Bert V. Pascua vs. People of the Philippines G.R. No. 250578, September 07, 2020

Facts:
Perlas-Bernabe, J.: Pascua was charged with violations of Section 5 and 11 of Article 2 of RA 9165 for selling and possessing shabu. Upon arraignment, Pascua pleaded not guilty, however he later filed a motion to allow accused to enter into plea bargaining agreement wherein he offered to enter into a plea of guilty to the lesser offense. Prosecution opposed and stated that per DOJ circular no. 027-18, the state’s consent is necessary before the accused can plead to a lesser offense. The RTC allowed Pascua to enter into a plea of guilty for the lesser offense however it was also stated that was ineligible for probation for criminal case no. 18805 where he then applied for probation for criminal case no 18806. He then moved for a reconsideration for the pervious order that made him ineligible for probation for criminal case no. 18805 which was denied. The case was then moved to the CA wherein the CA affirmed the decision of the RTC.

Issue:
Whether or not the CA erred in ruling that the RTC did not commit grave abuse of discretion.

Held:
The petition is partly granted. CA is mistaken as the said remark should be simply regarded as a recognition and reminder of the general rule provided in Section 24 that any person convicted for drug trafficking or pushing under this Act shall be ineligible for probation. Moreover, the CA’s view is not supported neither by the very wording of Section 24, Article II of RA 9165 nor the provisions of the Probation Law. It likewise disregards the legal consequences of plea bargaining. It bears stressing that it is only after the trial court arrives at a judgment of conviction can the provisions of the Probation Law apply. “Probation” is defined under Section 3 (a) thereof as “a disposition under which a defendant, after conviction and sentence, is released subject to conditions imposed by the court and to the supervision of a probation officer.

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