The Regional Trial Court has sentenced a Virac tricycle driver to 21 years imprisonment and to pay a fine of P400,000 following his conviction on an illegal drug charge last week.
Last May 16, 2022. RTC Branch 42 Presiding Judge Genie G. Gapas-Agbada found Mike Jordan Cantonjos Tabios, also known as “Bada,” guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 11 of Republic Act 9165 and ordered him to suffer imprisonment ranging from 20 years and one day as minimum to 21 years and one day as maximum, and to pay the huge fine.
It may be recalled that Tabios, then 27, was apprehended at his residence in Ibong Sapa on May 25, 2021 after a month-long surveillance and covert anti-drug operation confirmed intelligence reports of the Regional Police Drug Enforcement Unit (RPDEU).
His name reportedly came up in an investigation of a Naga City drug pusher who was arrested in February 2021 and identified Tabios was the one to whom he delivered shabu in Catanduanes.
Tagged as a high-value target, he was subsequently kept in close watch by undercover police officers.
They observed that the tricycle driver made his morning rounds and picked up several passengers before deciding to go back to the billiard hall at Ibong Sapa.
Inside the hall, according to a police officer, the drug transactions were consummated, with Tabios and his clients pretending to be engaged in bets on billiard games. The shabu sachet was hidden under a cellphone which was then placed by the suspect on the seat beside his client.
Once a test buy conducted by a police officer confirmed that Tabios was hiding the illegal drugs at his house, the Virac police led by chief of police Major Antonio Perez applied for a search warrant with the Regional Trial Court.
At 1 AM of May 25, joint personnel of the Virac police station, the Provincial Intelligence Unit and the RPDEU-Catanduanes went to serve the warrant on Tabios, who was with his wife and three children at the time.
Despite the police request, the suspect did not unlock the door, which was then forcibly opened.
Inside a Durabox in the bedroom, the designated searcher found a red Marlboro cigarette pack that contained 14 sachets of suspected shabu.
Laboratory examination at the Regional Crime Laboratory Office 5 at Camp Ola showed that the sachets yielded positive results for the presence of shabu, with a total weight of 8.201 grams.
According to police sources, they were forced to secure a kagawad from another barangay as one of the witnesses as Tabios is related to several Ibong Sapa barangay officials.
In his defense, the accused tried to prove that there was irregularity in the service of the search warrant and that the drug items seized were planted evidence.
He and his wife testified that in the early morning of that day, they were awakened by a loud bang on their door and then four policemen entered the house.
Two of them remained by the door of their room while the two others searched the room, poked a gun at them and told them to go outside.
Judge Gapas-Agbada, however, stated that the prosecution was able to establish all the elements of illegal possession of dangerous drugs and proved the accused’s constructive possession of the drugs found inside his house where he exercises dominion and control.
“The Court finds no reason to doubt the veracity of the testimonies of said public officials absent showing ill-motive on their part to falsely impute upon the accused such a serious charge,” it stressed.
It was noted that Tabios failed to report the matter to the authorities or even execute a statement or filed necessary action to redress the alleged irregularities.