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RULE 130: OBJECT EVIDENCE 1. LOPEZ V. PEOPLE, GR No. 172953, 30 Apr !

200" #$%$&'&($ o) $*& +%,$-: On the strength of a warrant, a team of five police officers raided the residence of petitioner. The search allegedly yielded two (2) plastic sachets of shabu and five (5) empty plastic sachets containing residual morsels of the said substance. The petitioner was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section , !rticle "" of #epublic !ct $o. % &5, otherwise 'nown as The (omprehensive )angerous )rugs !ct of 2**2. #$%$&'&($ o) $*& I--.&: +as the chain of custody established, R.! (/.rosecutions for illegal possession of prohibited drugs necessitates that the elemental act of possession of a prohibited substance be established with moral certainty, together with the fact that the same is not authori/ed by law. 0ssential therefore in these cases is that the identity of the prohibited drug be established beyond doubt. The mere fact of unauthori/ed possession will not suffice to create in a reasonable mind the moral certainty re1uired to sustain a finding of guilt. 2ore than 3ust the fact of possession, the fact that the substance illegally possessed in the first place is the same substance offered in court as e4hibit must also be established. The chain of custody re1uirement performs this function in that it ensures that unnecessary doubts concerning the identity of the evidence are removed. !s a method of authenticating evidence, the admission of an e4hibit must be preceded by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in 1uestion is what the proponent claims it to be. "t would include testimony from the moment the item was pic'ed up to the time it is offered into evidence, in such a way that every person who touched the e4hibit would describe how and from whom it was received, where it was and what happened to it while in the witness5 possession, the condition in which it was received and the condition in which it was delivered to the ne4t lin' in the chain. These witnesses would then describe the precautions ta'en 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. +hile testimony about a perfect chain is not always the standard because it is almost always impossible to obtain, an unbro'en chain of custody becomes indispensable and essential when the item of real evidence is not distinctive and is not readily identifiable, or when its condition at the time of testing or trial is critical, or when a witness has failed to observe its uni1ueness.

RULE 130: OBJECT EVIDENCE ! mere fleeting glance at the records readily raises significant doubts as to the identity of the sachets of shabu allegedly sei/ed from petitioner. Of the people who came into direct contact with the sei/ed ob3ects, only 0sternon and !rroyo testified for the specific purpose of establishing the identity of the evidence. 6allinera, to whom 0sternon supposedly handed over the confiscated sachets for recording and mar'ing, as well as 6arcia, the person to whom 0sternon directly handed over the sei/ed items for chemical analysis at the crime laboratory, were not presented in court to establish the circumstances under which they handled the sub3ect items. !re the sachets of shabu allegedly sei/ed from petitioner the very same ob3ects laboratory tested and offered in court as evidence, The prosecution5s evidence is incomplete to provide an affirmative answer. (onsidering that it was 6allinera who recorded and mar'ed the sei/ed items, his testimony in court is crucial to affirm whether the e4hibits were the same items handed over to him by 0sternon at the place of sei/ure and ac'nowledge the initials mar'ed thereon as his own. The same is true of 6arcia who could have, but nevertheless failed, to testify on the circumstances under which she received the items from 0sternon, what she did with them during the time they were in her possession until before she delivered the same to !rroyo for analysis. The prosecution was thus unsuccessful establishing the identity of the sei/ed items because it failed to offer not only the testimony of 6allinera and 6arcia but also any sufficient e4planation for such failure. "n effect, there is no reasonable guaranty as to the integrity of the e4hibits inasmuch as it failed to rule out the possibility of substitution of the e4hibits. 2oreover, Section 2 of the "## of #.!. $o. % &5 clearly outlines the post7 sei/ure procedure in ta'ing custody of sei/ed drugs. The officer ac1uiring initial custody of drugs under a search warrant must conduct the photographing and the physical inventory of the item at the place where the warrant has been served. 0sternon deviated from this procedure. !t the close of the search of petitioner5s house, he brought the sei/ed items immediately to the police station for the alleged purpose of ma'ing a 8true inventory9 thereof, but there appears to be no reason why a true inventory could not be made in petitioner5s house. 6iven the foregoing deviations of police officer 0sternon from the procedure in the implementation of the warrant and in ta'ing post7sei/ure custody of the evidence, the blind reliance by the #T( and the (! on the presumption of regularity in the conduct of police duty is manifestly misplaced. The lac' of conclusive identification of the illegal drugs allegedly sei/ed from petitioner, coupled with the irregularity in the manner by which the same were placed under police custody before offered in court, strongly militates a finding of guilt. .etitioner :unie 2alillin y ;ope/ is AC0UITTED on reasonable doubt.

RULE 130: OBJECT EVIDENCE 2. PEOPLE V. CAJU1OCAN, 230 #CRA 311 ( r&!%$ o( $o P&op!& 3. B.4.*%(, G.R. No. 17"195, 5 A./.-$ 200" #$%$&'&($ o) $*& +%,$-: +hile the deceased, !polinario 2irabueno, was asleep beside his fourteen year old brother ;eo inside their house, the latter was roused from his slumber by the rustling of dried leaves outside the house. <e saw a solitary figure wal' toward their house, paused outside their room, and removed the fish net covering the window and loo'ed inside the house. =rom the light of the fluorescent lamp inside the house, ;eo recogni/ed the man as appellant (ornelio (a3umocan, who drew a gun and shot !polinario in the head, and thereafter ran away. ;eo cried out to his older sister, 2argarita and they brought !polinario to a hospital in 2orong, but he was declared dead on arrival. !ppellant, a security guard, alleged that he was at wor' from > p.m. to > a.m. that day and concluded that he never left the place as shown by a photocopy of the )etail Order signed by the head of the security guards stationed in the (ru/ property. The place where the shooting incident too' place was about one 'ilometer. The day after the incident, he was brought to (amp (rame to undergo paraffin testing. The paraffin test showed him negative for powder burns <e was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of 2?#)0#. #$%$&'&($ o) $*& I--.&: +hether the negative findings of the paraffin test conducted on the appellant is conclusive proof of his innocence. R.! (/.araffin tests, in general, have been rendered inconclusive by this (ourt. Scientific e4perts concur in the view that the paraffin test has proved e4tremely unreliable in use. "t can only establish the presence or absence of nitrates or nitrites on the hand@ still, the test alone cannot determine whether the source of the nitrates or nitrites was the discharge of a firearm. The presence of nitrates should be ta'en only as an indication of a possibility or even of a probability but not of infallibility that a person has fired a gun, since nitrates are also admittedly found in substances other than gunpowder. !ppellant5s argument that the negative result of gunpowder nitrates from the paraffin test conducted on him the day after the crime was committed, thereby showing an absence of physical evidence that he fired a gun, is untenable. "n the case of .eople v. 2analo, we stressed4 4 4 even if he were sub3ected to a paraffin test and the same yields a negative finding, it cannot be definitely concluded that he had not fired a gun as it is possible for one to fire a gun and yet be negative for the presence of nitrates as when the hands are washed before the test. The (ourt has even recogni/ed the great possibility that there will be no paraffin traces on the hand if, as in the instant case, the bullet was fired from a .A5 (aliber pistol.

RULE 130: OBJECT EVIDENCE ! paraffin test could establish the presence or absence of nitrates on the hand. <owever, it cannot establish that the source of the nitrate was the discharge of firearms. $itrates are also found in substances other than gunpowder. ! person who tests positive may have handled one or more substances with the same positive reaction for nitrates such as e4plosives, firewor's, fertili/ers, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, and leguminous plants. <ence, the presence of nitrates should only be ta'en as an indication of a possibility that a person has fired a gun. <owever, it must be borne in mind that appellants were not convicted on the sole basis of the paraffin test. .araffin tests, it must be emphasi/ed, merely corroborate direct evidence that may be presented by the prosecution. "n the case at bar, the positive, clear and categorical testimony of the lone eyewitness to the crime deserves full merit in both probative weight and credibility over the negative results of the paraffin test conducted on the appellant. Berily, establishing the identity of the malefactor through the testimony of the witness is the heart and cause of the prosecution. !ll other matters, such as the paraffin test, are of lesser conse1uence where there is positive identification by the lone eyewitness, ;eo 2irabueno, of appellant as the perpetrator of the crime. <ence, a paraffin test cannot be considered as conclusive proof of appellant5s innocence. "n P&op!& 3. B.4.*%(, 6# $o. >C %&, & !ugust 2**C the appellants were found guilty of the special comple4 crime of robbery with homicide. ! paraffin test was conducted on the appellants. .olice "nspector (hua7 (amarao e4plained that the purpose of conducting a paraffin test was to determine the presence of gunpowder residue in the hands of a person through e4traction using paraffin wa4. The process involves two stages- first, the paraffin casting, in which the hands of the sub3ect are covered with paraffin wa4 to e4tract gunpowder residue@ and second, the paraffin e4amination per se, which refers to the actual chemical e4amination to determine whether or not gunpowder residue has indeed been e4tracted. =or the second stage, the method used is the diphenylamine test, wherein the diphenylamine agent is poured on the paraffin casts of the sub3ect5s hands. "n this test, a positive result occurs when blue spec's are produced in the paraffin casts, which then indicates the presence of gunpowder residue. +hen no such reaction ta'es place, the result is negative Supreme (ourt ruled that the appellants cannot rely on the negative findings on the paraffin tests conducted in order to e4culpate themselves. !s previously mentioned, the positive and negative results of the paraffin test can also be influenced by certain factors affecting the conditions surrounding the use of the firearm, namely- the wearing of gloves by the sub3ect, perspiration of the hands, wind direction, wind velocity, humidity, climate conditions, the length of the barrel of the firearm or the open or closed trigger guard of the firearm.