By Filane Mikee Cervantes

HARSHER PENALTY. The Bureau of Customs shows over 1,000 packs of shabu worth PHP2.2 billion at the Manila International Container Port on Oct. 6, 2023. Bicol Saro Party-list Rep. Brian Raymund Yamsuan on Tuesday (Jan. 30, 2024) pushed for a measure seeking more years behind bars for law enforcers and other persons in authority involved in covering up evidence in drug trafficking and other heinous crimes. (PNA file photo by Yancy Lim)

MANILA – A party-list lawmaker on Tuesday pushed for the passage of a measure seeking more years behind bars for law enforcers and other persons in authority involved in covering up evidence in drug trafficking and other heinous crimes.

House Bill 7972 seeks up to 20 years in prison. instead of the current maximum 12-year jail term, for persons in authority who act as “accessories” to the commission of heinous crimes.

In a news release, Bicol Saro Party-list Rep. Brian Raymund Yamsuan said they must be criminally liable if they directly caused or ordered the destruction or concealment of vital evidence.

“Law enforcers and other persons in authority are responsible for maintaining public order and preventing crime. They should be held to a higher standard of behavior and conduct as protectors of the people,” Yamsuan said.

“Thus, when they turn out to be the problem themselves by acting as accessories to the commission of heinous crimes, they become hoodlums in uniform who deserve to be severely punished under the law,” he added.

Under the measure, persons in authority who act as accessories “shall suffer the penalty of one degree lower than that prescribed by law for the consummated felony,” if the offense is a heinous crime under existing laws.

The Penal Code currently imposes a penalty of two degrees lower than that prescribed by law if the offenders acted as accessories.

Yamsuan said that since heinous crimes such as drug trafficking are meted with the highest penalty of reclusion perpetua or imprisonment of between 20 to 40 years, accessories are penalized two degrees lower under the current law, or from 6 to 12 years in prison.

Heinous crimes include importation, distribution, manufacturing and possession of illegal drugs.

Other offenses classified as heinous crimes are treason; piracy in general and mutiny on the high seas in Philippine waters; qualified piracy; qualified bribery; parricide; murder; infanticide; kidnapping and serious illegal detention; robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons; destructive arson; and rape. (PNA)