Criminal Law

US vs. PARRONE G.R. No. L-7038 January 7, 1913 Retroactive effect of penal laws.

Favorabilia sunt ampliandaadiosa restrigenda (Penal laws which are favorable to the accused are given retroactive effect).



FACTS:

This defendant was charged with the crime of the falsification of a personal cedula.

After trial, the judge found the defendant guilty of the crime charged and sentenced him to be imprisoned for a period of three years and to pay a fine of P200, and in case of insolvency to suffer subsidiary imprisonment, in accordance with the provisions of section 55 of Act No. 1189 of the Philippine Commission.

Said law (Act No. 1189, sec. 55) was amended by Act No. 2126.

The punishment provided by said amendment for the crime described in the complaint is a fine in a sum not less than P200 nor more than P5,000, or by imprisonment for a term of not less than two months nor more than five years, or both, in the discretion of the court.

The alleged offense in the present case was committed upon the 24th day of February, 1908, nearly four years before the amendment to said law.

Apparently, the penalty in the new law is more favorable to the defendant than that provided for by the old.

In the case of United States vs. Cuna,  it was ruled that a repeal does not have the effect of thereafter depriving the courts of jurisdiction to try, convict, and sentence offenders charged with violations of the old law prior to its repeal.

However, article 22 of the Penal Code provides that penal laws shall have a retroactive effect in so far as they favor the person guilty of a felony or misdemeanor, even though at the time of the promulgation of such laws a final sentence has been pronounced and the convict is serving same.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the accused can claim the benefits of article 22 for a lesser punishment through the retroactive application of the penal law.

RULING:

Act No. 2126 took effect upon its passage and was applicable, certainly to all cases arising after the date of its enactment.

In the case of US vs. Hocbo, we held “that all amendments to the law (Penal Code) which are beneficial to the defendant should be given retroactive effect in so far as they favor the accused, when the acts complained of had been committed while the old law was still in force.”

Article 21 of said title and chapter provides that “no felony or misdemeanor shall be punishable by any penalty not prescribed by law prior to its commission.” This article is general in its provisions and in effect prohibits the Government from punishing any person for any felony or misdemeanor with any penalty which has not been prescribed by the law.

Article 22 provides that “Penal laws shall have a retroactive effect in so far as they favor the person guilty of a felony or misdemeanor, although at the time of the publication of such laws a final sentence has been pronounced and the convict is serving same.” This provision clearly has no direct application to the provisions of the Penal Code. Its (art. 22) application to the Penal Code can only be invoked where some former or subsequent law is under consideration.

It must necessarily relate (1) to penal laws existing prior to the Penal Code, in which the penalty was less severe than those of the Penal Code; or (2) to laws enacted subsequent to the Penal Code, in which the penalty was more favorable to the accused.

In consideration, then, of the provisions of article 22 in relation with the more favorable provisions of Act No. 2126, and in view of the nature of the offense in this case, we are of the opinion that the sentence of the lower court should be modified and that the defendant should be sentenced to be imprisoned for a period of two months and to pay a fine in the sum of P200 and costs.

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