After 81 years, the House of Representatives has finally moved to repeal the 1932 Revised Penal Code with the Philippine Code of Crimes which would impose harsher penalties to moneyed individuals who committed crimes.
Rep. Niel Tupas, Jr. Iloilo, the chairman of the House Committee on Justice, made the announcement during the launch of Book 1 of the proposed Philippine Code of Crime or House Bill 2300 that he authored.
The event was attended by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, chairman of the Committee on Justice.
Under the proposed Philippine Code of Crimes, criminals will pay penalties based on the crime they committed and their income, meaning that a president of a company would incur higher penalties over his driver even if they committed the same crime.
Likewise, the Code of Crimes grants Philippine courts jurisdiction over transnational crimes or crimes committed by Filipinos abroad as well as Filipinos who became victims of crimes committed abroad.
It also seeks to lower the age of criminal responsibility to 13 from 15.
Another provision modified by the new code is the double jeopardy or prohibition of charging the same person with the same crime. The Crime Code allows the state to appeal the case based on certain circumstances and the judge’s discretion.
Under existing law, the double jeopardy rule can only be overturned if there is grave abuse of discretion.
“This is modern, responsive, based on our culture. Now, we won’t have penalties as low as P200. We have to address the fact that a 13-year-old now is way physically, emotionally and intellectually more mature than a 13-year-old in 1932. This is about being able to serve justice not only to the mighty and the powerful but moreover to the poor and oppressed sectors of our society,” Tupas said.
“We were supposed to file this last Congress but it was shelved because of the impeachment. Now, we are going to have no impeachment and focus on the passage of this landmark legislation in the 16th Congress. Our target is to pass this into law in two years, and we are working with the Department of Justice in asking the President to certify this bill as urgent,” he added.
Tupas was referring to the impeachment of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez in May 2011 and former chief justice Renato Corona in December 2011.
The new Code of Crimes also simplifies the terms on penalties and the classification of criminals.
The Spanish terms for jail time will be scrapped such as Reclusion Perpetua (life imprisonment), Reclusion Temporal (12 to 20 years) Prision Mayor (six to 12 years), Prision Correccional, suspension, and destier–ro (six months to 6 years), Arresto Mayor (one month to six 6 months) and Arresto Menor (one day to 30 days).
Instead of using the foreign language, the incarceration time will be classified from level 1 to 5 and life imprisonment.
Also, the crimes on murder will only be either attempted or consummated, while a criminal will only be either a principal or accessory.
“There will be no more frustrated murder and accomplice [for criminals]for greater clarity,” Tupas said.
Llanesca T. Panti