treason war crime

President Rodrigo Duterte signed RA 10951 into law, imposing tougher deterrents on individuals who have committed treason, sedition, rebellion and other crimes under the Revised Penal Code.

Under the new rule, those who have committed treason will be punished with lifetime incarceration, and a fine of no more than P4 million. The previous fine maxed at P20,000.

Treason contemplates “any Filipino person who levies war against the Philippines or adheres to their enemies, providing assistance or comfort within or elsewhere in the Philippines.”

Under the statute, even aliens living in the Philippines who commits acts of treason “shall be punished by temporary reclusion to death and pay a fine not exceeding P 4 million.” Temporary reclusion entails 12 years imprisonment and 1 day to 20 years imprisonment.

Specifically the elements of treason include:

a. That the accused is a Filipino person or a foreign national

b. That there’s a conflict that affects the Philippines

c. That the perpetrator either declares war against the government or adheres to the enemy, and offers them protection and support.

In Laurel vs Misa ‘s case (GR L-409, Jan. 30, 1947, En Banc), Gregorio Perfecto, Associate Justice, in his separate concurrent opinion, said:

“Treason is the crime of war. That’s not a crime under normal circumstances. It can not be done in a time of peace. There are no traitors while there is peace. When peace reigns,. Treason cannot exist. In fact, treasonable actions can be committed during peace, but there will be no traitors until war begins.

“Because treason is essentially a war crime, the state punishes it as a measure of self-defense and self-preservation. Treason law is an emergency procedure. It stays dormant until emergencies occur. Yet as soon as war begins it’s put into practice relentlessly. Any lame attitude in its compliance can only comply with national harakiri. All war efforts would be of no use if they were allowed to be sabotaged by the fifth columnist, by people who sold their country to the enemy, or by some other form of traitor, and this would definitely be the case if the suspension principle did not enforce the rule.

Henceforth, by law and jurisprudence, it is fair to state that not every act of disloyalty is treason. To be regarded as such, it must be at a time of war in which the Philippines is an active party.

Increase of Penalty of Allied Crimes Against the State

The law states that a person who commits a plot of coup d’etat, a revolt or an uprising shall be punished by a prison mayor with a fine not exceeding P1 million from the previous P8000. Prison mayor levies jail time ranging from 6 to 12 years.

Those who commit sedition will be sentenced in their minimum time by the Prison Mayor and a fine not exceeding P1 million from the previous P10.000.

Note further that new legislation increases fines for illegal arrest to about 100,000 with jail times equivalent to that of kidnapping.