The handling of the chain of custody of evidence in the instant cases by the xxx police officers [seizing, arresting and crime laboratory officers] was improper, tainted, dubious, defective and prejudicial to the constitutional rights of the appellant xxx. PO1 xxx [seizing officer] acted as one-man seizing officer-cum-evidence custodian. He brought home the seized evidence, kept them at his house, did not endorse them to the evidence custodian of the police station, put them in the common cabinet being used by him and his wife, and exposed the evidence to questionable human interventions. Further, the chain of custody of evidence form was signed only by PO1 xxx and PO2 xxx . The chain of custody of evidence from PO2 xxx to PCI xxx [forensic chemist] was not documented. The evidence custodian of the PNP regional crime laboratory in xxx likewise did not sign the chain of custody of evidence form.
In the case of PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ROBERTO HOLGADO Y DELA CRUZ AND ANTONIO MISAREZ Y ZARAGA, Accused-Appellants, G.R. No. 207992, August 11, 2014, the Supreme Court held that:
“Law enforcers should not trifle with the legal requirement to ensure integrity in the chain of custody of seized dangerous drugs and drug paraphernalia. This is especially true when only a miniscule amount of dangerous drugs is alleged to have been taken from the accused.”
The Supreme Court held therein that: “Compliance with the chain of custody requirement provided by Section 21 [of RA 9165, as amended by RA 10640], therefore, ensures the integrity of confiscated, seized, and/or surrendered drugs and/or drug paraphernalia in four (4) respects: first, the nature of the substances or items seized; second, the quantity (e.g., weight) of the substances or items seized; third, the relation of the substances or items seized to the incident allegedly causing their seizure; and fourth, the relation of the substances or items seized to the person/s alleged to have been in possession of or peddling them. Compliance with this requirement forecloses opportunities for planting, contaminating, or tampering of evidence in any manner.”
In the aforecited jurisprudence, the Supreme Court noted that “apart from the officers’ glaring non-compliance with Section 21, two (2) circumstances are worth underscoring in this case. First, the shabu supposedly seized amounted to five (5) centigrams (0.05 gram). This quantity is so miniscule it amounts to only about 2.5% of the weight of a five-centavo coin (1.9 grams) or a one-centavo coin (2.0 grams). Second, Holgado and Misarez were acquitted by the Regional Trial Court of all other charges (i.e., for possession of dangerous drugs and for possession of drug paraphernalia).”
Similarly, in the instant appeal, the appellant xxx was convicted for a miniscule quantity of 0.035 gram.
The Supreme Court stated in the aforecited case that “while the miniscule amount of narcotics seized is by itself not a ground for acquittal, this circumstance underscores the need for more exacting compliance with Section 21”. It added that “the likelihood of tampering, loss or mistake with respect to an exhibit is greatest when the exhibit is small and is one that has physical characteristics fungible in nature and similar in form to substances familiar to people in their daily lives.”
Moreover, the Supreme Court stated that “the Regional Trial Court’s observations which led to accused-appellants’ acquittal for violations of Sections 11 and 12 of Republic Act No. 9165 should have warned the Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals that something was amiss.”
 Section 21 of RA 9165, as amended by RA 10640, is reproduced below:
“SEC. 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized, and/or Surrendered Dangerous Drugs, Plant Sources of Dangerous Drugs, Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals, Instruments/Paraphernalia and/or Laboratory Equipment. – The PDEA shall take charge and have custody of all dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment so confiscated, seized and/or surrendered, for proper disposition in the following manner:
1. 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 a 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 the 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.
2. Within twenty-four (24) hours upon confiscation/seizure of dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment, the same shall be submitted to the PDEA Forensic Laboratory for a qualitative and quantitative examination;
3. A certification of the forensic laboratory examination results, which shall be done by the forensic laboratory examiner, shall be issued immediately upon the receipt of the subject item/s: Provided, That when the volume of dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, and controlled precursors and essential chemicals does not allow the completion of testing within the time frame, a partial laboratory examination report shall be provisionally issued stating therein the quantities of dangerous drugs still to be examined by the forensic laboratory: Provided, however, That a final certification shall be issued immediately upon completion of the said examination and certification[.].”