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People vs.

Jabinal February 27, 1974 Facts: On September 5, 1964, the accused was found to be in possession of a revolver without the requisite license or permit. He claimed to be entitled to exoneration because, although he had no license or permit, he had appointments as Secret Agent from the Provincial Governor of Batangas and as Confidential Agent from the PC Provincial Commander, and the said appointments expressly carried with them the authority topossess and carry the said firearm. The accused further contended that in view of hisappointments, he was entitled to acquittal on the basis of the Supreme Courts decisions inPeople vs. Macarandang and in People vs. Lucero. The trial court found the accused criminally liable for illegal possession of firearm andammunition on the ground that the rulings in Macarandang* and in Lucero* were reversed and abandoned in People vs. Mapa**. The case was elevated to the Supreme Court. Issue: Whether or not the appellant should be acquitted on the basis of the Supreme Courts rulings in the cases of Macarandang and of Lucero. Ruling:The appellant was acquitted. Decisions of the Supreme Court, although in themselves not laws, are neverthelessevidence of what the law means; this is the reason why Article 8 of the New Civil Codeprovides that, Judicial decisions applying and interpreting the laws or the constitution shallform part of the legal system. The interpretation upon a law by the Supreme Courtconstitutes in a way a part of the law as of the date the law was originally passed, since thecourts construction merely establishes the contemporaneous legislative intent that the lawthus construed intends to effectuate. The settled rule supported by numerous authorities isa restatement of the legal maxim legis interpretatio legis vim obtinetthe interpretationplaced upon the written law by a competent court has the force of law. The doctrine laiddown in Lucero and in Macarandang was part of the jurisprudence, hence, of the law of theland, at the time appellant was found in possession of the firearm and when he wasarraigned by the trial court. It is true that the doctrine was overruled in Mapa case in 1967,but when a doctrine of the Supreme Court is overruled and a different view is adopted, thenew doctrine should be applied prospectively, and should not apply to parties who had reliedon the old doctrine and acted on the faith thereof. Considering that the appellant possessed a firearm pursuant to the prevailingdoctrine enunciated in Macarandang and in Lucero, under which no criminal liability wouldattach to his possession of said firearm, the appellant should be absolved. The appellantmay not be punished for an act which at the time it was done was held not to be punishable. _____________________ *The accused were acquitted for through their appointment as confidential/secret agent theyweredeemed to be peace officers. Peace officers had the privilege of carrying firearms without license. **Mapa was convicted although he was a secret/confidential agent. The court ruled that the law did not explicitly provide that secret/confidential agents are among those who are exempted from acquiring a license to carry a firearm.