Jail terms given to two men for drug offenses
San Andres, Catanduanes  ·  
posted 1-Jul-2019  ·  
1,149 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

Two men from San Andres town were sentenced to stiff prison terms and fines after being found guilty of separate criminal charges involving illegal drugs last week.

Regional Trial Court Branch 43 Presiding Judge Lelu P. Contreras meted a prison term of 12 to 14 years and a fine of P300,000 to Edsel Niola Vargas for illegal possession of dangerous drugs.

He will likewise endure imprisonment of six months to two years and pay a P10,000 fine for illegal possession of drug paraphernalia.

Information filed before the Court stated that shortly after 6:30 P.M. of July 22, 2013, the San Andres police went to barangay Divino Rostro to serve a search warrant against Vargas but the latter was seen jumping out of the window of the house, leaving behind his tricycle.

A search of the tricycle yielded a folded aluminum foil and a small plastic sachet with white crystalline granules that were inside another sachet secured with tape on top of the stereo at the inside front of the vehicle. A laboratory examination of the granules proved positive for shabu with a weight of 0.016 gram.

In finding Vargas guilty, the Court was unconvinced by the testimony of his witness, Vicente Soneja, which it said was riddled with inconsistencies and contradictions that was largely belied by photos taken during the search.

On the other hand, it noted Vargas’ admission that he used shabu at around 1 P.M. in the afternoon prior to the search but at the same time denied ownership of the sachet found in the tricycle.

“If, indeed, there was nothing illegal kept in his tricycle, Edsel should not have turned his back and fled. Instead he should have approached the law enforcement officers and stood guard while it was being searched,” Judge Contreras pointed out.

During the trial proper, the defense twice filed a motion to enter into plea bargaining.

In the course of his testimony, Vargas declared that he had been granted plea bargaining in a similar case before RTC Branch 42, for an incident that occurred while the initial case was pending before RTC Branch 43.

Denying possession of illegal drugs in the Branch 42 case, he reasoned that he offered to plea bargain only to reduce his penalty but it did not mean that he admitted his guilt.

The investigator on the case, MSgt. Mark Orasa, also told the Court that he repeatedly objected to the plea bargain offered by Vargas as the case against him was strong and that he was a recidivist.

The police officer stated that the presiding judge informed him that the provincial director and police chiefs had been informed that they should agree to the plea bargaining agreement if it enters under the Revised Guidelines on Continuous Trial of Criminal Cases and that bring a recidivist offender is not a requirement in the guidelines.

In the second case, construction worker Felicisimo “Tagodin” Tabios Jr. was sentenced to life imprisonment for maintaining a drug den at the house of his mother-in-law in barangay Lictin.

He was likewise ordered to pay a fine of P500,000 for the offense committed prior to a police search conducted on Jan. 11, 2015.

For illegal possession of dangerous drugs, he was meted 12 to 14 years in prison and to pay a fine of P300,000 and for illegal possession of drug paraphernalia he got six months to two years in jail plus a P10,000 fine.

His mother and his wife, then a lady guard at Catanduanes State Colleges, were acquitted of the same charges but the former was found guilty of possession of “lotteng” paraphernalia and told to pay a fine of P1,000.

Police witnesses admitted during the trial that Tabios was not included in the drug watchlist for Lictin but his illegal drug activities were confirmed by three test-buys by different police assets.

It was on this basis that a search warrant was secured from the Court by them San Andres police chief Edgar Clerigo, with the searchers finding a stainless glass inside a sack of palay. The glass contained a medium-sized plastic sachet containing white crystalline granules as well as seven empty sachets.

Three more small sachets with the same substance and aluminum foil were found inside a matchbox while several empty sachets with residue were found at the sala. Laboratory tests proved positive for shabu, which weighed a total of 3.036 grams.

In convicting Felicisimo, the Court was not swayed by his claim that he had no idea of the dangerous drugs for which the search was made as well as his blaming the multivitamins he took for the positive result of his urine test.

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