- 1 History of death penalty in the Philippines
- 2 Constitutional challenge against the Death Penalty
- 3 Prohibition of death penalty under R.A. 9346
- 4 References
History of death penalty in the Philippines
Although its origins seem lost in obscurity, the imposition of death as punishment for violation of law or custom, religious or secular, is an ancient practice. We do know that our forefathers killed to avenge themselves and their kin and that initially, the criminal law was used to compensate for a wrong done to a private party or his family, not to punish in the name of the state.<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref> The dawning of civilization brought with it both the increasing sensitization throughout the later generations against past barbarity and the institutionalization of state power under the rule of law.<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref> One of the indispensable powers of the state is the power to secure society against threatened and actual evil. Pursuant to this, the legislative arm of government enacts criminal laws that define and punish illegal acts that may be committed by its own subjects, the executive agencies enforce these laws, and the judiciary tries and sentences the criminals in accordance with these laws.<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref>
Death penalty prior to the 1987 Constitution
Although penologists, throughout history, have not stopped debating on the causes of criminal behavior and the purposes of criminal punishment, our criminal laws have been perceived as relatively stable and functional since the enforcement of the Revised Penal Code on 1 January 1932, this notwithstanding occasional opposition to the death penalty provisions therein. The Revised Penal Code, as it was originally promulgated, provided for the death penalty in specified crimes under specific circumstances. As early as 1886, though, capital punishment had entered our legal system through the old Penal Code, which was a modified version of the Spanish Penal Code of 1870.<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref>
Under the Revised Penal Code, death is the penalty for the crimes of treason, correspondence with the enemy during times of war, qualified piracy, parricide, murder, infanticide, kidnapping, rape with homicide or with the use of deadly weapon or by two or more persons resulting in insanity, robbery with homicide, and arson resulting in death. The list of capital offenses lengthened as the legislature responded to the emergencies of the times. In 1941, Commonwealth Act No. 616 added espionage to the list. In the 1950s, at the height of the Huk rebellion, the government enacted Republic Act No. 1700, otherwise known as the Anti-Subversion Law, which carried the death penalty for leaders of the rebellion. From 1971 to 1972, more capital offenses were created by more laws, among them, the Anti-Hijacking Law, the Dangerous Drugs Act, and the Anti-Carnapping Law. During martial law, Presidential Decree No. 1866 was enacted penalizing with death, among others, crimes involving homicide committed with an unlicensed firearm.<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref>
Death penalty under the 1987 Constitution
In the aftermath of the 1986 revolution that dismantled the Marcos regime and led to the nullification of the 1973 Constitution, a Constitutional Commission was convened following appointments thereto by Corazon Aquino who was catapulted to power by the people. Tasked with formulating a charter that echoes the new found freedom of a rejuvenated people, the Constitutional Commissioners grouped themselves into working committees among which is the Bill of Rights Committee with Jose B. Laurel, Jr. As Chairman and Father Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., as Vice-Chairman.<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref> On 17 July 1986, Father Bernas presented the committee draft of the proposed bill of rights to the rest of the commission. What is now Article III, Section 19 (1) of the 1987 Constitution was first denominated as Section 22 and was originally worded as follows:<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref>
"Excessive fines shall not be imposed, nor cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment, or the death penalty inflicted. Death penalty already imposed shall be commuted to reclusion perpetua."
Father Bernas explained that the foregoing provision was the result of a consensus among the members of the Bill of Rights Committee that the death penalty should be abolished. Having agreed to abolish the death penalty, they proceeded to deliberate on how the abolition was to be done -- whether the abolition should be done by the Constitution or by the legislature -- and the majority voted for a constitutional abolition of the death penalty. The reason, according to Father Bernas, is that "capital punishment is inhuman for the convict and his family who are traumatized by the waiting, even if it is never carried out. There is no evidence that the death penalty deterred deadly criminals, hence, life should not be destroyed just in the hope that other lives might be saved. Assuming mastery over the life of another man is just too presumptuous for any man. The fact that the death penalty as an institution has been there from time immemorial should not deter us from reviewing it. Human life is more valuable than an institution intended precisely to serve human life. So, basically, this is the summary of the reasons which were presented in support of the constitutional abolition of the death penalty".<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref>
The original wording of Article III, Section 19 (1), however, did not survive the debate that it instigated. Commissioner Napoleon G. Rama first pointed out that "never in our history has there been a higher incidence of crime" and that "criminality was at its zenith during the last decade". Ultimately, the dissent defined itself to an unwillingness to absolutely excise the death penalty from our legal system and leave society helpless in the face of a future upsurge of crimes or other similar emergencies. As Commissioner Rustico F. de los Reyes, Jr. suggested, "although we abolish the death penalty in the Constitution, we should afford some amount of flexibility to future legislation," and his concern was amplified by the interpellatory remarks of Commissioner Lugum L. Commissioner and now Associate Justice Florenz Regalado, Commissioner Crispino M. de Castro, Commissioner Ambrosio B. Padilla, Commissioner Christian Monsod, Commissioner Francisco A. Rodrigo, and Commissioner Ricardo Romulo.<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref>
What followed, thus, were proposed amendments to the beleaguered provision. The move to add the phrase, "unless for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, the national assembly provides for the death penalty," came from Commissioners Monsod, Jose E. Suarez and de los Reyes. Commissioner Rodrigo, however, expressed reservations even as regards the proposed amendment.<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref> The proposed amendment was approved with twenty-three (23) commissioners voting in favor of the amendment and twelve (12) voting against it, followed by more revisions, hence the present wording of Article III, Section 19 (1) of the 1987 Constitution in the following tenor:<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref>
"Excessive fines shall not be imposed, nor cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment inflicted. Neither shall death penalty be imposed, unless, for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, the Congress hereafter provides for it. Any death penalty already imposed shall be reduced to reclusion perpetua."
Re-imposition of the death penalty after the 1987 Constitution
The constitutional exercise of the limited power to re-impose the death penalty, pursuant to Article III, Section 19 (1) of the 1987 Constitution, requires that:<ref>People vs. Echegaray,G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref>
- 1. Congress define or describe what is meant by heinous crimes;
- 2. Congress specify and penalize by death, only crimes that qualify as heinous in accordance with the definition or description set in the death penalty bill and/or designate crimes punishable by reclusion perpetua to death in which latter case, death can only be imposed upon the attendance of circumstances duly proven in court that characterize the crime to be heinous in accordance with the definition or description set in the death penalty bill; and
- 3. Congress, in enacting this death penalty bill be singularly motivated by "compelling reasons involving heinous crimes."
The death penalty was reintroduced after the 1987 Constitution through Republic Act No. 7659, which treats two types of crimes: (1) crimes penalized by reclusion perpetua to death; and (2) crimes penalized by mandatory capital punishment upon the attendance of certain specified qualifying circumstances. The Supreme Court found that all these requisites are complied with under R.A. 7659. See Heinous crimes for more discussions, including the legislative history of R.A. 7659.
Definition of heinous crimes under R.A. 7659
The definition or description of heinous crimes is found in the second whereas clause of the preamble of R.A. No. 7659, which reads: "x x x the crimes punishable by death under this Act are heinous for being grievous, odious and hateful offenses and which, by reason of their inherent or manifest wickedness, viciousness, atrocity and perversity are repugnant and outrageous to the common standards and norms of decency and morality in a just, civilized and ordered society."Justice Santiago Kapunan, in his dissenting opinion in People vs. Alicando, traced the etymological root of the word "heinous" to the Early Spartans' word, "haineus", meaning, hateful and abominable, which, in turn, was from the Greek prefix "haton", denoting acts so hatefully or shockingly evil.<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref>
The Supreme Court found the foregoing definition or description to be a sufficient criterion of what is to be considered a heinous crime. This criterion is deliberately undetailed as to the circumstances of the victim, the accused, place, time, the manner of commission of crime, its proximate consequences and effects on the victim as well as on society, to afford the sentencing authority sufficient leeway to exercise his discretion in imposing the appropriate penalty in cases where R.A. No. 7659 imposes not a mandatory penalty of death but the more flexible penalty of reclusion perpetua to death.<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref>
There were two types of crimes under R.A. No. 7659: (1) crimes penalized by reclusion perpetua to death; and (2) crimes penalized by mandatory capital punishment upon the attendance of certain specified qualifying circumstances (see Heinous crimes for the full list of these crimes). It is specifically against the capital crimes, for which the mandatory penalty of death is imposed, that the test of heinousness must be squarely applied.
Heinousness of capital offenses
Insofar as the element of heinousness is concerned, R.A. No. 7659 has correctly identified crimes warranting the mandatory penalty of death. As to the other crimes in R.A. No. 7659 punished by reclusion perpetua to death, they are admittingly no less abominable than those mandatorily yeah penalized by death. The proper time to determine their heinousness in contemplation of law, is when on automatic review, we are called to pass on a death sentence involving crimes punishable by reclusion perpetua to death under R.A. No. 7659, with the trial court meting out the death sentence in exercise of judicial discretion. This is not to say, however, that the aggravating circumstances under the Revised Penal Code need be additionally alleged as establishing the heinousness of the crime for the trial court to validly impose the death penalty in the crimes under R.A. No. 7659 which are punished with the flexible penalty of reclusion perpetua to death.
In the first place, the 1987 Constitution did not amend or repeal the provisions of the Revised Penal Code relating to aggravating circumstances. Secondly, R.A. No. 7659, while it specifies circumstances that generally qualify a crime provided therein to be punished by the maximum penalty of death, neither amends nor repeals the aggravating circumstances under the Revised Penal Code. Thus, construing R.A. No. 7659 in parimateria with the Revised Penal Code, death may be imposed when (1) aggravating circumstances attend the commission of the crime as to make operative the provision of the Revised Penal Code regarding the imposition of the maximum penalty; and (2) other circumstances attend the commission of the crime which indubitably characterize the same as heinous in contemplation of R.A. No. 7659 that justify the imposition of the death, albeit the imposable penalty is reclusion perpetua to death.
The rationale for the guided discretion granted in the trial court to cognize circumstances that characterize the commission of the crime as heinous can be understood without difficulty. Certainly there is an infinity of circumstances that may attend the commission of a crime to the same extent that there is no telling the evil that man is capable of. The legislature cannot and need not foresee and inscribe in law each and every loathsome act man is capable of. It is sufficient thus that R.A. 7659 provides the test and yardstick for the determination of the legal situation warranting the imposition of the supreme penalty of death. Needless to say, we are not unaware of the ever existing danger of abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court in meting out the death sentence. Precisely to reduce to nil the possibility of executing an innocent man or one criminal but not heinously criminal, R.A. 7659 is replete with both procedural and substantive safeguards that ensure only the correct application of the mandate of R.A. No. 7659.<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref>
In the course of the congressional debates on the constitutional requirement that the death penalty be re-imposed for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, the main objection to the death penalty bill revolved around the persistent demand of the abolitionists for a statement of the reason in each and every heinous crime and statistical proof the such compelling reason actually exists.<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref>
However, the elements of heinousness and compulsion are inseparable and are, in fact, interspersed with each other. Because the subject crimes are either so revolting and debasing as to violate the most minimum of the human standards of decency or its effects, repercussions, implications and consequences so destructive, destabilizing, debilitating, or aggravating in the context of our socio-political and economic agenda as a developing nation, these crimes must be frustrated, curtailed and altogether eradicated. There can be no ifs or buts in the face of evil, and we cannot afford to wait until we rub elbows with it before grasping it by the ears and thrashing it to its demission.<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref>
The abolitionists in congress insisted that all criminal reforms first be pursued and implemented before the death penalty be re-imposed in case such reforms prove unsuccessful. They claimed that the only compelling reason contemplated of by the constitution is that nothing else but the death penalty is left for the government to resort to that could check the chaos and the destruction that is being caused by unbridled criminality. Three of our colleagues, are of the opinion that the compelling reason required by the constitution is that there occurred a dramatic and significant change in the socio-cultural milieu after the suspension of the death penalty on February 2, 1987 such as an unprecedented rise in the incidence of criminality. Such are, however, interpretations only of the phrase "compelling reasons" but not of the conjunctive phrase "compelling reasons involving heinous crimes". The imposition of the requirement that there be a rise in the incidence of criminality because of the suspension of the death penalty, moreover, is an unfair and misplaced demand, for what it amounts to, in fact, is a requirement that the death penalty first proves itself to be a truly deterrent factor in criminal behavior. If there was a dramatically higher incidence of criminality during the time that the death penalty was suspended, that would have proven that the death penalty was indeed a deterrent during the years before its suspension. Suffice it to say that the constitution in the first place did not require that the death penalty be first proven to be a deterrent; what it requires is that there be compelling reasons involving heinous crimes.<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref>
Article III, Section 19 (1) of the 1987 Constitution simply states that Congress, for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, may re-impose the death penalty. Nothing in the said provision imposes a requirement that for a death penalty bill to be valid, a positive manifestation in the form of a higher incidence of crime should first be perceived and statistically proven following the suspension of the death penalty. Neither does the said provision require that the death penalty be resorted to as a last recourse when all other criminal reforms have failed to abate criminality in society. It is immaterial and irrelevant that R.A. No. 7659 cites that there has been an "alarming upsurge of such crimes", for the same was never intended by said law to be the yardstick to determine the existence of compelling reasons involving heinous crimes. Fittingly, thus, what R.A. No. 7659 states is that "the Congress, in the interest of justice, public order and rule of law, and the need to rationalize and harmonize the penal sanctions for heinous crimes, finds compelling reasons to impose the death penalty for said crimes."<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref>
Constitutional challenge against the Death Penalty
The constitutionality of the death penalty was again raised in the 1997 case of People vs. Echegaray,<ref>G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref> in which case the accused argued that: (1) that the death penalty law is unconstitutional per se for having been enacted in the absence of compelling reasons therefor; and (2) that the death penalty for rape is a cruel, excessive and inhuman punishment in violation of the constitutional proscription against punishment of such nature.<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref>
Death penalty is not per se a cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment
The opposition to the death penalty uniformly took the form of a constitutional question of whether or not the death penalty is a cruel, unjust, excessive or unusual punishment in violation of the constitutional proscription against cruel and unusual punishments. The Supreme Court unchangingly answered this question in the negative in the cases of Harden vs. Director of Prison,<ref>81 Phil. 741 (1948)</ref> People vs. Limaco,<ref>88 Phil. 36 (1951)</ref> People vs. Camano,<ref>115 SCRA 688 (1982)</ref> People vs. Puda<ref>133 SCRA 1 (1984)</ref> and People vs. Marcos<ref>147 SCRA 204 (1987)</ref>. In Harden, the Supreme Court ruled that "[t]he penalty complained of is neither cruel, unjust nor excessive. In Ex-parte Kemmler, 136 U.S., 436, the United States Supreme Court said that 'punishments are cruel when they involve torture or a lingering death, but the punishment of death is not cruel, within the meaning of that word as used in the constitution. It implies there something inhuman and barbarous, something more than the mere extinguishment of life.'"<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref>
The Supreme Court has time and again emphasized that courts are not the fora for a protracted debate on the morality or propriety of the death sentence where the law itself provides therefor in specific and well-defined criminal acts. Thus it had ruled in the 1951 case of Limaco, reiterated in the 1995 case of People vs. Veneracion,<ref>249 SCRA 246, 253 (1995)</ref> that "there are quite a number of people who honestly believe that the supreme penalty is either morally wrong or unwise or ineffective. However, as long as that penalty remains in the statute books, and as long as our criminal law provides for its imposition in certain cases, it is the duty of judicial officers to respect and apply the law regardless of their private opinions."<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref>
Death penalty is not cruel, inhuman or degrading penalty for rape
The accused in People vs. Echegaray,<ref>G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref> also claims that the death penalty is a cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment for the crime of rape mainly because the latter, unlike murder, does not involve the taking of life. In support of his contention, the accused largely relies on the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in Coker v. Georgia. The U.S. Supreme Court based its ruling on two grounds:<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref>
- first, that the public has manifested its rejection of the death penalty as a proper punishment for the crime of rape through the willful omission by the state legislatures to include rape in their new death penalty statutes in the aftermath of Furman; and
- second, that rape, while concededly a dastardly contemptuous violation of a woman's spiritual integrity, physical privacy, and psychological balance, does not involve the taking of life.
Anent the first ground, the Supreme Court stated that this has no bearing on the Philippine experience and in the context of our own culture.<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref>
Anent the second ground, the gauge of whether or not a crime warrants the death penalty, is NOT the attendance of the circumstance of death on the part of the victim. Such a premise is in fact an ennobling of the biblical notion of retributive justice of "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth". The forfeiture of life simply because life was taken, was never a defining essence of the death penalty in the context of the Philippine legal history and cultural experience; rather, the death penalty is imposed in heinous crimes because the perpetrators thereof have committed unforgivably execrable acts that have so deeply dehumanized a person or criminal acts with severely destructive effects on the national efforts to lift the masses from abject poverty through organized governmental strategies based on a disciplined and honest citizenry, and because they have so caused irreparable and substantial injury to both their victim and the society and a repetition of their acts would pose actual threat to the safety of individuals and the survival of government, they must be permanently prevented from doing so.<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref>
At any rate, the Supreme Court has no doubts as to the innate heinousness of the crime of rape. Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life. It is always an intrinsically evil act xxx an outrage upon decency and dignity that hurts not only the victim but the society itself.<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997, citing People vs. Cristobal</ref> Capital punishment ought not to be abolished solely because it is substantially repulsive, if infinitely less repulsive than the acts which invoke it. Yet the mounting zeal for its abolition seems to arise from a sentimentalized hyperfastidiousness that seeks to expunge from the society all that appears harsh and suppressive. If we are to preserve the humane society we will have to retain sufficient strength of character and will to do the unpleasant in order that tranquillity and civility may rule comprehensively. It seems very likely that capital punishment is a x x x necessary, if limited factor in that maintenance of social tranquillity and ought to be retained on this ground. To do otherwise is to indulge in the luxury of permitting a sense of false delicacy to reign over the necessity of social survival.<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997, citing People vs. Cristobal</ref>
Prohibition of death penalty under R.A. 9346
On 24 June 2006, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law Republic Act No. 9346, entitled "An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines". It provides:
Section 1. The imposition of the penalty of death is hereby prohibited. Accordingly, Republic Act No. Eight Thousand One Hundred Seventy-Seven (R.A. No. 8177), otherwise known as the Act Designating Death by Lethal Injection, is hereby repealed. Republic Act No. Seven Thousand Six Hundred Fifty-Nine (R.A. No. 7659), otherwise known as the Death Penalty Law, and all other laws, executive orders and decrees, insofar as they impose the death penalty are hereby repealed or amended accordingly.
Section 5 of R.A. No. 9346 specifically provides that it shall take effect immediately after its publication in two national newspapers of general circulation. This is pursuant to Article 2 of the Civil Code which provides that laws shall take effect after 15 days following the completion of their publication either in the Official Gazette, or in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines, unless it is otherwise provided. R.A. No. 9346 was published in Malaya and Manila Times, two national newspapers of general circulation on 29 June 2006. Accordingly, R.A. No. 9346 took effect on 30 June 2006.<ref>People of the Philippines vs. Tubongbanua, G.R. 171271, 31 August 2006</ref>
Applicable penalty in crimes formerly punished by Death Penalty
With the removal of death penalty under the Constitution, the immediate problem pertained to the applicable penalty for what used to be capital crimes. In People vs. Gavarra, the Supreme Court stated that "in view of the abolition of the death penalty under Section 19, Article III of the 1987 Constitution, the penalty that may be imposed for murder is reclusion temporal in its maximum period to reclusion perpetua" thereby eliminating death as the original maximum period. The constitutional abolition of the death penalty, it seemed, limited the penalty for murder to only the remaining periods, to wit, the minimum and the medium, which the Supreme Court then, in People vs. Masangkay, People vs. Atencio and People vs. Intino divided into three new periods, to wit, the lower half of reclusion temporal maximum as the minimum; the upper half of reclusion temporal maximum as the medium; and reclusion perpetua as the maximum, in keeping with the three-grade scheme under the Revised Penal Code.<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref>
In People vs. Munoz, however, the Supreme Court reconsidered these aforecited cases and after extended discussion, the SC concluded that the doctrine announced therein did not reflect the intention of the framers. The crux of the issue was whether or not Article III, Section 19 (1) absolutely abolished the death penalty, for if it did, then, the aforementioned new three-grade penalty should replace the old one where the death penalty constituted the maximum period. But if no total abolition can be read from said constitutional provision and the death penalty is only suspended, it cannot as yet be negated by the institution of a new three-grade penalty premised on the total inexistence of the death penalty in our statute books. The SC ruled in Munoz:<ref>People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997</ref>
"The advocates of the Masangkay ruling argue that the Constitution abolished the death penalty and thereby limited the penalty for murder to the remaining periods, to wit, the minimum and the medium. These should now be divided into three new periods in keeping with the three-grade scheme intended by the legislature. Those who disagree feel that Article III, Section 19 (1) merely prohibits the imposition of the death penalty and has not, by reducing it to reclusion perpetua, also correspondingly reduced the remaining penalties. These should be maintained intact.
A reading of Section 19 (1) of Article III will readily show that there is really nothing therein which expressly declares the abolition of the death penalty. The provision merely says that the death penalty shall not be imposed unless for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes the Congress hereafter provides for it and, if already imposed, shall be reduced to reclusion perpetua. The language, while rather awkward, is still plain enough".
R.A. 7659, re-imposing the death penalty, provided for specific penalties, as discussed above. On the other hand, R.A. 9346, prohibiting the penalty of death, provides that in lieu of the death penalty, the following penalties shall be imposed:<ref>Republic Act No. 9346, Sec. 2</ref>
- the penalty of reclusion perpetua, when the law violated makes use of the nomenclature of the penalties of the Revised Penal Code.
- the penalty of life imprisonment, when the law violated does not make of the nomenclature of the penalties of the Revised Penal Code.
While the new law prohibits the imposition of the death penalty, the penalty provided for by law for a heinous offense is still death and the offense is still heinous.<ref>People vs. Roxas, G.R. No. 172604, 17 August 2010</ref> The litmus test in the determination of the civil indemnity is the heinous character of the crime committed, which would have warranted the imposition of the death penalty, regardless of whether the penalty actually imposed is reduced to reclusion perpetua.<ref>People vs. Roxas, G.R. No. 172604, 17 August 2010</ref> Civil indemnity of PhP75,000 is proper because the said award is not dependent on the actual imposition of the death penalty but on the fact that qualifying circumstances warranting the imposition of the death penalty attended the commission of the offense. The award of PhP75,000 shows not only a reaction to the apathetic societal perception of the penal law and the financial fluctuations over time but also the expression of the displeasure of the court of the incidence of heinous crimes against chastity.<ref>People vs. Roxas, G.R. No. 172604, 17 August 2010</ref>
Based on prevailing jurisprudence, the following amounts are proper: PhP75,000 as civil indemnity, which is awarded if the crime is qualified by circumstances warranting the imposition of the death penalty; PhP75,000 as moral damages because the victim is assumed to have suffered moral injuries, hence, entitling her to an award of moral damages even without proof thereof.<ref>People vs. Roxas, G.R. No. 172604, 17 August 2010</ref> In People vs. Roxas,<ref>G.R. No. 172604, 17 August 2010</ref> involving the crime of kidnapping and serious illegal detention with frustrated murder, the Supreme Court modified the award to PhP75,000 as civil indemnity, PhP75,000 as moral damages, and PhP30,000 as exemplary damages.
Illustrative cases after removal of death penalty
The case of People of the Philippines vs. Quiachon<ref>G.R. 170236, 31 August 2006</ref> involves an accused who raped his 8-year old daughter, a deaf-mute. Under Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code, the imposable penalty should have been death. With the abolition of the Death Penalty, however, the penalty was reduced to reclusion perpetua, without the possibility of parole under the Indeterminate Sentence Law.
The case of People of the Philippines vs. Santos<ref>G.R. 172322, 8 September 2006</ref> involves the rape of a 5-year old child. The accused was meted the penalty of death because rape committed against a ‘child below seven (7) years old’ is a dastardly and repulsive crime which merits no less than the imposition of capital punishment under Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code. The sentence was also reduced to reclusion perpetua, without the possibility of parole.
The case of People vs. Salome<ref>G.R. 169077, 31 August 2006</ref> involves a rape of a 13-year old girl (who got pregnant), committed in a dwelling and with the aid of a bladed weapon. The imposable penalty should have been death, but with the abolition of the Death Penalty, the Supreme Court reduced the penalty to reclusion perpetua, without the possibility of parole.
The case of People of the Philippines vs. Tubongbanua<ref>G.R. 171271, 31 August 2006</ref> involves the murder of a victim who suffered 18 stab wounds which were all directed to her chest, heart and lungs. Considering the existence of the qualifying circumstance of evident premeditation and the aggravating circumstances of dwelling, and taking advantage of superior strength without any mitigating circumstance, the proper imposable penalty would have been death. However, with the abolition of the death penalty law, the penalty imposed was reclusion perpetua, without the possibility of parole.