People vs. Divinagracia GR 240230
November 28, 2019
Through a confidential informant, police was informed that a certain alias Ensol (later identified to be Divinagracia) was selling marijuana and decided to conduct a buy-bust operation to arrestthe culprit.On the operation, the police undercover, along with the informant who identified and introduce the police to the suspects that they want to buy drugs, would buy a sachet of marijuana with the marked money. After the completion of the transaction, the undercover police would identify himself as one and arrest Divinagracia and one of his companions at that time who was identified as Sy.Kagawad Villar was the Barangay Kagawad at the time of the incident and was requested to witness the inventory of the evidences such as the drugs and marked money against the accused.The suspects were accused of illegal sale of dangerous drugs in violation of Section 5, Article IIof R.A. No. 9165. They defended themselves with denial and claim it was a frame-up.RTC deemed Divinagracia and Sy to be guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal sale ofdangerous drugs in violation of Section 5, Article II of R.A. No. 9165. RTC brushed of theviolation of procedure found in Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 in that no representative of theDepartment of Justice (DOJ) and the media were present after the seizure as it held that the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized drugs has been duly preserved by the unbroken chain of custody of the
.Court of Appeals affirmed the decision.
Whether or not the accused are guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal sale of dangerous drugs in violation of Section 5, Article II of R.A. No. 9165.
No.The legality of entrapment operations involving illegal drugs begins and ends with Section 21,Article II of R.A. No. 9165. It provides the chain of custody rule; outlining the procedure police officers must follow in handling the seized drugs, in order to preserve their integrity and evidentiary value.The implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. No. 9165, (IRR) on the other hand, filled in the void of the law by providing the details as to the place where the physical inventory and photographing of seized items should be accomplished and added a proviso on permissible deviation from the strict compliance with what the law requires on justifiable grounds.Simply stated, the law commands that the seized drugs must be inventoried and photographed immediately after seizure and the same must be conducted in the presence of the accused or his representative or counsel, and three other witnesses, namely: (a) a representative from the media;(b) a representative of the DOJ; and (c) an elected public official. Compliance with the requirements forecloses any opportunities for planting, contaminating, or tampering of evidence in any manner. Non-compliance without justifiable grounds is tantamount to failure in establishing the identity of the corpus delicti, and essential element of the offense of illegal sale of dangerous drugs, thus, engendering the acquittal of the accused.In the present case, it is undisputed that the police officers failed to comply with the three-witness rule under Section 21 mention above. The prosecution never hid this fact nor made any attempt to deny that only Kagawad Villar witnessed the inventory of the confiscated items. No justifiable ground was given for the breached in mandatory procedure. Because of this, the evidence become inadmissible in court as the can no longer be sure if the evidence are tampered or not. Hence, the accused are acquitted of their crimes.