The exception where a penal law may be givenretroactive application is true only with arepealing law. If it is an original penal law, that exception can never operate. What iscontemplated by the exception is that there isan original law and there is a repealing law repealing the original law. It is the repealing law that may be given retroactive application tothose who violated the original law, if therepealing penal law is more favorable to theoffender who violated the original law. If thereis only one penal law, it can never be givenretroactive effect.
Rule of prospectivity also applies toadministrative rulings and circulars
Co v. CA, decided on October 28, 1993,
it was held that the principle of prospectivity of statutes also applies to administrative rulingsand circulars. In this case, Circular No. 4 of theMinistry of Justice, dated December 15, 1981, provides that “where the check is issued as part of an arrangement to guarantee or secure the payment of an obligation, whether pre-existing or not, the drawer is not criminally liable for either estafa or violation of BP22.” Subsequently, the administrative interpretationof was reversed in Circular No. 12, issued on August 8, 1984, such that the claim that thecheck was issued as a guarantee or part of anarrangement to secure an obligation or tofacilitate collection, is no longer a valid defensefor the prosecution of BP22. Hence, it wasruled in Que v. People that a check issued merely to guarantee the performance of anobligation is, nevertheless, covered by BP 22.But consistent with the principle of prospectivity, the new doctrine should not apply to parties who had relied on the old doctrineand acted on the faith thereof. No retrospectiveeffect.
Effect of repeal of penal law to liability of offender
In some commentaries, there are references asto whether the repeal is express or implied.What affects the criminal liability of an offender is not whether a penal law is expressly or impliedly repealed; it is whether it is absolutely or totally repealed, or relatively or partially repealed.
Total or absolute, or partial or relativerepeal.
-- As to the effect of repeal of penal law to the liability of offender, qualify your answer by saying whether the repeal is absolute or total or whether the repeal is partial or relative only. A repeal is absolute or total when the crime punished under the repealed law has beendecriminalized by the repeal. Because of therepeal, the act or omission which used to be acrime is no longer a crime. An example isRepublic Act No. 7363, which decriminalized subversion. A repeal is partial or relative when the crime punished under the repealed law continues tobe a crime inspite of the repeal. This meansthat the repeal merely modified the conditionsaffecting the crime under the repealed law. Themodification may be prejudicial or beneficial tothe offender. Hence, the following rule:
Consequences if repeal of penal law is total or absolute
(1) If a case is pending in court involving the violation of the repealed law, thesame shall be dismissed, even thoughthe accused may be a habitual delinquent. This is so because all persons accused of a crime are presumed innocent until they areconvicted by final judgment. Therefore,the accused shall be acquitted.(2) If a case is already decided and theaccused is already serving sentence by final judgment, if the convict is not ahabitual delinquent, then he will beentitled to a release unless there is areservation clause in the penal law that it will not apply to those serving sentence at the time of the repeal. But