SC OKs marking of drugs at nearest police station

In the 2014 case of Dela Cruz v. People (G.R. No. 208968. January 15, 2014), the evidence presented showed that the police did not mark the seized sachets at the place where the petitioner was arrested, but did so only at the police station. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court held in People v. Resurreccion that "marking" upon immediate confiscation contemplates even marking at the nearest police station or office of the apprehending team.

In the Dela Cruz (2014) case, the record showed that there was an unbroken chain of custody over the seized items. To recall, PO3 Pagsolingan handed the 21 plastic sachets to SPO1 Rommel Ybañez when he arrived at the police station. SPO1 Ybañez, for his part, marked the sachets with "ALD-1" to "ALD-21" and then prepared an evidence acknowledgment receipt and a request for laboratory examination. He then forwarded the marked sachets to the Northern Police District Crime Laboratory. P/Insp. Erickson Calabocal, the PNP Forensic Chemist, examined the submitted specimen, marked as "ALD-1" to "ALD-21," and found it positive for the presence of shabu. Notably, PO3 Pagsolingan identified in court the sachets marked as "ALD-1" to "ALD-21" to be the same items he recovered from the petitioner. From this sequence of events, the Court agreed with the court a quo that the integrity and evidentiary value of the confiscated items had been properly preserved.To establish the identity of the dangerous drug with moral certainty, the prosecution must be able to account for each link of the chain of custody from the moment the drugs are seized up to their presentation in court as evidence of the crime. As part of the chain of custody procedure, the law requires, inter alia, that the marking, physical inventory, and photography of the seized items be conducted immediately after seizure and confiscation of the same. In this regard, case law recognizes that "[m]arking upon immediate confiscation contemplates even marking at the nearest police station or office of the apprehending team."

Hence, the failure to immediately mark the confiscated items at the place of arrest neither renders them inadmissible in evidence nor impairs the integrity of the seized drugs, as the conduct of marking at the nearest police station or office of the apprehending team is sufficient compliance with the rules on chain of custody. READ: G.R. No. 238906. November 05, 2018 - Project Jurisprudence.

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