G.R. No. 199695, January 27, 2014


The transmittal letter dated October 11, 2013 of the Court of Appeals elevating to the Court the CA rollo, original records, and transcripts of stenographic notes of the case is NOTED.

The Public Prosecutor charged petitioner Emily Ocor y Jamero (Emily) with illegal possession of dangerous drugs in violation of Section 11, Article II of Republic Act (R.A.) 9165 before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila[1] in Criminal Case 03-214316.

Jail Officer 1 Ma. Christina Darum (JO1 Darum), one of those responsible for security at the Manila City Jail female ward[2] testified that the facility had detained petitioner Emily pending hearing of her illegal recruitment case.[3] On May 18, 2003 JO1 Darum, while on duty, conducted body search of all persons entering and leaving the female ward.[4] At about 2:30 p.m., an unidentified male inmate told her that Emily was peddling dangerous drugs while outside the female ward. When Emily was about to re-enter the ward, JO1 Darum brought her to the reception area and frisked her.[5] This resulted in the discovery and seizure of two plastic sachets from her pocket believed to contain shabu.

JO1 Darum immediately marked with her initials the items she seized from Emily.[6] She reported the incident to the female ward warden, Inspector Concha, who instructed her to turn the things over to the jail's Intelligence and Investigation Branch (IIB).[7] She did so and the IIB in turn transmitted the plastic sachets to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)[8] which confirmed that the substance in the seized sachets was methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.[9]

For her defense, Emily testified that at around 2:30 p.m. on May 18, 2003 JO1 Darum summoned her from the chapel at the jail's male ward and frisked her but found nothing.[10] The officer then asked her to return to the chapel. Following this, the female ward's mayora, Lyn Cabanilla, escorted her on orders to solitary confinement where she stayed for a week. A Commission on Human Rights representative, Marlon Poblador, visited her. She learned of the charge against her only during the arraignment.After trial, the RTC found Emily guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged and sentenced her to suffer the penalty of imprisonment for 12 years and 1 day to 20 years and to pay a fine of P300,000.00.[11] The RTC found JO1 Darum's testimony credible; it also established all the elements of the crime. On appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed[12] the RTC Decision,[13] prompting Emily to come to this Court on petition for review.

Emily claims that the jail officers arrested her without a warrant, rendering the evidence taken from her inadmissible as fruit of a poisonous tree. But this claim is preposterous. Emily was already under arrest and detention for a lawful cause. She did not have the liberty that freemen enjoy. Frisking detainees like Emily is a reasonable requirement of the country's detention facilities.[14] The right against searches inside prison cells are limited[15] and detainees have a diminished expectation of privacy rights.[16]

Further, Emily claims that the identity of the drugs seized from her had been compromised since JO1 Darum did not comply with the inventory requirement of Section 21 of R.A. 9165. But substantial compliance is sufficient. Here, the records show that the identity of the drugs had been preserved through the chain of custody that the prosecution established. JO1 Darum identified the plastic sachets by marking them with her initials (MCD-1 and MCD-2) immediately after seizure. She then turned them over to the IIB which in turn forwarded to the NBI. The latter acknowledged receipt of two plastic sachets with the same markings.

And, as the CA ruled, the mere fact that JO1 Darum failed to make an inventory and take pictures of the drugs following the specific procedure laid down under Section 21 of R.A. 9165 should not render Emily's conviction defective. JO1 Darum was a jail officer, not an anti-drugs enforcement agent. She had enough sense, however, to mark the drugs after seizing them and immediately turn them over to IIB, which in turn, documented the seizure before forwarding the drugs to the NBI. What is more, there is no evidence that the seized articles had been tampered with or that the non-compliance was brought about by bad faith or ill will.[17]

WHEREFORE, the Court DENIES the petition and AFFIRMS the Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR 33365 dated July 12, 2011 and December 5, 2011, respectively.


[1] Branch 44.

[2] TSN, March 7, 2005 p. 4.

[3] TSN, November 4, 2009, p. 4.

[4] Supra note 2, at 11.

[5] Supra note 2.

[6] MCD-1 and MCD-2 respectively.

[7] Supra note 2, at 8.

[8] Records, p. 9.

[9] Id. at 10.

[10] Supra note 3, at 4-5.

[11] Decision dated January 22, 2010.

[12] Docketed as CA-G.R. CR 33365.

[13] Decision dated July 12, 2011. A subsequent motion for reconsideration was also denied by the CA in its Resolution dated December 5, 2011.

[14] See Bureau of Jail Management and Penology Standard Operating Procedure 2004-02: Control of Contraband and Physical Evidence dated November 14, 2004. Retrieved at http://bjmpro3.com//bjmpro3web/uploads/Greyhound_Manual_SOP_2004-02 Nov_14,_2004.pdf (last accessed December 2, 2013).

[15] Hudson v. Palmer, 104 S. Ct. 3 194 (1984).

[16] In the Matter of the Petition for Habeas Corpus of Cap. Alejano v. Gen. Cabuay, 505 Phil. 298, 322 (2005).

[17] People v. Posada, G.R. No. 194445, March 12, 2012, 667 SCRA 790, 803.