DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review on Certiorari is GRANTED. The March 22, 2017 Decision and the August 16, 201 7 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CEB-CR No. 02397, which affirmed the July 23, 2012 Joint-Decision of the Regional Trial Court, are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accused-appellant Virgilio Evardo y Lopena is ACQUITTED of the charges of violating Section 11 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

For their information, copies of this Decision shall be furnished to the Police General of the Philippine National Police and the Director General of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

The Regional Trial Court is directed to tum over the seized sachets of shabu to the Dangerous Drugs Board for destruction in accordance with law.

Let entry of judgment be issued immediately.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

IN THIS CASE THE ARRESTING OFFICERS’ SEARCH AND SUBSEQUENT SEIZURE WERE HELD INVALID. THUS, THE CONFISCATED DRUGS CANNOT BE USED AS EVIDENCE. WITHOUT EVIDENCE THE CASE HAS TO BE DISMISSED.

In cases involving drugs, the confiscated article constitutes the corpus delicti of the crime charged. Under Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9165, the essence of the crime is the sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution, and transportation of prohibited drugs, and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals. The act of transporting the drugs, as in this case, must be duly proven by the prosecution, along with how a particular person is the perpetrator of that act. The seized drug, then, becomes the corpus delicti of the crime charged. The entire case of the prosecution revolves around that material.

In drugs cases where the allegedly confiscated drug is excluded from admissible evidence – as when it was acquired through an invalid warrantless search – the prosecution is left without proof of corpus delicti. Any discussion on whether a crime has been committed becomes an exercise in futility. Acquittal is then inexorable.

Thus, here, the arresting officers’ search and subsequent seizure are invalid. As such, the two (2) sacks of marijuana supposedly being transported in the pickup cannot be admitted in evidence.

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