A trial court has sentenced a former member of the New People’s Army and former town vice-mayor in Bohol to life imprisonment after it found him guilty, as charged, of illegal sale of shabu, a cheap version of methamphetamine hydrochloride.
The court also ordered Jaime Ingles Decasa, former vice-mayor of Batuan, to pay a P500,000 fine for the alleged violation of Section 5 of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 4 presiding judge Sisinio C. Virtudazo, however, absolved the former vice-mayor of illegal drug possession charges.
The “legality of the buy-bust operation should be upheld since the inconsistencies of the testimonies of the NBI agents and the irregularity of the search refer only to the events after the buy-bust,” the judge said in a 19-page ruling.
On March 11, 2014, agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested Decasa during a buy-bust operation at his residence in Tagbilaran City.
A subsequent search of Decasa’s house yielded some packs of shabu, which at that time were estimated by the NBI to be worth P3.7 million, the biggest drug haul in Bohol in 2014.
While the court upheld Decasa’s conviction for the illegal sale of the prohibited substance, it voided the legality of the subsequent search conducted by the NBI.
According to Decasa’s lawyer, Brian Gaviola, his client will file a motion for reconsideration, and if such would fail, they will elevate their case even up to the Supreme Court.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
In the late 90s, Decasa was elected vice-mayor of Batuan town, located 51 km northeast of the capital city of Tagbilaran. He was reportedly groomed by his family to be the next mayor of the town.
Decasa came from a family of politicians – his father, uncles, and grandfather had alternately ruled Batuan, Bohol as mayor.
His great-grandfather, Manuel Decasa, was instrumental in establishing Batuan as a new town in Bohol in 1903 when it was separated from its mother town, Bilar.
Decasa’s political career came to an abrupt end after he was implicated in the alleged murder of a political rival’s supporter.
In 1999 Decasa, then Batuan’s second highest official, shocked the people of Bohol when he suddenly defected to the New People’s Army (NPA), recalled journalist Ven C. Arigo.
Arigo had once reported that Decasa’s defection to the rebel movement was hailed at that time as a victory for the NPAs operating in Bohol.
Eventually, the politician-turned-rebel returned to the folds of the government, and his surrender to the Philippine Army during the administration of former Bohol governor Rene L. Relampagos hugged the headlines at that time.
In 2014, Decasa again surfaced in the news, this time as a suspect in the NBI’s buy-bust operation. (Ligalig Mike Ortega)