Crimes Against Public Order In the Philippines | Assault & Disorder
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We shall discuss crimes against public order, specifically, Direct and Indirect Assaults, Public Disorders, and Evasion of Service of Sentence, which are defined and penalized under the Revised Penal Code.

Public order is broadly defined as the overall peace and tranquility of a place or community. However, public order in the Philippines covers a lot more than just peace and order. Among others, certain crimes threaten the safety and security of every citizen upon whom the country depends for its progress. The Philippines may have its share of problems and cases of criminality. Hence, it is not stopping, even if it is difficult, in curbing criminal elements. 

How do you define crimes against public order?

Crimes against public order are those that are considered to be disruptive to the normal function of government. They may usually involve illegal activities that affect other people or groups. However, these criminal acts may also be carried out in an effort to make a political statement or to create chaos among the general population.

Crimes against public order may include inciting a riot in a public area. Some of these crimes may be considered violent acts because they involve injury to someone else or damage to property. They tend to disrupt or disturb the peace of the general public or to offend the state itself.

What is an assault?

According to Black’s Law dictionary, assault is “any willful attempt or threat to inflict injury upon the person of another, when coupled with an apparent present ability to do so, and any intentional display of force such as would give the victim reason to fear or expect immediate bodily harm”.

Assaults may be ordinary or direct.  Crime against persons is said to be ordinary assault while crime against public order is considered a direct assault. Ordinary assault is also coined as physical assault as listed in the Department of Justice’s Crimes against persons.   It is described as the act of physically assaulting another without inflicting any physical injuries and if such act shall result in physical injury, the extent of injury caused shall be the basis in the determination of the imposable penalty.

Under the Revised Penal Code [RPC], assault is classified into direct and indirect assault, as amended by Republic Act [RA] No. 10951.  Quoting the specific provisions thereof:

Direct Assault:

Article 148. Direct assaults. – Any person or persons who, without a public uprising, shall employ force or intimidation for the attainment of any of the purpose enumerated in defining the crimes of rebellion and sedition, or shall attack, employ force, or seriously intimidate or resist any person in authority or any of his agents, while engaged in the performance of official duties, or on occasion of such performance, shall suffer the penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods and a fine not exceeding Two hundred thousand pesos (₱200,000),[1]Section 13, RA No. 10951 when the assault is committed with a weapon or when the offender is a public officer or employee, or when the offender lays hands upon a person in authority. If none of these circumstances be present, the penalty of prision correccional in its minimum period and a fine not exceeding One hundred thousand pesos (₱100,000)[2]Id. shall be imposed.”

Direct assault is penalized under the provisions of Art. 148 of the RPC.  It defines direct assault as an act of employing force or intimidation by any person or persons or resisting any person in authority or any of his agents while in the performance of official duties.

Indirect Assault:

Article 149. Indirect assaults. – The penalty of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods and a fine not exceeding One hundred thousand (₱100,000)[3]Section 14, RA No. 10951 shall be imposed upon any person who shall make use of force or intimidation upon any person coming to the aid of the authorities or their agents on occasion of the commission of any of the crimes defined in the next preceding article”[4]Article 149, RPC

What is Direct Assault?

By the term itself, direct assault arises when the action is done in its immediate, straightforward, unbroken, and firsthand manner. The use of force and/or intimidation must always be present. It can be done when the intent is to espouse any of the purposes of the crimes of rebellion and sedition or can be by an attack or serious defiance to a person in authority or any of his agents. Any of these acts should transpire in the absence of public uprising.

What are the two forms of Direct Assault?

  1. Without public uprising, by employing force or intimidation for the attainment of any of the purposes enumerated in defining the crimes of rebellion and sedition
  2. Without public uprising, by attacking, by employing force, or by seriously intimidating or seriously resisting any person in authority or any of his agents, while engaged in the performance of official duties, or on the occasion of such performance

The first form of direct assault contemplates that the intent of the perpetrator is to attain any of the objects of rebellion and sedition with the employment of force or intimidation, while there is no public uprising.

Take note that under this form, the offended party may be a private individual or person or any social class when the objective is to attain is for the purpose defined in the crime of sedition.

Illustration:

Armed chief of police along with four other policemen, took the municipal president from his residence by force and brought him to the municipal building where he was held in confinement for four hours, in demand for their unpaid salaries in arrears, and thereupon released him upon receipt of sufficient money.[5]U. S. vs. Dirain, G. R. No. 1948. May 5, 1905

There is direct assault given the facts, as there is no public uprising and the offenders employed force out of hate and revenge, an object of sedition which they aim to attain.[6]Ibid.

The second form of direct assault is one that is more commonly committed. It similarly employs force or serious intimidation or makes an attack or serious resistance against a person in authority or any of his agents while in the performance of his official duties or by reason thereof, without public uprising. The force employed need not be serious when the offended party is a person in authority.

Illustrations:

Dancio, a detention prisoner was able to smuggle in a pistol and used the same to disarm the guards and escape. There is a crime of direct assault for disarming the guards with the use of the pistol and employing force in so doing, while the guards were in the performance of their duties. There is no public uprising. (2015 Bar Question, Philippines)

Miss Reyes, a lady professor who caught her student Mariano cheating, confiscated his examination booklet and sent him out of the room. The next day in class, Mariano without any warning, attacked and slapped her on the face and intended to cause further injury, had it not been for Dencio, another student who intervened. Mariano diverted on to Dencio and punched him repeatedly, causing him injuries. Mariano faces two counts of direct assault for slapping Ms. Reyes, a person in authority while performing her duties and for inflicting injury against Dencio by giving him multiply punches, the latter being an agent of a person in authority for coming to the aid of Ms. Reyes. (2013 Bar Question, Philippines)

Elements of the forms of Direct Assault

ParticularsFirst FormSecond Form
As to OffenderThe offender employs force or intimidationThe offender
(a) makes an attack, (b) employs force,
(c) makes a serious intimidation, or
(d) makes a serious resistance
Offended PartyPerson assaulted may be a private individual or public officer who is not necessary a person in authority or an agent thereofThe person assaulted is a person in authority or his agent or private individual who comes to the aid of a person in authority
Manner and DegreeThere is no public uprisingThere is no public uprising

What is Indirect Assault?

Indirect assault is committed when any person shall make use of force or intimidation upon any person coming to the aid of the authorities or their agents on occasion of the commission of direct assault.

How is the crime of Indirect Assault committed?

In the event of a direct assault, the crime is committed against a person in authority or his agent. A third party may come to the rescue and give aid to authorities or agents of persons in authority, thereby making him subject as well to assault.

Impliedly, a crime of indirect assault is committed only when there is a commission of direct assault. When a third party renders aid to an agent of persons with authority, without necessarily being ordered to do so, he must be attacked by the offender; thus, he has become a victim of indirect assault.

Illustration:

A barangay tanod while in the duty of the usual ronda or night patrol on board a patrol tricycle roves around the area to ensure peace and safety within the barangay. He chanced upon a by-stander who spotted his presence and had an urge to steal the trike. He attacked the tanod and punched him causing a contusion in his forehead.  A pedestrian who witnessed the incident came to the rescue of the tanod but the offender turned his ire on him, kicked and punched him causing him to fall on the ground.

Direct assault is committed against the barangay tanod who was in the performance of his peacekeeping duties.  The offender is liable for indirect assault for kicking and punching the pedestrian who came to the rescue of the former.  Force was used by the offender against both the offended parties.

Distinguish Direct Assault from Indirect Assault 

To distinguish between the two, it is necessary to be able to identify the role of the offended party in the crime.  If the victim of the assault is a person in authority or his agent, there is a crime of direct assault.

When a third party comes to the aid of authorities or an agent of persons in authority and he himself becomes the subject of the assault by the offender, an indirect assault exists.  Use of force and intimidation must always be present under both.

ParticularsFirst Form of Direct AssaultSecond Form of Direct AssaultIndirect Assault
Acts of the OffenderThe offender employs force or intimidationThe offender
(a) makes an attack, (b) employs force,
(c) makes a serious intimidation, or
(d) makes a serious resistance
The offender makes use of force or intimidation upon such a person coming to the aid of the authority or his agent.
Offended PartyThe offended party may be private individual or person or any social class when the objective is to attain is for the purpose defined in the crime of seditionThe person assaulted is a person in authority or his agentA person who comes to the aid of such authority or his agent

Who are Persons in Authority? 

In the book of Justice Luis B. Reyes, a person in authority refers to “any person directly vested with jurisdiction, whether as an individual or as a member of some court or government corporation, board, or commission.  By “directly vested with jurisdiction” is meant “the power or authority to govern and execute the law.”

By virtue of Articles 148 and 152 of the Revised Penal Code, the position held by persons in authority accords to itself protection, respect and dignity that is expected to be regarded by other individuals.  This includes those who exercise their profession such as teachers and lawyers.

Who are Agents of Persons in Authority?

An agent of a person in authority is one who, by direct provision of law or by election or by appointment by competent authority, is charged with the maintenance of public order and the protection and security of life and property, such as a barrio councilman and barrio policeman and barangay leader, and any person who comes to the aid of persons in authority.[7]Article 152, RPC

A private individual who comes to aid of a person in authority who is under attack by direct assault and he himself is subjected to an attack by the offender and consequently sustains injury is levelled up to an agent of persons in authority.[8]Id.

Distinguish Persons in Authority from Agents of Persons in Authority

To distinguish between the two, it is important to understand the source of the said authority. A person in authority acquires the jurisdiction by the mere assumption of his position. The authority is vested inherently in the position.

As an example, a barangay captain enjoys jurisdiction over his constituents in the same way a teacher asserts her authority over her class.  An agent of authority on the other hand, assumes the position by provision of law, by election or by assignment by proper authority.

ParticularsPersons in AuthorityAgents of Persons in Authority
Authority Any person who is directly vested with jurisdictionAny person tasked to maintain peace and order or individuals vested with authority by direct provision of law or by election or by appointment by competent authority
DutyOfficial duties while in their actual performance Maintenance of public order and the protection and security of life and property
PersonsAn individual who has authority and jurisdiction or a member of some court or government corporation, board, or commissionAny person who is tasked to maintain peace and order or who comes to the aid of persons in authority
Time of AssaultWhile in the performance of official duty or on the occasion or by reason of his function While in the performance of official duty or on the occasion or by reason of his function
Example● Barangay captain
● Barangay chairman
● Division Superintendent of Schools
● President of Sanitary Division
● Teachers, professors, etc.
● Policeman
● Municipal treasurer
● Postmaster
● Rural policeman
● Sheriff
● Agents of the Bureau of Internal Revenue
● Malacanang confidential agent
● Barangay Chief Tanod

Can a private individual be a subject of direct assault?

A private individual can be a subject of direct assault under the following circumstances:

  1. Under the first form of direct assault, where the intention is for the attainment of the objects of sedition or rebellion.
  2. When a private individual becomes an agent of persons with authority by giving aid or coming to the rescue of a person in authority who is being directly assaulted and himself becomes attacked by the offender.

When can a private individual become an agent of person in authority?

A private individual may become an agent of person in authority when:

(1) gives aid to the rescue of a person in authority and as such,

(2) becomes the subject of the attack by the offender, as a consequence, and

(3) suffers injuries caused by the attack of the same offender, transcends to himself the identity of an agent of a person in authority.

Can an individual be liable for direct assault even if he does not assault a person in authority or agent of persons in authority?

As stated above, there are two forms of direct assault:

(1) by employing force or intimidation for the attainment of any of the purposes enumerated in defining the crimes of rebellion and sedition, and

(2) by attacking, employing force, or seriously intimidating or resisting any person in authority or any of his agents, while engaged in the performance of official duties, or on the occasion of such performance; it is of notable importance that there should not be a public uprising in both forms of direct assault.

The second form of direct assault expressly requires that the person assaulted is a person in authority or his agent, while the first form does not seem to require it. Thus, a private individual may also be the offended party in direct assault by the acts mentioned in the first form.

Consequently, an individual may be liable for direct assault even if he does not assault a person in authority or agent of persons in authority.

Relative to direct assault [first form] in relation to paragraph 4 of Article 139 of the Revised Penal Code, the offended party may be a private individual or any person who belongs to a social class as long as the aim of the offender is to employ force or intimidation to attain an object of sedition without public uprising.

Disobedience to Summons issued by the National Legislative Authorities 

This relates to the disobedience to summons issued by the national assembly, its committees or subcommittees, by the constitutional commissions, its committees, subcommittees or divisions.

The power of inquiry is a vital tool for a legislative body. Due to the inability of the legislative body to legislate wisely absent the information regarding the conditions which the legislations are intended to affect or change, the crime of disobedience to summons issued by the National Assembly, its committees or subcommittees, by the Constitutional Commissions, its committees, subcommittees or divisions seeks to resolve this difficulty.

Under Article 150 of the Revised Penal Code, such crime is committed by any person who:

  1. Refuses, without legal excuse, to obey summons of the National Assembly, its special or standing committees and subcommittees, the Constitutional commissions and its committees, subcommittees or divisions, or by any commission or committee chairman or member authorized to summon witnesses;
  2. Refuses to be sworn or placed under affirmation while being before such legislative or constitutional body or official;
  3. Refuses to answer any legal inquiry or to produce any books, papers, documents, or records in his possession, when required by them to do so in the exercise of their functions;
  4. Restrains another from attending as a witness in such legislative or constitutional body; or
  5. Induces disobedience to a summons or refusal to be sworn by any such body or official.

The following are the elements of the crime of Disobedience to summons issued by the National Assembly or Constitutional Commission:

  1. Any person who commits any of the acts mentioned under Article 150 of the Revised Penal Code;
  2. That the papers or documents must pertain only to those which may not be used in evidence against the owner thereof.

Resistance and Disobedience to A Person in Authority or The Agents of Such a Person

The crime of resistance and disobedience to a person in authority or his agents consists in a failure to comply with the orders that are directly issued by the authorities engaged in the exercise of their official duties, and it must be noted that the order must be lawful; otherwise, the resistance is justified.

The said crime is committed when a person in authority or his agent is in the performance of his duty or gives an order, and such order is resisted or disobeyed. The disobedience contemplated under this crime consists in the failure or refusal to obey a direct order.

Hence, a person cannot be said to have disobeyed an order when such order is not addressed to him. Furthermore, if the offender seriously resisted a person in authority or his agent, the crime committed is direct assault.

Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code states that:

“x x x . . . the penalty of arresto mayor and a fine not exceeding 100,000 pesos shall be imposed upon any person who not being included in the provisions of the preceding articles shall resist or seriously disobey any person in authority, or the agents of such person, while engaged in the performance of official duties.[9]Article 151, RPC

When the disobedience to an agent of a person in authority is not of a serious nature, the penalty of arresto menor or a fine ranging from 2,000 to 20,000 pesos shall be imposed upon the offender”.[10]Ibid.

Following from the above provision, the elements of resistance and serious disobedience to a person in authority or his agents are:

  1. That a person in authority or his agent is engaged in the performance of official duty or gives a lawful order to the offender
  2. That the offender resists or seriously disobeys such person in authority or his client
  3. That the act of the offender is not included in the provisions of Articles 148, 149, and 150

Distinction between Direct Assault, Indirect Assault, and Resistance and Disobedience

There are three main points of difference between direct assault, indirect assault, and resistance and disobedience, namely: (1) acts of the offended party, (2) commission of the crime, and (3) extent of the force used.

In direct assault, the person in authority or his agent must be engaged in the performance of official duties or that he is assaulted by reason thereof. Direct assault is committed by any of the following: (1) by attacking, (2) by employing force, (3) by seriously intimidating, and (4) by seriously resisting a person in authority or his agent, and the employment of force must be serious and deliberate.

In indirect assault, the person comes to the aid of an agent of a person in authority. The offender makes use of deliberate force or intimidation upon such a person.

The person in authority or his agent, in resistance and disobedience, must be in actual performance of his duties, and the crime is committed only by resisting or seriously disobeying a person in authority or his agent. The use of force is not so serious, as there is no manifest intention to defy the law and the officers enforcing it.

ParticularsDirect AssaultIndirect AssaultResistance and Disobedience
Acts of the offended partyPerson in authority or his agent must be engaged in the performance of official duties or that he is assaulted by reason thereofPerson comes to the aid of an agent of a person in authorityPerson in authority or his agent must be in actual performance of his duties
Commission of the crimeCommitted by any of the following:
(1) by attacking,
(2) by employing force,
(3) by seriously intimidating, and
(4) by seriously resisting a person in authority or his agent
Offender makes use of deliberate force or intimidationCommitted only by resisting or seriously disobeying a person in authority or his agent
Extent of the force usedThe employment of force must be serious and deliberateThe employment of force must be serious and deliberateThe use of force is not so serious, as there is no manifest intention to defy the law and the officers enforcing it

Can a private lawyer or teacher in a public school be the subject of direct assault?

In a crime of direct assault, the second form requires that the person assaulted is a person in authority or his agent. The Revised Penal Code provided the following definitions:

Article 152. Persons in authority and agents of person in authority – Who shall be deemed as such. – In applying the provisions of the preceding and other articles of this Code, any person directly vested with jurisdiction, whether as an individual or as a member of some court or governmental corporation, board or commission, shall be deemed a person in authority. A barrio captain and a barangay chairman shall also be deemed a person in authority.[11]Article 152, RPC

Any person who, by direct provision of law or by election or by appointment by competent authority, is charged with the maintenance of public order and the protection and security of life and property, such as barrio councilman, barrio policeman and barangay leader, and any person who comes to the aid of persons in authority, shall be deemed an agent of a person in authority.”[12]Id.

“In applying the provisions of Articles 148 and 151 of this Code, teachers, professors, and persons charged with the supervision of public or duly recognized private schools, colleges and universities, and lawyers in the actual performance of their professional duties or on the occasion of such performance shall be deemed persons in authority.”[13]Id.

Based on the third paragraph of Article 152, teachers and lawyers in the actual performance of their professional duties or on the occasion of such performance are deemed persons in authority in applying the provision of Article 148. Hence, they can be subjects of direct assault.

Tumults and Other Disturbance of Public Orders

The crime of tumults and other disturbances of public order creates a public disorder brought about by creating serious disturbances in public places, public buildings, and places where public functions are held, and is applicable if such act is not committed by public officers or if committed by public officers who are participants therein. Under Article 153 of the Revised Penal Code, it is committed by:

  1. Causing any serious disturbance in a public place, office, or establishment;
  2. Interrupting or disturbing performances, functions or gatherings, or peaceful meetings, if the act is not included in Articles 131 and 132;
  3. Making any outcry tending to incite rebellion or sedition in any meeting, association or public place;
  4. Displaying placards or emblems which provoke a disturbance of public disorder in such place; and
  5. Burying with pomp the body of a person who has been legally executed.

The disturbance is deemed to be tumultuous if it is caused by more than 3 persons who are armed or provided with means of violence, and the penalty next higher in degree shall be imposed upon persons causing such disturbance or interruption.

An example would be a riot. As defined in Black’s Law Dictionary, it is committed “when three or more persons together, and in a violent or tumultuous manner, assemble together to do an unlawful act, … to the disturbance of others”.

Unlawful Use of Means of Publication and Unlawful Utterances

The crime of unlawful use of means of publication and unlawful utterances contemplates even mere possibility to cause danger or damage brought by the publication of the false news which may cause public disorder or damage to the interest or credit of the State. Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code punishes the following acts as unlawful use of means of publication and unlawful utterances:

  1. Publishing or causing to be published, by means of printing, lithography or any other means of publication, as news any false news which may endanger the public order, or cause damage to the interest or credit of the State;
  2. Encouraging disobedience to the law or to the constituted authorities or by praising, justifying or extolling any act punished by law, by the same means or by words, utterances or speeches;
  3. Maliciously publishing or causing to be published any official resolution or document without proper authority, or before they have been published officially; or
  4. Printing, publishing or distributing books, pamphlets, periodicals, or leaflets which do not bear the real printer’s name, or which are classified as anonymous.

The following are the elements of the crime of Unlawful use of means of publication and unlawful utterances:

  1. Any person who commits any of the acts mentioned under Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code;
  2. That the offender must know that the news is false.

Felony of Alarm and Scandal

Alarm and Scandal, like the other crimes stated above, is a crime against public order. On a generic view, the crime is almost similar with the crime of tumultuous and other disturbances of public order (Article 153) when we speak about causing public disturbance or disrupting peace.

However, these crimes are not related and totally different from one another. The Revised Penal Code enumerated the acts that will consummate the said crime:

  1. Discharging any firearm, rocket, firecracker. or other explosives, within any town or public place, calculated to cause alarm or danger.
  2. Instigating or taking an active part in any charivari or other disorderly meeting offensive to another or prejudicial to public tranquility.
  3. Disturbing the public peace while wandering about at night or while engaged in any other nocturnal amusements, shall disturb the public peace; or
  4. Causing any disturbance or scandal in public places while intoxicated or otherwise, provided that the circumstances of the case shall not make the provisions of Article 153 applicable.

It should be noted that the discharge of a firearm should not be pointed at a person, otherwise it will be a crime under Article 254. Also, the act of firing a rocket or lighting a firecracker will be still punished under this crime even if it is made in the person’s yard.

However, the use of firecrackers or rockets during festive occasions will not be punished because the very essence of this provision is to punish acts that cause public disturbance. The place where it was done is not important. The law also punishes the act of charivari and other disorderly meetings in order to prevent a more serious disorder from arising.

So, what makes this crime different from the provisions of Article 153? If we analyze the acts being punished by this crime, we can deduce that all of them produce distress or disturbance in a less serious manner. We can recall that Article 153 explicitly covers “serious public disturbance” that was planned and intended. Likewise, the acts being punished under Alarm and Scandal are not tumultuous in nature.

Delivery of Prisoners from Jail

The crime of delivery of prisoners from jail is defined under Article 156 which provides that:

Article 156: The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period of prision correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed. upon any person who shall remove from any jail or penal establishment any person confined therein or shall help the escape of such person, by means of violence, intimidation, or bribery. If other means are used, the penalty of arresto mayor shall be imposed.”[14]Article 156, RPC

If we construe the said article, it can be committed if there is a person confined in a jail or any penal establishment, and the offender helps that person to escape. For us to better appreciate the crime, let us further discuss the characteristics of the person in jail, who can commit the crime, and how it is possibly committed.

The person confined can be a prisoner by final judgement or a detainee prisoner. The person can be detained in a jail or a hospital or asylum. Hospital or asylum is included because it is considered as an extension of penal institutions.

As to the offender, it can be any person as stated in the article. Most of the time, the person is an outsider, but it may also be an employee of the penal establishment, another prisoner, or a public officer. Take note that the public officer that can be penalized under Article 156 is the one who does not have custody over the prisoner. If the public officer who has custody of the prisoner helps the latter to escape, then it will be a crime under Infidelity of Public Officers.

Although expressly stated in the provision that the crime can be constituted by means of violence, intimidation, or bribery, it is not considered as a vital element of the crime. Violation, intimidation, or bribery are qualifying aggravating circumstances; in this case, that will make the penalty one degree higher.

The bribery mentioned in this article should not be confused with the act of accepting offers or bribery. Bribery in this case is the act of the offender to help the prisoner escape and not the acceptance of bribes as consideration for the accomplishment of the crime.

Evasion of Service of Sentence

In these next discussions, we will be talking about crimes related to evasion of service of sentence. Generally, if we speak about evasion of service, what comes to our mind is that a prisoner escaped from prison by means of breaking out; just like movies portray them. Or, when the sentence will be served, the offender will run furiously outside the courtroom while doing supernatural stunts. These may or may not be the exact scenario when we say evasion of service of sentence. The Revised Penal Code classified three kinds of crimes under evasion, namely:

  1. Evasion by escaping during the term of his sentence, Article 157;
  2. Evasion on the occasion of disorders, Article 158;
  3. Evasion by violating the conditions of conditional pardon, Article 159.

Article 157. Evasion of service of sentence. – The penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods shall be imposed upon any convict who shall evade service of his sentence by escaping during the term of his imprisonment by reason of final judgment. However, if such evasion or escape shall have taken place by means of unlawful entry, by breaking doors, windows, gates, walls, roofs, floors, or by using picklocks, false keys, disguise, deceit, violence or intimidation, or through connivance with other convicts or employees of the penal institution, the penalty shall be prision correccional in its maximum period.”

The provision clearly tells us that the first element of the crime is that the offender was imprisoned by reason of final judgement. If the accused escaped while the sentence of conviction was under appeal, he is not liable under Art. 157, the judgment not having become final, and this is true even if his appeal was later dismissed because he had escaped. To be liable under Art. 157, the sentence must be by reason of final judgement.

Detained prisoners are not covered by this provision for they are not sentenced with final judgement. They are detained for a fact that there is an on-going investigation of their case. The same shall apply to minor delinquents who are confined in a reformatory institution. They are not considered convicts because their sentence is suspended.

Our next element is that there should be an actual imprisonment. The scope of this crime was questioned for the use of the word imprisonment. However, it was then clarified that the Revised Penal Code was originally approved and enacted in Spanish, the Spanish text governs and that the word “imprisonment” used in the English text is a wrong or erroneous translation of the phrase “sufriendo privacion de libertad” used in the Spanish text.

The last element of the crime is that the offender must evade the service of his sentence by escaping during its service. In Black’s law dictionary, escape means “to flee from; to a void; to get out of the way, as to flee to avoid arrest.” Hence, the three prisoners loitering in the premises of the court house were not considered as escaping because there seems to be no intention to flee to avoid arrest.

Lastly, the sentence “however, if such evasion or escape shall have taken place by means of unlawful entry, by breaking doors, windows, gates, walls, roofs, floors, or by using picklocks, false keys, disguise, deceit, violence or intimidation, or through connivance with other convicts or employees of the penal institution” refers that the means enumerated above are all qualifying aggravating circumstances that will make the penalty one degree higher.

Evasion of Service of Sentence on the Occasion of Disorders, Conflagrations, Earthquakes, and other Calamities

Next in our discussion is the evasion of service of sentence on the occasion of disorders, conflagrations, earthquakes, and other calamities. In a plain view reading of the title of the article, we can, at the very least, presume that this crime is committed if the prisoner would escape the prison during a calamity.

Nevertheless, there is more than what meets the eye. The Revised Penal Code, under Article 158 states that the crime will be consummated if the prisoner shall fail to give himself up to the authorities within forty-eight hours following the issuance of a proclamation by the Chief Executive announcing the passing away of such calamity.

The first element of this crime is not directly stated in the provision and that is the offender must be a convict due to a final judgment, and is now being held in a penal institution. Nonetheless, this should be understood, at the very least, because only a convict of final judgement can escape the service of such.

The next two elements, on the other hand, are clearly spelled out. That there must be a disorder such as conflagration, earthquake, explosion, other similar calamities, and mutiny. Also, the offender evades the service of the sentence by escaping the penal institution during those mentioned disorders.

However, the last element is a bit controversial. That the crime will be consummated if the prisoner shall fail to give himself up to the authorities within forty-eight hours following the issuance of a proclamation by the Chief Executive announcing the passing away of such calamity.

Meaning, a mere escape does not automatically warrant a criminal offense. When the offender decides to return within the provided period in this provision, the law says that it is as if he or she did not commit the crime.

In fact, it is expressly stated in the last paragraph of the article that convicts who, under the circumstances mentioned in the preceding paragraph, shall give themselves up to the authorities within the above-mentioned period of 48 hours shall be entitled to the deduction provided in Article 98.

There are clamors for the reason that when the offender decides to turn him/herself, 1/5 will be deducted to the period of the sentence. How about those who stayed? They should be considered as more loyal than those who return.

Other Cases of Evasion of Service of Sentence

Last in our list for the crimes of evasion of service is by violating the conditions of conditional pardon. The Revised Penal Code defines the crime as:

Other cases of evasion of service of sentence. – The penalty of prision correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed upon the convict who, having been granted conditional pardon by the Chief Executive, shall violate any of the conditions of such pardon. However, if the penalty remitted by the granting of such pardon be higher than six years, the convict shall then suffer the unexpired portion of his original sentence.[15]Article 159, RPC

In Political Law, one of the powers of the President is that he can grant reprieves, commutations and pardons, and remit fines and forfeitures, after conviction by final judgement.  He shall also have the power to grant amnesty with the concurrence of the majority of both houses of the Congress.

In this case, the first element is that the offender was a convict, hence, there is a sentence of final judgement. Next, there is a conditional pardon granted by the President. The last element is that the offender violates such a condition stipulated by the President.

It should be noted that the conditional pardon is a contract between the President and the convict. Since it is a contract, the pardoned convict is bound to fulfil its conditions and accept all its consequences according to its strict terms.

For the crime under Article 159 to be consummated, the offender’s subsequent offense must be proven with final judgement. A mere charge is not enough to consider it as a crime.

Quasi-Recidivsm

The Revised Penal Code defines Quasi-Recidivism as:

Article 160. Commission of another crime during service of penalty imposed for another previous offense – Penalty. – Besides the provisions of rule 5 of article 62, any person who shall commit a felony after having been convicted by final judgment, before beginning to serve such sentence, or while serving the same, shall be punished by the maximum period of the penalty prescribed by law for the new felony.”[16]Article 160, RPC

Any convict of the class referred to in this article, who is not a habitual criminal, shall be pardoned at the age of seventy years if he shall have already served out his original sentence, or when he shall complete it after reaching the said age, unless by reason of his conduct or other circumstances he shall not be worthy of such clemency.

Take note that Quasi-Recidivism is a special aggravating circumstance; hence it cannot be offset by ordinary mitigating circumstances.

In the case of People vs. Perete,[17]G. R. No. L-15515, April 29, 1961 the accused-appellant was charged with murder while serving his sentence inside the New Bilibid prison. During the arraignment, the accused appellant pleaded guilty of the said crime. The trial court rendered its decision and ruled that the accused-appellant is guilty of Quasi-Recidivism for committing murder while serving his sentence. The trial court sentenced the accused-appellant death penalty.[18]Ibid.

The Supreme Court ruled that even viewing the case in the most favorable light, the death penalty cannot be avoided. The crime committed is murder qualified by treachery, with the aggravating circumstances of evident premeditation and quasi-recidivism (Art. 160, Revised Penal Code), all alleged in the information which the accused admitted by his plea. Conceding arguendo that not only plea of guilt but voluntary surrender as well are present, these cannot alter the penalty of death, since even without evident premeditation, quasi recidivism, as a special aggravating circumstance, raises the penalty to the maximum period of that prescribed by law for the new crime committed.[19]Ibid.

The crime of Quasi-Recidivism has two elements:

  • First is that the offender was already convicted with a final judgement.
  • Second, the offender, before serving such a sentence or during serving the same, committed another felony.

Take note that the provision clearly used the word “felony” in describing the act committed. Hence, only crimes punishable in the Revised Penal Code can be considered in the crime of Quasi-Recidivism. When the offender, who is either serving his or her sentence, or will serve the same, who committed an offense punishable under Special Penal Laws, will not be guilty of Quasi-Recidivism.

However, the first offense committed need not to be a felony. In the case of People vs. Peralta,[20]G. R. No. L-19069, October 29, 1968 even though one of the accused was serving a sentence for violating a Special Penal Law (illegal possession of a grenade), the Court ruled that all of them were guilty of the crime of Quasi-Recidivism.[21]Ibid.

In Quasi-Recidivism, the commission of a new felony should be done before serving such sentence or during serving the same. In Reiteracion, the subsequent crime should be done after the first sentence was served-out.

In the case of People vs. Layson,[22]G. R. No. L-25177, October 31, 1969 all of the accused-appellant were serving their sentence when the second crime of murder happened. The Court ruled that there was an error for the trial judge to consider against the accused the aggravating circumstance of having been previously punished for two or more crimes to which the law attaches lighter penalties because the said aggravating circumstance of “reiteracion” requires that the offender against whom it is considered shall have served out his sentences for the prior offenses.[23]Ibid.

In this case, all the accused were yet serving their respective sentences at the time of the commission of the murder.

Conclusion

In this article, we can conclude that the crimes discussed above aim to oppress and disrupt the peace, sanctity, and public order. It is important to note the differences between the crimes by properly identifying the elements present which is vital in distinguishing the crime committed.

Now for some takeaways for each of the enumerated crimes:

In the crime of Assault, whether direct or indirect, the employment of force and intimidation is the key point. In Resistance and Disobedience, the offender merely resists or seriously disobeys a person in authority or his agent.

In the crimes of Tumults and other disturbances of public order, and Alarms and Scandals, the main distinction is the graveness of the disturbance.

Lastly, in crimes of Evasion of Service and Evasion of Service on the occasion of disorder, conflagrations, earthquakes, or other calamities, it is to be noted that there should be a final judgement. There can be no evasion if there is no final judgement served to the convict. Hence, a detained prisoner or those in correctional facilities cannot commit these crimes.

Quasi-recidivism should not be interchanged with recidivism (Art. 14, par. 9) and reiteracion (Art. 14, par. 10). To sum it briefly, quasi-recidivism is when a person committed a felony after having been convicted by final judgment before beginning to serve such sentence, or while serving the same.

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