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The Supreme Court affirmed the conviction of petitioner Leo Echegaray for the
crime of rape of the 10 year-old daughter of his common-law spouse and the
imposition upon him of the death penalty for the said crime. He then filed motion for
reconsideration and a supplemental motion for reconsideration raising the issue of
the constitutionality of RA 7659 (the death penalty law) and the imposition of the
death penalty for the crime of rape.
Both were denied. Consequently, Congress changed the mode of execution of the
death penalty from electrocution to lethal injection (RA 8177). Echegaray filed a
Petition for prohibition from carrying out the lethal injection against him on the
ground, among others, that it constituted 1. cruel, degrading, or unusual
The Solicitor General stated that the Supreme Court has already upheld the
constitutionality of the Death Penalty Law, and has declared that the death penalty
is not cruel, unjust, excessive or unusual punishment; execution by lethal
injection, as authorized under R.A. No. 8177 and the questioned rules, is
constitutional, lethal injection being the most modern, more humane, more
economical, safer and easier to apply (than electrocution or the gas
Whether the lethal injection is a cruel, degrading or an inhuman punishment?
Petitioner contends that death by lethal injection constitutes cruel, degrading and
inhuman punishment because (1) R.A. No. 8177 fails to provide for the drugs to be
used in carrying out lethal injection, the dosage for each drug to be administered,
and the procedure in administering said drug/s into the accused; (2) its
implementing rules are uncertain as to the date of the execution, time of
notification, the court which will fix the date of execution, which uncertainties cause
the greatest pain and suffering for the convict; and (3) the possibility of mistakes in
administering the drugs renders lethal injection inherently cruel.
It is well-settled in jurisprudence that the death penalty per se is not a cruel,
degrading or inhuman punishment. Punishments are cruel when they involve torture
or a lingering death; but the punishment of death is not cruel, within the
meaning of that word as used in the constitution. It implies that there something
inhuman and barbarous, something more than the mere extinguishment of life.
The Court believes that the lack in particularity as to the details involved in
the execution by lethal injection does not render said law cruel,
degrading or inhuman.

Petitioner contends that Sec. 16 of R.A. No. 8177 is uncertain as to which court
will fix the time and date of execution, and the date of execution and time of
notification of the death convict. As petitioner already knows, the court which
designates the date of execution is the trial court which convicted the accused. The
procedure is that the judgment is entered fifteen (15) days after its promulgation,
and 10 days thereafter, the records are remanded to the court below including a
certified copy of the judgment for execution. Neither is there any uncertainty as to
the date of execution nor the time of notification. As to the date of execution,
Section 15 of the implementing rules must be read in conjunction with the last
sentence of Section 1 of R.A. No. 8177 which provides that the death sentence shall
be carried out not earlier than one (1) year nor later then eighteen (18) months
from the time the judgment imposing the death penalty became final and
executory, without prejudice to the exercise by the President of his executive
clemency powers at all times. Hence, the death convict is in effect assured of
eighteen (18) months from the time the judgment imposing the death penalty
became final and executor wherein he can seek executive clemency and attend to
all his temporal and spiritual affairs.
Petitioner also contends that the infliction of wanton pain in case of possible
complications in the intravenous injection that respondent Director is an untrained
and untested person insofar as the choice and administration of lethal injection is
concerned, renders lethal injection a cruel, degrading and inhuman punishment.
This is unsubstantiated. First. Petitioner has neither alleged nor presented evidence
that lethal injection required the expertise only of phlebotomists and not trained
personnel and that the drugs to be administered are unsafe or ineffective. Petitioner
simply cites situations wherein execution by lethal injection allegedly resulted in
prolonged and agonizing death for the convict, without any other evidence
whatsoever. Second. Petitioner overlooked Section 1, third paragraph of R.A. No.
8177 which requires that all personnel involved in the execution proceedings should
be trained prior to the performance of such task. We must presume that the public
officials entrusted with the implementation of the death penalty will carefully avoid
inflicting cruel punishment. Third. Any infliction of pain in lethal injection is
merely incidental in carrying out the execution of death penalty and does
not fall within the constitutional proscription against cruel, degrading and
inhuman punishment.
In a limited sense, anything is cruel which is calculated to give pain or distress, and
since punishment imports pain or suffering to the convict, it may be said that all
punishments are cruel. But of course the Constitution does not mean that crime, for
this reason, is to go unpunished. The cruelty against which the Constitution
protects a convicted man is cruelty inherent in the method of punishment,
not the necessary suffering involved in any method employed to
extinguish life humanely.


The constitutionality of PD 818, a decree which amended Article 315 of the Revised
Penal Code by increasing the penalties for estafa committed by means of
bouncing checks, is being challenged in this petition for certiorari, for being
violative of, among others, the provision against cruel, degrading or inhuman
punishment enshrined under the Constitution.
Petitioner spouses issued to private respondent a postdated check in the amount of
P365,750 which was dishonored upon presentment for having been drawn against
insufficient funds. Petitioners promised to replace the dishonored check. When
petitioners reneged on their promise, the private respondent filed a complaintaffidavit charging the petitioner spouses with the crime of estafa under Article 315,
par. 2 (d) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by PD 818.
Upon the finding of probable cause against petitioners, an information for
estafa was filed with no bail recommended and a subsequent warrant for the arrest
of herein petitioners was issued.
When the Urgent Motion to Quash Information and Warrant of Arrest was denied,
petitioners filed this instant petition for certiorari, arguing that PD 818 violates the
constitutional provisions on due process, bail and imposition of cruel,
degrading or inhuman punishment.
Whether PD 818 violates Section 19(1) of Article III of the Constitution which
provides that Excessive fines shall not be imposed, nor cruel, degrading or
inhuman punishment inflicted. x x x.
Petitioners contend that, inasmuch as the amount of the subject check is P365,750,
they can be penalized with reclusion perpetua or 30 years of imprisonment. This
penalty, according to petitioners, is too severe and disproportionate to the
crime they committed and infringes on the express mandate of Article III,
Section 19 of the Constitution which prohibits the infliction of cruel, degrading and
inhuman punishment.
Settled is the rule that a punishment authorized by statute is not cruel,
degrading or disproportionate to the nature of the offense unless it is
flagrantly and plainly oppressive and wholly disproportionate to the
nature of the offense as to shock the moral sense of the community. It
takes more than merely being harsh, excessive, out of proportion or severe for a

penalty to be obnoxious to the Constitution. Based on this principle, the Court has
consistently overruled contentions of the defense that the penalty of fine or
imprisonment authorized by the statute involved is cruel and degrading.
The prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment is generally aimed
at the form or character of the punishment rather than its severity in
respect of its duration or amount. The fact that the penalty is severe
provides insufficient basis to declare a law unconstitutional and does not, by that
circumstance alone, make it cruel and inhuman.
The increase in the penalty, far from being cruel and degrading, was motivated by
a laudable purpose which is to effectuate the repression of an evil that
undermines the countrys commercial and economic growth, and to serve as a
necessary precaution to deter people from issuing bouncing checks. What the law
sought to avert was the proliferation of estafa cases committed by means of
bouncing checks. Taking into account the salutary purpose for which said law was
decreed, the Court concludes that PD 818 does not violate Section 19 of Article
III of the Constitution.