G.R. No. 200507, June 26, 2013
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. PETER LINDA Y GEROLAGA, Accused-Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
On February 22, 2008, the team of SPO1 Rodolfo Ramos received a reliable information from a confidential informant regarding the illegal drug activity of x x x [accused-appellant] along Ma. Orosa Street, Malate, Manila. Thus, SPO1 Ramos ordered his team to conduct a buy-bust operation on appellant and designated PO2 Archie Bernabe as poseur- buyer, who was given two (2) P100 bills as buy-bust money. The money was then marked as "DAID" and a coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) was made.
After the preparation, the team, together with the confidential informant, proceeded to the target area. Upon arrival, appellant approached PO2 Bernabe and the informant who is known to appellant. The informant and the appellant talked to each other while PO2 Bernabe stayed two (2) meters away. Afterwards, the informant called PO2 Bernabe and introduced him to appellant as a friend who is buying "shabu." PO2 Bernabe told the appellant that he was buying the illegal drug worth "P200." Appellant answered "wala pong problema" and accepted the buy- bust money tendered by PO2 Bernabe. The former then handed to the latter one transparent plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance with the resemblance of "shabu." Thereafter, PO2 Bernabe arrested appellant and introduced himself as police officer. The other members of the team arrived at the scene. PO2 Bernabe informed appellant of his constitutional rights and marked the plastic sachet with the letters "PGL" from the initials of the appellant. The former frisked appellant and recovered the marked money form the latter. When the substance was examined by Forensic Chemist Elisa G. Reyes, the white crystalline substance tested positive for methylamphetamine hydrochloride.10
On 22 February 2008, Peter Linda was doing nothing when suddenly, several persons entered the house and went upstairs looking for his parents, Lorenzo Linda and Marlita Linda. He told them that his parents were no longer living there. Afterward[s], he was told to go with the police. At the precinct, he was asked again the whereabouts of his parents but he reiterated his earlier reply. He was then frisked but nothing was recovered from him. He was not informed of the charges, only knowing it in court.11
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.23 (Citations omitted; emphasis supplied)
1 CA rollo , pp. 71-86. Decision dated 14 June 2011 in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 03888. Penned by Associate Justice Agnes Reyes-Carpio with Associate Justices Sesinando E. Villon and Priscilla J. Baltazar-Padilla concurring.cralawlibrary
2 Records, pp. 28-32. Decision dated 15 April 2009 in Criminal Case No. 08-259718. Penned by Judge Alejandro G. Bijasa, Regional Trial Court, Branch 2, Manila.cralawlibrary
3 Id. at 1. The accusatory portion of the Information reads:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
"That on or about February 22, 2008, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, without being authorized by law to sell, trade, deliver or give away to another any dangerous drug, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and knowingly sell one (1) heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet containing zero point zero two zero (0.020) gram of white crystalline substance known as shabu, containing methylamphetamine hydrochloride, a dangerous drug."
4 Section 5, Article II, R.A. 9165 provides:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
"Section 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"
5 Records, pp.13-14. Pre-Trial Order dated 14 March 2008.cralawlibrary
6Id. at 13.cralawlibrary
7 He was referred to as PO1 Archie Bernabe instead of PO2 Archie Bernabe in some of the documents on pages 3, 5, 7, 17 and 19 of the records.cralawlibrary
8 TSN, 5 March 2009.cralawlibrary
9 TSN, 19 March 2009.cralawlibrary
10 CA rollo, pp. 72-73. Decision dated 14 June 2011 of the Court of Appeals quoting the Brief for the Plaintiff-Appellee, id. at 46-47.cralawlibrary
11Id. at 73 quoting the Brief for the Accused-Appellant, id. at 25.cralawlibrary
12 Records, pp. 28-32. Decision dated 15 April 2009.
WHEREFORE, from the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered, finding accused, Peter Linda y Gerolaga, GUILTY, beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged, he is hereby sentenced to life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P500,000.00 without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency and to pay the costs.
The specimen is forfeited in favor of the government and the Branch Clerk of Court, accompanied by the Branch Sheriff, is directed to turn over with dispatch upon receipt the said specimen to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for proper disposal in accordance with the law and rules.cralawlibrary
13 CA rollo, p. 85. Decision dated 14 June 2011.cralawlibrary
14Rollo, pp. 28-31. Manifestation (In Lieu of Supplemental Brief) dated 7 May 2012 filed by Office of the Solicitor General. Id. at 32-35. Accused-Appellant’s Manifestation (In Lieu of Supplemental Brief) dated 3 April 2012.cralawlibrary
15 CA rollo, pp. 25-28. Brief for the Accused-Appellant.cralawlibrary
16People 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 (2001).cralawlibrary
17People 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
18 Records, pp. 3-8. Exhibits "A," "C" to "F."
19 Pertinent portions of his testimony reads:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
ASST. CITY PROS. YAP: Q Police Officer Bernabe, could you tell the Court where were you on February 22, 2008? THE WITNESS: A We were conducting a buy bust operation, sir. Q Where? A Along Ma. Orosa Street, Malate, Manila, sir. Q Tell us, who ordered you to be there at Ma. Orosa? A Our team leader, sir, he designated me as poseur buyer. Q Who was the team leader? A SPO1 Rodolfo Ramos, sir. Q What was the nature of the operation? A Buy bust operation, sir. Q Now, who was the subject person? A One alias Peter, sir. Q What was this Peter reported[ly] doing then per information? A The confidential informant [C.I.] furnished information regarding the illegal selling of shabu of one alias Peter somewhere in Ma. Orosa St., Malate, Manila, sir. x x x x Q Being the poseur buyer, what did you do prior to the jump-off, Mr. Witness? A We prepared the buy bust money and the necessary documents, sir. x x x x Q So, what other documents did you make, Mr. Witness? x x x x A Coordination to [Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency] PDEA, sir. x x x x Q As far as you can recall, when was this coordination made? x x x x A Same date, sir, on February 22. Q What time? A On or about 9:00 p.m., sir. x x x x Q With these requirements, what did the team do further, Mr. Witness? A After preparing all the necessary documents and the buy bust money, we proceeded to the place, sir. x x x x Q Now, tell us what happened, Mr. Witness? A When we arrived at the area, our subject person saw us and approached us, sir. Q What happened when he approached you? A The suspect approached us because he knew the C.I., and then, the suspect and the C.I. talked to each other, sir. x x x x Q So, what happened to their conversation? A After a short while the confidential informant called me and introduced me to the suspect, sir. Q How many were you then? A The C.I. and myself, sir. Q How [did] the C.I. [introduce] you to the suspect? A I was introduced as a friend who will buy shabu, sir. x x x x Q What happened next when you were introduced as a friend of the C.I.? A I told to the (sic) suspect that I will buy worth P200.00 of shabu, sir. x x x x Q What was the reply of the suspect? A He uttered the words, "Wala pong problema." Q So, what did you do next? A I handed the buy bust money to the suspect, sir. Q Did he receive the same, the buy bust money? A Yes, sir. Q So, what happened? A After receiving the money, he handed to me the one (1) transparent plastic sachet, sir. x x x x Q So, what happened next, Mr. Witness? A After I received the illegal substance, I immediately effected the arrest of the suspect and introduced myself as police officer, sir. Q So, what did you do further, Mr. Witness? A After arresting the suspect my companions arrived. Then, I informed him of his constitutional rights. Afterwards, I put a marking on the evidence recovered as a result of the buy bust operation, sir. Q Where? A At the place, sir. x x x x Q What standard operating procedure did you do after the arrest? x x x x A I frisked the suspect, sir. Q What was the result? A I recovered the buy bust money, sir. TSN, 5 March 2009, pp. 3-10.
20 Records, p. 3. The Joint Affidavit of Apprehension, which PO2 Bernabe identified in court, reads in part:cralavvonlinelawlibrary"6. That, threafter, the above-named suspect was brought at the office for investigation while the evidence recovered was submitted [to] the MPDCLO for laboratory examination."21 TSN, 19 March 2009, p. 3.cralawlibrary
22 G.R. No. 172092, 16 December 2009, 608 SCRA 299.cralawlibrary
23Id. at 316-317.cralawlibrary
24 TSN, 19 March 2009, p.5.cralawlibrary
25People v. Bautista, G.R. No. 177320, 22 February 2012, 666 SCRA 518, 529 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
26 Id. at 529-530.cralawlibrary
27 Records, p. 5.cralawlibrary
28Id. at 13.cralawlibrary
29People v. Bautista, supra note 25 at 537.cralawlibrary
30 CA rollo, p. 28. Brief for the Accused-Appellant.cralawlibrary
31People v. De Vera, G.R. No. 112006, 7 July 1997, 275 SCRA 87, 93 citing People v. Belga, G.R. Nos. 94376-77, 11 July 1996, 258 SCRA 583, 594 (1996); Abadilla v. Tabiliran, Jr., A.M. No. MTJ-92-716, 25 October 1995, 249 SCRA 447.cralawlibrary
32 Act No. 4103.cralawlibrary
33 Section I, Act No. 4103, as amended.cralawlibrary
34People v. Sabadlab, supra note 17 at 441.