The Supreme Court has affirmed a 2013 Court of Appeals decision that imposed a life imprisonment and a fine of P500,000 on a Cebu City resident caught in a drug buy-bust operation conducted by the police in 2006.
In a decision written by Justice Jose Portugal Perez, upheld was the conviction of Mercury dela Cruz, alias “Deday,” who was found guilty in 2008 by the Cebu City Regional Trial Court of violation of Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Legal quarters hailed the latest SC decision on drugs cases as a boost to President Duterte’s all-out war against illegal drugs. But they said the courts should speed up the trial and resolution of cases involving violations of RA 9165.
Earlier, the SC had mobilized 240 more RTCs in the country to handle drugs cases in response to the government’s drive against illegal drugs. This means that a total of 955 RTCs are now working to expedite the resolution of 128,368 pending drugs-related cases in the country.
In the case of Dela Cruz, three Cebu City policemen responded to a tip from a civilian informer that she was the source of shabu, a prohibited drug, in Sitio Cogon, Barangay Labangon.
One of the policemen acted as a buyer. Once near Dela Cruz’s house, the civilian informer called her out and said his friend (the policeman who acted as buyer) would like to buy shabu worth P200.
The two other policemen were about 10 meters away. When they saw that their colleague has given the R200 in marked bills and got a sachet of shabu, they rushed to arrest Dela Cruz.
Dela Cruz, however, resisted arrest and shouted for help. While she was escaping, her neighbors blocked the three policemen who failed to arrest her.
The policemen proceeded to their precinct where the small plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance was marked. A laboratory examination showed that the small plastic sachet contained methamphetamine hydrochloride, known as shabu.
Dela Cruz was arrested by virtue of a warrant issued by the trial court.
In a decision issued on November 27, 2008, the Cebu City RTC gave full credence to the testimonies of the three police officers and rejected the defenses of denial and alibi of Dela Cruz who was sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine of R500,000.
The CA dismissed Dela Cruz’s appeal. It agreed with the RTC on the credibility of the prosecution witnesses and held that “the arresting officers complied with the proper procedure in the custody and disposition of the seized drugs.”
Dela Cruz elevated her case to the SC. (Rey G. Panaligan)