G.R. No. 115156 December 14, 1995
Lessons Applicable: malum prohibitum
· Middle of August 1992: Chief Inspector Amador Pabustan of the Criminal Investigation Section of the Philippine National Police received a report from the International Police Organization (Interpol) that a large shipment of narcotics was arriving in Manila by air mail so he conferred it to the Pastor Guiao, Collector of Customs at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, who ordered an inspection of parcels of commercial quantity coming from Hongkong, Singapore, Indonesia and Bangkok
· September 3, 1992: Antonio Comia who works for TASCO, a brokerage firm engaged in freight facilitating and forwarding, went to the Airmail Distribution Center (ADC) to inquire about packages of their client Mary Ong consisting of about 30 parcels which were addressed to various individuals and bearing the identifying marks "VGM" or "VGMO" which were supposed to have left the Hongkong Airport on September 2, 1992
· Teresita Bajar informed him that they arrived but under inspection and that the packages marked "VGM" had arrived in bad order and that its contents, which turned out to be watches, had spilled out so Comia told TASCO Manager Lydia Dizon who relayed it to Mary Ong
· Upon failure to have the cargo to be released, Comia arranged an appointment for Teodoro Evangelista, the owner of TASCO and Comia's brother-in-law, to see Supervising Appraiser of the Air Parcel Division of the Airmail Distribution Center Emmanuel Laudit
· Evangelista came to see Laudit and suggested "Perahin na lang eka iyan." Laudit advised Evangelista to speak instead with Collector Guiao.
· 3 packages out of 9 where marked "VGMO" and addressed to comia was found to contain plastic bags of metamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.
· Evangelista, who was present denied any knowledge of the importation and claimied that the cargo belonged to Mary Ong.
· Mary Ong was called and she executed an affidavit admitting that the packages marked "VGM" were hers, but were actually meant for Mrs. Go Shiu Ling, the sister of the sender in Hongkong who asked her to facilitate the importation of the boxes of what she thought contained watches.
· About September 9, 1992: An information against Comia was filed for conspiring and confederating together and mutually helping one another, without authority of law, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully, and feloniously import or bring into the Philippines Metamphetamine Hydrochloride (shabu), a regulated drug
· September 18, 1992: He pleaded not guilty on arraignment
· October 12, 1992: Information was amended to include Teodoro Evangelista, who remained at large
o Dismissed the case against Bajar since she was merely of being in the working area of the customs examiners of the ADC, locating Comia's parcels, where she had no authority to be
o granted the demurrers of Ong and Go since Evangelista's affidavitwas inadmissible as evidence because Evangelista was not presented to identify it. Likewise, Ong's own affidavit, in which she pointed to Go as the real consignee of the packages, was also held to be inadmissible on the ground that it had been taken while she was under custodial investigation without assistance of counsel. She also made no mention of the packages marked "VGMO" in her affidavit and admitted that the parcels were sent to her by Yu Yen Jian, whereas the three parcels appeared to have been shipped by a certain Ching Ming
o Comia's demurrer was denied. He was found guilty and sentenced to suffer life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P30,000.00
§ Comia was persistent in his follow up showed that he knew the contents of the three parcels
§ He followed up even after becoming aware of the arrival of the packages is an indication that he was there not merely to know if they had arrived but to secure their immediate dispatch to the satellite office
o TASCO's modus operandi was to have the cargo of clients divided into parcels which were then addressed to different individuals in order to reduce or entirely avoid customs duties. The addressees were people close to Evangelista, such as Comia, who is his brother-in-law, Lydia Dizon, his sister-in-law, Joel Evangelista, his son, and Bert Tuazon, his neighbor and addresses were interchanged or fictitious addresses were given. The packages were coded with the initials of TASCO's clients so that they could be identified. The code names "VGM" and "VGMO" stood for Mary Ong. Teresita Bajar knew the coded initials of TASCO's clients, having been given a list of them so she monitors the packages and relays them to Comia.
· Comia appealed contending that if he knew that the packages contained shabu, he would instead have gone into hiding
· Emmanuel Laudit of the ADC allegedly warned Lydia Dizon that the shipment was going to be discovered indicates the existence of an alliance with Laudit
· He had reason to work hard for the release of the packages, now that the watches had been discovered and ranking officials of the ADC presumably already knew that TASCO's packages had been misdeclared. He had to have them released before the rest of the packages were inspected. When his efforts failed, Comia called on his brother-in-law, Teodoro Evangelista, who was the owner of the firm and a former customs policeman, so that the latter could use his influence.
W/N: Comia can escape criminal responsibility due to lack of criminal intent and good faith
HELD: NO. AFFIRMED. MODIFIED to reclusion perpetua
· crime of transporting a prohibited drug is a malum prohibitum
o punished as an offense under a special law
o wrong because it is prohibited by law regardless of criminal intent.
· acts mala in se - there must be a criminal intent
· mala prohibita it is sufficient if the prohibited act was intentionally done. "Care must be exercised in distinguishing the difference between the intent to commit the crime and the intent to perpetrate to act
· notwithstanding that a majority of the defendants have been acquitted, the accused had been held responsible for the crime charged