PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. MICHAEL KURT JOHN BULAWAN
GR No. 204441 June 8, 2016
TOPIC: Section 5 of RA 9165, chain of custody
The prosecution’s witness IO1 de la Cerna narrated that they conducted a buy-bust operation, with him acting as poseur buyer.
The accused arrived and he was introduced to him by their CI After he was introduced, the accused handed to him the marijuana wrapped in a magazine paper. After the accused gave him the marijuana. he inspected it if to verify if it was indeed marijuana and after confirming it, he made a “miss-call” signal to their team leader who was inside the vehicle which was parked about 10 to 15 meters away from them. He then immediately announced that he is a PDEA agent and he informed the accused of the latter’s violation.
He further testified that he did not prepare the buy bust money in the amount of P1,000.00 and that when he met the accused, he had no P 1,000. 00 with him and that he arrested the accused when the latter showed him the marijuana. He then informed the accused of his rights and when the other members arrived, he conducted an inventory right at the place. Then, they proceeded to the Office where he made the markings “RDC”.
After trial, RTC convicted the accused just for illegal possession of dangerous drugs because two elements of illegal sale were missing – the consideration and payment. CA, however, convicted the accused for illegal sale.
Whether or not accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of illegal sale of dangerous drugs.
The Court held that no sale was consummated as the consideration, much less its receipt by accused-appellant, were not established.
Elements of illegal sale of dangerous drugs
- The identities of the buyer and seller, object, and consideration
- The delivery of the thing sold and the payment for it
What is material is a proof that the transaction or sale actually took place, coupled with the presentation in court of evidence of corpus delicti.
In People v. Dasigan, February 4, 2015, where the marked money was shown to therein accused-appellant but was not actually given to her as she was immediately arrested when the shabu was handed over to the poseur-buyer, the Court acquitted said accused-appellant of the crime of illegal sale of dangerous drugs.
People v. Hong Yen E, January 9, 2013, the Court held therein that it is material in illegal sale of dangerous drugs that the sale actually took place, and what consummates the buy-bust transaction is the delivery of the drugs to the poseur-buyer and, in tum, the seller’s receipt of the marked money. While the parties may have agreed on the selling price of the shabu and delivery of payment was intended, these do not prove consummated sale. Receipt of the marked money, whether done before delivery of the drugs or after, is required.
Complete picture of buy-bust operation not established
The Court held that no information was presented by the prosecution on the prior negotiation between the confidential informant and accused-appellant. Moreover, the testimony of IO1 de la Cerna failed to show any kind of confirmation of the alleged prior negotiation. Thus, there is no proof of the offer to purchase dangerous drugs, as well as the promise of the consideration.
Prosecution failed to establish the identity and integrity of the corpus delicti of the offense charged.
The chain of custody of the seized alleged marijuana was not sufficiently established, thereby casting doubt on the identity and integrity of the supposed evidence.
The Court considered the fact that the seized item was not placed in a plastic container and sealed upon confiscation. In People v. Habana, the Court held that “if the substance is not in a plastic container, the officer should put it in one and seal the same. x x x If the sealing of the seized substance has not been made, the prosecution would have to present every police officer, messenger, laboratory technician, and storage personnel, the entire chain of custody, no matter how briefly one’s possession has been. Each of them has to testify that the substance, although unsealed, has not been tampered with or substituted while in his care.”
In the case at bar, as the seized substance was not sealed, the prosecution should have presented all the officers who handled said evidence from the time it left the person of the accused to the time it was presented in open court. The prosecution did not.