Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence


Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 1909 > January 1909 Decisions > G.R. No. 4627 January 11, 1909 - UNITED STATES v. EL CHINO QUE-QUENCO

012 Phil 449:




PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EN BANC

[G.R. No. 4627. January 11, 1909. ]

THE UNITED STATES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. EL CHINO QUE-QUENCO, Defendant-Appellant.

Fermin Mariano, for Appellant.

Attorney-General Villamor for Appellee.

SYLLABUS


1. OPIUM LAW; IGNORANCE OF LAW. — Ignorance of the existence of the prohibitory provisions of the Opium Law is no excuse for the unlawful possession of opium.


D E C I S I O N


MAPA, J. :


It is a fact proven not only by the evidence adduced by the prosecution but also by the confession of the accused himself, made at the trial, that the said accused had opium in his possession and in his own house, outside of the public dispensary, on the 30th of October, 1907. The accused was a confirmed user of opium, and as such he had a license to smoke it, issued by the municipal treasurer of Oroquieta on the 22d of the said month and year, and he excuses himself by saying that on October 30, the date on which the opium was found in his possession, he did not know that an Act had been promulgated, prohibiting the confirmed users of opium duly registered from having the drug outside of the public dispensary, and on the other hand, that the municipal treasurer, on issuing the license, did not tell him of the existence of such a legal prohibition.

The Act establishing the prohibition is Act No. 1761, which was enacted on October 10, 1907, and went into force on the 17th of the same month. Besides the well-known principle of law, expressly mentioned in article 2 of the Civil Code, that ignorance of laws does not excuse a person from compliance therewith, the alleged ignorance of the existence of the prohibition can not be admitted in the case at bar, even as a matter of fact, inasmuch as the municipal treasurer of Oroquieta categorically denying the statement of the accused, declared at the trial that, on issuing to him the license in the month of October, he advised him that it was absolutely forbidden to have opium outside of the public dispensary. Considering the question from another point of view, these facts likewise show that, prior to October 30, the existence of the prohibition was known in Oroquieta, and it necessarily had to be so, taking into account the fact that twenty days had elapsed between that date and the date of the passage of the above-mentioned Act. The plea of the defendant is in law and in fact untenable, and should therefore be dismissed.

Consequently, the holding of the lower court that the accused violated section 7 of Act No. 1761, is proper. The penalty of one year of imprisonment and a fine of P500, or subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency at the rate of one day for every P2.50 that he should fail to pay, which penalty was imposed on the accused in the judgment appealed from, is within the limits of the punishment prescribed by the said section, in the discretion of the court. In view of all the circumstances of the case, however, we reduce the said penalty to four months imprisonment and a fine of P300, with the same subsidiary imprisonment, which shall not exceed one month and ten days in case of insolvency.

With this modification, and holding that the opium found in the possession of the defendant shall be retained by the Government, we affirm the judgment appealed from with the costs of this instance against the accused. So ordered.

Arellano, C.J., Torres, Carson, Willard and Tracey, JJ., concur.




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