Press Release
March 6, 2015

Drilon targets fair penalties, higher fines under Revised Penal Code

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon has filed a bill seeking to amend the country's 85-year-old penal law in order to avoid the imposition of cruel and excessive punishment, and to make the imposable fines an effective deterrent to crimes.

Senate Bill No. 2680, authored by Drilon, seeks to adjust the threshold amounts used in determining the criminal liability for various crimes and the amount of imposable fines under the Revised Penal Code which was enacted in 1930.

Drilon, a lawyer and former justice secretary, said it is high time that the Revised Penal Code, considered the bedrock of the Philippines criminal justice system, be amended to today's values "to make it more reflective of the present political, socio-economic and cultural settings."

"Eighty years had inevitably dulled the edge of a once sharp measure. The penalties and fines for various crimes under the Revised Penal Code are no longer commensurate to the crime committed," Drilon stressed.

He said that if the penal law is not amended now, it runs the risk of violating the constitutional prohibition against cruel and excessive punishment particularly for crimes involving amounts which by today's standards are already petty. "The P200 our elders had in their pockets back in the 1930s surely had higher value than the P200 in our wallets today," explained Drilon.

"Even the Supreme Court, in Lito Corpuz vs. People of the Philippines, turned the spotlight on the perceived injustice brought about by the range of penalties that the courts continue to impose on crimes committed today, based on the amount of damage measured by the value of money 80 years ago," Drilon said.

"This proposed measure aims to restore the proportionality of the crime to the punishment by revising the amounts set in the various provisions of the Revised Penal Code to their present values," he underscored.

Under the present law, a person found guilty of swindling or estafa would face imprisonment ranging from four years and two months up to 12 years even if the amount involved is only P12 thousand to P22 thousand. For the same amount, a thief would be jailed for up to 8 years.

The Drilon bill will likewise increase the fines for various crimes to deter criminality in the country.

"The deterring effect of the imposable fines under the current criminal code has diminished through the years due to various factors such as inflation," Drilon added.

"If we are to curb criminality, we need to enforce tougher but fair, just and reasonable penalties and monetary fines. These can only be done by amending the Revised Penal Code which since its enactment in 1930, remains virtually unchanged with only piecemeal amendments incorporated through the years," Drilon emphasized.

If SBN 2680, becomes a law, the P5 fine that can be imposed under the present law will be increased to P1,000, while the P22,000 maximum fine will be increased to P4.4 million.

For instance, under the bill, a person who commits treason can be fined a maximum amount of P4 million instead of P20 thousand.

For conspiracy and proposal to commit coup d'état, rebellion or insurrection, the maximum imposable fine will be increased to P1.6 million from P8,000; for maltreatment of prisoners, it will be P100 thousand instead of P500; for unlawful arrest, it will become P100 thousand from P500; for indirect assault, the maximum imposable fine will be P100 thousand from P500; and for falsification by private individuals and use of falsified documents, it will be P1 million from P5 thousand.

"In undertaking these changes to an archaic law, we intend to craft a sound, fair and effective policy against criminality that reflects a proper balance among the established goals of criminal justice," Drilon concluded.

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