Two men convicted of drug raps, to spend life in prison, pay fines

The Regional Trial Court sent two men to a long stay in the National Penitentiary after separately convicting them for violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2003.

Last July 20, 2022, RTC Branch 42 Presiding Judge Genie G. Gapas-Agbada sentenced Lenard Jeffrey Bergonio Avila to two life imprisonments as well as to pay a fine totaling P1 million for the sale and possession of dangerous drugs.

Also convicted on the same day was Godofredo Guerrero Bagadiong Jr., who was given the penalty of life imprisonment and ordered to pay a fine of P400,000.00 for possession of dangerous drugs.

Information filed before the Court stated that following surveillance on the illegal drug trade activities of Avila, also known as Ali, the Catanduanes Provincial Intelligence Unit and the Virac police station arranged a drug deal with him on Feb. 15, 2021 through a confidential informant.

However, the suspect cancelled the transaction in Calatagan Tibang and said it would instead take place in Rawis at the side of the Virac Sports Center from 4 to 6 PM.

At 4:45 PM, the deal went down, with Avila arriving on a black motorcycle and stopping by the undercover policeman and the informant.

Once the drug pusher received the P500 buy-bust money in exchange for a small sachet containing shabu, the policeman touched his short pants to signal police operatives hiding in the vicinity.

During the search that followed, the police recovered from a pocket of Avila’s shorts the P500 marked bill and from a back pocket a folded disposable face mask that contained a sachet containing seven smaller sachets of shabu plus another containing two more sachets of the illegal drug.

Examination at the PNP Regional Crime Laboratory showed that all but one of the sachets, including the subject of sale, were positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride with a total weight of 14.002 grams.

During the trial, the defense tried to prove that the drug items were planted evidence, with the accused claiming that while he was on his way to fetch his girlfriend, two men who identified themselves as policemen blocked his way.

He said he ran away and was chased, falling to the ground. One of the policemen handcuffed him and then took from his pocket an object wrapped in facemask and put it in Avila’s left pocket.

Giving credence to the testimony of the police operative who posed as buyer and the designated searcher, the Court said the prosecution was able to present the complete picture of the buy-bust operation and subsequent search.

In setting the claim of planted evidence aside, Judge Gapas-Agbada noted that Avila’s allegation is incredible because he did nothing instead of reporting the matter to the authorities or filing the necessary action to redress the alleged irregularities.

In the other decided case, the prosecution stated that on Sept. 9, 2021, at 4:56 AM, elements of the San Andres police, the PIU, and the Regional Police Drug Enforcement Unit served a search warrant on Bagadiong at his house in Lictin.

After nothing was found during the body search of the team leader, designated searcher, photographer and evidence custodian, the search of the house commenced.

Inside a drawer of the wooden dresser inside the master’s bedroom, the police found a slightly opened Fortune cigarette pack containing six sachets containing white crystalline substance that later turned out to be shabu with a total weight of 13.7130 grams.

Denying the charges, the accused, his wife and daughter as well as two more witnesses tried to prove that around 4:30 AM that day, four armed men in civilian clothes forcibly opened the back door of their house.

One of the men went into the master’s bedroom, ordered the accused and their youngest child to leave the room.

The other occupants were ordered to go downstairs but one of them claimed to have seen one of the armed men take something from his pocket and enter the master’s bedroom.

Later, men wearing police uniforms and PDEA shirts arrived, with the armed men running out of the house using the backdoor.

The accused’s daughter said she told the police of the earlier incident but she was allegedly ignored.

A policeman was also presented as defense witness to testify that no latent print was recovered from the cigarette pack containing the illegal drugs.

“The weight of evidence favors the positive testimony of the prosecution witnesses over the feeble denial of the accused,” the Court said in refusing to give credence to the defense claim that the seized drug items had been planted.

It stressed that not one of the defense witnesses testified that they saw the planting of evidence and noted that it was only 10 days after that the accused and members of the family invoked before the prosecution office that armed men stormed their house before the search warrant was implemented.

“The fact that accused or his wife did not report the matter to anyone during that incident and immediately subsequent thereto despite the presence of opportunity to do so, would justify this Court to believe that their statement regarding said armed men was just an afterthought purposely composed to exculpate the accused of the crime,” Judge Gapas-Agbada stated.

She likewise pointed out that the accused’s daughter as well as the other witnesses failed to inform the barangay chairman regarding the presence of the armed men before the search.

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