Making bomb jokes is a crime

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
My son was recently arrested and detained after allegedly informing the guards in his office building that he had a bomb in his locker. I talked to my son about this, and he told me that he was just playing around with the security officers in his workplace who were too serious in their job and that he really had no bomb in his locker. I know my son and I am sure that he had no intention to hurt anyone, let alone bring any explosive device in his workplace. Despite my son’s admission that he was only joking about having a bomb, they still filed a criminal complaint against him. Because of this, I want to know if it is legal for them to criminally charge my son although he was only joking and although no bomb was ever found in his locker room. Please advise me. God bless and more power!
Danilo

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Dear Danilo,
Making bomb jokes is a crime in our country for this is prohibited and penalized under Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1727, known as the Anti-Bomb Joke Law. This law declares as unlawful the malicious dissemination of false information concerning threats of bombs, explosives, or any similar devices and imposes the penalties for it.

This law was passed in the wake of bombing and terrorist attacks including those by pranksters conveying false information about the presence of bombs for the purpose of causing or creating public confusion and disorder. According to this law:

“Any person who, by word of mouth or through the use of the mail, telephone, telegraph, printed materials and other instrument or means of communication, willfully makes any threat or maliciously conveys, communicates, transmits, imparts, passes on, or otherwise disseminates false information, knowing the same to be false, concerning an attempt or alleged attempt being made to kill, injure, or intimidate any individual or unlawfully to damage or destroy any building, vehicle, or other real or personal property, by means of explosives, incendiary devices, and other destructive forces of similar nature or characteristics, shall upon conviction be punished with imprisonment of not more than five years, or a fine of not more than P40,000 or both at the discretion of the court having jurisdiction over the offense herein defined and penalized” (Section 1, RA 1727)

As clearly provided by this law, verbal or written communication that conveys false information about the presence of bombs or similar devices is punishable upon conviction with imprisonment of up to five (5) years and/or a fine of up to Forty Thousand Pesos (P40,000).

Your son’s excuse and reasoning that he was only joking is not a legal defense to absolve him from criminal liability under this law since his act of knowingly giving a false information, which he himself knows to be false, is already an act that maliciously conveys a threat to the public involving explosives which is exactly what is prohibited under this law. And thus, even if your son was just playing around by stating that he had a bomb although there were no bombs found in your son’s possession, he would still be criminally liable for his threat-laden statement as expressly provided under the aforementioned 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 dearpao@manilatimes.net

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