Wednesday, February 22, 2012

US vs. Go Chico (14 Phil 133)

Facts: On or about the 4th day of August, 1908, appellant Go Chico displayed in one of the windows and one of the show cases of his store in No. 89 Calle Rosario, Manila, a number of medallions, in the form of a small button, upon which were printed the miniature faces of Emilio Aguinaldo and the flag or banner or device used during the late insurrection in the Phil. Islands to designate and identify those in armed insurrection against the United States. On the day previous to the one set forth above, the appellant had purchased the said medallion sold at a public sale under the authority of the sheriff of the city of Manila. On the day in question, the appellant was arranging his stock of goods for the purpose of displaying them to the public, and in doing so, he placed the medallions in his showcase and on one of the windows of his store. The appellant was ignorant of any law against the display of such medallions and had consequently no corrupt intention. The facts stated above are admitted. The appellant has two propositions for his acquittal: first is that before a conviction can be had, a criminal intent upon the part of the accused must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Second is that the prohibition of law is directed against the use of identical banners, devices or emblems actually used during the Philippine insurrection by those in armed rebellion against the United States. 

Issue: Whether or not criminal intent is necessary in crimes punishable by special laws. 

Held: The court ruled that the act alone, irrespective of its motive, constitutes the crime. The words “used during the late insurrection in the Philippine Islands to designate or identify those in armed rebellion against the United States” mean not only the identical flags actually used in the insurrection, but any flag which is of that type. The description refers not to a particular flag, but to a type of flag. The literal interpretation of a statute may lead to an absurdity, or evidently fail to give the real intent of the legislature. 


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