Criminal Law

People vs. Pacis G.R. No. 146309, July 18, 2002 Objective Test to determine validity of buy bust, Entrapment, Instigation

FACTS:

On April 6, 1998, Atty. Jose Justo S. Yap, supervising agent of the Dangerous Drugs Division-National Bureau of Investigation, received information that a certain Roberto Mendoza Pacis was offering to sell one-half (1/2) kilogram of methamphetamine hydrochloride or “shabu” for the amount of P950.00 per gram or a total of P475,000.00. The NBI Chief of the Dangerous Drugs Division approved the buy-bust operation. Atty. Yap and Senior Agent Midgonio S. Congzon, Jr. were assigned to handle the case.

In the afternoon of the same day, Atty. Yap, Senior Agent Congzon and the informant went to the house of appellant. The informant introduced Atty. Yap to appellant as interested buyer. They negotiated the sale of one-half (1/2) kilogram of shabu.

On April 17, 1998, around 6:30 in the evening, the NBI agents and the informant went to appellant’s house. Appellant handed to Atty. Yap a paper bag with markings “yellow cab”. When he opened the bag, Atty. Yap found a transparent plastic bag with white crystalline substance inside. While examining it, appellant asked for the payment. Atty. Yap instructed Senior Agent Congzon to get the money from the car. When Senior Agent Congzon returned, he gave the “boodle money” to Atty. Yap who then handed the money to the appellant. Upon appellant’s receipt of the payment, the officers identified themselves as NBI agents and arrested him.

 

ISSUE:

Whether or not the operation was an entrapment or an instigation.

 

RULING:

Entrapment is a legally sanctioned method resorted to by the police for the purpose of trapping and capturing lawbreakers in the execution of their criminal plans. Bare denials by the accused cannot overcome the presumption of regularity in the arresting officers’ performance of official functions.

Entrapment Distinguished from Instigation: In entrapment, ways and means are resorted to for the purpose of trapping and capturing lawbreakers in the execution of their criminal plan. In instigation on the other hand, instigators practically induce the would-be defendant into the commission of the offense and become co-principals themselves. It has been held in numerous cases by this Court that entrapment is sanctioned by law as a legitimate method of apprehending criminal elements engaged in the sale and distribution of illegal drugs.

A careful examination of the records shows that the operation that led to the arrest of appellant was indeed an entrapment, not an instigation. The trial court’s assessment of the credibility of witnesses must be accorded the highest respect, because it had the advantage of observing their demeanor and was thus in a better position to discern if they were telling the truth or not. Furthermore, courts generally give full faith and credit to officers of the law, for they are presumed to have performed their duties in a regular manner. Accordingly, in entrapment cases, credence is given to the narration of an incident by prosecution witnesses who are officers of the law and presumed to have performed their duties in a regular manner in the absence of evidence to the contrary.

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