People v. Amansec
People of the Philippines v. Benjamin Amansec y Dona
G.R. No. 186131, December 14, 2011
Accused-appellant Amansec was charged with a violation of Sections 5 and 11, Article II of RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act of 2002. The RTC found Amansec guilty of violating Section 5 of RA 9165 or illegal sale of prohibited drugs but was acquitted of the crime of illegal possession of dangerous drugs. The CA affirmed the decision of RTC.
Acting on a report by a confidential informant, PIO Villanueva formed a team for a buy-bust operation against Amansec. PO1 Mabutol acted as the poseur-buyer with a marked P100 peso bill. Mabutol and the informant moved ahead to the house of Amansec while the rest of the team positioned themselves at a strategic location, keeping Amansec within viewing distance. The informant then introduced Mabutol to Amansec as a drug addict, in dire need of drugs. Mabutol had just told Amansec that he was going to purchase one hundred pesos worth of shabu when another buyer, later identified as Jerome Pintis, came up to Amansec to also buy shabu. Amansec then showed both Pintis and Mabutol three plastic sachets containing crystalline substance. Mabutol thereafter examined the plastic sachet he obtained from Amansec, and suspecting it to be shabu, scratched the right side of his head with his right hand to signal his team to approach the target. Pascua thereafter frisked Amansec and retrieved the buy-bust money that Mabutol had given Amansec, and another plastic sachet.
Accused-appellant questions the admissibility of the evidence against him for having been obtained in violation of section 21 of RA 9165. Accused-appellant also questions the non-inclusion of Pintis in the case and the non-presentation of the informant in court. He also maintains that he is a victim of a frame-up as there was no surveillance conducted prior to the buy-bust operation and that the marked money used by PO1 Mabutol was not dusted with ultraviolet powder.
Is the accused guilty of the crime of illegal sale of drugs punished under RA 9165?
YES, the prosecution has proven the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. The acts of Pintis had nothing to do with Amansec’s own acts and the Court sees no reason why the accused-appellant and Pintis should have been tried jointly. Further, the presentation of an informant in an illegal drugs case is not essential for the conviction nor is it indispensable for a successful prosecution because the informant’s testimony is not needed if the sale of the illegal drug has been adequately proven. In this case, the prosecution has successfully proven that an illegal sale took place. Moreover, a prior surveillance is not required for a valid buy-bust operation, especially if the buy-bust team is accompanied to the target area by their informant, hence, accused-appellant’s contention that he was framed up due to lack of surveillance must fail. Lastly, the failure of the police officers to use ultraviolet powder on the buy-bust money is not an indication that the buy-bust operation was a sham. In fact, the use of initials to mark the money used in the buy-bust operation has been accepted by the Court in numerous cases.
Accused-appellant claims that Section 21 of RA 9165 was violated when the police officers who arrested him did not take his picture with the shabu they confiscated from him, and when they made no physical inventory of the shabu in his presence, or in the presence of his representative, the media, the department of justice, or any elected public official. Amansec avers that his presumption of innocence prevails over the presumption that the police officers performed their duty in a regular manner. He also avers that the prosecution failed to prove the chain of custody of the evidence obtained from him as the station investigator.
A testimony about a perfect chain is not always the standard as it is almost always impossible to obtain an unbroken chain. Thus, even though the prosecution failed to submit in evidence the physical inventory and photograph of the seized drugs as required under Section 21 of Republic Act No. 9165, this will not render Amansec’s arrest illegal or the items seized from him as inadmissible in evidence. The Court has consistently held that what is of utmost importance is the preservation of the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items. In this case, the prosecution was able to demonstrate that the integrity and evidentiary value of the evidence seized had been preserved. The presumption that the integrity of the evidence has been preserved will remain unless it can be shown that there was bad faith, ill will, or tampering with the evidence. Amansec failed to overcome his burden of showing the foregoing to overcome the presumption that the police officers handled the seized drugs with regularity, and that they properly discharged their duties.
It is evident in the case at bar that the prosecution was able to establish the elements of illegal sale of drugs. As such, the accused is guilty of violating Section 5, Article II of RA 9165.