Accused Martin Simon was charged with a violation of Section 4, Article II of Republic Act No. 6425 or the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972. He sold tea bags of marijuana to a Narcotics Command (NARCOM) poseur-buyer. The confiscated 4 tea bags, weighing a total of 3.8 grams, when subjected to laboratory examination, were found positive for marijuana.
Simon denied the accusation against him, claiming that on the day of question, he was picked up by the police at their house while watching TV. He was told that he was a pusher so he attempted to alight from the jeep but he was handcuffed instead. When they finally reached the camp, he was ordered to sign some papers and, when he refused, he was boxed in the stomach eight or nine times by Sgt. Pejoro. He was then compelled to affix his signature and fingerprints on the documents presented to him. He denied knowledge of the marked money or the 4 teabags of dried marijuana leaves, and insisted that the marked money came from the pocket of Pejoro. Moreover, the reason why he vomited blood was because of the blows he suffered at the hands of Pejoro.
Dr. Evelyn Gomez-Aguas, a resident physician of Romana Pangan District Hospital, declared that she treated appellant for three days due to abdominal pain, but her examination revealed that the cause for this ailment was appellant’s peptic ulcer. She did not see any sign of slight or serious external injury, abrasion or contusion on his body.
Simon was sentenced to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment, to pay a fine of twenty thousand pesos and to pay the costs.
Simon then seek the reversal of the judgement
Was the conviction of Simon correct?
To sustain a conviction for selling prohibited drugs, the sale must be clearly and unmistakably established. To sell means to give, whether for money or any other material consideration. It must, therefore, be established beyond doubt that appellant actually sold and delivered two tea bags of marijuana dried leaves to Sgt. Lopez, who acted as the poseur-buyer, in exchange for two twenty-peso bills.
After careful review, the Court held that there were 2 tea bags of marijuana that was sold and there were 2 other tea bags of marijuana confiscated. Thus, Simon should be charged of selling for the 2 tea bags of marijuana only.
However, there is an overlapping error in the provisions on the penalty of reclusion perpetua by reason of its dual imposition, that is, as the maximum of the penalty where the marijuana is less than 750 grams, and also as the minimum of the penalty where the marijuana involved is 750 grams or more. The same error has been committed with respect to the other prohibited and regulated drugs provided in said Section 20. To harmonize such conflicting provisions in order to give effect to the whole law, the court hereby hold that the penalty to be imposed where the quantity of the drugs involved is less than the quantities stated in the first paragraph shall range from prision correccional to reclusion temporal, and not reclusion perpetua. This is also concordant with the fundamental rule in criminal law that all doubts should be construed in a manner favorable to the accused.
The court held that Republic Act No. 6425, as now amended by Republic Act No. 7659, has unqualifiedly adopted the penalties under the Revised Penal Code in their technical terms, hence with their technical signification and effects. In fact, for purposes of determining the maximum of said sentence, the court have applied the provisions of the amended Section 20 of said law to arrive at prision correccional and Article 64 of the Code to impose the same in the medium period. Such offense, although provided for in a special law, is now in effect punished by and under the Revised Penal Code. Correlatively, to determine the minimum, the court applied first part of the aforesaid Section 1 which directs that “in imposing a prison sentence for an offense punished by the Revised Penal Code, or its amendments, the court shall sentence the accused to an indeterminate sentence the maximum term of which shall be that which, in view of the attending circumstances, could be properly imposed under the rules of said Code, and the minimum which shall be within the range of the penalty next lower to that prescribed by the Code for the offense.”
Thus, in the case at bar, appellant should be begrudged the benefit of a minimum sentence within the range of arresto mayor, the penalty next lower to prision correccional which is the maximum range have fixed through the application of Articles 61 and 71 of the Revised Penal Code. For, with fealty to the law, the court may set the minimum sentence at 6 months of arresto mayor, instead of 6 months and 1 day of prision correccional.