Procedural lapses in illegal drug arrests

Dear PAO,

My husband was arrested in a buy-bust operation in Makati City for allegedly selling point .20 kilograms of marijuana fruiting tops. Subsequently, the police officers brought him to the police station where my husband was immediately detained. He was then charged for selling illegal drugs, but he never saw the illegal drugs he allegedly sold. Were the actions of the police officers legal and in accordance with our law?

Nessy. (Read more: https://www.Marking and inventory of seized illegal drugs in the presence of officials are mandatory under the law. Presida Acosta (2019). The Manila Times. Nessy,

To answer your question, we shall refer to Republic Act 10640, or “An Act to Further Strengthen The Anti-Drug Campaign of the Government, Amending for the Purpose Section 21 of Republic Act 9165, otherwise known as the ‘Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002,’” to wit:

“Section 1. xxx The apprehending team having initial custody and control of the dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment shall, immediately after seizure and confiscation conduct a physical inventory of the seized items 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, with an elected public official and representative of the National Prosecution Service or the media 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, finally, that noncompliance of these requirements under justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved, by the apprehending officer/team, shall not render void and invalid such seizures and custody over said items. xxx”

The aforementioned law provides for the proper manner of disposition of confiscated and seized illegal drugs. It is thus clear in the above-stated provision that the marking, physical inventory and the taking of photographs of the illegal drugs such as shabu (crystal meth) should be done at the nearest police station in case of warrantless seizures and in the presence of an elected barangay (village) official, and a Department of Justice (DoJ) representative, or a media representative.

In the case you presented to us, no marking, taking of photographs and physical inventory of the marijuana fruiting tops allegedly sold by your husband took place. Moreover, the presence of an elected local official, and a DoJ or media representative was not likewise followed by the police operatives who apprehended your husband. Given the flagrant procedural lapses the police officers committed against your husband, their acts could not be considered as legal and in accordance with the law.

We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to (Read more: https://www.Marking and inventory of seized illegal drugs in the presence of officials are mandatory under the law. Presida Acosta (2019). The Manila Times.