People v. Ayangao : 142356 : April 14, 2004 : J. Corona : Third Division
[G.R. NO. 142356.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, v.
AYANGAO y BATONG-OG,
D E C I S I O N
This is an appeal from the February 29, 2000 decision1 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 59, Angeles City in Criminal Case no.
99-1261 convicting the appellant of
violating Section 4, Article 2 of RA 7659, as amended, also known as the
Dangerous Drugs Act.
Appellant Lita Ayangao was charged with transporting 14. 75
kilograms of marijuana in an information2 that
That on or about the 13thday of August, 1999, in the
Municipality of Mabalacat, Province of Pampanga, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, LITA AYANGAO y
BATONG-OG, without any authority of law, did then and there wilfully,
unlawfully and feloniously dispatch in transit or transport fifteen (15) bricks
of dried marijuana leaves with the actual total weight of FOURTEEN KILOGRAMS
AND SEVENTY FIVE HUNDREDTHS (14. 75) of kilogram, a prohibited drug.
The appellant, through counsel, filed a motion to quash on the
ground that the facts charged did not constitute an offense.
This was denied by the trial court.
Upon arraignment, the appellant pleaded not
guilty.3 Thereafter, trial ensued.
The prosecution presented three witnesses: PO3 Nestor Galvez, PO3
Bienvenido Sagum and Chief Forensic Chemist Daisy Panganiban-Babor. The
prosecutions version4 of
the facts, as aptly summarized by the trial court, was:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Two weeks before August 13, 1999, PO3 Bienvenido Sagum and PO3
Nestor A. Galvez, members of the Criminal Detection and Intelligence Group
based at Diamond Subdivision, Balibago, Angeles City, received information from
one of their informants that a certain woman from Mountain Province delivers
dried marijuana leaves for sale at Sapang Biabas, Mabalacat, Pampanga to some
drug pushers. Said information was also relayed by the informant to C/Insp.
Rhodel O. Sermonia who instructed the two operatives to conduct surveillance
operation against their target female who was described by their informant as
about 50 years old, 5 feet in height, straight long hair and coming from
At around 5:00 oclock in the morning of August 13, 1999, their
informant went to their headquarters and informed them that their suspect is
due to arrive at Sapang Biabas, Mabalacat.
PO3 Sagum and PO3 Galvez, together with the informant, immediately went
to Sapang Biabas and parked their car near the entrance of the road going to
While they were in their
car, the informer pointed to them a woman bearing the same description given by
the former. The woman alighted from the tricycle and subsequently loaded two
sacks with camote fruits on top. The two officers proceeded to the place where
the woman was and noticed marijuana dried leaves protruding through a hole of
one of the sacks. Sagum and Galvez introduced themselves as police officers and
requested the woman to put out the contents of the said sacks. The sacks
yielded sweet potatoes mixed with 15 brick-like substance wrapped in brown
paper and masking tape. A brick, which was damaged on the side and in plain
view of the officers revealed dried marijuana leaves. The woman who was
arrested identified herself as accused Lita Ayangao y Batong-Og of Lacnog,
Agbanawag Tabuk, Kalinga Province. Ayangao and the suspected dried marijuana
leaves were brought to the police officers headquarter at Diamond Subdivision,
Angeles City. The evidence confiscated from the accused were sent to the PNP
Crime Laboratory at Camp Olivas where it was examined by Chief Forensic Chemist
Daisy P. Babor. The Initial Laboratory Report issued indicated that the
specimens from the 15 bricks of suspected dried marijuana leaves weighing 14. 75
kilograms were found to be positive for marijuana.
The defense, through the testimonies of the appellant and
Reynaldo Nunag, purokchairman of Sitio Makabakle, presented a different
version, again summarized by the trial court:5 cralawred
Accused Lita Ayangao denied the charge made against her and alleged
that she has nothing to do with the marijuana allegedly found in her
She went to Sapang Biabas
Marimar, Camachile, Mabalacat, Pampanga from Tabuk, Kalinga Province on
August 13, 1999 only upon the request of a certain Magda Dumpao. Allegedly,
Magda bought a house in Mawaque, Mabalacat and learned that it was being sold
again. Magda then requested her (accused) to talk to Jaime Alarcon who acted as
Magdas agent in buying the house. It was Magda who instructed her on how to go
to the house of Jaime Alarcon. She arrived at the house of Alarcon at around
3:00 oclock in the morning and was welcomed inside by Gloria and Jocelyn
Alarcon, Jaimes wife and daughter-in-law. As Jaime was not around, she asked
the Alarcons permission if she can have a nap. Gloria and Jocelyn allowed her
to sleep on the sofa and while she was resting, at around 6:00 oclock in the
morning, somebody knocked at the door. Gloria opened it and two men, who
identified themselves as CIS agents, told Gloria that they were looking for
somebody who came from Baguio City. One of the men went to where she was then
lying and asked Gloria who she was. Gloria answered that she came from Tabuk.
The police officers asked her (accused) to go with them as they wanted to talk
to her. When she refused, the policemen forced her out of the house and boarded
her to their car. While she was inside the car, she saw a sack and a carton
box. The police brought her to their headquarters at Diamond Subd.,
City. She was made to sit in a chair and in her view, the sack was opened and
its contents were placed in (sic) a table. She then heard from the
policemen that the contents of the sack were marijuana and accused her of
Reynaldo Nunag, purok chairman of Sitio Makabakle, Marimar, Biabas,
Mabalacat, Pampanga, testified that, as tricycle driver whose terminal is near
the house of Jaime Alarcon, he did not see any unusual incident that happened
in said vicinity in the morning of August 13, 1999. He also did not see how the
accused was arrested and did not see the policemens car.
The trial court found the prosecutions version to be credible,
reasoning that appellants defense of frame-up was not supported by evidence
and thus could not prevail over the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses.
The law enforcers testimonies carried the
presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties.
The dispositive portion of the decision
WHEREFORE, premises considered, accused Lita Ayangao y Batong-og is
found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 4 of Article II of R. A.
6425 as amended by R. A. 7659 by transporting fourteen kilograms and seventy
five hundredths (14. 75) of a kilogram of marijuana, a prohibited drug, without
authority. Said accused is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. Accused Lita Ayangao-Batong-og (sic) is further ordered to pay
a fine of five hundred thousand (
P500,000. 00) pesos.
SO ORDERED.6 cralawred
The following assignments of error are raised in this appeal:7
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING FULL
FAITH AND CREDENCE TO THE TESTIMONIES OF THE PROSECUTION WITNESSES DESPITE
EXISTING SERIOUS INCONSISTENCIES AND INCREDIBILITY THEREBY CREATING DOUBT
REGARDING THEIR TRUTHFULNESS AND CREDIBILITY.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT CONSIDERING
FAVORABLY THE DEFENSE OF ALIBI AS A GROUND FOR ACQUITTAL OF THE
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT IN SPITE OF THE WEAKNESS OF THE PROSECUTION EVIDENCE WHICH
IS INSUFFICIENT TO OVERCOME THE PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE IN HER FAVOR.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT ACQUITTING
HEREIN DEFENDANT-APPELLANT ON GROUND OF REASONABLE DOUBT.
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO HOLD
THAT THE APPREHENDING OFFICERS VIOLATED DEFENDANT-APPELLANTS MIRANDA RIGHTS.
After a thorough review of the records, this Court finds that the
prosecution was able to discharge its burden of proving the appellants guilt
beyond reasonable doubt.
of the trial court was supported by the evidence on record.
Regarding the credibility of witnesses, this Court has ruled time
and again that this is a matter best assessed by the trial court judge since he
has the opportunity to observe the witnesses demeanor and deportment on the
stand.8 Besides, in this case, the inconsistencies criticized by the appellant were
minor ones involving negligible details which did not negate the truth of the
witnesses testimonies nor detract from their credibility.9 cralawred
Appellant also assigns as error the illegality of her arrest
because she was not read her Miranda rights.
(This is in addition to her argument that the 15 bricks of marijuana
were inadmissible since the warrantless search was invalid, not having been
made pursuant to a lawful arrest.)
contention is without merit since this Court has repeatedly ruled that, by
entering a plea upon arraignment and by actively participating in the trial, an
accused is deemed to have waived any objection to his arrest and warrantless
search.10 Any objection to the arrest or acquisition of jurisdiction over the person of
the accused must be made before he enters his plea, otherwise the objection is
deemed waived.11 Here, in submitting herself to the jurisdiction of the trial court when she
entered a plea of not guilty and participated in the trial, the appellant
waived any irregularity that may have attended her arrest.12 cralawred
Assuming, however, that there was no such waiver, pursuant to People v. Barros,13 reiterated in People v. Aruta,
14 the waiver of the non-admissibility of the fruits of an invalid warrantless
arrest and warrantless search and seizure is notto be casually presumed
for the constitutional guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures to
The Court finds that
the arrest was lawful as appellant was actually committing a crime when she was
arrested transporting marijuana, are act prohibited by law.
Since a lawful arrest was made, the
resulting warrantless search on appellant was also valid as the legitimate
warrantless arrest authorized the arresting police officers to validly search
and seize from the offender (1) any dangerous weapons and (2) the things which
may be used as proof of the commission of the offense.15 cralawred
In the present case, the warrantless arrest was lawful because it
fell under Rule 113, Section 5(a) of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure.
This section provides that a peace officer
may arrest a person even without a warrant when, in his presence, the person to
be arrested has committed, is actually committingor is attempting to
commit an offense. However, the police officer should be spurred by probable
causein making the arrest.
Although the term eludes exact definition, probable cause signifies a
reasonable ground of suspicion supported by circumstances sufficiently strong
in themselves to warrant a cautious mans belief that the person accused is
guilty of the offense with which he is charged.16 The
determination of probable cause must be resolved according to the facts of each
case. In this case, the arresting officers had probable cause to make the
arrest in view of the tip they received from their informant.
This Court has already ruled that tipped
information is sufficient probable cause to effect a warrantless search.17 Although the apprehending officers received the tip two weeks prior to the
arrest, they could not be faulted for not applying for a search warrant
inasmuch as the exact date of appellants arrival was not known by the
Apprehending officer PO3
Sagum testified18 as follows:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
QSo what were the
information given you by your informer?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AAng kausap po nila iyong hepe namin[g] si Maj. Rhodel Sermonia tapos po
sinabi lang po sa amin ni Maj. Sermonia ang sinabi ng informant.
QSo you did not hear the
report of the informant?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
QWhat was the information
given by your superior?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AHe told us that somebody
will be delivering marijuana at Sapang Bayabas and the informer knew the
QGive us the complete
ASinabi po ng hepe namin na sinabi ng informant na merong babaeng
magdedeliver ng marijuana sa Sapang Bayabas at babalik daw po siya kung
QOn the date in question
August 13 at around 6:00 oclock in the morning you were in your office?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AWe were already at Sapang
QWhich is which now?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
ANasa Sapang Bayabas na po, sir.
QBefore going to Sapang
Bayabas where did you come from?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AWe were in the office, sir.
QWhat time where you in the
AThat is where we were
QYou were sleeping there?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AYes, sir, we are stay-in.
QAnd then what happened?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AOur informant came, sir.
A5:00 oclock, sir.
QWhat was the purpose of the
ASinabi po niya sa amin na darating na raw po iyong ano.
QI thought that your
superior already informed you that the suspect or the accused will be arriving
at 6:00 oclock the first time?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
ASabi po sa amin noong magpunta iyong informer sa office namin August 13
darating daw po iyong babae.
QIt was on August 13 when
he said that?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
QWho was he talking with
AIyong Chief po namin tapos kinausap ko rin po siya.
QWhat time was that?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
ABefore 5:00, sir.
QSo they were talking before
5:00 with your Chief?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
QWhere were you?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AI was outside, sir.
QSo you were not listening
QSo you do not know what
they have talked about?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
QAnd then what were the
instruction given by your superior?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AHe said we will proceed to
Sapang Bayabas because there is a lady going there bringing marijuana.
QDid you ask the identity of
QWhat did he say?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AAbout 50 years of age, 5
feet and with straight long hair?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
QHow about the name, was the
name given to you?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
ANo, sir, he just said she
came from Kalinga.
QAside from that, was the
quantity of the drugs given to you that was to be brought?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
QSo you just learned that
the woman will be arriving at Sapang Bayabas at 6:00 oclock?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AI do not know the time
she is arriving.
QHe did not tell you?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AHe does not know, sir.
QThe informant did not tell
AYes, sir, he just said she
will be coming in Sapang Bayabas.
QYou did not ask for the
AHe does not know, sir.
QWhat about the particular
place where the woman will deliver the drugs?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AHindi niya po alam basta doon sa entrance daw po ng Sapang Bayabas doon
na po kami mag-istambay. (Emphasis and Italics supplied).
Although there was testimony by PO3 Galvez that the informant
told them the exact date of arrival, the trial court gave more weight to the
testimony of PO3 Sagum that stated otherwise, as evidenced by his finding that
the informant arrived at the police station at 5:00 A. M. on August 13, 1999 and
informed them that the appellant was arriving at 6:00 A. M.19 The judgment call of the trial court on which of these two conflicting
testimonies to believe should prevail because it involved the assessment of the
credibility of witnesses.20 Thus, without proof that some facts or circumstances of weight or substance
having a bearing on the result of the case have been overlooked, misunderstood
or misapplied, this Court will not overturn such finding as the judge was in a
better position to observe the demeanor of the two witnesses.21 cralawred
In those cases where this Court invalidated a warrantless search
on the ground that the officers could have applied for a search warrant, the
concerned officers received the tip either days prior to the arrival or in the
afternoon of a working day.
In People v. Aminudin,22 this
Court found that the officers received the tip two days prior to the actual
date of arrival of accused Aminudin. In People v. Encinadak,
23 the police officers were tipped off at 4:00 P. M. on May 20, 1992 that accused
Encinada would arrive at 7:00 A. M. the next day. Thus, the officers had time to
obtain search warrants inasmuch as Administrative Circulars 13 and 19 of the
Supreme Court allowed the application for search warrants even after office
In People v. Aruta,24 the police officers received the information on December 13, 1988 that accused
Aruta would arrive on a Victory Liner Bus at 6:30 P. M. on December 14, 1999,
giving them a day to obtain a warrant.
In the present case, the informant arrived at the police station
at 5:00 A. M. on August 13, 1999 and informed the officers that the appellant
would be arriving at 6:00 A. M. (just an hour later) that day.
The circumstances clearly called for an
immediate response from the officers. In People v. Valdez,
25 this Court upheld the validity of the warrantless arrest and corresponding
search of accused Valdez as the officer made the arrest on the strength of a
similar on-the-spot tip.
In the case at
bar, though all other pertinent details were known by the officers except the
date, they could not have applied for a search warrant since the validity of a
warrant was only for 10 days.26 Considering that the officers did not know when the appellant was going to
arrive, prudence made them act the way they did.
The appellant also faults the trial court for failing to give weight
to her defense of alibi.
alibi could not prevail over the overwhelming evidence presented by the
Alibi as a defense is
inherently weak27 and for it to serve as basis for an acquittal, the accused must establish by
clear and convincing evidence (a) his presence at another place at the time of
the perpetration of the offense and (b) the physical impossibility to be at the
scene of the crime.28 The
appellant failed to meet these two requirements. Jaime Alarcons house where
appellant claimed to be sleeping at the time of her arrest, was only 10 meters
from the tricycle terminal where she was arrested by the officers.29 Thus, the trial court was correct in ruling that the alibi of appellant was not
enough to acquit her of the charges.
With the effectivity of RA 7659, Section 4 of RA 6425, provides
the penalty of reclusion perpetuato death and a fine ranging from
to P10,000,000 if the marijuana involved weighs 750 grams or more. Since
the penalty is composed of two indivisible penalties, the rules for applying
the penalties in Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code are applicable, pursuant
to the ruling in People v. Simon
30 wherein the Court recognized the suppletory application of the rules on
penalties in the Revised Penal Code and the Indeterminate Sentence Law to the
Dangerous Drugs Act after its amendment by RA 7659. Thus, as the appellant was
found to be transporting 14. 75 kilograms of marijuana, the trial court was
correct in imposing the lesser penalty of reclusion perpetuasince there
was no aggravating or mitigating circumstance, and in not applying the
Indeterminate Sentence Law which is not applicable when indivisible penalties
WHEREFORE, the judgment of the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 59, of Angeles City, finding the appellant guilty of transporting a
prohibited drug and sentencing her to reclusion perpetuaand to pay the
P500,000, is hereby AFFIRMED.
Vitug, (Chairman), Sandoval-Gutierrez, and Carpio Morales, JJ., concur.
Penned by Judge Eliezer R. de los Santos.
Section 13, Rule 126, Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure .
TSN, January 19, 2000, p. 14-17.
Section 10 Rule 126, Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure.
TSN, January 19, 2000, p. 14.
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