ArchivesOctober 2010Woman escapes life term, 2 get 14 years

Woman escapes life term, 2 get 14 years

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An alleged woman drug peddler escaped life imprisonment when the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the dangerous drugs subject of two (two cases filed against her were the very same drugs sold and kept by the said woman.

The Special Court for Drug cases, RTC Branch 30, Dumaguete City, in a joint judgment promulgated Oct. 8, 2010 acquitted Leonor Laspiñas who was charged with violation of Sections 5 and 11, Article II of R.A. No. 9165 based on reasonable doubt.

The Court has scrutinized the evidence on record but has found it wanting with respect to the identification of the seized drugs. To erase all doubts as to the identity of the seized drugs, the prosecution should have established the movement of the drugs from the accused, to the police, to the forensic chemist, and finally to the court.

The linkages in the chain of custody of the subject items were not clearly established. There was no explanation as to why it took almost 12 hours for the seized items to be brought to the PNP Crime Laboratory.

Most importantly, the Court could not find any evidence on how the seized items were stored, preserved, labeled and recorded within this 12 hour period.

One of those in the chain also failed to testify. The forensic chemist also had no testimony from whom she received the specimens from. The Court ruled that the chain of custody of the seized items was compromised and therefore the integrity of these items is questionable.

This serious flaw in the conduct of post-seizure custody of the dangerous drugs allegedly sold and possessed by the accused militates against the prosecution’s cause because it not only casts 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 woman here was arrested in the evening of Aug.13, 2007 after a buy bust operation at Zone 4, Barangay Looc. When searched after being arrested, the woman also was found in possession of another sachet which contained dangerous drugs. After her acquittal, the woman was advised by the Court to behave and not to show her face anymore in the Special Court.

In two other cases promulgated on the same day, the Special Court for Drug Cases also sentenced Joven Brillantes and Jemir Vergara to an indeterminate penalty of 12 years and one 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 0.01gram each of shabu.

Brillantes was arrested on June 26, 2007 in an interior part of Zone 4, Barangay Looc where he was seen holding and examining a sachet containing shabu. When approached by the police operatives, he immediately threw the sachet on the ground. Vergara was arrested two days later on June 28, 2007 also at Zone 4, Barangay Looc behind the PPA compound. He was seen showing a sachet containing shabu to two persons when spotted by the police operatives. He immediately hid the sachet at the back pocket of his pants, while the two other persons ran away.

In both cases, the prosecution was able to adduce proof beyond reasonable doubt that Brillantes and Vergara were found in possession of the shabu as charged. In both cases also, the defense of Brillantes and Vergara, were both bare denial and nothing more. 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 positive identification of the two by the prosecution witnesses.

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