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G.R. No. 174862 - People of the Philippines v. Yvonne Sevilla y Caballero

G.R. No. 174862 - People of the Philippines v. Yvonne Sevilla y Caballero

PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. NO. 174862 : June 19, 2009]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES Appellee, v. YVONNE SEVILLA CABALLERO, Appellant.

R E S O L U T I O N

CORONA, J.:

On December 9, 2002, appellant Yvonne Sevilla y Caballero1 was charged with violation of Section 5, Article III of RA2 91653 in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 1034 under the following Information:

That on or about the 4th day of December 2002 in Quezon City, Philippines, [appellant], not being authorized by law to sell, dispense, deliver, transport or distribute any dangerous drug did, then and there, willfully and unlawfully sell, dispense, deliver, transport, distribute or act as broker in the said transaction, 0.02 gram of white crystalline substance containing [methamphetamine] hydrochloride, a dangerous drug.5

Appellant pleaded not guilty upon arraignment.

During trial, the prosecution presented SPO2 Levi Sevilla of Police Station 3 in Barrio Talipapa, Quezon City as its principal witness. He testified that, on December 4, 2002, he received information about the illegal drug trade at Gana Compound in Unang Sigaw, Balintawak, Quezon City. He immediately relayed this information to the station chief and a buy-bust operation was thereupon organized. SPO2 Sevilla likewise stated that he participated in the said operation as poseur buyer.6

Upon reaching appellant's residence at around 7:15 p.m., the informant knocked on appellant's door and introduced him (SPO2 Sevilla), saying "Ate Ybonne kung may item ka raw, itong kaibigan ko, gusto umiscor." After the short conversation, appellant handed SPO2 Sevilla a sachet containing a white crystalline substance while the latter gave the former a P100 marked bill.7 Thereafter, SPO2 Sevilla signaled his companions that the transaction had been consummated.

Appellant was promptly arrested and immediately brought to the station. SPO2 Sevilla surrendered the sachet and the P100 marked bill to the desk officer. Subsequently, a forensic chemist of the Philippine National Police confirmed that the white crystalline substance in the sachet was methampethamine hydrochloride or "shabu."

For her defense, appellant insisted she was innocent. She claimed that she and her daughter were about to have dinner when several policemen barged into her house and arrested her. The arrest was allegedly because of her refusal to cooperate with them to entrap "Nene," a known drug pusher in the area.ςηαñrοblεš  Î½Î¹r†υαl  lαω  lιbrαrÿ

In a decision dated December 20, 2004,8 the RTC noted that, despite her assertion that her daughter was present during her arrest, none of her family members corroborated her testimony. It pointed out:

With the scenario painted by the [appellant] in her testimony, it is clear that her daughter, who was already 24-years-old, was present when the police barged into their house and the latter was able to witness how the [appellant] was forcibly arrested by the police. Assuming that this is true, [appellant's] daughter, had behaved very unusual, indifferent and unnatural for she did not even exert any form of resistance if she is of the belief that her mother is innocent of the crime being attributed by the police. - Human instinct and nature dictate that a person would, without hesitation, instantly lift a finger to someone whose life and limb is endangered for no justifiable reason, especially if that person who needed help is no less than his or her mother, although he or she believes otherwise.

Thus, the RTC found appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 5, Article III of RA 9165 and sentenced her to life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P500,000.

The Court of Appeals, on intermediate appellate review,9 affirmed the decision of the RTC in toto.10

We dismiss the appeal.

In cases involving the sale of illegal drugs, the prosecution must prove (1) the identity of the seller, the object and the consideration and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment thereof.11 Here, SPO2 Sevilla testified that appellant handed him a sachet containing metamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu in exchange for P100 during a buy bust operation.ςηαñrοblεš  Î½Î¹r†υαl  lαω  lιbrαrÿ

Testimonies of police officers who conduct buy-bust operations are generally accorded full faith and credit as they are presumed to have performed their duties in a regular manner. This presumption can be overturned only if the accused is able to prove that the officers acted with improper motives.12

Inasmuch as appellant failed to show that SPO2 Sevilla and his companions had improper motives to charge her, we uphold the legality of the buy-bust operation. It is well-settled that a buy-bust operation (which is a form of entrapment) is a valid means of arresting violators of RA 9165.13

WHEREFORE, the June 26, 2006 decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 00492 is hereby AFFIRMED. Appellant Yvonne Sevilla y Caballero is found guilty of violating Section 5, Article III of Republic Act No. 9165 and is accordingly sentenced to life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P500,000.

The Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 103 is ordered to transfer the custody of the 0.02 gram of methamphetamine hydrochloride to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for proper disposition.

SO ORDERED.


Endnotes:


1 Ybonne Sevilla in other parts of the record.

2 Republic Act.

3 Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

4 Docketed as Criminal Case No. Q-02-113803.

5 CA rollo, pp. 10-11.

6 Aside from SPO2 Sevilla and the confidential informant, the operatives acting as back-ups were identified as Panlilio, Calsado and Buluran.

7 SPO2 Sevilla wrote his initials "LBS" on the bill.

8 Penned by Judge Jaime N. Salazar, Jr., CA rollo, pp. 2-11 and 87-89.

9 Docketed as CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 00492.

10 Decision penned by Associate Justice Hakim S. Abdulwahid and concurred in by Associate Justices Andres B. Reyes and Vicente Q. Roxas (dismissed from the service). Dated June 26, 2006. Rollo, pp. 2-11.

11 People v. Evangelista, G.R. No. 175281, 27 September 2008, 534 SCRA 241, 255 and People v. Miranda, G.R. No. 174773, 2 October 2008, 534 SCRA 552, 567.

12 People v. Evangelista, id., p. 250.

13 People v. Corpuz, 442 Phil. 405, 414-415 (2002).

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