A resident of San Andres town whose stored tool yielded sachets of shabu during a search of his house almost a year ago has been sentenced to suffer life imprisonment.
In finding his guilt beyond reasonable doubt for possession of 21.9149 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 43 also ordered Jose Henry Borja Aldave to pay a fine of P500,000.
It was the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Catanduanes that conducted a surveillance of Aldave prior to applying for the search warrant and then validated it through a test buy.
At 1 A.M. of June 8, 2019, PDEA personnel led by Intelligence Agent 1 Arlene Galiza arrived at Aldave’s house in barangay Esperanza but the subject was not around. Instead, it was the caretaker, John Bernardo, brother of Aldave’s live-in partner, who received the warrant.
In the presence of Punong Barangay Danilo Sumalde, barangay kagawad Arnulfo Zafe and media witness Janelyn Rima, the PDEA team searched the entire house before Intelligence Officer 1 Mary Joy Nolles discovered a tool box inside a store room.
The tool box yielded a pack of Marlboro Red cigarettes that contained six transparent plastic sachets containing white crystalline substance that later tested positive for shabu.
During the inventory of the evidence, San Andres police informed the PDEA team that Aldave was seen at the public market. The anti-drug agents arrested the suspect and brought him to his house where the inventory was completed.
Aldave refused to sign the receipt of confiscated evidence, claiming it was not his and that he was not living in the house anymore.
In her 17-page decision, RTC Branch 43 Presiding Judge Lelu P. Contreras said the Court is not convinced by the accused’s contention that he was no longer occupied the house in Esperanza as he had already transferred to Tilod. Baras prior to the search.
His own witness, Bernardo, was very firm in stating that he was designated caretaker of the house on June 3, 2019, contrary to Aldave’s allegation that he transferred to Baras in May 2019, the Court said.
His counter-affidavit also categorically declared that he is a resident of Esperanza, a fact also buttressed by a judgment and application for probation in separate criminal cases pending in the other RTC branch showed his address as the same barangay.
Aldave himself admitted before the Court that the dominion and control over the house was not transferred to Bernardo since he still had access to it anytime and the brother of his live-in partner would not prevent him from entering that house, Judge Contreras emphasized.
“Clearly, therefore, Aldave had dominion and control over the house that was searched where dangerous drugs were seized,” the Court ruled.
It was not also convinced that the drugs could have been planted as the accused’s other witness even admitted that he did not see anyone placing something in the tool box.