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People v. Isinain, 85 Phil 648 (1950)
Cruz, the encargado of the coconut grove of Eustaquio in City of Zamboanga, was informed by one of the guards that there were three persons stealing coconuts in the said plantation. Cruz called Fargas, the truck driver of Eustaquio, and accompanied by some laborers, both proceeded to the plantation. There the group saw three persons, chopping coconuts. When they approached, the trespassers started to run away, but Cruz fired a shot into the air, and one stopped and was apprehended. He turned out to be Moro Isnain, who, upon investigation by the precinct commander of the corresponding police station acknowledged his culpability, asked for pardon and identified his confederates as Moros Addi and Akik (who are still at large). Before the justice of the peace he pleaded guilty to the charge.
However, in the court of first instance he changed his mind. He admitted he had been arrested during the raid, but submitted the flimsy excuse that he had merely gone to the place because he was thirsty. Anyway, he confessed that he joined the other two thieves in order to drink—and did drink—coconut water. This naturally constitutes theft of the coconuts. Therefore there is no question that the appellant, with the other two runaways unlawfully picked coconuts from the plantation of Eustaquio, fruits which, according to the evidence, were valued at more than thirty-three pesos.
Whether or not Article 310 of the Revised Penal Code classifying as qualified theft, stealing of coconuts is unconstitutional, because it punishes the larceny of such products more heavily than the taking away of similar produce, such as rice and sugar, and thereby denies him the equal protection of the laws.
No, the provision is constitutional. In the matter of theft of coconuts, the purpose of the heavier penalty is to encourage and protect the development of the coconut industry as one of the sources of our national economy.3 Unlike rice and sugar cane farms where the range of vision is unobstructed, coconut groves can not be efficiently watched because of the nature of the growth of coconut trees; and without a special measure to protect this kind of property, it will be, as it has been in the past the favorite resort of thieves. There is therefore, some reason for the special treatment accorded the industry; and as it can not be said that the classification is entirely without basis, the plea of unconstitutionality must be denied.