SC acquits man of drug charge

THE Supreme Court has saved a man from Minglanilla town, Cebu from spending the rest of his life in jail after he was found guilty of selling shabu by the trial court in 2007.

The SC’s First Division reversed the Court of Appeals’ decision and acquitted Jehar Reyes from drug case.

“In view of the many notable serious procedural lapses committed by the buy-bust team, the benefit of the presumption of the regularity of the performance of duty by the arresting officers is indubitably unwarranted,” read the SC’s decision penned by Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin.

The SC ruling was an offshoot of Reyes’ appeal after the trial court found him guilty of violating Section 5, Article 2 of Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002).

Police arrested Reyes in buy-bust for allegedly selling shabu in Barangay Ward I, Minglanilla last Nov. 21, 2002.

Authorities reportedly recovered three plastic packs of suspected shabu weighing 1.44 grams.

In 2007, the Regional Trial Court in Cebu City convicted Reyes of the drug case.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment and was ordered to pay a fine of P500,000.

Reyes elevated his conviction to the CA and the appeals court affirmed the lower court’s ruling.

Subsequently, Reyes appealed his conviction before the High Court and argued that the sale of shabu had not been established beyond reasonable doubt.

Reyes argued that the buy-bust operation had not been carried out in accordance with law.

Standard conduct

He also said that the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty did not apply because the law enforcers had deviated from the standard conduct of official duty.

The arresting officers also allegedly failed to make an inventory report of the confiscated items.

In the decision, the SC justices granted Reyes’ appeal and acquitted him from the charge offense.

“After careful examination and review of the record, we find merit in the appeal, and, accordingly, acquit the accused on the ground that the prosecution did not establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt,” the SC held.

The High Court ruled that the government erred in charging the accused with illegal sale of 1.44 grams of shabu.

The guilt of the accused was not established beyond reasonable doubt because the prosecution did not satisfactorily explain the substantial lapses committed by the buy-bust team in preserving the chain of custody.

The arresting officers did not prepare any inventory of the confiscated items, and did not take photographs of the items.

Had there been an inventory prepared or photographs taken, the prosecution would have offered them as evidence, the SC ruled.

The High Court also ordered the Bureau of Corrections to immediately release Reyes upon receipt of the decision and submit a compliance report in 10 days.
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