Person who hides ‘criminal’ liable for obstruction of justice

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
Mario was charged of rape and a warrant of arrest was issued against him. By chance, I saw him having a drinking session with his friend, Dindo in our barangay, so I reported the matter to the police. The police operatives conducted an operation, and when they asked Dindo as to the whereabouts of Mario, he denied and even claimed that he had not seen Mario.

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A good neighbor of us squealed to the police that Mario was hiding inside Dindo’s house. The police entered the house, and eventually captured Mario who was hiding inside the cabinet. We want Dindo to also be charged for helping Mario. Is that possible?    
Lumar

Dear Lumar,
Based on the stated facts, Dindo is liable for obstruction of justice under Section 1 (c) and (i) of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1829, for harboring or concealing Mario in order to prevent his arrest and for giving false or fabricated information to mislead or prevent the law enforcement agencies from apprehending the offender.

Aside from the abovementioned acts, the following acts of any person who knowingly or wilfully obstructs, impedes, frustrates or delays the apprehension of suspects and the investigation and prosecution of criminal cases, are also punishable, to wit:

(a) preventing witnesses from testifying in any criminal proceeding or from reporting the commission of any offense or the identity of any offender/s by means of bribery, misrepresentation, deceit, intimidation, force or threats;

(b) altering, destroying, suppressing or concealing any paper, record, document, or object, with intent to impair its verity, authenticity, legibility, availability, or admissibility as evidence in any investigation of or official proceedings in, criminal cases, or to be used in the investigation of, or official proceedings in, criminal cases;

Xxxxxxx

(d) publicly using a fictitious name for the purpose of concealing a crime, evading prosecution or the execution of a judgment, or concealing his true name and other personal circumstances for the same purpose or purposes;

(e) delaying the prosecution of criminal cases by obstructing the service of process or court orders or disturbing proceedings in the fiscal’s offices, in Tanodbayan, or in the courts;

(f) making, presenting or using any record, document, paper or object with knowledge of its falsity and with intent to affect the course or outcome of the investigation of, or official proceedings in, criminal cases;

(g) soliciting, accepting, or agreeing to accept any benefit in consideration of abstaining from, discounting, or impeding the prosecution of a criminal offender;

(h) threatening directly or indirectly another with the infliction of any wrong upon his person, honor or property or that of any immediate member or members of his family in order to prevent such person from appearing in the investigation of, or official proceedings in, criminal cases, or imposing a condition, whether lawful or unlawful, in order to prevent a person from appearing in the investigation of or in official proceedings in, criminal cases;

(i) xxxxx (Section 1, Ibid.)

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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