Court sentences Viga resident to life in prison for illegal drugs

An unemployed resident of Botinagan, Viga who was caught in possession of eight sachets of shabu has been sentenced to suffer life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P400,000.00.

The other week, the Regional Trial Court found Jose Tonio Atijano Jr. guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of possession of dangerous drugs in violation of Section 11 of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2003.

RTC Branch 43 Acting Presiding Judge Genie G. Gapas-Agbada ruled that the prosecution was able to clearly establish that the accused was in constructive possession of the seized drug items and convincingly accounted for each link in the handling and disposition of the seized evidence.

It may be recalled that in the morning of July 6, 2022, personnel of the Viga police station, Provincial Intelligence Unit and the 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Company, in coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), implemented the search warrant at the room occupied by the suspect.

With two members equipped with body-worn cameras, the team, together with Botinagan Punong Barangay Jade Padilla and Kagawad Jose Rey Tebelin, proceeded to the residence and served the warrant on Atijano.

After a search of the bodies of the searching team, the accused accompanied them and the mandatory witnesses during the search, with a red box tied with rubber band found on top of a small table in the suspect’s room.

The box yielded eight (8) heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets containing white crystalline substance suspected to be shabu and two empty plastic sachets.

Laboratory examination at the Regional Forensic Unit V at Camp Simeon Ola in Legazpi City showed that the specimens with a total weight of 12.108 grams contained methamphetamine hydrochloride.

In his defense, Atijano testified that while inside his room accompanying the search team, he noticed a small red box on top of the table near the window.

He said he got curious and held it but the police officer told him not to touch it.

When the searcher opened the box, Atijano was surprised to see shabu inside it and he uttered: “Bakit nagkaroon niyan nito, hindi po akin yan.”

On the other hand, his live-in partner claimed that before the search began and while she was at the dining area and the accused was outside their house with the barangay officials and police officers, he saw a hand slip through the window of their room.

She claimed that she went inside, struck the hand and asked, “Hoy, sino ka?”

When the hand was removed, she saw the small red box on top of the table near the window which she told the Court was not owned by the accused.

The Court, however, did not give credence to the defense’s allegation that the seized drug items were planted evidence.

It pointed out that the accused did not see anyone from the searching team plant the evidence and, in fact, he categorically testified that he was the one who led the police officers inside his room after they were subjected to body search in his presence and no contraband was found on their body, Judge Gapas-Agbada said.

“Too, the testimony of accused lone witness, Ann Margarette Allan, is bereft of credibility,” the Court stressed, adding that the testimony is contrary to human experience.

It noted that after uttering the words “Hoy, sino ka,” she did not shout nor say anything and just sat near the living room.

The Court also said that she never told the barangay officials that she saw a hand slip through the window of  their bedroom and that photographs on record showed that the window was closed and tied with rope, thus making it difficult, if not impossible, for a hand to go through the window.

“The fact that Allan did not report the matter to anyone during the incident and subsequently thereto, despite the presence of opportunity to do so, would justify this Court to believe that her statement regarding the planting of evidence was just an afterthought purposely composed to exculpate the accused of the crime,” Judge Gapas-Agbada emphasized.

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