Press Release
July 28, 2011

Enrile lauds ongoing review of Revised Penal Code

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile today commended the Department of Justice for initiating the review and revision of the Revised Penal Code through the creation of the Criminal Code Committee tasked with coming up with an organic, modern and truly Filipino criminal code.

Calling the review a "welcome development in our criminal legal system", Enrile said he had often wondered why the Department of Justice, which is in charge of the enforcement of criminal laws and prosecution, had not proposed substantial changes in the criminal code even earlier, considering that it is the agency which is on a daily basis exposed to the deficiencies of our criminal legal system.

Enrile noted that the Revised Penal Code, which supplanted the Spanish Penal Code, "is fast becoming a legal relic."

Even during the time when he was the Secretary of Justice, Enrile said, he took the initiative of proposing to Congress changes in the laws that he felt were already anachronistic, adding that it is almost 80 years since the Revised Penal Code as amended took effect.

The Senate President observed that with unprecedented changes in the global economic, political and social landscapes in the 21st century, "the same sophisticated technology also aids the erring members of our society in committing almost perfect, if not perfect, crimes which sabotage the development of our economy and pose threats to our people's safety and security."

Enrile suggested that the Criminal Code Committee take into consideration these various technological developments as they tackle the two main aspects of the code: the crimes and its penalties.

"There are malevolent acts committed by people that were not foreseeable or even possible when our first penal code was enacted," Enrile said.

Enrile said there are now circumstances "where there was an act committed, more than a misdemeanor, and in all aspects wrong, but is not defined as punishable under our laws, or if punishable, only a component act is considered a crime and therefore has a penalty so light it does not recompense to the gravity of the damage caused."

Enrile said the Senate welcomes the "collective wisdom of the members of the Committee if it shall decide to create a new 'crime' in such instances, or if an old crime shall only be 'upgraded' in its definition."

Enrile pointed out that "heavy penalties are good deterrents. In one Senate public hearing, I even asked if the Department of Justice is satisfied with the levels of penalties we have right now given the incidence of criminality in our country." Enrile explained that while "people may think that they can easily get away with the crimes they committed under our laws because the penalties are light as against the weight of the crime", the constitutional rights of the accused must also be considered.

"I urge the Committee to review our penal sanctions, both the imprisonment and fine or monetary compensation aspect, in the light of our constantly changing environment," Enrile said.

Enrile said that he was impressed with the members of the Criminal Code Committee coming from different government agencies who were chosen for their competence and wealth of experience.

The Senate President expressed confidence that the committee would be able to determine what changes must be done and what reforms must be undertaken as far as the enforcement of laws is concerned.

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