In the Philippines, most of the criminal cases relating to dangerous drugs involve violations of Section 5 (Sale, Delivery, or Transportation) and/or Section 11 (Possession) of Republic Act No. 9165 (RA 9165) or the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002” as amended.
While it is true that there are some arrests involving violation of RA 9165 which are products of legitimate buy-bust operations, there are also some instances where the accused are mere victims of frame up or planting of evidence involving dangerous drugs.
Under Section 29 of RA 9165, the offense of planting of evidence by law enforcement authorities is punishable by death (now life imprisonment due to the enactment of Republic Act No. 9346). Section 29 provides:
Criminal Liability for Planting of Evidence. – Any person who is found guilty of “planting” any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical, regardless of quantity and purity, shall suffer the penalty of death.
Thus, in the case of People v. De Leon, G.R. No. 214472, November 28, 2018, the Honorable Supreme Court held that the buy-bust operation was merely fabricated when there was deliberate disregard on the part of the arresting officers to follow the mandatory provisions of Section 21 of RA 9165. Then, the Court held:
“Indeed, the Court is not unaware that, in some instances, law enforcers resort to the practice of planting evidence to extract information or even to harass civilians. This is despicable. Thus, the Court reminds the trial courts to exercise extra vigilance in trying drug cases, and directs the Philippine National Police to conduct an investigation on this incident and other similar cases, lest an innocent person is made to suffer the unusually severe penalties for drug offenses.”
Further, in the case of People v. Bricero, G.R. No. 218428, November 07, 2018, the Honorable Supreme Court ruled that the buy-bust operation against the accused was likewise fabricated due to the presence of the following circumstances:
- “[T]he buy-bust team did not coordinate with the PDEA before or after the alleged buy-bust operation. This is a standard operating procedure for every buy-bust operation, which every policemen should know.”
- “[T]here were no witnesses to the buy-bust operation, apprehension, and preparation of the inventory of the seized item aside from the policemen members of the buy-bust team themselves. Hence, there are no unbiased witnesses who can testify as to the veracity of the events that transpired on the day of the incident or whether the said buy-bust operation actually took place.”
- “[T]he unjustified failure of the arresting officers to mark the seized item at the place of arrest and to inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the other statutory witnesses lends credence to the defense of frame-up by Bricero.”
Following the aforesaid decisions of the Supreme Court, accused in drugs cases may validly raise the defense of frame up or planting of evidence by the arresting officers. This may be achieved though through a precise, strategic, and planned cross-examination of prosecution witnesses to elicit facts anent the arrest of the accused and confiscation of dangerous drugs.
The Pampanga (Angeles City, Mabalacat City, San Fernando City or nearby municipalities) and Tarlac (Capas, Bamban, Concepcion, Tarlac City, Camiling, Paniqui, or nearby municipalities) lawyers of Sanchez & Cunanan have extensive experience in criminal defense. For inquiries, you may contact them through email@example.com or at 0976-175-7486 (Angeles Branch) or 0976-385-6705 (Tarlac Branch), and see the profiles of the legal team at this link.