Terrorism Defined

October 11, 2010 at 2:12 pm (Legal Definitions) (, )

How is “Terrorism” defined under Philippine laws?

Republic Act (RA) No. 9372, otherwise known as The Anti-Terror Law or The Human Security Act of 2007, which took effect last July 15, 2007, provides for its definition as follows:

SEC. 3. Terrorism. Any person who commits an act punishable under any of the following provisions of the Revised Penal Code:

1. Article 122 (Piracy in General and Mutiny in the High Seas or in the Philippine Waters);
2. Article 134 (Rebellion or Insurrection);
3. Article 134-a (Coup de tat), including acts committed by private persons;
4. Article 248 (Murder);
5. Article 267 (Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention);
6. Article 324 (Crimes Involving Destruction,

or under
1. Presidential Decree No. 1613 (The Law on Arson);
2. Republic Act No. 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act of 1990);
3. Republic Act No. 5207, (Atomic Energy Regulatory and Liability Act of 1968);
4. Republic Act No. 6235 (Anti-Hijacking Law);
5. Presidential Decree No. 532 (Anti-piracy and Anti-highway Robbery Law of 1974); and,
6. Presidential Decree No. 1866, as amended (Decree Codifying the Laws on Illegal and Unlawful Possession, Manufacture, Dealing in, Acquisition or Disposition of Firearms, Ammunitions or Explosives)

thereby sowing and creating a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace, in order to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand shall be guilty of the crime of terrorism and shall suffer the penalty of forty (40) years of imprisonment, without the benefit of parole as provided for under Act No. 4103, otherwise known as the Indeterminate Sentence Law, as amended.

This post is made in the light of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling of the constitutionality of RA 9372.

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Criminal Law 101

September 27, 2010 at 9:42 am (Legal Articles) (, )

With Due Respect : Criminal law 101
By Artemio V. Panganiban
Columnist
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Posted date: September 25, 2010

MANILA, Philippines—Media’s deafening howl over the Supreme Court’s decision (Lumanog vs. People, Sept. 7, 2010) convicting—via a vote of 10-4 with one abstention—the so-called “Abadilla 5” for the 1996 murder of Col. Rolando N. Abadilla echoed a lot of questions. To answer them systematically, I will lay down some basics of criminal law.
Crime and criminal. To secure a conviction, the prosecution must prove (1) that the crime charged in the “information” had taken place and (2) that the accused perpetrated it. An act or omission cannot be deemed a crime unless a law defines it as such and provides a penalty for it.

For example, no law punishes the failure to pay a debt. In fact, the Constitution bars the imprisonment of anyone for failure to honor a debt due to poverty. But, there is a civil obligation to repay it. A deliberate refusal to obey a court order to pay a debt (when the debtor has the means) can constitute contempt and can be punished with incarceration.

The information, which is prepared by a government prosecutor, must contain a concise statement of ultimate facts, which—if proven—will constitute a specific offense (like murder, rape or theft). If the facts alleged in the information are not proven, or—even if proven—do not constitute a crime punishable by law, then the accused deserve an acquittal without having to prove their innocence.

Even if they plead guilty, the accused cannot be convicted and punished if—to repeat—the facts alleged in the information do not constitute a crime. Moreover, when the crime charged is capital in nature (punishable by life imprisonment), the prosecution is still required to prove the facts constituting the offense, even if the accused has already pleaded guilty.

The Bill of Rights says, “the accused…has the right to be informed… of the nature and cause of the accusation.” So, he (or she) can be liable only for a crime he had been “informed” of, or one stated in the information. Except when the crime proven is necessarily included in the crime charged.

For example, if the crime charged is murder, but the prosecution proved only homicide, then the accused can be convicted only of homicide. If the crime charged is homicide, the accused cannot be held liable for murder even if murder was proven. Reason: murder includes homicide but not vice-versa. Murder is really homicide with an added “qualifying circumstance” like treachery.

The identity of the accused as the perpetrator of the crime—whether as principal, accomplice or accessory—must also be proven. The Constitution presumes everyone—citizen or alien, man or woman, young or old—to be innocent of any crime.

Degree of proof needed. Both the commission of the crime and the identity of the accused must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. “Proof beyond reasonable doubt” does not entail absolute certainty. Rather, it refers to “that degree of proof which, after an examination of the entire records of the case, produces in an unprejudiced mind moral certainty of the culpability of the accused for the crime proved.”

Proof beyond reasonable doubt requires a much higher degree of certainty than “preponderance of evidence” (required in civil cases) which “means that, as a whole, the evidence adduced by one side outweighs that of the adverse party.” It is also stricter than “substantial evidence” (required in administrative proceedings like labor cases), which refers “to that amount of evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion.”

A judgment of acquittal “shall state whether the evidence of the prosecution absolutely failed to prove the guilt of the accused or merely failed to prove his (or her) guilt beyond reasonable doubt.” In other words, a judgment of acquittal does not necessarily mean that the accused is innocent but that the prosecution failed to adduce that degree of proof (beyond reasonable doubt) needed to convict. As the legal maxim goes, “to doubt is to acquit.”

Proof of guilt, not of innocence, required. The overriding consideration is not whether the court doubts the innocence of the accused, but whether it reasonably doubts their guilt. Where there is no moral certainty as to their guilt, they must be acquitted even though their innocence may be questionable. To stress, the presumption of innocence may be overthrown only by proof beyond reasonable doubt.

Aside from the prosecution’s failure to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt, there are other reasons why a criminal case could be dismissed or an accused acquitted even if they are actually guilty. One is where the constitutional rights of the accused are violated so grossly that due process is effectively denied them.

For example, an unreasonable delay of more than 10 years to resolve a criminal case, without fault on the part of the accused and despite their earnest effort to have their case decided, violates the constitutional right to speedy trial and entitles them to instant acquittal without need to determine whether the evidence proves them guilty or not.

There are other ways of getting a criminal case dismissed via a motion to quash, like lack of jurisdiction of the court over the offense charged, or lack of jurisdiction over the person of the accused, or lack of authority on the part of the officer who filed the information, or when the crime charged has prescribed, when the information charges more than one offense, or when the right against double jeopardy would be infringed.

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CD: Malto v. People

September 1, 2010 at 10:15 am (2007, Case Digests) (, )

MICHAEL JOHN Z. MALTO v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES
G.R. No. 164733, September 21, 2007
Corona, J.

Doctrine:
The “sweetheart theory” cannot be invoked for purposes of sexual intercourse and lascivious conduct in child abuse cases under RA 7610. Consent is immaterial because the mere act of having sexual intercourse or committing lascivious conduct with a child who is subjected to sexual abuse constitutes the offense. Moreover, a child is presumed by law to be incapable of giving rational consent to any lascivious act or sexual intercourse.

Facts:
Sometime during the month of November 1997 to 1998, Malto seduced his student, AAA, a minor, to indulge in sexual intercourse several times with him. Prior to the incident, petitioner and AAA had a “mutual understanding” and became sweethearts. Pressured and afraid of the petitioner’s threat to end their relationship, AAA succumbed and both had sexual intercourse.

Upon discovery of what AAA underwent, BBB, AAA’s mother lodged a complaint in the Office of the City Prosecutor of Pasay City which led to the filing of Criminal Case No. 00-0691. 

The petitioner did not make a plea when arraigned. Hence, the trial court entered for him a plea of “not guilty.” The trial court found the evidence for the prosecution sufficient to sustain petitioner’s conviction. The trail court rendered a decision finding petitioner guilty and sentenced him to reclusion temporal and to pay an indemnity of Php. 75,000 and damages of Php. 50,000.

Petitioner questioned the trial court’s decision in the CA. The CA modified the decision of the trial court. The appellate court affirmed his conviction and ruled that the trial court erred in awarding Php. 75,000 civil indemnity in favor of AAA as it was proper only in a conviction for rape committed under the circumstances under which the death penalty was authorized by law.

Issue:
Whether the CA erred in sustaining petitioner’s conviction on the grounds that there was no rape committed since their sexual intercourse was consensual by reason of their “sweetheart” relationship

Held:
No. The “sweetheart theory” cannot be invoked for purposes of sexual intercourse and lascivious conduct in child abuse cases under RA 7610. Consent is immaterial because the mere act of having sexual intercourse or committing lascivious conduct with a child who is subjected to sexual abuse constitutes the offense. Moreover, a child is presumed by law to be incapable of giving rational consent to any lascivious act or sexual intercourse.

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CD: U.S. v. Filart and Singson

August 31, 2010 at 4:38 pm (1915, Case Digests) (, )

U.S. v. JAIME FILART AND HILARIO SINGSON
G.R. No. L-10263 March 13, 1915
Moreland, J.

Doctrine:
A lottery is defined as a scheme for the distribution of prizes by chance among persons who have paid, or agreed to pay, a valuable consideration for the chance to obtain a prize. Its elements are: (1) a consideration; (2) chance: (3) a prize, or some advantage or inequality in amount or value which is in the nature of prize.

Facts:
Filart and Singson took part in a lottery or raffle of an automobile, which was the property of Filart.

The winner was determined in the following manner: The numbers composing the 450, each written on a separate piece of paper, were placed together in a box and thoroughly mixed. A boy was selected who placed his hand in the box and drew out a number. This he delivered to a person who unfolded the paper and read the number in a loud voice while Filart, with a list of the 450 numbers referred to, struck from the list the number corresponding to that drawn from the box. This was repeated until all of the numbers were drawn from the box and stricken from the list. It was agreed that the last number drawn from the box should be the winning number and that the owner of that number should win the automobile.

Both defendants were charged for violating the following provisions of the law:

Section 7 of Act No. 1757 provides, as follows:
The playing at and the conducting of any game of monte, jueteng, or any form of lottery or policy . . . is hereby prohibited, and any person taking any part therein . . . shall be punished as provided in section 3 hereof. . . . .

This section also provides that:

It shall be no defense to any criminal action under this section that the defendant acted as the agent of another or that he had no interest in the result.

Issue:
Whether or not the defendants conducted lottery

Held:
Yes. The facts of record place this case within the definition generally given of a lottery.

A lottery is said to be “a species of gaming, which may be defined as a scheme for the distribution of prizes by chance among persons who have paid, or agreed to pay, a valuable consideration for the chance to obtain a prize.” It was held in the case of Equitable Loan Co. vs. Waring, 117 Ga., 599, that three elements enter into a lottery scheme: (1) A consideration; (2) chance: (3) a prize, or some advantage or inequality in amount or value which is in the nature of prize.

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