The use of minors and motor vehicles in the commission of crimes is a concerning issue. Criminals sometimes exploit the vulnerability and naivety of minors, coercing or involving them in illegal activities such as theft, drug trafficking, or gang-related crimes.
Motor vehicles offer criminals a means to quickly carry out their unlawful actions and escape from the scene. This combination poses significant risks to both the minors involved and the general public.
To address this problem, law enforcement agencies and society as a whole must prioritize the protection and education of minors while implementing stricter measures to deter criminals from exploiting them in such activities.
Juan, a neophyte robber wanting to become the best robber in the whole world, planned to rob the house of Manuel, because the former knows that inside the house of the latter are: jewelries, gadgets, and money that are worth P1,000,000.
He knows he cannot enter the house by himself, so in order for this “great big heist” to happen, he sought the aid of his friend Juanito, a young blood that will always follow Juan through thick-in-thin despite his tender age, being only 12 years of age.
Everything was set. The plan where Juanito will scale the fence to open the gates. The motor vehicle—Mio 125 of Juan—to be used as a means to go to the place and escape and they even call this heist as “Operation PAYAMAN.”
The day of the heist has come. They went to the house and everything was going as planned—even thinking that it was so easy—but not every plan is foolproof. Manuel has always thought that this day would come. Although both Juan and Juanito able to escape the house of Manuel with Juan’s trusty Mio 125, they were caught by the police. Poor Juan, his dream of becoming the best robber is short-lived. What is the relevance of the story? The spirit and application of Art. 14 par. 20.
What is Article 14, Paragraph 20 of the Revised Penal Code?
Under the Revised Penal Code, that the crime be committed with the aid of persons under fifteen years of age, or by means of motor vehicle, motorized watercraft, airships, or other similar means.1
Use of Minors and Motor Vehicle in the Commission of Crimes
(1) aid of persons under fifteen years of age;
(2) or by means of motor vehicle, motorized watercraft, airships, or other similar means.
- Under fifteen years of age – this provision is clear on the age of the person. He or she is being used to facilitate the commission of an unlawful act. The purpose of this is to put an end to the practice of exploiting minors by criminal elements when they commit crimes.
Young people are taken advantage of because they lack the maturity to understand the consequences of their actions. The youthful and perhaps naive Juanito serves as a “great tool” for Juan to carry out the crime he has planned.
- By means of motor vehicle, motorized watercraft, airships, or other similar means – this second aggravating circumstance highlights the fact that a motor vehicle was employed to perpetrate the offense. Criminals has been using vehicles for this purpose, allowing them to commit crimes and go away unscathed.
Juan and Juanito drove to the scene in Juan’s motorcycle, the Mio 125, with the intention of committing the crime and then fleeing in the same vehicle.
It should be noted, however, that if the motor vehicle was not utilized to accomplish their criminal act, or if there was no reason to exploit it in the first place, and it was simply accidental on their part to use it as a means of escape, it cannot be considered aggravating.
Similarly, assuming Juan and Juanito saw Manuel’s CBR1000RR (motorcycle) and they used it instead as means to escape, it cannot be appreciated as aggravating.
- Other similar means – the provision is clear that the commission of the crime should be by means of motor vehicle. The clause “other similar means” pertains to motorized vehicles or other efficient means of transportation similar to automobile or airplane.3
If they used Juanito’s BMX bike rather than Juan’s Mio 125 in the commission of the crime as well as a probable means of escape, it would not constitute as an aggravating circumstance, as well.
The basis of this aggravating circumstances has reference to means and ways employed to commit the crime.4 It is obvious that the purpose why the State recognizes this as an aggravating circumstance is that the criminal’s ability to use minors in the commission of a crime, as well as the use of motor vehicles that provide ease of transportation from one location to another to fulfill the crime, is undeniably favoring the criminal’s sinister intention.
It should be emphasized that this provision includes two (2) distinct aggravating circumstances. Furthermore, based on its specific provision, it should be a part of the commission of the crime, not only an incidental aspect thereof. If a vehicle is not motorized in any form, its use cannot be considered to aggravate a felony.
In the case of People vs. Pickrell:
The felony of frustrated homicide committed by the appellants was aggravated by the use of a motor vehicle, because the appellants used a taxi in transporting the victim to San Isidro, Parañaque, where the latter was abandoned after serious physical injuries were inflicted on him. However, the said aggravating circumstance was not alleged in the Information, as mandated by Section 8, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. Although the crime was committed before the said rules took effect on December 1, 2000, the same should be applied retroactively, as the same is favorable to the appellants.5
In this case, the Court recognized that the use of taxi, a motor vehicle, in the commission of the crime, constitutes an aggravating circumstance. Nevertheless, since such fact was not alleged in the information, pursuant to the provision in Criminal Procedure, it was not appreciated against the accused.
In the case of People vs. Espejo:
The information recites that the crime was committed with several aggravating circumstances, one of which was “use of motor vehicle.” Since a plea of guilty admits all the material averments in the information including the aggravating circumstances alleged therein the appellants cannot now question the actuation of the trial court in appreciating “use of motor vehicle” as an aggravating circumstance. Besides, it has been established during the trial that the accused used the motor vehicle in going to the place of the crime in carrying away the effects thereof, and in facilitating their escape.6
The accused argued that the trial court erred in considering the aggravating circumstance of “use of motor vehicle” because it was not alleged as a means to commit the crime in the criminal information.
However, the Court disagreed, finding that, contrary to the belief of the accused, it was established in the information that they had used the vehicle to travel to the scene of the crime, transport the stolen property, and facilitate their escape.
Lastly, in the case of People vs. Muñoz:
Use of motor vehicle cannot be appreciated as an aggravating circumstance where its use was only incidental to the killing.7
Since the use of the police patrol jeep by the appellants Muoz and Millora to search for the victim Ricardo Depacina and transport his body to Calasiao, Pangasinan was only incidental, the Court did not view this as an aggravating element. Depacina’s murder did not involve the planned use of a police patrol jeep.
When a person under fifteen years of age is involved, or when a motor vehicle, motorized watercraft, airship, or other comparable means is used, the severity of the offense is increased. Resort to bicycle would not qualify as an aggravating circumstance. The law makes it clear that there must be some sort of motorized vehicle or comparable means employed in order for this provision to apply.
The use of such tactics and methods facilitates the perpetration of crimes. Consequently, the State considers it aggravating when a perpetrator takes advantage of a minor (under 15 years old) to accomplish his unlawful act. Finally, the use of a motor vehicle, as an aggravating factor, requires that the accused has deliberate intent to utilize the same, rather than a mere coincidence.
In the end, it is important to know that the State punishes people who break the law, but it is a different thing to use means that will help them do it. Thus, when minors and/or motor vehicles were utilized to perpetrate crimes, and the same is alleged and proven, it makes the crime worse.
The State cannot turn a blind eye to individuals who take advantage of young people’s innocence or naiveté. After all, younger generation is the future of our country. The same goes for the use of motor vehicles, which were made to make people’s lives easier, but were then exploited for illegal purposes.
Therefore, if someone is found guilty by the Court using the ways and means mentioned above, such aggravating circumstances should be appreciated against the perpetrator.
- Art. 14, Paragraph 20 of the Revised Penal Code
- Page 462. Revised Penal Code: Criminal Law: Book 1, by Luis B. Reyes.
- Page. 465. Ibid.
- Page 462. Ibid.
- People vs. Pickrell, 414 SCRA 19, G.R. No. 120409 October 23, 2003
- People vs. Espejo, 36 SCRA 400, G.R. No. L-27708 December 19, 1970
- People vs. Muñoz, 107 SCRA 313, G.R. No. L-38016 September 10, 1981