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People v. Que, GR 212994
On July 26, 2003, an informant reported that a person identified as “Joshua,” later identified as Que, was selling shabu. Acting on this report, P/C Insp. Nickson Babul Muksan (P/C Insp. Muksan) organized a buy-bust operation with PO3 Lim as poseur-buyer. PO3 Lim and the informant then left for the area of Fort Pilar. There, the informant introduced PO3 Lim to Que. PO3 Lim then told Que that he intended to purchase P100.00 worth of shabu. Que then handed him shabu inside a plastic cellophane. In turn, PO3 Lim handed Que the marked P100.00 bill and gave the prearranged signal to have Que arrested.
After the arrest, the marked bill and another sachet of shabu were recovered from Que. Que was then brought to the police station where the sachets of shabu and the marked bill were turned over to the investigator, SPO4 Eulogio Tubo (SPO4 Tubo), who then marked these items with his initials. He also prepared the letter requesting for laboratory examination of the sachets’ contents. Arresting officer SPO1 Jacinto also testified to the same circumstances recounted by PO3 Lim.
Whether or not the corpus delicti’s integrity was maintained as required under Section 21 of R.A. 10640
No, the integrity of the corpus delicti was not preserved. Compliance with Section 21’s chain of custody requirements ensures the integrity of the seized items. Noncompliance with them tanishes the credibility of the corpus delicti around which prosecutions under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act revolve. Consequently, they also tarnish the very claim that an offense against the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act was committed.
Fidelity to the chain of custody requirements is necessary because, by nature, narcotics may easily be mistaken for everyday objects. Chemical analysis and detection through methods that exceed human sensory perception, such as specially trained canine units and screening devices, are often needed to ascertain the presence of dangerous drugs. The physical similarity of narcotics with everyday objects facilitates their adulteration and substitution. It also makes planting of evidence conducive.