Criminal Law,  Legally Yours

People v. Basilio

People v. Basilio

People of the Philippines v. Larry Basilio y Hernandez
G.R. No. 195774, February 23, 2015

FACTS:

Accused-appellant Basilio was charged with violation of Section 5, Article II of RA 9165. The RTC and CA found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged.

Pursuant to an information he received the day before, Police Senior Inspector (PSI) Julian T. Olonan (PSI Olonan) organized a team to conduct a “buy-bust” operation against a certain “Kagi” who was said to be active in the illegal sale of drugs. SPO1 Chua was designated as the poseur-buyer and was thus provided with a P100-bill as purchase money, while the rest of the team would serve as back-ups.

The team proceeded to the target area and together with the informer, SPO1 Chua approached “Kagi,” later identified as the appellant. Appellant asked SPO1 Chua “magkano” and the latter replied “piso lang.” Appellant got the money from SPO1 Chua and in turn handed to the latter a small heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance. Whereupon, SPO1 Chua scratched the back of his head signifying to the backup members that the sale had been consummated. Forthwith, SPO1 Chua arrested appellant, informed him of his constitutional rights, and brought him and the seized item to the police station. Thereat, SPO1 Chua placed the marking “LBH” on the plastic sachet and turned over the same to their investigator, PO3 Jimenez.

Appellant denies the accusation against him. He also questions the police officers’ non-compliance with the requirements set forth under Section 21 of RA 9165.

ISSUE:

Did the lower courts correctly convict appellant of the offense of illegal sale of shabu?

HELD:

YES, appellant’s appeal is devoid of merit. To obtain a conviction for violation of Section 5, Article II of R.A. No. 9165 involving a buy-bust operation, the following essential elements must be established: (1) the identity of the buyer and the seller, the object of the sale and consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and its payment. The delivery of the illicit drug to the poseur-buyer and the receipt by the seller of the marked money consummate the illegal transaction.

In the case at bar, all the foregoing elements are present. The prosecution witnesses positively identified appellant as the seller of the substance to the poseur-buyer, SPO1 Chua, for the sum of P100.00. The white crystalline substance presented during the trial was identified by SPO1 Chua as the substance sold and delivered to him by appellant. The substance, when examined by Forensic Chemical Officer PSI Reyes, tested positive for methylamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu. Clearly, the prosecution has adequately and satisfactorily proved all the elements of the offense.

Moreover, the chain of custody remained unbroken and the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized drug were preserved. The confiscated plastic sachet with white crystalline substance was in the possession of SPO1 Chua after the buy-bust operation and apprehension of the appellant. He then brought the same to the police station and, thereat, marked it with the letters “LBH” which stand for appellant’s initials. Thereafter, the marked sachet and its contents, as well as the request for laboratory examination thereof, were delivered by PO3 Jimenez to the MPD Crime Laboratory where it was received by PSI Reyes who later confirmed that the specimen bearing the same marking “LBH” tested positive for methylamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.

Furthermore, appellant posits that the marking of the seized item at the police station instead of at the place of seizure immediately after his arrest engendered doubt as to its identity. Nevertheless, marking the subject item at the police station did not dent the prosecution’s case. While R.A. No. 9165 provides for the immediate marking of the seized item, it does not specify a time frame when and where said marking should be done. In fact, the Court had the occasion to rule that marking upon immediate confiscation contemplates even marking at the nearest police station or office of the apprehending team.

Moreover, the non-compliance of the apprehending officers of paragraph 1, Section 2, Article II of RA 9165 and Section 21(a) of its Implementing Rules and Regulations, specifically on conducting an inventory of the seized item and photographing the same, did not affect the seized item’s evidentiary weight and admissibility in evidence.

Hence, appellant’s conviction of violation of Section 5, Article II of RA 9165 is upheld.

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