The Regional Trial Court last week sentenced a Caramoran councilor to life imprisonment after finding him guilty of possession of illegal drugs discovered during a police search of his house four months ago.
RTC Branch 42 Presiding Judge Genie G. Gapas-Agbada found Zaldy Francisco Idanan, an incumbent Sangguniang Bayan member, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 11 of Republic Act 9165.
Aside from the jail term, he was also ordered to pay a fine of P400,000, as the shabu in his possession had a total weight of 12.5194 grams, more than the 10-gram minimum for life imprisonment and stipulated fine of P400,000 to P500,000.
During the trial, the prosecution said that Idanan, an Oplan Tokhang surrenderee and drug personality, was monitored by the Provincial Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to have continued his illegal drug activities.
Following a surveillance operation conducted in July 2020, a test-buy operation was conducted against the councilor on July 31, with positive results.
Securing a search warrant from the RTC, joint elements of PDEA-Catanduanes led by Intelligence Agent 1 Rodel Abina, PDEA-Camarines Norte, the Catanduanes Provincial Intelligence Unit (PIU), Virac police station and the Regional Drug Enforcement Unit (RDEU) proceeded to barangay Supang and knocked on the door of the Idanan residence.
During the search witnessed by barangay kagawads Henry Arcilla Jr. and Roderick Rafael, and media representative Donnie Vic Tabirara, designated searcher Intelligence Officer 1 Norian Torcuator found a black coin purse at the first layer of the wooden shelf at the living room.
When opened, the purse contained three heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets of suspected shabu. Nothing else was found in other areas of the house.
In his defense, Idanan took the witness stand and presented his wife, Ofelia Idanan, his daughter Maricar and barangay captain Rodelio Riosa as his witnesses.
He tried to impress upon the court that the operatives forcibly entered their house and that the seized drug items were planted.
The couple claimed the law enforcers broke into the house through the main door and that while the family was at the porch, some of the PDEA operatives kept going in and out of the house before the arrival of the barangay officials.
The court, however, noted that Zaldy and his wife categorically testified that there was no need to break any portion of the main door because it was not locked, with the former saying that he noticed no damage on the surface of the door that morning.
It cited IO Torcuator’s testimony on how the search proceeded in proving that the drugs were found in the house on which Idanan exercised dominion and control.
The accused, his wife and daughter separately confirmed that they did not see any PDEA operative placing the coin purse at the wooden shelf or anywhere in the house.
“Verily, the accused’ claim of planting evidence by the PDEA operatives is too pat to be believed,” Judge Gapas-Agbada said.
“In fine, the totality of the testimonial, documentary, and object evidence adequately support that accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged,” she concluded in the Dec. 9, 2020 ruling.