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People vs. Walpan Ladjaalam y Milapil (G.R. No. 136149-51. September 19, 2000)

26 Apr

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINESappellee,

vs. 

WALPAN LADJAALAM y MIHAJIL alias “WARPAN,” appellant.

Ponente: PANGANIBAN

FACTS:

The trial court found the appelant guilty of maintaining a drug den, an offense for which was sentenced to reclusion perpetua. Appelant’s guilt was established by the testimony of Prosecution Witness , who himself had used the extension house of appellant as a drug den on several occasions, including the time of the raid. The former’s testimony was corroborated by all the raiding police officers who testified before the court. That appelant did not deny ownership of the house and its extension lent credence to the prosecution’s story.

The trial court also convicted appellant of direct assault with multiple counts of attempted homicide. It found that “[t]he act of the accused [of] firing an M14 rifle [at] the policemen[,] who were about to enter his house to serve a search warrant x x x” constituted such complex crime. Aside from finding appellant guilty of direct assault with multiple attempted homicide, the trial court convicted him also of the separate offense of illegal possession of firearms under PD 1866, as amended by RA 8294, and sentenced him to 6 years of prision correccional to 8 years of prision mayor.

ISSUE:

Whether or not appellant can be convicted separately of illegal possession of firearms after using said firearm in the commission of another crime.

HELD:

NO. The appealed Decision was affirmed with modifications. Appellant is found guilty only of two offenses: (1) direct assault and multiple attempted homicide with the use of a weapon and (2) maintaining a drug den.

RATIO:

The law is clear: the accused can be convicted of simple illegal possession of firearms, provided that “no other crime was committed by the person arrested.” If the intention of the law in the second paragraph were to refer only to homicide and murder, it should have expressly said so, as it did in the third paragraph. Verily, where the law does not distinguish, neither should [the courts].

The Court is aware that this ruling effectively exonerates appellant of illegal possession of an M-14 rifle, an offense which normally carries a penalty heavier than that for direct assault. While the penalty for the first is prision mayor, for the second it is only prision correccional. Indeed, the accused may evade conviction for illegal possession of firearms by using such weapons in committing an even lighter offense, like alarm and scandal or slight physical injuries, both of which are punishable by arresto menor. This consequence, however, necessarily arises from the language of RA 8294, whose wisdom is not subject to the Court’s review. Any perception that the result reached here appears unwise should be addressed to Congress. Indeed, the Court has no discretion to give statutes a new meaning detached from the manifest intendment and language of the legislature. [The Court’s] task is constitutionally confined only to applying the law and jurisprudence to the proven facts, and [this Court] have done so in this case.

 

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