On April 24, 2012, policemen of the Special Operations Group of the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office successfully conducted a buy-bust operation against Don Emilio. They seized from him two plastic sachet containing white crystalline substances. The apprehending policemen immediately conducted an inventory of the seized drugs in the presence of Don Emilio. After which they prepared the inventory sheets which was signed by Barangay Kagawad Chona, Department of Justice (DOJ) Representative Ramonito Astillero and Media Representative Juancho Gallarde upon arrival at the scene of arrest.
Don Emilio was charged with Illegal Possession of Dangerous Drugs and found guilty by the Regional Trial Court of Dumaguete City, Branch 36. The same was upheld by the Court of Appeals.
However, the Supreme Court acquitted him in a Decision dated January 14, 2019. Part of the said Decision states:
“the inventory was not conducted in their [Barangay Kagawad Chona, Department of Justice Representative Ramonito Astillero and Media Representative Juancho Gallarde] presence as the apprehending policemen already prepared the Inventory/Receipt of Property Seized when they arrived at the scene of arrest and only made them sign the same. As discussed, the witness requirement mandates the presence of the witnesses during the conduct of the inventory, so as to ensure that the evils of switching, planting, or contamination of evidence will be adequately prevented.”
See [CASE BrieF NO. 2019-0017] People of the Philippines vs. Don Emilio Cariño y Agustin a.k.a. “Don Emilio”