'Alabang Boys' member acquitted from drug raps

by Gus Abelgas, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 11 2012 07:29 PM | Updated as of Oct 12 2012 05:52 AM

MANILA, Philippines - One of the so-called "Alabang Boys" accused of drug possession has been acquitted by a Quezon City Court.

Joseph Tecson, who was arrested in a buy-bust operation in September 20, 2008 with alleged 2 grams of shabu and 2 grams of cocaine was acquitted by Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 227 Judge Elvira de Castro Panganiban. 

The court found reasonable doubt with regard to the police operation and ordered Tecson's immediate release.

The Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 204 earlier junked a motion for reconsideration (MR) filed by prosecutors of the Department of Justice on the trial court's judgment of acquittal on the drug case two other so-called "Alabang Boys" Richard Brodett and Jorge Joseph.

The denial of the MR is based on the doctrine of double jeopardy.

Brodett and Joseph were acquitted by trial court judge Juanita Guerrero in August 2011 due to a "break in the custody" of drug evidence.

Guerrero, in her ruling, held that "the link in the custody of the drug evidence has been broken" based on the testimony on rebuttal of a critical prosecution witness, the evidence custodian and at the same time, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) forensic chemist.

The ruling held that the failure of the prosecution to establish all the links in the chain of custody was fatal to the case, and that the presumption of regularity should bow down to the presumption of innocence of the accused.

An MR on a judgment of acquittal is a prohibited pleading because it puts the accused in double jeopardy.

There are, however, exceptions to this rule, though "the grounds are exceptional and narrow," as held by both the Supreme Court (SC) and the Court of Appeals (CA).

This is what led the Department of Justice (DOJ) to seek a reconsideration of the judgment of the trial  court.

Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, in previous interviews, cited a Supreme Court ruling, which she said, gives more weight to the issue of preservation of the integrity of evidence than custody links.