262351984-People-vs-Johnson.pdf - THE PEOPLE OF THE...

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THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. LEILA JOHNSON Y REYES, accused-appellant. [G.R. No. 138881. December 18, 2000] MENDOZA, J. Facts: This is an appeal from the decision, dated May 14, 1999, of the Regional Trial Court, Pasay City, finding accused-appellant Leila Johnson y Reyes guilty of violation of §16 of R.A. No. 6425 (Dangerous Drugs Act), as amended by R.A. No. 7659, and sentencing her to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay a fine of P500,000.00 and the costs of the suit. While inside the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the accused possess three plastic bags of methamphetamine hydrochloride, a regulated drug, each bag weighing: #1 ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY SEVEN POINT FIVE (187.5) grams; #2 ONE HUNDRED NINETY EIGHT POINT ZERO (198.0) grams; and #3 ONE HUNDRED NINETY FOUR POINT SEVEN (194.7) grams, respectively, or a total of FIVE HUNDRED EIGHTY POINT TWO (580.2) grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride. The accused does not have the corresponding license or prescription to possess or use said regulated drug. Upon being arraigned, accused-appellant pleaded not guilty, whereupon trial was held. The prosecution presented four witnesses, namely, NBI Forensic Chemist George de Lara, SPO4 Reynaldo Embile, duty frisker Olivia Ramirez, and SPO1 Rizalina Bernal. The defense presented accused-appellant who testified in her own behalf. Accused-appellant Leila Reyes Johnson was, at the time of the incident, 58 years old, a widow, and a resident of Ocean Side, California, U.S.A. She is a former Filipino citizen who was naturalized as an American on June 16, 1968 and had since been working as a registered nurse, taking care of geriatric patients and those with Alzheimer’s disease, in convalescent homes in the United States. On June 16, 1998, she arrived in the Philippines to visit her son’s family in Calamba, Laguna. She was due to fly back to the United States on July 26. At around 7:30 p.m. of that day, Olivia Ramirez was on duty as a lady frisker at Gate 16 of the NAIA departure area. Her duty was to frisk departing passengers, employees, and crew and check for weapons, bombs, prohibited drugs, contraband goods, and explosives. When she frisked accused-appellant Leila Johnson, a departing passenger bound for the United States, she felt something hard on the latter’s abdominal area. Upon inquiry, Mrs. Johnson explained she needed to wear two panty girdles as she had just undergone an operation as a result of an ectopic pregnancy. Not satisfied with the explanation, Ramirez reported the matter to her superior, SPO4 Reynaldo Embile, saying “Sir, hindi po ako naniniwalang panty lang po iyon.” (“Sir, I do not believe that it is just a panty.”) She was directed to take accused -appellant to the nearest
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