G.R. No. 195777, June 19, 2013
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. FERDINAND CASTRO Y LAPENA, Accused-Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
- The due execution and genuineness of the Request for Laboratory Examination dated May 8, 2003 x x x and the stamp showing receipt thereof by the PNP Crime Laboratory x x x;chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
- The due execution and genuineness, as well as the truth of the contents, of [Chemistry] Report No. D-849-03E issued by Forensic Chemist Police Inspector Annalee R. Forro of the PNP Crime Laboratory x x x, the finding and conclusion as appearing on the report x x x and the signature of the forensic chemist x x x[;]
- The existence of the plastic sachets, but not their source or origin, the contents of which was the subject of the Request for Laboratory Examination, x x x and x x x (the plastic sachets).7
On May 7, 2003, while on duty at the Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) of the Pasig City Police Station, [PO1 Familara] received a telephone call from a confidential informant who reported that a certain "Fredie" (later identified as appellant) was selling illegal drugs at Kalamansi Street, Napiko, Barangay Manggahan, Pasig City.
PO1 Familara relayed the information to his superior, SPO4 Danilo Tuano. Initially, a buy-bust team, composed of PO3 Carlo Luna as team leader, PO1 Familara, and [PO1 Mapula,] as poseur-buyer was organized to apprehend appellant. The team coordinated with the Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the buy-bust money, a P100 denomination bill, was marked with the initials "AVM".
The team proceeded to Kalamansi Street, x x x around midnight of the same day. Thereat, the informant approached the members of the team. He then accompanied PO1 Mapula to appellant. In their meeting, the [i]nformant introduced PO1 Mapula to appellant as a buyer of illegal drugs.
Appellant asked PO1 Mapula how much shabu he wanted to buy, to which the latter replied one hundred Pesos (P100.00). PO1 Mapula handed appellant the buy-bust money. In return, appellant gave PO1 Mapula one plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance which he took from his right pocket.
PO1 Mapula put his cap on, which was the pre-arranged signal to the other members of the buy-bust team that the sale has been consummated. After introducing himself as a police officer, he arrested appellant. The other team members surfaced and converged on the scene. PO1 Familara frisked appellant and asked him to empty his pockets. Two pieces of transparent plastic sachets and the buy-bust money were found in his possession and confiscated. While at the scene of the buy-bust operation, PO1 Mapula marked the sachet of shabu which was the subject of the sale with "AVM/FLC 05/08/03", which stood for PO1 Mapula and appellant’s initials. The other two plastic sachets retrieved from appellant’s pocket were marked by PO1 Familara with "MRF" and "FLC", which stood for Michael R. Familara and Ferdinand L. Castro’s initials.
Appellant was brought to the police station for further questioning. PO1 Mapula personally brought the three seized plastic sachets containing white crystalline substance to the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory for examination together with the written Request for Laboratory Examination. The qualitative tests conducted by Forensic Chemist, Sr. Police Inspector x x x (Forro) on the contents of the sachets proved positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.13
On May 7, 2003, around 11 in the evening, appellant was engaged in a drinking spree with his friends, Arthur [Millare] and Luloy [dela Cruz], in front of his house at 1170 Kalamansi Street, Dapigo, Pasig City. Past midnight, he excused himself from the group to prepare for his trip to Nueva Ecija the following morning.
When he was about to enter the gate of his house, four persons suddenly confronted him. Two of them, who were identified as PO1 Mapula and PO1 Familara grabbed him. He asked why he was being arrested, but did not get a reply. His name, age and address were then taken by the police officers. He was thereafter charged with possession and sale of illegal drugs.
[Millare] corroborated appellant’s testimony. He stated that he saw appellant being pushed toward his house by four men who had just alighted from a white car without a plate number. He saw appellant being handcuffed. He shouted and asked, "Pare, anong kasalanan mo, bakit ka nakaposas?" but received no response. He went to inform appellant’s mother about the incident. They rushed to the scene of the incident but the four officers had already left with appellant.
[Dela Cruz] alleged that he was the drinking buddy of appellant at the time he was arrested and confirmed the foregoing defense witnesses’ testimonies.14
x x x Unless there is clear and convincing evidence that the members of the buy-bust team were inspired by any improper motive or were not properly performing their duty, their testimonies on the buy-bust operation deserve full faith and credit. Settled is the rule that in cases involving violations of the Dangerous Drugs Act, credence is given to prosecution witnesses who are police officers, for they are presumed to have performed their duties in a regular manner, unless there is evidence to the contrary suggesting ill motive on the part of the police officers or deviation from the regular performance of their duties. The records do not show any allegation of improper motive on the part of the buy-bust team. Thus, the presumption of regularity in the performance of duties of the police officers must be upheld.27 (Citations omitted; emphasis supplied)
Q - What were you exactly doing when the police officers arrived and grabbed you? A - I was on my way home, I was actually closing the gate, sir. Q - Do I take it to mean that you were already alone, [M]r. Witness? A - No, sir in front of me were my two (2) friends, sir. x x x x Q - If I remember it clearly, you said that you have a live-in partner? A - Yes, sir. Q - Was she present at the time of the arrest? A - She was inside our house, sir. Q - Did she see what happened? A - When I was already handcuffed, yes, sir. (Emphasis supplied)30
The testimony of defense witness Julieta dela Rosa does not convince us. As the wife of appellant Alfredo and sister-in-law of appellant Henry, we find her not to be credible. Her testimony is suspect and unsubstantiated. In her direct testimony, she said her husband, appellant Alfredo, was outside their house with his friends. However, such statement was belied by Alfredo himself who said he was inside his house when he was allegedly arrested by members of the PDEA. Such inconsistency as to where appellant Alfredo was when the alleged unlawful arrest was made, further diminishes the credibility of the defense witnesses.32
The testimonies of the petitioner’s witnesses cannot be given more weight than the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. Teresita is the sister of the petitioner while Julieta has been his neighbor for the past 10 years. Thus, their testimonies are necessarily suspect, considering they are petitioner’s sibling and friend respectively. The testimonies of Julieta and Teresita even contradict each other as Teresita declared that five malefactors entered their home while Julieta stated that only two men went with petitioner inside his house. This inconsistency further diminishes the credibility of petitioner’s witnesses.34
The identity of the sachets of shabu confiscated and the continuous chain of custody was established by the prosecution. An adequate foundation establishing a continuous chain of custody is said to have been established if the State accounts for the evidence at each stage from its acquisition to its testing, and to its introduction at trial. In this case, it was shown that after the three sachets of shabu were confiscated from appellant, they were marked by PO1 Mapula and PO1 Familara. At the police station, the seized drugs were the subject of a Request for Examination by SPO4 Danilo M. Tuano. Said drugs were then personally delivered by PO1 Mapula to the PNP Crime Laboratory, at the Eastern Police District Crime Laboratory. Subsequently, qualitative tests were conducted and the test results, presented in evidence confirmed that the specimen contained shabu. During trial, PO1 Mapula identified the plastic sachet marked with "AVM" as the same sachet containing shabu which he bought from appellant. Likewise, PO1 Familara positively identified the two sachets of shabu marked with "MRF" and "FLC" as the same ones recovered from appellant’s possession.
Moreover, in the Stipulation of Facts by the parties during the Pre-Trial Conference, the genuineness and due execution of Forensic Chemistry Report No. D-849-03E and the truth of its contents were admitted by appellant. It was therefore established that the sachets recovered from appellant contained methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.35 (Citations omitted)
1 Records, pp. 97-103. Decision dated 11 August 2004. Penned by Judge Pablito M. Rojas, Regional Trial Court, Branch 70, Pasig City.
CA rollo, pp. 83-99. Decision dated 28 May 2010. Penned by Associate Justice Antonio L. Villamor with Associate Justices Jose C. Reyes, Jr. and Florito S. Macalino concurring.cralawlibrary
2 Section 5, Article II, R.A. 9165 provides:cralavvonlinelawlibrarySection 5. Sale, Trading, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Distribution and Transportation of Dangerous Drugs and/or Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals. - The penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) to Ten million pesos (P10,000,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person, who, unless authorized by law, shall sell, trade, administer, dispense, deliver, give away to another, distribute dispatch in transit or transport any dangerous drug, including any and all species of opium poppy regardless of the quantity and purity involved, or shall act as a broker in any of such transactions.Section 11, Article II, R.A. 9165, on the other hand, provides:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
x x x x.Section 11. Possession of Dangerous Drugs. - x x x3 CA rollo, pp. 83-99. Decision dated 28 May 2010.cralawlibrary
x x x x
Otherwise, if the quantity involved is less than the foregoing quantities, the penalties shall be graduated as follows:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
x x x x
(3) Imprisonment of twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years and a fine ranging from Three hundred thousand pesos (P300,000.00) to Four hundred thousand pesos (P400,000.00), if the quantities of dangerous drugs are less than five (5) grams of x x x methamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu", or other dangerous drugs x x x.
4Id. at 117-118. Resolution dated 27 August 2010. Penned by Associate Justice Antonio L. Villamor with Associate Justices Jose C. Reyes, Jr. and Florito S. Macalino concurring.cralawlibrary
5 The accusatory portions of the separate Informations dated 30 May 2003 and 9 May 2003, respectively, read:cralavvonlinelawlibraryCriminal Case No. 12472-D:cralavvonlinelawlibrary6Id. at 54. Pre-Trial Order dated 8 September 2003.cralawlibraryOn or about May 8, 2003, in Pasig City, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused, not being lawfully authorized by law, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously sell, deliver and give away to PO1 Allan Mapula, a police poseur-buyer, one (1) heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet containing three centigrams (0.03 gram) of white crystalline substance, which was found positive x x x for methamphetamine hydrochloride, a dangerous drug, in violation of the said law.Criminal Case No. 12473-D:cralavvonlinelawlibraryOn or about May 8, 2003 in Pasig City and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused, not being lawfully authorized to possess any dangerous drug, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his possession and under his custody and control two (2) heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets containing three centigrams (0.03 gram) and five centigrams (0.05 gram) of white crystalline substance, which were found positive x x x for methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu), a dangerous drug, in violation of the said law.Records, pp. 1 and 20.
7Id. at 53-54.cralawlibrary
8 TSN, 8 September 2003.cralawlibrary
9 TSNs, 3 November 2003 and 19 November 2003.cralawlibrary
10 TSN, 14 January 2004.cralawlibrary
11 TSN, 10 March 2004.cralawlibrary
12 TSN, 23 June 2004.cralawlibrary
13 CA rollo, pp. 87-89. Decision dated 28 May 2010 of the Court of Appeals.cralawlibrary
14Id. at 89-91.cralawlibrary
15 Records, pp. 97-103. Decision dated 11 August 2004.
The fallo reads:cralavvonlinelawlibraryWHEREFORE, premises considered, accused FERDINAND CASTRO y LAPENA is hereby found GUILTY [b]eyond [r]easonable [d]oubt of the offenses charged and is hereby sentenced, as follows:cralavvonlinelawlibrary16 CA rollo, pp. 83-99. Decision dated 28 May 2010.Pursuant to Section 20 of Republic Act 9165, the amount of One Hundred Pesos (PHP 100.00) recovered from the accused representing the proceeds from the illegal sale of the plastic sachet of shabu is hereby ordered forfeited in favor of the government.
- For Violation of Section 5, Article II of Republic Act 9165 (Criminal Case No. 1272-D), accused is hereby sentenced to Life Imprisonment and to pay a Fine of Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (PHP 500,000.00); and
- For Violation of Section 11, Article II of Republic Act 9165 (Criminal Case No. 12473-D), applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, accused is hereby sentenced to Six (6) Years and One (1) Day of prision mayor as minimum, to Twelve (12) Years and One (1) Day of reclusion [t]emporal, as maximum provided that accused shall be credited with the full period of his preventive imprisonment.
Again, pursuant to Section 21 of the same law, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is hereby ordered to take charge and have custody of the plastic sachets of shabu, subject of the instant case, for proper disposition.
Costs against the accused.
The modification reads:cralavvonlinelawlibrary2. For Violation of Section 11, Article II of Republic Act 9165 (Criminal Case No. 12473-D), applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, appellant is sentenced to imprisonment of Twelve (12) Years and One (1) Day as minimum, to Fourteen (14) Years and Eight (8) months as maximum, and to pay a fine of Three Hundred Thousand Pesos (P300,000.00) provided that appellant shall be credited with the full period of his preventive imprisonment.17 Id. at 117-118. Resolution dated 27 August 2010.cralawlibrary
18People v. Bautista, G.R. No. 177320, 22 February 2012, 666 SCRA 518, 529.cralawlibrary
19Id. at 530 citing People v. Naquita, G.R. No. 180511, 28 July 2008, 560 SCRA 430, 449; People v. del Monte, G.R. No. 179940, 23 April 2008, 552 SCRA 627, 637-638; People v. Santiago, G.R. No. 175326, 28 November 2007, 539 SCRA 198, 212.cralawlibrary
20 TSN, 8 September 2003, pp. 14-16.
The testimony of PO1 Mapula reads, in part:cralavvonlinelawlibrary21 TSN, 3 November 2003, pp. 12-15.
Q: And when you reached Kalamansi Street, what happened next, if any? A: While we were walking, he pointed to me this alias "Fredie", who was standing by the side walk, sir. Q: And after pointing to you Fredie who was standing by the sidewalk, what did you do, if any? A: When we were already near Fredie, he told me to just wait there and he will be the one to approach Fredie, sir. Q: Did you in fact, approached Fredie? A: Yes, sir. Q: What happened after? A: I saw them talking and after a while, he waived his hand at me to signal that I should approached them, sir. Q: And did you approached (sic) them as signaled? A: Yes, sir. Q: And when you were already with them, what happened next, if any? A: I was introduced by the informant as the one who would buy shabu, sir. Q: And after introduction, what happened next? A: Alias "Fredie" asked me how much will I buy, sir. Q: What was your response? A: I told him, "pare, piso lang", sir. Q: What do you mean by "piso lang"? A: One Hundred Peso worth of shabu, sir. Q: And what did Fredie do when you said you are going to buy a shabu worth Php 100.00? A: He asked for the money, sir. Q: And did you hand it over to him? A: Yes, sir, I did. Q: What happened to the shabu that you are going to buy? A: After he has taken the buy-bust money, he took out from his right pocket the shabu, sir. Q: After taking out from his pocket, what did you do, if any? A: He handed to me the shabu, sir.
The testimony of PO1 Familara reads, in part:cralavvonlinelawlibrary22People v. Bautista, supra note 18 at 530 citing People v. Naquita, supra.cralawlibrary
Q: Okay. What happened next? A: Upon reaching half-way of [K]alamansi [S]treet, we noticed that PO1 Mapula stopped, so I together with my companion PO3 Carlo Luna also stopped, sir. Q: And when Mapula stopped, what happened next? A: I looked at PO1 Allan Mapula and the confidential informant and I noticed that the confidential informant went near the parlor, sir. Q: And when Mapula and the confidential informant went near the parlor, what happened next? A: After a while, the confidential informant called Mapula and they conversed with alias Freddie, sir. Q: Who conversed with alias Freddie? A: I saw the confidential informant and Freddie talking while PO1 Allan Mapula was at the back, sir. Q: And what happened next, if any? A: I saw Allan Mapula handed money, sir. Q: [T]o whom? A: To Alias Freddie, sir. Q: And after that, what happened next? A: In return, something was also handed to PO1 Allan Mapula, sir. Q: Who handed that something to Mapula? A: Alias Freddie, sir.
23People v. Presas, G.R. No. 182525, 2 March 2011, 644 SCRA 443, 449 citing People v. Pagkalinawan, G.R. No. 184805, 3 March 2010, 614 SCRA 202, further citing People v. Julian-Fernandez, 423 Phil. 895, 910; 372 SCRA 608, 622 (2001).cralawlibrary
24People v. Sabadlab, G.R. No. 186392, 18 January 2012, 663 SCRA 426, 440-441 citing People v. Mayingque, G.R. No. 179709, 6 July 2010, 624 SCRA 123, 140.cralawlibrary
25 TSN, 14 January 2004, p. 20.The accused testified in the following manner:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
COURT –By the way, how long have you known [Familara] and Mapula before that incident when you were arrested?A – I only came to know them at the police station, Your Honor.
COURT –So you did not know these two (2) police officers who arrested you before you were arrested?A – No, Your Honor.
COURT –You do not know of any reason why they would arrest you because you are claiming that you did not commit any violation of the drugs act?A – None, Your Honor.cralawlibrary
26 G.R. No. 172092, 16 December 2009, 608 SCRA 299.cralawlibrary
27Id. at 316-317.cralawlibrary
28 TSN, 10 March 2004, p. 8.cralawlibrary
29 TSN, 23 June 2004, p. 11 (Emphasis supplied).cralawlibrary
30 TSN, 14 January 2004, pp. 15-18.cralawlibrary
31 G.R. No. 178876, 27 June 2008, 556 SCRA 421.cralawlibrary
32 Id. at 444.cralawlibrary
33 G.R. No. 174980, 31 August 2011, 656 SCRA 464.cralawlibrary
34Id. at 482-483 citing People v. Concepcion, G.R. No. 178876, 27 June 2008, 556 SCRA 421, 444.cralawlibrary
35 CA rollo, pp. 93- 94. Decision dated 28 May 2010.cralawlibrary
36Section 5. Sale, Trading, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Distribution and Transportation of Dangerous Drugs and/or Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals. – The penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) to Ten million pesos (P10,000,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person, who, unless authorized by law, shall sell, trade, administer, dispense, deliver, give away to another, distribute, dispatch in transit or transport any dangerous drug, including any and all species of opium poppy regardless of the quantity and purity involved, or shall act as a broker in any of such transactions.
x x x x.cralawlibrary
37Section 11. Possession of Dangerous Drugs. – The penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) to Ten million pesos (P10,000,000.0) shall be imposed upon any person, who, unless authorized by law, shall possess any dangerous drug in the following quantities, regardless of the degree of purity thereof:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
x x x x
Otherwise, if the quantity involved is less than the foregoing quantities, the penalties shall be graduated as follows:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
x x x x
3. Imprisonment of twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years and a fine ranging from Three hundred thousand pesos (P300,000.00) to Four hundred thousand pesos (P400,000.00), if the quantities of dangerous drugs are less than five (5) grams of xxx, methamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu", or x x x.cralawlibrary
38 Act No. 4103, as amended.cralawlibrary
39 Section 1, Act No. 4103 , as amended.cralawlibrary
40People v. Sabadlab, supra note 24 at 441.cralawlibrary
41Asiatico v. People, G.R. No. 195005, 12 September 2011, 657 SCRA 443, 452 citing Balarbar v. People, G.R. No. 187483, 14 April 2010, 618 SCRA 283, 288.