Removal of 40-year limit on prison terms proposed
MANILA, Philippines — Should convicted rapists and murderers languish for up to 90 years in prison?
They should, according to Leyte representative and chair of the House justice committee Vicente Veloso III, who proposed removing the 40-year cap on prison terms under Article No. 70 of the Revised Penal Code.
The former Court of Appeals justice on Tuesday used a hyperbolic example to push House Bill No. 4553 that would repeal the penal code’s maximum 40 years imprisonment for reclusion perpetua or life sentence.
“Say, an 18-year-old serial rapist raped 100 people and killed 50 others. If he is sentenced to 100 counts of reclusion perpetua, the most he will suffer is 40 years … So he can be out when he’s 58,” Veloso said.
Not more than thrice
Reclusion perpetua carries a 20- to 40-year prison term. But under the so-called three-fold rule, the maximum duration of a convict’s sentence shall not be more than thrice the length of time corresponding to the most severe penalties imposed.
Theoretically, a convict meted out multiple sentences may be imprisoned for up to 90 years, by multiplying the maximum duration of 30 years by three.
The same penal code however provides that “such maximum period [of reclusion perpetua] shall in no case exceed 40 years.”
Veloso said he wanted to retain the three-fold rule and remove the provision stipulating a maximum 40-year prison term for convicts.
But Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman argued that the bill would violate the spirit of a reformative and rehabilitative justice system.
Lagman said that such a system was intended to “reform the convict … for subsequently rejoining society as an upright citizen.”
Also on Tuesday, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo described the remarks of Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gerald Bantag as “a political statement” that should not be taken literally.
It was a warning that Bantag will not condone corruption in the agency, Panelo said.
On Monday, the newly appointed BuCor chief said he would butcher (“katay”) any prisoner who offers him money as “pasalubong” or welcome gift.
Bantag later clarified that his use of the word katay meant that he would file charges against bribers.
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