THE Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the release of a drug suspect who was convicted of two counts for violation of the comprehensive dangerous drugs act by a Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Pampanga for failure of the prosecution to identify the prohibited substance.
In its January 5, 2017 decision that was released only recently, the CA’s Ninth Division absolved Dexter Gamboa on the charges after the prosecution failed “to establish the identity of the substance allegedly seized from appellant.”
“The joint decision dated February 5, 2015 in [two criminal cases]is reversed and set aside and a new one entered, acquitting accused-appellant [Gamboa] of violation of Section 11 [illegal possession of prohibited drug]and Section 5 [illegal sale of prohibited drug], Article II of Republic Act 9165 based on reasonable doubt,” the CA held.
According to the appellate court, there was also a break in the chain of custody of the illegal drugs, casting doubt on the integrity and evidentiary value of the substance allegedly seized from Gamboa.
The decision was penned by Associate Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier and concurred in by Associate Justices Celia Librea-Leagogo and Melchor Sadang.
The case stemmed from the conviction of Gamboa by the RTC in San Fernando City that sentenced him to life imprisonment after he was arrested for allegedly possessing several grams of shabu in December 2011.
Gamboa was sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to pay a fine of P500,000 and another penalty of 17 to 20 years in prison and P300,000 fine for a separate case by the RTC.
“The director of the Bureau of Corrections is ordered to immediately release [Gamboa] from detention unless he is being confined for some other lawful cause, and to report to this court his compliance within five (5) days from notice,” the CA decision read.