Supreme Court Decision Digest: G.R. No. 200087, Oct 12, 2016

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As a guide while we are conducting our routinary work at our respective jails, particularly to those assigned as visitors/gate searchers, cited below is a digested Supreme Court recent decision. This may of help in our sustained campaign against proliferation of illegal drugs in our jail facilities;

G.R. No. 200087, October 12, 2016

YOLANDA LUY Y GANUELAS, Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
                  

                    This case involves the criminal attempt by the accused to smuggle dangerous drugs (shabu) inside a detention facility to her detained husband by submerging the packets of shabu inside a plastic jar filled with strawberry juice and cracked ice. The attempt failed because of the alacrity of the lady guard manning the entrance of the jail compound.

                    Accused Yolanda Luy Y Ganuelas whose husband, Nestor, was a detainee in the Olongapo City jail, was caught in the actual illegal possession of shabu, as she was entering the gate of the jail compound by JO3 Joaquin, the female guard, during the latter's routine inspection of her person and personal belongings on October 25, 2004. JO3 Joaquin, as the designated searcher of female visitors, conducted the search in the presence of other jail guards. Noticing the round white-colored plastic jar labeled Tang Orange filled with cracked ice and strawberry juice, she insisted that the petitioner transfer the strawberry juice into another container, but the latter resisted. JO3 Joaquin and a fellow jail guard then brought the jar inside the guardhouse with the petitioner in tow, and there emptied its contents into a bowl. Upon removing the cracked ice, the jail guards discovered the plastic material containing two P1 coins inside the jar. At that point, the petitioner pleaded with them not to report their discovery to the jail warden, but JO3 Joaquin ignored her. The guards immediately haled her before the warden along with the plastic material and its contents. Opening the plastic material in the presence of the petitioner, they found the six heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets with suspected shabu inside. Under the circumstances, the petitioner was arrested in flagrante delicto.

                  At the time of confiscation, JO3 Joaquin marked the heat-sealed plastic sachets of shabu with her initials "MCJ/AO". Thereafter, the request for laboratory examination was prepared by P./Chief Insp. Miguel Gallardo Corpus. The request and the substances were delivered to the laboratory by PO1 CM. Ballon. Later on, the PNP Crime Laboratory Service issued Chemistry Report No. D-0181-2004 (Exhibit C) through P./Sr. Insp. Arlyn M. Dascie, Forensic Chemist, attesting to the findings on the substances indicating the presence of methylamphetamine hydrochloride, or shabu.

During trial, accused expectedly denied that the shabu belonged to her. Her sole explanation for why she had the shabu at the time was that a certain Melda had requested her to bring the jar of strawberry juice inside the jail compound for her husband, Bong, also a detainee, because Melda had supposedly forgotten to bring her identification card that day, and because she was then in a hurry to fetch her child.

                 The Supreme Court rejected the denial, because it can easily be fabricated. It has been the common excuse tendered by those arrested and prosecuted for the illegal possession of dangerous drugs. Under Section 11 of R.A. Act No. 9165, mere possession of the dangerous drugs was enough to render the possessor guilty of the offense. Accordingly, the denial by the petitioner, being self-serving and negative, did not prevail over the positive declarations of JO3 Joaquin. As to her explanation, she could have presented Melda herself to corroborate her story. Her word alone not enough because she had been caught in the actual possession of the shabu during the routinary search at the gate of the jail compound.

               Further, the Supreme Court held that all the essential elements of illegal possession of dangerous drugs were established. She was caught in the voluntary possession of the shabu. Secondly, she presented no evidence about her being authorized to possess the shabu. Her mere possession of the shabu constituted the crime itself. Her animus possidendi — the intent to possess essential in crimes of mere possession like this - was established beyond reasonable doubt in view of the absence of a credible explanation for the possession.

                The petitioner insists that the State did not prove the chain of custody of the shabu. Her immediate admission of the possession of the shabu following her arrest in flagranti delicto bound her for, under the rules on evidence, the act, declaration or omission of a party as to a relevant fact was admissible against her. Her admission renders her insistence irrelevant and inconsequential.

               WHEREFORE, petitioner is sentenced for an imprisonment of 12 years and one day, as minimum, to 14 years, as maximum, and to pay a fine of P300,000.00 without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.

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