5 examples of fatal police errors re: chain of custody

In the 2018 case of People v. Alvaro (G.R. No. 225596), the Supreme Court concurred with accused-appellants that indeed, numerous lapses, and even inconsistencies, taint the prosecution's account of how the arresting officers handled the subject confiscated drugs, to wit:

[1] With respect to the place of marking, Siborboro testified that he immediately marked and inventoried the seized items at the place of arrest. This was, however, contradicted by PO3 Castillo who testified that they did not prepare the inventory at the place of the arrest since Laperal Compound was teeming with people; instead, they conducted the inventory along EDSA, at the trunk of the service vehicle.

[2] The prosecution failed to show that the inventory was made in the presence of the accused as required by law. The presence of the required witnesses, i.e., the representatives from the media and the DOJ, and any elected official, was also not established.While records show that Brgy. Chairman Bobier had signed the inventory receipt, based on Siborboro's own statement, the former was not present when the same was prepared and that it was only brought to his office for signature. For his part, PO3 Castillo testified that the apprehending team immediately returned to their office right after the inventory and preservation marking, without passing by any other place. He also contradicted his previous statement that the inventory was made along EDSA, when he later stated that Brgy. Chairman Bobier signed the inventory receipt at the place of arrest.

[3] The prosecution failed to show that the seized items were photographed. While Siborboro could not recall if photographs of the seized items were taken, PO3 Castillo testified that the items were photographed by a designated photographer. Unfortunately, the records do not support PO3 Castillo's claim as the prosecution did not offer the photographs of the seized items as evidence.

[4] The sachet subject of the sale was purportedly marked by Siborboro as "JSJR" and the other sachet confiscated from Geronimo was marked as "JSJR-1." However, the crime laboratory's report shows that S/Insp. Mangalip, the forensic chemist, examined two (2) sachets, one marked "JSJRND" and the other "JSJR-1." Instead of presenting PO1 Santos- as the receiving investigator - and S/Insp. Mangalip, the prosecution stipulated upon and dispensed with their testimonies. The stipulation was, in fact, limited to the fact "[t]hat the white crystalline substance contained in a transparent plastic sachet with markings 'JSJR and JSJR-1' were submitted to the PNP Crime Laboratory Office together with the Request for Laboratory Examination." Consequently, no witness could explain the provenance of the sachet "JSJRND" and the whereabouts of the sachet "JSJR" after the same were left to the custody of PO1 Santos. Neither did the prosecution justify if the said discrepancy was a mere typographical error.

[5] The records reveal that the request for laboratory examination was not delivered by PO1 Santos but by a certain Serrano. Siborboro and PO3 Castillo both failed to explain how Serrano came to possess the seized items, while PO2 Orante's testimony shows that he had no personal knowledge of the arrest and what transpired thereafter. With PO1 Santos's testimony stipulated upon and dispensed with, no witness was able to explain how Serrano came to have custody over the seized items.

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