The Regional Trial Court Branch 30, a Special Court for Drug Cases, rendered judgments recently in 11 cases, five of which were promulgated in two joint judgments at the Hall of Justice, Dumaguete City.
Irene Ybañez was sentenced to suffer life imprisonment for the illegal sale of 0.06 gram of shabu in violation of section 5, article II, of Republic Act No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
She was also found guilty of illegal possession of an improvised tooter and sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of 6 months and 1 day as minimum term, to 2 years as maximum.
Ybañez was further ordered to pay a total fine of P510,000 for the two offenses. She was arrested in a buy-bust operation conducted by a team of operatives from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency at Zone 4, Barangay Looc, Dumaguete City on December 10, 2008. Ybañez had sold a heat-sealed transparent plastic container with 0.06 gram of shabu to an informant-poseur buyer.
The presumption of innocence accorded her was overturned by evidence presented by the prosecution, the court said.
The prosecution had convincingly proved beyond reasonable doubt that she committed the crimes charged, it ruled.
In another case, Francis Agraviador, Lanie Kitanie, Roberto Bandojo, Efren Viking and Jeoffrey Fabillar were sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of 12 years and one day as minimum term, to 14 years as maximum term, and to pay a fine of P400,000 each.
They were all found guilty of illegal possession of dangerous drugs in violation of section 11, Article II of R.A. No. 9165. Agraviador was arrested while in possession of 0.03 gram of shabu at Zone 4, Barangay Looc, Dumaguete City last October 23, 2006.
Kitanie was apprehended in flagrante delicto with 0.09 gram of shabu also at Zone 4, Barangay Looc, Dumaguete City on March 3, 2009. Bandojo was arrested in flagrante delicto with one heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet containing 0.02 gram of shabu last April 9, 2008, at Lukewright, Barangay Dos, Dumaguete City.
Viking was arrested with four heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets containing a total of 6.43 grams of shabu at the Academia compound, Barangay Looc, in Dumaguete. Fabillar was arrested in flagrante delicto with one heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet containing also 0.01 gram of shabu on December 10, 2008 at the same time that Irene Ybañez was arrested at Zone 4, Barangay Looc, Dumaguete City, court records showed.
All of the accused in these cases of illegal possession of dangerous drugs simply denied the charges against them. Aside from the presumption that the arresting officers performed their duties regularly, the court noted that the prosecution witnesses gave a consistent and straightforward narration of what transpired on the days in question.
In three other cases promulgated on the same day, three persons were acquitted of the charges against them based on reasonable doubt.
Chrisford Tantio was acquitted of illegal possession of one heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet containing 0.01 gram of shabu. Jaime Abellana was also acquitted of illegal possession of two heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets containing a total of 0.03 gram of shabu, and Manolo Flores of illegal possession of one heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet containing 0.07 gram of shabu.
In all these cases, the court found wanting in evidence the identity and integrity of the seized drugs, which evidence must definitely show that the illegal drug presented in court is actually recovered from the accused.
The serious flaws in the conduct of the post-seizure custody of the dangerous drug allegedly bought or seized from these accused militate against the prosecution’s cause, because it not only cast doubts on the identity of the corpus delicti, but also tends to discredit, if not totally negate, the claim of regularity in the conduct of official police operations.
The court therefore said it was not convinced that the prosecution had sufficiently established the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.*RG
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