Procedure of seizure, custody of drugs

The required procedure on the seizure and custody of drugs is embodied in Section 21, paragraph 1, Article II of R.A. No. 9165, which states:
1) The apprehending 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, [emphasis ours]
This is implemented by Section 21 (a), Article II of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. No. 9165, which reads:
(a) 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;

In People of the Philippines v. Rosalinda Casabuena,[1] the Supreme Court acquitted the accused for failure of the police to make an inventory and to photograph the seized shabu. The High Court explained that strict compliance with the prescribed procedure is required because of the illegal drug's unique characteristic rendering it indistinct, not readily identifiable, and easily open to tampering, alteration, or substitution either by accident or otherwise.

[1] G.R. No. 186455, November 19, 2014.

Popular Posts