G.R. No. 189833, February 05, 2014
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff–Appellee, v. JAVIER MORILLA Y AVELLANO, Accused–Appellant.
R E S O L U T I O N
That on or about October 13, 2001, in Barangay Kiloloran, Municipality of Real, Province of Quezon, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above–named accused, one of them an incumbent mayor of the Municipality of Panukulan, Quezon Province, who all belong to an organized/syndicate crime group as they all help one another, for purposes of gain in the transport of illegal drugs, and in fact, conspiring and confederating together and mutually aiding and abetting one another, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully, and feloniously transport by means of two (2) motor vehicles, namely a Starex van bearing plate number RWT–888 with commemorative plate to read “Mayor” and a municipal ambulance of Panukulan, Quezon Province, methamphetamine hydrochloride, a regulated drug which is commonly known as shabu, and with an approximate weight of five hundred three point sixty eight (503.68) kilos, without authority whatsoever.3ChanRoblesVirtualawlibraryAfter trial, the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City4 on 1 August 2007 convicted Morilla and his co–accused Mayor Mitra, then incumbent Mayor of Panukulan, Quezon, of illegal transport5 of methamphetamine hydrochloride, commonly known as shabu, with an approximate weight of five hundred three point sixty eight (503.68) kilos. However, it absolved Dequilla and Yang due to the prosecution’s failure to present sufficient evidence to convict them of the offense charged. The dispositive of the decision reads:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused Ronnie Mitra y Tena and Javier Morilla y Avellana GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the offense charged. Accordingly, both accused are hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P10,000,000.00 each. Accused Willie Yang y Yao and Ruel Dequilla y Regodan are hereby ACQUITTED for failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt and are ordered immediately released from custody unless held for some other lawful cause.The trial court found valid the search conducted by police officers on the vehicles driven by Mayor Mitra and Morilla, one with control number 888 and the other an ambulance with plate number SFK–372, as the police officers have already acquired prior knowledge that the said vehicles were suspected to be used for transportation of dangerous drugs. During the checkpoint in Real, Quezon, the information turned out to be accurate and indeed, the two accused had in their motor vehicles more than five hundred kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride.7cralawred
The methamphetamine hydrochloride ordered retained by the Court as representative sample which is still in the custody of the PNP Crime Laboratory is ordered turned over to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for proper disposition.6ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
As to the penalties imposed by the trial court and as affirmed by the appellate court, we find the same in accord with law and jurisprudence. It should be recalled that at the time of the commission of the crime on September 6, 1991, Section 15 of R.A. No. 6425 was already amended by Presidential Decree No. 1683. The decree provided that for violation of said Section 15, the penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from P20,000.00 to P30,000.00 shall be imposed. Subsequently, however, R.A. No. 7659 further introduced new amendments to Section 15, Article III and Section 20, Article IV of R.A. No. 6425, as amended. Under the new amendments, the penalty prescribed in Section 15 was changed from “life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from P20,000.00 to P30,000.00” to “reclusion perpetua to death and a fine ranging from P500,000.00 to P10 million.” On the other hand, Section 17 of R.A. No. 7659 amended Section 20, Article IV of R.A. No. 6425 in that the new penalty provided by the amendatory law shall be applied depending on the quantity of the dangerous drugs involved.WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED and the assailed 13 July 2009 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA–G.R. CR–H.C. 02967 is AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATION with respect to the penalty to be imposed as Reclusion Perpetua instead of Life Imprisonment and payment of fine of P10,000,000.00 by each of the accused.ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
The trial court, in this case, imposed on petitioner the penalty of reclusion perpetua under R.A. No. 7659 rather than life imprisonment ratiocinating that R.A. No. 7659 could be given retroactive application, it being more favorable to the petitioner in view of its having a less stricter punishment.
We agree. In People v. Doroja, we held:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary“In People v. Martin Simon (G.R. No. 93028, 29 July 1994) this Court ruled (a) that the amendatory law, being more lenient and favorable to the accused than the original provisions of the Dangerous Drugs Act, should be accorded retroactive application, x x x.”And, since “reclusion perpetua is a lighter penalty than life imprisonment, and considering the rule that criminal statutes with a favorable effect to the accused, have, as to him, a retroactive effect,” the penalty imposed by the trial court upon petitioner is proper. Consequently, the Court sustains the penalty of imprisonment, which is reclusion perpetua, as well as the amount of fine imposed by the trial court upon petitioner, the same being more favorable to him.31ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
1 Penned by Associate Justice Mariflor P. Punzalan Castillo with Associate Justices Rosmari D. Carandang and Ramon M. Bato, Jr., concurring. Rollo, pp. 2–24.
2 From the Records of the case, no appeal was timely made by the other accused, Mayor Mitra.
3 Records, Vol. I, p. 2.
4 In a Letter dated 23 October 2001, Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito R. Zuño of the Department of Justice requested then Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, through Court Administrator (now Associate Justice of this Court) Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. for a transfer of venue of the case from Real, Quezon to any Regional Trial Court in Metro Manila, preferably in Quezon City, due to the large quantity of the confiscated drugs and difficulty on the part of the Government to prosecute the case in Quezon from Metro Manila. (Records, pp. 49–50). The said request was granted by this Court in a Resolution dated 6 March 2002. (Id. at 97).
5 Republic Act No. 6425 or The Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972. – Art. III, Section 15. Sale, Administration, Dispension, Delivery, Transportation and Distribution of Regulated Drugs. The penalty of imprisonment ranging from six years and one day to twelve years and a fine ranging from six thousand to twelve thousand pesos shall be imposed upon any person who, unless authorized by law, shall sell, dispense, deliver, transport or distribute any regulated drug. In case of a practitioner, the maximum of the penalty herein prescribed and the additional penalty of the revocation of his license to practice his profession shall be imposed.
6 CA rollo, pp. 66–67.
7 Id. at 57.
8 Id. at 61–62.
9 Id. at 63–65.
10 Id. at 46–47.
11 Id. at 44–45.
12 Id. at 65.
13Rollo, pp. 21–22.
14 Id. at 22–23.
15 Supplemental Brief. Id. at 52–53.
16 Rule 115, Section 1(b). – To be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him.
17 Supplemental Brief. Rollo, pp. 53–54.
18 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 117, Section 9 stating that:
Failure to move to quash or to allege any ground therefor. — The failure of the accused to assert any ground of a motion to quash before he pleads to the complaint or information, either because he did not file a motion to quash or failed to allege the same in said motion, shall be deemed a waiver of any objections except those based on the grounds provided for in paragraphs (a), (b), (g), and (i) of section 3 of this Rule.
19Figueroa v. People, 580 Phil. 58, 73–74 (2008).
20 Revised Penal Code, Article 8.
21Ho Wai Pang v. People, G.R. No. 176229, 19 October 2011, 659 SCRA 624, 637 citing People v. Miranda, G.R. No. 92369, 10 August 1994, 235 SCRA 202, 214.
22 Id. citing People v. Ponce, 395 Phil. 563, 572 (2000); People v. Mateo, Jr., 258–A Phil. 886, 904 (1989).
23People v. Baludda, 376 Phil. 614, 626 (1999).
24People v. Del Mundo, 418 Phil. 740, 754–755 (2001).
25 443 Phil. 506 (2003).
26 Supra note 5.
27 Presidential Decree No. 1683. – Amending Certain Sections of Republic Act No. 6425, As Amended, Otherwise Known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972 and for Other Purposes.
SECTION 5. Section 15 of the same Act is hereby amended to read as follows:
Section 15. Sale, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Transportation and Distribution of Regulated Drugs. — The penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from twenty to thirty thousand pesos shall be imposed upon any persons who, unless authorized by law, shall sell, dispense, deliver, transport or distribute any regulated drug. If the victim of the offense is a minor, or should a regulated drug involved in any offense under this Section be the proximate cause of the death of a victim thereof, the maximum penalty herein provided shall be imposed.
28 An Act To Impose The Death Penalty On Certain Heinous Crimes, Amending For That Purpose The Revised Penal Laws, As Amended, Other Special Penal Laws, And For Other Purposes.
Section 14. Sections 14, 14–A, and 15 of Article III of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, are hereby amended to read as follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibraryx x x29 Supreme Court Administrative Circular No. 6–A–92, 21 June 1993 Re: The Correct Application of the Penalties of Reclusion Perpetua and Life Imprisonment; Potenciano v. Reynoso, 449 Phil. 396, 409 (2003).
Section 15. Sale, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Transportation and Distribution of Regulated Drugs. – The penalty of reclusion perpetua to death and a fine ranging from five hundred thousand pesos to ten million pesos shall be imposed upon any person who, unless authorized by law, shall sell, dispense, deliver, transport or distribute any regulated drug.
Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 20 of this Act to the contrary, if the victim of the offense is a minor, or should a regulated drug involved in any offense under this Section be the proximate cause of the death of a victim thereof, the maximum penalty herein provided shall be imposed.
30 Supra note 21.
31 Id. at 640–641.