Committee chairman Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso, a former Court of Appeals justice, said he is ready to defend his committee’s approval of House Bill 4553 should it be elevated to the Supreme Court.
Michael Varcas
House panel scraps 40-year prison term limit
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - November 20, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The justice committee of the House of Representatives yesterday approved a bill that seeks to repeal a provision in the Revised Penal Code that limits the maximum penalty for crimes to 40 years in prison.

Committee chairman Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso, a former Court of Appeals justice, said he is ready to defend his committee’s approval of House Bill 4553 should it be elevated to the Supreme Court.

Veloso said the 40-year prison term limit should be repealed “to prevent the blatant travesty of the justice system and to ensure that justice is served by the accused and achieved by victims or relatives of the victims.”

He earlier said the provision was instrumental to the release of more than 2,000 heinous crime convicts for good behavior through the expanded good conduct time allowance law.

During the committee’s fourth meeting, House Deputy Speaker Henry Oaminal of Misamis Occidental moved for the approval of HB 4553, which was seconded by another lawyer-legislator, Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. of party-list Ako Bicol. 

 The measure was approved by justice committee members in less than five minutes.

Veloso and his fellow lawyers have been very vocal against Article 70 of the penal code or the provision that limited the duration of a convict’s sentence to only 40 years, even for heinous crimes.

“That has to be amended, because it simply means that if you have been convicted of a crime when you were 18 years old, you will definitely be released by the time you are 58 years old. That 40-year rule must be amended,” he stated. 

 Article 70 of the Revised Penal Code states that multiple penalties may be executed one after the other, following the order of severity.

However, under Article 70’s “threefold rule,” a convict can be punished only up to three times the most severe penalty imposed and this period must not exceed 40 years.

The provision does not make a distinction between those convicted of one count of murder and those sentenced to nine life terms, which is equivalent to 360 years.

“If the case of convicts of heinous crimes sentenced with nine reclusion perpetua, even after applying the threefold rule under Article 70 of the RPC, the convict will only be made to serve 40 years of imprisonment – no distinction with those convicted of one count of murder to serve only one reclusion perpetua sentence,” Veloso said. 

 “It is as if there is simultaneous service of sentences when the provision of the law mandates ‘successive service’ of sentences,” he added.

PRISON TERM LIMIT
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