We have a friend who escaped prison during the recent tragic typhoon. We are trying to convince him to surrender to the proper authorities but he is afraid to do so for fear of increased jail time or additional punishment. We know for a fact that the only reason he escaped from prison is to check on the safety of his family who lived in one of the provinces devastated by the storm. We want to know what will happen to him if he surrenders himself. I hope you can give us advice regarding this matter.
The answer to your query can be found in Article 98 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines as amended by Republic Act (R.A.) No. 10592, also known as “An Act Amending Articles 29, 94, 07, 98 and 99 of Act. No. 3815, as amended, otherwise known as the Revised Penal Code”, which states that:
“Art. 98. Special time allowance for loyalty.—A deduction of one fifth of the period of his sentence shall be granted to any prisoner who, having evaded his preventive imprisonment or the service of his sentence under the circumstances mentioned in Article 158 of this Code, gives himself up to the authorities within 48 hours following the issuance of a proclamation announcing the passing away of the calamity or catastrophe referred to in said article. A deduction of two-fifths of the period of his sentence shall be granted in case said prisoner chose to stay in the place of his confinement notwithstanding the existence of a calamity or catastrophe enumerated in Article 158 of this Code.
“This Article shall apply to any prisoner whether undergoing preventive imprisonment or serving sentence.”
According to this law, if your friend who escaped prison surrenders to proper authorities within forty eight (48) hours, or two (2) days from the proclamation by the government that the calamity has ended, he will receive a deduction equivalent to one fifth (1/5) of the period of his prison sentence which is favorable to him since this amounts to a reduced prison term if he surrenders within the said period.
Should your friend refuse or fail to surrender, the legal consequence of such action will depend on the nature of his imprisonment. A prisoner detained under preventive imprisonment will have a warrant of arrest issued on his name if he fails to surrender. On the other hand, if your friend is a convicted prisoner, his failure to surrender will result to the filing of a case against him for “evasion of service of sentence on the occasion of disorders, conflagration, earthquakes, or other calamities” pursuant to Article 158 of the Revised Penal Code which states that:
“Art. 158. Evasion of service of sentence on the occasion of disorder, conflagrations, earthquakes, or other calamities.—A convict who shall evade the service of his sentence, by leaving the penal institution where he shall have been confined, on the occasion of disorder resulting from a conflagration, earthquake, explosion, or similar catastrophe, or during a mutiny in which he has not participated, shall suffer an increase of one-fifth of the time still remaining to be served under the original sentence, which in no case shall exceed six months, if he shall fail to give himself up to the authorities within forty-eight hours following the issuance of a proclamation by the Chief Executive announcing the passing away of such calamity.
Convicts who, under the circumstances mentioned in the preceding paragraph, shall give themselves up to the authorities within the above mentioned period of 48 hours, shall be entitled to the deduction provided in Article 98.”
In other words, if your friend is a convicted prisoner, he will be given an additional prison term of equivalent to one fifth (1/5) of his remaining prison sentence but not more than a period of six (6) months. Considering this, we strongly advice your friend to immediately surrender to avoid a possible increase in his prison term and to avail the benefits of a reduced sentence in accordance with the above cited law.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org