Coronel et al. vs People (2017)
G.R. No. 214536
Coronel, Permejo, Villafuerte, and Olivarez were arrested during a police operation where they
conducted a search of a building with the accuses found to be inside. During the search, the team recovered, among others, transparent plastic sachets, aluminum foils, containers of white crystalline substance and white powdery residue, disposable lighters, improvised plastic scoops and assorted moneys (in bills and coins).
The arrested suspect was brought to the PDEA Headquarters for investigation and mandatory drug
test. Coronel, Permejo, Villafuerte, and Olivarez all tested positive for shabu use.
RTC found them guilty of illegal use of drugs and being visitors of drug den, dive or resort. The
portioners elevated the case to the Court of Appeals which affirmed the decision of the RTC.
The portioners then filed a motion for reconsideration on the Supreme Court contending that this
Court did not address the prosecution's failure to establish both a continuous and unbroken chain of custody of the subject evidence, that the house, where petitioners were apprehended, was a drug den, or that petitioners were aware that said house was a drug den and that they visited it knowingly.
Whether or not the prosecution has established that the petitioner knowingly visited a drug den
(penalized under Section 7b of RA 9165)
No, the drug test results which was the basis of the prosecution to imply that petitioners were
aware of the nature of the place as a drug den before visiting it despite that the drug tests were conducted
right after their arrest is not justifiable and insufficient.
The prosecution assumed that the petitioners were, in fact, at the alleged drug den before their arrest, however there was no showing of evidence if how long petitioners were at the alleged drug den or
how long drugs had been in their system. There is no basis to assume that the petitioners used drugs at the
moment immediately before arrest and thus, at the location of the arrest.
Furthermore, there was no attempt to show that the petitioners knew the nature of the alleged
drug den or even that they used drugs in the premises. The petitioners were not found to be in possession
of any drugs. When petitioners were arrested, nobody found in the act of using, selling or buying illegal
drugs nor packaging nor hiding nor transporting the same. There were no acts alleged or evidence found
which would tend to show a familiarity with the nature of the place as a drug den.
Therefore, the petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration was granted. As a result, petitioners were
acquitted of violation to Sec. 7 of the R. A. No. 9165. However, petitioners were guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the charge of violation of Sec. 15 Art. II of the said Republic Act.