G.R. No. 186227: July 20 2011: 669 Phil. 461
Offense Involved: R.A. 9165 (Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002)
FACTS: Sometime in 2003, the Task Forcer Regional Anti-Crime Emergency Response (RACER) in Butuan City received a report that a 17 yrs old named Mantalaba was selling shabu. A buy-bust operation was conducted in the evening of October 1, 2003. After this, two informations were filed against Mantalaba which was later on consolidated. During arraignment, Mantalaba pleaded not guilty. Trial ensued and the RTC found Mantalaba guilty beyond reasonable doubt and was penalized of reclusion perpetua to death and fine of 500k for selling shabu, and for illegally possessing shabu. Mantalaba was penalized, in application of the ISL, 6 yrs and 1 day as minimum and 8 yrs as maximum of prision mayor and fine of 300k. CA affirmed in toto the decision of the RTC. Thus, the present appeal.
- Whether or not the lower court erred in convicting accused-appellant of drug trafficking and possession?
- Whether or not lower court erred in disregarding accused-appellant’s minority as privileged mitigating circumstance in fixing the penalty?
- No. Lower court did not err in convicting accused-appellant Mantalaba of drug trafficking and possession. Prosecution was able to establish the evidence of actual sale between him and the poseur-buyer, as well as the chain of custody of the seized shabu. The buy-bust operation was valid, establishing the following: (1) the identity of the buyer and the seller, the object, and the consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment therefore. From the above testimony of the prosecution witness, it was well established that the elements have been satisfactorily met. The seller and the poseur-buyer were properly identified. The subject dangerous drug, as well as the marked money used, were also satisfactorily presented. The testimony was also clear as to the manner in which the buy-bust operation was conducted. Non-compliance by the apprehending/buy-bust team with Section 21 is not fatal as long as there is justifiable ground therefor, and as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the confiscated/seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team. Its non-compliance will not render an accused arrest illegal or the items seized/confiscated from him inadmissible.
- Yes. Lower court erred in disregarding accused-appellant’s minority as privileged mitigating circumstance in fixing the penalty. The Court of Appeals must have appreciated Mantalaba’s minority as privileged mitigating circumstance in fixing the penalty. Thus, applying the rules stated above, the proper penalty should be one degree lower than reclusion perpetua, which is reclusion temporal, the privileged mitigating circumstance of minority having been appreciated. Necessarily, also applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law (ISLAW), the minimum penalty should be taken from the penalty next lower in degree which is prision mayor and the maximum penalty shall be taken from the medium period of reclusion temporal, there being no other mitigating circumstance nor aggravating circumstance.