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Art. 21. Penalties that may be imposed. — No felony shall be punishable by any penalty
not prescribed by law prior to its commission.

 Can’t punish anyone w/penalty not prescribed by law
 Not applicable to RPC, since all RPC provisions have prescribed penalties
 Can only be invoked by people tried for act/omission w/o penalty prescribed by law
 Not a penal provision since it neither defines a crime or prescribes penalty. It’s a mere
announcement of government policy
 Reason: law can’t be obeyed unless it’s first shown & man can’t be expected to obey
an inexistent order
 Subsidiary penalty for a crime can’t be imposed if it was not prescribed by law prior to
its commission

Art. 22. Retroactive effect of penal laws. — Penal Laws shall have a retroactive effect
insofar as they favor the persons guilty of a felony, who is not a habitual criminal, as this
term is defined in Rule 5 of Article 62 of this Code, although at the time of the publication
of such laws a final sentence has been pronounced and the convict is serving the same.

 No direct application to provisions of RPC. Related only to:
1. laws existing prior to RPC w/penalties less severe than RPC
2. laws enacted after RPC took effect, as long as favorable to accused
 GENERAL RULE: criminal laws have prospective effect.
 EXCEPTION: give retroactive effect when favorable to accused; applies to law dealing
with prescription of a crime
 REASON: recognizes that the greater severity of former law is unjust; consistency
 New law can bar retroactivity. Ex. RPC not given retroactive effect.
 Retroactivity of an unfavorable law will violate constitutional prohibition on ex-post
facto law
 Retroactivity when favorable is applicable even if accused is already serving the
 Habitual criminal – if w/in 10 years from release/last conviction of serious/less serious
physical injuries, robbery, theft, estafa or falsification, he’s again found guilty for 3 rd
time or oftener
 Civil liability not retroactive even if it increases or decreases liability.
 Former and new statute should refer to same deed/omission & seek same end &
 Retroactivity applies to special laws.
 Acts committed while old law was still effective will be punished under old law unless
RPC would prove to be more favorable for accused.
 When there’s absolute repeal, criminal liability is extinguished. However, it is retained
when repeal of old law was merely: 1) re-enacted 2) implied 3) or when there’s saving
 Law jurisdiction determined during time of instituting action, not commission of crime
and by allegations of info/complaint, not findings of court after trial. No retroactivity of
court jurisdiction.
 Penalties for felony:
1. those prescribed by law before act was committed
2. laws in force at time of commission
3. subsequent laws, if favorable