Friday, August 30, 2013

Revising the Penal Code of the Philippines

The existing Penal Code is almost a century old legislative source and reference materials on the matter of misdeeds and punishments. It is neither pass√© if not practically irrelevant. The times have changed much, the Filipino culture is new and the consequent people’s value system has changed. There are now truly heinous crimes that deserve much bigger penalties. There are thus despicable criminals, abominable hoodlums, odious goons who merit heavier punishments. There are even youngsters who are already engaged in adult villainous acts. Conclusion: The Penal Code of the Philippines must be updated and should thus conform to the hideous and grim “Signs of the Times.”

In fact, it should be called or known instead as the “Philippine Code of Crimes” – a simplified and responsive, a clear and updated collection of laws in line with the said desire of the Chief Executive to have a re-codification of penal legislations as required by the modern Philippine society – such as in terms of the kinds of crimes committed and the age of the criminals themselves. There should be a well-updated parity between the crimes now being committed and the punishments imposed on the criminals as demanded by justice.

It may not be said that the legislators behind the option are either ill-willed and/or ignorant of what they intend to do. The truth is that considering the different and horrible crimes committed these times and the kind of criminals behind them, there is more than enough reason to revise and update the Penal Code of the country for the imposition of due punishments upon “modern” criminal agents. What must be considered as downright crimes, who would be held as downright criminals, how these must be punished and other matters – all these should be defined by the envisioned “Code of Crimes” of the Philippines.

But all the good will and intention of the Legislative Department notwithstanding, there is something else that appears more relevant, urgent, and imperative for the country today. No matter how great a “Philippine Code of Crimes” there be, this would be a lamentable futility unless the Judicial Department wakes up in order to work out a reasonable and wherefore acceptable time frame in the administration of justice. The maxim “Justice delayed is justice denied,” is a good reminder less there emerge social discord and disorder. In other words, would the Legislature also want to have a good look at the criminal justice system in the Philippines such as precisely in terms of penal procedures vis-√†-vis the reasonable and acceptable time frame in hearing criminal cases and punishing criminals.

It is not a secret but a rather well-known fact that the monstrous criminals behind heinous crimes grow old yet remain unpunished. This is especially true with criminals who are in command of wealth and influence. More often than not, they are allowed to be but under hospital or house arrest. And when placed behind bars, they are treated as privileged prisoners – to the extent of being allowed to go in and out of prison to visit friends and/or to go to casino. Sad but true!