Pubdate: Wed, 26 May 2004
Source: Philippine Star (Philippines)
Copyright: PhilSTAR Daily Inc. 2004


The Supreme Court saved a Japanese national from the death penalty and
reduced his sentence to 40 years in jail (reclusion perpetua). It also
reduced the P10-million fine of Hodichi Suzuki when it modified the
verdict which the RTC Branch 45 handed Suzuki a decade ago.

While the tribunal upheld the conviction of Suzuki, in its en banc
decision, it cited Section 63 of the Revised Penal Code which provides
that when a crime is composed of two indivisible penalties, the lesser
penalty is applied, especially in the absence of aggravating and
mitigating circumstances.

It also reduced the fine to only P1 million, pointing out that the
"trial court imposed a wrong penalty."

Suzuki was arrested at the Bacolod Airport when members of the Police
Aviation Security Command and the Narcom found in his possession
1,547.70 grams of marijuana or Indian hemp inside a pasalubong box.

Suzuki claimed that a certain Pinky had given him the box hours before
his arrest. He was supposed to take Flight 132 of the Philippine
Airlines when the walk-through metal detector flashed an alarm.

The PSCom agents then asked him to open his bag. Suzuki refused
initially, but later consented. The team members then found 18 small
packs, 17 of them wrapped in aluminum foil.

The packs reportedly contained fried fruit tops which looked like

Later, when Suzuki tried to scamper away to evade arrest, he was
collared by the lawmen.

Suzuki later claimed he was a victim of a "frame-up" by his friend
Takeshi who reportedly owed him a large sum of money. He claimed his
Japanese friend was in connivance with the arresting officers.

The court, however, ruled that "aside from his testimony, not a shred
of evidence was presented by his defense to prove his claim."

"Allegations of frame-up are easily fabricated, making it the common
and standard line of defense in prosecutions involving the Dangerous
Drugs Law," the court observed.

In upholding the lower court's conviction, the High Court pointed out
that "in its war against drug lords and syndicates, the State deserves
full support from all branches of the government and all sectors of

The High Court also added that "it may even be appropriate to state
that drug trafficking or drug pushing is the mother of all crimes." 
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