A MANILA court meted two life terms for a Taiwanese national following his conviction on the possession of over three kilos of ketamine and 108 grams of shabu.

In a 17-page decision penned by Judge Alejandro Bijasa of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 2, the court also ordered accused Hsieh Chang, who carries the aliases Chen Tieng Chang, Joseph Sia, and "Tanda," to pay a fine of P1 million.

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A single life term carries with it 40 years imprisonment. Since Hsieh is considered an undesirable alien for violating immigration rules, the court ordered that he be deported to his own country without further proceeding after service of the sentence.

The trial court turned down the argument of Hsieh that he is not criminally liable for violation of RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 since the illegal drugs were not recovered from his person.

But the court said that under the law, possession includes not only actual possession, but also constructive possession. Actual possession exists when the drug is in the immediate possession or control of the accused.

The court added that the prosecution was able to establish that Hsieh was the lessor of the condominium unit in China Plaza Condominium on Tambacan Street in Manila since December 6, 2006 and was interrupted only on March 13, 2007 when he was arrested by drug authorities.

However, Hsieh's co-accused, brothers Eusebio and Cezar Valenzuela, were acquitted due to the prosecution's failure to prove their guilt.

The judge also ordered that the representative samples of the drug specimens be forfeited in favor of the government and the Branch Clerk of Court for proper disposal.

Hsieh was arrested last March 13, 2007 based on a tip of an informant that the condominium unit was being used as a repository of illegal drugs.

Armed with a search warrant against Hsieh and others, drug agents were able to gain entry to his unit and conduct the raid on March 13, 2007.

Hsieh, who was present during the search, yielded three bags of ketamine hydrochloride, a component in making shabu, weighing 3.161 kgs and 108.77 grams of shabu, in plain view of operatives at the kitchen top.

Authorities likewise found several drug paraphernalia such as strips of aluminum foil with traces of suspected shabu from the comfort room of the master's bedroom. (JCV/Sunnex)