This is an appeal from the Decision 1 of the Regional Trial Court of Laguna (Calamba), Branch 34, convicting the appellant of violation of Section 15, Article 3 of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, and sentencing him to reclusion perpetua.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
On May 3, 1999, an Information charging the appellant with violation of Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended, was filed with the Regional Trial Court. The accusatory portion of the Information reads:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
That on or about February 17, 1999 in the Municipality of Calamba, Province of Laguna and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, without any authority of law, did then there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously sell and deliver METHAMPHETAMINE HYDROCHLORIDE, otherwise known as "SHABU" weighing 200 grams, a regulated drug, to a poseur buyer for and in consideration of P2,000.00, in violation of the aforementioned law.
CONTRARY TO LAW. 2
On his arraignment, the accused, assisted by counsel, entered a plea of not guilty.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
The Case for the Prosecution 3
On February 17, 1999, at 2:30 p.m., a confidential informant arrived in the office of the Regional Intelligence and Investigation Division, Region 12, Camp Vicente Lim, Canlubang, Calamba, Laguna. He reported to Inspector Danilo Bugay, and told the latter about his agreement with a drug pusher, Mangi Adam y Lumambas, for the purchase of 200 grams of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) for P200,000.00 at 7:30 p.m. at the Seven-Eleven Store located at Crossing, Calamba, Laguna. The confidential informant also reported that he had agreed to pay P200,000.00 to Adam upon delivery of the prohibited drug. Inspector Bugay decided to conduct a buy-bust operation and proceeded to form a team. PO3 Rey Lucido was designated to act as poseur-buyer, while SPO3 Honorio Sanchez and SPO1 Danilo Satuito were to act as back-up men. PO3 Lucido was tasked to buy 200 grams of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) for P2,000.00 consisting of two genuine P1,000.00 bills 4 and boodle money tied together by a rubber band and placed in an envelope. The team also included PO3 Teodoro Cortez and SPO3 Rodelo Lareza. While PO3 Lucido was transacting the sale, the back-up men would station themselves within the vicinity. The plan was when PO3 Lucido scratched his head, the pre-arranged signal to indicate that the sale had already been consummated, the rest of the team would rush to the scene and arrest the suspect.
PO3 Lucido affixed his initials "RL" on each of the genuine P1,000.00 bills to be used as the buy-bust money.
At 7:00 p.m., the team, together with the confidential informant, arrived at the parking space at the 7-11 Convenience Store and Wendy’s Restaurant at the crossing in Calamba, Laguna. The police officers coordinated with the police operatives in the police outpost near the store. The back-up men positioned themselves about ten to fifteen meters from the area where PO3 Lucido and the confidential informant stationed themselves, as they waited for Adam’s arrival. The place was well-lighted. There were cars parked in the area, and some people were milling about near the stores.
Momentarily, Adam arrived and approached the confidential informant, who forthwith introduced PO3 Lucido as the buyer of 200 grams of shabu. Adam showed PO3 Lucido a transparent plastic tea bag which contained white crystalline substances. PO3 Lucido in turn handed over the envelope containing the marked P1,000.00 bills and the boodle money to Adam, scratched his head, and identified himself as a police officer. PO3 Lucido then took the plastic bag from Adam and arrested him. The back-up men then rushed to the scene of the crime. SPO1 Satuito confiscated the two P1,000.00 bills and the boodle money from Adam.
The police officers then brought Adam to Camp Vicente Lim on board their cars. On the way, PO3 Lucido placed his initials on the plastic transparent bag he had confiscated from Adam.
PO3 Lucido and SPO1 Satuito executed their Joint Affidavit of Arrest. 5 Adam was subjected to a physical examination by the Regional Medical Unit and was found to be in essentially normal condition. 6
Police Inspector Francisco Villaroman requested the PNP Regional Crime Laboratory to conduct a laboratory examination of the crystalline substances contained in the plastic transparent bag confiscated from Adam. Regional Forensic Chemist Officer Lorna R. Tria examined the crystalline substance which weighed 201.196 grams. She thereafter submitted her report stating that the said substance was found positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride. 7
The Case for the Accused
Adam invoked denial and alibi as his defenses. As synthesized by the trial court, the case for the accused is that:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
. . . [P]rior to his arrest, he was a security guard of the Front Liner Security Agency, Inc. assigned at Asia Text in San Cristobal, Calamba, Laguna; that on February 17, 1999, at around 2:30 in the afternoon, he was in the cockpit at Halang, Calamba, Laguna, in the company of Larry Bhots and Sanday Bhots, his fellow security guards, when arrested by SPO2 Danilo Satuito who was with three other men wearing civilian clothes; he was then brought to the camp where he was asked to reveal the identity of the person to whom he shall deliver the shabu but he replied that he did not know anything about it; that he saw the alleged shabu for first time only in court; that when charged of allegedly selling shabu, he even requested that he be examined for drug use. 8
On June 8, 2000, the trial court rendered judgment convicting the accused of the crime charged. The decretal portion of the decision reads:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
ACCORDINGLY, this Court finds accused Mangi Adam y Lumambas GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Violation of Section 15, Article 3, Republic Act 6425, as amended, and hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay a fine of Five Million (P5,000,000.00) Pesos.
The 201.190 grams of shabu subject of the offense are hereby ordered confiscated and forfeited in favor of the government to be disposed of in accordance with existing rules and regulations.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
With costs against the accused.
SO ORDERED. 9
Adam, now appellant, assails the decision of the trial court, contending that:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF DRUG-PUSHING DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE FULL AMOUNT OF THE CONSIDERATION THEREFOR WAS NEVER STATED IN COURT BY PO3 LUCIDO, THE ALLEGED POSEUR-BUYER. 10
The appellant asserts that the evidence adduced by the prosecution falls short of the requisite quantum of evidence for his conviction of the sale of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride). He contends that in the Information, it appears that the poseur-buyer PO3 Rey Lucido "purchased" the shabu for the amount of P2,000.00. However, PO3 Lucido never testified on the price of the shabu. Moreover, although PO1 Satuito testified that the price of the prohibited drug was P200,000.00 and that the boodle money was placed in an envelope, the prosecution never formally offered the boodle money in evidence. The appellant also asserts that the amount of P2,000.00 stated in the Information as consideration for the 200 grams of shabu is grossly adequate. If the version of the prosecution is to be believed, the fact that the appellant did not even inspect the boodle money and verify the genuineness thereof but was content to inspect only the P1,000.00 bills after handing over 200 grams of shabu, is incredible and unworthy of belief. PO3 Lucido and PO1 Satuito’s account, that the sale of the shabu took place in the parking lot of the 7-11 Convenience Store and the Wendy’s Restaurant, a place near and visible to the police outpost is, likewise, incredible. According to the appellant, the assertion that shabu would be sold in a place so near a police outpost is contrary to ordinary human experience.
For its part, the Office of the Solicitor General asserts that the prosecution mustered the requisite quantum of evidence to prove the sale to PO3 Lucido of shabu by the appellant for P2,000.00. It also contends that the case for the prosecution was not enfeebled by the prosecution’s failure to offer the boodle money in evidence. It contends that the failure of the appellant to first ascertain if the buy-bust money was genuine or not was due to the fact that he was arrested immediately after PO3 Lucido gave the pre-arranged signal to the back-up team. Finally, the prosecution avers that it is not uncommon for drug dealers or pushers to sell their commodities in any place including the vicinity of a police outpost. The OSG cites the ruling of this Court in People v. Herrera 11 to buttress its contention.
The appeal is dismissed.
We agree with the appellant that the prosecution failed to prove beyond cavil of doubt that a sale of 200 grams of shabu took place between the appellant as the seller and PO3 Lucido as the poseur-buyer for P2,000.00 Article 1, paragraph 2(o) of Republic Act No. 6425 defines the sale of illicit drugs as "the act of giving a dangerous drug, whether for money or any material consideration."cralaw virtua1aw library
This Court has held that the elements necessary for the prosecution of illegal sale of drugs are (1) the identity of the buyer and the seller, the object, and consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment therefor. 12 What is material is the proof that the transaction or sale actually took place, coupled with the presentation in Court of the corpus delicti as evidence. 13 In Roble v. Arbasa, 14 this Court held that the essential elements of a sale are the following: (a) consent or meeting of the minds, that is consent to transfer ownership in exchange for the price; (b) determinate subject matter; and (c) price certain in money or its equivalent.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
In this case, PO3 Lucido testified that after he was introduced to the appellant as the buyer of 200 grams of shabu, the latter showed to him the plastic bag containing the prohibited substance. PO3 Lucido then handed to the appellant the envelope containing the two P1,000.00 genuine bills and the boodle money. PO3 Lucido then gave the pre-arranged signal to the back-up team who rushed to the scene:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
Q After the briefings and arrangements were made when you said you were to act as poseur-buyer, what did your team do?
A We proceeded to the parking space of 711 Department Store at Crossing.
Q Around what time?
A At 7 o’clock in the evening.
Q How many were you who proceeded to Crossing, Calamba, Laguna?
A We were ten.
Q And you said you were at Crossing, Calamba, Laguna, that evening of February 17, 1999, what happened after you arrived there together with your companions?
A After we arrived there, a male person approached.
Q Who was approached by this person?
A Our confidential informant.
Q What happened after that male person approached your confidential informant?
A I was introduced by our confidential agent to Boy Muslim to buy 200 grams (sic).
Q After you were introduced as the person interested in buying shabu, what happened next?
A He showed me the plastic containing shabu.
Q After you were shown a plastic containing shabu, what happened?
A I handed to him one window envelope, the buy-bust money and the boodle money.
Q And after you handed the buy-bust money and boodle money to the person who showed you a plastic containing shabu, what happened?
A I gave the pre-arranged signal by scratching my head to indicate that the sale has been consummated. 15
There is no evidence that PO3 Lucido talked about and agreed with the appellant on the purchase price of the shabu. There is no evidence that the appellant handed over the shabu to PO3 Lucido. As gleaned from the latter’s testimony, the appellant merely showed the bag containing the shabu and held on to it before it was confiscated by PO3 Lucido:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
FISCAL:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
Q By the way, you said after you were introduced as the person interested in buying shabu, this plastic containing shabu was shown to you, what happened after that?
A I handed to him the window envelope.
Q How about the plastic which you said was shown to you containing shabu?
A The shabu was never handed to me. When I saw it, I just handed the buy-bust money to the accused. 16
There is no shred of evidence to prove that the appellant was aware that the envelope contained money. The OSG cannot rely on the ruling of this Court in People v. Herrera because in that case, the prosecution was able to prove the sale of the prohibited drug to the poseur-buyer, the delivery of the shabu to the latter and the payment of the purchase price of the shabu to the appellant therein.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
However, we find the appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of attempted sale of shabu as defined in Section 21(b) of Article IV of Republic Act No. 6425 as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
SEC. 21. Attempt and Conspiracy. — The same penalty prescribed by this Act for the commission of the offense shall be imposed in case of any attempt or conspiracy to commit the same in the following cases:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
x x x
(b) Sale, administration, delivery, distribution and transportation of dangerous drugs; . . .
Thus, an attempt to sell the prohibited drug shabu is necessarily included in the crime of sale thereof; hence, the appellant may be convicted of an attempt to sell under an Information for the sale of the prohibited drug.
The appellant intended to sell shabu and commenced by overt acts the commission of the intended crime by showing the substance to PO3 Lucido. The sale was aborted when PO3 Lucido identified himself as a police officer and placed the appellant under arrest. 17
It was not impossible for the appellant to have transacted for the sale of shabu near a police outpost, a parking space where other persons were present. The evidence shows that the police officers had coordinated the buy-bust operation with the police operatives manning the police outpost. It is not uncommon for drug pushers to sell their commodities at any time and at any place. 18
The appellant’s denial of the crime charge is a negative self-serving evidence. Like alibi, it cannot prevail over the positive and straightforward testimonies of the witnesses of the prosecution who are presumed to have performed their duties in accordance with law, and who have no reason to fabricate the charge against him. 19 Alibi is one of the weakest, if not the weakest defense in criminal cases. Unless clear and convincing evidence is adduced by the appellant to prove that it was physically impossible for him to have been at the situs criminis when it was committed, his alibi cannot prevail. 20 The appellant failed to prove his alibi. He relied solely on his testimony to prove his defense. He also failed to adduce corroborative evidence.
The penalty for the crime is reclusion perpetua to death and a fine ranging from P500,000.00 to P10,000,000.00, as provided for in Section 15, Article 11, in relation to Article 12, Section 20 of Rep. Act No. 6425. Absent any aggravating circumstances attendant to the crime, the appellant should be sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, conformably with Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, which is applicable in a suppletory character to crimes defined by special penal laws, pursuant to Article 10 of the said Code.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the appellant is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of attempted sale of methamphetamine hydrochloride under Section 21, paragraph (b) of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, and is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua; and to pay a fine in the amount of FIVE MILLION PESOS (P5,000,000.00). The decision of the trial court is AFFIRMED in all other aspects. Costs against the appellant.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
Bellosillo, Quisumbing, Austria-Martinez and Tinga, JJ.
1. Penned by Judge Antonio M. Eugenio, Jr.
2. Rollo, p. 52.
3. The prosecutor presented the following witnesses: PO3 Rey Lucido, Police Inspector Lorna R. Tria, and SPO1 Danilo Satuito.
4. Exhibit "C" and "C-1."cralaw virtua1aw library
5. Exhibit "A."cralaw virtua1aw library
6. Exhibit "B-2.
7. Exhibit "E."cralaw virtua1aw library
8. Rollo, p. 54.
9. Id. at 57.
10. Id. at 72.
11. 247 SCRA 433 (1995).
12. People v. Montano, 337 SCRA 608 (2000).
13. People v. So, 370 SCRA 252 (2001); People v. Julian-Fernandez, 372 SCRA 608 (2001).
14. 362 SCRA 69 (2001).
15. TSN, 25 June 1999, pp. 6–7 (Lucido).
16. TSN, 25 June 1999, p. 7 (Lucido).
17. People v. Lizada, G.R. No. 143468-71, January 24, 2003.
18. People v. Cheng Ho Chua, 305 SCRA 28 (1999).
19. People v. Fernandez, supra.
20. People v. Caabay, G.R. No. 129961-62, August 28, 2003.