You are on page 1of 3

UPDATEDSPECIAL PENAL LAWS By:JUDGE OSCAR B. PIMENTELRegional Trial Court, Branch 148,Makati CityINDETERMINATE SENTENCE LAW (Act No.

4103 as amended by Act No. 4225) WHEN AN ACCUSED IS SENTENCED TO RECLUSION PERPETUA, HEIS NOT ENTITLED TO THE APPLICATION OF THE INDETERMINATESENTENCE LAW
Accused-appellant cannot avail of the benefits of the IndeterminateSentence Law because Indeterminate Sentence Law does not apply topersons convicted of offenses punishable with reclusionperpetua .(People v. Aquino; GR 125906, Jan. 16, 98) APPLICATION OF INDETERMINATESENTENCE LAW EXPLAINED In the case of People vs. Gabres , the Court has had occasion to sostate that "Under the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the maximum termof the penalty shall be 'that which, in view of the attendingcircumstances, could be properly imposed' under the Revised PenalCode, and the minimum shall be within the range of the penalty nextlower to that prescribed' for the offense. The penalty next lower should be based on the penalty prescribed by the Code for theoffense, without first considering any modifying circumstanceattendant to the commission of the crime. The determination of theminimum penalty is left by law to the sound discretion of the courtand it can be anywhere within the range of the penalty next lower without any reference to the periods into which it might besubdivided. The modifying circumstances are considered only in theimposition of the maximum term of the indeterminate sentence."The fact that the amounts involved in the instant caseexceed P22,000.00 should not be considered in the initialdetermination of the indeterminate penalty; instead, the matter should be so taken as analogous to modifying circumstances in theimposition of the maximum term of the full indeterminate sentence.This interpretation of the law accords with the rule that penal lawsshould be construed in favor of the accused. Since the penaltyprescribed by law for the estafa charge against accused-appellant is prisioncorreccional maximum to prision mayor minimum, the penaltynext lower would then be prisioncorreccional minimum to medium.Thus, the minimum term of the indeterminate sentence should beanywhere within six (6) months and one (1) day to four (4) years andtwo (2) months . . ."(People v. Saley; GR 121179, July 2, 98) INDETERMINATE SENTENCE LAW;APPLICABLE ALSO IN DRUG CASES: The final query is whether or not the Indeterminate Sentence Law isapplicable to the case now before us. Apparently it does, since drug offensesare not included in nor has appellant committed any act which would put himwithin the exceptions to said law and the penalty to be imposed does notinvolve reclusionperpetua or death, provided, of course, that the penalty asultimately resolved will exceed one year of imprisonment. The moreimportant aspect, however, is how the indeterminate sentence shall beascertained. It is true that Section 1 of said law, after providing for indeterminate sentence for an offense under the Revised Penal

Code, statesthat "if the offense is punished by any other law, the court shall sentence theaccused to an indeterminate sentence, the maximum term of which shall notexceed the maximum fixed by said law and the minimum shall not be lessthan the minimum term prescribed by the same" We hold that this quotedportion of the section indubitably refers to an offense under a special lawwherein the penalty imposed was not taken from and is without reference tothe Revised Penal Code, as discussed in the preceding illustrations, suchthat it may be said that the "offense is punished" under that law. There canbe no sensible debate that the aforequoted rule on indeterminate sentencefor offenses under special laws was necessary because of the nature of theformer type of penalties under said laws which were not included or contemplated in the scale of penalties in Article 71 of the Code, hence therecould be no minimum "within the range of the penalty next lower to thatprescribed by the Code for the offense," as is the rule for felonies therein. Inthe illustrative examples of penalties in special laws hereinbefore provided,this rule applied, and would still apply, only to the first and last examples Furthermore, considering the vintage of Act No. 4103 as earlier noted, thisholding is but an application and is justified under the rule of contemporanea

expositio . Republic Act No. 6425, as now amended by Republic Act No. 7659, has unqualifiedly adopted the penalties under the Revised Penal Codein their technical terms, hence with their technical signification and effects. Infact, for purposes of determining the maximum of said sentence, we haveapplied the provisions of the amended Section 20 of said law to arrive at prisioncorreccional and Article 64 of the Code to impose the same in the medium period. Such offense, although provided for in a special law, is nowin the effect punished by and under the Revised Penal Code.(People v Martin Simon) WHEN THE BENEFITS OF INDETERMINATE SENTENCE LAW IS NOTAPPLICABLE; a. Offenses punished by death or life imprisonment.b. Those convicted of treason (Art. 114), conspiracy or proposal to commit treason (Art. 115).c. Those convicted of misprision of treason (Art. 116), rebellion(Art. 134), sedition (Art. 139), or espionage (Art. 117).d. Those convicted of piracy (Art. 122).e. Habitual delinquents (Art. 62, par. 5).f. Those who escaped from confinement or those who evadedsentence.g. Those granted conditional pardon and who violated theterms of the same (Art. 159). ( People v. Corral , 74 Phil. 359).h.Those whose maximum period of imprisonment does notexceed one year.i.Those who are already serving final judgment upon theapproval of the Indeterminate Sentence Law.j.those offenses or crimes not punishable by imprisonmentsuch as distierro and suspension. RECIDIVISTS ARE ENTITLED TO THE BENEFITS OF THEINDETERMINATE SENTENCE Recidivists are entitled to an indeterminate sentence. ( People v.Jaramilla , L-28547, Feb. 22, 1974). Offender is not disqualified to avail of thebenefits of the law even if the crime is committed while he is on parole.( People v. Clareon

, CA 78 O.G. 6701, Nov. 19, 1982).(Bacar v. De Guzman) NATURE OF PENALTYOF RECLUSION PERPETUA In " People -vs- Conrado Lucas , 240 SCRA 66, the Supreme Courtdeclared that despite the amendment of Article 27 of the Revised PenalCode, reclusionperpetua remained an indivisible penalty. Hence, the penaltydoes not have any minimum, medium and maximum period. Hence, there isno such penalty of medium period of reclusionperpetua .(People versus TiburcioBaculi, 246 SCRA) IMPOSITION OF WRONG PENALTY:IT DOES NOT OBTAIN FINALITY Suppose the court imposed a penalty of 25 years of reclusionperpetua for the crime of rape and the accused did not appeal, does thejudgment become final and executory? No, such judgment is null and voidbecause it imposed a non-existent penalty. Hence, the court maynevertheless correct the penalty imposed on the accused, that is, reclusionperpetua , it is merely performing a duty inherent in the court.(People versus Nigel Gatward, GR No.119772-73, February 7, 1997) DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RECLUSION PERPETUA AND LIFEIMPRISONMENT The penalty of reclusionperpetua is different from life imprisonment.The former carries with it accessory penalties, whereas life imprisonmentdoes not carry with it any accessory penalties; reclusionperpetua isthatprovided for under the Revised Penal Code and under crimes defined byspecial laws using the nomenclature under the Revised Penal Code ; lifeimprisonment is that provided for violations of the Revised Penal Code. Reclusion Perpetua may be reduced by one or two degrees while lifeimprisonment cannot be so reduced.(People -vs- RolnandoMadriaga,GR No. 82293, July 23, 1992.) WHICH IS MORE BURDENSOME LIFE IMPRISONMENT OF RECLUSIONPERPETUA Reclusion perpetua has accessory penalties while life imprisonmentdoes not. However, life imprisonment does not have a fixed duration or extent while reclusion perpetua has a duration of from twenty years and oneday to forty years. life imprisonment may span the natural life of the convict.(People -versus- Rallagan,247 SCRA 537) 2

penalties.(People -vs- AspolinarRaganas, et alGR No. 101188, October 12, 1999) RARE CASE OF APPLICATION OF RPC IN A SUPPLETORYCHARACTER DESPITE THE PENALTY BEING LIFE IMPRISONMENT Where the accused committed qualified violation of PD 704 (fishingwith the use of explosives), the imposable penalty for which is lifeimprisonment to death. If the accused is entitled to a mitigating circumstanceof voluntary surrender, the court should impose life imprisonment applying, inasuppletory character, Articles 13 and 63 of the Revised Penal Code.(People -vs- Priscilla Balasa, GR No.106357, September 3, 1998) ACCUSED WHO IS SENTENCED TO RECLUSION PERPETUA IS STILLENTITLED TO EITHER FULL OR OF HIS PREVENTIVEIMPRISONMENT If, during the trial, the accused was detained but, after trial, he wasmeted the penalty of reclusion perpetua, he is still entitled to the full credit of his preventive imprisonment because Article 29 of the Revised Penal Codedoes not distinguish between divisible and indivisible penalties.(People -vs- Rolando Corpuz,231 SCRA 480) QUALIFIED THEFTQUALIFIED THEFT IS PENALIZED BY RECLUSION PERPETUA IFAMOUNT INVOLVED IS OVER P22,000.00 Under Article 309 of the Revised Penal Code, the maximum of thepenalty for qualified theft is prision mayor to reclusion temporal. However,under Article 310 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty for the crime shallbe two (2) degrees higher than the specified in Article 309 of the Code.Under Article 74 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty higher by onedegree than another given penalty, and if such higher penalty is death, thepenalty shall be reclusionperpetua of forty (40) years with the accessorypenalties of death under Article 40 of the Revised Penal Code. The accusedshall not be entitled to pardon before the lapse of forty (40) years.(People -vs- Fernando Canales, 297 SCRA 667) THE PROBATION LAW (P.D. 968)and its AMENDMENTS PROBATION, ITS MEANING: A disposition under which a defendant, after conviction and sentence, issubject to conditions imposed by the Court and under the supervision of aprobation officer. PURPOSES OF PROBATION :a. to promote the correction and rehabilitation of an offender by providinghim with personalized community based treatment;b. to provide an opportunity for his reformation and reintegration into thecommunity; 3

RECLUSION PERPETUA AND LIFE IMPRISONMENT CANNOT BEINTER-CHANGED WHEN IMPOSED AS PENALTY Where the law violated provides for the penalty of reclusionperpetua, impose the said penalty and not the penalty of life imprisonment.Where the law imposes the penalty of life imprisonment, do not imposereclusionperpetua.(People -vsRolando Madriaga, 211 SCRA 698) THE REASON WHY RECLUSION PERPETUA HAS A RANGE DESPITETHE SAME BEING INDIVISIBLE There we also said that "if reclusion perpetua was reclassified as adivisible penalty, then Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code would lose itsreason and basis for existence." The imputed duration of thirty (30) years of reclusion perpetua, therefore, only serves as the basis for determining theconvict's eligibility for pardon or for the application of the three-fold rule in theservice of multiple

c. to prevent the commission of offenses. SUBMISSION OF PETITION ANDTIME OF FILING OFPETITION The petition or application for probation must be filed directly with theCourt which sentenced the accused within 15 days from date of promulgationof the decision convicting the accused, or in short within the period to appealotherwise the judgment shall become final and the accused shall be deemedto have waived his right to probation. EFFECT OF FILING OF PETITION FOR PROBATION Upon filing of petition for probation, the court shall suspend theexecution of sentence.Likewise, the filing of a petition for probation shall be deemed awaiver of the right to appeal and in case an appeal is made immediately after conviction, a filing of petition for probation still within the period to appeal,that is within fifteen days from date of promulgation shall be deemed awithdrawal of the appeal.

PENDING RESOLUTION OF PETITION,WHAT ARE THE PRIVILEDGE THAT MAYBE GIVEN TO THE ACCUSED-PETITIONER? 1. if the accused, prior to the promulgation of decision of conviction is outon bail, he may be allowed on temporary liberty under his bail filed in saidcase;2. if he is under detention, upon motion, he may be allowed temporaryliberty, if he cannot post a bond, on a recognizance of a responsible member of a community who shall guarantee his appearance whenever required bythe court. IN CASE THE APPLICANT FOR PROBATION CANNOT BE PRODUCEDBY THE CUSTODIAN ON RECOGNIZANCE, WHAT HAPPENS? The custodian must be asked to explain why he should not be citedfor contempt for failing to produce the probationer when required by thecourt; Summary hearing will be held for indirect contempt, and if custodiancannot produce the petitioner, nor to explain his failure to produce thepetitioner, the custodian on recognizance shall be held in contempt of court. WHAT IS A POST SENTENCEINVESTIGATION REPORT? It is a report of the Parole and Probation Officer after conducting postsentence investigation and interviews containing the circumstancessurrounding the offense for which the petitioner was convicted. The findingsshould be drawn from the court records, police records, statement of defendants, the aggrieved party and other persons who may know thepetitioner and all other matters material to the petition.It will also include the psychological and social information regardingthe probationer; evaluation of the petitioner; suitability for probation; hispotential for rehabilitation; and may include the program for supervision andsuggested terms of conditions of probation and a recommendation either todeny or grant the probation. WHAT ARE THE MANDATORYCONDITIONS OF PROBATION? a. To present himself to the probation officer concerned for supervisionwithin 72 hours from receipt of said order andb. to report to the probation officer at least once a month during the periodof probation. WHAT ARE THE OTHERCONDITIONS OF PROBATION? cooperate with a program of supervision;meet his family responsibilities;devote himself to a specific employment and not to charge said employmentwithout prior written approval of the probation officer;comply with a program of payment of civil liability to the victim of his heirs;undergo medical, psychological or psychiatric examination and treatmentand/or enter and remain in a specific institution, when required for thatpurposes;pursue a prescribed secular study or vocational training;attend or reside in a facility established for instruction or recreation of persons on probation;refrain from visiting houses of ill-repute;abstain from drinking intoxicating beverages to excess;