G.R. No. 208678, June 16, 2014
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. JEFFERSON WARRINER Y NICDAO, Accused-Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
That on or about the 5th day of March 2006, at about 4:35 o’clock in the afternoon, in the City of Cebu, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, without authority of law, with deliberate intent, did then and there have in his possession, use and control three (3) heat sealed transparent plastic packet of white crystalline substance with a total weight of 5.36 grams locally known as “Shabu” containing methylamphetamine hydrochloride, a dangerous drug.3Upon arraignment, Tancinco pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Accordingly, this court finds the accused GUILTY as charged and hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of from twenty (20) years and one (1) day, as minimum, to twenty-three (23) years, as maximum, and to pay a fine of P400,000.00.On appeal, the appellate court rejected Tancinco’s claim of frame-up as against the straightforward, direct and positive testimony of the police officers who arrested Tancinco in the regular performance of their official duties.
The full period of preventive detention shall be credited in the service of this sentence.
Finally, the 3 packs of shabu, Exhibit ‘B’ are confiscated in favor of the state for proper disposition.4
SEC. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. – A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person.In cases falling under paragraphs (a) and (b) above, the person arrested without a warrant shall be forthwith delivered to the nearest police station or jail and shall be proceeded against in accordance with Section 7 of Rule 112.
(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense;
(b) When an offense has just been committed and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it; and
(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or is temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another.
SPO1 Mendaros:Moreover, Tancinco’s very argument ensnares him. It reveals his actual shrewdness in attempting to dispose of the firearm from his person, his immediate possession thereof, surreptitiously placing it behind the bingo machine which he was playing at the time. It is precisely because the firearm was found in Tancinco’s possession without license to carry such that he was then lawfully arrested. Immediately thereafter, he was searched and found to be in possession of three (3) sachets of shabu, a dangerous drug.
Q: After that incident, what happened next? A: Five minutes after we arrived at the place, my informant told me that he spotted the armed person playing [at the] bingo machine[s]. Q: What did you do then after that? A: My informant guided us to the place where this armed person was. Q: Then? A: Considering that he was reportedly armed, we cautiously approached him and one after the other we surrounded [him]. Q: Considering that you were five and you said that you were very cautious [in] approaching the accused, how did you go to the said place then? A: We went to the place one after the other. Q: Could you describe the place where the said suspect was playing bingo machine? A: The place had five bingo machines. Q: Was it inside the house? A: It was at the extension of the house. Q: Was it covered? A: There was a door but it was opened (sic). Q: How many were playing at that time? A: I cannot recall the exact number of persons playing, but [there] were people playing. Q: As you cautiously went to the place where the accused was at that time, what happened next? A: As I observed him, he looked surprised. We saw him carrying a handgun and attempted to conceal it at the side of the bingo machine. Q: Then? A: PO2 Abatayo quickly confiscated the gun from him. Q: Then? A: For failure to present a document allowing him to carry a firearm, we placed him under arrest. Q: Then? A: He was brought outside already handcuffed and as a matter of procedure, I instructed PO2 Dio to frisk him for any illegal item. Q: What happened next? A: Incidental to his lawful arrest, PO2 Dio was able to recover three (3) medium plastic pack of suspected shabu from his right front pocket of his maong short pants. Q: After that, what happened? A: He was arrested for possession of shabu. Q: You have said that you ordered Dio to conduct the frisking, how far were you then? A: An arm[‘s] length distance from him. Q: How about your other companions then? A: My other companions were also near. Q: What happened next? A: As a matter of procedure, we apprised him of his constitutional rights. Q: After that, what happened. A: We brought him to our office for proper disposition.6 (Emphasis supplied).
Q: What did you do then after receiving the information? A: We immediately proceeded to the place then I saw the accused drew (sic) his firearm from his waistline. Q: How far were you from the accused? A: Closed (sic) distance. Q: You mean to say he did not notice your presence? A: He noticed us that is why he immediately drew his firearm and tried to conceal [it] at the side of the bingo machine. Q: What did you do then? A: I placed him under arrest because of his violation. PO2 Cunan conducted body search and he recovered 3 big packs of white crystalline substance. Q: Where did he recover the same? A: From the possession of the accused.7 (Emphasis supplied).
Q: After the informant pinpointed the said person, what happened next? A: We approached him. Q: And then? A: We saw him placed his handgun beside the bingo machine and attempt to conceal it. Q: How far were you when you saw this act of that person? A: 2 meters. Q: Were you in uniform at that time? A: No, sir. We were in civilian attire. Q: After that what did you do next? A: We arrested the person. Q: And then? A: We handcuffed him and conducted the body search. Q: Who conducted the body search? A: I. Q: What did you recover? A: 3 plastic medium packs suspected to be shabu. Q: Where did you recover the same? A: Right front pocket of his shortpants. Q: After that, what happened next? A: We arrested him. Q: For what? A: For violation of RA 9165. Q: You have said you recovered 3 plastic packs from his right pocket. What did you do with [these] then? A: We used it as evidence against him. Q: In that precise moment, what did you do with the said specimen? A: After we reached the office, we entered it into the police blotter and after that we brought the specimen to the PNP Crime Laboratory.8 (Emphasis supplied).
The testimony of [Tancinco] confirms that he was playing a bingo machine in a friend’s house and that there were many people playing thereat indicating that the place was open to anybody interested to play.As found by the lower courts, the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt the elements of illegal possession of dangerous drugs: (1) the accused is in possession of the object identified as a prohibited or regulatory drug; (2) such possession is not authorized by law; and (3) the accused freely and consciously possessed the said drug.
He also confirmed that he was bodily searched.
However, [Tancinco] denied that a gun and 3 packs of shabu were recovered from him. He wants this court to believe that he was framed by the police because he refused to testify against Joel Noda[l]o after he was discharged to be a state witness.
But the problem with said evidence for the defense is that it is uncorroborated or unsupported. Moreover, [Tancinco] himself admitted that he was sent here by his grandparents, who reside in the U.S. and who adopted him after his parents died, “to become good but it did not work.” In other words, even his character is questionable.
Further, [Tancinco] also said that he had undergone a drug rehabilitation here before.
Thus, between his testimony and those of the police officers, the latter would [carry more weight].10cralawred
x x x x
At any rate, we find the version of [Tancinco] that he was merely framed up by the apprehending officers too incredulous vis-à-vis the positive evidence for the [prosecution]. [Tancinco] merely offered the defenses of denial and frame [up] which were uncorroborated by any positive testimony of the people who were allegedly with him during the incident. We find it incredible that the policemen planted said evidence in full view of the people, who, like [Tancinco], were also playing the bingo machines. This is so because the policemen could be prosecuted for planting evidence under Section 19 of R.A. No. 7659. If he were truly aggrieved, it is quite surprising why [Tancinco] did not even attempt to file a criminal or an administrative complaint, e.g., for planting drugs, against the arresting police officers. Such inaction runs counter to the normal human conduct and behavior of one who feels truly aggrieved by the act complained of.
Thus, between the positive assertions of the witnesses for the [prosecution] and the negative averments of [Tancinco], the former undisputedly deserves more credence and are entitled to greater evidentiary value. The defense of denial or frame-up, like alibi, has been viewed with disfavor for it can easily be concocted and is a common defense ploy in most prosecutions for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act. Denial is a weak form of defense, particularly when it is not substantiated by clear and convincing evidence just like in the case before us.11
Section 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 (P10,000,000.00) 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:For the illegal possession of shabu in the amount of 5.36 grams, as in this case, violation of Section 11 of Republic Act No. 9165 is penalized by imprisonment of twenty years (20) and one day (1) to life imprisonment. Thus, the Indeterminate Sentence Law is inapplicable.12 The correct imposable and imposed penalty is imprisonment of twenty years (20) and one day (1) to life imprisonment and a fine of Four Hundred Thousand Pesos (P400,000.00).
x x x x
(5) 50 grams or more of methamphetamine hydrochloride or “shabu”;
x x x x
Otherwise, if the quantity involved is less than the foregoing quantities, the penalties shall be graduated as follows:
x x x x
(2) Imprisonment of twenty (20) years and one (1) day to life imprisonment and a fine ranging from Four hundred thousand pesos (P400,000.00) to Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00), if the quantities of dangerous drugs are five (5) grams or more but less than ten (10) grams of opium, morphine, heroin, cocaine or cocaine hydrochloride, marijuana resin or marijuana resin oil, methamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu", or other dangerous drugs such as, but not limited to, MDMA or "ecstasy", PMA, TMA, LSD, GHB, and those similarly designed or newly introduced drugs and their derivatives, without having any therapeutic value or if the quantity possessed is far beyond therapeutic requirements; or three hundred (300) grams or more but less than five (hundred) (500) grams of marijuana; x x x. (Emphasis supplied).
* Per Special Order No. 1699 dated 13 June 2014.
** Per Special Order No. 1696 dated 13 June 2014.
1 Penned by Associate Justice Socorro B. Inting with Associate Justices Portia A. Hormachuelos and Edwin D. Sorongon, concurring. Rollo, pp. 2-12.
2 Penned by Presiding Judge Gabriel T. Ingles. CA rollo, pp. 49-58.
3 Id. at 13.
4 Id. at 58.
5People v. Diwa, G.R. No. 194253, 27 February 2013, 692 SCRA 260, 268-269.
6 TSN, 15 August 2006, pp. 4-6.
7 TSN, 13 February 2007, p. 4.
8 TSN, 26 June 2006, pp. 4-6.
9Miclat, Jr. v. People, G.R. No. 176077, 31 August 2011, 656 SCRA 539, 556; People v. Pagkalinawan, G.R. No. 184805, 3 March 2010, 614 SCRA 202, 219-220.
10 CA rollo, p. 23.
11Rollo, p. 10.
12 Section 2. This Act shall not apply to persons convicted of offenses punished with death penalty or life-imprisonment[.]