SAYING that Philippine courts do not take cognizance of the judgments of foreign tribunals, the Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that the conviction of Ilocos Sur 1st District Rep. Ronald V. Singson in Hong Kong for possession of illegal drugs cannot be used as a ground for his disqualification and ouster in Congress.
In a seven-page resolution, the SC en banc said the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) were correct in not disqualifying and ejecting Singson from his post in the House of Representatives.
The 15-man tribunal junked the petition for certiorari filed by Singson’s opponent Bertrand A. Baterina for lack of merit and for being filed out of time. Baterina has claimed that Singson should not have been allowed to run for a seat in Congress in 2013 because of his drug conviction.
But the SC disagreed.
“Contrary to Baterina’s argument, it is well settled that our courts do not take judicial notice of foreign laws and judgments; hence, foreign judgments must be alleged and proven according to our law on evidence. The printout of the downloaded copy of the Hongong decision (submitted by Baterina) from an unverified website cannot therefore be considered in evidence,” it said.
The tribunal added that the crime of Singson does not involve moral turpitude because he was convicted for possession of illegal drugs for his own consumption and not drug trafficking.
“We have held that moral turpitude implies something immoral in itself, regardless of the fact that it is punishable by law or not. It must not merely be mal prohibita, but the act itself must be inherently immoral.The doing of the act itself, and not its prohibition by statute fixes the moral turpitude,” the SC said.
With this, the SC opined that a “careful examination of the discussion by this Court shows that it is the pushing or selling of said prohibited drugs, and not the mere possession thereof, that is considered a crime involving moral turpitude.”
Ronald, son of former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson, was arrested in Hong Kong for possession of 6.67 grams of cocaine at the Hong Kong international airport in July 2010.
He was convicted by the Hong Kong District Court and sentenced to 1 year and 6 months imprisonment.
In the May 13, 2013 elections, Singson defeated Baterina. He got 83,910 votes over Baterina’s 40,135 votes. Jomar Canlas