MANILA — The House Committee on Justice will start scrutinizing the antiquated law penalizing persons obstructing the apprehension and prosecution of criminal offenders when Congress resumes session on May 4.
Albay Rep. Fernando Gonzalez, the main author of House Bill No. 5521, is seeking to amend Presidential Decree No. 1829, entitled “Penalizing Obstruction of Apprehension and Prosecution of Criminal Offenders.”
The veteran lawmaker recalled that then President Ferdinand Marcos issued PD 1829 on Jan. 16, 1981 to penalize “any person who knowingly or willingly obstructs, impedes, frustrates or delays the apprehension and prosecution of suspected criminal offenders.”
PD 1829 enumerates the act punishable under the Decree with imprisonment or a fine, or both. The penalty of imprisonment ranges from four years, two months and one day to six years while the fine ranges from PhP1,000 to PhP6,000.
“Since the effectivity of the law in 1981, the penalties imposed under PD 1829 have remained unchanged. The said penalties, if not upgraded to the economic and social realities of the time, could even embolden violations,” Gonzalez pointed out.
It is hoped, Gonzalez added, that by increasing the penalty from “prision correccional” in its minimu period to reclusion temporal in its maximum period and the fine from PhP1,000 to PhP50,000 to the maximum of PhP200,000 from PhP6,000, the law will discourage some sectors of society who lend their hand in obstructing the apprehension and prosecution of criminal offenders.
The penalties shall be imposed on any person who prevents witnesses from testifying in any criminal proceeding or from reporting the commission of any offense or the identity of any offender/s by means of bribery, misrepresentations, deceit, intimidation, force or threats.