Police lapses doom drug
charges vs. tricycle driver

A tricycle driver from Virac was freed last week after the Regional Trial Court junked illegal drugs charges against him due to inconsistencies in the testimony of a police officer and lapses in the buy-bust operation.
For failure to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, RTC Branch 43 Presiding Judge Lelu P. Contreras acquitted Ryan “Lambot” Tatel Posada, 36, a resident of San Vicente, but ordered the confiscation of over 27 grams of shabu allegedly seized from him during a buy-bust operation on Dec. 21, 2020.
According to information filed before the court, the Catanduanes police had been receiving reports that Posada, a drug surrenderer, was transacting illegal drugs, prompting cops to set up a buy-bust operation using a confidential informant.
The transaction was set at 9 AM in front of Maudelle’s Restobar along the boulevard in Rawis but the informant later said that Posada moved the deal to 3 PM at the same place.
At the appointed time, the informant came on board his motorcycle with Posada’s tricycle behind him. Both of them approached the undercover police officer waiting at the site after which the informant left.
After Posada got something from a black belt bag and handed a plastic sachet to the policeman, the latter gave a marked P500 bill as payment which the tricycle driver placed into the bag hanging by the motorcycle’s handlebars.
At the agreed upon signal, intelligence operatives posted around the area rushed in and arrested Posada. A search of the belt bag turned up 11 more sachets of the illegal drug, with the police later filing charges of violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 against Posada for the sale and illegal possession of dangerous drugs.
In his defense, Posada claimed he cooked food for sale that morning and plied the tricycle only at 1 PM in the afternoon until a male passenger flagged him down and asked to take him to Maudelle’s in Rawis.
Upon arrival, he claimed that three men grabbed him and told him to alight, pinned him down and handcuffed him. One of the officers got a plastic container from his pocket and a P500 bill and placed these inside the belt bag on his motorcycle, he said.
Posada alleged that the media and barangay witnesses arrived after the area was already cordoned and also claimed that he had a Samsung cellular phone while the police said a Huawei cellphone was in the belt bag.
His mother, who came home from Canada after learning of his son’s arrest, told the court that two witnesses she had contacted initially agreed to testify on Ryan’s behalf but later withdrew after they were allegedly told not to interfere in the case.
Judge Contreras, noting that Posada claimed he was framed up, had to ascertain the veracity of the testimony of the poseur-buyer.
His statement that both the informant and Posada approached him, the latter went back to his motorcycle while he approached to conduct the transaction, perplexed the Court as it was aware that encounters between the buyer and the subject usually transpire quickly.
It also wondered why the poseur-buyer did not tell the informant beforehand that he would buy P500 worth of shabu, as Posada had to ask the policeman how much he would purchase.
The Court also pointed out that the witnesses and the team members were not strategically positioned to observe what would take place, with the photographer about 200 meters away and thus was not able to capture the actual exchange.
“While this Court deplores the proliferation of illegal drugs, it cannot close its eyes to questionable operations being undertaken by law enforcement officers only to reach the quota required from them,” Judge Contreras underscored

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