Senator Leila M. de Lima noted with approbation the signing into law of Republic Act No. 10951, "An Act Adjusting the Amount or Value of Property and Damage on which a Penalty is Based, and the Fines Imposed under the Revised Penal Code...," which she co-authored with Senator Franklin M. Drilon, as a welcome and long-overdue development.
The law, which the Senator has supported since she was the Secretary of Justice, will finally put in effect amendments to the nearly 87-year-old Revised Penal Code (RPC) that will make it much more reflective of the times and current conditions of our country and our people.
Back in March 2015, then Secretary of Justice De Lima publicly expressed the Department's support for the version of the bill that was filed during the 16th Congress, likewise authored by then Senate President Drilon, saying that the Department is "coordinating closely with the legislature to ensure that the work of the Criminal Code Committee is translated into policies and laws" and that the "indexation effort is a key component of the DOJ codification program".
The DOJ's support at the time comes from the recognition that the outdated property values and penalties provided for in the country's primary penal statute need to be reformed and updated, as they are no longer responsive to current situations and, thus, no longer serve the ends of public order and justice.
A common way used to illustrate the obsolescence of such aspects of the RPC is to point out that the value of 200 pesos today is nowhere near its value in the 1930s. In 2014, the Supreme Court wrestled with the implications of this huge discrepancy, when it was called upon to discharge its "active duty to prevent injustice" by considering the proposed ratio of 1:100 to compensate for inflation in the same way that, in the past, it had considered in its decisions "changed conditions" or "significant changes in circumstances."
At the time, although the Court acknowledged that "[t]here seems to be a perceived injustice brought about by the range of penalties that the courts continue to impose on crimes against property committed today, based on the amount of damage measured by the value of money eighty years ago," it nonetheless declined to "judicially" modify the range of penalties, and effectively left it to the legislature to remedy the situation.
"With the enactment of R.A. No. 10951, Congress has finally done its part to eliminate the injustice and ineffectiveness of penalties that are no longer commensurate to the offense committed and are, thus, tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment," said Senator De Lima. "Our nation's penal laws are, therefore, one step closer to achieving true justice and better effectiveness in maintaining peace and order in our society, through the Rule of Law and consistent with universally recognized principles of human rights."
Senator De Lima gives credit for its passage to the bill's author, Senator Drilon, her colleagues in the legislature and President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
Source: Senate of the Philippines