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Prof. Joselito Guianan Chan's The Labor Code of the Philippines, Annotated Labor Standards & Social Legislation Volume I of a 3-Volume Series 2019 Edition (3rd Revised Edition)
 

 
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UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

 
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July-2011 Jurisprudence                 

  • [G.R. No. 181035 : July 04, 2011] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. NOEL DION, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

  • [G.R. No. 176061 : July 04, 2011] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, APPELLEE, VS. BINGKY CAMPOS AND DANNY "BOY" ACABO, APPELLANTS.

  • [A.M. No. 2011-04-SC : July 05, 2011] RE: GROSS VIOLATION OF CIVIL SERVICE LAW ON THE PROHIBITION AGAINST DUAL EMPLOYMENT AND DOUBLE COMPENSATION IN THE GOVERNMENT SERVICE COMMITTED BY MR. EDUARDO V. ESCALA, SC CHIEF JUDICIAL STAFF OFFICER, SECURITY DIVISION, OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES.

  • [G.R. No. 183711 : July 05, 2011] EDITA T. BURGOS, PETITIONER, VS. PRESIDENT GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, GEN. HERMOGENES ESPERON, JR., LT. GEN. ROMEO P. TOLENTINO, MAJ. GEN. JUANITO GOMEZ, MAJ. GEN. DELFIN BANGIT, LT. COL. NOEL CLEMENT, LT. COL. MELQUIADES FELICIANO, DIRECTOR GENERAL OSCAR CALDERON, RESPONDENTS. [G.R. No. 183712] EDITA T. BURGOS, PETITIONER, VS. PRESIDENT GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO, GEN. HERMOGENES ESPERON, JR., LT. GEN. ROMEO P. TOLENTINO, MAJ. GEN. JUANITO GOMEZ, LT. COL. MELQUIADES FELICIANO, LT. COL. NOEL CLEMENT, RESPONDENTS. [G.R. No. 183713] EDITA T. BURGOS, PETITIONER, VS. CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES, GEN. HERMOGENES ESPERON, JR., COMMANDING GENERAL OF THE PHILIPPINE ARMY, LT. GEN. ALEXANDER YANO; CHIEF OF THE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE, DIRECTOR GENERAL AVELINO RAZON, JR., RESPONDENTS.

  • [A.M. No. 09-5-2-SC : July 05, 2011] RE: BREWING CONTROVERSIES IN THE ELECTIONS IN THE INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES [A.C. NO. 8292] ATTYS. MARCIAL M. MAGSINO, MANUEL M. MARAMBA AND NASSER MAROHOMSALIC, COMPLAINANTS, VS. ATTYS. ROGELIO A. VINLUAN, ABELARDO C. ESTRADA, BONIFACIO T. BARANDON, JR., EVERGISTO S. ESCALON AND RAYMUND JORGE A. MERCADO, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 171101 : July 05, 2011] HACIENDA LUISITA, INCORPORATED, PETITIONER, LUISITA INDUSTRIAL PARK CORPORATION AND RIZAL COMMERCIAL BANKING CORPORATION, PETITIONERS-IN-INTERVENTION, VS. PRESIDENTIAL AGRARIAN REFORM COUNCIL; SECRETARY NASSER PANGANDAMAN OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM; ALYANSA NG MGA MANGGAGAWANG BUKID NG HACIENDA LUISITA, RENE GALANG, NOEL MALLARI, AND JULIO SUNIGA [1] AND HIS SUPERVISORY GROUP OF THE HACIENDA LUISITA, INC. AND WINDSOR ANDAYA, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G. R. No. 190795 : July 06, 2011] NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF ELECTRICIY CONSUMERS FOR REFORMS, INC. (NASECORE), REPRESENTED BY PETRONILO ILAGAN; FEDERATION OF VILLAGE ASSOCIATIONS (FOVA), REPRESENTED BY SIEFRIEDO VELOSO; AND FEDERATION OF LAS PIÑAS VILLAGE (FOLVA), REPRESENTED BY BONIFACIO DAZO, PETITIONERS, VS. ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION (ERC) AND MANILA ELECTRIC COMPANY, INC. (MERALCO), RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 192235 : July 06, 2011] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, APPELLEE, VS. ROLANDO LAYLO Y CEPRES, APPELLANT.

  • [G.R. No. 169196 : July 06, 2011] PETRA C. MARTINEZ, IN HER CAPACITY AS GENERAL MANAGER, CLAVERIA AGRI-BASED MULTI-PURPOSE COOPERATIVE, INC., PETITIONER, VS. FILOMENA L. VILLANUEVA, RESPONDENT. [G.R. NO. 169198] OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN, PETITIONER, VS. FILOMENA L. VILLANUEVA, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 184253 : July 06, 2011] REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, THROUGH THE PHILIPPINE NAVY, REPRESENTED BY CAPT. RUFO R. VILLANUEVA, SUBSTITUTED BY CAPT. PANCRACIO O. ALFONSO, AND NOW BY CAPT. BENEDICTO G. SANCEDA PN, PETITIONER, VS. CPO MAGDALENO PERALTA PN (RET.), CPO ROMEO ESTALLO PN (RET.), CPO ERNESTO RAQUION PN (RET.), MSGT SALVADOR RAGAS PM (RET.), MSGT DOMINGO MALACAT PM (RET.), MSGT CONSTANTINO CANONIGO PM (RET.), AND AMELIA MANGUBAT, RESPONDENTS. MSGT ALFREDO BANTOG PM (RET.), MSGT RODOLFO VELASCO PM (RET.), AND NAVY ENLISTEDMEN HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, INC., RESPONDENT-INTERVENORS.

  • [G.R. No. 175926 : July 06, 2011] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. RESTITUTO CARANDANG, HENRY MILAN AND JACKMAN CHUA, ACCUSED-APPELLANTS.

  • [G.R. No. 192816 : July 06, 2011] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, APPELLEE, VS. JOEL GASPAR Y WILSON, APPELLANT.

  • [G.R. No. 175457 : July 06, 2011] RUPERTO A. AMBIL, JR., PETITIONER, VS. SANDIGANBAYAN AND PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENT. [G.R. NO. 175482] VS. ALEXANDRINO R. APELADO, SR., PETITIONER, VS. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 167284 : July 06, 2011] THE ESTATE OF SOLEDAD MANINANG AND THE LAW FIRM OF QUISUMBING TORRES, PETITIONERS, VS. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, SPOUSES SALVACION SERRANO LADANGA* AND AGUSTIN LADANGA,** AND BERNARDO ASENETA, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 160138 : July 13, 2011] AUTOMOTIVE ENGINE REBUILDERS, INC. (AER), ANTONIO T. INDUCIL, LOURDES T. INDUCIL, JOCELYN T. INDUCIL AND MA. CONCEPCION I. DONATO, PETITIONERS, VS. PROGRESIBONG UNYON NG MGA MANGGAGAWA SA AER, ARNOLD VILLOTA, FELINO E. AGUSTIN, RUPERTO M. MARIANO II, EDUARDO S. BRIZUELA, ARNOLD S. RODRIGUEZ, RODOLFO MAINIT, JR., FROILAN B. MADAMBA, DANILO D. QUIBOY, CHRISTOPHER R. NOLASCO, ROGER V. BELATCHA, CLEOFAS B. DELA BUENA, JR., HERMINIO P. PAPA, WILLIAM A. RITUAL, ROBERTO CALDEO, RAFAEL GACAD, JAMES C. CAAMPUED, ESPERIDION V. LOPEZ, JR., FRISCO M. LORENZO, JR., CRISANTO LUMBAO, JR., AND RENATO SARABUNO, RESPONDENTS. [G.R. NO. 160192] PROGRESIBONG UNYON NG MGA MANGGAGAWA SA AER, ARNOLD VILLOTA, FELINO E. AGUSTIN, RUPERTO M. MARIANO II, EDUARDO S. BRIZUELA, ARNOLD S. RODRIGUEZ, RODOLFO MAINIT, JR., FROILAN B. MADAMBA, DANILO D. QUIBOY, CHRISTOPHER R. NOLASCO, ROGER V. BELATCHA, CLEOFAS B. DELA BUENA, JR., HERMINIO P. PAPA, WILLIAM A. RITUAL, ROBERTO CALDEO, RAFAEL GACAD, JAMES C. CAAMPUED, ESPERIDION V. LOPEZ, JR., FRISCO M. LORENZO, JR., CRISANTO LUMBAO, JR., AND RENATO SARABUNO, PETITIONERS, VS. AUTOMOTIVE ENGINE REBUILDERS, INC., AND ANTONIO T. INDUCIL, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 160088 : July 13, 2011] AGUSTIN P. DELA TORRE, PETITIONER, VS. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, CRISOSTOMO G. CONCEPCION, RAMON "BOY" LARRAZABAL, PHILIPPINE TRIGON SHIPYARD CORPORATION, AND ROLAND G. DELA TORRE, RESPONDENTS. [G.R. No. 160565] PHILIPPINE TRIGON SHIPYARD CORPORATION AND ROLAND G. DELA TORRE, PETITIONERS, VS. CRISOSTOMO G. CONCEPCION, AGUSTIN DELA TORRE AND RAMON "BOY" LARRAZABAL, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 193003 : July 13, 2011] FRANCISCO IMSON Y ADRIANO, PETITIONER, VS. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 185440 : July 13, 2011] VICELET LALICON AND VICELEN LALICON, PETITIONERS, VS. NATIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 186467 : July 13, 2011] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. JAIME GATLABAYAN Y BATARA, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

  • [A.M. No. RTJ-11-2284 [Formerly A.M. OCA IPI No. 09-3304-RTJ] : July 13, 2011] SPOUSES SUR AND RITA VILLA AND LETICIA GOREMBALEM VALENZUELA, COMPLAINANTS, VS. PRESIDING JUDGE ROBERTO L. AYCO, OFFICER-IN-CHARGE/ LEGAL RESEARCHER VIRGINIA M. BARTOLOME AND SHERIFF IV CRISPIN S. CALSENIA, JR., ALL OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 26, SURALLAH, SOUTH COTABATO, RESPONDENTS.

  • [A.M. No. P-11-2945 [Formerly OCA-I.P.I. No. 11-3590-P] : July 13, 2011] RE: LEAVE DIVISION, OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES, OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR, COMPLAINANT, VS. FRANCISCO A. PUA, JR., CLERK OF COURT V, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 55, LUCENA CITY, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 175091 : July 13, 2011] P/CHIEF INSPECTOR FERNANDO BILLEDO, SPO3 RODRIGO DOMINGO, PO3 JORGE LOPEZ, FERDINAND CRUZ, AND MARIANO CRUZ, PETITIONERS, VS. WILHELMINA WAGAN, PRESIDING JUDGE OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF BRANCH III, PASAY CITY, PUBLIC RESPONDENT. ALBERTO MINA, NILO JAY MINA AND FERDINAND CAASI, PRIVATE RESPONDENTS.

  • [A.M. No. P-11-2946 [Formerly A.M. No. 11-5-52-MTCC] : July 13, 2011] RE: DROPPING FROM THE ROLLS OF CORNELIO RENIETTE CABRERA, UTILITY WORKER I, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT IN CITIES, BRANCH 1, LIPA CITY.

  • [G.R. No. 165487 : July 13, 2011] COUNTRY BANKERS INSURANCE CORPORATION, PETITIONER, VS. ANTONIO LAGMAN, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 153982 : July 18, 2011] SAN MIGUEL PROPERTIES PHILIPPINES, INC., PETITIONER, VS. GWENDELLYN ROSE S. GUCABAN, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 116121 : July 18, 2011] THE HEIRS OF THE LATE RUBEN REINOSO, SR., REPRESENTED BY RUBEN REINOSO JR., PETITIONERS, VS. COURT OF APPEALS, PONCIANO TAPALES, JOSE GUBALLA, AND FILWRITERS GUARANTY ASSURANCE CORPORATION,** RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 163551 : July 18, 2011] DATU KIRAM SAMPACO, SUBSTITUTED BY HADJI SORAYA S. MACABANDO, PETITIONER, VS. HADJI SERAD MINGCA LANTUD, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 163653 : July 19, 2011] COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, PETITIONER, VS. FILINVEST DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, RESPONDENT. [G.R. NO. 167689] COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, PETITIONER, VS. FILINVEST DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 193007 : July 19, 2011] RENATO V. DIAZ AND AURORA MA. F. TIMBOL, PETITIONERS, VS. THE SECRETARY OF FINANCE AND THE COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 187246 : July 20, 2011] EDWIN TABAO Y PEREZ, PETITIONER, VS. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 169594 : July 20, 2011] BIENVENIDO BARRIENTOS, PETITIONER, VS. MARIO RAPAL, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 193723 : July 20, 2011] GENERAL MILLING CORPORATION, PETITIONER, VS. SPS. LIBRADO RAMOS AND REMEDIOS RAMOS, RESPONDENTS.

  • G.R. No. 181919 : July 20, 2011] JONES INTERNATIONAL MANPOWER SERVICES, INC., REPRESENTED BY ITS PRESIDENT, EDWARD G. CUE, PETITIONER, VS. BELLA AGCAOILI-BARIT, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 166863 : July 20, 2011] GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM, PETITIONER, VS. JUM ANGEL, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 192760 : July 20, 2011] JOJIT GARINGARAO, PETITIONER, VS. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 167246 : July 20, 2011] GEORGE LEONARD S. UMALE, PETITIONER, VS. CANOGA PARK DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 164050 : July 20, 2011] MERCURY DRUG CORPORATION, PETITIONER, VS. COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 186227 : July 20, 2011] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. ALLEN UDTOJAN MANTALABA, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

  • [A.M. No. MTJ-09-1736 [FORMERLY OCA I.P.I. NO. 08-2034-MTJ] : July 25, 2011] ATTY. CONRADO B. GANDEZA, JR., COMPLAINANT, VS. JUDGE MARIA CLARITA C. TABIN, PRESIDING JUDGE, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT IN CITIES, BRANCH 4, BAGUIO CITY. RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 173259 : July 25, 2011] PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK, PETITIONER, VS. F.F. CRUZ AND CO., INC. RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 165777 : July 25, 2011] CEFERINA DE UNGRIA [DECEASED], SUBSTITUTED BY HER HEIRS, REPRESENTED BY LOLITA UNGRIA SAN JUAN-JAVIER, AND RHODORA R. PELOMIDA AS THEIR ATTORNEY-IN-FACT, PETITIONER, VS. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, THE HONORABLE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF GENERAL SANTOS CITY, BRANCH 35, ROSARIO DIDELES VDA. DE CASTOR, NEPTHALIE CASTOR ITUCAS, FEROLYN CASTOR FACURIB, RACHEL DE CASTOR, LEA CASTOR DOLLOLOSA, AND ROSALIE CASTOR BENEDICTO, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 152695 : July 25, 2011] VICTORIA CLARAVALL, ASSISTED BY HER HUSBAND, LORETO CLARAVALL, PETITIONER, VS. RICARDO LIM, ROBERTO LIM, AND ROGELIO LIM, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 151911 : July 25, 2011] EDGAR PAYUMO, REYNALDO RUANTO, CRISANTO RUANTO, APOLINARIO RUANTO, AND EXEQUIEL BONDE, PETITIONERS, VS. HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN, PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN, AND OFFICE OF THE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR, DOMICIANO CABIGAO, NESTOR DOMACENA, ROLANDO DOBLADO, ERNESTO PAMPUAN, EDGARDO PRADO, ROMEO DOMINICO, RAMON GARCIA, AND CARLOS PACHECO, RESPONDENTS. [G.R. NO. 154535] NESTOR DOMACENA, PETITIONER, VS. HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN, PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, AND EDGAR PAYUMO, REYNALDO RUANTO, CRISANTO RUANTO, APOLINARIO RUANTO, AND EXEQUIEL BONDE, RESPONDENTS.

  • [A.M. No. 07-9-214-MTCC : July 26, 2011] RE: APPLICATION FOR INDEFINITE LEAVE AND TRAVEL ABROAD OF PRESIDING JUDGE FRANCISCO P. RABANG III, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT IN CITIES, COTABATO CITY

  • [A.M. No. RTJ-11-2261 (Formerly oca ipi No. 10-3386- RTJ) : July 26, 2011] ATTY. JOSE VICENTE D. FERNANDEZ, COMPLAINANT, VS. JUDGE ANGELES S. VASQUEZ, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 161787 : July 27, 2011] MASING AND SONS DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AND CRISPIN CHAN, PETITIONERS, VS. GREGORIO P. ROGELIO, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 175485 : July 27, 2011] CASIMIRO DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, PETITIONER, VS. RENATO L. MATEO, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 175343 : July 27, 2011] LORETO LUGA (DECEASED), SUBSTITUTED BY CELERINA LUGA - DECEASED (WIFE) AND CHILDREN NAMELY: PURIFICACION LUGA-BIONG, ELIZABETH LUGA-CABAÑA, ROSALIE LUGA-TANUTAN, LEDIA LUGA-GUY AB, MARITESS LUGA-GRAVINO, NESTOR LUGA AND DAVID LUGA. PETITIONERS, VS. SPS. ELENA AND ROGELIO ARCIAGA, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 186417 : July 27, 2011] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. FELIPE MIRANDILLA, JR., DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.

  • [G. R. No. 172699 : July 27, 2011] ELECTROMAT MANUFACTURING AND RECORDING CORPORATION, PETITIONER, VS. HON. CIRIACO LAGUNZAD, IN HIS CAPACITY AS REGIONAL DIRECTOR, NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT; AND HON. HANS LEO J. CACDAC, IN HIS CAPACITY AS DIRECTOR OF BUREAU OF LABOR RELATIONS, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT, PUBLIC RESPONDENTS. D E C I S I O N NAGKAKAISANG SAMAHAN NG MANGGAGAWA NG ELECTROMAT-WASTO, PRIVATE RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 164679 : July 27, 2011] OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN, PETITIONER, VS. ULDARICO P. ANDUTAN, JR., RESPONDENT.

  • [A.M. NO. P-11-2944 (FORMERLY OCA IPI NO. 10-3342-P) : July 27, 2011] CAROL A. ABADIANO, CLEOFE ABADIANO-BONACHITA, RYAN M. ABADIANO AND CHERRY MAE M. ABADIANO, COMPLAINANTS, VS. GENEROSO B. REGALADO, SHERIFF IV, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 16, CEBU CITY, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 163252 : July 27, 2011] ABOSTA SHIPMANAGEMENT CORPORATION, PETITIONER, VS. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION (FIRST DIVISION) AND ARNULFO R. FLORES, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 159101 : July 27, 2011] SPS. GONZALO T. DELA ROSA & CRISTETA DELA ROSA, PETITIONERS, VS. HEIRS OF JUAN VALDEZ AND SPOUSES POTENCIANO MALVAR AND LOURDES MALVAR, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 175291 : July 27, 2011] THE HEIRS OF NICOLAS S. CABIGAS, NAMELY: LOLITA ZABATE CABIGAS, ANECITA C. CANQUE, DIOSCORO CABIGAS, FIDEL CABIGAS, AND RUFINO CABIGAS, PETITIONERS, VS. MELBA L. LIMBACO, LINDA L. LOGARTA, RAMON C. LOGARTA, HENRY D. SEE, FREDDIE S. GO, BENEDICT Y. QUE, AWG DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, PETROSA DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, AND UNIVERSITY OF CEBU BANILAD, INC., RESPONDENTS.

  • [A.M. No. P-11-2888 (formerly A.M. OCA I.P.I. No. 09-3252-P) : July 27, 2011] GOLDEN SUN FINANCE CORPORATION, REPRESENTED BY RACHELLE L. MARMITO, COMPLAINANT, VS. RICARDO R. ALBANO, SHERIFF III, METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT (METC), BRANCH 62, MAKATI CITY, RESPONDENT.

  • [A.M. No. P-10-2852 (Formerly A.M. OCA IPI No. 09-3270-P) : July 27, 2011] OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES, OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR, COMPLAINANT, VS. LEDA O. URI, COURT STENOGRAPHER I, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT, ALAMINOS, LAGUNA, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 178941 : July 27, 2011] JOSE ANSELMO I. CADIZ, LEONARD S. DE VERA, ROMULO A. RIVERA, DANTE G. ILAYA, PURA ANGELICA Y. SANTIAGO, ROSARIO T. SETIAS-REYES, JOSE VICENTE B. SALAZAR, MANUEL M. MONZON, IMMANUEL L. SODUSTA, CARLOS L. VALDEZ, JR., AND LYDIA A. NAVARRO, PETITIONERS, VS. THE HONORABLE PRESIDING JUDGE, BR. 48, RTC-PUERTO PRINCESA AND GLENN C. GACOTT, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 164356 : July 27, 2011] HEIRS OF MARGARITO PABAUS, NAMELY, FELICIANA P. MASACOTE, MERLINDA P. CAILING, MAGUINDA P. ARCLETA, ADELAIDA PABAUS, RAUL MORGADO AND LEOPOLDO MORGADO, PETITIONERS, VS. HEIRS OF AMANDA YUTIAMCO, NAMELY, JOSEFINA TAN, AND MOISES, VIRGINIA, ROGELIO, ERLINDA, ANA AND ERNESTO, ALL SURNAMED YUTIAMCO, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 168251 : July 27, 2011] JESUS M. MONTEMAYOR, PETITIONER, VS. VICENTE D. MILLORA, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 171868 : July 27, 2011] SPOUSES FRANCISCO D. YAP AND WHELMA S. YAP, PETITIONERS, VS. SPOUSES ZOSIMO DY, SR. AND NATIVIDAD CHIU DY, SPOUSES MARCELINO MAXINO AND REMEDIOS L. MAXINO, PROVINCIAL SHERIFF OF NEGROS ORIENTAL AND DUMAGUETE RURAL BANK, INC., RESPONDENTS. [G.R. NO. 171991] DUMAGUETE RURAL BANK, INC. (DRBI) HEREIN REPRESENTED BY MR. WILLIAM D.S. DICHOSO, PETITIONERS, VS. SPOUSES ZOSIMO DY, SR. AND NATIVIDAD CHIU DY, SPOUSES MARCELINO MAXINO AND REMEDIOS MAXINO, AND SPOUSES FRANCISCO D. YAP AND WHELMA S. YAP, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 172506 : July 27, 2011] JERRY MAPILI, PETITIONER, VS. PHILIPPINE RABBIT BUS LINES, INC./NATIVIDAD NISCE, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 182042 : July 27, 2011] THUNDER SECURITY AND INVESTIGATION AGENCY/ LOURDES M. LASALA, PETITIONER, VS. NATIONAL FOOD AUTHORITY (REGION I) AND NFA REGIONAL BIDS AND AWARDS COMMITTEE (REGION I), RESPONDENTS.

  • [A.M. No. RTJ-07-2060 (Formerly OCA IPI No. 06-2498- RTJ) : July 27, 2011] NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION, REPRESENTED BY ITS PRESIDENT CYRIL DEL CALLAR, COMPLAINANT, VS. JUDGE SANTOS B. ADIONG, RTC, BRANCH 8, MARAWI CITY, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 180390 : July 27, 2011] PRUDENTIAL BANK, PETITIONER, VS. COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 168105 : July 27, 2011] LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, PETITIONER, VS. SEVERINO LISTANA, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 156686 : July 27, 2011] NEW SUN VALLEY HOMEOWNERS' ASSOCIATION, INC., PETITIONER, VS. SANGGUNIANG BARANGAY, BARANGAY SUN VALLEY, PARAÑAQUE CITY, ROBERTO GUEVARRA IN HIS CAPACITY AS PUNONG BARANGAY AND MEMBERS OF THE SANGGUNIANG BARANGAY, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 182551 : July 27, 2011] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. ROSENDO REBUCAN Y LAMSIN, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

  • [G.R. No. 153809 : July 27, 2011] ELOISA L. TOLENTINO, PETITIONER, VS. ATTY. ROY M. LOYOLA, MUNICIPAL MAYOR, DOMINGO C. FLORES, MUNICIPAL BUDGET OFFICER, ALICIA L. OLIMPO, MUNICIPAL TREASURER, ANNALIZA L. BARABAT, MUNICIPAL ACCOUNTANT, AMADOR B. ALUNIA, MUNICIPAL ADMINISTRATOR, NENITA L. ERNACIO, MUNICIPAL AGRICULTURIST, AMELIA C. SAMSON, HUMAN RESOURCE OFFICER IV, EDWIN E. TOLENTINO, COMMUNITY AFFAIRS OFFICER IV, DOMINGO R. TENEDERO AND ROEL Z. MANARIN, SANGGUNIANG BAYAN (SB) MEMBERS, ALL FROM CARMONA, CAVITE, RESPONDENTS.

  • [A.M. No. RTJ-11-2285 (Formerly OCA I.P.I. No. 10-3472-RTJ : July 27, 2011] MAYOR MACARIO T. HUMOL, COMPLAINANT, VS. JUDGE HILARION P. CLAPIS, JR., REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 3, 11th JUDICIAL REGION, NABUNTURAN, COMPOSTELA VALLEY PROVINCE, RESPONDENT.

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    [G.R. No. 186467 : July 13, 2011]   PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. JAIME GATLABAYAN Y BATARA, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

     
    THIRD DIVISION

    [G.R. No. 186467 : July 13, 2011]

    PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. JAIME GATLABAYAN Y BATARA, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

    D E C I S I O N


    MENDOZA, J.:

    This is an appeal from the July 29, 2008 Decision [1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 02221, which affirmed the May 10, 2005 Decision [2] of the Regional Trial Court of San Mateo, Rizal, Branch 77 (RTC), in Criminal Case No. 6384, finding accused Jaime Gatlabayan y Batara (Gatlabayan) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 5 (1), Article II of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

    The Information [3] reads:

    That on or about the 10th day of September, 2002 in the Municipality of Rodriguez, Province of Rizal, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, without being authorized by law, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and knowingly sell, deliver and give away to another person one (1) heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet containing 0.03 gram of white crystalline substance which gave positive result to the test for Methamphetamine Hydrochloride, a dangerous drug, and which substance produces a physiological action similar to amphetamine or other compound thereof producing similar physiological effects.

    CONTRARY TO LAW.

    During the trial, the parties agreed to stipulate on the testimonies of prosecution witnesses, Police Officer 1 (PO1) Reynaldo Albarico and Police Inspector (P/Insp.) Joseph Perdido, the forensic chemist. The prosecution, thereafter, presented PO1 Fortunato Jiro III (PIO Jiro III) and PO1 Jose Gordon Antonio (PO1 Antonio) at the witness stand. The defense, on the other hand, presented Gatlabayan, the accused himself.

    The Version of the Prosecution

    The People's version of the incident has been summarized by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) in its Brief [4] as follows:

    On September 10, 2002, at around 8:30 in the evening, while PO1 Jose Gordon Antonio, a member of PNP Intelligence Operative Division of Rodriguez, Rizal, together with his colleagues, PO1 Fortunato Jiro and PO1 Albarico, were inside their station, they received an information from an "asset" that appellant Jaime Gatlabayan alias "Pungay" was rampantly selling illegal drugs at Carlton Village, Brgy. Manggahan, Rodriguez, Rizal. On the basis of said information, the police officers immediately decided to form a composite team for the conduct of a buy-bust operation against appellant. Consequently, PO1 Antonio was tasked as the poseur-buyer equipped with a ?100.00 bill buy-bust money where his initials "JGA" was written thereon, while PO1 Jiro and PO1 Albarico acted as members. Thereupon, the composite team recorded in their police blotter the planned buy-bust operation. Thereafter, the three (3) police officers with their "asset" proceeded to the target area on board an owner type jeep.

    Arriving thereat, the civilian asset pointed appellant to the buy-bust team. Appellant was then standing under a Sampaloc tree at Carlton Village, Brgy. Manggahan, Rodriguez, Rizal. Afterwards, poseur-buyer PO1 Antonio, from a distance of 10 meters away from appellant alighted from the car while the rest of the composite team and the informer remained in the vehicle. Meanwhile, poseur-buyer PO1 Antonio walked towards appellant. Upon seeing PO1 Antonio, appellant asked if he wants "to score," (which in local parlance means, if he wants to buy "shabu") to which PO1 Antonio readily answered yes, and simultaneously handed to appellant the P100 marked money. In turn, appellant gave him a small plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance suspected of "shabu." Upon consummation of the sale, PO1 Antonio gave the pre-arranged signal of waiving his hand. Seeing this, police officers Jiro and Albarico rushed to the locus criminis and simultaneously introduced themselves as police officers. Then, PO1 Jiro directed appellant to empty his pocket and the ?100.00 marked money fell on the ground. Thereafter, appellant was arrested and was apprised of his constitutional rights and was likewise informed of the crime he committed.

    Appellant was brought to the nearby police station of Rodriguez, Rizal for investigation. Subsequently, the plastic sachet sold by appellant to poseur-buyer PO1 Antonio was subjected to a laboratory examination and forensic chemist Police Inspector Joseph M. Perdido of the PNP Crime Laboratory in his Chemistry Report No. D-1784-02E found that the subject crystalline substance is positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu." Consequently, appellant was charged for violation of Section 5, Paragraph 1, Article II of R.A. 9165 or for "Illegal Sale of Dangerous Drugs." [5]

    The Version of the Defense

    In his Brief, [6] Gatlabayan denied that he was caught, in flagrante, selling shabu and claimed that he was just a victim of police frame-up. The accused presents the following version of what transpired:

    JAIME GATLABAYAN was at the "peryahan" with a companion on September 10, 2002, at 8:00 o'clock in the evening. While the accused was singing, PO1 Antonio along with PO1 Jiro arrived and suddenly handcuffed him. The accused asked "Sir, anong kasalanan ko?" PO1 Antonio just replied "basta sumama ka na lang." He was brought to the police station and was incarcerated. The accused was not frisked when he was arrested. He denied the offense charged against him. [7]

    On May 10, 2005, the RTC rendered its judgment rejecting the defense of frame-up proffered by the accused and declared that the same fell flat in the face of the affirmative testimony of prosecution witnesses, PO1 Antonio and PO1 Jiro III, who categorically and forthrightly testified that he was caught in flagrante delicto selling shabu. The trial court ruled that the presumption of regularity in the performance of duties in favor of the police operatives had not been overturned in the absence of clear showing that they had been impelled by any ill motive to falsely testify against him for such serious crime. It added that the alleged inconsistencies in the testimonies of the police officers pertained to inconsequential or collateral matters which did not impair their credibility. The dispositive portion of the RTC decision reads:

    WHEREFORE, the guilt of the accused having been proven beyond reasonable doubt as charged in the information, without any aggravating or qualifying circumstance, accused JAIME GATLABAYAN Y BATARA is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of LIFE IMPRISONMENT and to pay the fine of FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND (P500,000.00) PESOS.

    SO ORDERED. [8]

    On appeal, the CA affirmed the conviction of the accused on the basis of the testimony of PO1 Antonio and PO1 Jiro, III which it found credible and sufficient to sustain a conviction. The CA was of the view that the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty was not sufficiently controverted by him. It ruled that the prosecution was able to satisfactorily establish the elements of the crime of illegal sale of dangerous drugs as well as the identity of the accused. Lastly, the CA debunked his defense that he was a victim of frame-up and that he was not arrested pursuant to a valid buy-bust operation, for failure to substantiate the same. The dispositive portion of its Decision reads:

    WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision dated 10 May 2005 of the Regional Trial Court, Fourth Judicial Region, San Mateo, Rizal, Branch 77, is hereby AFFIRMED.

    SO ORDERED. [9]

    On August 20, 2008, Gatlabayan filed a Notice of Appeal, [10] which was given due course by CA in its Minute Resolution [11] dated September 23, 2008.

    On April 26, 2010, this Court issued a resolution notifying the parties that they may file their respective supplemental briefs, if they so desire, within thirty days from notice. The OSG filed a manifestation dated May 29, 2009 informing the Court that it would no longer file a supplemental brief. On June 23, 2009, the accused filed his supplemental brief. [12]

    THE ISSUES

    Maintaining his innocence, Gatlabayan imputes to the trial court the following errors:

    I

    THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY OF VIOLATION OF SECTION 5, ARTICLE II, R.A. 9165 DESPITE THE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE THE OFFENSE CHARGED BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.

    II

    THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN GIVING WEIGHT AND CREDENCE TO THE INCONSISTENT AND CONTRADICTING TESTIMONIES OF THE PROSECUTION WITNESSES.

    III

    THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF VIOLATION OF SECTION 5, ARTICLE II, R.A. 9165 DESPITE THE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO ESTABLISH THE CHAIN OF CUSTODY OF THE ILLEGAL DRUG.

    In his Supplemental Brief, Gatlabayan presents the following additional assignment of error:

    THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY OF THE CRIME CHARGED DESPITE THE PROSECUTION'S FAILURE TO PROVE THE CHAIN OF CUSTODY OF THE ALLEGED SEIZED ILLEGAL DRUGS, IN VIOLATION OF SECTION 21 AND 86 OF R.A. NO. 9165.

    The accused is of the stance that the prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. He avers that both the RTC and the CA were mistaken in upholding the presumption of regularity in the performance of official functions in favor of the police officers and giving undue credence to their testimonies which, he claims, were laced with inconsistencies that cast serious doubt on their credibility and the validity of the alleged buy-bust operation. He posits that the prosecution failed to establish the material details of said entrapment operation and that his arrest was invalid. He argues that the failure of the apprehending team to observe the procedure outlined by Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 impaired the prosecution's case. Finally, he assails the prosecution evidence for its failure to establish the proper chain of custody of the shabu allegedly seized from him.

    The OSG, on the other hand, maintains that the testimonies of PO1 Antonio and PO1 Jiro III were credible and sufficient to convict. It insists that the culpability of the accused for the crime of illegal sale of shabu was proven beyond reasonable doubt.

    The Court's Ruling:

    The core issue in this case is whether or not sufficient evidence exists to support the conviction of the accused for violation of Section 5, Article II of R.A. No. 9165.

    Let it be underscored that appeal in criminal cases throws the whole case open for review and it is the duty of the appellate court to correct, cite and appreciate errors in the appealed judgment whether they are assigned or unassigned. [13] Considering that what is at stake here is no less than the liberty of the accused, this Court has meticulously and thoroughly reviewed and examined the records of the case, and finds that there is merit in the appeal.

    As a general rule, the trial court's findings of fact, especially when affirmed by the CA, are entitled to great weight and will not be disturbed on appeal. The rule, however, admits of exceptions and does not apply where facts of weight and substance with direct and material bearing on the final outcome of the case have been overlooked, misapprehended or misplaced. [14]  The case at bench falls under the above exception and, hence, a departure from the general rule is warranted.

    Jurisprudence has firmly entrenched that in prosecution of illegal sale of dangerous drugs, the following essential elements must be established:  (1) the transaction or sale took place; (2) the corpus delicti or the illicit drug was presented as evidence; and (3) the buyer and seller were identified. [15] Implicit in all these is the need for proof that the transaction or sale actually took place, coupled with the presentation in court of the confiscated prohibited or regulated drug as evidence.

    The narcotic substance itself constitutes the very corpus delicti of the offense and the fact of its existence is vital to sustain a judgment of conviction. It is therefore of prime importance that the identity of the dangerous drug be likewise established beyond reasonable doubt. [16] Otherwise stated, it must be proven with exactitude that the substance bought during the buy-bust operation is the same substance offered in evidence before the court. Thus, every fact necessary to constitute the offense must be established. The chain of custody requirement ensures that unnecessary doubts concerning the identity of the evidence are removed. [17]

    Section 1(b) of Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 1, Series of 2002 which implements R.A. No. 9165 defines "Chain of Custody" as follows:

    "Chain of Custody" means the duly recorded authorized movements and custody of seized drugs or controlled chemicals or plant sources of dangerous drugs or laboratory equipment of each stage, from the time of seizure/confiscation to receipt in the forensic laboratory to safekeeping to presentation in court for destruction. Such record of movements and custody of seized item shall include the identity and signature of the person who held temporary custody of the seized item, the date and time when such transfer of custody were made in the course of safekeeping and use in court as evidence, and the final disposition.

    Particularly instructive is the case of Malillin v. People [18] where the Court explained how the chain of custody or movement of the seized evidence should be maintained and why this must be shown by evidence, viz:

    As a method of authenticating evidence, the chain of custody rule requires that the admission of an exhibit be preceded by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what the proponent claims it to be. It would include testimony about every link in the chain, from the moment the item was picked up to the time it is offered into evidence, in such a way that every person who touched the exhibit would describe how and from whom it was received, where it was and what happened to it while in the witness' possession, the condition in which it was received and the condition in which it was delivered to the next link in the chain. These witnesses would then describe the precautions taken to ensure that there had been no change in the condition of the item and no opportunity for someone not in the chain to have possession of the same.

    In People v. Kamad, [19] the Court enumerated the links that the prosecution must establish in the chain of custody in a buy-bust situation to be as follows: first, the seizure and marking, if practicable, of the illegal drug recovered from the accused by the apprehending officer; second, the turnover of the illegal drug seized by the apprehending officer to the investigating officer; third, the turnover by the investigating officer of the illegal drug to the forensic chemist for laboratory examination; and fourth, the turnover and submission of the marked illegal drug seized by the forensic chemist to the court.

    An examination of the case records show that while the identities of the seller and the buyer and the consummation of the transaction involving the sale of illegal drug on September 10, 2002 have been proven by the prosecution through the testimony of PO1 Antonio as corroborated by the testimony of PO1 Jiro III, the Court, nonetheless, finds the prosecution evidence to be deficient for failure to adequately show the essential links in the chain of custody. This glaring deficiency can be readily seen from the testimony of the poseur buyer PO1 Antonio which glossed over said required details, thus:

    Fiscal Rolando T. Majomot
    (On Direct Examination)

    Q:
    Now when this civilian informer pointed to that person whom you called as alias Pungay, what did you do?
    A:
    I was still ten (10) meters away from alias Pungay when I alighted from the vehicle and I approached him, sir.
    Q:
    What happened next when you approached alias Pungay?
    A:
    When alias Pungay saw me and when he noticed that I was looking for somebody he offered me and asked me if I want to "iskor", sir.
    Q:
    Were there any other persons in that vicinity, Mr. witness?
    A:
    I did not see any other person in that place, sir.
    Q:
    When alias Pungay offered to you, what did you do?
    A:
    I gave him the marked money, sir, and he also handed to me a small plastic sachet containing suspected shabu and after that I wa[i]ved to my companions, sir.
    Q:
    After wa[i]ving to your companions, what happened next, if any, Mr. witness?
    A:
    I heard that PO1 Jiro directed alias Pungay to invert his pocket, sir, and from it the One Hundred Peso (P100.00) bill which I used in buying shabu from him fell on the ground and at that moment my co-police officers arrested him, sir.
    Q:
    Who picked up the One Hundred Peso (P100.00) bill (sic) fell on the ground?
    A:
    PO1 Albarico, sir.
    Q:
    What happened next after that?
    A:
    We arrested him and informed him of his constitutional rights and we also informed him of the law which he violated and I also introduced myself to him as a policeman, sir.
    Q:
    This person whom you arrested was only known as alias Pungay. When did the first time you know the true name of this person?
    A:
    After he was brought to the police station, sir, we asked him of his true name and after that we turned over to the police investigator the evidence which we confiscated from him, sir.
    Q:
    What is the true name of the accused?
    A:
    Jaime Gatlabayan y Batara, sir. [20]
    xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx
    Q:
    After that Mr. witness, what did you do?
    A:
    We forwarded to the PNP Crime Laboratory the evidence which we confiscated for examination, sir.
    Q:
    I am showing to you a letter request Mr. witness, is this the request you are referring to?
    A:
    Yes, sir.
    Q:
    Who signed this request?
    A:
    It was signed by our Deputy Chief of Police, sir. [21]

    PO1 Jiro, III, on the other hand, has no knowledge or any participation in the chain of custody as revealed by his testimony, viz:

    Q:
    Now, what happened next, Mr. Witness, when you arrested the accused after you picked up the money?
    A:
    We informed him of his constitutional rights and thereafter, we brought him to the police station, sir.
    Q:
    By the way, who arrested the accused?
    A:
    Me and PO1 Albarico, sir.
    Q:
    Where is now the accused?
    A:
    There sir.
    (Witness pointing to a certain man inside the Courtroom who when asked answered to the name of Jaime Gatlabayan).
    Q:
    Do you know also or have knowledge about the one handed to Gordon from the accused, how many sachet in that buy-bust operation?
    A:
    As far as I know, only one (1) sachet, sir.
    Q:
    Was it shown to you by Gordon?
    A:
    I did not see it, sir. [22] (Underscoring Ours)

    It is significant to note that the foregoing testimonies of the prosecution witnesses hardly touched on the chain of custody of the seized evidence. The testimony of PO1 Antonio clearly lacked specifics on how the confiscated shabu was handled immediately after the arrest of the accused. Although PO1 Antonio testified that he seized the small plastic sachet containing the shabu from the accused, he never disclosed the identity of the person/s who had control and possession of the shabu after its seizure and at the time of its transportation to the police station. Neither did he testify that he retained possession of the seized item from the place of the arrest to the police station. In the absence of clear evidence, the Court cannot presume that PO1 Antonio, as the poseur buyer, handled the seized sachet - to the exclusion of others - during its transfer from the place of arrest and confiscation to the police station.

    The prosecution evidence also failed to identify the person who marked the sachet, how the same was done, and who witnessed the marking. In People v. Martinez, [23] the Court ruled that the "marking" of the seized items - to truly ensure that they are the same items that enter the chain and are eventually the ones offered in evidence - should be done (1) in the presence of the apprehended violator, and (2) immediately upon confiscation - in order to protect innocent persons from dubious and concocted searches, and the apprehending officers as well from harassment suits based on planting of evidence and on allegations of robbery or theft.

    Indeed, the records of the case are bereft of any detail relating to the marking of the confiscated sachet. All that the prosecution adduced on this score were the respective Sinumpaang Salaysay [24] of PO1 Antonio and PO1 Jiro III, wherein they declared that after the apprehension of Gatbalayan, they brought him as well as the seized item to the police station where the confiscated plastic sachet containing shabu was marked as "EXHIBIT 1 dtd 10 Sept '02," and that it was ordered to be submitted (ipinasumite) to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory for examination. The identity of the officer who made the marking and whether the marking was done in the presence of the accused were, however, not at all clear from the above documentary evidence.

    It is likewise noteworthy that the prosecution failed to present evidence pertaining to the identity of the police investigator to whom the buy-bust team turned over the seized item. Although the Request for Laboratory Examination [25] was signed by a certain Santiago for and in behalf of Police Senior Inspector Anastacio Benzon, it was not shown that he was the same official who received the subject shabu from the buy-bust team or from the police investigator. A perusal of the Request for Laboratory Examination and the Chemistry Report No. D-1784-02E [26] reveals that the marking on the plastic sachet containing the subject shabu was changed to "EXHIBIT 1 JBG." The prosecution, however, failed to disclose the name and identity of the police officer who changed the marking of the specimen. Further, the prosecution evidence is wanting as to the identity of the person who submitted the specimen to the PNP Crime Laboratory; as to whether the forensic chemist whose name appeared in the chemistry report was the one who received the subject shabu when it was forwarded to the crime laboratory; and as to who exercised custody and possession of the specimen after the chemical examination and before it was offered in court. Neither was there any evidence adduced to show how the seized shabu was handled, stored and safeguarded pending its offer as evidence in court.

    The Court, at this point, takes note of the RTC Order dated July 23, 2003 dispensing with the testimony of the forensic chemical officer and bearing the matters stipulated upon by the parties. The Court views the stipulation as confined merely to the handling of the specimen at the forensic laboratory and to the analytical results obtained. People v. Almorfe [27] teaches that the testimony of the forensic chemist which is stipulated upon does not cover the manner as to how the specimen was handled before and after it came to the possession of the forensic chemist. It bears stressing that although the parties stipulated on the results of the laboratory examination, no stipulation was made with respect to the ultimate source of the drug submitted for examination.

    While a perfect chain of custody is almost always impossible to achieve, an unbroken chain becomes indispensable and essential in the prosecution of drug cases owing to susceptibility of the seized drug to alteration, tampering, contamination and even substitution and exchange. [28] Hence, each and every link in the custody must be established beginning from the seizure of the shabu from the accused during the entrapment operation until its submission by the forensic chemist to the RTC. Indeed, the Court cannot entirely discount the likelihood or at least the possibility that there could have been alteration, tampering or substitution of substance in the chain of custody of the subject shabu, inadvertently or otherwise, from another case with a similar narcotic substance seized or subjected for chemical analysis.

    Moreover, it must be pointed out that the subject 0.03 gram of shabu was never presented as evidence and marked as an exhibit during the pre-trial or even in the course of the trial proper. Neither PO1 Antonio nor PO1 Jiro III was confronted with it at the witness stand for proper identification and observation of the uniqueness of the subject narcotic substance. They were not able to testify as to the condition of the item while it was in their possession and control. Said flaw militates against the prosecution's cause for it does not only cast doubt on the identity of the corpus delicti but it also tends to discredit, if not negate, the claim of regularity in the conduct of official police operation. Oddly, the plastic sachet containing the subject shabu was formally offered by the prosecution as Exhibit "H" [29] and admitted by the RTC per its Order [30] dated August 31, 2004. The defense was clearly sleeping on its feet when it did not pose any objection to the prosecution's offer of evidence.

    In view of the foregoing loopholes in the evidence adduced against the accused as well as the gaps in the chain of custody, it can be reasonably concluded that the prosecution failed to convincingly establish the identity and integrity of the dangerous drug. Accordingly, there could be no assurance that the specimen of shabu offered in court as evidence against the accused was the same one seized from him, brought to the police station and afterwards, submitted for laboratory testing - especially considering that since the inception of this case, he has consistently denied that the supposed plastic sachet of shabu was not recovered from his possession when he was arrested at the "peryahan" on September 10, 2002 at 8:00 o'clock in the evening. In effect, the prosecution failed to fully prove the elements of the crime charged creating reasonable doubt on his criminal liability. As this Court held in Catuiran v. People, [31] the failure of the prosecution to offer the testimony of key witnesses to establish a sufficiently complete chain of custody of a specimen of shabu, and the irregularity which characterized the handling of the evidence before the same was finally offered in court, fatally conflicts with every proposition relative to the culpability of the accused. All told, the corpus delecti in this case is not legally extant.

    In sustaining the conviction, the courts a quo relied on the evidentiary presumption that official duties have been regularly performed. Admittedly, the defense did not adduce evidence showing that PO1 Antonio and PO1 Jiro III had any ill motive to falsify their testimony. Nonetheless, the flagrant procedural lapses the police officers committed in handling the allegedly confiscated shabu in violation of the chain of custody requirement effectively negate the presumption of regularity in the performance of duties. Any taint of irregularity affects the whole performance and should make the presumption unavailable. [32] It must be emphasized that the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty cannot by itself overcome the presumption of innocence nor constitute proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt. [33]

    The weakness of the defense of the accused, mere denial and frame-up, cannot justify his conviction. The burden is always on the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, and not on him to prove his innocence. The merit of his defense is not the issue here. It is safely entrenched in our jurisprudence that the evidence for the prosecution must stand or fall on its own weight and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the defense. [34] A finding of guilt must solely rest on the prosecution's own evidence, not on the weakness or even absence of that for the defense. Courts cannot magnify the weakness of the defense and overlook the prosecution's failure to discharge the onus probandi.

    In our criminal justice system, the overriding consideration is not whether the court doubts the innocence of the accused but whether it entertains a reasonable doubt as to his guilt. In order to convict an accused, the circumstances of the case must exclude all and every hypothesis consistent with his innocence. In the case at bench, the evidence adduced by the prosecution failed to overcome the constitutional presumption of innocence of the accused. What is required is that there be proof beyond reasonable doubt that the crime was committed and that the accused committed the crime. [35] It is only when the conscience is satisfied that the crime has indeed been committed by the person on trial that the judgment will be for conviction.

    The Court is not unaware of the drug menace that beset our country and the direct link of certain crimes to drug abuse. The unrelenting drive of our law enforcers against trafficking and use of illegal drugs and other substance is indeed commendable. Those who engage in the illicit trade of dangerous drugs and prey on the misguided members of the society, especially the susceptible youth, must be caught and properly prosecuted. Although the courts are committed to assist the government in its campaign against illegal drugs, a conviction under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 can only be obtained after the prosecution discharges its constitutional burden to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Otherwise, this Court is duty-bound to uphold the constitutional presumption of innocence.

    WHEREFORE, the appeal is GRANTED. The Decision dated July 29, 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 02221 is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE for failure of the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of appellant Jaime Gatlabayan y Batara who is accordingly hereby ACQUITTED of the crime charged against him and ordered immediately RELEASED from custody, unless he is being held for some other lawful cause.

    The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is ORDERED to implement this decision and to inform this Court of the date of the actual release from confinement of the accused within five (5) days from receipt hereof.

    SO ORDERED.

    Carpio,* Velasco, Jr., (Chairperson), Abad, and Sereno,** JJ., concur.

    Endnotes:


    * Designated as additional member in lieu of Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta per Special Order No. 1029 dated June 30, 2011.

    ** Designated as additional member of the Third Division per Special Order No. 1028 dated June 21, 2011.

    [1] Rollo pp. 2-12.

    [2] Records, pp. 154-163.

    [3] Id at 1-2.

    [4] CA rollo, pp. 72-102.

    [5] Id. at 76-79.

    [6] Id. at 37-54.

    [7] Id. at 42.

    [8] Records, p. 163.

    [9]  CA rollo, p. 121.

    [10] Id. at 124-125.

    [11] Id. at 127.

    [12] Rollo, pp. 25-32.

    [13] People v. Balagat, G.R. No. 177163, April 24, 2009, 586 SCRA 640, 644-645.

    [14] People v. Robles, G.R. No. 177220, April 24, 2009, 586 SCRA 647, 654.

    [15] People v. De la Cruz, G.R. No. 177222, October 29, 2008, 570 SCRA 273, 283.

    [16] People v. Frondozo, G.R. No. 177164, June 30, 2009, 591 SCRA 407, 417.

    [17] People v. De Leon, G.R. No. 186471, January 25, 2010, 611 SCRA 118, 132.

    [18] G.R. No. 172953, April 30, 2008, 553 SCRA 619, 632.

    [19] G.R. No. 174198, January 19, 2010, 610 SCRA 295, 307-308.

    [20] TSN dated April 21, 2004, pp. 5-6.

    [21] Id. at 7.

    [22] TSN dated December 10, 2003, p. 8.

    [23] G.R. No. 191366, December 13, 2010.

    [24] Records, pp. 129-130.

    [25] Id. at 136.

    [26] Id. at 133.

    [27] G.R. No. 181831, March 29, 2010, 617 SCRA 52, 61.

    [28] Id. at 61-62.

    [29] Records, pp. 139-140.

    [30] Id. at 137.

    [31] G.R. No. 175647, May 8, 2009, 587 SCRA 567, 580.

    [32] People v. Pagaduan, G.R. No. 179029, August 9, 2010, 627 SCRA 308, 326.

    [33] People v. Magat, G.R. No. 179939, September 29, 2008, 567 SCRA 86, 99.

    [34] People v. Batidor, 362 Phil. 673, 685-686 (1999).

    [35] People v. Mangat, 369 Phil. 347, 359 (1999).

    [G.R. No. 186467 : July 13, 2011]   PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. JAIME GATLABAYAN Y BATARA, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.


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