This House Believes That Relatives of Criminals who Obstruct Justice Should be Penalized (Opposition)
No amount of filial feelings can justify anyone from obstructing justice.
Ladies and gentlemen, relatives of criminals who obstruct justice should be penalized.
It is submitted that the Revised Penal Code in Article 20 exempts from criminal liability the offender’s spouse, ascendant, descendant, legitimate, natural, and adopted brothers and sisters, or relatives by affinity within the same degrees as the foregoing enumerated relatives as accessories. The exemption provided for in this article is based on the ties of blood and the preservation of the cleanliness of one’s name, which compels one to conceal crimes committed by relatives so near. The law recognizes that they are doing so because they are motivated by their natural affection for the offender.
Presidential Decree No. 1829, Penalizing Obstruction of Apprehension and Prosecution of Criminal Offenders, supersedes such provision. The purpose of said law is explained in its preamble to wit: crime and violence continue to proliferate despite the sustained vigorous efforts of the government to effectively contain them; and to discourage public indifference or apathy towards the apprehension and prosecution of criminal offenders, it is necessary to penalize acts which obstruct or frustrate or tend to obstruct or frustrate the successful apprehension and prosecution of criminal offenders.
Said presidential decree penalizes any person. The law does not qualify whether the person should be a stranger or a relative. Where the law does not distinguish, we should not distinguish.
To exempt relatives of criminals from punishment in the commission of the crime obstruction of justice will remove the fang of Presidential Decree No. 1829, and in a more general sense, impair the right and the duty of the state to penalize crimes. The thought of exempting relatives of criminals is practically juxtaposed to saying that a criminal should, instead of seeking the aid of strangers, seek the aid of their relatives who will not be penalized anyway. This is plain injustice.
It must be noted that the State and the offended party, in as much as the accused, is entitled to due process of law. For justice to prevail the scales must be balanced; justice is not to be dispensed for the accused alone. The interests of society and the offended parties which have been wronged must be equally considered. The Supreme Court in the case of Dimatulac vs. Vilon said: A verdict of conviction is not necessarily a denial of justice. Justice must be rendered even-handedly to both the accused, on one hand, and the State and offended party on the other.
Obstruction of justice, whether by a relative or a stranger, is detrimental to the duty and the right of the state to punish crimes. In the case of People vs. Carillo, when a person has proved himself to be a dangerous enemy of society, the latter must protect itself from such enemy. The State has to secure justice. The State has an existence of its own to maintain, a conscience of its own to assert, and moral principles to be vindicated. Penal justice must therefore be exercised by the State in the service and satisfaction of a duty.
Pursuant to Sections 4 and 5 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, (t)he prime duty of the government is to serve and protect the people xxx; The maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty and property, and the promotion of the general welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy.
Should there be ascendancy of natural affection over said right of the state? Certainly no. In the case of People vs. Gutico, the court said, love is not a licence to commit a wrong.
It is error to suppose that there should be ascendancy of filial love, as manifestation of the exercise of the fundamental rights, over authority as this may yield to the prejudice of the equilibrium between authority and liberty.
Furthermore, Article II, Section 12 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides in part, xxx The natural and primary right and duty of the parents in the rearing of the youth for the civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of the government. In said provision, in as much as the State recognizes the right of the parents in the rearing of the youth, it also imposes to them the solemn duty of rightfully upbringing their children. To allow relatives, specifically parents, to conceal a crime committed by a person is blatantly contradictory to that constitutional mandate. Parents should raise their children as morally upright citizens; not criminals who show no remorse.
Ladies and gentlemen, Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.