Infidelity in the custody of prisoner

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There are a number of offenses classified as Infidelity in the custody of prisoners under Section One, Chapter V, Book II of the Revised Penal Code. See also Delivering prisoners from jail and Evasion of service of sentence.


Contents

1. Conniving with or consenting to evasion

Article 223 of the Revised Penal Code provides:

Art. 223. Conniving with or consenting to evasion. - Any public officer who shall consent to the escape of a prisoner in his custody or charge, shall be punished:
1. By prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods and temporary special disqualification in its maximum period to perpetual special disqualification, if the fugitive shall have been sentenced by final judgment to any penalty.
2. By prision correccional in its minimum period and temporary special disqualification, in case the fugitive shall not have been finally convicted but only held as a detention prisoner for any crime or violation of law or municipal ordinance.

In order to be guilty under Article 223 of the Revised Penal Code, it is necessary that the public officer had consented to, or connived in, the escape of the prisoner under his custody or charge. Connivance in the escape of a prisoner on the part of the person in charge is an essential condition in the commission of the crime of faithlessness in the custody of the prisoner. If the public officer charged with the duty of guarding him does not connive with the fugitive, then he has not violated the law and is not guilty of the crime.[1]


2. Evasion through negligence

Article 224 of the Revised Penal Code penalizes the public officer in whose custody or charge a prisoner has escaped by reason of his negligence resulting in evasion is definite amounting to deliberate non-performance of duty.[2] Article 224 reads:

Art. 224. Evasion through negligence. - If the evasion of the prisoner shall have taken place through the negligence of the officer charged with the conveyance or custody of the escaping prisoner, said officer shall suffer the penalties of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period and temporary special disqualification.

The elements of the crime under Article 224 are: a) that the offender is a public officer; b) that he is charged with the conveyance or custody of a prisoner, either detention prisoner or prisoner by final judgment; and c) that such prisoner escapes through his negligence.[3] The negligence must be committed by the officer who is charged with the custody and guarding of the prisoner.[4] Unlike in Article 223, it is not necessary that connivance be proven in the infidelity in the custody of prisoners under Article 224.[5]

As a police officer who was charged with the duty to return the prisoner directly to jail, the deviation from his duty was clearly a violation of the regulations.[6] It is the duty of any police officer having custody of a prisoner to take necessary precautions to assure the absence of any means of escape. A failure to undertake these precautions will make his act one of definite laxity or negligence amounting to deliberate non-performance of duty. His tolerance of arrangements whereby the prisoner and her companions could plan and make good her escape should have aroused the suspicion of a person of ordinary prudence.[7]

It is improper for the police officer to take lunch with the prisoner and her family when he was supposed to bring his charge to the jail. He even allowed the prisoner and her husband to talk to each other at the request of a co-officer. The request for lunch and the consequent delay was an opportunity for the prisoner to learn of a plan or to carry out an earlier plan by which she could escape. The plan was in fact carried out with the help of the lady who accompanied his prisoner inside the comfort room. The use of a toilet is one of the most familiar and common place methods of escape. It is inconceivable that a police officer should fall for this trick. The arrangement with a lady friend should have aroused the officer's suspicion because the only pretext given by the officer was that she was going to answer the call of nature. It was, therefore, unnecessary for her to be accompanied by anyone especially by someone who was not urgently in need of a toilet if the purpose was merely to relieve herself. Despite this, the petitioner allowed the two to enter the comfort room without first establishing for himself that there was no window or door allowing the possibility of escape. He even allowed the prisoner's companion to leave the premises with the excuse that the prisoner was having her monthly period and that there was a need to buy sanitary napkins. And he patiently waited for more than ten minutes for the companion to return. This was patent negligence and incredible naivette on the part of the police officer.[8]


3. Escape of prisoner under the custody of a person not a public officer

Article 225 of the Revised Penal Code penalizes any private person to whom the conveyance or custody or a prisoner or person under arrest shall have been confided, who shall commit any of the offenses under Article 223 and Article 224. The imposable penalty is the penalty next lower in degree than that prescribed for the public officer.[9] See also Application of penalties.


References

  1. Alberto vs. de la Cruz, G.R. No. L-31839, 30 June 1980
  2. Alberto vs. de la Cruz, G.R. No. L-31839, 30 June 1980
  3. Rodillas vs. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. L-58652, 20 May 1988, citing Reyes, L.B., Revised Penal Code, Book II, 1977 ed., p. 407
  4. Alberto vs. de la Cruz, G.R. No. L-31839, 30 June 1980
  5. Rodillas vs. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. L-58652, 20 May 1988
  6. Rodillas vs. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. L-58652, 20 May 1988
  7. Rodillas vs. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. L-58652, 20 May 1988
  8. Rodillas vs. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. L-58652, 20 May 1988
  9. Revised Penal Code, Art. 225
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