However, as to petitioner’s conviction for illegal possession of firearms, such judgment must be set aside. We find that he can no longer be held liable for such offense since another crime was committed, i.e., rape.
- D. 1866, as amended by RA 8294, the law governing Illegal Possession of Firearms provides:
SECTION 1. Unlawful Manufacture, Sale, Acquisition, Disposition or Possession of Firearms or Ammunition Instruments Used or intended to be Used in the Manufacture of Firearms or Ammunition. − The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period and a fine of not less than Fifteen thousand pesos (P15,000) shall be imposed upon any person who shall unlawfully manufacture, deal in, acquire, dispose, or possess any low powered firearm, such as rimfire handgun, .380 or .32 and other firearm of similar firepower, part of firearm, ammunition, or machinery, tool or instrument used or intended to be used in the manufacture of any firearm or ammunition: Provided, That no other crime was committed.
The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum period and a fine of Thirty thousand pesos (P30,000) shall be imposed if the firearm is classified as high-powered firearm which includes those with bores bigger in diameter than .38 caliber and 9 millimeter, such as caliber .40, .41, .44, .45 and also lesser-calibered firearms but considered powerful, such as caliber .357 and caliber .22 center-fire magnum and other firearms with firing capability of full automatic and by burst of two or three: Provided, however, That no other crime was committed by the person arrested.
If homicide or murder is committed with the use of an unlicensed firearm, such use of an unlicensed firearm shall be considered as an aggravating circumstance.
If the violation of this Section is in furtherance of or incident to, or in connection with the crime of rebellion or insurrection, sedition, or attempted coup d’etat, such violation shall be absorbed as an element of the crime of rebellion or insurrection, sedition, or attempted coup d’état.
The same penalty shall be imposed upon the owner, president, manager, director or other responsible officer of any public or private firm, company, corporation or entity, who shall willfully or knowingly allow any of the firearms owned by such firm, company, corporation or entity to be used by any person or persons found guilty of violating the provisions of the preceding paragraphs or willfully or knowingly allow any of them to use, unlicensed firearms or firearms without any legal authority to be carried outside of their residence in the course of their employment.
The penalty of arresto mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall carry any licensed firearm outside his residence without legal authority therefor.
In People v. Ladjaalam, we laid down the correct interpretation of the law and ruled:
x x x A simple reading thereof shows that if an unlicensed firearm is used in the commission of any crime, there can be no separate offense of simple illegal possession of firearms. Hence, if the “other crime” is murder or homicide, illegal possession of firearms becomes merely an aggravating circumstance, not a separate offense. Since direct assault with multiple attempted homicide was committed in this case, appellant can no longer be held liable for illegal possession of firearms.
Moreover, penal laws are construed liberally in favor of the accused. In this case, the plain meaning of RA 8294’s simple language is most favorable to herein appellant. Verily, no other interpretation is justified, for the language of the new law demonstrates the legislative intent to favor the accused. Accordingly, appellant cannot be convicted of two separate offenses of illegal possession of firearms and direct assault with attempted homicide. Moreover, since the crime committed was direct assault and not homicide or murder, illegal possession of firearms cannot be deemed an aggravating circumstance.
x x x x
x x x 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 we.
All told, we affirm petitioner’s conviction for the crime of rape. However, petitioner’s conviction of illegal possession of firearms is set aside.
Under Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code, whenever the crime of rape is committed with the use of a deadly weapon or by two or more persons, the penalty shall be reclusion perpetua to death. The prosecution was able to sufficiently allege in the Information, and establish during trial, that a gun was used in the commission of rape. Since no aggravating or mitigating circumstance was established in the commission of the crime, the lesser penalty shall be imposed. Thus, we affirm the penalty of reclusion perpetua meted by the courts below.