An abaca stripper and his wife could spend as much as 36 years in jail after the Regional Trial Court found them guilty of illegal possessions of weapons and ammunition during a police raid on their home in sitio Tucao, barangay Juan M. Alberto in San Miguel town last year.
In a decision rendered last Feb. 4, 2022, RTC Branch 43 Presiding Judge Lelu P. Contreras found Salvador Tevar Pertez, 49, and his wife Marites Tresvalles Pertez, 44, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Republic Act 10591, otherwise known was the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.
They were sentenced to a total of 25 years, nine months and 23 days of imprisonment as minimum, to 36 years and three days as maximum for the three offenses.
It may be recalled that almost a year ago, on Feb. 28, 2021, personnel of the San Miguel police station, the 1st Police Mobile Force Company and the Alpha Company of the 83rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army went to the forested, hinterland sitio at midnight and surrounded the Pertez house to serve a search warrant issued by RTC Branch 42 Judge Genie Gapas-Agbada.
Requesting barangay captain Jessie Tapanan and kagawad Juan Tevar to serve as witnesses, the team went to the Pertez residence just a few meters away, knocked on the door and announced themselves.
The couple signed the warrant and got their copy, after which Tapanan and Marites Pertez bodily searched two lawmen before the latter commenced the search using flashlights.
At the bedroom, one searcher saw a black bag with the letter “H” at a corner, placed on the floor near sacks of clothing.
Inside the bag, the police found a rifle grenade inside its container, a Smith & Wesson Cal. 38 revolver with two (2) bullets, an M1 carbine magazine with five (5) bullets, eight (8) Cal. 45 ammunition, nine (9) Cal. 38 ammunition, 10 pieces of 5.56mm ammunition in one link, two (2) 7.62mm ammunition and 10 more 5.56mm ammunition in one link.
The police said both accused were not registered or licensed holder of firearms and explosives.
In their defense, Salvador Pertez testified that he and his wife, who were both working as abaca strippers, were asleep at midnight that Feb. 28 together with their three children when they were awakened by the breaking of the door.
He claimed that the lawmen kicked the door and hit it with the barrel of their guns and that they also brought a sledgehammer.
Six police officers went in and ordered them out of the house, with one pointing a gun at Salvador as he went out of the kitchen. The other five law enforcers, he claimed, remained inside the house for about 20 minutes.
It was only when the barangay captain and kagawad arrived that the five police officers went out and read the search warrant to the Pertez couple, he claimed.
He likewise alleged that they signed the certification on the warrant but was not able to read the document.
On the other hand, Marites said that the five police officers stayed inside their house for 10 minutes and that she saw them get something and place it on the bedroom floor near where their children had been sleeping before.
The couple’s defense of denial and frame-up, however, did not convince the Court.
Judge Contreras pointed out that, contrary to the claim of the accused, the main door of the house that was made of bamboo was not destroyed as shown by photographs taken during the inventory of evidence.
It was also emphasized that the couple’s daughter could not have seen what was happening inside her parent’s bedroom from the window of her house as photographs also showed that the wall of the bedroom facing the daughter’s house were not destroyed, with no visible hole through which one could see inside.