TV actor, 4 others nabbed in drug bust charged before the DoJ
A TV actor and four of his friends were arrested on Wednesday night during a sting operation conducted by operatives of the Philippine National Police’s Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (PNP-AIDSOTF) in Antipolo City.
Vivo Ouano, 21, an actor in the GMA 7 drama series “Sinner or Saint,” along with fellow Starstruck Season 3 talent search winner Jericho Rizalado, 22, and their buddies Jojo Pangilinan, 22; Charles Joseph Lacson, 25; and Joshua Cue, 21, were charged on Friday with possession, sale and use of illegal drugs before the Department of Justice in Manila.
In its complaint, the PNP-AIDSOTF said the suspects conspired in undertaking the drug deal.
The five were charged with violations of Sections 5, 11, 15 and 26 (b) of Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Police seized from the suspects 527 capsules of Diazepam, Phentermine and the popular “weight-reducing” Bangkok pills worth more than P15,000; a roll of dried marijuana leaves, a plastic tube with pipe; and the marked money amounting to P9,000 used in the buy-bust operation.
The five suspects were presented to DOJ assistant state prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera at around 2 p.m. for inquest proceedings.
Ouano’s lawyer Armando Deloria and those of the four others told Navera that their clients would submit their counteraffidavits during the preliminary investigation set to begin on Oct. 10.
During the inquest hearing, the lawyers said their clients have agreed to waive their rights under Article 125 of Revised Penal Code, which requires the filing of charges in court against the suspects within 36 hours from their arrest.
In an interview with reporters, Deloria said his client did not have anything to do with the drug deal since the police who arrested them had already admitted that the drug cache was not seized from him.
She added that Ouano was not caught using any illegal drug and even tested negative for substance abuse.
Wrong place, wrong time
“It just so happened he was there because he’s friend with Jericho and they were supposed to go to the gym. But they stayed there in the house first because it was raining. My client was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Deloria said.
The policemen, on the other hand, assured Navera that the chain in custody of evidence was not broken during the operation. They told reporters that the arresting operatives were even accompanied by a legal team during the buy-bust.
The DoJ earlier lamented that many drug cases have been dismissed in courts due to the failure of law enforcers to comply with the strict requirements under this rule on chain in custody of evidence.
A glaring example was the acquittal by a Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court last August of two drug suspects arrested by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Sept. 2008 in the posh Ayala Alabang Village.
The judge acquitted the two suspects after finding out that the PDEA operatives had broken the chain in custody of evidence seized from the suspects.
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