A COUPLE found guilty by a Marikina court of selling drugs from their home to undercover cops four years ago have been acquitted by the Supreme Court (SC), citing lapses by officers in the handling of evidence.
The SC acquitted and ordered the release from prison of Aminodin and Bernadette Rago and set aside the Marikina City Regional Trial Court Branch 193’s guilty verdict on the illegal sale and possession of drugs.
The couple was arrested in a buy-bust operation on July 15, 2017 following reports that Aminodin was selling illegal drugs at his house in Barangay Tumana.
During buy-bust operation, police seized seven sachets of suspected shabu and marked money.
After reviewing the records, the SC found compelling reasons to reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals (CA), citing “several unexplained gaps in the chain of custody”.
Among other things, the court said there was no evidence that the seized items were properly placed in an evidence bag or container upon confiscation.
The court noted that “due to the susceptible nature of illegal drugs, like the shabu in this case, placing the seized items in an evidence bag ensures that they will not be subjected to tampering, contamination or switching”.
The testimony of one of the arresting lawmen also “lacked details on how he handled and stored the seized items while in transit to the police station and prior to their turnover to the forensic chemist”.
The officer “should have narrated the precautionary measures he took to ensure that the integrity and evidentiary value of the same were duly preserved”, read the SC ruling dated October 11 and uploaded recently.
There was likewise a discrepancy as to who personally received the seized items when they were turned over for the laboratory examination as it was first received by a policeman for recording purpose before it was turned over to another office for the actual examination.
“All told, the chain of custody has been broken, which the prosecution failed to adduce any justifiable reason for its non-compliance by the apprehending officers. Thus, the acquittal is in order,” the SC ruled. Philippine News Agency