MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Drug Enforcement (PDEA) suffered another blow in its legal fights against the so-called “Alabang Boys after the Supreme Court (SC) dismissed its petition for review of the local court’s decision to acquit two of the three suspects.
The PDEA questioned before the SC the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court’s (RTC) order to release the Honda Accord of Richard Brodett during the time the drug case against him is being heard in court. Brodett, along with Jorge Joseph, was acquitted by the Muntinlupa RTC from the drug charges filed by the PDEA in 2008.
The local court cited PDEA’s mishandling of evidence in the acquittal.
In a 14-page ruling, the SC First Division said that although the high court agreed with the PDEA and the Office of the City Prosecutor that the evidence should not have been returned while the case was still pending, the SC cannot reverse and set aside the decision of the RTC and the Court of Appeals (CA) because Brodett was acquitted of drug charges on August 26, 2011.
Nevertheless, the SC sternly advised all the courts nationwide to strictly comply with the provision of Section 20 of Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, and not to release the pieces of evidence, whether they are drugs or non-drugs evidence while the case is being heard or even before the court promulgates the decision even if the evidence is owned by a third party, who is not involved in the case. Concurring with the ruling were Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Mariano Del Castillo, Jose Portugal Perez and Jose Catral Mendoza.
Bersamin also directed SC Spokesman and Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez to disseminate to all RTCs the SC decision for their guidance.
Brodett and Joseph were arrested by PDEA agents for the alleged possession of 60 ecstasy pills during a sting operation in September 2008.
During the case’s hearing, a PDEA forensic chemist said that the supposed drugs seized from the two were turned over to her for laboratory analysis. She said that she held the tablets for 16 hours to complete the analysis.
The court said that, however, while the tablets were supposedly being subjected to laboratory analysis, the same pieces of evidence were presented by then PDEA chief Dionisio Santiago to the media during a press conference.