G.R. No. 200958, February 05, 2014

THIRD DIVISION [ G.R. No. 200958, February 05, 2014 ] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES V. BAJUNAID SALI KASIM.

The Assistant City Prosecutor of Muntinlupa City charged the accused Bajunaid Sali Kasim with selling dangerous drugs in violation of Section 5, Article II of Republic Act (R.A.) 9165[1] before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Muntinlupa in Criminal Case 06-602.

The prosecution evidence shows that at about 6:00 a.m. on March 9, 2006 an informant came to the police station and told P/Sr. Insp. Pedro L. Abrigo of having arranged the purchase of dangerous drugs from a certain "Chris" at the Walter Mart Mall in DasmariƱas, Cavite. P/Sr. Insp. Abrigo submitted a pre-operation report to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, assigned PO3 Rolando Aglibot to act as poseur buyer, and gave the latter a marked P500.00 bill on top of the boodle money.

On arrival at Walter Mart at about 10:30 a.m., the team learned that Chris instructed the informant to proceed instead to the Festival Mall parking area at Alabang in Muntinlupa City. The team moved there and waited several hours until accused Kasim, a known associate of Chris, approached the informant. The two of them then entered the vehicle where PO3 Aglibot sat waiting. The informant introduced Kasim to PO3 Aglibot.

Kasim said, "Nandito na yung order mo, nasan na yung pera?" For his part, PO3 Aglibot asked for the drugs. Kasim took out a yellow Save More Supermarket plastic bag from his pants pocket and gave it to the officer. After seeing the white crystalline substance in the plastic bag, PO3 Aglibot handed over the buy-bust money to Kasim and made the pre-arranged signal, prompting SPO2 Alex Mohammad, an assisting police officer, to quickly approach and arrest Kasim.

The police officers brought Kasim to the Barangay Alabang Hall where PO3 Aglibot marked the confiscated item with the letters ROA. The barangay chairman issued a certification that the buy-bust operation took place within the barangay's jurisdiction. The officers then returned to their station with Kasim and prepared a request for drug dependency laboratory examination, physical examination, and ultraviolet powder examination. Upon chemical test, the seized drugs proved to be methamphetamine hydrochloride.[2]In his defense, accused Kasim claims that he was at the Festival Mall on March 9, 2006 with his friend Loreto. While eating dinner in a restaurant, Kasim saw Bert, an old friend. During their conversation, Bert handed over a yellow bag to Kasim with a request that he wait for and turn over the same to a friend who was coming. Without looking at what was in the bag, Kasim agreed. Several minutes later, a man approached Kasim and asked if he was Bert's friend. When Kasim replied in the affirmative, the man took the yellow bag and invited him for a talk outside. When Kasim refused, another man, whom he later identified as PO3 Aglibot, came, held him by the hand, and told him not to create a scene.

Outside the mall, SPO2 Mohammad handcuffed Kasim and handed him a P500.00 bill that the latter refused to hold. The police boarded him on their vehicle and forced him to identify the owner of the bag. Kasim claimed that the police officers tried to extort P200,000.00 from him and when he could not produce the money, they charged him with selling dangerous drugs.

On August 1, 2008 the RTC found accused Kasim guilty of the crime charged and sentenced him to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P1 million. On August 31, 2011 the Court of Appeals (CA) rendered judgment in CA-G.R. CR-HC 03495 affirming in toto the RTC Decision, hence, the present appeal.

Accused Kasim claims that the police officers involved did not comply with the requirements of Section 21, Article II of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. 9165, thereby creating serious doubt as to the integrity of the seized drugs. But, as this Court has previously held, failure to strictly comply with Section 21 will not automatically render an accused's arrest illegal or the items seized from him inadmissible. What is of utmost importance is that, as in this case, the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items had been preserved.[3]

In every case of illegal sale of dangerous drugs, the prosecution must show (1) the identity of the buyer and the seller, the object of the sale, and the consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and its payment.[4] Here, PO3 Aglibot and SPO2 Mohammad gave a clear and categorical account of how the illegal sale took place. They positively identified the accused as the one who sold the drugs and received the marked money from PO3 Aglibot. Also, they were able to identify in court the yellow plastic bag and its contents and acknowledged that it was the same item confiscated from the accused during the buy-bust operation.

Besides, records are devoid of any evidence that would tend to show any ill motive or irregular conduct on the part of the police officers. Consequently, there remains the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties.

WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals dated August 31, 2011 in CA-G.R. CR-HC 03495 finding accused Bajunaid Sali Kasim GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged. (Peralta, J., no part; Perlas-Bernabe, J., Additional Member, per Raffle dated February 3, 2014)

SO ORDERED.

[1] Entitled COMPREHENSIVE DANGEROUS DRUGS ACT OF 2002.

[2] Records, p. 13.
[3] Imson v. People, G.R. No. 193003, July 13, 2011, 653 SCRA 826, 835.
[4] People v. Pascua, G.R. No. 194580, August 31, 2011, 656 SCRA 629.

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