by Jimmy K. Laking
A resident of Bakun, Benguet who was arrested on suspicion he was in possession of 15 kilos of marijuana found inside a passenger bus in March 2012 was acquitted by the Regional Trial Court in Benguet for failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt.
RTC Branch 63 Judge Jennifer Humiding also ordered the release of Friginio Comot from detention.
Court records showed Comot was arrested by a team of Kibungan police led by S/Insp. Ronald Vizcara inside a Baguio-bound bus at a checkpoint.
The police team also confiscated a bag and carton containing at least 15 kilos of dried marijuana bricks inside the bus.
Based on the complaint filed by the police, the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office accused Comot of contraband possession, in violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.
Comot denied ownership of the commodities and told the court he was not carrying anything when he boarded the bus. A fellow passenger confirmed this assertion.
Despite the evidence presented, the court was convinced the prosecution failed to show proof linking Comot to the marijuana haul.
In arriving at its decision, the court established the accused has no physical possession of the marijuana bricks when confronted by the police. It said this was gathered no less from the testimony of the police officer who told the court Comot was just “seated” inside the bus and was not holding any bag at all.
It also established Comot had no control over the premises where the contraband was found, adding not one of those inside the bus was presented to prove Comot was the owner of the commodities.
The court noted the police officer merely relied on his suspicion the bag found near Comot was his.
“In view of the foregoing, Comot cannot be said to have freely and consciously possessed the marijuana bricks,” the court summed up. “Neither can it be said that Comot had dominion over the bag and carton placed inside the bus.”
The court directed the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to dispose or destroy the contraband.