Case Digest: People vs. Santiago

G.R. No. 191061, February 9, 2011

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, v. ROSELLE SANTIAGO y PABALINAS, Appellant.

ABAD, J.:


FACTS:

The public prosecutor of Makati charged the accused Roselle Santiago y Pabalinas alias Tisay (Roselle) with violation of Sections 5 and 15 of Republic Act (R.A.) 9165 for selling drugs at her house.

After a buy-bust operation, police officer Esguerra turned over Roselle and the seized sachet to the investigator. When the contents of the first and second sachets (with “@ Tisay” and “RPS” markings) were examined, these were confirmed to beMethylamphetamine Hydrochloride (shabu). A confirmatory test also found Roselle positive for the use of shabu.

In her defense, Roselle denies that she sold shabu to Esguerra. She claims that the case was a product of a mistaken identity, as she was not known as Tisay in the area but Roselle. She narrated how she was forcibly taken from her house and into custody.

ISSUES:

Whether or not the police conducted a valid arrest in Roselle’s case.

Whether or not the CA erred in affirming the RTC’s finding that the prosecution evidence established her guilt of the offense charged beyond reasonable doubt

HELD:

The petition lacks merit.

CRIMINAL LAW: Waiver of right to question legality of arrest

Second Issue:

Roselle claims that the police did not make a valid arrest in her case since they arrested her without proper warrant and did not apprise her of the rights of a person taken into custody as the Constitution and R.A. 7438 provide. But Roselle raised this issue only during appeal, not before she was arraigned. For this reason, she should be deemed to have waived any question as to the legality of her arrest.

CRIMINAL LAW: Chain of custody

Second Issue:

Although the prosecution established through Esguerra the acts constituting the crime charged in the drug-pushing case (Section 5), it failed to provide proper identity of the allegedly prohibited substance that the police seized from Roselle.

The request for laboratory exam reveals that it was not Esguerra who delivered the specimen to the crime laboratory. It appears that Esguerra gave it to a certain SPO3 Puno who in turn forwarded it to a certain PO2 Santos. No testimony covers the movement of the specimen among these other persons. Consequently, the prosecution was unable to establish the chain of custody of the seized item and its preservation from possible tampering.

CA decision is REVERSED.

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