Senate OKs tougher anti-carjacking bill

Marvin Sy - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - A new law against carjacking, providing stiffer penalties particularly when the crime is committed with violence, has been approved on third and final reading by the Senate.

Senate Bill 2794 aims to deny bail to car thieves upon arrest if the evidence of guilt is strong.

Sen. Grace Poe, the bill’s sponsor, said the existing Anti-Carnapping Law, passed in 1972 when an average of 400 vehicles were stolen annually, needs to be updated.

A total of 3,170 cases of car theft occurred from January to June 2014, she added, citing data from the Philippine National Police.

The figure represents a 68.5 percent increase from the 1,881 incidents of car theft reported over the same period in 2013.

An average of two cars and 15 motorcycles were stolen on a daily basis during the first half of 2014, according to the Highway Patrol Group. 

Poe said car theft has become more rampant, more blatant and more heinous over the past years. “It is now time to plug the loopholes in the law to adjust to the economic requirements of the present and to stop the reign of terror of criminal syndicates engaged in carnapping,” she said.

The bill seeks to impose 20 to 30 years’ imprisonment on any person found guilty of carjacking if the crime was committed without violence, intimidation or use of force.

If either violence, intimidation or use of force was used, the prison term would go up from 30 to 40 years.

In cases where the owner, driver or occupant of the stolen motor vehicle is killed or raped, the perpetrator would be sentenced to life imprisonment.

Any person involved in the concealment of the crime of carjacking would be imprisoned from six to 12 years and fined with the acquisition cost of the motor vehicle, engine or any other part involved in the violation.

Acts like cannibalizing or identity transfer of a stolen motor vehicle would be penalized, as well as double registration or the so-called kambal registration and unlawful use of vehicle plates,  when the New Anti-Carnapping Law of the Philippines is passed,  Poe said.

New Anti-Mail Order Bride Law

Meanwhile, a bill seeking to replace Republic Act 6955, the Anti-Mail Order Bride Law of 1990, with a law more relevant to the present situation has also been approved on third and final reading at the Senate.

Senate Bill 3209, sponsored by outgoing Sen. Pia Cayetano, aims to bring the law “up to speed” to include Filipino men, spouses, common-law partnerships, matching of Filipinos to foreign nationals and offering foreign nationals to Filipinos.

The chairman of the Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality said the bill seeks to protect the individual rights of Filipinos, both men and women, since many are vulnerable to deceptive schemes where they become victims of domestic violence or human trafficking.

“We cannot deny the reality that many of our countrymen currently fall victim to exploitation and abuse in the guise of intermarriages, while many men and women still remain potential victims,” she said.

The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking has reported no case has been prosecuted under RA 6955 because the  law is outdated, she added.

The bill seeks to imprison for 15 years and fine from P500,000 to P1 million any person found guilty of committing the prohibited acts or cooperating in the execution of the prohibited acts under the law. 

If the prohibited act was committed by a syndicate or on a large scale, the offender would be imprisoned for 20 years and fined P2 million to P5 million.

Meanwhile, the Senate has also approved the bill seeking to include Filipino-Muslim and indigenous people’s history, culture and identity in the curriculum of Philippine history for basic and higher education.

Cayetano said the bill, which she sponsored, seeks to address the apparent lack of understanding among culturally different groups of Filipinos through education.

“This holistic and integrative history shall be introduced in both basic and higher education curriculum as a means of inculcating in our schoolchildren the various strands of Philippine culture, as well as our rich and diverse historical narrative as a nation,” she said.

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