Tuesday, January 21, 2020
Judicial legislation - "Verily, the primordial duty of the Court is merely to apply the law in such a way that it shall not usurp legislative powers by judicial legislation and that in the course of such application or construction, it should not make or supervise legislation, or under the guise of interpretation, modify, revise, amend, distort, remodel, or rewrite the law, or give the law a construction which is repugnant to its terms.38 The Court should apply the law in a manner that would give effect to their letter and spirit, especially when the law is clear as to its intent and purpose. Succinctly put, the Court should shy away from encroaching upon the primary function of a co-equal branch of the Government; otherwise, this would lead to an inexcusable breach of the doctrine of separation of powers by means of judicial legislation."
See - file:///C:/Users/Asus/Documents/SAVE%20HERE/5_TO%20BLOG/1.2_HTML_APRIL%202015/G.R.%20No.%20180016_estafa.html
G.R. No. 180016 April 29, 2014
LITO CORPUZ, Petitioner,
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
“x x x.
There seems to be a perceived injustice brought about by the range of penalties that the courts continue to impose on crimes against property committed today, based on the amount of damage measured by the value of money eighty years ago in 1932. However, this Court cannot modify the said range of penalties because that would constitute judicial legislation. What the legislature's perceived failure in amending the penalties provided for in the said crimes cannot be remedied through this Court's decisions, as that would be encroaching upon the power of another branch of the government. This, however, does not render the whole situation without any remedy. It can be appropriately presumed that the framers of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) had anticipated this matter by including Article 5, which reads:
ART. 5. Duty of the court in connection with acts which should be repressed but which are not covered by the law, and in cases of excessive penalties. - Whenever a court has knowledge of any act which it may deem proper to repress and which is not punishable by law, it shall render the proper decision, and shall report to the Chief Executive, through the Department of Justice, the reasons which induce the court to believe that said act should be made the subject of penal legislation.
In the same way, the court shall submit to the Chief Executive, through the Department of Justice, such statement as may be deemed proper, without suspending the execution of the sentence, when a strict enforcement of the provisions of this Code would result in the imposition of a clearly excessive penalty, taking into consideration the degree of malice and the injury caused by the offense.18
The first paragraph of the above provision clearly states that for acts bourne out of a case which is not punishable by law and the court finds it proper to repress, the remedy is to render the proper decision and thereafter, report to the Chief Executive, through the Department of Justice, the reasons why the same act should be the subject of penal legislation. The premise here is that a deplorable act is present but is not the subject of any penal legislation, thus, the court is tasked to inform the Chief Executive of the need to make that act punishable by law through legislation. The second paragraph is similar to the first except for the situation wherein the act is already punishable by law but the corresponding penalty is deemed by the court as excessive. The remedy therefore, as in the first paragraph is not to suspend the execution of the sentence but to submit to the Chief Executive the reasons why the court considers the said penalty to be non-commensurate with the act committed. Again, the court is tasked to inform the Chief Executive, this time, of the need for a legislation to provide the proper penalty.
In his book, Commentaries on the Revised Penal Code,19 Guillermo B. Guevara opined that in Article 5, the duty of the court is merely to report to the Chief Executive, with a recommendation for an amendment or modification of the legal provisions which it believes to be harsh. Thus:
This provision is based under the legal maxim "nullum crimen, nulla poena sige lege," that is, that there can exist no punishable act except those previously and specifically provided for by penal statute.
No matter how reprehensible an act is, if the law-making body does not deem it necessary to prohibit its perpetration with penal sanction, the Court of justice will be entirely powerless to punish such act.
Under the provisions of this article the Court cannot suspend the execution of a sentence on the ground that the strict enforcement of the provisions of this Code would cause excessive or harsh penalty. All that the Court could do in such eventuality is to report the matter to the Chief Executive with a recommendation for an amendment or modification of the legal provisions which it believes to be harsh.20
Anent the non-suspension of the execution of the sentence, retired Chief Justice Ramon C. Aquino and retired Associate Justice Carolina C. Griño-Aquino, in their book, The Revised Penal Code,21 echoed the above-cited commentary, thus:
The second paragraph of Art. 5 is an application of the humanitarian principle that justice must be tempered with mercy. Generally, the courts have nothing to do with the wisdom or justness of the penalties fixed by law. "Whether or not the penalties prescribed by law upon conviction of violations of particular statutes are too severe or are not severe enough, are questions as to which commentators on the law may fairly differ; but it is the duty of the courts to enforce the will of the legislator in all cases unless it clearly appears that a given penalty falls within the prohibited class of excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishment." A petition for clemency should be addressed to the Chief Executive.22
There is an opinion that the penalties provided for in crimes against property be based on the current inflation rate or at the ratio of P1.00 is equal to P100.00 . However, it would be dangerous as this would result in uncertainties, as opposed to the definite imposition of the penalties. It must be remembered that the economy fluctuates and if the proposed imposition of the penalties in crimes against property be adopted, the penalties will not cease to change, thus, making the RPC, a self-amending law. Had the framers of the RPC intended that to be so, it should have provided the same, instead, it included the earlier cited Article 5 as a remedy. It is also improper to presume why the present legislature has not made any moves to amend the subject penalties in order to conform with the present times. For all we know, the legislature intends to retain the same penalties in order to deter the further commission of those punishable acts which have increased tremendously through the years. In fact, in recent moves of the legislature, it is apparent that it aims to broaden the coverage of those who violate penal laws. Xxx.
X x x.
With the numerous crimes defined and penalized under the Revised Penal Code and Special Laws, and other related provisions of these laws affected by the proposal, a thorough study is needed to determine its effectivity and necessity. There may be some provisions of the law that should be amended; nevertheless, this Court is in no position to conclude as to the intentions of the framers of the Revised Penal Code by merely making a study of the applicability of the penalties imposable in the present times. Such is not within the competence of the Court but of the Legislature which is empowered to conduct public hearings on the matter, consult legal luminaries and who, after due proceedings, can decide whether or not to amend or to revise the questioned law or other laws, or even create a new legislation which will adopt to the times.
Admittedly, Congress is aware that there is an urgent need to amend the Revised Penal Code. During the oral arguments, counsel for the Senate informed the Court that at present, fifty-six (56) bills are now pending in the Senate seeking to amend the Revised Penal Code,37 each one proposing much needed change and updates to archaic laws that were promulgated decades ago when the political, socio-economic, and cultural settings were far different from today’s conditions.
Verily, the primordial duty of the Court is merely to apply the law in such a way that it shall not usurp legislative powers by judicial legislation and that in the course of such application or construction, it should not make or supervise legislation, or under the guise of interpretation, modify, revise, amend, distort, remodel, or rewrite the law, or give the law a construction which is repugnant to its terms.38 The Court should apply the law in a manner that would give effect to their letter and spirit, especially when the law is clear as to its intent and purpose. Succinctly put, the Court should shy away from encroaching upon the primary function of a co-equal branch of the Government; otherwise, this would lead to an inexcusable breach of the doctrine of separation of powers by means of judicial legislation.
Moreover, it is to be noted that civil indemnity is, technically, not a penalty or a Fine; hence, it can be increased by the Court when appropriate. Article 2206 of the Civil Code provides:
Art. 2206. The amount of damages for death caused by a crime or quasi-delict shall be at least three thousand pesos, even though there may have been mitigating circumstances. In addition:
(1) The defendant shall be liable for the loss of the earning capacity of the deceased, and the indemnity shall be paid to the heirs of the latter; such indemnity shall in every case be assessed and awarded by the court, unless the deceased on account of permanent physical disability not caused by the defendant, had no earning capacity at the time of his death;
(2) If the deceased was obliged to give support according to the provisions of Article 291, the recipient who is not an heir called to the decedent's inheritance by the law of testate or intestate succession, may demand support from the person causing the death, for a period not exceeding five years, the exact duration to be fixed by the court;
(3) The spouse, legitimate and illegitimate descendants and ascendants of the deceased may demand moral damages for mental anguish by reason of the death of the deceased.
In our jurisdiction, civil indemnity is awarded to the offended party as a kind of monetary restitution or compensation to the victim for the damage or infraction that was done to the latter by the accused, which in a sense only covers the civil aspect. Precisely, it is civil indemnity. Thus, in a crime where a person dies, in addition to the penalty of imprisonment imposed to the offender, the accused is also ordered to pay the victim a sum of money as restitution. Clearly, this award of civil indemnity due to the death of the victim could not be contemplated as akin to the value of a thing that is unlawfully taken which is the basis in the imposition of the proper penalty in certain crimes. Thus, the reasoning in increasing the value of civil indemnity awarded in some offense cannot be the same reasoning that would sustain the adoption of the suggested ratio. Also, it is apparent from Article 2206 that the law only imposes a minimum amount for awards of civil indemnity, which is P3,000.00. The law did not provide for a ceiling. Thus, although the minimum amount for the award cannot be changed, increasing the amount awarded as civil indemnity can be validly modified and increased when the present circumstance warrants it. Corollarily, moral damages under Article 222039 of the Civil Code also does not fix the amount of damages that can be awarded. It is discretionary upon the court, depending on the mental anguish or the suffering of the private offended party. The amount of moral damages can, in relation to civil indemnity, be adjusted so long as it does not exceed the award of civil indemnity.
X x x.
The solution to the present controversy could not be solved by merely adjusting the questioned monetary values to the present value of money based only on the current inflation rate. There are other factors and variables that need to be taken into consideration, researched, and deliberated upon before the said values could be accurately and properly adjusted. The effects on the society, the injured party, the accused, its socio-economic impact, and the likes must be painstakingly evaluated and weighed upon in order to arrive at a wholistic change that all of us believe should be made to our existing law. Dejectedly, the Court is ill-equipped, has no resources, and lacks sufficient personnel to conduct public hearings and sponsor studies and surveys to validly effect these changes in our Revised Penal Code. This function clearly and appropriately belongs to Congress. Xxx.
X x x.
With due respect to the opinions and proposals advanced by the Chief Justice and my Colleagues, all the proposals ultimately lead to prohibited judicial legislation. Short of being repetitious and as extensively discussed above, it is truly beyond the powers of the Court to legislate laws, such immense power belongs to Congress and the Court should refrain from crossing this clear-cut divide. With regard to civil indemnity, as elucidated before, this refers to civil liability which is awarded to the offended party as a kind of monetary restitution. It is truly based on the value of money. The same cannot be said on penalties because, as earlier stated, penalties are not only based on the value of money, but on several other factors. Further, since the law is silent as to the maximum amount that can be awarded and only pegged the minimum sum, increasing the amount granted as civil indemnity is not proscribed. Thus, it can be adjusted in light of current conditions.
X x x."