Crimes against Fundamental Laws of the State
In this article, we discuss the crimes against fundamental laws of the State. These Felonies are defined and penalized under Title II of the Book II of Revised Penal Code [RPC]. Among others, the primary offender herein is a public officer acting under supposed exercise of official functions and duties, albeit illegally, except for the offense of offending the religious feelings.
Nonetheless, there are instances where a private person may be held responsible under this title of the code when he:
(1) conspires with a public officer; or
What are the crimes against the fundamental law of the State under the Revised Penal Code?
The ten classes of crimes covered under this title are as follows with their respective elements, to wit:
Arbitrary detention and expulsion
Art. 124. Arbitrary detention. — 1
- The offender is a public officer or employee2
- He detains a person3
- The detention is without legal grounds4
Detention is when an individual is placed in confinement or there is a restraint on his person. For such to be considered as with legal ground, there must be commission of a crime, or violent insanity or any other ailment requiring the compulsory confinement of the patient in a hospital.5
Art. 125. Delay in the delivery of detained persons to the proper judicial authorities. —6
- The offender is a public officer or employee7
- He detains a person for some legal ground8
- He fails deliver such person to the proper judicial authorities within the period of: 12 hours, 18 hours, or 36 hours9
In every case, the person detained shall be informed of the cause of his detention and shall be allowed upon his request, to communicate and confer at any time with his attorney or counsel. (As amended by E.O. Nos. 59 and 272, Nov. 7, 1986 and July 25, 1987, respectively).10
Art. 126. Delaying release. —11
- The offender is a public officer or employee12
- There is a judicial or executive order for the release of a prisoner or detention prisoner, or proceeding upon any petition for the liberation of such person13
- He delays any of the following:14
- the performance of any judicial or executive order for the release of a prisoner or detention prisoner15
- the service of the notice of such order to said prisoner16
- the proceedings upon any petition for the liberation of such person17
Art. 127. Expulsion. —18
- The offender is a public officer or employee19
- He expels any person from the Philippine Islands or shall compel such person to change his residence20
- The offender is not authorized by law to do so21
Violation of domicile
Art. 128. Violation of domicile. —22
- The offender is a public officer or employee23
- The offender is not authorized by judicial order to perform any of the succeeding acts24
- He committed any of the following punishable acts:25
The offense is qualified when committed at night-time, or if any papers or effects not constituting evidence of a crime be not returned immediately after the search made by the offender.29
If any of the abovementioned punishable acts was committed by a private individual, the crime committed is trespass to dwelling.30
Art. 129. Search warrants maliciously obtained and abuse in the service of those legally obtained. —31
- The offender is a public officer or employee32
- He procures a search warrant without just cause, or33
- Having legally procured the same, he exceeds his authority or use unnecessary severity in executing the same34
Art. 130. Searching domicile without witnesses. —35
- The offender is a public officer or employee36
- He is armed with a warrant37
- He searches the domicile, papers or other belongings of any person38
- The search is in the absence of the owner or any member of his family, or two witnesses residing in the same locality39
Prohibition, interruption and dissolution of peaceful meetings
Art. 131. Prohibition, interruption and dissolution of peaceful meetings. —40
- prohibit or interrupt the holding of a peaceful meeting, or shall dissolve the same43
- hinder any person from joining any lawful association or from attending any of its meetings44
- prohibit or hinder any person from addressing, either alone or together with others, any petition to the authorities for the correction of abuses or redress of grievances45
Crimes against religious worship
Art. 132. Interruption of religious worship. — Any public officer or employee who shall prevent or disturb the ceremonies or manifestations of any religion.46
- The offender is a public officer or employee47
- There is a religious ceremonies or manifestations of any religious worship that is about to take place or is ongoing48
- He prevents or disturbs the same49
The offense is qualified when committed with violence or threats.50
Art. 133. Offending the religious feelings. —51
- The acts must be notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful52
- The said acts were performed in a place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony53
Why are they called crimes against the fundamental laws of the State?
The fundamental law of the State is the Constitution of which is regarded as the supreme law of the land. The provisions in the fundamental law, specifically, being referred to herein, is the Bill of Rights under Article III of the Constitution.
It establishes the relationship of an individual to, and with, the State and defines his or her rights by limiting the lawful powers of the State. Thus, when the rights of certain persons defined therein are violated, what is being committed is a crime against the fundamental laws of the State guaranteeing their civil rights and liberties, which are as follows:
Liberty. Liberty shall include the right to existence and to survive. Likewise, it shall encompass the right to be free from arbitrary and whimsical personal restraint or servitude. The same incorporates, as well, the right of the citizen to be free to lawfully use his faculties. Its infringement incurs a liability for a crime of arbitrary detention, delay in delivery of detained persons to proper judicial authorities and delaying release.
Liberty of abode. The fundamental and constitutional right to the liberty of abode and changing the same within the limits prescribed by law shall be inviolable, except upon lawful order of the court. A violation thereof can be considered as a crime of expulsion.
Right against unreasonable searches. The Constitution protects the right of every individual against unreasonable searches and seizures. This is also a consequence of person’s right to privacy. Indispensably, the State recognizes the right of the people to be as secure as possible in their houses, papers and effects.
Breaches thereof may be deemed as violation of domicile, search warrants maliciously obtained and abuse legally obtained, and/or searching domicile without witnesses.
Freedom of expression. Any and all modes of expression shall be embraced in the guarantee, unless there is a valid law which accords due process and observe the equal protection which may limit such guarantee.
Free expression shall also cover the right to peaceable assembly and to petition the government for redress of grievances. The right to form associations is also an adjunct of this constitutional right. A violation for such is chargeable of a crime prohibition, interruption, dissolution of peaceful meetings.
Freedom of religion. This freedom guarantees the free exercise of religious beliefs. It prohibits the State from unduly interfering with the outside manifestations of one’s belief and faith. Violation thereof may subject the offender to be held liable for interruption of religious worship and offending religious feelings.
What are the Differences among the felonies of Arbitrary Detention (Art. 124), Illegal Detention (Arts. 267 – 268), and Unlawful Arrest (Art. 269)?
In arbitrary detention, the differentiating factor is that the public officer or employee to be held liable under this offense should be vested with authority to detain or order the detention of persons accused of a crime.
Moreover, if the warrantless arrest is without any legal ground, the arresting officers become liable for arbitrary detention. However, if the apprehending individuals are not among those with vested authority to arrest, they become liable for illegal detention.
While for unlawful arrest, this may only apply if the arrest is for the purpose of delivering the person arrested to the proper authorities without any reasonable ground.
Otherwise, it is considered arbitrary detention when the public officer or employee merely detains a person without any intention in bringing the person to the proper authorities.
|Particulars||Arbitrary Detention – Art. 124||Illegal Detention – Art. 267, 268||Unlawful Arrest – Art. 269|
|Who can commit||Public officer or |
|Private individual, generally (Although may also be committed by a public officer)||Any person, either public officers or private persons|
|How committed||Detains a person |
without legal ground
kidnaps, detains or otherwise deprives a
person of liberty
|Arrest or detain a person without legal or reasonable ground|
|Type of crime||Crime against the |
fundamental law of
|Crime is against |
personal liberty and
|Crime is against
personal liberty and
|Purpose||Just to detain and deprive the person arrested of his or her |
|To deprive the person of his or her liberty for any unlawful purpose||To deliver the arrested person to the proper judicial authorities|
How is Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code violated?
The felony of delay in the delivery of detained persons to the proper judicial authorities may be perpetrated when a public officer or employee, who has detained any person for some legal ground, thereafter does not deliver the said apprehended individual to the proper judicial authorities, within the specified period indicated in Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code.
In this legal provision, the law aims to prevent any abuse that may arise from depriving person of his liberty, without informing him of the cause of his detention and not allowing him, upon his plea, to communicate and confer at any time with his attorney or counsel, to transpire.
Violation of this provision consists in the failure to deliver such a person, who has been arrested and subsequently detained, to the proper judicial authorities within the specified period therein.
The delivery to the judicial authority of a person arrested without warrant by a peace officer, does not consist in a physical delivery thereto of the detained and apprehended person; yet, rather, in making an indictment or charge, through the filing of an information, against the person arrested with the corresponding court or judge.
It is, at this stage, that the court or judge acquires jurisdiction to issue an order of release or of commitment of the prisoner, because the arresting officer cannot transfer to the judge and the latter does not assume the physical custody of the person arrested.
There was no doubt that a judicial authority therein referred to was the judge of a court of justice empowered by law, after a proper investigation, to order the temporary commitment or detention of the person arrested; and not the city fiscals or any other officers, who are not authorized by law to do so.55
The Supreme Court opined that the term “judicial authority”, as used in the provision, means the courts of justices or judges of said courts56 vested with judicial power to order the temporary detention or confinement of a person charged with having committed a public offense, that is, “the Supreme Court and such inferior courts as may be established by law”.57
It should be noted as well that the term cannot be construed to include fiscal because they cannot issue a warrant of arrest or of commitment or temporary confinement of a person surrendered to legalize the detention of a person arrested without warrant.58
What is an Inquest Proceeding?
Inquest proceeding is a stage in criminal prosecution, at the prosecutor’s level, whereby the latter will summarily determine probable cause that a crime has been committed and the arrested person is probably responsible there for, aside from ascertaining whether the arrest is authorized under Rule 113 Section 5 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure.
This happens when the suspect is apprehended without a warrant or the so-called valid warrantless arrest under the above rule, which enumerates the following:
(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense; or59
(b) When an offense has just been committed, and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it;60 on warrantless arrest.
In such case, the following procedure under the rules may apply, to wit:
Section 7. When accused lawfully arrested without warrant. — When a person is lawfully arrested without a warrant involving an offense which requires a preliminary investigation, the complaint or information may be filed by a prosecutor without need of such investigation provided an inquest has been conducted in accordance with existing rules. In the absence or unavailability of an inquest prosecutor, the complaint may be filed by the offended party or a peace office directly with the proper court on the basis of the affidavit of the offended party or arresting officer or person.61
Before the complaint or information is filed, the person arrested may ask for a preliminary investigation in accordance with this Rule, but he must sign a waiver of the provisions of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, in the presence of his counsel. Notwithstanding the waiver, he may apply for bail and the investigation must be terminated within fifteen (15) days from its inception.62
After the filing of the complaint or information in court without a preliminary investigation, the accused may, within five (5) days from the time he learns of its filing, ask for a preliminary investigation with the same right to adduce evidence in his defense as provided in this Rule. (7a; sec. 2, R.A. No. 7438)63
For those persons arrested without a warrant, they shall be subjected to an inquest proceeding. Once an inquest has been conducted, a preliminary investigation is no longer needed as there is a prescribed period of which the persons arrested can be detained.
Otherwise, there would be a violation of a crime of delay in the delivery of detained persons to the proper judicial authorities.
However, the person who undergoes inquest proceedings may ask or request for a preliminary investigation provided he will waive the application of Article 125 of the RPC.
The objective of an inquest proceeding is to summarily determine, as mentioned, whether the warrantless apprehension is valid and that there is probable cause a crime has been committed and the suspect is probably guilty thereof.
While the arrest was made based on a legal ground, the State must still ensure that the arrested persons are not being unlawfully detained and not being denied of due process.
Considering that the inquest proceeding has been conducted within the prescribed period under the law, this may necessarily relieve the arresting officer of his duty to deliver the detained persons to the proper judicial authorities.
As earlier stated, it shall be understood that the delivery to the proper judicial authorities is not the actual and physical delivery of the detained person. Judicial authority does not assume the responsibility of being the physical and actual custodian of the detention prisoner.
Nevertheless, upon the filing of an information before the court by the Inquest Prosecutor after an inquest proceeding shall have been concluded and the evidence against the detained person so warrants, it is deemed that the detained person has already been delivered to the proper judicial authorities within the meaning of article 125 of the Revised Penal Code.
Considering that it is the responsibility Inquest Prosecutor’s duty to file the information and not the apprehending public officer, the latter cannot legally bring the detained individual to the proper judicial authority.
Will the Inquest Prosecutor be held liable for violation of Art. 125 if he files the Criminal Information after the lapse of the period provided under the law, even if he conducted an inquest proceeding within the period specified under Art. 125?
The Inquest Prosecutor shall not be liable for violation of Art. 125. It must be noted that he is not the one who arrested and incarcerated the arrested person.
Nevertheless, he can be held responsible if he conspired with the arresting officer to hold and not release the arrested person even after the lapse of the period provided under the law by delaying the filing of an Information.
Similarly, the prosecutor may be liable for neglect of duty when he fails to file the corresponding information within the period prescribed by law against the arrested person without warrant, in order to effect the delivery of detained persons to the proper judicial authorities, thereby, prevent his release by the arresting officer.
How one can commit a violation of Art. 126 of the Revised Penal Code (Delaying Release)?
When there is a delay for the period specified under Article 126 of RPC of the compliance or performance of any judicial or executive order for the release of a prisoner or detention prisoner, or unduly delays the service of the notice of such order to said prisoner or the proceedings upon any petition for the liberation of such person, the felony of delaying release under the said Article 126 of the RPC has been perpetrated.
This provision is applicable to prisoners who are convicted by final judgment or detention prisoners. Wardens and jailers are the public officers or employees who most likely will violate this law.
How will the felony of expulsion be committed?
Under the Revised Penal Code, the felony of expulsion is committed by a public officer or employee when the latter expels, while not being authorized by law to do so, any person from the Philippines or compels a person to change his or her abode or residence.
Only the competent court, as a consequence of a final judgment, shall have the power to order a person to change his residence or even remove him therefrom. This may be illustrated in cases such as but not limited to ejectment, expropriation proceedings, and in the service of the penalty of destierro.
What has been decided
The subject felony has been issue in the case of Villavicencio, et.al. vs. Lukban, et.al. were the Supreme Court rule that the Chief of Police of Manila and the Mayor at that time, being public officers, did not have the power and authority to force the prostitutes residing in that City to go to and live in Davao against their will, there being no law that authorizes them to do so. These women, despite their being in a sense, lepers of society, are nevertheless not chattels, but Philippine citizens, protected by the same constitutional guarantees as are other citizens.64
How does a public officer commit a Violation of Domicile?
Under the law, the felony of violation of domicile may committed by any public officer who, without being authorized by judicial order:65
1.) enters any dwelling against the will of the owner thereof;66
2.) searches papers or other effects found therein without the previous consent of such owner, or other effects found therein without the previous consent of such owner; or67
3.) surreptitiously enters it, and refuses to leave after being required to do so.68
In this felony, there are two qualifying circumstances, to wit:
2.) failure to return any papers or effects not constituting a crime.70
What has been decided
In the case of People vs Luis Sane, it will be noted that to constitute a violation of domicile, the entrance by the public officer or employee must be against the will of the owner of the dwelling, which presupposes opposition or prohibition by said owner, whether express or implied. If the entrance by the public officer or employee is only without the consent of the owner of the dwelling, the crime is not committed. Neither is the crime committed if the owner of the dwelling consented to such entrance.71
How does a public officer violate the provision of Article 129 of the Revised Penal Code?
The law provides that public officers may as well violate one’s domicile when the former has maliciously obtained search warrants or procured the same without just cause.
In Alvarez vs. CFI, the Supreme Court decreed that the true test of lack of just cause is whether the affidavit filed in support of the application for search warrant has been drawn in such manner that perjury could be charged thereon.72
“Section 1, paragraph 3, of Article III of the Constitution, relative to the bill of rights, provides that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, to be determined by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place top be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”73
“Section 97 of General Orders, No. 58 provides that “A search warrant shall not issue except for probable cause and upon application supported by oath particularly describing the place to be searched and the person or thing to be seized.”74
“It will be noted that both provisions require that there be not only probable cause before the issuance of a search warrant but that the search warrant must be based upon an application supported by oath of the applicant ands the witnesses he may produce.75
“In its broadest sense, an oath includes any form of attestation by which a party signifies that he is bound in conscience to perform an act faithfully and truthfully; and it is sometimes defined as an outward pledge given by the person taking it that his attestation or promise is made under an immediate sense of his responsibility to God (Bouvier’s Law Dictionary; State vs. Jackson, 137 N. W., 1034; In re Sage, 24 Oh. Cir. Ct. [N. S.], 7; Pumphery vs. State, 122 N. W., 19; Priest vs. State, 6 N. W., 468; State vs. Jones, 154 Pac., 378; Atwood vs. State, 111 So., 865).76
“The oath required must refer to the truth of the facts within the personal knowledge of the petitioner or his witnesses, because the purpose thereof is to convince the committing magistrate, not the individual making the affidavit and seeking the issuance of the warrant, of the existence of probable cause (U. S. vs. Tureaud, 20 Fed., 621; U. S. vs. Michalski, 265 Fed., 8349; U. S. vs. Pitotto, 267 Fed., 603; U. S. vs. Lai Chew, 298 Fed., 652).77
“The true test of sufficiency of an affidavit to warrant issuance of a search warrant is whether it has been drawn in such a manner that perjury could be charged thereon and affiant be held liable for damages caused (State vs. Roosevelt Country 20th Jud. Dis. Ct., 244 Pac., 280; State vs. Quartier, 236 Pac., 746).”78
Can a public officer or employee commit a complex crime under Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code when he maliciously procured a Search Warrant through Perjury?
While Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code may seem, on its face, in point and applicable, there are crimes which cannot be complexed. As you read Article 129 of the RPC you will note the phrase “In addition to the liability attaching to the offender for the commission of any other offense“.
This phrase in the aforesaid provision effectively withdraws it from the application of complex crime proper found in Article 48 of the RPC. Consequently, even if the perjury is a necessary means to violate Article 129 [RPC], still, the former crime will be treated as separate offense in view of the above phrase.
When search is proper, how should a public officer conduct a search in a particular domicile?
This clause means that the public officer in effecting the search is armed with a search warrant legally procured.
In conducting search in the domicile, papers, or other belongings of any person, the public officer, as a general rule, must make sure the presence of the owner, or any member of his family, or two witnesses residing in the same locality.
Failure to do so may subject him to liability under Article 130 of the RPC.
Distinguish Arts. 131, 132, and 133 of the Revised Penal Code
Article 131 is all about the prohibition, interruption, & dissolution of peaceful meetings. This felony punished the following acts:
- Prohibiting, interrupting or dissolving without legal ground the holding of a peaceful meeting;79
- Hindering any person from joining any lawful association or from attending any of its meetings; and80
- Prohibiting or hindering any person from addressing, either alone or together with others, any petition to the authorities for the correction of abuses or redress of grievances.81
To constitute this felony, the common elements are as follows:
- That the offender is a public officer; and
- That he performs any of the acts mentioned above.
While, Article 132 speaks of interruption of religious worship where the requisites to constitute this are:
- That the offender is a public officer or employee;82
- Those religious ceremonies or manifestations of any religion are about to take place or are going on; and83
- That the offender prevents or disturbs the same. It is qualified by violence or threats.84
On the other hand, Article 133 is offending religious feelings. To constitute this felony, the following requisites must be present, to wit:
- That the acts complained of were performed:85
|Particulars||Prohibition, interruption, and dissolution of peaceful meetings – Art. 131||Interruption of religious worship – Art. 132||Offending the religious feelings – Art. 133|
|Who can commit||Public officer or |
|Public officer or |
|As to subject of acts||Any peaceful meeting||Interruption of religious worship||Offending the religious feelings|
|Manner of commission||Prohibiting, interrupting or dissolving without legal ground the holding of a peaceful meeting||Committed with violence or threats||Acts notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful|
What shall have been decided
In People vs. Reyes, et. al, the Chief of Police had directed the speaker in a public meeting of the Iglesia ni Cristo, who was then attacking the Catholic and Aglipayan churches, to stop the latter’s speech. This Chief of Police, thereupon, fired two shots in the air which had caused the dispersal of the crowd, who scampered for their safety, and the meeting to a halt, is liable under Article 131.89
In one case, decided by the Supreme Court, a priest in a barrio chapel had been preparing to conduct his mass, and was ready to say the same. There were also the barrio folks who went there at the chapel to hear the said mass. However, the barrio lieutenant had made an actual threat on the life of the priest should the latter go on and persist in his intention to say the mass. As a result, the mass was not celebrated. The barrio lieutenant was held responsible for violating Art. 132 of the Revised Penal Code.90
In People vs. Baes,91 the High Court has made a pronouncement relative to the acts deemed to be notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful. If and when these so called acts are directed against religious practice or dogma or ritual for the purpose of ridicule, as mocking or scoffing at or attempting to damage an object of religious veneration, then they may be considered as notoriously offensive. Thus:
“In the second place, whether or of the act complained of is offensive to the religious feelings of the Catholics, is a question of fact which must be judged only according to the feelings of the Catholics and not those of other faithful ones, for it is possible that certain acts may offend the feelings of those who profess a certain religion, while not otherwise offensive to the feelings of those professing another faith.”92
The above felonies defined and penalized under the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines are denominated as crimes against the fundamental laws of the State since they violate and assail certain provisions of the Bill of Rights under the present Constitution.
Generally, violators, offenders, and perpetrators under this title are public officers or employees except under Article 133 of RPC, where the offender may be any person who may have offended the religious feelings; and when a private person conspires with a public officer or acts as accomplice or accessory in the commission of the crime.
- Article 124, RPC
- Article 125, RPC
- Article 126,RPC
- Article 127, RPC
- Article 128, RPC
- Article 129, RPC
- Article 130, RPC
- Article 131, RPC
- Article 132, RPC
- Article 133, RPC
- G. R. No. L-2128 May 12, 1948
- Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution
- Section 5[a], Rule 113 of the Rules of Court
- Section 5[b], Rule 113 of the Rules of Court
- Section 7, Rule 112 of the Rules of Court
- G. R. No. L-14639, March 25, 1919
- Article 128, RPC
- C. A., 40 O. G., Supp. 5, 113
- G.R. No. L-45358, January 29, 1937
- Article 131, RPC
- Article 132, RPC
- Article 132, RPC
- People vs. Reyes, et.al., C. A. – G. R. No. 13633-R, July 27, 1955
- People vs. Mejica, C. A. – G. R. No. 12980-R, December 29, 1955
- G.R. No. L-46000, May 25, 1939