Two San Andres residents
convicted for illegal drugs

Lengthty prison terms and fines totaling P1.1 million were meted by the Regional Trial Court to two residents of San Andres for selling marijuana to an undercover police officer and for possession of dangerous drugs in Bato town in 2019.
RTC Branch 43 Presiding Judge Lelu P. Contreras sentenced Grayham Manlagñit dela Cruz, a B-Meg feeds technician from Timbaan, and Dave Jefferson Fernandez Avila, a mechanic from Bislig, to life imprisonment and a fine of P500,000 for the sale of dried marijuana leaves to the poseur-buyer on Oct. 2, 2019.
For possession of one sachet of dried marijuana leaves, they were meted 12 to 14 years imprisonment plus a fine of P300,000.
For possession of three sachets of shabu in a canister found in the vicinity where they were arrested, the two men were ordered to suffer another 12 to 14 years of imprisonment and to pay a P300,000 fine.
Records show that a police officer was told by one of his informants that a certain “Boboy”, together witjh a male companion from San Andres, would deliver illegal drugs to Ilawod, Bato for the second time.
The officer instructed his informant to arrange a transaction with the two men and introduce him as a buyer for P1,500 worth of illegal drugs.
Joint elements of the Bato police, Regional Intelligence Division and the 1st Catanduanes Police Mobile Force Company headed by Lt. Francis Tabo I planned the buy-bust operation and were already in the area by the time the suspects left San Andres on board dela Cruz’s motorcycle.
At 9:10 PM, the lawman spotted his targets, who alighted from a scooter near a sari-sari store in Ilawod.
When he handed over the money to “Boboy” and the latter’s companion in turn handed over something which was given to the police officer, the duo were immediately arrested.
That “something” turned out to be three sachets containing dried marijuana leaves, the two sachets of which dropped to the ground during the commotion.
A search of the suspects turned up another sachet of dried marijuana leaves from the driver’s license jacket of Avila and three small sachets of shabu and three pieces of rolled aluminum foil inside a canister that was found near an open canal near where the two suspects were nabbed.
Examination of the seized drug items at the Regional Crime Laboratory Office in Camp Ola showed the dried leaves were positive for marijuana fruiting tops with a weight of 3.235 grams while the shabu sachets were also positive for the drug with a weight of 0.102 gram.
Urine samples taken from both suspects also gave positive results for the presence of methamphetamine and for THC-metabolites, indicating they used marijuana.
Through counsel, the accused offered to enter into a plea bargain agreement but it was later denied after a social case study report showed none of them admitted the crime.
In their defense during the subsequent trial, the two suspects denied having sold and possessed dangerous drugs, claiming that they went to Bato town to have a drinking spree with Avila’s relative in Ilawod, Bato.
While buying cigarettes, they said a man dragged them to a dark portion and made them lie in a prone position, during which the buy-bust money was inserted in dela Cruz’s pocket by an unidentified man.
They also denied owning the canister in which the three sachets of shabu were found.
Dela Cruz also claimed he was not the “Boboy Manlangit” that was the target of the police buy-bust operation
In its ruling, the Court found highly incredible the two accused’s justification for being in Ilawod, Bato on Oct. 2, 2019.
It noted that they pointed to each other as the one who called the other to go to Bato.
Avila pointed to dela Cruz as the one who invited him and alleged that he was confused at the time, a claim refuted by the social worker who interviewed him inside the jail.
The Court also found inconceivable for Dave and Grayham to travel a total of 39 kilometers just to have drinking spree late at night, when such sessions usually start in the afternoon.
It pointed out that the police officers could not have known their exact location at the time if there was no previous arrangement with them for the sale of drugs.
The police officer testified that while the two men were being held, one of them told the other to pull out the canister and that they would cooperate provided the canister should not be included.
Avila also admitted to the social worker that he was carrying illegal drugs that night but it was for his own use.

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