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G.R. No. 496, U.S. v. Fowler et al., 1 Phil.

Republic of the Philippines
December 31, 190
!"R" No" #9$
THE UNITED STATES, complainant%appellant,
WILLIAM FOWLER, ET AL., 'efen'ants%appellees"
Assistant Attorney-General Constantino, for appellant.
William Lane O'Neill, for appellees.
(he t)o 'efen'ants ha&e been accuse' of the theft of si*teen bottles of champa+ne of the
&alue of ,0, on the 1th Au+ust, 1901, )hile on boar' the transport Lawton, then na&i+atin+
the hi+h seas, )hich sai' bottles of champa+ne forme' part of the car+o of the sai' &essel
an' )ere the propert- of .ulian /in'sa-, an' )hich )ere ta0en lucri causa, an' )ith the intent
to appropriate the same, )ithout &iolence or intimi'ation, an' )ithout the consent of the
o)ner, a+ainst the statute in the case ma'e an' pro&i'e'"
(he accuse' ha&in+ been brou+ht before the court, the prosecutin+ attorne- bein+ present on
behalf of the !o&ernment, counsel for the 'efen'ants presente' a 'emurrer, alle+in+ that the
Court of 1irst 2nstance )as )ithout 3uris'iction to tr- the crime char+e', inasmuch as it
appeare' from the information that the crime )as committe' on the hi+h seas, an' not in the
cit- of Manila, or )ithin the territor- comprisin+ the Ba- of Manila, or upon the seas )ithin the
3%mile limit to )hich the 3uris'iction of the court e*ten's, an' as0e', upon these +roun's,
that the case be 'ismisse'"
(his contention )as oppose' b- the prosecutin+ attorne-, )ho alle+e' that the court has
ori+inal 3uris'iction in all criminal cases in )hich the penalt- e*cee's si* month4s
imprisonment, or a fine of o&er ,1005 that, in accor'ance )ith the or'ers of the Militar-
!o&ernor an' the Ci&il Commission a'miralt- 3uris'iction o&er all crimes committe' on boar'
&essel fl-in+ the fla+ of the 6nite' 7tates has been &este' in the Court of 1irst 2nstance of the
cit- of Manila" Amon+ other la)s an' or'ers he cite' the or'er of Au+ust 1#, 1898, an' Acts
Nos" 9$ an' 18$ of the 6nite' 7tates Ci&il Commission" :e ar+ue' that the Presi'ent of the
6nite' 7tates ha' un;uestionable authorit- to authori<e the comman'in+ +eneral an' the
Ci&il Commission to establish a 3u'icial s-stem )ith authorit- to ta0e co+ni<ance of maritime
an' a'miralt- causes, citin+ a 'ecision of the 7upreme Court of the 6nite' 7tates in support
of this 'octrine, )hich )as applicable to this Archipela+o, )hich is no) analo+ous to the
status of some of the 7tates of the 6nion 'urin+ the Me*ican )ar an' the )ar of secession"
(he 3u'+e, ho)e&er, b- an or'er of the 1#th of 7eptember, 1901, hel' that the court )as
)ithout 3uris'iction to tr- the accuse' for the theft alle+e' to ha&e been committe' on the
hi+h seas, sustaine' the 'emurrer, an' or'ere' the 'ischar+e of the 'efen'ants, )ith the
costs to the !o&ernment" A+ainst this or'er the prosecutin+ attorne- appeale', an' the case
)as brou+ht before this court"
(his case 'eals )ith a theft committe' on boar' a transport )hile na&i+atin+ the hi+h
seas" Act No. 136 of the or+anic la), as )ell as Act No. 186 passe' b- the Ci&il Commission,
an' )hich repeale' the former la), Act No. 76, 'o not e*pressl- confer 3uris'iction or
authorit- upon this court to ta0e co+ni<ance of all crimes committe' on boar' &essels on the
hi+h seas" =hile the pro&isions of the la) are clear an' precise )ith respect to ci&il a'miralt-
or maritime cases, this is not true )ith respect to criminal cases" 2f an- 'oubt coul' arise
concernin+ the true meanin+ of the la) applicable to the case, Act No" #00 effecti&el-
'issipates such 'oubts"
(his la), )hich is an a''ition to Act No. 136, b- )hich the courts of 3ustice of the Philippine
2slan's )ere or+ani<e', in article 1 a''s to article >$, consistin+ of se&en para+raphs, another
para+raph numbere' 8, )hich rea's as follo)s? @Af all crimes an' offenses committe' on the
hi+h seas or be-on' the 3uris'iction of an- countr-, or )ithin an- of the na&i+able )aters of
the Philippine Archipela+o, on boar' a ship or )ater craft of an- 0in' re+istere' or license' in
the Philippine 2slan's in accor'ance )ith the la)s thereof"@ (he purpose of this la) )as to
'efine the 3uris'iction of the courts of 1irst 2nstance in criminal cases for crimes committe' on
boar' &essels re+istere' or license' in the Philippine 2slan's" (he transport Lawton not bein+ a
&essel of this class, our courts are )ithout 3uris'iction to ta0e co+ni<ance of a crime
committe' on boar' the same"
6pon these +roun's )e consi'er that the or'er appeale' shoul' be affirme', )ith the
costs de oficio" 7o or'ere'"
Arellano, C.J., Cooper, Smit, Willard, !apa, and Ladd, JJ., concur.