Justice Secretary Leila De Lima reminded foreign nationals to be mindful of and abide by Philippine laws when visiting the country.
The Secretary issued the statement as the Laoag City Regional Trial Court Branch 14 found four Chinese nationals guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal possession of explosives (Sec. 3, Presidential Decree No. 1866 as amended by Republic Act No. 9516) and sentenced them to reclusion perpetua.
In a 24-page Joint Judgment, Presiding Judge Francisco Quilala also found Leng Haiyun, Dang Huiyin, Liu Wen Xion and Lei Guang Feng guilty beyond reasonable doubt for Violation of Sec. 261 (q) of the Omnibus Election Code in relation to Comelec Resolution No. 9561-A and meted them an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment ranging from two to five years.
The four were arrested on May 28, 2013 at Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte.
According to the Ilocos Norte Prosecutor’s Office, a gasoline boy reported to the Pasuquin police an incident involving a Toyota Previa car parked at the North Metro Oil Gasoline Station. He claimed he saw someone alight from the passenger side of the car and break two bottles at the driver’s side.
When the responding policemen arrived at the police station, the Previa’s driver started the car’s engine prompting the police officers to request policemen manning the Comelec checkpoint in Brgy. Davila, Pasuquin to intercept the vehicle.
Upon reaching the checkpoint, the police officers signalled the driver to lower the window and “the four accused aboard the Toyota Previa failed to show passports or other documents pertaining to their entry and stay in the country.” They also saw around six pieces of plate numbers scattered at the floor behind the driver.
The accused were instructed to proceed to the police station and as they were getting out of the car with its sliding door open, they “saw in plain view several butts and barrels of different firearms under the chair of the second row of the car.”
Further inspection yielded the following items: “eight pieces of live hand grenades, four packs of explosives, four pieces of explosives main charge, one piece of magnet plate, one piece of initiator/power supply, three pieces of MP5 submachine guns, two pieces of .45 caliber pistols, two pieces of 9mm pistols, one piece of .40 caliber pistol, several magazines and ammunitions for those firearms, three pieces of silencers, two plate numbers for ‘TQU 860,’ two plate numbers for ‘25993,’ and one plate number for ‘XAR 895.’
“The prosecution and the defense stipulated during the trial that the four accused had no license to possess firearms or explosives.”
The accused also failed to present evidence that they were authorized by the Comelec to possess firearms and explosives during the election period.