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RA 6235: The Anti-Hijacking Law

Monday, July 9, 2012
in Criminal, Law

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Hijacking isn't necessarily connected to terrorism. But if it

is, another law applies: RA 9372, the Human Security Act.
We are living in the post-9/11 era; I therefore believe that
this law has become more important than ever. The crime
of hijacking can be committed by any person (including
an artificial one) in 3 ways:
1.) Changing the course or destination of a Philippine
aircraft while in flight or to take control of the aircraft while
it is in flight. An aircraft is considered "in flight" when its
doors are closed after all passengers have boarded and
ends when the doors are opened for disembarking.
2.) Compelling a foreign aircraft to land in the Philippines
or seizing control of it while it's in Philippine territory.
flammable, corrosive or
a passenger aircraft within the Philippines. Loading such
substances oncargo aircraft must follow the rules and
regulations of the Civil Aeronautics Board.
For violations 1 and 2, the penalties are:
1.) 12 to 20 years imprisonment or (the text doesn't say
"and") a fine of Php20,000 to 40,000
2.) 15 years to life imprisonment or (same as above) a fine
of Php25,000 to 50,000 if any of the qualifying
circumstances are present:
a.) If he fired on the pilot/s, crew and passengers

b.) If he blew up, or tried to blow up, an explosive to try to

destroy the aircraft (assuming the aircraft survived, of
c.) If murder, homicide, rape or serious physical injuries
were committed
For violation 3, the penalty is 5 to 10 years imprisonment
or a fine of Php10,000 to 20,000. If the crime was
committed in the interest of a foreign corporation
legally doing business in the Philippines, the penalty will be
imposed on its resident agent, manager, representative or
director responsible for the violation and its license to do
business in the Philippines will be revoked. Violations of
CAB rules are punishable by the minimum penalty in
violation 3. Deaths due to violation 3 are also punishable
with the pertinent liabilities in the Revised Penal Code.
Aircraft companies are authorized to open and inspect
suspicious-looking packages in the presence of their owner
(or his representative.) If the owner or his representative
refuses, he will be denied boarding/loading. The tickets are
consequently required to carry the following statement:
"Holder thereof and his hand-carried luggage(s) are subject
to search for, and seizure of, prohibited materials and
substances. Holder refusing to be searched shall not be
allowed to board the aircraft."


The following are the punishable acts:
1. Usurping or seizing control of an aircraft of Philippine
registry while it is in flight, compelling the pilots thereof
to change the course or destination of the aircraft;

2. Usurping or seizing control of an aircraft of foreign

registry while within Philippine territory, compelling the
pilots thereof to land in any part of the Philippine

3. Carrying or loading on board an aircraft operating as

a public utility passenger aircraft in the Philippines, any
flammable, corrosive, explosive, substances; or

4. Loading, shipping or transporting on board a cargo

aircraft operating as a public utility in the Philippines,
any flammable, corrosive, explosive, or poisonous
substance if this was done in accordance with the rules
and regulations set and promulgated by the Air
Transportation Office on this matter;

Aggravating circumstances to nos. 1 and 2:

a. When the offender has fired upon the pilot, member
of the crew, or passenger of the aircraft;
b. When the offender has exploded or attempted to
explode any bomb or explosive to destroy the aircraft;

c. Whenever the crime is accompanied by murder,

homicide, serious physical injuries or rape;

Before the AntiHijacking Law or R.A. 6235 may apply,

the aircraft must be of Philippine registry and it must be
in flight.

An aircraft is considered in flight from the moment

all exterior doors are closed following the embarkation
until such time when the same doors are again opened
for disembarkation. (Sec. 1). This means that there are
passengers that boarded. The aircraft shall be deemed
to be already in flight even if its engine has not yet
been started.

If the aircraft is of Philippine registry but it is not in

flight and any of the four circumstances mentioned
under R.A. 6235 is committed, the AntiHijacking Law
will not apply and the acts will be punished accordingly
under the RPC or the applicable special penal laws. The
correlative crime may be one of grave coercion or grave
threat. If somebody is killed, the crime is homicide or
murder, as the case may be.

If the aircraft is of foreign registry, it is not required

that it is in flight before R.A. 6235 applies because
aircrafts of foreign registry are considered in transit
while they are in foreign countries.

There is no hijacking in the attempted stage. R.A.

6235 is a special law, where the attempted stage is not

Where in the course of the hijacking, a passenger or

complement was shot and killed. The crime remains
to be a violation of the AntiHijacking law, but the
penalty thereof shall be higher because a passenger or
complement of the aircraft had been killed. The crime
of homicide or murder per se is not punished.