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Estrada v Sandiganbayan/ G.R. No.

148560/ November 19, 2001

Bellosillo J.

Petitioner calls for the Court to subject RA 7080(An Act defining and Penalizing the Crime of Plunder) to the
crucible of constitutionality for reasons that the act:

is vague(of uncertain, indefinite, or unclear character or meaning)
dispenses with the "reasonable doubt" standard in criminal prosecutions
abolishes the element of mens rea(the intention or knowledge of wrongdoing that constitutes part of a crime, as
opposed to the action or conduct of the accused )

in crimes punishable under the Revised Penal Code


Is the Plunder Law unconstitutional for being vague?

Does the Plunder law require less evidence proving the predicate crimes of plunder thus violates the
rights of the accused to due process (specifically Section 4 proposing that "it shall not be necessary to
prove each and every criminal act done by the accused to establish beyond reasonable doubt a pattern of
over or criminal acts inidcative of the overall lawful scheme or conspiracy)?

Whether Plunder as defined in RA 7080 is a malum prohibitum(therefore does not require that the mind
of the offender be guilty to be penalized) and if so, whether it is within the power of Congress to so
classify it


Petitioner has miserably failed to show that the Plunder Law is unconstitutional due to its vagueness.

"...the Plunder Law contains ascertainable standards and well-defined parameters which would
enable the accused to determine the nature of his violation. Section 2 is sufficiently explicit in its
description of the acts, conduct and conditions required or forbidden, and prescribes the elements
of the crime with reasonable certainty and particularity."

. Proof to each and every other act is not needed. there is no way by which we can avoid Section 4. and vagueness are analytical tools developed for testing "on their faces" statutes in free speech cases or.. - Acts that are inherently immoral or inherently wrong are mala in se .4) evades the mandatory element of the prosecution in criminal law to prove beyond reasonable doubt the acts constituting plunder is turned down by the court." - ". it being sufficient to establish beyond reasonable doubt a pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy. (d)..For purposes of establishing the crime of plunder. and "pattern" is not one of them..- ". 4. the remaining provisions of the act shall not be affected. and does not matter that such acts are punished by special laws. So. as they are called in American law. 2." - Also there is a separability clause in the act holding that if any provision in the act is held invalid. SEC.. 1. it shall not be necessary to prove each and every criminal act done by the accused in furtherance of the scheme or conspiracy to amass. unlawfully and criminally. Rule of Evidence.we do not subscribe to petitioner's stand.because Section 4 is two pronged."  Court believes that plunder is mala in se. - What needs proof is only the "number of acts sufficient to form a combination or series which should constitute a patter and involving an amount of at least P50.. it contains a rule of evidence and it contains a substantive element of the crime of plunder. . may be deemed as a resolution to any doubts whether the crime of plunder is mala in se. the objects of the statute can be best achieved.000"." It thus alleges guilty knowledge on the part of petitioner. "One to whom application of a statute is constitutional will not be heard to attack the statute on the ground that impliedly it might also be taken as applying to other persons or other situations in which its application might be unconstitutional"  Petitioner's stand that the statute(specifically Sec. Criminal statutes on the other hand cannot be a party to such a rule. is noteworthy that the amended information alleges that the crime of plunder was committed "willfully. "All the provisions thereof should be accordingly be treated independently of each other. accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth. which is by reclusion perpetua to death. - ". par. .." - The punishment for plunder.the doctrines of strict scrutiny. all the essential elements of plunder can be culled and understood from its definition in Sec. Primarily. 000. - ". in relation to Sec. especially if by doing so.. First - Amendment cases.

. an assertion that the challenged statute violates the Constitution in all. or virtually all. of its applications" and. is invalid in its entirety. Facial Challenge A facial challenge is typically described as a head-on attack on the legislative judgment. Court declares that RA 7659 as constitutionally valid. as a result. Petition denied for lack of merit.