750 Phil. 871
That on or about 29 March 2005, in the Municipality of San Pedro, Province of Laguna, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court accused without authority of the law, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his possession, control and custody [of] METHAMPHETAMINE HYDROCHLORIDE, commonly known as shabu, a dangerous drug, weighing zero point zero two (0.02) gram, in the company of two persons. 
We stress at the outset that the [appellants] failed to question the legality of their warrantless arrest. The established rule is that an accused [is] estopped from assailing the legality of [his] arrest if [he] failed to move for the quashing of the Information against [him] before [his] arraignment. Any objection involving the arrest or the procedure in the court’s acquisition of jurisdiction over the person of an accused must be made before [he] enter[s] [his] plea; otherwise, the objection is deemed waived.
In any event, we carefully examined the records and now hold that the warrantless arrests conducted on [appellants] were valid. Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure lists the situations when a person may be arrested without a warrant x x x.
x x x x
Paragraph (a) of Section 5 is commonly known as an in flagrante delicto arrest. For a warrantless arrest of an accused caught in flagrante delicto to be valid, two requisites must concur: (1) the person to be arrested must execute an overt act indicating that he has just committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit a crime; and (2) such overt act is done in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer.
After a careful evaluation of the evidence in its totality, we hold that the prosecution successfully established that the petitioner was arrested in flagrante delicto.
We emphasize that the series of events that led the police to the house where the pot session was conducted and to their arrest were triggered by a “tip” from a concerned citizen that a “pot session” was in progress at the house of a certain “Obet” at Baranggay Cuyab, San Pedro, Laguna. Under the circumstances, the police did not have enough time to secure a search warrant considering the “time element” involved in the process (i.e., a pot session may not be an extended period of time and it was then 9:00 p.m.). In view of the urgency, SPO3 Melchor dela Peña immediately dispatched his men to proceed to the identified place to verify the report. At the place, the responding police officers verified through a small opening in the window and saw the accused-appellants and their other two (2) companions sniffing “shabu” to use the words of PO2 Bautista. There was therefore sufficient probable cause for the police officers to believe that the accused-appellants were then and there committing a crime. As it turned out, the accused-appellants indeed possessed and were even using a prohibited drug, contrary to law. When an accused is caught in flagrante delicto, the police officers are not only authorized but are duty-bound to arrest him even without a warrant.
In the course of the arrest and in accordance with police procedures, the [appellants] were frisked, which search yielded the prohibited drug in their possession. These circumstances were sufficient to justify the warrantless search x x x that yielded two (2) heat-sealed plastic sachets of “shabu.” x x x
x x x x
All the x x x requirements for a lawful search and seizure are present in this case. The police officers had prior justification to be at a certain “Obet’s” place as they were dispatched by their desk officer; they arrested the [appellants] as they had reason to believe that they were illegally using and possessing a prohibited drug and drug paraphernalia. The search of the [appellants] incident to their arrest yielded the confiscated crystalline substance which later proved to be “shabu”. In the course of their lawful intrusion, they inadvertently saw the various drug paraphernalia scattered in the living room. As these items were plainly visible, the police officers were justified in seizing them.
x x x x
As correctly found by the trial court, the [appellants'] story is unworthy of belief. Their denial must fail in the light of the positive identification and declarations made by the prosecution witness. As stated earlier, PO2 Bautista testified in a straightforward and categorical manner regarding the identities of the malefactors. He did not waver despite the defense counsel's rigid questioning.
Courts generally view the defense of denial with disfavor due to the facility with which an accused can concoct it to suit his or her defense. As evidence that is both negative and self-serving, this defense cannot attain more credibility than the testimony of the prosecution witness who testified clearly, providing thereby positive evidence on the various aspects of the crime committed. One such positive evidence is the result of the laboratory examination conducted by the PNP crime Laboratory on the drugs recovered from the [appellants] which revealed that the confiscated plastic sachets tested positive for the presence of "shabu”: two (2) heated transparent plastic sachet with markings “JB” and “JP” containing 0.02 gram of white crystalline substance each both yielded positive results.
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.
Contrary to what the [appellants] want to portray, the chain of custody of the seized prohibited drug was shown not to have been broken. After the seizure of the plastic sachets containing white crystalline substance from the [appellants'] possession and of the various drug paraphernalia in the living room, the police immediately brought the [appellants] to the police station, together with the seized items. PO3 Parunggao himself brought these items to the police station and marked them. The plastic sachets containing white crystalline substance was marked "JB" and "JP". These confiscated items were immediately turned over by PO2 Bautista to the PNP Regional Crime Laboratory Office Calabarzon, Camp Vicente Lim, Calamba City for examination to determine the presence of dangerous drugs. After a qualitative examination conducted on the specimens, Forensic Chemist Lorna Ravelas Tria concluded that the plastic sachets recovered from the accused-appellants tested positive for methylamphetamine hydrochloride, a prohibited drug, per Chemistry Report Nos. D-0381-05 and D-0382-05.
When the prosecution presented these marked specimens in court, PO2 Baustista positively identified them to be the same items they seized from the [appellants] and which PO3 Parunggao later marked at the police station, from where the seized items were turned over to the laboratory for examination based on a duly prepared request.
Thus, the prosecution established the crucial link in the chain of custody of the seized items from the time they were first discovered until they were brought for examination. Besides, as earlier stated, the [appellants] did not contest the admissibility of the seized items during the tria1. The integrity and the evidentiary value of the drugs seized from the accused-appellants were therefore duly proven not to have been compromised.
Jurisprudence teems with pronouncements that failure to strictly comply, with Section 2l (1), Article II of R.A. No. 9165 does not necessarily render an accused's arrest illegal or the items seized or confiscated from him inadmissible. What is of utmost importance is the preservation of the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items, as these would be utilized in the determination of the guilt or innocence of the accused. In the present case, we see substantial compliance by the police with the required procedure on the custody and control of the confiscated items, thus showing that the integrity of the seized evidence was not compromised. We refer particularly to the succession of events established by evidence, to the overall handling of the seized items by specified individuals, to the test results obtained, under a situation where no objection to admissibility was ever raised by the defense. All these, to the unprejudiced mind, show that the evidence seized were the same evidence tested and subsequently identified and testified to in court. x x x
Section 13. Possession of Dangerous Drugs During Parties, Social Gatherings or Meetings. – Any person found possessing any dangerous drug during a party, or at a social gathering or meeting, or in the proximate company of at least two (2) persons, shall suffer the maximum penalties provided for in Section 11 of this Act, regardless of the quantity and purity of such dangerous drugs.
q. When you said PO3 Parunggao saw that the door of the house was not locked, what did you do? a. He entered the house and we followed him, maam [sic]. x x x x q. In what part of the house where [sic] this [sic] people engaged in a pot session? a. At the sala, maam [sic]. q. And what was their reaction when PO3 Parunggao and the rest of the team barged in? a. They were surprised, maam [sic]. x x x x q. And what did you do after that? a. PO3 Parunggao introduced ourselves as police officers, maam [sic]. q. What happened after that? a. We confiscated the drug paraphernalias [sic] and then PO3 Parunggao conducted body search and was able to confiscate shabu from the two of the people there maam [sic]. q. Where were you when PO3 Parunggao conducted a search? a. I was behind him, maam [sic]. q. Did you see him conducting a search? a. Yes, maam [sic]. q. What did you see him doing? a. I saw that he was able to confiscate small plastic sachet containing shabu, maam [sic]. q. From whom? a. From Jeric Pavia and Juan Buendia, maam [sic]. q. If this Jeric Pavia is in court right now, will you be able to point to him? a. Yes, maam [sic]. q. Please point to him? a. That man in the first row wearing yellow shirt, maam [sic] (pointed to a person inside the courtroom who, when asked answered by the name of Jeric Pavia). q. You said that you saw PO3 Parunggao confiscated plastic sachet containing shabu from Jeric Pavia, from what part of his body was he able to confiscate the same? a. From the pocket of Jeric Pavia, maam [sic]. x x x x q. You said that PO3 Parunggao confiscated plastic sachet with white crystalline substance from two person [sic], one was identified as Jeric Pavia, who was the other one? a. It was Juan Buendia, maam [sic] q. Please identify him if he is in court? a. That man also in the first row, at the right portion, wearing yellow shirt (pointed to a person who, when asked answered by the name of Juan Buendia). q. Where were you when PO3 Parunggao confiscated from Juan Buendia the plastic sachet of shabu? a. I was behind him, maam [sic]. x x x x q. On [sic] what part of the body of Juan Buendia was the item taken by Officer Parunggao? a. Also in [sic] his pocket, maam [sic].
q. You said that you saw PO3 Parunggao confiscated [sic] plastic sachet containing shabu from Jeric Pavia, from what part of his body was he able to confiscate the same? a. From the pocket of Jeric Pavia, maam [sic]. q. And do you know what PO3 Parunggao do with the item? a. He placed marking on it, maam [sic]. q. In what place did he put the marking? a. At the police station maam [sic]. q. What markings did he place? a. It was marked JP representing the initials of accused Jeric Pavia, maam [sic]. q. Where were you when Officer Parunggao placed that marking on the item? a. I was beside him, maam [sic]. q. Can you describe the plastic sachet? a. It is a small transparent plastic sachet which contains white crystalline substance otherwise known as shabu, maam [sic]. q. Who was in possession of the plastic sachet from the time PO3 Parunggao took it from the possession of Jeric Pavia up to the police station? a. It was P03 Parunggao, maam [sic]. q. I am showing to you a plastic sachet with white crystalline substance with markings JP, please identify the same? a. This is the same item confiscated from Jeric Pavia, maam [sic]. x x x x q. Did you come to know what Officer Parunggao do with the plastic sachet confiscated from Juan Buendia? a. He brought it to the police station, maam [sic]. q. And what did he do with it? a. He placed the markings JB, maam [sic]. q. Who was in possession of the plastic sachet with markings JB from Aplaya [where the pot session took place] to the police station? a. It was PO3 Parunggao, maam. q. I am showing to you a plastic sachet with white crystalline substance with markings JB, please identify the same? a. This is the same item confiscated from Juan Buendia by PO3 Parunggao, maam [sic].
RA 9165 and its subsequent Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) do not require strict compliance as to the chain of custody rule. x x x. We have emphasized that what is essential is “the preservation of the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items, as the same would be utilized in the determination of the guilt or innocence of the accused.”
Briefly stated, non-compliance with the procedural requirements under RA 9165 and its IRR relative to the custody, photographing, and drug-testing of the apprehended persons, is not a serious flaw that can render void the seizures and custody of drugs in a buy-bust operation.
x x x x
x x x. We recognize that the strict compliance with the requirements of Section 21 may not always be possible under field conditions; the police operates under varied conditions, and cannot at all times attend to all the niceties of the procedures in the handling of confiscated evidence.