Looting might soon be punished more severely after a lawmaker filed a measure seeking to impose stiffer penalties for the said act in response to the experiences during the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda.
Former senator and now Rep. Rodolfo Biazon of Muntinlupa City recently filed House Bill 3367, or the “Anti-looting Act of 2013,” that seeks to increase the penalty for looting.
“Although we have laws that punish looting, the same do not appear to serve as a sufficient deterrent. There is a need to increase the penalty for such an act to discourage would-be violators,” Biazon said.
The measure defines looting as a crime committed by any person or group with intent to take personal property, food and belongings by entering inhabited and uninhabited dwellings or commercial buildings.
It imposes the penalty of reclusion temporal on its maximum period or 17 years when the property taken consists of food, medicines and other goods intended for rehabilitation, reconstruction and relief.
The penalty of reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment will be imposed if an organized crime group with the use of a firearm or any deadly weapons commits the crime.
Looting—or theft committed during a fire, earthquake, typhoon, volcanic eruption or any other calamity, vehicular accident or civil disturbance—is already punishable under Article 310 of the Revised Penal Code.
But the lawmaker said, “What is terribly offensive that added more pain to the miseries of the victims are the reports and graphic pictures of widespread looting by recalcitrant and heartless individuals.”
Days after Super Typhoon Yolanda ravaged provinces in the Visayas region, looting—especially in Tacloban City—became massive that even malls and gasoline stations were looted for goods.
It was regarded by observers as a result of the government’s very slow pace in its relief efforts.