House approves bill prescribing stricter penalties for erring jail guards

THE House of Representatives has approved on third reading a bill seeking to increase the penalty on persons in charge of custody of prisoners for their negligence, connivance with or consent to jail escape.

House Bill 6482, a consolidation of House Bills 251 and 2399, authored respectively by Reps. Juan Edgardo Angara (Lone District, Aurora), Ma. Amelita Calimbas-Villarosa (Lone District, Occidental Mindoro) and Romeo Acop (2nd District, Antipolo City), seeks to amend Articles 156, 223 and 224 of Republic Act 3815, as amended otherwise known as the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines.

“The failure to recapture these escaped prisoners poses serious threats to the public and bolsters demand for the improvement of the country’s penology system.  Undoubtedly, our public officials and employees fail to exercise utmost devotion and dedication to their duties, and worst, for personal interest or consideration, thus, giving a general perception that they are the fountain and source of undue patronage,” Angara, principal author of the bill said.

Angara said those responsible for the custody of prisoners should at all times be accountable to the people and should discharge their duties with utmost responsibility, integrity, competence and loyalty.

“Those responsible and accountable should always act with patriotism and justice, lead modest lives, and uphold public interest over personal interest,” Angara lamented.

Acop, for his part, said the many incidences of prisoners escaping the supposed custody of law enforcement officials is a glaring example of how ineptitude and alleged monetary incentives can combine into a potent force which will result in freedom for detained prisoners facing justice.

“As a disincentive, a high penalty must be imposed on those jail guards and other persons who permit a detained prisoner to escape the clutches of the law.  This bill will hopefully deter those who are charged with the custody of detained prisoners, specially the high profile ones, from allowing their charges to escape,” Acop stressed.

Under the bill, Article 156 on the crime of delivering prisoners from jail is amended by increasing the penalty of 1 day to 30 days (arresto mayor) to 6 years and 1 day to 12 years (prision mayor).

Article 223 provides a stricter penalty on the crime of infidelity in the custody of prisoners is likewise increased from 6 months and 1 day to six years (prision correccional) to 6 years and 1 day to 12 years (prision mayor) to 12 years and 1 day to 20 years (reclusion temporal).  This covers the escape from jail of both convict and detention prisoners.

The bill further provides a higher penalty on the crime of evasion through negligence as provided for under Article 224 of the Revised Penal Code from 6 years and 1 day to 12 years (arresto mayor) to 6 months and 1 day to 6 years (prision correccional) in its medium and maximum periods or the penalty equivalent to that prescribed to an accessory based on the crime imputed upon the convict or detention prisoner in its maximum period, whichever is higher and perpetual absolute disqualification.


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