Like us on Facebook

Please wait..10 Seconds Cancel

Criminal Law 1 Case Digest: People v. Look Chaw

People v. Look Chaw, 18 Phil. 573
G.R. No.L-5887. December 16, 1910.

Lesson:  Crimes NOT involving a breach of public order committed on board a public vessel is NOT triable by our courts

Laws Applicable: Art. 2 RPC, Opium Law

Ø  Upon arrival of steamship Erroll of English nationality, that it came from Hongkong, and that it was bound for Mexico, via the call ports of Manila and Cebu, 2 sacks of opium where found during the inspection and search of the cargo. 
o   Smaller sack of opium on the cabin near the saloon
o   larger sack in the hold
o   Later on, there was also 4 cans of opium found on the part of the ship where the firemen habitually sleep
§  the firemen and crew of foreign vessels, pursuant to the instructions he had from the Manila custom-house, were permitted to retain certain amounts of opium, always provided it should not be taken shore so it was returned
Ø  2 charges were filed against Look Chaw at the Court of First Instance of Cebu:
o   unlawful possession of opium
o   unlawful sale of opium
Ø  Look Chaw admitted that he had bought these sacks of opium, in Hongkong with the intention of selling them as contraband in Mexico or Vera Cruz, and that, as his hold had already been searched several times for opium, he ordered two other Chinamen to keep the sack.
Ø  The court ruled that it did not lack jurisdiction, inasmuch as the crime had been committed within its district, on the wharf of Cebu. The court sentenced him to5 years imprisonment, to pay a fine of P10,000, with additional subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvencyxxx  It further ordered the confiscation, in favor of the Insular Government.

ISSUE: W/N the Philippine court has jurisdiction.

HELD:  YES. Modified by reducing the imprisonment and the fine imposed to six months and P1,000
·         GR: mere possession of a thing of prohibited use in these Islands, aboard a foreign vessel in transit, in any of their ports, does NOT constitute a crime triable by the courts of this country, on account of such vessel being considered as an extension of its own nationality
·         EX: when the article, whose use is prohibited within the Philippine Islands, in the present case a can of opium, is landed from the vessel upon Philippine soil, thus committing an open violation of the laws of the land with respect to which, as it is a violation of the penal law in force at the place of the commission of the crime, only the court established in that said place itself had competent jurisdiction, in the absence of an agreement under an international treaty.