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7/3/2015

G.R.No.186120

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RepublicofthePhilippines
SUPREMECOURT
Manila
FIRSTDIVISION
G.R.No.186120January31,2011
PEOPLEOFTHEPHILIPPINES,PlaintiffAppellee,
vs.
EVANGELINESOBANGEEyEDAO,AccusedAppellant.
DECISION
VELASCO,JR.,J.:
ThisisanappealfromtheFebruary29,2008DecisionoftheCourtofAppeals(CA)inCAG.R.CRH.C.No.
01904entitledPeopleofthePhilippinesv.EvangelineSobangeeyEdao,whichaffirmedtheOctober12,2005
DecisioninCriminalCaseNo.023445oftheRegionalTrialCourt(RTC),Branch65inMakatiCity.TheRTC
foundaccusedEvangelineSobangeeyEdao(Sobangee)guiltyofviolatingSection5,ArticleIIofRepublicAct
No.(RA)9165ortheComprehensiveDangerousDrugsActof2002,forsellingmethylamphetamine
hydrochloride.
TheFacts
AnInformation1chargedSobangeeasfollows:
Thatonoraboutthe21stdayofNovember,2002,intheCityofMakati,MetroManila,Philippinesandwithinthe
jurisdictionofthisHonorableCourt,theabovenamedaccused,withoutthenecessarylicenseorprescriptionand
withoutbeingauthorizedbylaw,didthenandtherewillfully,unlawfullyandfeloniouslysell,deliverandgiveaway
P150,000.00 worth of Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride (Shabu) weighing eighty seven point nineteen (87.19)
gramsandfortyeightpointseventysix(48.76)grams,adangerousdrug.
Duringherarraignment,Sobangeepleadednotguilty.
At the trial, the prosecution presented the following witnesses: Police Inspector Lourdeliza M. Gural (P/Insp.
Gural), Senior Police Officer 1 Marvin Fajilan (SPO1 Fajilan), SPO1 Antonio Fulleros (SPO1 Fulleros), SPO2
Wilmer Antonio (SPO2 Antonio), SPO4 Arsenio Mangulabnan (SPO4 Mangulabnan), and Police Officer 3
ReynaldoJuan(PO3Juan).Sobangeewastheonlywitnessforthedefense.
VersionoftheProsecution
AconfidentialinformantreportedtotheDrugEnforcementUnit(DEU)ofMakatiCitythatacertain"Vangie"was
engaged in drug pushing activities. The DEU Chief, Senior Police Inspector Leandro Abel, thus, ordered a buy
bustoperationagainsttheallegeddrugpusher.2
On November 21, 2002, a buybust operation was planned by the DEU. SPO4 Mangulabnan conducted the
briefing. "Vangie" was contacted by SPO4 Mangulabnan through a mobile phone, and a drug deal worth PhP
150,000wasagreedupon.ThepartiesarrangedtomeetatJollibeeinGuadalupeViejo.
SPO1Fulleroswasdesignatedasposeurbuyer,whileSPO2Antonio,SPO1Fajilan,PO2Costa,PO2Gabrang,
PO1 Inopla, PO1 Santos, and PO3 Mapili served as backup. SPO1 Fulleros was instructed to place a genuine
markedonethousandpesobillontopofabundleofboodlemoney.
Before the actual meeting, the target location was changed by "Vangie" to Starbucks Caf on Rockwell Drive,
RockwellCenter,MakatiCity.SPO1Fullerosaccededtoherrequestandheadedtothecoffeeshop.Thebackup
teammonitoredthetransactionfromadistance.Minutesafter,"Vangie"arrivedandlookedfortheposeurbuyer.
SPO4Mangulabnanhadearliertold"Vangie"thatthecustomerwouldbedressedinablackjacketandbullcap.
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"Vangie"approachedSPO1Fullerosandaskedhisname.Shethenallowedhimtoexaminethecontentsofthe
plasticbagsshehadwithher.Hegave"Vangie"theboodlemoneyafterexaminingtheplasticbags.Afterwards,
he gave the prearranged signal to alert his team that the transaction had been consummated. The backup
operativesarrivedwhilehewasintroducinghimselfto"Vangie"asaDEUoperative.Shewasplacedunderarrest
andlateridentifiedasSobangee.
TheoperationsretrievedthemarkedbuybustbillfromSobangeealongwiththeboodlemoneyandinformedher
ofherconstitutionalrights.Theseizeditems,consistingoftheplasticbagsanditscontents,wereturnedoverto
SPO4Mangulabnanandmarkedinsidetheirvehicle.3
PO3Juan,theinvestigatingofficer,preparedtheinventoryoftheseizeditems.Thiswasmadeinthepresenceof
ProsecutorChristopherGarvida,BarangayCaptainRodolfoDoromal,andmediarepresentativeLoudethBonilla.
PO3 Juan then requested for the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory to examine the contents of the
items.SobangeewaslaterbroughttotheDEUforinvestigation.ShewastestedfordrugsattheSouthernPolice
District Crime Laboratory.4 P/Insp. Gural, a Forensic Chemical Officer, tested the plastic bags marked "EES"
(87.19grams)and"EES1"(48.76grams).Thesetestedpositiveformethylamphetaminehydrochloride.Afterthe
examination,theseizedsubstancewasturnedovertotheevidencecustodianandpresentedincourt.5
VersionoftheDefense
Denyingthechargeagainsther,Sobangeeclaimedthatatthetimeofthebuybust,shewasinRockwelltoget
moneyfromacertain"Rolly,"afriendofhercommonlawpartner.Shetestifiedthatshehadnomobilephonewith
heratthetime.Uponherarrival,shecouldnotfind"Rolly."Whileshewasstillthere,shewassuddenlyaccosted
bytwomenwhoinstructedhertogowiththemandforcedhertoboardavan.Sheaskedwhyshewasbeingheld
and what offense had she committed but received no reply. She observed that five other persons, all of them
male,wereinsidethevehicle.
When further questioned, Sobangee stated that none of the prosecution witnesses arrested her. She was
detained at the DEU for three days and then transferred to the Makati City Jail. She explained that she did not
signtheinventorysheetbecauseshehadnotcommittedanyoffense.6
Duringcrossexamination,SobangeerevealedthatshedidnotdivulgeanyinformationwhileshewasattheDEU,
becauseshewastoldtokeepquietandsheobeyedoutoffear.Shestatedthatnoneofthemenwhoarrested
herorwhowereattheDEUwasknowntoher,andshedidnotknowofanyreasonwhyshewouldbemaliciously
prosecuted.Shedidnotpressanychargesagainstthosewhoarrestedher.7
TheRulingoftheTrialCourt
Aftertrial,theRTCconvictedSobangee.Thetrialcourtwasconvincedthatalltheelementsoftheoffensewere
established.Itruledthattherequirementsforavalidbuybustoperationwerecompliedwith.
In contrast, the bare denials of Sobangee did not impress the trial court in the face of the testimonies of the
prosecutionscrediblewitnesses.TheRTCruledthattheyhadthepresumptionofregularityintheperformanceof
officialfunctionsworkingintheirfavor.
ThedispositiveportionoftheOctober12,2005RTCDecision8reads:
THEFOREGOINGCONSIDERED,thecourtisoftheopinionandsoholdaccusedEvangelineSobangeeyEdao
guiltybeyondreasonabledoubtoftheoffensecharged.Sheisherebysentencedtolifeimprisonmentandisfined
thesumofonemillionpesos(Php1,000,000.00)withoutsubsidiaryimprisonmentincaseofinsolvency.
xxxx
SOORDERED.
TheRulingoftheAppellateCourt
Onappeal,SobangeeclaimedthattheRTCerredinfindingherguiltybeyondreasonabledoubt.Sheclaimedthat
the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses suffered from major inconsistencies, such as: (1) the date the
allegedinformantcametotheDEUoffice(2)thetimethebuybustteamlefttheofficetoconductitsoperation
(3) the place that the team first went to before going to the buybust at Rockwell Center, Makati City (4) the
location of the operatives during the buybust operation (5) the site where the illegal substances seized were
marked (6) the amount involved in the buybust (7) the officer who informed Sobangee of her constitutional
rightsand(8)theidentityoftheinformant.
Shealsocitedasincreduloustheclaimthatsheconducteddrugpushingactivitiesviahermobilephonewhenthe
prosecutiondidnotpresentthephonesheallegedlyused.
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OnFebruary29,2008,theappellatecourtaffirmedthejudgmentofthetrialcourt.9Itruledthatalltheelementsof
theoffensechargedwereestablishedbytheprosecution.ItdeferredtothefindingoftheRTConthecredibilityof
the witnesses against Sobangee and dismissed her claim of inconsistencies in their testimonies as insignificant
andimmaterial.
OnAugust4,2008,SobangeefiledherNoticeofAppealfromtheappellatecourtsDecision.
OnMarch16,2009,thisCourtrequiredthepartiestosubmitsupplementalbriefsiftheysodesired.ThePeople,
represented by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), reserved its option to file a supplemental brief if
accusedappellantSobangeeshouldfileone.Accusedappellantdidnotfileany.
TheIssue
WhethertheCourtofAppealserredinfindingaccusedappellantguiltybeyondreasonabledoubtofhaving
violatedSec.5,Art.IIofRepublicActNo.9165
TheRulingofthisCourt
Accusedappellantmaintainsthatthewitnessestestimonieswereconflictingonmaterialpoints.
Weaffirmaccusedappellantsconviction.
The inconsistencies referred to are inconsequential. What is important is that the prosecution was able to
establishthekeyelementsneededforaconviction.Inordertosuccessfullyprosecuteanaccusedforillegalsale
ofdrugs,theprosecutionmustbeabletoprovethefollowingelements:(1)identitiesofthebuyerandseller,the
object,andtheconsiderationand(2)thedeliveryofthethingsoldandthepaymentforit.10
TherelevantportionoftheRTCsdisquisitionreads:
Theprosecutionsucceededinprovingthepresenceofalltheelementsoftheoffensecharged.Theplasticbags
containing white crystalline substance taken from the accused were positively and categorically identified by
ForensicChemistLourdelizaGuralasmethylamphetaminehydrochloride,adangerousdrugotherwiseknownas
shabu.Accordingtoher,thesaidsubstancewascontainedintwo(2)knottiedtransparentplasticbagsdelivered
andsubmittedtothePNPCrimeLaboratoryfortestingon21November2002immediatelyafterthesamewas
turnedoverforinvestigationanddocumentation.Themarkingsplacedbythearrestingofficerwereidentifiedin
opencourtandshowntobethesamemarkingspresentontheplasticbagsexaminedbytheforensicchemistare
proof that the plastic bags delivered for laboratory examination were the same plastic bags bought from the
accused(Exhibits"A"to"E").
Theidentityoftheaccusedwaspositivelyestablished.Inopencourt,witnessesfortheprosecutionpointedtothe
accused as the person they arrested after consummation of the buybust operation. This same person when
askedofheridentityidentifiedherselfasEvangelineSobangee.Themarkedmoneyfoundinthepossessionof
theaccusedconsistingofonegenuineonethousandpesobillplacedontopofabundleofmoneywaslikewise
positivelyidentifiedbythearrestingofficersasthesameoneprovidedandusedintheoperation.
Alltheprosecutionswitnessestothebuybustoperationconsistentlyandunequivocallynarratedtheeventsthat
transpiredduringtheoperation,particularlythedeliveryoftheaccusedofthesubjectplasticbagstotheposeur
buyer upon payment by the latter to accused Sobangee of the agreed amount. The testimonies with respect to
the discovery of the bags of shabu subject of the charge for pushing and the marked money were likewise
straightforwardanddefinite.
Also, all the requirements for a valid arrest and prosecution for violation of sale of dangerous drugs under
Republic Act No. 9165 have likewise been complied with. An inventory of the items involved in the buybust
operation was conducted by the investigator (Exhibit "J"). The seizing officers, SPO4 Mangulabnan and then
SPO1 Fulleros, prepared the inventory in the presence of prosecutor Christopher Garvida, barangay captain
RodolfoDoromalandLoudethBonilla,arepresentativefromthemedia.11
The trial court explained that the inconsistencies found in the testimonies of the witnesses for the prosecution
wereminorandevenmadetheirtestimonialevidencemorebelievableandunrehearsed.Weagreewiththetrial
and appellate courts in this respect. Minor variances in the details of the witnesses accounts, more frequently
thannot,arebadgesoftruthratherthanindiciaoffalsehood,andtheyoftenbolstertheprobativevalueoftheir
testimonies.12
1 w p h i1

Thedefenseopposestheverdictsincethefollowingdetailspresentedbytheprosecutionwereinconsistent:the
date of the buybust operation, the time the buybust team left their office, the stops made on the way to the
target area, the location of the operatives during the buybust, where the seized items were marked, the
denomination of the buybust money, the identity of the operative who informed accusedappellant of her
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constitutionalrights,andtheidentityoftheallegedconfidentialinformant.
These pieces of information, however, do not destroy the foundation that the prosecution has built in proving
accusedappellantsculpability.Thesearebutirrelevantinconsistenciesthatdonottakeawaythecredibilityofthe
policeofficerswhotestifiedagainstaccusedappellant.Consideringtherewerefive(5)policeofficerswhotestified
onthebuybustoperation,onecanhardlyexpecttheirtestimoniestobeinperfectagreement.Asheldinthepast,
itisperhapstoomuchtohopethatdifferenteyewitnessesshallgive,atalltimes,testimoniesthatareinallfours
withtherealitiesontheground.Minordiscrepanciesintheirtestimoniesare,infact,tobeexpectedtheyneither
vitiate the essential integrity of the evidence in its material entirety nor reflect adversely on the credibility of
witnesses.13Forasuccessfulappeal,theinconsistenciesbroughtupshouldpertaintothatcrucialmomentwhen
the accused was caught selling shabu, not to peripheral matters.14 Testimonies of witnesses need only
corroborateeachotheronimportantandrelevantdetailsconcerningtheprincipaloccurrence.15
Thepresentationofaccusedappellantsmobilephoneisnotessentialtoherconviction,asitisnotanelementof
theoffenseofsaleofillegaldrugs.Contrarytothepositionofthedefense,itisnotamajorpieceofevidence,the
nonpresentation of which would result in an acquittal. What is material to the prosecution of the illegal sale of
dangerous drugs is proof that the transaction actually took place, coupled with the presentation in court of the
corpusdelicti.16Thetransactionbetweenaccusedappellantandtheposeurbuyerandthepresentationincourt
oftheshabuseizedfromherwereadequatelyestablished,ascanbegleanedfromtherecords.
In affirming accusedappellants conviction, We adhere to the general rule that unless some facts or
circumstancesofweightandinfluencehavebeenoverlookedorthesignificanceofwhichhasbeenmisinterpreted
by the trial court, this Court will defer to the findings of the trial court as to the credibility of witnesses.17 An
examination of the records shows that none of the aforementioned exceptions exists in the instant case that
wouldnecessitateareversalofjudgment.
PenaltyImposed
Fordrugpushing48.76gramsofshabuunderSec.5,Art.IIofRA9165,accusedappellantwassentencedtolife
imprisonmentandafineofonemillionpesos(PhP1,000,000).Wefindthisproperandinaccordwiththepenalty
provided under the same provision of the law, which penalizes the commission of the offense involved with life
imprisonment and a fine ranging from five hundred thousand pesos (PhP 500,000) to ten million pesos (PhP
10,000,000).18
WHEREFORE,theappealisDENIED.TheCADecisioninCAG.R.CRH.C.No.01904findingaccusedappellant
guiltyofthechargeisAFFIRMED.
SOORDERED.
PRESBITEROJ.VELASCO,JR.
AssociateJustice
WECONCUR:
RENATOC.CORONA
ChiefJustice
Chairperson
TERESITAJ.LEONARDODECASTRO
AssociateJustice

ROBERTOA.ABAD*
AssociateJustice

JOSEPORTUGALPEREZ
AssociateJustice
CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had
beenreachedinconsultationbeforethecasewasassignedtothewriteroftheopinionoftheCourtsDivision.
RENATOC.CORONA
ChiefJustice

Footnotes
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*AdditionalmemberperraffledatedJanuary26,2011.
1CArollo,p.19.
2Id.at21.
3Id.at2122.
4Id.at22.
5Id.at20.
6Id.at23.
7Id.at24.
8Id.at26.PennedbyJudgeSalvadorS.AbadSantos.
9Rollo,p.10.PennedbyAssociateJusticeArcangelitaM.RomillaLontokandconcurredinbyAssociate

JusticesMarianoC.DelCastillo(nowamemberofthisCourt)andRomeoF.Barza.
10Peoplev.Miguel,G.R.No.180505,June29,2010.
11CArollo,pp.2425.
12Peoplev.DeLeon,G.R.Nos.13248485,November15,2002,391SCRA682,695.
13Peoplev.Gutierrez,G.R.No.177777,December4,2009,607SCRA377,386.
14Peoplev.Razul,G.R.No.146470,November22,2002,392SCRA553,571.
15Peoplev.Tuan,G.R.No.176066,August11,2010.
16Peoplev.Lacap,G.R.No.139114,October23,2001,368SCRA124,143144.
17Peoplev.Campomanes,G.R.No.187741,August8,2010.
18AsamendedbyRA9346orAnActProhibitingtheImpositionofDeathPenaltyinthePhilippines.
TheLawphilProjectArellanoLawFoundation

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