Criminal Law,  Legally Yours

People v. Andaya

People v. Andaya

People of the Philippines v. Pablito Andaya y Reano
G.R. No. 183700, October 13, 2014
Bersamin, J.:

FACTS:

Accused Pablito Andaya was charged with violation of Section 5 of RA 9165, otherwise known as Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 for selling shabu. The RTC and CA found him guilty of the crime charged.

A team composed of SPO1 Aguila, SPO1 Cabungcal, Eric de Chavez, PO1 Lindberg Yap, Edwalberto Villar and asset Bagsit was constituted to conduct a buy-bust. Two (2) pieces of P100.00 bills both duly marked “X” were recorded in the police blotter. Upon reaching the designated place, the team members alighted from their vehicles and occupied different positions where they could see and observe the asset. The asset knocked on the door of Pablito’s house. Pablito came out. Pablito and the asset talked briefly. The asset gave Pablito the marked money. The asset received something from appellant. The pre-arranged signal signifying consummation of the transaction was given. The team members approached Pablito and the asset introduced themselves as police officers and arrested accused.

Accused Andaya alleges that the Prosecution’s non-presentation of the confidential informant who was the poseur-buyer was adverse to the Prosecution, indicating that his guilt was not proved beyond reasonable doubt.

ISSUE:

Is the non-presentation of the confidential informant fatal to the prosecution’s case?

HELD:

YES, the non-presentation of the confidential informant is tantamount to saying that the prosecution failed to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. A buy-bust operation is a valid and legitimate form of entrapment of the drug pusher. The justification that underlies the legitimacy of the buy-bust operation is that the suspect is arrested in flagranti delicto, that is, the suspect has just committed, or is in the act of committing, or is attempting to commit the offense in the presence of the arresting police officer or private person. Proof of the transaction must be credible and complete. In every criminal prosecution, it is the State, and no other, that bears the burden of proving the illegal sale of the dangerous drug beyond reasonable doubt.

Here, the confidential informant was not a police officer. He was designated to be the poseur-buyer himself. It is notable that the members of the buy-bust team arrested Andaya on the basis of the pre-arranged signal from the poseur buyer. The pre-arranged signal signified to the members of the buy-bust team that the transaction had been consummated between the poseur-buyer and Andaya. However, the State did not present the confidential informant/ poseur buyer during the trial to describe how exactly the transaction between him and Andaya had taken place. There would have been no issue against that, except that none of the members of the buy-bust team had directly witnessed the transaction, if any, between Andaya and the poseur-buyer due to their being positioned at a distance from the poseur-buyer and Andaya at the moment of the supposed transaction.

The presentation of the confidential informants as witnesses for the Prosecution in those instances could be excused because there were poseur buyers who directly incriminated the accused. In this case, however, it was different, because the poseur-buyer and the confidential informant were one and the same. Without the poseur buyer’s testimony, the State did not credibly incriminate Andaya. The members of the buy-bust team could not incriminate Andaya by simply declaring that they had seen from their positions the poseur-buyer handing something to Andaya who, in turn, gave something to the poseur-buyer.

Moreover, the arresting members of the buy-bust team interpreted the signal from the anonymous poseur buyer as the sign of the consummation of the transaction. Their interpretation, being necessarily subjective without the testimony of the poseur-buyer, unfairly threatened the liberty of Andaya. We should not allow that threat to perpetuate itself. And, lastly, the reliance on the signal would deprive Andaya the right to confront and test the credibility of the poseur-buyer who supposedly gave it.

Hence, the prosecution failed to prove accused Andaya’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

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