Criminal Law, Remedial Law

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. MARIAM BANDANG, ADING SALAMAT & RAKIMA ABUBAKAR G.R. No. 151314 June 3, 2004 Illegal Sale of Regulated Drugs, Alibi, Buy-bust Operation, Conspiracy, Frame-up, Illegal Sale of Dangerous Drugs, R.A. 7659

Doctrine:

The commission of the offense of illegal sale of regulated drugs requires merely the consummation of the selling transaction.

In a “buy-bust” operation, such as in the case at bar, what is important is the fact that the poseur-buyer received the shabu from the appellants and that the same was presented as evidence in Court. In short, proof of the transaction suffices.

 

FACTS:

The PNP was notified by an informant about the drug trafficking activities of appellants Bandang and Abubakar in Quiapo, Manila. The PNP organized a team composed of PO1 Carpentero, as the poseur-buyer, and PSI Mendoza, as the team leader, to conduct surveillance and buy-bust operation.

The informant introduced PO1 Carpentero to appellants as a prospective buyer of 700 grams of shabu. Appellants told PO1 Carpentero that it costs ₱490,000.00. When they asked her if she has the money, PO1 Carpentero replied that she will come back the following day with the money.

 

They prepared boodle money in two bundles consisting of cut papers. They then placed two five hundred genuine bills on top of each bundle, wrapped and placed them in a blue transparent plastic bag.

 

During the buy-bust operation, Abubakar asked PO1 Carpentero if she has the money. When she said “yes,” appellant Bandang got the black shoulder bag from appellant Ading Salamat and gave it to PO1 Carpentero. She then opened the black shoulder bag and saw seven (7) transparent plastic sachets containing white crystalline substance.

Thereupon, she handed the bundles of boodle money to appellant Abubakar and immediately pressed the button of the hazard lights of the car, indicating that the deal was consummated.

PO1 Carpentero then introduced herself as a police officer and arrested the three appellants.

The substance, with a total weight of 716.54 grams, was submitted to the PNP Crime Laboratory for examination. It was positive for methylamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.

 

Omero presented to the trial court the specimen and it was identified by PO1 Carpentero as the same white crystalline substance contained in a black shoulder bag handed to her by appellant Bandang.

All the appellants raised the defenses of alibi and frame-up.

The trial court found the appellants guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the Violation of Section 15, Article III in relation to paragraphs (e), (f), (m), (o) of Section 2, Article I and in relation to Sections 20 & 21, Article IV of R.A. 6425, as amended by R.A. 7659.

 

ISSUES:

1. Whether the elements of the crime of illegal sale of dangerous drugs were established by evidence beyond reasonable doubt.

2. Whether the appellants’ defense of alibi and frame-up would prosper

3. What is the effect of the lack of signature of counsel for appellant Abubakar in the Stipulation of Facts between the parties

4. Whether there existed a conspiracy among the appellants

 

RULING:

I. Sufficiency of the Prosecution Evidence
In a prosecution for illegal sale of dangerous drugs, the following must be proven:

(1) that the transaction or sale took place;

(2) the corpus delicti or the illicit drug was presented as evidence; and

(3) that the buyer and seller were identified.

A review of the records of this case reveals that the prosecution has proven all these elements.

 

A. The Fact of Sale was Established
The commission of the offense of illegal sale of dangerous drugs requires merely the consummation of the selling transaction, which happens the moment the buyer receives the drug from the seller.

Definitely, the testimony of PO1 Carpentero as the poseur buyer clearly established the consummation of the sale. Settled is the rule that as long as the police officer went through the operation as a buyer and his offer was accepted by appellants and the dangerous drugs delivered to the former, the crime is considered consummated by the delivery of the goods.

 

2. The Defenses of Frame-up, Denial and Alibi

 

In a last ditch effort to secure an acquittal, appellants claim that they were victims of frame-up and extortion.
Appellants’ defense must fail. For a police officer to frame them up, he must have known them prior to the incident. This is not the situation here. The informant had to introduce PO1 Carpentero to appellants before she could negotiate with them the sale of shabu. Appellants themselves admitted that prior to their arrest, they did not know the police officers.

Furthermore, appellants failed to show any motive why PO1 Carpentero and PO2 Noceda would falsely impute a serious crime against them.

Without proof of such motive, the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty and the findings of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses shall prevail over their self-serving and uncorroborated claim of having been framed.

Like alibi, we view the defense of frame-up with disfavor as it can easily be concocted and it is one of the most hackneyed line of defense in dangerous drug cases. For this claim to prosper, the defense must therefore adduce clear and convincing evidence. In this aspect, appellants miserably failed.

 

Appellants’ defense of denial and alibi must likewise fail. As between their mere denial and their positive identification by the prosecution witnesses, the trial court did not err in according weight to the latter. For the defense of alibi to prosper, the accused must show that he was in another place at such a period of time and that it was physically impossible for him to be at the place where the crime was committed at the time of its commission.

These requirements of time and place must be strictly met. Appellants failed to establish that it was physically impossible for them to be at Arlegui Bridge, Quiapo, Manila on May 3, 2000 at about 5:30 o’clock in the afternoon. What is clear from the evidence is that they were at Elizondo Street, Quiapo, Manila, a stone’s throw away from Arlegui.

In Fule vs. Court of Appeals, we ruled that while the omission of the signature of the accused and his counsel indeed renders a stipulation of facts inadmissible in evidence, the prosecution is not without remedy. What the prosecution should do is to submit evidence to establish the elements of the crime instead of relying solely on the supposed admission of the accused in the stipulation of facts. In the present case, this is what the prosecution did.

Appellant Abubakar now argues that the Initial Laboratory Report and the Chemistry Report No. D-1585-00 are inadmissible for being hearsay because Omero, the PNP forensic chemist, did not testify.

This is a non-sequitur conclusion. In People vs. Uy, we ruled that a forensic chemist is a public officer and as such, his report carries the presumption of regularity in the performance of his function and duties.

Corollarily, under Section 44 of Rule 130, Revised Rules of Court, entries in official records made in the performance of official duty are prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated.

Omero’s reports that the seven sachets of white crystalline substance were “positive for methylamphetamine hydrochloride” or shabu are, therefore, conclusive in the absence of evidence proving the contrary, as in this case.

 

Second, it must be stressed that Atty. Enriquez raises his objection to the Initial Laboratory Report and Chemistry Report No. D-1585-00 only now. He should have objected to their admissibility at the time they were being offered. Otherwise, the objection shall be considered waived and such evidence will form part of the records of the case as competent and admissible evidence.

The familiar rule in this jurisdiction is that the admissibility of certain documents, if not urged before the court below, cannot be raised for the first time on appeal.

 

Positive Identification of the Appellants as the Sellers
PO1 Carpentero and PO2 Noceda positively identified appellants as the peddlers of the confiscated shabu.

 

4. Presence Of Conspiracy
We also affirm the trial court’s finding that there was conspiracy among the three appellants.

Their conduct during the entrapment reveals a common design or a community of interest among them.

The existence of a conspiracy need not be proved by direct evidence because it may be inferred from the parties’ conduct indicating a common understanding among themselves with respect to the commission of the crime.

Petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision of the Regional Trial Court is AFFIRMED.

 

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