'Perfect link' NOT required in chain of custody

It bears stressing that in ascertaining the identity of the illegal drugs presented in court as the ones actually seized from the accused, it must be shown by the prosecution that: (a) the prescribed procedure under Section 21(1), Article II of RA 9165 has been complied with or falls within the saving clause provided in Section 21 (a), Article II of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA 9165; and (b) there was an unbroken link (not perfect link) in the chain of custody with respect to the confiscated items.

While Section 21(1) of RA 9165 mandates that the apprehending team must immediately conduct a physical inventory of the seized items and photograph them, non-compliance therewith is not fatal as long as there is a justifiable ground and as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the confiscated/seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending team. (People v. Kapal. G.R. No. 236584. July 04, 2018. See Saraum v. People. G.R. No. 205472. January 25, 2016)

The apprehending officer/team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, immediately after seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy thereof: Provided, that the physical inventory and photograph shall be conducted at the place where the search warrant is served; or at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the apprehending officer/team, whichever is practicable, in case of warrantless seizures; Provided, further, 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; xxx. (Section 21 of Republic Act No. 9165)

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