You are on page 1of 4


Criminal Law- is that branch of law which defines crimes, treats of their nature and provides for their punishment. (12 CYC 129 &
Lacson vs. Executive Secretary, 102 SCAD, l999). It is a branch of public law because it treats of acts or omissions of the citizens
which are deemed primarily as wrongs against the State more than against the offended party.

Different branches of laws: Political Law, Mercantile Law, Commercial Law, Constitutional Law, Civil Law & others.

Crimes: Theft – (Article 308)-committed by any person who, with intent of gain but without violence against, or intimidation of
persons nor force upon things, shall take the personal property of another without the latter’s consent. Rape (Article 266-A ( as
amended by RA 8353) – is committed by a man who shall have carnal knowledge with a woman : through force, threat or
intimidation, x x x . Punishment – Theft – depends on the amount of the thing stolen – ex. Amt. is over 200 pesos but does not exceed
6,000 – penalty is Prision Correccional in its minimum and medium periods ( 6 mos. and 1 day to 4 yrs.& 2 mos. Penalty for Rape –
committed with the use of deadly weapon or by two or more persons, the penalty is Reclusion Perpetua to Death.

What is crime – (Book of Reyes ) – is an act committed or omitted in violation of a public law forbidding or commanding it. Crime –
is the commission or omission by a person having capacity, of any act, which is either prohibited or compelled by law and the
commission or omission of which is punishable by a proceeding brought in the name of the govt. whose law has been violated.
(Wharton’s Crim. Law)

Crime punished by the Revised Penal Code is called FELONY.

Crime punished by special laws is known as OFFENSE.
Crime punished by an Ordinance is known as INFRACTION.

Power to define and punish an act as a crime- Only the State, through the Legislative Department where the legislative power is
vested. Exception; Chief Executive through an Executive Order may perform this prerogative in the exercise of emergency power.
This is provided under the l987 Constitution.

Sources of Criminal Laws:

1) Revised Penal Code – Act 3815 as amended (January 1, l932);
2) Special Penal laws passed by the Philippine Commission, Philippine Assembly, Congress of the Philippines, and the Batasang
3) Presidential Decrees.

Characteristics of Criminal law:

A) Generality – That the law is binding upon all persons, who reside or sojourn in the Philippines, irrespective of age, sex, color or
personal circumstances.

1) Provided by Public International Law – Art. 14 Civil Code & Schneckenburger vs. Moran – 63 Phil. 250) – Sovereigns, heads of
states, ambassadors, ministers plenipotentiary, Ministers- resident, charges d’affairs and attaches. As regards consuls and vice-consuls,
their exemption will depend upon a treaty stipulation, except an Honorary Consul.

2) Treaty Stipulations; (Ex. PI & US Military Bases Agreement & Visiting Forces Agreement)
RA 75 – extends immunity to the domestic servants of duly accredited ambassadors, if registered in the DFA, if in the country of the
ambassadors, also provided similar protections to duly accredited ambassadors of the Phils.

Does immunity from suit of officers of international bodies include that of defamation? – (Liang vs. People-ll9 SCAD- January
2000)- Petitioner is an economist working with ADB. For allegedly uttering a defamatory words against his fellow ADB worker, he
was charged before the MeTC w/ 2 counts of Grave Oral Defamation. The judge received an “offer of protocol” from the DFA stating
that Liang is covered by immunity from legal process under

Sec. 45 of the Agreement between the ADB and the Phils. Based on said protocol, the judge without notice to the prosecution
dismissed the case.
First – courts cannot blindly adhere and take on its face the communication from the DFA that petitioner is covered by any
immunity. The DFA’s determination that a certain person is covered by immunity is only preliminary which has no binding effects in
courts. In receiving
Ex-parte the DFA’s advice and in motu propio dismissing the cases w/o notice to the prosecution, the latter’s right to due process was
violated. It should be noted that due process is a right of the accused as much as it is of the prosecution. Mere invocation of the
immunity clause does not ipso facto result in dropping the charges
Second – Under Sec. 45 of the Agreement, the immunity therein is not absolute but subject to the exception that the act was done in
“official capacity”. Thus the prosecution should have been given the chance to rebut the DFA protocol and it must be accorded the
opportunity to present its controverting evidence, should it desires.
Third – slandering a person could not possibly be covered by the immunity agreement, because our laws do not allow the commission
of a crime, such as defamation, in the name of official duty. This is ultra vires and cannot be part of official functions. It is a settled
principle that a public official may be liable in his personal capacity for whatever damage he may have caused by his act done with
malice and in bad faith beyond the scope of his authority or jurisdiction.
Fourth – Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, a diplomatic agent enjoys immunity from criminal prosecution of
the receiving state except in the case of an action relating to any professional or commercial activity outside of his official functions.
As mentioned, the commission of the crime of defamation is not part of his official duty.

3) Laws of Preferential Applications- Constitution- Ex. Members of Congress are not liable for Libel or Slander in connection with
any speech delivered on the floor of the house during a regular or special session ( Art. IV, Sec. 11, l987 Constitution)

B) Territoriality – Article 2, RPC – provs. of the RPC shall be enforced within the Philippine Archipelago, including its atmosphere,
interior waters and maritime zone( before it was 3 miles from the outermost coastline. But now, under the Archipelagic Doctrine
adopted in the new Phil. Const. and the Conference of the Law on the Sea, this distance is now 12 Nautical Miles from the baselines.
Beyond the maritime zone, is the high seas, which are beyond our territorial jurisdiction. The national territory comprises the
Philippine Archipelago with all the islands and waters embraced therein, and all other territories over which the Phils. has sovereignty
or jurisdiction, consisting of its terrestrial, fluvial and aerial domains, including its territorial sea, seabed, subsoil insular shelves and
submarine areas. The waters Around, Between, and Connecting the islands of the archipelago regardless of their Breadth and
Dimensions, form part of the internal waters of the Philippines (Archipelagic Doctrine- Art. 1, l987 Constitution).

Our criminal law has also an Extra-Territoriality chars. – Article 2, RPC:

1) Should commit an offense while on a Philippine ship or airship- this must be duly registered under the Phil. Laws and considered an
extension of the Phil. National Territory, But if said Phil. Vessel or aircraft is within the territory of a foreign country when the crime
is committed, the laws of that country will apply. But if the accused in a registered Philippine vessel committed homicide on board
said vessel while in the territorial waters of a foreign country, like Vietnam, was not prosecuted before the Vietnam Court, he could be
tried before our Court, following the provs. of Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedures (Pp. vs. Togoto- CA- 68 Off
Gaz. 8317)

If the Phil. Ship is not registered and a crime is committed in the high seas, our rules will not apply as said law clearly provides that
only duly registered vessel is covered (Pp. vs. Julmain – May 30, l959). Under the New Rules on Criminal Procedures – (Jan. 1,
l985), the phrase “registered or licensed” under the Phil. Laws are deleted & substituted with “subject to the generally accepted
principles of international law”. Philippine warship, whatever it is, is an extension of the Philippines and its sovereignty. If the foreign
vessel is also a warship, our courts have no jurisdiction as such is an extension of the country to which these vessels belong ( US. vs.
Fowler – 1 Phil. 614)

On foreign merchant vessels, there are two rules that are followed:
1) FRENCH RULE – that crimes committed on board a foreign merchant vessel while on the waters of another country are not triable
in that country unless those affecting the peace and security of that country or the safety of that state is endangered.
2) ENGLISH RULE – that such crimes are triable in that country unless such crimes affect merely the internal management of the
vessel. This is also known as the Anglo-American Rule. This is the rule that we followed in our jurisdiction – (US vs. Bull- 15 Phil. 7).
This includes continuing crime committed on board a foreign vessel sailing from a foreign port and which enters Philippine waters is
triable in our courts.
U.S. vs. Look Chow - 18 Phil 573- mere possession of opium on board a foreign vessel in transit in Philippine waters as such does not
involve a breach of public order unless the opium is landed in our Philippine soil.
U.S. vs. Wong Cheng- 46 Phil 729 – this already involves breach of public order because the accused smoked opium while inside the
vesel. This already causes such drugs to produce its pernicious effects within our country.

2) Should forge or counterfeit any coin or currency note of the Philippine Islands or obligations and securities issued by the Govt. of
the Philippine Islands.- reason behind is to maintain and preserve the financial credit and stability of the State.
Ex. of obligation- sweepstakes ticket & lotto.

3) Should be liable for acts connected with the introduction into these islands of the obligations and securities mentioned in the
preceding number.

4) While being a public officers or employees, should commit an offense in the exercise of their functions. Ex. Bribery, Malversation.

Article 203 RPC- Who are public officers- Any person, who, by direct provision of the law, popular election, or appointment by
competent authority, shall take part in the performance of public functions in the Govt. of the Philippine Islands or shall perform in
said Govt. or in any of its branches, public duties as an employee, agent or subordinate official or any rank or class.

5) Should commit any of the crimes against National Security and the Laws of Nations. – Ex. Piracy and Mutiny – Laws of Nations.
Treason and Espionage – Crimes against National Security.
Piracy – shall be committed by any person, who on the high seas or Philippine waters, shall attack or seize a vessel, or not being a
member of its complement nor a passenger, shall seize the whole or part of the cargo of said vessel, its equipment, or personnel
belonging to its complement or passengers.
Mutiny is the unlawful resistance to a superior officer, as the raising of commotions and disturbance on board a ship against the
authority of the commander.
Treason – is committed by any Filipino citizen who levies war against the Phils. or adheres to her enemies, by giving them aid or
comfort within the Phils. or elsewhere.

Espionage: - is committed by any person:

1) who without authority, enters a warship, fort, or naval or military estab., or reservations to obtain any info., plans, photographs or
other data of a confidential nature relative to the defense of the Phil. Archipelago;
2) being in possession, by reason of the public office he holds, of the articles, data or info, discloses their contents to a rep. of a
foreign nation.

C) Prospectivity or Irretrospectivity- means that generally penal laws should have only prospective application (Arts. 21 & 22-RPC).

Exception – if this is favorable to the accused ( has retroactive effect).

Exception to the exception – if the accused is a habitual delinquent.

Ex. Re-imposition of Death penalty under RA 7659, which took effect on December 31, l993. This cannot be given a retroactive effect
on the accused who committed a crime on September 23, l987 ( Pp. vs. Bracamonte- 257 SCRA ).

Reason behind this provision – Lex prospicit, non respicit (the law looks forward not backward). The rationale against retroactivity is
that a law usually derides rights which may have already become vested or impairs the obligation of contract and hence is

Example of a law which can be given a retroactive effect – Pres. Decree No. l866 ( which took effect on April 4, l973) penalizes
Illegal Possession of Firearms for Reclusion Temporal Maximum to Reclusion Perpetua ( 17 years, 8 months and 1 day to Reclusion
Perpetua). This was amended by RA 8294( which took effect on June 6,l997) - wherein the penalty for illegal poss. of firearms is now
based on the caliber of the FA – if low caliber – Prision Correccional in its Max. Period ( 4 years, 2 months and 1 day to 6 years); if
high powered – penalty is Prision Mayor in its Minimum Period- 6 years and 1 day to 8 years.

Example of the exception to the exception – no retroactivity because the accused is habitual delinquent – if within ten years from the
date of his release or last conviction of the crime of Serious or Less Serious Physical Injuries, Robbery, Theft, Estafa or Falsification,
he is found guilty of any of said crimes a third time or oftener (Multi-recidivist) .

Does the prospectivity rule only cover laws passed by Congress? – No. The prospectivity rule applies also to penal circulars. For
instance, DOJ Circular no. 12 issued on August 8, l984 declared that all checks including guarantee checks are covered by BP. Blg. 22.
The court ruled that this Circular cannot be applied retroactively because petitioners cannot be faulted for relying on the earlier
pronouncement of the Secretary of Justice that guarantee checks issued prior thereto are not covered by said Circular. The decision
further states that the principle of prospectivity of statutes, original or amendatory has been applied to administrative rulings and
circulars, and to judicial decisions which although in themselves are not laws, are evidence of what the laws mean, this being the
reason why under Article 8 of the New Civil Code, judicial decisions applying the laws or the Constitution shall form part of the legal
system ( Co vs. Court of Appeals- 45 SCAD – October l993). Same application on the court’s interpretation upon a written law – the
interpretation of the court on a written law has the force of law. When a doctrine of the court is overruled and a different view is
adopted, the new doctrine should be applied prospectively and should not apply to parties who relied on the old doctrine on the faith
thereof. This is especially true in the construction and application of criminal laws, where it is necessary that the punishability of an
act be reasonably foreseen for the guidance of society ( Co vs. CA- Ibid).

Effect of the repeal of penal laws on the accused:

The effect depends upon the nature of the repeal of the penal laws:
a) In absolute or total repeal or express repeal, the act or omission is decriminalized so that if a case is pending, it shall be
dismissed whether the accused is a habitual delinquent or not because there is no more crime for which he should be tried. If he was
already convicted and /or serving sentence, he shall be released if he is not a habitual delinquent or unless the law provides that
detention is to continue.
b) In partial or relative repeal or implied repeal or repeal by re-enactment, the first law will govern if the accused is a habitual
delinquent or if the favorable second law prohibits retroactivity. While the second law will govern if favorable to the offender who is
not a habitual delinquent or the law is silent as to its retroactivity. Ex. Pp. vs. Velasco – 67 SCAD or 252 SCRA – the beneficent
provisions of RA 7659 can be applied retroactively to judgments which have become final and executory prior to December 31, l993
and even to those who are already serving sentences.
Rules of construction of penal laws:
1) A penal law is liberally construed in favor of the accused – (Pp. vs. Terrado – l25 SCRA 648 & Corpuz vs. People – February
l991)- Presumption of innocence.

2) In case there is ambiguity of the law – the original text in which a penal law is approved will govern in case of a conflict with the
official translation. Hence, the RPC which was approved in its Spanish text is controlling over its English translation- (Pp. vs. Manaba
– 58 Phil. 665).

Different philosophies underlying the criminal law system: (4 schools of thought):

1) Classical or juristic theory –
a) Basis of criminal liability is human free will. Man has the capacity to choose between right and wrong, good and evil. Hence, when
he does or omits an act, he does so willingly and voluntarily with full knowledge of the effects and consequences thereof. The purpose
of the penalty is “retribution”. In view of the voluntariness of the act or omission, the offender should be given the penalty that he
deserved. As to the penalty, the same should be mechanically determined in direct proportion to the crime committed. The emphasis
of the law is on the offense and not on the offender. Man therefore should be adjudged or held accountable for wrongful acts so long
as free will appears unimpaired ( Pp. vs. Genosa – l34 SCAD – September, 2000).

2) Positivist or Realistic Theory– Basis of criminal liability is that man is inherently good but the offender is socially sick. He is a
product, not only of biological factors, but also of his environment. His thoughts and actions are influenced by his upbringing, social
environment and associations. The purpose of the penalty is reformation. Since the offender is a product of his environment, then the
penalty should be corrective or curative to reform him. (Thus jails are called reformatories). The penalty is arrived at after an
examination of the offender. The penalty should be suited to the individual offender precisely because the purpose is to reform him.
The emphasis of the law is on the offender and not on the offense.

3) Ecclectic (or mixed ) Philosophy – This combines the good features of both the classical and positivist theories. Ideally, the
classical theory should be applied to grievous crimes, whereas the positivist is made to apply to economic & social crimes.

4) Utilitarian Theory – This espouse the idea that the primary function of punishment in criminal law is to protect society from
potential and actual wrongdoers. The retributive aspect of penal laws should be directed against them. “Thus it behooves upon our
courts of law that in applying the punishment imposed upon the accused, the objective of retribution of a wronged society should be
directed against the actual and potential wrongdoers.

Magno vs. CA – June l992 – Magno issued four checks to collateralize an accommodation” but not for “an account or for value”. The
SC ruled that Magno should not be punished for the mere of the checks in question.

Constitutional limitations on the right to enact penal laws: (Article III-Bill of Rights- of the l987 Constitution:
a) No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal
protection of the laws (Article 1)

b) No torture, force, violence, threat, intimidation, or any other means which vitiate the free will shall be used against him (Sec. 12-2)

c) No law, therefore, must be passed imposing cruel and unusual punishment or excessive fines.

d) No ex-post facto law or bill of attainder shall be enacted – Sec. 22.

Article 3 – FELONIES (Delitos)- acts or omission punishable by law.

Ways of committing it:
1) Deceit/Malice (Dolo)
2) Fault (Culpa)

Whether done with Malice/deceit or fault – act is voluntary.” Voluntariness” is an element because it is specifically stated in Article 3
which refers to “dolo” be done with “deliberate intent”; while in Art. 365 – referring to reckless imprudence (“culpa”), it expressly
states that it consists “ in voluntarily” but without malice, doing or failing to do an act.

Dolo is intentional –Intentional Felonies, while culpa is not – Culpable Felonies.

Where there is intent, there can be no negligence – Pp. vs. Nanguil – 43 Phil. 232.