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Criminal Law 1 Case Digest: U.S. v. Ah Sing

U.S. v. Ah Sing, 36 Phil. 987
G.R. No. L-13005. October 10, 1917.

Lesson:  Jurisdictional limits of the Philippine Islands

Laws Applicable: Art. 2 RPC, Opium Law

·         Ah Sing is a firemen at the steamship Shun Chang, a foreign vessel which arrived in the port of Cebu from Saigon.
o   He bought 8 cans of opium in Saigon, brought them on board and had them in his possession during the trip.
o   The 8 cans of opium were found in the ashes below the boiler of the steamer's engine by authorities who made a search upon anchoring on the Cebu port.
o   Ah Sing confessed that it was his and that it was bought in Saigon without stating his intention.
·         CFI of Cebu: Ah Sing guilty in violation of the Opium Law

ISSUE: W/N the crime of illegal importation of opium into the Philippine Islands is criminally liable in the Philippines

HELD: Ah Sing having been proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt
·         As applied to the Opium Law, we expressly hold that any person unlawfully imports or brings any prohibited drug into the Philippine Islands, when the prohibited drug is found under this person's control on a vessel which has come direct from a foreign country and is within the jurisdictional limits of the Philippine Islands.
·         In such case, a person is guilty of illegal importation of the drug unless contrary circumstances exist or the defense proves otherwise.
o   Applied to the facts herein, it would be absurb to think that the accused was merely carrying opium back and forth between Saigon and Cebu for the mere pleasure of so doing. It would likewise be impossible to conceive that the accused needed so large an amount of opium for his personal use. No better explanation being possible, the logical deduction is that the defendant intended this opium to be brought into the Philippine Islands
·         To anticipate any possible misunderstanding, let it be said that these statements do not relate to foreign vessels in transit, a situation not present.