SC affirms conviction of 6 Chinese nationals found possessing 364 kilos of shabu

January 24, 2011 7:47 am 

MANILA, Jan. 23 – The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed the earlier ruling of the Court of Appeals (CA) imposing life imprisonment on six Chinese nationals found in possession of 364 kilograms of methamphetamine hydrochloride (also known as shabu) worth P1.6 billion.

The CA ruling earlier upheld the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) decision convicting Ng Yik Bun, Kwok Wai Cheng, Chang Chaun Shi, Chua Shilou Hwan, Kan Shun Min, and Raymond S. Tan for violating Section 16, Article III of Republic Act No. 6425, or the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972.

Apart from life prison term, the six were also ordered to pay P5 million each.

Court records showed the convicts were arrested by the police while preparing their drug shipment at a resort in Sariaya, Quezon on Aug. 24, 2000.

A total of 25 heat-sealed transparent plastic bags containing 364 kilos of the illegal substance were recovered from the group's white L-300 Mitsubishi van.

In their appeal, the six alleged that the lawmen made an invalid search and arrest due to the absence of a warrant issued by a competent court.

But the SC, in the ruling penned by Associate Justice Presbitero J. Velasco Jr., stressed that the arrest and seizure of the illegal drugs were justified because the suspects were caught in the act of packing the contraband.

“Evidently, the arresting police officers had probable cause to suspect that accused-appellants were loading and transporting contraband,” the SC ruling further said.

“Thus, the arrest of accused-appellants –- who were caught in flagrante delicto (in the very act of committing the offense) of possessing, and in the act of loading into a white L-300 van, shabu, a prohibited drug under Republic Act 6425, as amended –- is valid,” the SC pointed out.

It added that the suspects were not able to back up their frame-up claim.

“As no ill motive can be imputed to the prosecution’s witnesses, we uphold the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties and affirm the trial court’s finding that the police officers’ testimonies are deserving of full faith and credit,” the SC stressed.

“Appellate courts generally will not disturb the trial court’s assessment of a witness’ credibility unless certain material facts and circumstances have been overlooked or arbitrarily disregarded. We find no reason to deviate from this rule in the instant case,” it concluded. (PNA)

scs/PFN

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