CA affirms drug charges verdict vs Malaysian man
MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) upheld a regional trial court (RTC) decision that found a Malaysian national guilty of drug charges.
The CA's First Division junked the petition of Lim Tin Chong, who sought for the reversal of the Pasay RTC's decision in September 2013 that found him guilty of possession and transportation of illegal drugs, due to lack of merit.
The appellate court said Chong denied owning the drugs found from him, which contradicted with his claim of illegal search.
"Hence, the undisputed existence of the luggage tag bearing the accused-appellant's name leads to the logical conclusion that he owns the suitcase and therefore maintained constructive possession of the same even while such bag was checked-in when he boarded the aircraft from Malaysia," the CA said.
Chong was arrested in April 2010 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminal 1 with 14 kilograms of methamphetamine hydrochloride worth P64 million, following a tip received by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
The Pasay RTC found him guilty of possession and transportation of illegal drugs in September 2013, and sentenced him to life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P500,000.
Chong questioned the warrantless search conducted to him by the PDEA agents. But the CA affirmed its validity, and agreed with the PDEA findings that he was in the "constructive possession" of the luggage with the illegal drugs.
The Supreme Court earlier declared that warrantless search of passengers in airports "is a practice not constitutionally objectionable because it is founded on public interest, safety and necessity."
"Hence, the search of accused-appellant's luggage for illegal contraband... is clearly justified and permissible under the law. He could not therefore claim that the illegal articles found in his luggage is inadmissible in evidence against him," the CA explained. – Rappler.com