Life term for construction worker arrested in 2020 shabu buy-bust

A construction worker has been meted the penalty of life imprisonment a year after he was collared in a buy-bust operation in Bigaa, Virac.

In a decision handed down on Jan. 15, 2021, the Regional Trial Court also ordered Chester Biron Arcilla to pay a fine of P500,000, with the medium-sized sachet of shabu seized from him confiscated in favor of the government for proper disposition.

It may be recalled that on Jan. 15, 2020, operatives from the Virac police station, Regional Police Drug Enforcement Unit-Regional Intelligence Division (RPDEU-RID) and Provincial Special Operations Group-Provincial Intelligence Branch (PSOG-PIB) led by Maj. Bon Billy Timuat, then Virac’s acting chief of police, arrested Arcilla, 39, a construction worker from Rawis, in the operation that went down at 8:20 P.M.  along Tagkalo St.

The law enforcers confiscated from his possession a medium-sized plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance believed to be shabu, the buy-bust money, and other non-drug items.

During the trial, the prosecution witnesses disclosed that a confidential informant arranged the illegal drug transaction with Arcilla through cellular phone, with the latter instructing the informant and the policeman posing as buyer to just wait at the waiting shed at the entrance to Tagkalo.

With members of the team positioned nearby, the informant and the poseur-buyer sat at the waiting shed until a man on board a motorcycle stopped five meters away.

After the informant approached Arcilla and introduced the buyer, the target handed over to the latter the sachet and in turn, the policeman gave the money, after which he made the signal to indicate the transaction had been consummated.

As the rest of the law enforcers rushed toward them from their hiding places, Arcilla tried to escape by gunning his motorcycle but the poseur-buyer and other officers immediately grabbed him.

In the presence of Bigaa barangay captain Guillermo Castilla, Kagawad Nicanor Panti and media representative Donnie Vic Tabirara, a body search was made on Arcilla that yielded the P1,500 buy-bust money, including two fake P500 bills, and a cellular phone from his pocket.

In his defense, Arcilla claimed that he was driving his motorcycle along Tagkalo St. after being told by his boss to deliver a key to West Garden Phase 3 when he was flagged down by three men who held his hands, directed him to lie down on the ground.

He said that while he was being handcuffed, he felt something being inserted in his left front pocket.

His sister also testified having overheard his boss telling Chester to go to Bigaa but could not offer any more information as to whereabouts after he left the house.

Brushing aside his claim that there was no buy-bust transaction that transpired, the Court pointed out that the operation was planned and coordinated with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) two hours before he was arrested and that there was no way the team could have known he would be coming from West Garden Phase 3 if there was no communication between him and the confidential informant.

It also could not believe that the bust-bust money taken from his left front pocket was inserted while he was lying face on the ground when in fact the pants that he wore had a pocket at the back.

“It is so illogical for one to insert an object into the left front pocket of someone lying prostrate on the ground…when it is more convenient to insert it inside the back pocket…,” the Court stressed.

The accused also attempted to convince the Court that he could not have handed over to the poseur-buyer the plastic sachet using his right hand since his thumb is not fully developed and he had missing fingers. But a demonstration in the Court showed he could still hold the plastic sachet between his thumb and index finger.

Although two witnesses declared they heard Arcilla saying, “Hindi akin yon, nilagay kang sa akin,” the Court noted that this is the usual and normal defense ploy by persons subjected to anti-drug operation whenever illegal items are seized from their possession.

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