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BUY BUST OPERATION

In this jurisdiction, the conduct if a buy-bust operation is a common


and accepted mode of apprehending those involved in illegal sale of
prohibited or regulated drugs. It has been proven to be an effective way of
unveiling the identities of drug dealers and of luring them out of obscurity. It
catches the violator in flagrante delicto and the police officers conducting the
operation are not only authorized but duty-bound to apprehend the violator
and to search him for anything that may have been part of or used in the
commission of the crime. (People v. Macatingag, G.R. No.
181037,January19, 2009).
BUY-BUST OPERATION, A FORM OF ENTRAPMENT;DECOY
SOLICITATION
As a general rule, a buy-bust operation, considered as a
form of entrapment, is a valid means of arresting violators of
Republic Act No. 9165. It is an effective way of apprehending
law offenders in the act of committing a crime. In a buy-bust
operation, the idea to commit a crime originates from the
offender, without anybody inducing or prodding him to commit
the offense.
BUY-BUST OPERATION, A FORM OF
ENTRAPMENT;DECOY SOLICITATION
A police officers act of soliciting drugs from the accused
during a buy-bust operation, or what is known as a decoy
solicitation, is not prohibited by law and does not render
invalid the buy-bust operations. The sale of contraband is a
kind of offense habitually committed, and the solicitation
simply furnishes evidence of the criminals course of
conduct. In People v. Sta. Maria, the court clarified that a
decoy solicitation is not tantamount to inducement or
instigation. (People v. Botanes, G.R. No. 179150, June 17,
2008)
METHOD OF BUY-BUST OPERATION
There is no textbook method of conducting buy-bust operations. The
Court has left to the discretion of police authorities the selection of
effective means to apprehend drug dealers. A prior surveillance,
much less a lengthy one, is not necessary especially where the police
operatives are accompanied by their informant during the
entrapment. Flexibility is a trait of good police work. xxx As to the
absence of a pre-arranged signal, same is not fatal to the cause of the
prosecution. The employment of a pre-arranged signal, or the lack of
it, is not indispensable in a buy-bust operation. What determines if
there was, indeed, a sale of dangerous drugs is proof of the
concurrence of all the elements of the offense. (People v. Nicolas,
G.R. No. 170234, February 8, 2007; People v. Clemente, et. Al.,
G.R. No. 178876, June 27, 2008)
METHOD OF BUY-BUST OPERATION
The fact that the police officer who acted as back-up (or any other
member of the team) was briefed only for a few minutes does not
prove that there was no buy-bust operation that happened. A buy-
bust operation can be carried out after a long period of planning
or, abruptly or forthwith, without much preparation. The
conduct thereof depends on the opportunity that may arise under
the circumstances. Thus, the period of planning for such
operation cannot be dictated to the police authorities who are to
undertake such operation. In the case at bar, the buy-bust
operation was planned in less than an hour prior to the buy-bust
operation, after the informant contacted petitioner and told him
that there was a buyer. Under the situation, the briefing of a team
member for only a few minutes cannot be taken against the buy-
bust team, for the team had to cope with what it had at that instant
(Quinicot v. People, G.R. No. 179700, June 22, 2009)
TWO-WITNESS RULE, WHEN APPLICABLE; RECEIPT
OF PROPERTY SEIZED
The receipt of property seized issued by PO1
Domingo Marchan was validly made. It
enumerated the items- three plastic sachets
containing white crystalline substance, and
other paraphernalia- recovered from
petitioners body after he was arrested for
selling shabu to the poseur-buyer. The lack of
witnesses signing the same is irrelevant.


TWO-WITNESS RULE, WHEN APPLICABLE; RECEIPT
OF PROPERTY SEIZED
The two witnesses were not required to sign the receipt.
This two-witness rule applies only to searches- made
under authority of a search warrant- of a house, room,
or any other premises in the absence of the lawful
occupant thereof or any member of his family. In this
case at bar, there was no search warrant issued and no
house, room or premises searched (Quinicot v.
People, G.R. No. 179700, June 22, 2009).
ABSENCE OF A PRIOR SURVEILLANCE OR
TEST BUY
Settled is the rule that prior surveillance is not a
prerequisite for the validity of an entrapment
operation especially so if the buy-bust team is
accompanied by theinformant. The police
officers may decide that time is of the essence
and dispense with the need of prior
surveillance.


ABSENCE OF A PRIOR SURVEILLANCE OR
TEST BUY
The absence of a prior surveillance or test buy does not
affect the legality of the buy-bust operation. There is
no textbook method of conducting buy-bust
operations. The Court has left to the discretion of
police authorities the selection of effective means to
apprehend drug dealers. Furthermore, if a police
operation requires immediate implementation, time
is of the essence and only hasty preparations are
sometimes possible. What is important is whether
the speed of preparation compromised the rights of
the accused (Norgie Cruz v. People, G.R. No. 164580,
February 6, 2009; Quinicot v. People, G.R. No. 179700,
June 22, 2009).
PRESUMPTION OF REGULARITY
It is a settled rule that in cases involving violations of the
Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, credence is given to
prosecution witnesses who are police officers for they are presumed
to have performed their duties in a regular manner, unless there is
evidence to the contrary. In this case, no evidence was adduced
showing any irregularity in any material aspect of the conduct of the
buy-bust operation. Neither was there any proof that the
prosecution witnesses who were members of the buy-bust
operation team, particularly those whose testimonies were in
question, were impelled by any ill-feeling or improper motive
against appellants which would raise a doubt about their credibility
(People v. Darisan, et. Al., G.R. No. 176151, Jan. 30, 2009; People v.
Llamado, G.R. No. 185278, March 13, 2009; Quinicot v. People, G.R.
No. 179700, June 22, 2009).
THE OBJECTIVE TEST
In determining the credibility of prosecution witnesses
regarding the conduct of buy-bust operation, the
objective test, as laid down in People v. Doria, is utilized.
It has been held that it is the duty of the prosecution to
present a complete picture detailing the buy-bust
operation- from the initial contact between the poseur-
buyer and the pusher, the offer to purchase, the promise
or payment of the consideration, until the consummation
of the sale by the delivery of the illegal subject of sale.
The manner by which the initial contact was made, the
offer to purchase the drug, the payment of the buy-bust
money, and the delivery of the illegal drug must be the
subject of strict scrutiny by courts to insure that law-
abiding citizens are not unlawfully induced to commit an
offense. (People v. Ong, G.R. No. 175940, February 6,
2008)
BUY-BUST TRANSACTION, HOW
CONSUMMATED
When what is involved is a prosecution for illegal sale of
regulated or prohibited drugs, conviction can be had if the
following elements are present: (1) the identity of the
buyer and the seller, the object, and the consideration; and
(2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment therefor.
What is material is the proof that the transaction or sale
actually took place, coupled with the presentation in court
of the corpus delicti of the crime. The delivery of the
contraband to the poseur-buyer and the receipt of the
marked money consummate the buy-bust transaction
between the entrapment officers and the accused. The
crime of illegal sale of dangerous drugs is committed as
soon as the sale transaction is consummated. (People v.
Encila, G.R. No. 182419, February 10, 2009)
PROOF OF BUY-BUST
Neither law nor jurisprudence requires the
presentation of any of the money used in a buy-
bust operation, much less is it required that the
boodle money be marked or entered in the police
blotter. Xxx Well-settled is the rule that the
testimony of an informant who witnessed the
illegal sale of shabu is not essential for conviction
and may be dispensed with if the poseur-buyer
testified on the same, because the informants
testimony would merely corroborate that of the
poseur-buyer (People v. Santiago, et. Al., G.R.
No. 175326, November 28, 2007).
BLOTTER REPORT & USE OF FLOURESCENT POWDER
NOT INDISPENSABLE; USE OF INITIALS
A prior blotter report is neither indispensable nor required
in buy-bust operations. Secondly, there is no rule
requiring that the police must apply fluorescent powder
to the buy-bust money to prove the commission of the
offense. The failure of the police operatives to use
fluorescent powder on the boodle money is not an
indication that the buy-bust operation did not take
place. The use of initials to mark the money used in the
buy-bust operation has been accepted by this Court.
Similar to a prior blotter report, the use of fluorescent
powder is not indispensable in such operations, for the
prerogative to choose the manner of marking the
money to be used in the buy-bust operation belongs
exclusively to the prosecution (People v. Sy , G.R. No.
185284, June 22, 2009).
PRESENTATION OF MONEY USED IN BUY BUST
OPERATION NOT REQUIRED
In the case of People v. Mala, the Supreme Court
held that what is material is the proof that the
transaction actually took place, coupled with the
presentation before the Court of the corpus
delicti. It bears emphasizing that neither the law
nor jurisprudence requires the presentation of
any of the money used in a buy-bust operation,
for the only elements necessary to consummate
the crime is proof that the illicit transaction took
place, coupled with the presentation in court of
the illicit drug as evidence (People v. Quiaoit, Jr.,
G.R. No. 175222, July 27, 2007).
MARKED MONEY NOT INDISPENSABLE, CORROBORATIVE IN NATURE
The failure to present the buy-bust money is not fatal. The
marked money used in the buy-bust operation is not
indispensable but merely corroborative in nature. In the
prosecution for the sale of dangerous drugs, the absence of
marked money does not create a hiatus in the evidence for
the prosecution as long as the sale of dangerous drugs is
adequately proven and the drug subject of the transaction
is presented before the court. Neither law nor
jurisprudence requires the presentation of any money
used in the buy-bust operation. What is material to a
prosecution for illegal sale of dangerous drugs is the proof
that the transaction or sale actually took place, coupled
with the presentation in court of the corpus delicti as
evidence(Norgie v. Clemente, et. Al., G.R. No. 178876, June
27, 2008).
FAILURE TO RECORD THE BOODLE MONEY
The failure of the PDEA operatives to record the
boodle money will not render the buy-bust
operation illegal. The recording of marked money
used in a buy-bust operation is not one of the
elements for the prosecution of sale of illegal
drugs. The recording or non-recording thereof in
an official record will not necessarily lead to an
acquittal as long as the sale of the prohibited
drug is adequately proven (People v. Clemente,
et. Al., G.R. No. 178876, June 27, 2008).
CHAIN OF CUSTODY
In prosecution involving narcotics, the narcotic
substance itself constitutes the corpus delicti of the
offense and the fact of its existence is vital to sustain a
judgment of conviction beyond reasonable doubt. It is
therefore of prime importance that in these cases, the
identity of the dangerous drug be likewise established
beyond reasonable doubt. In other words, it must be
established with unwavering exactitude that the
dangerous drug presented in court as evidence against
the accused is the same as that seized from him in the
first place. The chain of custody requirement performs
this function in that it ensures that unnecessary doubts
concerning the identity of the evidence are removed.
CHAIN OF CUSTODY

Board regulation No. 1, series of 2002 defines
chain of custody as 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.

CHAIN OF CUSTODY
As a method of authenticating evidence, the chain of custody rule
requires that the admission of the 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 thus include testimony about
every link in the chain, from the moment the item was seized to the
time it is offered in court as evidence, such that every person who
handled the same would admit 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. The same 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. It is from the
testimony of every witness who handled the evidence from which a
reliable assurance can be derived that the evidence presented in court
is one and the same as that seized from the accused. (People v.
Obmiranis, G.R. No. 181492, December 16, 2008; People v. Ruiz
Garcia, G.R. No. 173480, February 25, 2009; People v. Cervantes,
G.R. No. 181494, March 17, 2009; Catuiran v. People, G.R. No.
175647, May 8, 2009).
PHYSICAL INVENTORY AND PHOTOGRAPH REQUIREMENT
UNDER SEC. 21 VIS--VIS MARKING OF SEIZED EVIDENCE
While the first sentence of Sec. 21(a) of the Implementing Rules
and Regulations of R.A. No. 9165 states that the apprehending
officer/team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall,
immediately after seizure and confiscation, physically inventory
and photograph the same, the second sentence makes a
distinction between warrantless seizures and seizures by virtue of
a warrant, thus:
(a)xxx 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.
PHYSICAL INVENTORY AND PHOTOGRAPH REQUIREMENT
UNDER SEC. 21 VIS--VIS MARKING OF SEIZED EVIDENCE
Thus the venues of the physical inventory
and photography of the seized items differ and
depend on whether the seizure was made by
virtue of a search warrant or through a
warrantless seizure such as a buy-bust
operation.
PHYSICAL INVENTORY AND PHOTOGRAPH REQUIREMENT
UNDER SEC. 21 VIS--VIS MARKING OF SEIZED EVIDENCE
In seizures covered by search warrants, the physical
inventory and photograph must be conducted in the
place where the search warrant was served. On the
other hand, in case of warrantless seizures such as
buy-bust operation, the physical inventory and
photograph shall be conducted at the nearest police
station or office of the apprehending officer/team,
whichever is practicable; however, nothing prevents
the apprehending officer/team from immediately
conducting the physical inventory and photography of
the items at the place where they were seized, as it is
more in keeping with the laws intent of preserving
their integrity and evidentiary value.


PHYSICAL INVENTORY AND PHOTOGRAPH REQUIREMENT
UNDER SEC. 21 VIS--VIS MARKING OF SEIZED EVIDENCE
What Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 and its implementing rule do not
expressly specify is the matter of marking of the seized items in
warrantless seizures to ensure that the evidence seized upon
apprehension is the same evidence subjected to inventory and
photography when these activities are undertaken at the police
station rather than at the place of arrest. Consistency with the
chain of custody rule requires 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, (2)
immediately uponc onfiscation. This steps initiates the process of
protecting innocent persons from dubious and concocted searches,
and of protecting as well the apprehending officers from harassment
suits based on planting of evidence under Section 29 and on
allegations of robbery or theft.
PHYSICAL INVENTORY AND PHOTOGRAPH REQUIREMENT
UNDER SEC. 21 VIS--VIS MARKING OF SEIZED EVIDENCE
For greater specificity, marking means the placing by the
apprehending officer or the poseur-buyer of his/her initials and
signature on the items seized. If the physical inventory and
photograph are made at the nearest police station or office as
allowed by the rules, the inventory and photography of the seized
items must be made in accordance with Sec. 2 of Board Resolution
No. 1, Series of 2002, but in every case, the apprehended violator or
counsel must be present. Again, this is in keeping with the desired
level of integrity that the handling process requires. Thereafter, the
seized items shall be placed in an envelope or an evidence bag
unless the type and quantity of the seized items require a different
type of handling and/or container. The evidence bag or container
shall accordingly be signed by the handling officer and turned over
to the next officer in the chain of custody. (People v. Sanchez, G.R.
No. 175832, October 15, 2008)
CHAIN OF CUSTODY