ArchivesOctober 2010Man gets life term, 3 get 14 years in...

Man gets life term, 3 get 14 years in jail, 3 acquitted

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The Special Court for Drug Cases, RTC Branch 30, has sentenced a drug dealer to life imprisonment, three shabu-possessors to 14 years in jail and acquitted three defendants, as it disposed of five drug cases last Friday.{{more}}

The Court meted the stiff penalty on Richard Villar after the prosecution was able to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt for selling 0.07 gram of shabu in violation of Section 5, Article II of R.A. No. 9165.

Judge Rafael Crescencio Tan, presiding judge of RTC Branch 30, said conviction is proper in prosecutions involving illegal sale of regulated or prohibited drugs 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 thereto.

“What is material is proof that the transaction actually took place, along with the presentation in court of the illegal substance which constitutes the corpus delicti of the crime. These elements were sufficiently proven to be present in the case against Villar,” Tan said.

The identities of the buyer and the seller, as well as the shabu and the money, were properly and sufficiently proven by the prosecution. Tan said the commission of the offense of illegal sale of dangerous drugs requires merely the consummation of the selling transaction, which happens the moment the buyer receives the drug from the seller.

Two anti-drug operatives who conducted the buy- bust operation positively identified Villar as the seller of the shabu. They were also able to recover the money used for the sale of the shabu.

In three other cases promulgated on the same day, the Special Court for Drug Cases also sentenced Ramil Aranas, Paterno Granoli and Joel Paculanang to an indeterminate penalty each of 12 years and 1 day as minimum term to 14 years maximum in jail for violating Section 11, Article II of R.A. No. 9165 for illegal possession of shabu.

Aranas was arrested on January 15, 2007 in an interior part of Zone 4, Barangay Looc, Dumaguete City where he was seen showing two (2) sachets containing a total of 0.20 gram of shabu to another person. The police operatives approached them and were able to arrest Aranas, but the other person was able to run away. Granoli was arrested on February 6, 2007 also at an interior part of Zone 4, Barangay Looc, Dumaguete City. He was seen holding and examining a sachet containing 0.01 gram of shabu when spotted by the police operatives. He was arrested afterwards.

Paculanang was arrested on October 15, 2007, also in Zone 4, Barangay Looc, Dumaguete City. He was seen holding a transparent plastic container which contained three (3) sachets containing a total of 0.2 gram of shabu. When approached by the police operatives, he dropped the container but was recovered by the police operatives.

In all these cases, the prosecution was able to adduce proof beyond reasonable doubt that Aranas, Granoli and Paculanang were found in possession of the shabu as charged. Aranas did not offer any evidence in his behalf. In the case of Granoli and Paculanang, and even in the case of Villar, their common defense was bare denial and nothing more.

Judge Tan said Denial is considered an inherently weak defense, for it can easily be concocted and is a common standard line of defense in drug cases. It is even weaker in the face of their positive identification by the prosecution witnesses.

The Court also acquitted three persons from what could have been life imprisonment for lack of evidence. Acquitted were Cristina Compana, Rodulfo Sales and Numeriano Gabo for the offense of illegal sale of 0.03 gram of shabu, supposedly in conspiracy with each other. Cristina Compana was also acquitted for the offense of illegal possession of 0.01 gram of shabu.

In acquitting the three accused, the Court was guided by the equipoise doctrine. The equipoise doctrine is based on the principle that no one shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. The doctrine refers to a situation where the evidence of the parties are evenly balanced or there is doubt on which side the evidence preponderates.

In a criminal case, the equipoise rule provides that where the evidence is evenly balanced, the constitutional presumption of innocence tilts the scales in favor of the accused. Thus, where the inculpatory facts and circumstances are capable of two or more explanations, one of which is consistent with the innocence of the accused and the other consistent with his guilt, the evidence does not fulfill the test of moral certainty and is not sufficient to support a conviction.

But what bothered the court most was that while the three (3) accused were charged with illegal sale of shabu, the seized heat-sealed transparent plastic with the shabu was marked with the initials “CC-RS- BB,” referring to the first letters of thenames of the accused Cristina Compaña and Rodulfo Sales only, and BB to mean “buy bust” operation. There was no marking of the initials for the other accused Numeriano Gabo.

“To the court the question was why were the initials of the accused Numeriano Gabo not included in the markings of the seized sachet when he was supposed to be part of the conspiracy?” Judge Tan noted.

The Court said the physical evidence on record runs counter to the testimonial evidence of the prosecution witnesses that the accused Gabo was involved in the transaction. “Physical evidence is a mute but eloquent manifestation of truth, and it ranks high in our hierarchy of trustworthy evidence. Where the physical evidence on record runs counter to the testimonial evidence of the prosecution, the Supreme Court has ruled that conclusions as to physical evidence should prevail,” Judge Tan said.

The Court said that well-entrenched in jurisprudence is the rule that the conviction of the accused must rest, not on the weakness of the defense, but on the strength of the prosecution. “The burden is on the prosecution to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt, not on the accused to prove his innocence. In criminal cases, the duty of the court is not so much as to convict but to enter a judgment of acquittal when doubt exists as to the guilt of the accused,” it said.

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