Cebu and the Opium Law
CEBUPEDIA - Clarence Paul Oaminal (The Freeman) - June 17, 2019 - 12:00am

(Last of three parts)

On December 14, 1929, the MV Kolambogan from Hong Kong arrived in Cebu carrying cans of opium. A man named Lu Chu, alias Uy Se Teng, was arrested and convicted by the Court of First Instance of Cebu for violating Act No. 2381 titled “An Act restricting the use of opium and repealing Act Number Seventeen Hundred and Sixty-One” which took effect on February 28, 1914. The Chinese opium smuggler was sentenced to four years in prison and fined P10,000.

The case reached the Supreme Court which made a decision on September 7, 1931. At that time we still did not have a president, in lieu thereof was a governor general appointed by the United States President. The Office of Governor General existed from 1899 up to 1935. On September 16, 1935 we elected our first president in the person of Manuel Luis Quezon who was the majority floor leader of Don Sergio Suico Osmeña Sr. in the Philippine Legislature (today’s House of Representative), who later became Senate president in 1916.

Our laws from 1907 up to 1935 were called Acts and when we elected our president in 1935, they were then called Commonwealth Acts, because of the fact that the Philippines, though having a president, was part of the Commonwealth Governments of the United States of America. That is the reason why cases during the American period were docketed as United States versus the accused.

The law became a source of corruption for a few members of the Constabulary because of the informer’s reward:

“Section 10. Fines and other moneys collected by virtue of the provisions of this Act shall be covered into the Insular Treasury to the credit of the general fund of the Insular Government. There is hereby constituted a permanent annual appropriation of such amount as may be necessary to pay rewards to informers under the following conditions:

“Fifteen per centum of all fines imposed by reason of violations of this Act shall be paid to the person who furnished the original evidence properly substantiated, which led to the detection of the offense and the imposition of the fine. The name of the informer shall be specified in the judgment of the court when a conviction is had in a court: Provided, That in all cases in which no fine is imposed but where the sentence is one for imprisonment or deportation, there shall be paid to the informer an amount approved by the Secretary of Finance, not exceeding one thousand pesos in any one case.”

OPIUM LAW
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