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PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v.

CHI CHAN LIU & HUI LAO CHUNG


G.R. No. 189272 | January 21, 2015
Peralta, J.

Doctrine: The rule is that when there is a variance between the offense charged in the
complaint or information, and that proved or established by the evidence, and the offense as
charged necessarily includes the offense proved, the accused shall be convicted of the offense
proved included in that which is charged.

FACTS
Appellants in this case were found guilty of violating Sec. 14, Art. 3 in relation to Sec. 21
(a), Art. 4 of RA 6425 also known as the Dangerous Drugs Act. The facts show that the police
authorities received a radio message from the barangay captain of a nearby island that a suspicious
looking boat was seen somewhere within the vicinity of said island. Acting on the basis of said
report, the police went to the location and found 2 boats anchored side-by-side and as they moved
closer to the area, the fishing boat hurriedly sped away. Police officers then found the appellants
on the speed boat with several bags containing a substance suspected to be shabu. The police asked
the appellants to show their identification papers, but they failed to present the same.
During the investigation, the police authorities had a difficulty in interrogating the
appellants, so they requested for an interpreter. When said interpreter arrived, the police then
informed the appellants of their rights under the Philippine Laws inclusive of right to remain silent,
right to counsel and to be informed of the nature of the case against them. When asked whether
they want to avail of such constitutional rights, appellants just kept on repeating the phrase “Call
china, big money.” The police then prepared the booking report and arrest sheet as well as
subjected the collected drugs to examination which confirmed that they are indeed shabu.
By reason of which, the provincial prosecutor of Occidental Mindoro filed an Information
against appellants for violation of Section 14, Article III, in relation to Section 21 (a), Article IV
of RA No. 6425. It is alleged in the same information that the appellants, in conspiracy with one
another, imported and brought shabu through the use of sea vessel. Appellants pleaded not guilty.
Notwithstanding their plea, the trial court rendered a decision which convicted appellants
of the crime charged against them. The CA then affirmed the same decision. On appeal, appellants
contends, among others, that the trial court erred in convicting them of the crime of importation of
drugs when not all the elements of which are present in the case at bar.

ISSUES AND HOLDING


1. W/N the trial court erred in convicting the accused-appellant of the crime of importation
of prohibited drugs – NO.
The appellants assert that they should not be held liable for importation of drugs
because to be liable, two elements must concur: (1) importation/bringing into the Philippines
of any prohibited drugs and that such importation was without authority of law. Appellants
contends that unless there is proof that a ship on which illegal drugs came from a foreign
country, the offense does not fall within the ambit of illegal importation of said drugs. Thus,
considering the prosecution’s failure to prove the place of origin of the boat on which
appellants were apprehended, appellants cannot be convicted of the crime charged herein.
It is said that the information filed against accused-appellants charged them for
violation of Sec. 14 of Article 3 (Importation of Regulated Drugs) in relation to Section 21 (1)

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of Article 4 (Attempt and Conspiracy in importation of dangerous drugs). In support of their
argument, appellants cite United States v Jose wherein the Court held that unless it has been
proven that the regulated drugs are brought to the Philippines from a foreign origin, an accused
cannot be held liable for the crime of importation of drugs. On the assailed decision, the CA
considered the admission of the appellants that they were Chinese nationals and their penchant
for making reference during custodial investigation to China where they could obtain money
to bribe the police officers as sufficient proof to warrant that the drugs came from China.
However, the court cannot agree that appellants can be convicted on the basis of such because
by virtue of said admission, it does not necessarily follow that the drugs came from China. The
records only bear the fact that the speedboat on which the appellants were apprehended was
docked on the coast of Ambil Island in the Municipality of Looc, Occidental Mindoro. But it
could have easily come from some other locality within the country, and not necessarily from
China or any foreign port, as held by the CA. Hence, appellants cannot be held liable for the
crime of importation of drugs.
In the same manner, neither parties discussed whether the appellants may be held liable
of the crime of illegal possession of opium. Section 29 of Code of Criminal Procedure provides
that the court may find the defendant guilty of any offense, or of any frustrated or attempted
offense, the commission of which is necessarily included in the charge in the complaint or
information. To warrant such conviction, it is not sufficient that the crime maybe included, but
it must necessarily be included. in light of the recent rulings by the Court wherein it held that
possession is inherent in importation, the Court can sustain appellant’s criminal liability for
illegal possession, if proven beyond reasonable doubt.
By doing this, appellant’s right to be informed of the nature of the case filed against
them was not violated. It is a well-settled rule that when there is a variance between the offense
charged in the complaint or information, and that proved or established by the evidence, and
the offense as charged necessarily includes the offense proved, the accused shall be convicted
of the offense proved included in that which is charged. Indeed, where an accused is charged
with a specific crime, he is duly informed not only of such specific crime but also of lesser
crimes or offenses included therein.

AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATIONS. APPELLANTS ARE GUILTY OF THE CRIME


OF ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF REGULATED DRUGS.

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