G.R. No. L-30061 February 27, 1974
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellees, vs. JOSE JABINAL Y CARMEN, Defendant-Appellant.
Office of the Solicitor General Felix V. Makasiar and Solicitor Antonio M. Martinez for plaintiff-appellee.
Pedro Panganiban y Tolentino for defendant-appellant.
Appeal from the judgment of the Municipal Court of Batangas (provincial capital), Batangas, in Criminal Case No. 889, finding the accused guilty of the crime of Illegal Possession of Firearm and Ammunition and sentencing him to suffer an indeterminate penalty ranging from one (1) year and one (1) day to two (2) years imprisonment, with the accessories provided by law, which raises in issue the validity of his conviction based on a retroactive application of Our ruling in People v. Mapa. 1chanrobles virtual law library
The complaint filed against the accused reads:
At the arraignment on September 11, 1964, the accused entered a plea of not guilty, after which trial was accordingly held.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
The accused admitted that on September 5, 1964, he was in possession of the revolver and the ammunition described in the complaint, without the requisite license or permit. He, however, claimed to be entitled to exoneration because, although he had no license or permit, he had an appointment as Secret Agent from the Provincial Governor of Batangas and an appointment as Confidential Agent from the PC Provincial Commander, and the said appointments expressly carried with them the authority to possess and carry the firearm in question.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
Indeed, the accused had appointments from the above-mentioned officials as claimed by him. His appointment from Governor Feliciano Leviste, dated December 10, 1962, reads:
On March 15, 1964, the accused was also appointed by the PC Provincial Commander of Batangas as Confidential Agent with duties to furnish information regarding smuggling activities, wanted persons, loose firearms, subversives and other similar subjects that might affect the peace and order condition in Batangas province, and in connection with these duties he was temporarily authorized to possess a ROHM revolver, Cal. .22 RG-8 SN-64, for his personal protection while in the performance of his duties.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
The accused contended before the court a quo that in view of his above-mentioned appointments as Secret Agent and Confidential Agent, with authority to possess the firearm subject matter of the prosecution, he was entitled to acquittal on the basis of the Supreme Court's decision in People vs. Macarandang 2 and People vs. Lucero. 3 The trial court, while conceding on the basis of the evidence of record the accused had really been appointed Secret Agent and Confidential Agent by the Provincial Governor and the PC Provincial Commander of Batangas, respectively, with authority to possess and carry the firearm described in the complaint, nevertheless held the accused in its decision dated December 27, 1968, criminally liable for illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition on the ground that the rulings of the Supreme Court in the cases of Macarandang and Lucero were reversed and abandoned in People vs. Mapa, supra. The court considered as mitigating circumstances the appointments of the accused as Secret Agent and Confidential Agent.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
Let us advert to Our decisions in People v. Macarandang, supra, People v. Lucero, supra, and People v. Mapa, supra. In Macarandang, We reversed the trial court's judgment of conviction against the accused because it was shown that at the time he was found to possess a certain firearm and ammunition without license or permit, he had an appointment from the Provincial Governor as Secret Agent to assist in the maintenance of peace and order and in the detection of crimes, with authority to hold and carry the said firearm and ammunition. We therefore held that while it is true that the Governor has no authority to issue any firearm license or permit, nevertheless, section 879 of the Revised Administrative Code provides that "peace officers" are exempted from the requirements relating to the issuance of license to possess firearms; and Macarandang's appointment as Secret Agent to assist in the maintenance of peace and order and detection of crimes, sufficiently placed him in the category of a "peace officer" equivalent even to a member of the municipal police who under section 879 of the Revised Administrative Code are exempted from the requirements relating to the issuance of license to possess firearms. In Lucero, We held that under the circumstances of the case, the granting of the temporary use of the firearm to the accused was a necessary means to carry out the lawful purpose of the batallion commander to effect the capture of a Huk leader. In Mapa, expressly abandoning the doctrine in Macarandang, and by implication, that in Lucero, We sustained the judgment of conviction on the following ground:
It will be noted that when appellant was appointed Secret Agent by the Provincial Government in 1962, and Confidential Agent by the Provincial Commander in 1964, the prevailing doctrine on the matter was that laid down by Us in People v. Macarandang (1959) and People v. Lucero (1958). Our decision in People v. Mapa reversing the aforesaid doctrine came only in 1967. The sole question in this appeal is: Should appellant be acquitted on the basis of Our rulings in Macarandang and Lucero, or should his conviction stand in view of the complete reversal of the Macarandang and Lucero doctrine in Mapa? The Solicitor General is of the first view, and he accordingly recommends reversal of the appealed judgment.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
Decisions of this Court, although in themselves not laws, are nevertheless evidence of what the laws mean, and this is the reason why under Article 8 of the New Civil Code "Judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws or the Constitution shall form a part of the legal system ... ." The interpretation upon a law by this Court constitutes, in a way, a part of the law as of the date that law originally passed, since this Court's construction merely establishes the contemporaneous legislative intent that law thus construed intends to effectuate. The settled rule supported by numerous authorities is a restatement of legal maxim "legis interpretatio legis vim obtinet" - the interpretation placed upon the written law by a competent court has the force of law. The doctrine laid down in Lucero and Macarandang was part of the jurisprudence, hence of the law, of the land, at the time appellant was found in possession of the firearm in question and when he arraigned by the trial court. It is true that the doctrine was overruled in the Mapa case in 1967, but when a doctrine of this Court is overruled and a different view is adopted, the new doctrine should be applied prospectively, and should not apply to parties who had relied on the old doctrine and acted on the faith thereof. This is especially true in the construction and application of criminal laws, where it is necessary that the punishability of an act be reasonably foreseen for the guidance of society.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
It follows, therefore, that considering that appellant conferred his appointments as Secret Agent and Confidential Agent and authorized to possess a firearm pursuant to the prevailing doctrine enunciated in Macarandang and Lucero, under which no criminal liability would attach to his possession of said firearm in spite of the absence of a license and permit therefor, appellant must be absolved. Certainly, appellant may not be punished for an act which at the time it was done was held not to be punishable.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
WHEREFORE, the judgment appealed from is hereby reversed, and appellant is acquitted, with costs de oficio.
Zaldivar (Chairman), Barredo, Fernandez and Aquino, JJ., concur.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
Fernando, J., took no part.
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