New criminal code among major reforms needed by PH justice system – Rep. Rocamora

Amid the government’s intensified campaign against crime, Siquijor Representative Rav Rocamora called for a new criminal code to replace the old Revised Penal Code (RPC), otherwise known as Act No. 3815. The lawmaker pointed to the RPC as insufficient to address crimes in the modern context.

“It is popular knowledge that our justice system is inherently weak. Aside from corruption, lack of support, and bias towards the rich and powerful, one of the weaknesses of the system is our archaic criminal laws. The clearest example is our Revised Penal Code that was enacted in 1930 during the Insular Government when Filipinos did not yet enjoy self-rule from the Americans,” he said.

“Because the RPC is a product of its historical and social context, it also reflects an antiquated appreciation of crimes. It is very hard to bring our justice system to the 21st century when a huge chunk of our criminal laws is still embedded in the 20th century. For example, the RPC still criminalizes challenging to a duel, has unequal treatment for marital infidelity committed by the wife (adultery) and that committed by the husband (concubinage),” Rocamora added.

New criminal code part of a ‘Justice Reform Package’

Rocamora said that a new criminal code will address pressing concerns in fighting crime in the modern world.

“A new criminal code will have to address issues such as improving and simplifying the definition of crimes and penalties, confronting transnational crimes, and making it more gender responsive,” Rocamora said.

“When taken together with giving more support for our courts, hiring more public lawyers and prosecutors, better training and equipment for our law enforcement agencies, and improving our rehabilitation and detention centers, a new criminal code is part of a comprehensive justice reform package,” he stressed.

Rocamora plans to file the bill to replace the Revised Penal Code as soon as ongoing discussions, spearheaded by the University of the Philippines Law Center, conclude. This discussion on revising the RPC involves inputs from different law experts, retired and incumbent judges and justices, and the academe.

Rocamora previously served as a public prosecutor for 24 years.

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