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16, 2011 DATE

NR # 2619

Congress approves extension of prescriptive period for crimes punishable with six years or more
The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill extending the prescriptive period for crimes punishable with six years to life imprisonment. Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas (6th District, Pangasinan), principal author of House Bill 2951, and chairperson of the House Committee on Revision of Laws, said under the bill, the prescriptive period will be extended from 15 to 20 years based on violations penalized by special acts and municipal ordinances. At present, the prescriptive period is 12 years under Republic Act 3326, otherwise known as An Act to Establish Periods of Prescription for Violations Penalized by Special Acts and Municipal Ordinances and To Provide When Prescription Shall Begin To Run. It was enacted into law on December 4, 1926. The bill seeks to amend Section 1 and 2 of Act 3326. Under Section 1 of Act 3326, the violations penalized by special acts are in accordance with the following rules: (a) after a year for offenses punished only by a fine or imprisonment for not more than 6 months, (b) after four years for those punished by imprisonment of less than two years, (c) after 8 years for those punished by imprisonment for two years but less six years, (d) after 12 years for any other offense punished by imprisonment for 6 years or more. The bill amends Section 2 of ACT 3326 which provides that prescription shall be interrupted when either administrative or judicial proceedings are instituted against the accused or by filing of the complaint for purposes of investigation, and shall begin to run again if the proceedings are dismissed for reasons not constituting jeopardy. Congress is now in final stage of amending Act 3326 that would end ambiguities in the law and fine tune it in order for the State to be able to properly prosecute offenses, Primicias-Agabas said. Under the bill, Primicias-Agabas said the offenses punishable by imprisonment of six years or more shall prescribe after 15 years while offenses punishable by death or life imprisonment shall prescribe in 20 years. The bill proposed that the running of the period of prescription is tolled by the filing of either administrative or judicial proceedings against the accused since investigation for purposes of prosecution has become a function of the executive branch. Hence, It should now be understood as either executive or judicial in character, Primicias-Agabas said. Primicias-Agabas said the law states the prescriptive period shall begin to run from the day of the commission of the violation of the law or from the discovery of the crime or from the institution of judicial proceeding for its investigation and punishment. Primicias-Agabas also cited the Book 1 of the Revised Penal Code, Title four (Extinction of Criminal Liability) which states that criminal liability is totally extinguished, among others, by the death of the convict, by the service of the sentence, by amnesty, pardon, by the prescription of the penalty, and by the prescription of the crime. (30) jsc