Before us on appeal is the decision 1 dated November 6, 1997 of the Regional Trial Court of Malabon, Metro Manila, Branch 72, in Criminal Case No. 17806-MN finding appellant Julliver de Leon guilty of violation of Section 16, Article III of RA 6425, as amended, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay a fine of five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000).chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
Initially, appellant Julliver de Leon was arrested and charged 2 together with his father, co-accused George de Leon, with the crime of illegal sale of regulated drugs in violation of Section 15, Article III of RA 6425, as amended, in an Information that read:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
That on or about the 19th day of March 1997, in Malabon Metro Manila, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping with one another, being private persons and without authority of law, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously sell and deliver in consideration of the amount of P10,000.00 to a poseur buyer white crystalline substance contained in two (2) separate sealed transparent plastic bag each with markings "BB/AGN-97/A" and "BB/AGH-97/B" with a total net weight of 5.1846 gram and 5.5693 gram respectively, which substance when subjected to chemistry examination gave positive results for Methamphetamine Hydrochloride otherwise known as shabu which are regulated drugs.
CONTRARY TO LAW. 3
They were also charged 4 with illegal possession of regulated drugs, in violation of Section 16, Article III of RA 6425, as amended, in an Information that read:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
That on or about the 19th day of March 1997, in Malabon Metro Manila, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, being private persons and without authority of law, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in their possession, custody and control white crystalline substance contained in four (4) separate transparent plastic bags marked "R-MPM-1", "R-MPM-2", "R-MPM-3" and "R-MPM-4" with a total net weight of 48.70 gram, 99.40 gram, 94.40 gram and 4.7556 grams respectively, which substance when subjected to chemistry examination gave positive results for Methamphetamine Hydrochloride otherwise known as shabu which are regulated drugs.
CONTRARY TO LAW. 5
Upon arraignment on May 28, 1997, both accused pleaded not guilty to both charges and the trial ensued.
The evidence of the prosecution showed that, after a month of surveillance on a person named Jojie, who turned out to be accused George de Leon, for illegal drug trafficking, the Drugs Enforcement Group of the Malabon Police Station decided to conduct a buy-bust operation on the said accused.
Prosecution witness Ronald Ticlao, the police-aide who acted as the poseur-buyer for the operation, testified that, prior to the operation, he received ten pieces of marked one thousand peso bills which were photocopied. The serial numbers of the bills were also entered in the dispatch book. He was accompanied by a confidential informer named Nora Boysillo to transact with accused George de Leon. In going to the designated place of operation, he and Nora boarded a tricycle and alighted in front of accused de Leon’s residence along Kaunlaran St., Muzon, Malabon, Metro Manila. 6
Upon entering the compound, Nora Boysillo introduced Ticlao to accused George de Leon. George asked how much money they had with them and the quantity of drugs that they wanted to buy. Ticlao answered that he wanted to purchase "dalawang bulto." George then asked for the money and Nora Boysillo gave him the ten pieces of marked one thousand peso bills. After counting the money, George called his son, herein appellant Julliver "Baye" de Leon. When the appellant came out of the house, George told him to give the desired quantity of shabu to Ticlao and Boysillo. George thereafter handed the money to the appellant and then left the compound, telling Ticlao and Boysillo that the appellant would handle the transaction. Herein appellant then entered the house from which George came out. When he emerged from the said house, he was holding a yellowish envelope. He took two plastic sachets from the said envelope and handed them to Boysillo. Ticlao took one of the sachets and examined its contents. After verifying that what was given to him was shabu, Ticlao gave the pre-arranged signal to the policemen who were then observing the proceedings from outside the compound. Then, Ticlao and Boysillo left, and the police operatives met them as they were leaving the compound. 7
After the pre-arranged signal was given, police officers Alberto Nepomuceno, Rogelio Libuton, Rojas, Cruz, Mañalac and Borda entered the compound to arrest appellant Julliver de Leon. On seeing them, the appellant ran inside his father’s house. Libuton followed the appellant and saw him throw a yellowish envelope inside the bedroom where he entered and hid. Libuton picked up the envelope, looked inside and found four transparent plastic sachets containing shabu. He turned over the envelope to police officer Melvin Mañalac. He and Mañalac affixed their signatures and the date of recovery on the envelope. They also marked the four sachets inside the said envelope.
During the trial, Ticlao identified the two accused, the buy-bust shabu, the confiscated shabu, the pertinent entries in the police blotter containing the serial numbers of the marked money bills, the yellowish envelope from which Baye took the buy-bust shabu and the markings thereon. 8
SPO1 Rogelio Libuton also identified their signatures and the date they wrote on the envelope, and their markings on the sachets, as the exact markings they made during the operation. They identified the marked bills as the same bills used during the operation; they were the same bills whose serial numbers were entered in the dispatch book and photocopied. 9
SPO1 Alberto Nepomuceno and SPO1 Rogelio Libuton corroborated the testimony of Ticlao. Furthermore, they testified that, in going to the place of operation, they used a Tamaraw FX vehicle, an owner-type jeep and a tricycle in which Ticlao and Boysillo rode. When George left the compound while the transaction was taking place, Nepomuceno ordered police officers Querubin and Agustin to follow George. 10
SPO1 Benjamin Querubin testified that he and SPO2 Agustin followed accused George de Leon right after he left Ticlao and Boysillo in the middle of the negotiation. Later on, Querubin received a radio message from SPO1 Nepomuceno ordering him to arrest accused George de Leon who was by then having a drinking session with his friends about 200 meters from his house. 11
The buy-bust white crystalline substance 12 and the confiscated white crystalline substance 13 were sent to a forensic chemist for laboratory examination 14 and were found to be the regulated drug 15 known as shabu.
For their defense, Accused
George and herein appellant denied that an entrapment operation took place.
Defense witness Geoffrey Santos, a tricycle driver plying the Concepcion-Muzon route, testified that, between two and three o’clock in the afternoon of March 19, 1997, three men whom he discovered later were policemen boarded his tricycle and directed him to go to Kaunlaran Street with two other tricycles. The tricycles unloaded the passengers in front of the gate of the residence of the accused. They entered the gate then drew their firearms. He denied seeing any female who accompanied the policemen nor seeing a Tamaraw FX vehicle along the street. 16
Defense witnesses Helen Navarro and Vicente Martin, neighbors of the accused, corroborated the testimony of Santos. Martin added that he knew the persons who boarded the tricycles were police officers because he recognized Mañalac and Nepomuceno as police officers. He did not see Ronald Ticlao, any female companion or a Tamaraw FX vehicle purportedly used by the police officers. 17
Herein appellant Julliver de Leon narrated before the court that, in the afternoon of March 19, 1997, he and his wife were in his house when police officers Borda and Libuton suddenly entered. He woke up when a gun was poked at him. When he asked why the policemen were there, herein appellant was immediately handcuffed and brought to the sala. The police operatives searched his house but found nothing illegal. He saw Mañalac in a radio conversation with another person outside the house. He heard the person on the other end say, "Bok, positive nakuha na namin ang ama." Mañalac replied, "Kuha na rin ang anak." In turn, the person at the other end asked, "Bakit pa kinuha nyo yan. Sakit lang ng ulo iyan." Mañalac answered, "Kasubuan na, marami ng tao dito." From his house, he was brought to the Pagamutang Bayan ng Malabon and thereafter to the Drugs Enforcement Group Headquarters of the Malabon Police Station. 18
Accused George de Leon testified on how the police operatives arrested him. At about the same time that the police operatives entered and searched appellant Julliver de Leon’s house, George, since late morning of the same day, was having a drinking spree with his friends along Kaunlaran Street in front of a house of a certain Aguila 200 meters away from his own house and the house of the appellant. Police officers Benjamin Querubin, Cruz and Agustin arrived and told him that Captain Ona, whom he used to work for as a personal driver, was looking for him. When he replied that Captain Ona was attending a town fiesta in Batangas, they said that it was actually the Chief of Police who was looking for him. At first, he refused to go but went with them after they threatened him.
They brought him to the Barangay Hall of Muzon, Malabon, Metro Manila, then to the Pagamutang Bayan ng Malabon and later to the DEG headquarters where the two accused met each other. There, SPO1 Nepomuceno told George that they arrested Nora Boysillo, a courier of a known big-time drug pusher named Biyo Nuñez, also known as "Biyo Kalabaw." Being Nuñez’ kumpadre, he was asked to reveal the whereabouts of Nuñez or at least to contact the latter by cellphone to determine where he was. He felt that acceding to Nepomuceno’s request would endanger his family so he declined to divulge any information about Nuñez. 19 As a result of his refusal to cooperate with his interrogators, he and his son were arrested and criminal charges were filed against them.
George alleged that he could not have transacted with Ticlao as he knew him to be a police aide when he was still the personal driver of Captain Ona. He said Ticlao and Boysillo testified against him due to his refusal to cooperate with the police concerning the whereabouts of Biyo Nuñez. At the headquarters, Ticlao and Boysillo asked him to cooperate with the police operatives but he refused. 20
Several weeks after the incident, on April 27, 1997, Ritzie de Leon, appellant Julliver de Leon’s wife, filed separate complaint-affidavits before the Office of the City Prosecutor in Malabon against the raiding DEG police operatives for violation of domicile. However, the investigating prosecutor of the said complaint-affidavits, who happened to be the trial prosecutor of the subject criminal cases, dismissed the same. 21
On November 6, 1997, the trial court rendered a decision, the dispositive portion of which read:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
a) In Criminal Case No. 17805-MN for Drug Pushing (Section 15, Art. III, R.A. 6425, as amended by R.A. 7659): acquitting both accused, George de Leon and Julliver de Leon, on the ground of reasonable doubt;
b) In Criminal Case No. 17806-MN for Illegal Possession of Shabu (Section 16, Art. III, R.A. 6425, as amended by R.A. 7659): acquitting accused George de Leon only on the ground of reasonable doubt. Accused Julliver de Leon is thereby found guilty beyond reasonable doubt and is hereby sentenced to the prison term of Reclusion Perpetua and to pay a fine of P5,000,000.00.
Accused Julliver de Leon, being a detention prisoner, he shall be credited in full the period of detention he had already undergone in connection with these cases if he signed the written agreement allowing him to be treated while still a detention prisoner under the same rules governing prisoners already serving sentence by virtue of final judgments. Otherwise, he shall only be credited with 4/5 thereof.
The shabu subject matter of these cases are hereby forfeited in favor of the government.
SO ORDERED. 22
In acquitting George de Leon of illegal possession of regulated drugs and both George de Leon and appellant Julliver de Leon of illegal sale of regulated drugs, the trial court wrote:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
The Court cannot help noting at once the fact that George was arrested in a place at least 200 meters away from where the police claimed he transacted with them for the sale of P10,000.00 worth of shabu (T.S.N. Oct. 1, 1997, page 10) and that when he was arrested he was actually in a drinking spree with several persons who claimed he never left the place since they started drinking up to the time of his arrest, with nothing having been found in his possession that will connect him to either possession of illegal drugs or to the claimed buy-bust transaction.
Also noted by the Court is the failure of the police to immediately pick him up and place him under arrest as soon as they have seen the signal from Ticlao that the buy-bust operation yielded positive results.
According to Ticlao, it did not take long for him, after George told them that Julliver will take care of everything, meaning, the delivery of shabu for which they gave George P10,000.00 to give the positive signal. Nepomuceno and the other police officers acting as back-ups for Ticlao and Boysillo allegedly saw the signal at once and they immediately pounced on Julliver. They did not, however, immediately place George under arrest.
x x x
There also was no rebuttal testimony on the claim that George and Ticlao knew each other long before the incident, which would make the alleged sale of shabu to Ticlao improbable as George knew him already as a police aide
All the foregoing, taken together with the testimonials of several witnesses to the effect that George was all the while with them in a drinking spree when he was arrested, cast doubt, even as the Court is not prepared to pronounce that the evidence in this case was merely planted by the police, on the alleged participation of George in these cases.
If George really transacted for the sale and delivery of shabu to Ticlao and Boysillo, at the first opportunity he should have been placed under arrest. The recovery of additional shabu would bolster his alleged participation in the sale of shabu to the poseur buyer.
With respect, therefore, to George doubt has cast in the mind of the Court concerning his guilt or innocence in these cases. In this jurisdiction, this doubt is mandated to be resolved in favor of his innocence. 23
x x x
But in convicting Julliver de Leon of illegal possession of regulated drugs, the trial court relied on the arresting police officers’ positive identification of appellant as the person who threw the envelope containing the sachets of shabu inside the bedroom in the course of the pursuit. The trial court did not give credence to the appellant’s defense of frame-up for the reason that the arresting officers would not have gone out of their way just to plant evidence against him. 24
Hence this appeal based on the following assignment of errors:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
THE LOWER COURT SERIOUSLY ERRED WHEN, ALTHOUGH IT FOUND THAT THERE WAS NO BUY-BUST OPERATION THAT TOOK PLACE AND BY REASON OF WHICH IT ACQUITTED BOTH ACCUSED GEORGE DE LEON AND GULLIVER DE LEON IN CRIM. CASE NO 17805-MN, AND IT ACQUITTED GEORGE DE LEON IN CRIM. CASE NO. 17806-MN, IT DID NOT SIMILARLY ACQUIT GULLIVER DE LEON IN THE LATTER CASE FOR THE SAME REASON.
THE LOWER COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT IT WAS THE ARREST OF THE ACCUSED GEORGE DE LEON (JOJIE) INSTEAD OF THE ARREST OF GULLIVER DE LEON (BAYE) – THAT WAS "UNPLANNED AND NOT ORDERED."cralaw virtua1aw library
THE LOWER COURT GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT FAILED TO FIND DOUBTS AS TO HOW, FROM WHOM OR WHERE THE FOUR SACHETS OF SHABU (EXHS. F-1, F-2, F-3 AND F-4) SUBJECT OF CRIM. CASE NO. 17806, WERE FOUND.
THE LOWER COURT GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT FAILED TO FIND DOUBTS AS TO HOW, FROM WHOM OR WHERE THE ALLEGED BUY-BUST MONEY (EXHS. H-1 TO H-10) WAS FOUND.
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE DEG POLICE OPERATIVES VIOLATED THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT OF BOTH ACCUSED AGAINST UNREASONABLE SEARCHES AND SEIZURE.
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO FIND OTHER MATERIAL INCONSISTENCIES IN THE TESTIMONIES OF THE PROSECUTION WITNESSES.25cralaw:red
Section 16, Article III of RA 6425, as amended by RA 7659, provides that:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
Section 16. Possession or Use of the Regulated Drugs. — The penalty of reclusion perpetua to death and a fine ranging from five hundred thousand pesos to ten million pesos shall be imposed upon any person who shall possess or use any regulated drugs without the corresponding license or prescription, subject to the provisions of Section 20 hereof. (As amended by Sec. 16, RA No. 7659.)
Appellant Julliver de Leon contends that the trial court erred in convicting him of illegal possession of shabu because said conclusion was totally against its finding that there was no buy-bust operation that took place. Without the said buy-bust or entrapment operation, there was no valid basis for the warrantless arrest of the appellant. Hence, the DEG operatives violated the constitutional right of the appellant against unreasonable searches and seizures. And it allegedly proved his allegation that the police operatives planted the sachets of shabu due to his father’s refusal to inform them about the whereabouts of a certain Biyo Nuñez. The appellant also asserts that the testimony of SPO1 Nepomuceno as to the manner of recovery of the confiscated and the buy-bust drugs was hearsay for the reason that he was not the one who recovered the same and only heard the details thereof from another police officer.
We affirm the appellant’s conviction for illegal possession of regulated drugs.
Appellant’s arrest for possession of regulated drugs proceeded from a valid buy-bust operation. Ticlao and Boysillo categorically testified on how the entrapment was effected. Their testimonies were corroborated in all material points by the arresting officers who actually witnessed how the transaction took place: accused George de Leon initiated the transaction by asking from Ticlao the quantity of shabu he wanted to buy; Ticlao asked for dalawang bulto; after receiving the marked one thousand peso bills as payment for the drugs, George called herein appellant; George handed the money to appellant and then left the compound; meanwhile, appellant went inside George’s house and came back holding a yellow envelope that contained the regulated drugs; after verifying that what was given by appellant was indeed shabu, Ticlao and Boysillo left and gave the pre-arranged signal to the police officers who then entered the compound and pursued the appellant; the latter fled and threw the envelope containing the regulated drugs inside a bedroom in George’s house.
Herein appellant cannot rely on his acquittal for the illegal sale of regulated drugs to prove that no entrapment took place and that therefore his warrantless arrest for illegal possession of regulated drugs was unlawful. According to the trial court, Accused
George de Leon and herein appellant were acquitted of the crime of sale of regulated drugs because George’s participation in the transaction was doubtful – the latter was arrested 200 meters away from the scene of the sale and there was a delay in effecting his arrest.
Considering the clear and convincing evidence, it was not impossible for accused George de Leon to have participated in the sale of shabu. The distance between the place where he was arrested and the place of the transaction was only 200 meters. It was such a short distance that George could have easily initiated the deal, left the compound in the middle of the transaction, gone to his friend’s place and started drinking with them.
We have always ruled that alibi is an inherently weak defense that is easy to contrive and concoct. For such defense to prosper, it is not enough for the accused to prove that he was somewhere else when the crime occurred. He must also demonstrate that it was physically impossible for him to have been at the scene of the crime. 26
We also rule that the delay in the arrest of George should not be seen as a loophole through which he can wiggle out of criminal liability. It was more in accordance with proper legal procedure for the police officers to arrest the accused George de Leon only after the poseur-buyer and the informant gave the signal confirming that the substance they received was indeed shabu. It was of critical importance to first get hold of the shabu — before George could be arrested — as that was the evidence that would pin him down for the sale of drugs.
The entrapment operation paved the way for the valid warrantless arrest of appellant. Section 5(a) of Rule 113 of the Rules of Court provides that —
"(A) peace officer or a private person, without a warrant, may arrest a person: (a) When in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense . . ."cralaw virtua1aw library
Consequently, any search resulting from said lawful warrantless arrest was also valid because the accused committed a crime in flagrante delicto, that is, the person to be arrested (appellant) committed a crime in the presence of the arresting officers or the poseur-buyer. 27
Herein appellant was caught red-handed in the act of committing the offenses for which he was charged. He made the sale in the presence of the police operatives, the poseur-buyer and the informant. When he fled, he carried then threw the envelope containing the regulated drugs inside the bedroom in full view of PO1 Libuton, the pursuing arresting officer. There was therefore no need for a warrant to arrest and search the person of Appellant
Appellant points out the inconsistencies in the prosecution witnesses’ testimonies on the number of vehicles used in going to the place of operation, and the owner of the jeep used in the operation. But minor variances in the details of the witnesses’ accounts, more frequently than not, are badges of truth rather than indicia of falsehood, and they often bolster the probative value of their testimonies. 28 The inconsistencies underscored by appellant do not pertain to the actual drug deal or to the subsequent arrest of accused George and Appellant
We also consider as minor the contradiction between (1) the policemen’s joint affidavit of arrest, to the effect that appellant was arrested inside his house and (2) the testimony of the policemen in court, to the effect that appellant was arrested in the house of his father, Accused
George de Leon. Such inconsistency did not affect the credible testimonies of SPO1 Nepomuceno and PO1 Libuton that the regulated drugs were recovered inside the nipa house. SPO1 Libuton explained that they did not even know beforehand where appellant’s house was and they were initially of the impression that the nipa house where they arrested appellant was his (appellant’s) house. They only discovered the error after the entrapment operation. 29
According to appellant, the testimony of SPO1 Nepomuceno identifying the sachets of shabu as the same sachets recovered from him was hearsay evidence inasmuch as he was not the person who recovered it. We disagree. PO1 Libuton (the arresting officer who personally recovered the sachets of shabu from appellant and who turned over the said sachets to Mañalac after marking the same with his initials) corroborated Nepomuceno’s testimony. Not only that. Even the defense itself admitted that Libuton’s testimony corroborated Nepomuceno’s. 30 In addition, Libuton categorically identified the sachets of shabu presented in court as the same sachets he recovered inside the de Leon compound due to the markings that he and Mañalac wrote thereon. 31 Furthermore, during Nepomuceno’s testimony, appellant failed to object to the questions propounded to him (Nepomuceno). Consequently, he cannot now claim Nepomuceno’s testimony on the recovery of the regulated drugs to be hearsay.
In his fourth assignment of error, appellant also claims material inconsistency between Nepomuceno’s statement that the marked money was found in the possession of herein appellant Julliver de Leon and Libuton’s narration that it was recovered from the person of accused George de Leon. A reading of the records shows that appellant’s observation is a desperate attempt to capitalize on what was clearly the prosecutor’s honest mistake in utterance. To quote from Libuton’s testimony during the direct examination:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
x x x
Q. After taking the yellowish envelope what then did you do, if any?
A. I looked at the contents of this yellowish envelope, sir.
Q. And what did you find (sic) the contents of this yellowish envelope?
A. Four transparent plastic sachets which contents (sic) white substance believed to be methamphetamine hydrochloride, sir.
Q. After finding out the contents of this yellowish envelope, what then did you do with this yellowish envelope together with the contents?
A. Sir, we confiscated it and have (sic) it marked for laboratory examination.
Q. Did you turn-over it to somebody else?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. To whom?
A. Melvin Mañalac, sir.
Q. How about the accused Julliver you said you yourself (sic) were you able to find him?
A. Yes. sir.
Q. After finding him what did you do?
A. We arrested him sir.
Q. If you see that accused Julliver de Leon again, please point him to us if he is inside the Courtroom?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Please do so?
A. Witness stepped down and approach (sic) a person, and when asked to stand up and asked his name, he gave his name as Julliver de Leon.
Q. Now, you said that the contents of the yellowish envelope were marked, who placed those markings?
A. Sir, I myself and Melvin Mañalac.
Q. In what place did you place those markings?
A. A transparent plastic sachet itself.
Q. If you see those transparent plastic sachet containing shabu again, will be you able to identify it?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Why did you say that you were able to identify the same?
A. Because of my markings and the markings of policemen (sic) Mañalac, sir.
Q. I am showing to your these four (4) plastic sachet (sic), please look at these and tell us what relations (sic) has this to the four sachets containing shabu you claimed you have recovered and marked?
A. These were all the four (4) plastic sachet (sic) which contents (sic) methamphetamine hydrochloride that were recovered (sic) contained on that yellowish and marked?
Q. Why did you say that those are the same four plastic sachet (sic) containing methamphetamine hydrochloride you recovered?
A. Because of my markings, sir.
Q. Please point to us the markings you placed and those placed by Mañalac?
A. RCL 1, RCL 2, RCL 3, RCL 4, which stands to (sic) my surname and the initials also of MPM, 1,2,3,4, which stands to (sic) the name of Melvin P. Mañalac.
Q. How about the yellowish envelope where you found those four plastic sachet (sic) containing shabu you have just identified, if you see that yellowish envelope will you be able to identify it?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. I am showing to you this yellowish envelope, please tell us what relation has that to the yellowish envelope you claimed contained these four plastic sachet (sic) of shabu you have just identified?
A. This is the same yellowish envelope, sir.
Q. Why did you say that this is the same yellowish envelope?
A. Because of the markings and the signature of Nepomuceno and Mañalac with corresponding date 3-19-97.
Q. Aside from these four plastic sachet (sic) containing shabu contained in a yellowish envelope, what else did you recover when you arrested accused George de Leon? 32
A. Prior to our interrogation, sir, we recovered one weighing scale and other several pieces of transparent plastic sachet intended for repackaging such methamphetamine, sir.
Q. Aside from those you mentioned, what else you recovered? (sic)
A. The marked money.
Q. How much did you recover?
A. P10,000.00, sir." (Emphasis supplied
In analyzing testimonies, the over-all impression or effect of what is said or done is controlling, not individual words and phrases alone. 33 The prosecution was asking Libuton about the circumstances surrounding appellant Julliver de Leon’s arrest, he being the officer who personally caught appellant committing the crime in flagrante delicto. The public prosecutor’s line of questioning centered on Julliver’s arrest and not on George’s. His questions no doubt referred to appellant Julliver alone – not to George – and interchanging their names in one question was simple absent-mindedness. The truth was that there was no reason to ask Libuton anything about George’s arrest because it was not Libuton who arrested George.
We thus consider the erroneous reference to George in one question as a product of inadvertence and honest mistake which the defense should not capitalize on in its effort to seek acquittal. One honest mistake in the course of a long testimony cannot dilute the credibility of a witness. 34 As a matter of fact, honest mistakes are not inconsistent with truthful testimony. Perfect testimonies cannot be expected from persons with imperfect senses. 35
What is important in the case at bar is that appellant was caught in possession of regulated drugs after a successful and legitimate buy-bust operation. We find no proof of fabricated evidence, contrary to appellant’s claim.
Even the trial court did not believe appellant’s version of the events. To quote from the decision of the trial court, "his denials will have to fail in the face of the positive identification made by the arresting officers of accused Baye (appellant) as the one from whom the more than 200 grams of shabu was confiscated . . .." 36 Frame-up, a shop-worn defense of those accused in drug-related cases, is viewed by the Court with disfavor since it is an allegation that can easily be concocted. For this claim to prosper, the defense must adduce clear and convincing evidence to overcome the presumption of regularity of official acts by government officials. 37
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Malabon, Metro Manila, Branch 72, in Criminal Case No. 17806-MN, convicting appellant Julliver de Leon of illegal possession of regulated drugs and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay a fine of P500,000, is hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
Puno, Panganiban, Sandoval-Gutierrez and Morales, JJ.
1. Penned by Judge Benjamin M. Aquino; Rollo, pp. 42-51.
2. Docketed as Criminal Case No. 17805-MN.
3. Rollo, pp. 6-7.
4. Docketed as Criminal Case No. 17806-MN.
5. Rollo, pp. 8-9.
6. TSN dated June 25, 1997, 7; TSN dated July 7, 1997, pp. 1-5.
7. TSN dated July 11, 1997, pp. 5-11.
8. TSN dated July 14, 1997, pp. 2-7.
9. TSN dated August 11, 1997, pp. 6-12.
10. TSN dated July 28, 1997, pp. 7-10.
11. TSN dated September 15, 1997, pp. 1-6.
12. Exhibits "E-1" and "E-2" .
13. Exhibits "F-1" to "F-4" .
14. Exhibit "A" .
15. Exhibits "C" and "D" .
16. TSN dated September 22, 1997, pp. 4-7.
17. TSN dated September 29, 1997, pp. 4-9.
18. TSN dated October 6, 1997, pp. 3-8.
19. TSN, dated October 1, 1997, pp. 3-14.
20. TSN dated October 1, 1997, pp. 15-17.
21. TSN dated October 15, 1997, p. 16.
22. Rollo, p. 51.
23. Rollo, pp. 48-50.
24. Rollo, pp. 50-51.
25. Rollo, pp. 82-83.
26. People v. Rabang, 315 SCRA 451, 459 (1999).
27. People v. Herrera, 247 SCRA 433, 439 (1995).
28. People v. Molina, 311 SCRA 517, 526 (1999).
29. TSN dated August 4, 1997, pp. 14-19; TSN, dated September 8, 1997, pp. 7-8.
30. TSN dated August 11, 1997, p.5.
31. TSN dated August, 11, 1997, pp. 7, 9-10.
32. Clearly the prosecutor had been asking about appellant Julliver de Leon’s arrest but suddenly uttered "George de Leon" in this question – an obviously honest interchanging of names of father and son.
33. People v. Rosario, 246 SCRA 658, 668,(1995).
34. People v. Lutao, 250 SCRA 45, 55 (1995).
35. Sison v. People, 250 SCRA 58, 74 (1995).
36. Rollo, pp. 106-107.
37. People v. Zheng Bai Hui, 338 SCRA 420, 478 (2000); People v. Boco, Et. Al. 309 SCRA 42, 65 (1999); People v. Clapano, 227 SCRA 598, 604, (1993).