MANILA – The Court of Appeals (CA) denied an appeal filed by a man convicted by a Batangas court of selling drugs while already in jail on a separate robbery charge.
In its 11-page decision dated July 30 the appellate court’s Fourteenth Division, under Associate Justice Franchito Diamante, upheld the decision of the Batangas City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 8 against Mark Anthony de Villa alias “Bayawak” for illegal possession of dangerous drugs.
De Villa was sentenced to 12 to 20 years in prison and PHP300,000 in fines by the Batangas court.
On Dec. 27, 2014, jail guard Joseph Gutierrez received a text message from another inmate that “Bayawak” was peddling illegal drugs inside the Batangas Provincial Jail.
Gutierrez informed his superior about the information he received and de Villa was summoned and brought to the Provincial Jail Office where he was frisked and found in possession of a pack of cigarettes from a pocket in his trousers.
Inside the pack was a plastic containing two small plastic sachets containing shabu. The officers immediately notified the Jail Warden of their discovery who later informed the Batangas City Police Station.
De Villa denied the charges and insisted he had been framed, claiming that he should not have been searched and frisked at will and the guard’s story is unlikely as PDLs cannot have cellphones while in jail.
Ruling otherwise, the CA said, “by the very fact of their detention, pre-trial detainees and convicted prisoners for that matter have a diminished expectation of privacy rights.”
“This Court also takes judicial notice of the fact that despite the rigorous efforts of the government to secure the country’s penitentiaries, contrabands (e.g. cellular phones and illegal drugs) are still able to enter even the National Bilibid Prison. The same problem likewise holds inside the Batangas Provincial Jail where contrabands still pass through its gates, despite the implementation of strict screening measures,” the court said. (PNA)