CASE 2014-0051: PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, -VERSUS- ALFREDO CERDON Y SANCHEZ, ACCUSED-APPELLANT (G.R. NO. 201111, 06 AUGUST 2014, PEREZ, J.) SUBJECT: DANGEROUS DRUGS (BRIEF TITLE: PEOPLE VS. CERDON)
“WHEREFORE, the Decision dated 10 November 2011 of the Court of Appeals affirming the conviction of appellant by the RTC of Angeles City, Pampanga, Branch 57 for violation of Section 5, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of LIFE IMPRISONMENT and to pay a FINE of P500,000.00 is hereby AFFIRMED.
WHAT IS THE VALUE OF THE FINDINGS OF THE TRIAL COURT?
THEY DESERVED TO BE RESPECTED WHEN THERE ARE NO GLARING ERRORS.
It is jurisprudential that factual findings of trial courts especially those which revolve on matters of credibility of witnesses deserve to be respected when no glaring errors bordering on a gross misapprehension of the facts, or where no speculative, arbitrary and unsupported conclusions, can be gleaned from such findings.9 The evaluation of the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies are best undertaken by the trial court because of its unique opportunity to observe the witnesses’ deportment, demeanor, conduct and attitude under grilling examination.10
IS THE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO SHOW THAT THE POLICE OFFICERS CONDUCTED THE REQUIRED PHYSICAL INVENTORY AND PHOTOGRAPH OF THE EVIDENCE CONFISCATED IN THE PRESENCE OF THE REPRESENTATIVE FROM THE MEDIA AND THE DOJ PURSUANT TO THE GUIDELINES AUTOMATICALLY RENDER THE ARREST ILLEGAL OR THE ITEM SEIZED INADMISSABLE?
NO, IF THERE ARE JUSTIFIABLE GROUNDS AND THE INTEGRITY AND THE EVIDENTIARY VALUE OF THE SEIZED ITEMS ARE PROPERLY PRESERVED.
The failure of the prosecution to show that the police officers conducted the required physical inventory and photograph of the evidence confiscated in the presence of representatives from the media and the DOJ pursuant to said guidelines does not automatically render appellant’s arrest illegal or the item seized from him inadmissible. A proviso was added in the implementing rules 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.”
Pertinently, it is the preservation of the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items which must be proven to establish the corpus delicti.
IS THE NON=PRESENTATION OF THE FORENSIC CHEMIST FATAL TO THE PROSECUTION CASE?
NO. THE REPORT OF THE FORENSIC CHEMIST IS SUFFICIENT. IT IS AN OFFICIAL RECORD MADE IN THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL DUTY AND THUS CONSTITUTES PRIMA FACIE EVIDENCE OF THE FACTS STATED THEREIN.
The non-presentation of the forensic chemist is not fatal to the prosecution’s case. In People v. Quebral,18 this Court explained that “the corpus delicti in dangerous drugs cases constitutes the dangerous drug itself. x x x [I]t has nothing to do with the testimony of the laboratory analyst. In fact, this Court has ruled that the report of an official forensic chemist regarding a recovered prohibited drug enjoys the presumption of regularity in its preparation. Corollarily, under Section 44, Rule 130, of the Revised Rules of Court, entries in official records made in the performance of official duty are prima facie evidence of the facts they state.”19
The prosecution was able to preserve the integrity and evidentiary value of the illegal drug. The concurrence of all the elements of the illegal sale of shabu was proven by the prosecution. The chain of custody did not appear to be broken. The recovery and handling of the seized drug was satisfactorily established. . . . . . .
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