Car thieves face longer terms under new law
In the midst of the new administration’s relentless drive against crime, a revitalized law has been added to its arsenal.
A new Anti-Carnapping Act imposes jail terms up to life imprisonment, a measure that its proponent, Sen. Grace Poe, hopes would deter a crime that has long been rampant across the country.
Poe said President Duterte had “allowed the measure to lapse into law” 30 days after it was forwarded to Malacañang on June 16 and then President Benigno Aquino III took no action on it.
“It is our hope that this new and comprehensive Anti-Carnapping Act imposing much stiffer penalties, alongside strict implementation by our law enforcers, will hinder the commission of this crime and give vehicle owners peace of mind,” Poe said, who sponsored the bill in the 16th Congress.
The new measure supplants the law against car theft enacted in 1972 and amendments to car theft penalties imposed by Republic Act No. 7659, or the law laying down penalties for heinous crimes.
In pushing for the measure in May last year, Poe noted car thefts had totaled more than 44,000 from 2009 to 2013. In the first half of 2015 alone, car theft cases reached 10,039, nearly twice the 5,599 recorded during the same period in 2014.
Under the new law, convicted car thieves face a jail term of 20-30 years, roughly double the 14 years and eight months to 17 years and four months under the old law.
The penalty is higher if the crime involves “violence, intimidation and force,” with the jail term raised to 30 years and one day to up to 40 years, from the previous 17 to 30 years.
If the crime results in murder or rape, the penalty is life imprisonment.
A person who has knowledge of the crime but keeps quiet about it—regarded as “concealment of the crime of carnapping”—faces a prison term of 6-12 years and a fine corresponding to the cost of the motor vehicle, engine or any other part involved in the violation.
The law requires those seeking original registration for any vehicle to get clearance from the Philippine National Police and the Land Transportation Office (LTO), a step that would determine if an applicant is clear of any criminal involvement.
The law also reiterates the need for the LTO to maintain a permanent database of all motor vehicles in the country and their present and previous owners, plus details on the vehicles such as “motor vehicle engines, engine blocks and chassis of all motor vehicles stating the type, make, and serial numbers.”
The law considers a crime the tampering with serial numbers and transfer of license plates without LTO approval and the sale of secondhand spare parts from stolen vehicles.
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