The Court of Appeals (CA) has acquitted a drug suspect in Ilocos Norte because of procedural lapses on the part of the police.
In an 18-page decision by Associate Justice Remedios Salazar-Fernando and concurred in by Associate Justices Priscilla Baltazar-Padilla and Socorro Inting, the CA’s Second Division reversed a ruling of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bangui, Ilocos Norte as it ordered the acquittal of Rogelio Paleracio y Valdez for violation of Section 11 of Republic Act 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act.
Court records show that in January 2014, Paleracio was caught selling two small sachets of alleged shabu to poseur-buyer Police Officer 1 Rolly Ramoran.
In June 2015, the RTC First Judicial Region in Bangui found Paleracio guilty beyond reasonable doubt and meted a prison term ranging from 12 to 14 years and to pay P300,000 fine.
Paleracio, through his lawyer, filed an appeal of the decision before the CA.
In its September 30, 2016 ruling, the appellate court held that “the arresting officers blatantly and unjustifiably disregarded the requirements of the law and its implementing rules.”
The CA said the chain of custody rule requires that “the marking of the seized items be done in the presence of the apprehended violator and immediately upon confiscation if only to ensure that they are the same items that enter the chain are the same ones offered in evidence.”
“Given the numerous procedural lapse[s]on the part of the arresting officers, the prosecution miserably failed to establish the chain of custody of the seized items,” it added.