The House of Representatives has passed on third reading House Bill (HB) 4146, which doubles the prescriptive period for filing graft and other related cases against government officials from 15 to 30 years.
“The state should not be barred from prosecuting those who criminally offended it.
The right to prosecute is a sovereign right and should not be curtailed by some arbitrary bar,” House Deputy Speaker Giorgidi Aggabao of Isabela, a principal author of the measure, said in a text message to The Manila Times.
While a period of limitation is acceptable because papers may be lost, facts are forgotten and witnesses die, he explained that a 30-year timeframe should be set to give the state a longer chance to prosecute.
“This extended period is a deterrent. By putting people insecure and disquiet for nearly half their lifetime, I would think people will mull long and hard before they steal from the state,” Aggabao, a lawyer and a member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition allied with the House majority bloc, said.
He was backed by fellow lawyers House Deputy Majority Leader Romero Quimbo of Marikina City (Metro Manila) and House revision of laws panel vice chairman Ibarra Gutierrez of Akbayan party-list.
“This [bill]is especially useful in cases against high ranking officials who may be able to avoid prosecution while they are in power, but who may then be brought to trial decades after they leave government,” Gutierrez said.
Other authors of HB 4146 are Joaquin Chipeco of Laguna and Marlyn Primicias-Agabas of Pangasinan.