Barring any successful appeal, a Virac resident and his live-in partner will have to leave their children behind to serve out their sentence of life imprisonment for possession of 54 grams of shabu seized during a search of their house eight months ago.
Last Sept. 15, 2022, the Regional Trial Court found Kennedy “Posong” Tindugan Navarro and his partner, Arlene “Arlinda/Lyn” Ponciano Abraham guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Sec. 11 of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, and sentenced each of them to suffer life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P500,000.00.
For the unlicensed revolver recovered during the same search, the couple were also found guilty of Sec. 28(a) of Republic Act 10591, or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act, and meted additional jail time ranging from eight (8) years and one (1) day as minimum to nine (9) years and one (1) day as maximum.
Information filed before the Court stated that on Feb. 7, 2022, Virac police chief Maj. Kevin Caparroso applied and was granted a warrant to search the couple’s residence at No. 20, San Pedro St., Antipolo del Sur for an undetermined amount of methamphetamine hydrochloride.
At 11:20 PM, together with Punong Barangay Moises Clemente and media representative Janelyn Rima, the police team led by Lt. Arnee Julius Dedase proceeded to the house and knocked on the door.
During the subsequent search that ended at 1:15 AM the next day, the police searcher discovered a Cal. 38 revolver with four bullets underneath a comforter that was placed on top of a plastic cabinet inside the couple’s room.
At one of the drawers, the searcher saw a black coin purse which, when opened, yielded four plastic sachets that contained white crystalline substance.
Examination at the Regional Crime Laboratory Office later confirmed that the substance was shabu with a total weight of 54.003 grams.
On the other hand, the same office found that the revolver was no longer serviceable but the four bullets were still live, while records showed that both accused did not possess a license to possess a firearm or ammunition.
In their defense, the couple claimed that while they were asleep that evening, someone who introduced himself as a barangay tanod accompanied by another who said he was the barangay captain knocked on their door.
Suddenly, they said, they heard a loud sound from the kitchen and then a chubby man entered the house, pointed a gun at them and ordered them to lie down on the ground.
The man opened the door for the two other men and, after asking the couple’s children to go to the kitchen, entered the room. He went out after a few minutes and left with the two men, with the mobile car arriving later.
RTC Branch 43 Acting Presiding Judge Genie G. Gapas-Agbada, however, said the accused’s insinuation of planting of evidence by the operating team cannot be upheld by the Court in the absence of clear and convincing proof.
The Court noted that through the chain of custody, the prosecution was able to establish the identity and integrity of the drug evidence, with the guilt of both accused proven beyond reasonable doubt for the crimes charged.