De Lima seeks repeal of antiquated Revised Penal Code


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Sen. Leila M. de Lima today sought a repeal of the 84-year-old Revised Penal Code (RPC) and proposed a measure that would replace it with a Criminal Code of the Philippines to make it responsive and relevant to the country’s criminal justice system.

De Lima filed Senate Bill No. 1227 which seeks to ordain and institute a new Criminal Code of the Philippines that would modernize, update, and codify the country’s basic penal law, including the present RPC’s provisions that were amended or repealed.

“This 84-year-old law, despite its antiquity, is still being enforced in our country. Since most of the provisions of the RPC have been amended, and a number of them had been replaced, there is an imperative need for this Code to be updated,” she said.

“This legislative measure does not only update and codify the current penal laws of the country, but likewise incorporates the international best criminal law practices,” she added.

In 2011 when she was justice secretary, De Lima created an inter-agency Criminal Code Committee tasked to study, assess and consolidate a simple, updated and modern criminal law to provide clarity in law enforcement and improve administration of justice.

The Committee, in partnership with Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany, produced the draft Criminal Code of the Philippines which is also hoped to result to an increased access to justice, especially for the marginalized sectors.

The Committee was composed of representatives from the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government, such as the Supreme Court, the two Houses of Congress, Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Immigration, Public Attorney’s Office, Office of the Government Counsel, Office of the Solicitor General, Parole and Probation Administration, and Land Registration Authority, among others.

“An effective administration of criminal justice system could only be attained if it can efficiently address the maladies of the society and curb the perpetration of crimes that is anathema to an orderly and peaceful community,” De Lima pointed out.

Among the salient provisions of the bill are the following, to wit:

  • Changes to universal the jurisdiction of crimes instead of the current jurisdiction based on territory, given the evolving nature of crimes, especially transnational organized crime;
  • Simplifies the approach to criminalization based on conduct and not mental state;
  • Simplifies the categorization of crimes by eliminating the frustrated stage of commission of crime and accomplices in the degree of participation;
  • Classifies crimes into three (3) main categories, namely Crimes against the State, Crimes against Persons, and Crimes against Property, instead of 13 categories under the existing RPC;
  • There is no longer a splitting of criminal and civil action with the civil remedy always embedded in the criminal action;
  • A new scale of penalties composed of five “levels”, and a level for “life imprisonment” aimed at simplifying the sentencing process, Using this new scale, crimes can be classified easily according to their gravity, along with the corresponding alternative. It also eliminates Latin/Spanish terms for penalties;
  • Modifying circumstances are now generically aggravating or mitigating without need of specific characterization for purpose of trial;
  • Prescription of crime and service of sentence is now combined;
  • Does away with gender discrimination crimes, such as adultery and concubinage;
  • Creates a Criminal Justice Policy and Research Center under the Department of Justice that would serve as the primary research arm of the government in evaluating and advocating for reforms in the framework and philosophy of the criminal justice system.

Office of Senator Leila de Lima
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