Studying criminal law gets fascinating as we delve deeper. Sure, modifying circumstances can get very tough, but at the end of the day, it only gets more interesting. Now, will one commit a crime for a price, reward, or promise?
In criminal law, there are modifying circumstances that justify, exempt, mitigate, or worse – aggravate the commission of a crime. Thus, when these circumstances are present, these change the criminal liability of the accused.
Aggravating Circumstances, by its literal meaning aggravating – means making an offense worse, are those circumstances that if present in the commission of the crime, they either: serve to increase the penalty or they change the nature of the crime.
If Mitigating Circumstances are those circumstances that are based on diminution of either freedom of action, intelligence, or intent or on the lesser perversity of the offender, thus reducing the penalty, Aggravating Circumstances, on the other hand, are based on the greater perversity of the offender manifested in the commission of the crime as can be shown by:
- the motivating power itself;
- the place of commission;
- the means and ways employed;
- the time; and
- the personal circumstances of the offender or the offended party.
Aggravating Circumstances, conceptually, is an extensive discussion, as these circumstances are divided into different kinds namely: generic, specific, qualifying, inherent. All of which either serve to increase the penalty or change the nature of the crime.
The Law | Article 14 Paragraph 11 of the Revised Penal Code
Then comes the important question, what is Article 14, par. 11? The Revised Penal Code provides:
“Article 14. Aggravating circumstances. – The following are aggravating circumstances:
11] That the crime be committed in consideration of a price, reward, or promise.”1
Will one commit a crime for a price, reward, or promise?
Reading this provision would make you wonder, “How far will you go to commit a crime?” “Will you go as far as to commit a crime in consideration of a price, reward, or promise?”
It is undeniable that this is present in our society as of today. You can see and hear in news, people hiring killers, people hiring kidnappers, and people inducing others to commit a crime. May it be money, power, name it all. People will do anything as long as there is something in return. Something more valuable, as we see it, than other people’s lives.
Now, as we dive in deeper into this Article, we pose this question: “Will you be held criminally liable by merely giving the price, reward, or promise in exchange for the commission of a crime?”
Article 14, par. 11 contemplates the concurrence of two or more offenders. It is based on the greater perversity of the offender, as shown by the motivating power itself.
Thus, the elements of Article 14, par. 11 are enumerated as follows:
- There are at least two principals: a. principal by inducement b. principal by direct participation;
- The price, reward, or promise should be before and in consideration of the commission of the criminal act.
When we talk about the first element, we are talking about the participation of the offender in this instance. As what we will learn, going further in the study of criminal law, there must be two or more principals present here: the one who gives or offers the price, reward, or promise (principal by inducement) and the one who accepts it (principal by direct participation).
What we mean by principal by inducement. From the root word induces, this is done by inducing, by influencing, by persuading. In short, directly induces another to commit the crime through direct participation. To put it simply, they are both principals as the crime will not be committed without one of them not present.
It should be noted, however, according to the second element, that the inducement by price, reward, or promise shall be done before the commission of the crime. It does not also need that these are material things, (e.g., money), or the same is actually delivered. It is enough that the offer made by the principal, who induces, was accepted by the principal, who directly perpetrated the act, before the commission of the crime.
It also is very important to remember that this circumstance is also attendant in the crime of murder, as what is stated in Article 248, viz:
“Article 248. Murder. – Any person who, not falling within the provisions of Article 246 shall kill another, shall be guilty of murder and shall be punished by reclusion temporal in its maximum period to death, if committed with any of the following attendant circumstances:2
“2] In consideration of a price, reward, or promise.”3
In other words, when this circumstance is present in the crime of killing, and alleged in the information, it qualifies the crime. Put it simply, it becomes an element of murder provided in the Article 248 of Revised Penal Code.
To appreciate this circumstance, in consideration of price, reward, or promise must be the primary reason or the primordial motive for the commission of the crime.
An illustrative example of this circumstance can be seen in the case of United States vs. Parro,4 where in this case, Rufino Parro had trouble with his brother, Silverio Parro regarding family property.
With this as the motive, Rufino procured Gabino Calindatas to kill his brother and grandniece for a reward of P60.00 and a promise to maintain the family of Calindatas if he was arrested and that he be protected from prosecution for three (3) years. Calindatas, then following the instructions, killed Rufino’s brother and the little girl with a dagger and reported that the acts had been executed. The Court ruled that based on these foregoing facts:5
“These facts constitute murder by inducement for a price and make the defendant guilty as principal in the commission of the crime. There also concur the aggravating circumstances of evident premeditation, relationship, and commission in the night time and in an uninhabited place (and possibly others), offset by no mitigating circumstance. The trial court sentenced the defendant and appellant to cadena perpetua, to indemnify the heirs of the deceased Silverio Parro and Paciencia Sendencia each in the amount of P500, and to pay the costs.”6
Further, in People vs. Cañete,7 where the accused Adriano Cañete and Jose Bilog, were both sentenced to the maximum penalty of death, by killing Douglas Bilog. According to Cañete, he was offered P1,000.00 in consideration of his admission of the crime but upon cross-examination, Cañete slipped and admitted that the P1,000.00 was offered for him to execute the killing. Thus, the Court ruled:8
“It is therefore evident that Cañete’s testimony disowning the crime is but a last minute attempt at exculpation.
The killing of Douglas Bilog was qualified by treachery because the attack was unexpected and sudden, and the victim had no chance to defend himself. Likewise, the aggravating circumstance of price was present in the commission of the crime and this affects not only the person who received the money or the reward but also the person who gave it.”9
In United States vs. Maharaja Alim,10 Maharaja Alim who had exercised authority over his co-accused, induced them through the means of pay and promise of reward to kill Moro Tantung.
In said inducement, the co-accused attacked and assaulted the victim with lance and bolos which later caused his death. The circumstance having intervened price and reward for the death of the deceased qualifies the crime of murder; and this circumstance affects not only the person who gave the price and the reward but those who received them as well. According to the Supreme Court:11
“The foregoing facts determine Maharaja Alim’s liability as the author of the crime by inducement, and this inducement was completely efficacious, not so much on account of the influence of the authority he exercised over his codefendants, as it was of the assurances he made to them that he would take care of them, should the crime be discovered, and, above all, because of the price that he promised and delivered to them and which caused them to decide upon the killing of their victim. They were relatives of the deceased, and, as for themselves, had no reason whatever to kill the latter. They killed him only because they had been induced to do so by Maharaja Alim.12
As a price and reward were offered by Maharaja Alim to the other defendants, this circumstance classifies the crime as murder. As all the defendants contributed toward the attendance of this circumstance, it should affect each and all of them.”13
However, in the case of People vs. Talledo,14 it was held by the Court that the aggravating circumstance of price, reward, or promise cannot be considered against the other accused as she was not the one who committed the crime in consideration of said price, reward, or promise. The Court held, to wit:15
“Neither may the supposed aggravating circumstance of price or reward be considered against Leonora for the reason that it was not she who committed the crime in consideration of said price or reward. Besides, these aggravating circumstances with the exception of that of premeditation were not alleged in the information, and were not mentioned or discussed in the decision appealed from, neither were they considered by the Office of the Solicitor General for purposes of increasing the penalty imposed by the trial court.”16
Having said all these, it is all very clear that this circumstance is based on the greater perversity of the offender manifested in the commission of the crime by the motivating power itself. In other words, the aggravating circumstance in consideration of price, reward or promise must be for the purpose of inducing another to perform the crime.
Finally, to answer this question: “Will you be held criminally liable by merely giving the price, reward, or promise in exchange for the commission of a crime?” Yes. We should keep in mind that the one who induces is criminally liable as principal as well. It must also be noted that both elements should be present in order for the crime to be aggravating.
While it is true and present in our society, committing a crime in consideration of price, reward, or promise is one, if not, the cruelest thing someone can do. This implies that other people’s lives are immaterial, replaceable, disposable, something that they can exchange with money, power, reward, relationship easily.
As we end this article, I pose another question, “How do you value someone else’s life?”
- Article 14, Paragraph 11, Revised Penal Code[↩]
- Article 248, Paragraph 2, Revised Penal Code[↩]
- G.R. No. 12607, September 27, 1917[↩]
- G.R. No. L-37945, May 28, 1984[↩]
- G.R. No. 13312, April 1, 1918[↩]
- G.R. No. L-1778, February 23, 1950[↩]