SC acquits convicted drug peddler, cites police failure to comply with rules on seized drugs
The Supreme Court has acquitted a man convicted of selling “shabu” (crystal meth) three years ago because police failed to comply with regulations for handling seized illegal drugs.
In a decision dated Nov. 5 but released only on Thursday, the Supreme Court’s Third Division ordered convict Federico Señeres Jr. released from New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City for failure of the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he was guilty of peddling illegal drugs.
The Taguig City Regional Trial Court sentenced Señeres to life imprisonment in December 2015 for selling 0.87 grams of shabu.
Affirmed by CA
The Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the verdict in November 2016.
But the Supreme Court pointed out that the arresting officers failed to comply with the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act provision that required the presence of representatives from the media and the justice department and any elected public official during the physical inventory of seized drugs.
The high court noted that that no explanation of the absence of the required witnesses was provided, and no evidence was shown to prove that the arresting police officers exerted any effort to seek their presence.
Susceptible to planting
Stricter adherence to the provision is required in cases where the quantity of the drug seized is minuscule, as “it is highly susceptible to planting, tampering or alteration,” the court said.
The court reiterated the “paramount importance” of proving with certitude that the substance bought during the buy-bust operation is exactly the same substance offered in evidence before the court.
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