Privilege Spits


This is about how did I destroy the presumption of truth enjoyed by agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency(PDEA) in Region 12, or in Cotabato Region.

I am elated today (2017-03-18) after reading the text messages coming from my clients saying that I won the petition for bail for them that I have just fought hard against agents of the PDEA Region 12 at the RTC of General Santos City, Branch 23, in a manner that was so beautiful.

As the conclusion of that fight for justice, the Gensan RTC granted the petition for bail that I fought for the two (2) policemen charged by PDEA agents with selling a sachet of shabu inside a room at the Peaceful Lodge (motel).

During the presentation of the poseur buyer agent, through tactically-designed cross-examination questions, I succeeded in eliciting an admission from the said poseur buyer that the two policemen came inside Room 31 of Peaceful Lodge in plain t-shirts and ordinary maong pants and not wearing jacket.

So that I asked the alleged poseur buyer how it happened that three lighters, two toters and one .45 pistol were claimed by PDEA agents to have been seized from them when the poseur buyer did not notice any bulge?

The alleged poseur buyer did not offer any explanation.

I also questioned the poseur buyer and one of the arresting officers why was it that the inventory and photography of seized drug evidence was done in the office of PDEA Region 12 and not inside Room 31 of Peaceful Lodge, the site they claimed where they arrested the two policemen and seized shabu.

The agents answered that they conducted the inventory and photography at Room 31 at first but completed the same inventory and photography at the PDEA office.

I told them that the law, Section 21 of RA 9165, requires for the agents to conduct the marking of seized evidence, the inventory and the photography right away at the place of arrest and seizure of illegal drugs.

So I asked them to explain why they did not complete the the inventory and photography started at the scene, inside Room 31.

They explained that they were afraid of "resbak" because they found out that the persons they arrested were policemen so that they transferred the conduct of the inventory and photography.
 The Supreme Court repeatedly declared that if the agents of the law failed to give a satisfactory explanation for the delay, then it is presumed that the illegal drugs were not taken from the accused.

In much earlier questions, without giving a hint that I would ask about the security of the agents against outside threats, I solicited answers from the same agents that there were 14 of them operating at Peaceful Lodge and that 11 of them were fully armed with long automatic firearms surrounding the perimeter of the lodge.

So that when I asked them to explain why they should be afraid of "resbak" when they were plenty surrounding the lodge and that they were using long and automatic firearms. They failed to answer.

These unanswered questions asking for explanations were indications that the agents were not telling the truth.

The theory that they lied became all the more established when PDEA agents also failed to explain whey they did not wait for the witnesses (a media representative, a DOJ representative and an elected official) to arrive before conducting the inventory and photography.

The weakness of PDEA agents' evidence became all the more exposed when they failed to explain why they had to destroy the door of Room 31 just to arrest the seller of the illegal drug if indeed they were telling the truth that the agreement to sell and buy shabu occurred?

 I pointed out that it was illogical for destruction of the door to occur in the face of the claim that the accused agreed for them to come in to buy shabu.

 These PDEA agents again failed to explain.

The biggest point that I got from the circumstances is when the prosecution and the agents failed to submit to the Court the cellular phones allegedly taken from the policemen clients.

I have demanded for the production of these cellular phones since September of 2016 from the Office of the City Prosecutor because the agents claimed they seized the same cellular phones of the accused during the buy-bust operation.

The agents also claimed that their confidential informant contacted the accused through the cellular phones to come to Room 31 of Peaceful Lodge to sell a sachet of shabu.

Because I know there were no such exchanges of messages to transact to sell shabu, I vigorously demanded from the agents and the Office of the City Prosecutor to surrender the cellular phones to the court and the Court will open and read the messages if only to know whether there were messages about transacting to sell illegal drugs.

The Court issued an order for the prosecutor and the agents to submit the cellular phone.

Instead of complying the directive, the Office of the City Prosecutor submitted a letter telling the Court that the cellular phones can no longer be found.

I then moved for the Court to declare that if only these cellular phones could be produced the messages there inside are favorable to the accused that the messages did not talk about selling of shabu but about a date for a sex with a new "Japayuki" at Room 31.

I argued that if the accused have been the ones who were consistently demanding for the production of cellular phones evidence and if these cannot be produced in court by the prosecutor that admitted having received the same cellular phones during the preliminary investigation, then the failure to produce can now be declared as a circumstance giving the presumption that if only these cellular phones could be opened the messages there inside will favor the party demanding for the production.

One more, I pointed out during the impromptu FINAL CLOSING ORAL ARGUMENT that the PDEA agents concerned did not present their blotter entries concerning the operation that led to the arrest of my clients.

I argued that the only way to believe that the marked money allegedly used by the PDEA agents was indeed genuine for the buy-bust operation is when the same marked money's serial number was recorded in the PDEA blotter at a time before the time of jump off to the field to conduct a buy-bust operation against the accused.

I followed up that it was necessary for the prosecutor to present an orderly PDEA blotter containing coherent entries as to time without skipping any space (laktaw) where one of the entries is the serial number of the marked money used in the buy-bust operation and where the time of entry of the serial number of the marked money is much earlier than the time the agents left their PDEA office.

Because these PDEA agents failed to present their blotter, the presumption then is that the alleged marked money was only a product of fabrication by the agents.

I was too confident I succeeded in destroying the presumption of regularity that was initially enjoyed by the PDEA agents in this case.

The presumption of regularity doctrine says that police officers and PDEA officers are always presumed to be telling the truth if they were to allege matters about the police operations they performed and brought to the courts.

In this case, I believed I succeeded in presenting evidence that destroyed the same presumption of regularity.

I believe that all the above presentations clearly showed that the PDEA agents involved did not observe and did not follow the procedures required by RA 9165 and other laws for them to perform.

Among those that the PDEA agents failed to observe were the manner of conducting inventory and photography, the recording of the marked money in the blotter before jumping to the operations, the marking of evidence that must be done in the scene of arrest and seizure of the same evidence, and many others.

In my opinion article written in my previous Privilege Spits column, I called the same presumption of regularity as very oppressive against the accused.

That was because it is usual that it was difficult to look for evidence just to prove that the police officers or agents had corrupt motives or committed irregular acts.

Indeed, the RTC of General Santos, Branch 23, through Judge Dennis Velasco, gave me the resounding victory for the real and sweet justice, allowing my clients to post bail in the amount of P400,000 each accused.


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