Convict foursome in drug-related cases

Regional Trial Court Branch 30 today sentenced four persons accused in separate drugs cases to a maximum of 14 years imprisonment and fined P400,000 each after they were found guilty beyond reasonable doubt for illegal possession of prohibited drugs as provided for in Section 11, RA 9165.

They are Eddie Villacaol of Habitat 1, Bajumpandan, Anthony Ian Cajocon, resident of Zone 2 in Looc, Reynaldo Gamora Jr. of Barangay Bagacay and Alfredo Pacunla, resident of Canday-ong in Calindagan, all in Dumaguete.

Two others were sentenced to life imprisonment, namely, David James Pis-an of Lower Camanjac who was meted 20 years and one day to life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P400,000 as well as Alejandro Tayong Jr., resident of Batinguel in Dumaguete who was slapped with life imprisonement and P400,000 fine. Pis-an and Tayong were meted higher sentences because they were caught in possession of more than 5 grams of shabu in separate antidrugs operations in Dumaguete City.

However, two others were acquitted, namely, Alvin Mariño and Glenn Anub, for failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt.

Judge Tan explained the court has no other recourse but to dismiss the charges against them for failure of prosecution witness PO2 Julius Gajetos to testify in court as the main witness due to his untimely death in another antidrug operation last last year.

Gajetos was the designated poseur-buyer, arresting officer and evidence custodian, and that he is the only person who could verify the truthfulness of the allegations of the prosecution regarding the buy bust operation.

Judge Tan however, said, it does not mean that the accused did not commit the crime charged but simply because the prosecution could not prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt in view of Gajetos’ failure to testify.

For September, Judge Tan has disposed a total of 16 cases but 25 new cases had been raffled to his sala, almost the same number with RTC Branch 36, which is also designated as a drugs court.

In fact, five more drug suspects were arraigned today and pleaded not guilty of the crime charged.

Since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office, the number of cases that reached the courts is increasing, 20 cases in July, 23 in August, 25 for September just for RTC Branch 30 alone.

Judge tan disclosed this could increase with directives for the police to make at least three arrests everyday.

The common defense of all the cases being promulgated today is alibi and mere denial or frame up, which Judge Tan considered as unworthy of belief. He said the Supreme Court has invariably viewed with disfavor the defense of frame ups because it can easily be frabricated and is a common ploy in the prosecution for the illegal sale and possession of dangerous drugs.

If they want such defense to prsper the defense must show strong and convincing evidence because such defense is even weaker in the face of the positive identify of the accused by the arresting officer.

If persons accused in drugs case would claim that they are being framed up, they should immediately take the first step of filing an administrative case or a criminal complaint against the arrest police officers but none of them made the move. Such inaction betrayed the unworthiness of such claim, Judge Tan pointed out.jg

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