After 11 years in jail for less than a gram of shabu, SC acquits 2 drug accused

After 11 years of languishing in jail, the Supreme Court acquitted two drug suspects because of technicality.

The High Court reversed the decision of a lower court and the Court of Appeals convicting Mervin Mabait and Raymond Ayroso for the drug charges.

In a 10-page decision recently released, the Supreme Court acquitted the two when it found out that the apprehending officers failed to conduct the proper inventory and photograph of the confiscated illegal drugs during the buy-operation in 2009 that led to their arrest.

“WHEREFORE, premises considered, the March 21, 2017 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR HC No. 07591, which affirmed the 12 March 2015 Judgment of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 37, Calamba City in Criminal Case No. 16483-2009-C, finding the accused-appellants Mervin Mabait y Hibek and Raymond Ayroso y Hibek, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 5, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 is reversed and set aside,” the ruling said.

The court said accused-appellants are acquitted on reasonable doubt, and are ordered immediately released from detention unless they are being lawfully held for another cause.

Court record showed that the two were charged on 4 June 2009 with violation of Section 5, Article II of R.A. No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

They were arrested in a buy bust operation at around 3:30 p.m. on 4 June 2009 by SPO3 Llanes, P/Insp. Abowac, PO3 Amel Sanque and PO2 Jose Marie Pefia at Barangay Uwisan, Calamba City.

Confiscated from them is one transparent plastic sachet containing shabu containing 0.01 gram.

But it was contradicted by the defense by saying Ayroso was taking care of his two nieces when police officers in civilian clothes approached him at the terrace of his house, looking for his cousin, Mabait and when he responded in the negative he was arrested.

The police then barged inside the house of Mabait, searched his person, and handcuffed him.

The court though favored Mabait and Ayroso’s appeal saying in to secure a conviction for the illegal sale of prohibited drugs under Section 5, Article II of R.A. No. 9165, the identity of the buyer and the seller, the object of the sale and its consideration; and the delivery of the thing sold and the payment, should have been established without any doubt.

The court said the apprehending officer did not follow the guidelines after the seizure as it did not conduct physical inventory and photograph of the illegal drugs, a clear violation of Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165.

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