buy bust

People vs Robelo (GR No. 184181 November 26, 2012)

People of the Philippines vs Robelo
GR No. 184181 November 26, 2012

Facts: At about 10:00 a.m. of March 26, 2004,  the Station of Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operation Task Force (SAID),  Police Station 2 in  Moriones, Tondo, Manila received information from a civilian  informer that a certain alias “Kalbo” (appellant) is involved in the sale of illegal drugs in Parola Compound.  Forthwith, the Chief of SAID organized  a team composed of  eight  police officers to conduct a “buy-bust” operation to entrap appellant.  PO2 Arnel Tubbali (PO2 Tubbali) was designated as the  poseur-buyer and was thus handed a 100 peso bill which he marked with his initials.  The rest of  the team were to  serve as back-ups. During investigation it was found positive that the confiscated items were shabu. On arraignment, accused-appellant pleaded not guilty and invoking his alibi that at the time of said sale, he was at his mother’s house.

Issue: Whether or not accused-appellant is liable for the crime charged.

Held: Yes. A buy-bust operation has been proven  to be an effective mode of apprehending drug pushers.  In this regard, police authorities are given a wide latitude in employing their  own ways of trapping or apprehending drug dealers in flagrante delicto.  There is no prescribed method on how the  operation is to be conducted.  As ruled in  People v. Garcia,  the absence of a prior surveillance or test-buy does not affect the legality of  the buy-bust operation as there is no textbook method of conducting the  same.  As long as  the constitutional rights of the suspected drug dealer are not  violated, the regularity of  the operation will always be upheld.  Thus, in  People v. Salazar,  we ruled that “if carried out with  due regard to constitutional and  legal safeguards,  buy-bust operation deserves judicial sanction.” 

Neither impressive  is appellant’s contention that it is contrary to human nature to sell the illegal stuff to a complete  stranger.  The law does not prescribe as an element of the crime that the vendor and the vendee  be familiar with  each other.  As aptly held by the CA, peddlers of illicit drugs have been known with ever increasing casualness and recklessness to offer and sell their wares for the right price to anybody, be they strangers or not.

Conspiracy may be inferred from the acts of the  accused before, during and after the commission  of the crime suggesting concerted action and unity of purpose among them.  In this  case, the testimony of  the poseur-buyer clearly shows a unity of mind  between appellant  and Umali in selling the illegal drugs to him.  Hence, applying  the basic principle in conspiracy that the “act of one is the act of all” appellant is guilty  as a co-conspirator and regardless of his participation, is liable as co-principal.  Appellant’s silence when the poseur-buyer was introduced to him as an  interested buyer of  shabu  is  non-sequitur.

Time and again,  we  have  stressed virtually to the point of repletion that alibi is one of the weakest defenses that an accused can  invoke because it is easy to fabricate.  In order to be  given full faith and credit,  an alibi must be clearly established and must not leave any doubt as  to its plausibility and veracity.  Here, appellant’s claim that  he was at his mother’s house  at the time of  the incident cannot stand against  the clear and positive  identification of him  by the prosecution witnesses.  As aptly held by the RTC, “the  portrayal  put forward by [appellant] remained uncorroborated.  The testimonies of the  witnesses presented by the defense do not jibe with one another and  that of the  claim of  the [appellant] himself. x x x  Lastly,  the demand for money worth P10,000.00 remained unsubstantiated. x x x  If indeed [appellant] is innocent he  or his family who were his witnesses should have filed a case of planting of evidence against the police which is now punishable  by life imprisonment.”

The general rule is that findings of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses deserve  great weight, and are generally not disturbed, on  appeal.  We find no reason to  depart from such old-age rule as there are no  compelling  reasons which would  warrant the reversal of the verdict.

Moreover, “non-compliance with  Section 21 does not render an accused’s arrest illegal or the items seized/confiscated from him  inadmissible.  What is essential is the ‘preservation  of the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items as the same would be  utilized in the determination of the guilt or innocence of the accused.’”   The records  reveal that at  no instance did appellant hint a doubt on the integrity of  the seized items. 

Undoubtedly, therefore, the suspected illegal drugs  confiscated from appellant were the very same substance presented and identified  in court.  This Court, thus, upholds the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties by the apprehending police officers. 

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People vs Tapere (G.R. No. 178065 February 20, 2013)

People of the Philippines vs Tapere
G.R. No. 178065 February 20, 2013

Facts: At around 7:30 p.m. on September 2, 2002, elements of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) arrested Tapere for selling shabu to a poseur buyer during a buy-bust operation conducted against him in Purok San Antonio, Iligan City. Prior to the buy-bust operation, Tapere was already included in the PDEA’s drug watch list as a drug pusher based on the frequent complaints made against him by residents of Purok San Antonio, Iligan City. It appears that SPO2 Diosdado Cabahug of the PDEA, a neighbor, had warned Tapere to stop his illegal activities, but he apparently ignored the warning and continued to sell shabu in that locality. Such continuing activity on the part of Tapere was the subject of the report of PDEA informant Gabriel Salgado. An entrapment was executed in order to arrest Tapere in the act of selling shabu while vending lanzones along side Tipanoy. Accused alleged that he was just asked by Salgado to buy the shabu where disobeying him is not an option for him. He further alleged that the way he was arrested was by instigation which is absolutory in nature entitling him to acquittal.

Issue: Whether or not Tapere is liable for the illegal sale of shabu.

Held: Yes To establish the crime of illegal sale of shabu as defined and punished under Section 5, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165, the Prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt (a) the identity of the buyer and the seller, the identity of the object and the consideration of the sale; and (b) the delivery of the thing sold and of the payment for the thing. The commission of the offense of illegal sale of dangerous drugs, like shabu, requires simply the consummation of the selling transaction, which happens at the moment the buyer receives the drug from the seller.  In short, the Prosecution must show that the transaction or sale actually took place, and present in court the thing sold as evidence of the corpus delicti.

Instigation takes place when a peace officer induces a person to commit a crime. Without the inducement, the crime would not be committed. Hence, it is exempting by reason of public policy; otherwise, the peace officer would be a co-principal. It follows that the person instigating must not be a private person, because he will be liable as a principal by inducement. On the other hand, entrapment signifies the ways and means devised by a peace officer to entrap or apprehend a person who has committed a crime. With or without the entrapment, the crime has been committed already. Hence, entrapment is not mitigating. Although entrapment is sanctioned by law, instigation is not. The difference between the two lies in the origin of the criminal intent – in entrapment, the mens rea originates from the mind of the criminal, but in instigation, the law officer conceives the commission of the crime and suggests it to the accused, who adopts the idea and carries it into execution.

Tapere was caught in flagrante delicto committing the illegal sale of shabu during the buy-bust operation. In that operation, Salgado offered to buy from him a definite quantity of shabu for P100.00. Even if, as he claims, he was unaware that Salgado was then working as an undercover agent for the PDEA, he had no justification for accepting the offer of Salgado to buy the shabu.  His explanation that he could not have refused Salgado’s offer to buy for fear of displeasing the latter was implausible. He did not show how Salgado could have influenced him at all into doing something so blatantly illegal. What is clear to us, therefore, is that the decision to peddle the shabu emanated from his own mind, such that he did not need much prodding from Salgado or anyone else to engage in the sale of the shabu; hence, he was not incited, induced, instigated or lured into committing an offense that he did not have the intention of committing.