Presidential Decree No. 1727

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There have been many instances when flights at Philippine airports are delayed or cancelled because of "bomb jokes", which usually involves a person uttering words about bombs and explosives. The law cited for the flight delay or cancellation, and the certain arrest of the person uttering the "bomb joke", is Presidential Decree No. 1727 (full text).

For instance, on 12 April 2012, an Airphil Express flight bound for Puerto Princesa, Palawan was forced to abort take-off after a passenger said something about an explosion.[1] The controversy started when one of the passengers requested to have his daughter sit on his lap, but the flight attendant stated that airline rules prohibit more than one passenger from occupying the same seat, prompting the passenger to say, "O sige, kung ayaw mo, may sasabog (All right, if you don’t allow this, something will explode)."[2] The AirPhil plane was already taxiing on the runway when the pilot requested for assistance from the airport police, stating that, "A passenger threatened to blow up the plane."[3] The plane and the baggage were subjected to a 4-hour inspection but no explosive device was found. The plane was later allowed to depart but the subject passengers were held for questioning and potential prosecution.[4]

Nevertheless, it must be emphasized that PD 1727 is not limited to "bomb jokes" made in airplanes or airports. The law, as will be discussed below, also covers "buildings, tenements and other places".

Anti-Bomb Joke Law; Rationale

While PD 1727 is often referred to as the "Anti-bomb Joke Law' or "Bomb Joke Law", the law itself does not use this formal name. PD 1727, issued by President Ferdinand E. Marcos on 8 October 1980, is entitled: "Declaring as Unlawful the Malicious Dissemination of False Information or the Willful Making of any Threat Concerning Bombs, Explosives or any Similar Device or Means of Destruction and Imposing Penalties Therefor."

PD 1727 was issued in the wake of bombings, arsons, and other terroristic acts committed by radicals and other lawless elements in the country.[5] These lawless elements, as well as "pranksters", have been disseminating false information or willfully making threats regarding the alleged presence of bombs, explosives, incendiary devices, or any similar device or means of destruction in buildings, tenements and other places for the purpose of causing or creating public confusion and disorder.[6] The government found it necessary to immediately adopt and enforce measures to curb these criminal acts that pose a grave and positive danger to public safety and security.[7]

Prohibited Acts; Penalties

The law punishes "[a]ny person who, by word of mouth or through the use of the mail, telephone, telegraph, printed materials and other instrument or means of communication, willfully makes any threat or maliciously conveys, communicates, transmits, imparts, passes on, or otherwise disseminates false information, knowing the same to be false, concerning an attempt or alleged attempt being made to kill, injure, or intimidate any individual or unlawfully to damage or destroy any building, vehicle, or other real or personal property, by means of explosives, incendiary devices, and other destructive forces of similar nature or characteristics."[8]

The imposable penalty is imprisonment of not more than five (5) years, or a fine or not more than Forty Thousand Pesos (PhP40,000), or both. at the discretion of the court.[9]


References

  1. Yahoo Philippines, Bomb remark delays AirPhil flight to Palawan, accessed on 13 April 2012
  2. PhilStar.com, Airline delays flight over bomb joke, accessed on 13 April 2012
  3. Business Mirror, Passenger’s bomb threat delays Puerto Princesa flight, accessed on 13 April 2012
  4. ABS-CBNNews.com, 'Bomb joke' forces plane to abort take-off, accessed on 13 April 2012
  5. First "Whereas Clause" of Presidential Decree 1727
  6. First "Whereas Clause" of Presidential Decree 1727
  7. Second "Whereas Clause" of Presidential Decree 1727
  8. Sec. 1, Presidential Decree 1727
  9. Sec. 1, Presidential Decree 1727
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