G.R. No. 109232. December 29, 1995 (Case Brief / Digest)

Title: People of the Philippines vs. Ang Chun Kit alias “Romy Ang”

Ang Chun Kit, a Chinese national reputedly part of a Hong Kong-based drug syndicate in Metro Manila, was arrested in a buy-bust operation for selling methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) to an undercover agent for P400,000.00. Following his arrest, more shabu was found in his car, concealed in a Kleenex box. On 8 November 1991, a Confidential Informer reported to NARCOM’s Chief Investigator Razon about a deal with a drug dealer (Ang) to sell a kilo of shabu. A buy-bust team led by Chief Inspector Rolando Magno, including poseur-buyer SPO2 Cesar Jacobo, was organized. At the Cardinal Santos Medical Center, the transaction occurred, leading to Ang’s arrest and the recovery of the shabu. Ang contested the charges, claiming a set-up and denied involvement, supported by witnesses including a hospital security guard who testified no untoward incident occurred.

The trial court found Ang guilty on 14 August 1992 under Sec. 15, Art. III, R.A. No. 6425, as amended, sentencing him to life imprisonment and a P30,000.00 fine. Ang appealed, challenging the credibility of the operation and alleging a frame-up, which was dismissed by the Supreme Court, emphasizing the credibility of the officers’ testimonies.

1. The credibility of the buy-bust operation and whether it was a legitimate police procedure or a frame-up.
2. The admissibility of the shabu recovered from the accused’s car as evidence.
3. The legality of the search of the accused’s vehicle and the seizure of additional drugs.
4. The validity of the accused’s signature on the receipt of items confiscated from him without the assistance of counsel.

Court’s Decision:
1. The Court upheld the trial court’s decision, emphasizing the credibility of witnesses, particularly the law enforcement officers, and the regularity of their duties.
2. It ruled that inconsistencies in the officers’ testimonies were minor and did not detract from the overall credibility of the evidence presented.
3. The Court found the search of Ang’s car, leading to the discovery of additional shabu, valid as it was incident to a lawful arrest.
4. However, it agreed that Ang’s signature on the receipt of confiscated items was inadmissible due to the lack of counsel during the process, but this did not affect the conviction given the weight of other evidence.

1. The credibility of law enforcement officers’ testimonies is upheld in the absence of evidence to suggest ulterior motives.
2. Inconsistencies concerning minor details in testimonies do not undermine the witnesses’ credibility.
3. Searches incidental to a lawful arrest extend to areas within the immediate control of the suspect.
4. Statements made without the assistance of counsel during custodial investigations are inadmissible as evidence of guilt.

Class Notes:
– Buy-Bust Operations: A law enforcement technique where undercover officers simulate a drug purchase to catch violators.
– Search Incident to Lawful Arrest: Allows officers to perform a warrantless search on and around the person being arrested.
– Credibility of Witnesses: Testimonies of law enforcement officers are given weight unless proven motivated by ill-will.
– Admissibility of Evidence: Evidence gathered without the proper procedural safeguards, especially without counsel, is inadmissible in conviction.

Historical Background:
This case illustrates the Philippine government’s tough stance on illegal drug trade and use, highlighting the practices surrounding buy-bust operations, a common tactic in the country’s war on drugs. The intricate details of executing such operations, the judicial scrutiny applied to the procedural aspects, and the evidentiary standards underscore the legal challenges in ensuring due process while effectively combating drug-related crimes.


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