9165 or in its
implementing rules, which requires each and every one who came into
contact with the seized drugs to testify in court. "As long as the chain of
custody of the seized drug was clearly established to have not been
broken and the prosecution did not fail to identify properly the drugs

This case is about the need to absolve the accused of the charges
against them because of the police officers outright failure without any
justification to abide by the law governing the conduct of seizure
operations involving dangerous drugs.
The Facts and the Case
On June 21, 2004 the Public Prosecutors Office of Rizal filed separate
charges of possession of dangerous drugs1 before the Regional Trial

Court (RTC) of Rizal, Branch 2, against the accused spouses Romeo


in Criminal Case 7598 and Mercy Oniza in Criminal Case 7599. The
prosecution further charged the spouses with selling dangerous drugs
in Criminal Case 7600, all allegedly in violation of the Dangerous
Drugs Act.

Meanwhile, when Romeo had awakened, he came out of the house,


and saw two police officers in black jackets, Albarico and Antonio, who
approached him. They seized and shoved him into the owner-type jeep
to join Mercy and Valentino. Romeo noticed that Valentino was
grimacing in pain, having been beaten up by the police.15

The prosecutions version is that at about 9:30 p.m. on June 16, 2004,
PO1 Reynaldo M. Albarico, PO1 Fortunato P. Jiro III, and PO1 Jose
Gordon Antonio of the Rodriguez Police Station in Rizal received
information from a police asset that accused Mercy Oniza was selling
dangerous drugs at Phase 1-D Kasiglahan Village, Barangay San
Jose.2 They immediately formed a team to conduct a buy-bust
operation. After coordinating its action with the Philippine Drug
Enforcement Agency, the police team proceeded to Kasiglahan Village
on board an owner-type jeep. They brought with them two pieces of
pre-marked P100 bills.3

At the police station, the police officers asked their three captives to
produce P30,000.00 in exchange for their release.16 Officer Antonio
took out something from his pocket, showed it to them, and told them
that he would use it to press charges against them. Afterwards, PO1
Antonio took Mercy to the kitchen room and hit her head with two
pieces of pot covers ("pinompyang").17

On arrival at the place, the team members positioned themselves at


about 15 to 20 meters from where they spotted Mercy Oniza and a
male companion, later identified as her accused husband Romeo
Oniza. The police informant approached Mercy and initiated the
purchase. 4 He handed the two marked P100 bills to her which she in
turn gave to Romeo.5 After pocketing the money, the latter took out a
plastic sachet of white crystalline substance from his pocket and gave
it to the informant. The latter then scratched his head as a signal for
the police officers to make an arrest.6
The police officers came out of concealment to arrest Mercy and
Romeo.7 On seeing the police officers, however, the two quickly ran
into their house, joined by Valentino Cabarle (separately charged) who
had earlier stood nearby, and locked the door behind them. The
officers rammed the door open to get in. They apprehended Mercy,
Romeo, and Valentino.8 Officer Jiro recovered four heat-sealed plastic
sachets believed to contain shabu from Mercy. Officer Albarico
retrieved two marked P100 bills and a similar plastic sachet from
Romeo. Officer Antonio seized an identical sachet from Valentino.9

Nearly after five years of trial or on April 2, 2009 the RTC rendered a
decision18 that found Romeo and Mercy guilty of possession of
dangerous drugs in Criminal Cases 7598 and 7599, respectively, and
imposed on them both the penalty of imprisonment of 12 years and 1
day to 20 years and a fine of P300,000.00. Further, the trial court found
them guilty of selling dangerous drugs in Criminal Case 7600 and
imposed on them both the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine
of P500,000.00. The trial court, however, acquitted Valentino of the
separate charge of possession of dangerous drugs filed against him in
Criminal Case 7597.
On appeal in CA-G.R. CR-HC 04301, the Court of Appeals (CA)
affirmed the judgments of conviction against Romeo and Mercy, hence,
the present appeal to this Court.
Issue Presented
The issue presented in this case is whether or not the prosecution
proved beyond reasonable doubt that Romeo and Mercy were in
possession of and were selling dangerous drugs when the team of
police officers arrested them on June 16, 2004.
Ruling of the Court

The police officers brought their three captives to the police station for
investigation and booking. Officer Jiro marked all the items the police
seized and had these brought to the Philippine National Police (PNP)
Crime Laboratory for examination.10 After forensic chemical analysis,
the contents of the sachets proved to be shabu.11
The prosecution and the defense stipulated that the specimens that
PO1 Annalee R. Forro, a PNP forensic chemical officer, examined
were methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu). They further stipulated,
however, that Officer Forro "could not testify on the source and origin
of the subject specimens that she had examined."12 As a result, PO1
Forro did not testify and only her report was adduced by the
prosecution as evidence.
The evidence for the accused shows, on the other hand, that at around
9:30 p.m. on June 16, 2004, the spouses Mercy and Romeo were
asleep at their home when Mercy was suddenly awakened by the
voice of Belen Morales calling on her from outside the house. As Mercy
peeped through the window, Belen told her that the police had arrested
and mauled Mercys brother, Valentino. Mercy hurriedly ran out of the
house to find out what had happened to her brother.13
When Mercy got to where Valentino was, she saw some police officers
forcibly getting him into an owner-type jeep while Zenaida Cabarle,
Mercy and Valentinos mother, kept pulling him out of the owner-type
jeep. When Mercy approached Valentino, the police officers told her to
accompany him to the police station. This prompted her to shout for
her husbands help.14

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.

Pros. Gonzales : If you know, what was the result of the request for
examination?

Apart from the above, the prosecution carried the burden of


establishing the chain of custody of the dangerous drugs that the
police allegedly seized from the accused on the night of June 16, 2004.
It should establish the following links in that chain of custody of the
confiscated item: 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.19

Yet, 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 noncompliance with the procedural requirements set by law.22 The
procedures outlined in Section 21 of R.A. 9165 are not merely empty
formalitiesthese are safeguards against abuse,23 the most notorious
of which is its use as a tool for extortion.24

Still, jurisprudence has established a rare exception with respect to the


first required linkimmediate seizure and marking of the seized items
in the presence of the accused and others20namely, that (a) there
must be justifiable grounds for non-compliance with the procedures;
and (b) the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items are
properly preserved.
Here, the prosecutions own evidence as recited by the CA and the
RTC is that the police officers did not make a physical inventory of the
seized drugs nor did they take a picture of the same in the presence of
the accused, someone in the media, a Department of Justice (DOJ)
representative, and any elected public official.
All that Officer Albarico could say is that his companion, Officer Jiro,
marked the plastic sachets with the initials of the accused already at
the police station and then turned over the same to the desk officer
who prepared the Request for Laboratory Examination.21 Thus:
Pros. Gonzales : And after that, what, if any, did you do next?
PO1 Albarico : After arresting them, we brought them to our police
station, sir.
Pros. Gonzales : And at the station, Mr. Witness, what happened to the
items that you said was [sic] recovered from the possession of
accused Romeo?
PO1 Albarico : We have the pieces of evidence blottered, sir.
Pros. Gonzales : And thereafter, what happened to the evidence
gathered, Mr. Witness?
PO1 Albarico : PO1 Jiro marked the evidence, sir.
xxxx

PO1 Albarico : As far as we know, it is positive for methamphetamine


hydrochloride, sir.

And what is the prosecutions evidence that the substances, which the
police chemist examined and found to be shabu, were the same
substances that the police officers allegedly seized from Romeo and
Mercy? No such evidence exists. As pointed out above, the
prosecution stipulated with the accused that the police chemist "could
not testify on the source and origin of the subject specimens that she
had examined." No police officer testified out of personal knowledge
that the substances given to the police chemist and examined by her
were the very same substances seized from the accused.1wphi1
In regard to the required presence of representatives from the DOJ
and the media and an elective official, the prosecution also did not
bother to offer any justification, even a hollow one, for failing to comply
with such requirement. What is more, the police officers could have
easily coordinated with any elected barangay official in the conduct of
the police operation in the locality.
WHEREFORE, the Court REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the February
23, 2012 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC 04301,
which affirmed the April 2, 2009 Decision of the Regional Trial Court in
Criminal Cases 7598, 7599, and 7600 and, accordingly, ACQUITS the
accused-appellants Romeo Oniza y Ong and Mercy Oniza y Cabarle of
the charges against them in those cases on the ground of reasonable
doubt.
The National Police Commission is DIRECTED to INVESTIGATE PO1
Reynaldo M. Albarico, PO1 Fortunato P. Jiro III and PO1 Jose Gordon
Antonio for the possible filing of appropriate charges, if warranted.
The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is ORDERED to immediately
RELEASE both the above accused-appellants from custody unless
they are detained for some other lawful cause.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

Pros. Gonzales : Mr. Witness, those substance[s] that were marked by


PO1 Jiro, what happened to them after the markings?
PO1 Albarico : After marking the pieces of evidence, he turned them
over to the Desk Officer and prepared a request for examination and
those were brought to Camp Crame for examination, sir.
xxxx

SECONO DIVISION
G.R. No. 195528

July 24, 2013

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
JOSE CLARA y BUHAIN, Accused-Appellant.
DECISION
PEREZ, J.:
This is an appeal filed by herein accused Joel Clara y Buhain (Joel)
from the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) affirming the decision
of conviction rendered by the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City for
violation of Section 5, Article II of R.A. No. 9165.2
The factual rendition of the prosecution follows:
Prosecution witness P03 Leonardo R. Ramos (P03 Ramos) narrated
that he acted as a poseur-buyer in a buy-bust operation conducted by
their office, the District Anti-Illegal Drug Special Task Group (DAIDSOTG) of Quezon City on 12 September 2005.3 He recalled that on or
about 4:00 oclock in afternoon of the said date, a male informant came
to their office with the information that a person named "Ningning" was
selling drugs at 22-C Salvador Drive, Balonbato, Quezon City.4 Police
team leader SPO2 Dante D. Nagera (SPO2 Nagera) endorsed the
matter to their Chief of Office Col. Gerardo B. Ratuita (Col. Ratuita) for
the conduct of a buy-bust operation.5A buy-bust group was created
consisting of SPO2 Nagera, PO1 Peggy Lynne V. Vargas (PO1
Vargas), PO1 Teresita B. Reyes (PO1 Reyes), PO1 Alexander A.
Jimenez (PO1 Jimenez) and PO3 Ramos who was designated as the
poseur-buyer.6 During the briefing, it was agreed upon that P200.00worth of shabu would be bought from "Ningning" by PO3 Ramos.
Before leaving for their target, PO1 Reyes prepared a Pre-Operation
Report and forwarded it to the Tactical Operation Communication of
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for coordination.7 At 8:00
oclock in the evening, the team proceeded to the area on board three
vehicles: Nissan Sentra, Toyota Corolla and owner-type jeep.8 Upon
their arrival at 9:35 oclock in the evening, PO3 Ramos and the
informant knocked on the door of the house while the rest of the team
positioned themselves ten meters away.9 The informant identified
"Gigi" as the accused Joel, Ningnings uncle.10 Initiating a conversation,
the informant introduced to Joel PO3 Ramos as a buyer of P200.00peso worth of illegal drug. When PO3 Ramos asked for Ningning, Joel
answered that she was upstairs. Joel asked for payment and PO3
Ramos handed theP200 marked money.11 Joel went upstairs and
called Ningning. Ningning opened the door and handed Joel a small
plastic sachet of shabu which in turn was handed to PO3 Ramos.12
Thereafter, PO3 Ramos touched his head as a pre-arranged signal to
prompt the back-up police officers of the consummation of the illegal
sale. Immediately, the rest of the team rushed to the place to arrest
Joel.13 Joel tried to close the door to prevent the police officers from
entering the house but PO3 Ramos was able to grab him. SPO2
Nagera quickly went upstairs to arrest Ningning but the latter was able
to escape apprehension.14 PO3 Ramos immediately frisked Joel inside
the house but failed to recover anything from him; the marked money
was given to Ningning when Joel went upstairs to get the plastic
sachet.15
Joel was brought to the police station and was informed by PO1
Jimenez of his constitutional rights as a consequence of his
arrest.16 Afterwards, the small plastic sachet recovered was marked by
PO1 Jimenez inside the station and an inventory receipt was
prepared.17 PO3 Ramos clarified that the plastic sachet was in the
possession of PO1 Jimenez from the place of arrest until arrival at the
police station. PO3 Ramos added that PO1 Jimenez was present at
the time of arrest which explained his possession of the plastic sachet
containing shabu.18

Inside the courtroom, PO3 Ramos identified Joel as the one involved in
the illegal transaction.19 He also identified the small plastic sachet of
shabu as the subject of the illegal transaction through the marking
"LRR" he placed on it.20 He testified that he brought the plastic sachet
containing the specimen to the crime laboratory for
examination21 where it was tested positive for methamphetamine
hydrochloride, as certified by the examining Forensic Chemist Engr.
Leonard M. Jabonillo (Forensic Chemist Jabonillo) of Central Police
District Crime Laboratory in his Chemistry Report.22
SPO2 Nagera was also called to the witness stand to present his
version of the events. However, some inconsistencies surfaced during
his examination at the witness stand.
When asked about the gender of the informant who came to their
office, he answered that the informant was a female, contradicting the
statement of PO3 Ramos.23 He also differed from the statement of PO3
Ramos when he testified that only two modes of transportation, instead
of three, were used by the buy-bust team in proceeding to the target
area, one Nissan Maxima and one owner-type jeep.24 He also had
difficulty in identifying the accused inside the court room when he was
asked upon by the prosecutor to do so.25
Further contradiction was made when SPO2 Nagera narrated that PO3
Ramos was the one holding the plastic sachet before it was turned
over to PO1 Jimenez for investigation.26 He also admitted in his cross
examination that he never saw Ningning during the entire buy-bust
operation.27 Finally, when asked about on who placed the initial "LRR"
on the plastic sachet, he positively identified that it was the investigator
who put the same.28
PO1 Jimenez was also presented in court as a prosecution witness to
give details of the buy-bust operation. His version, however, also
differed from the versions presented by PO3 Ramos and SPO2
Nagera. He testified that the plastic sachet confiscated was already
marked by the apprehending officers when it was turned over to him
for investigation, a contradiction of the statements of both PO3 Ramos
and SPO2 Nagera that it was him who marked the plastic sachet with
the initial "LRR."29 He positively identified that he saw the item being
marked by the apprehending officers in their office.30
The defense interposed denial.
Accused Joel denied any involvement in the buy-bust operation. He
recalled that he was inside his house sleeping between 9:00 to 10:00
oclock in the evening of 12 September 2005 when five uniformed
police officers entered his house.31 They got hold of his arm and frisked
him but failed to recover anything.32 The police officers did not inform
him of the reason for his arrest; neither did they recite his constitutional
rights. Afterwards, he was made to ride an owner type vehicle and was
taken to the police station where he was only asked for his name.33 He
denied having sold drugs and having seen the marked money and
plastic sachet containing shabu.34
On cross examination, Joel was also inconsistent in portions of his
testimony. He testified that all of his siblings were in the province and
his only companions in the house at the time of the arrest were his
nephew and niece.35However, when asked why the door was still open
at around 10:00 oclock in the evening, he replied that he was waiting
for his sister.36 He also contradicted his earlier statement that he was
sleeping with his nephew and niece downstairs when in his cross
examination he said that his niece was staying on the second floor of
the house at the time of the arrival of the police officers.37

Joel was eventually charged with Illegal Sale of Dangerous Drugs


punishable under Section 5, Article II of R.A. No. 9165 before the
Prosecutors Office of Quezon City. The accusatory portion of the
Information reads:

witnesses were able to establish that the P200.00 bill used to purchase
the illegal drug was in the possession of Ningning who was able to
evade arrest.46
Our Ruling

Criminal Case No. 05-136719


That on or about the 12th day of September, 2005, in Quezon City,
Philippines, the said accused, not being authorized by law to sell,
dispense, deliver, transport or distribute any dangerous drug, did, then
and there willfully and unlawfully sell, dispense, deliver, transport,
distribute or act as broker in the said transaction, ZERO POINT ZERO
SEVEN (0.07) gram of Methamphetamine Hydrochloride (shabu), a
dangerous drug.38
When arraigned, Joel pleaded not guilty to the offense charged.39
During pre-trial, it was agreed upon by both parties that Forensic
Chemist Jabonillo had no personal knowledge as to how the plastic
sachet containing specimen positive for illegal drug came to of police
officers possession. The forensic chemist merely examined the
specimen and found it to be positive for methamphetamine
hydrochloride. As a consequence of these stipulations, his testimony
was dispensed with by the court.40

After a careful review of the evidence, we resolve to reverse the ruling


of conviction and render a judgment of acquittal in favor of the
accused.
In his Brief, the accused-appellant contested his conviction due to the
inconsistencies in the prosecutions presentation of a supposed buybust operation, coupled with its failure to establish with certainty the
chain of custody of evidence. He also argued against the presumption
of regularity of performance of duties. Finally, to substantiate his
innocence, he pointed out that he was not even the target person in
the PDEA Coordination Report and denied any conspiracy and
involvement with such target person named "Ningning."47
Inspite of the imperfect narration of events by the accused Joel, we are
constrained to render a judgment of acquittal due to the lapses of the
prosecution that led to its failure to discharge the burden of proof
beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed the crime.

The trial court on 21 March 2007 found the accused guilty of the
offense charged. The dispositive portion of the decision41 reads:

In order to successfully prosecute an offense of illegal sale of


dangerous drugs, like shabu, the following elements must first be
established: (1) the identity of the buyer and the seller, the object and
consideration of the sale; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the
payment therefor.

ACCORDINGLY, judgment is rendered finding the accused JOEL


CLARA Y BUHAIN GUILTY beyond reasonable of the crime in violation
of Sec. 5 of R.A. 9165 as charged (for drug pushing) and he is
sentenced to suffer the prescribed jail term of Life Imprisonment and
pay a fine of P500,000.00.

It is basic in criminal prosecutions that an accused is presumed


innocent of the charge laid unless the contrary is proven beyond
reasonable doubt. The prosecution has the burden to overcome such
presumption of innocence by presenting the quantum of evidence
required.

The shabu weighing 0.07 gram involved in this case is ordered


transmitted to the PDEA thru DDB for disposal in accordance with R.A.
9165.42

Proof beyond reasonable doubt does not mean such a degree of proof
as, excluding possibility of error, produces absolute certainty. Moral
certainty only is required, or that degree of proof which produces
conviction in an unprejudiced mind.48 It must rest on its own merits and
must not rely on the weakness of the defense. If the prosecution fails
to meet the required amount of evidence, the defense may logically not
even present evidence on its own behalf, in which case, the
presumption prevails and the accused should necessarily be
acquitted.49

Ruling of the Trial Court

The trial court ruled that Joel directly dealt with the poseur buyer and
participated in all the stages of the illegal sale. It found conspiracy
between Joel and Ningning. It pointed out that Ningning was able to
escape the police dragnet while Joel was being arrested because of
her familiarity as a drug operator with police operations.
The police operation and its coordination with the operatives of the
PDEA would be recognized by the appellate court as legally
performed.43 On the contrary the prosecutions scenario that the police
officers entered Joels residence and hauled him out with no reason at
all was found to be improbable.44
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
In affirming the ruling of the trial court, the appellate court ruled that all
the elements of an illegal sale of dangerous drugs were
present.45 First, Joel, as the seller of illegal drug, was positively
identified by the poseur buyer and the police officers; Second, the
confiscated white crystalline substance which was found by the PNP
crime laboratory as positive for Methamphetamine Hydrochloride which
is a dangerous drug was presented during trial; and Lastly, the illegal
sale was for a consideration of P200.00 given by PO3 Ramos as
poseur buyer. The appellate court further held that the nonpresentation of the marked money was not fatal since the prosecution

In this case, the prosecution failed to overcome such presumption


when it presented inconsistent versions of an illegal sale.
PO3 Ramos identified Joel as the seller who sold to him a small plastic
sachet containing shabu in exchange of two hundred pesos. We quote
the relevant portions:
FISCAL (to witness)
Q: What happened there?
A: When we reached the house sir, we knocked at the door and alias
Gigi open (sic) it.
xxxx
Q: What was the conversation with you during that time?

A: The informant first introduced me to Gigi that I will be the one to buy
shabu.

Q: Why?
A: Because I placed my marking.

Q: What was the answer of Gigi at that time?


Q: What marking did you place?
A: He asked how much.
A: LRR.
Q: What was your answer?
A: I said dos.
Q: After informing him that you intend to buy dos of illegal drug, what
happened?

Q: Showing to you this transparent plastic sachet containing illegal


drug, what can you say about that, what is the relation of that
transparent plastic sachet to the plastic sachet you have just
mentioned?
A: That is the sachet I was able to buy, sir.

A: I first asked where is Ningning.


Q: Where is the marking?
Q: What was the answer of Gigi?
A: It was on top of the plastic sachet.51 (Emphasis supplied)
A: He said that she was upstairs.
However, he would later present a new version on who marked the
plastic sachet:

Q: What happened after that?

Q: Now, going [back] to the police station, other than searching, what
other matters were taken during the arrest?

A: He asked for my money, sir.


Q: Did you give the P200.00.

A: The evidence that I was able to get from Ningning and it was the
investigator who marked it.

A: Yes sir, I gave the money.


Q: After giving that money to Gigi, what happened after that?
A: He called Ningning from up stair (sic).
Q: Did Ningning go to the place where you were talking with Gigi at
that time?

Q: Other than putting the initial on the transparent plastic sachet


immediately after the arrest Mr. Witness, what was the SOP in a buybust operation, after taking or receiving the item from the accused
during the arrest?
A: We made the inventory receipt, sir.52 (Emphasis supplied)
xxxx

A: No sir, she just open (sic) the door and handed the sachet of shabu.
xxxx

Q: x x x. You said that it was the investigator who made the marking in
the transparent plastic sachet, where were you when the marking was
placed on it?

Q: When he received that from Ningning at that time, what did you do?
A: I was in front of the investigator.
A: After Gigi got it he gave it to me, sir.
Q: What was the marking placed?
Q: Can you describe that item you received from Gigi that came from
Ningning at that time?

A: LRR.53 (Emphasis supplied)

A: Yes sir.
Q: Can you describe?
A: Yes sir, just a small plastic sachet.50
PO3 Ramos initially testified that he placed his marking on the small
plastic sachet he was able to buy from Joel:
Q: If that small plastic sachet is shown to you can you indentify the
specimen?

xxxx
Q: You said that the investigator placed the marking in the transparent
plastic sachet and likewise he was the one who made the inventory
receipt. In what particular place that he prepared this particular
document?
A: At the area, sir.
Q: What do you mean by area?
A: In front of the house of the accused, sir.

A: Yes, sir.

Q: What is the name of that investigator again?

A: Yes sir, he was with us.58 (Emphasis supplied)

A: Alexander Jimenez, sir.54 (Emphasis supplied)

However, SPO2 Nagera pointed to PO3 Ramos as the one in


possession:

The testimony of PO3 Ramos, which apparently was given as proof of


all the elements that constitute an illegal sale of drug is however,
inconsistent on material points from the recollection of events of PO3
Ramos, SPO2 Nagera and PO1 Jimenez regarding the marking,
handling and turnover of the plastic sachet containing the dangerous
drug of shabu.
SPO2 Nagera narrated that it was PO1 Jimenez who marked the
plastic sachet after it was handed by PO3 Ramos:
Q: What did the investigator do to shabu, Mr. Witness?
A: They placed their initial and prepared request for examination
address to the Crime Laboratory sir.55(Emphasis supplied)
xxxx
Q: Where was PO3 Ramos when that plastic sachet, when the police
investigator put the initial, Mr. Witness?
A: We were there sir.56 (Emphasis supplied)
However, PO1 Jimenez later testified that it was PO3 Ramos who
marked the plastic sachet in their office.
Q: Being the investigator you saw the item confiscated?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Was it already marked when it was received by you?
A: It was already marked by the apprehending officers.
Q: Did you see it marked by the apprehending officer?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Where?

Q: What about the shabu, who was holding it in going to the police
station, Mr. Witness?
A: Ramos, sir.
Q: What happened next, Mr. Witness?
A: It was turn (sic) over to the police investigator, sir.59 (Emphasis
supplied)
The clear inconsistency in the presentation of facts is fatal. It creates
doubts whether the transaction really occurred or not. Though Joels
denial as a defense is weak, such cannot relieve the prosecution the
burden of presenting proof beyond reasonable doubt that an illegal
transaction actually took place.60
Inconsistencies of the prosecution witnesses referring to the events
that transpired in the buy-bust operation can overturn the judgment of
conviction. As held in Zaragga v. People,61 material inconsistencies
with regard to when and where the markings on the shabu were made
and the lack of inventory on the seized drugs created reasonable doubt
as to the identity of the corpus delicti. Prosecutions failure to
indubitably show the identity of the shabu led to the acquittal of the
accused in that case.62
Inconsistencies and discrepancies referring to minor details and not
upon the basic aspect of the crime do not diminish the witnesses
credibility. If the cited inconsistency has nothing to do with the
elements of a crime, it does not stand as a ground to reverse a
conviction.63 However, in this case, the material inconsistencies are
furthered by inconsistencies of the police officers on minor details.
Referring back to the narration of circumstances of the buy-bust
operation, SPO2 Nagera was asked about the gender of the informant
who went to their office to report about the illegal activities committed
by Ningning.1wphi1 He readily answered that the informant was a
female.64 PO3 Ramos in turn, when asked to describe what happened
in the afternoon before the buy-bust operation, testified that a male
informant came to their office to report about a person selling illegal
drugs.65

A: In our office.57 (Emphasis supplied)

These conflicting statements of the prosecution effectively broke the


chain of custody of evidence of the sale of dangerous drug.

Contradictory statements were further made as to who between PO3


Ramos and PO1 Jimenez held the shabu from the time of the arrest
until arrival at the police station. PO3 Ramos pointed to PO1 Jimenez
in his direct examination:

Section 21(a) of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of R.A.


No. 9165 provides for the procedure to be observed in preserving the
integrity of chain of custody:

Q: You said immediately after arresting and searching the accused in


this case you said that you brought the accused to the police station,
who was in possession of the transparent plastic sachet from where
you received that transparent plastic sachet in exchange to P200.00
going to the police station Mr. Witness?
A: The investigator, sir.
Q: You mean to say that investigator was present when the accused
was arrested in this case?

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 so
confiscated, seized and/or surrendered, for disposition in the following
manner:

(a) The apprehending officer/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 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 copy
thereof. Provided, that the physical inventory and the photograph shall
be conducted at the place where the search warrant is served; or at
least the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the
apprehending officer/team, whichever is practicable, in case of
warrantless seizures; Provided, further, that noncompliance with these
requirements under justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and
evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved by the
apprehending team/officer, shall not render void and invalid such
seizures of and custody over said items.
"Chain of custody" means the duly recorded authorized movements
and custody of seized drugs or controlled chemicals or plant sources of
dangerous drugs or laboratory equipment of each stage, from the time
of seizure/confiscation to receipt in the forensic laboratory to
safekeeping to presentation in court and finally for destruction. Such
record of movements and custody of seized item shall include the
identity and signature of the person who held temporary custody of the
seized item, the date and time when such transfer of custody were
made in the course of safekeeping and use in court as evidence, and
the final disposition.66
To establish the chain of custody in a buy-bust operation, the
prosecution must establish the following links, namely: 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 by the
forensic chemist to the court.67.
The "objective test" in determining the credibility of prosecution
witnesses regarding the conduct of buy-bust operation provides that it
is the duty of the prosecution to present a complete picture detailing
the buy-bust operationfrom the initial contact between the poseurbuyer and the pusher, the offer to purchase, the promise or payment of
the consideration, until the consummation of the sale by the delivery of
the illegal subject of sale.68The manner by which the initial contact was
made, the offer to purchase the drug, the payment of the buy-bust
money, and the delivery of the illegal drug must be the subject of strict
scrutiny by courts to insure that law-abiding citizens are not unlawfully
induced to commit an offense.69
In view of these guiding principles, we rule that the prosecution failed
to present a clear picture on how the police officers seized and marked
the illegal drug recovered by the apprehending officer and how the
specimen was turned over by the apprehending officer to the
investigating officer.
As to the first link of marking, the three police officers failed to agree on
who among them marked the plastic sachet, which is highly
improbable if they really had a clear grasp on what really transpired on
the day of operation.
PO3 Ramos testified that he placed his marking on the small plastic
sachet but recanted his previous statement at the latter part of the
examination and pointed out that it was the investigator PO1 Jimenez
who put the marking in front of him at the area of arrest.70 SPO2
Nagera in his testimony confirmed that it was PO1 Jimenez who put

marking on the plastic sachet.71 However, PO1 Jimenez in his


testimony clarified that the item confiscated were already marked by
the apprehending officers when it was turned over to him in their
office.72
Likewise, they cannot seem to agree on the second link on who among
them held the item confiscated from the time of arrest and confiscation
until it was turned over to the investigator and the place where it was
turned over.
PO3 Ramos positively pointed that it was PO1 Jimenez who took
possession of the item from the time of the arrest until arrival at the
police station.73 However, when SPO2 Nagera was asked, he pointed
out that it was PO3 Ramos who held the item from the time of the
arrest until they reached the police where it was turned over to
Jimenez for investigation.74
In Malillin v. People,75 it was explained that the chain of custody rule
includes testimony about every link in the chain, from the moment the
item was picked up to the time it was offered in evidence, in such a
way that every person who touched the exhibit would describe how
and from whom it was received, where it was and what happened to it
while in the witness possession, the condition in which it was received
and the condition in which it was delivered to the next link in the
chain.76
The inconsistent statements of the police officers generated doubt on
whether the identity of the evidence seized upon apprehension is the
same evidence subjected to marking and inventory then given to the
Jimenez for investigation and eventually submitted by PO3 Ramos for
examination by the forensic chemist.
The prosecution cannot rely on the saving clause provided under
Section 21(a) of the IRR that non-compliance with the legal
requirements shall not render void and invalid seizures of and custody
over said items. This saving clause is applicable only if prosecution
was able to prove the twin conditions of (a) existence of justifiable
grounds and (b) preservation of the integrity and the evidentiary value
of the items.77 The procedural lapses in this case put to doubt the
integrity of the items presented in court.
The People, through the Office of the Solicitor General, is adamant in
its argument that there is a presumption of regularity in the
performance of duty by police officers conducting buy-bust operation.
We agree but with qualification.
In numerous cases, we were inclined to uphold the presumption of
regularity in the performance of duty of public officers.78 However, this
is not a hard-and-fast rule. It does not mean that we straight away and
without a blink of the eye rule on the regularity of their performance of
duties. We at all times harmonize the interest of the accused alongside
the interest of the State.
Inconsistencies committed by the police officers amounting to
procedural lapses in observing the chain of custody of evidence
requirement effectively negated this presumption. Their inaccurate
recall of events amounted to irregularities that affected the
presumption and tilted the evidence in favor of the accused. The
absence of improper motive tends to sustain inexistence but does not
absolutely rule out false charges.
In case of conflict between the presumption of regularity of police
officers and the presumption of innocence of the accused, we rule that

the latter must prevail as the law imposes upon the prosecution the
highest degree of proof of evidence to sustain conviction.79
Due to foregoing flagrant inconsistencies in the testimonies of police
officers which directly constitute the recollection of events of buy-bust
together and failure of observance of chain of custody of evidence
which effectively broke the links to sustain conviction, we rule for the
acquittal of the accused.
WHEREFORE, the appeal is GRANTED. The 4 August 2010 Decision
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 02714 affirming the

judgment of conviction dated 21 March 2007 of the Regional Trial


Court, Branch 103 of Quezon City is hereby REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. Accused-appellant JOSE CLARA y BUHAIN is hereby
ACQUITTED and ordered immediately released from detention unless
his continued confinement is warranted for some other cause or
ground.
SO ORDERED.