Solons seek penalty for robbery of cemetery articles

AS Filipinos pay respect to their departed ones on All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, two lawmakers filed a timely proposal in Congress seeking to amend the Revised Penal Code to penalize the robbery of cemetery articles.

Rep. Diosdado Macapagal Arroyo (2nd District, Camarines Sur) filed House Bill 6606 or the proposed “Anti-Grave Robbers Act of 2012,” which is co-authored by his mother Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2nd District, Pampanga), seeking to penalize such act of dishonoring the deceased.

The younger Arroyo said the desecration of the dearly departed comes in many forms, one of which is grave robbery which has always been a perennial problem especially in a culture as rich as that of the country.

“In Philippine society, we have always paid our respects to our dead. More often than not, we adorn many gifts in their final resting places or provide them with sprawling mausoleums to commemorate their lives,” he said.

The former presidential son said the damage done by grave robbers goes beyond the measurable as it dishonors the deceased and causes anguish to those who survived them.

Mrs. Arroyo said as Filipinos eagerly anticipate the time of remembering those who preceded them, there are unfortunate incidents where they find that the final resting place of their loved ones have been desecrated by grave robbers.

“This type of theft must be severely addressed. It is the humble intent of HB 6606 to create a separate act of robbery under the Revised Penal Code for the robbery of cemetery items or the ones committed in cemeteries, graveyards or burial grounds,” said the former chief executive.

House Bill 6606 provides for the amendment to the Revised Penal Code by inserting Article 302-A after Article 302 which shall read as follows: Art. 302-A. Grave Robbery. In cases enumerated in Articles 299 and 302, when the robbery consists in the taking of all or part of a tomb, coffin, monument, gravestone, or all part of a commemorative, decorative, or other cemetery-related article or committed in a cemetery, graveyard or burial ground, the culprit shall suffer the penalty next higher in degree than that prescribed in the said Articles.”

Presently, Art. 299 provides a punishment of reclusion temporal if the value of the property taken by any armed robber from an uninhabited house or public building or edifice devoted to religious worship, shall exceed P250.00. When the offenders do not carry arms, and the value of the property taken exceeds P250.00, the penalty next lower in degree shall be imposed.

Meanwhile, Article 302 provides that for any robbery committed in an uninhabited place or in a building other than those mentioned in the first paragraph of Article 299, if the value of the property taken exceeds P250.00, it shall be punished by prision correccional: When the value of the property taken does not exceed P250.00, the penalty next lower in degree shall be imposed.

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