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Court finds ‘Bruce Lee’ guilty in drug case

Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 61 Naga City Judge Soliman M. Santos, Jr. convicted “Bruce Lee” in 3-in-1 drug cases for violations of Section 5 (sale of dangerous drugs), Section 11 (possession of dangerous drugs) and Section 12 (possession of drug paraphernalia) of R.A. No. 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, in a Judgment

promulgated last July 20.

“Bruce Lee” is the alias of Roberto Regidor of Baras, Canaman, Camarines Sur, who was the subject of police buy-bust operation.

Earlier, last March 23, Santos acquitted “John Lennon” (true name) Espeso of drug possession charge arising from a police buy-bust operation in Irayang Solong, Minalabac, Camarines Sur against another person.

While “John Lennon” was acquitted by a Demurrer Resolution issued after the prosecution presented and rested its evidence, “Bruce Lee” was convicted by a plea bargain Judgment after pleading “Guilty” to the lesser offense of Section 12.

Plea bargaining to a lesser offense is allowed in drug cases where specified small amounts of shabu or marijuana are involved in the most common drug cases of Section 5 (sale) and Section 11 (possession of dangerous drugs).

The main penalty for Section 12 is at most 4 years imprisonment, therefore qualifying the convict for probation, a program for criminal reformation outside jail instead of imprisonment.

On the other hand, the main penalties for Sections 5 and 11 can go as high as life imprisonment (at least 30 years) especially for Section 5, and as low only as reclusion temporal (12 years and 1 day to 20 years) for only Section 11.

Temporary releases of Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) whose probation applications are given due course result in at least considerable jail decongestion, made more imperative by the Covid-19 pandemic situation.

In the “Bruce Lee” cases, the miniscule amounts of shabu involved are 0.089 gram for his Section 5 case and 0.090 gram for his Section 11 case. These are below the limits of 0.99 gram for Section 5 cases and 4.99 grams for Section 11 cases provided for by both separate guidelines of the Supreme Court and now of the Department of Justice.

Also, in the “Bruce Lee” cases, no bail was recommended thus none was fixed for the Section 5 case, while bail was recommended and fixed at a P200,000 in the Section 11 case.

But most accused in drug cases are indigents who are represented by the Public Attorney’s Office and cannot afford the high standard amounts for bail, which are based on the high prescribed penalties for imprisonment.

PDLs often opt for plea bargaining to lesser offenses with probationable imprisonment penalties of 6 years and below, in order to secure temporary release but under a probation program, rather than risk post-trial conviction with heavier penalties or waiting out often prolonged trial proceedings.

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