15 years in prison eyed for vandalism
MANILA, Philippines — A committee of the House of Representatives has endorsed, for plenary approval, a measure that will impose up to 15 years imprisonment for vandals and those found stealing or destroying government property or signages.
House Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu disclosed that the House committee on revision of laws, headed by Zambales Rep. Cheryl Deloso-Montalla, gave its stamp of approval to House Bill 2090 which provides penalties for stealing or damaging road signages all over the country.
“These road signs and warning devices have been installed precisely as a safeguard to motorists and pedestrians for purposes of avoiding loss of lives through accidents,” the Batangas congressman pointed out.
HB 2090 provides a minimum prison term of 12 years to a maximum of 15 years and a possible fine of up to P300,000 for anyone caught stealing or vandalizing government road signs and other warning devices, accessories and other facilities.
Records from the Department of Public Works and Highways show that some 42,558 government signages and devices installed across the country have been stolen and vandalized since January 2013.
He lamented that under Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code, which prescribes the punishment for theft, the list of properties that could be stolen does not include traffic signages, warning signs and traffic protective devices such as highway or bridge railings.
Abu, author of HB 2090, wants persons found guilty of stealing or possessing road signs and warning devices, including manhole covers and accessories, as well as stealing or buying disaster warning and risk reduction instruments and their accessories, to be penalized more.
He also proposed that damaging or vandalizing road signs and warning devices, including manhole covers and their accessories, should be slapped with a six to 10-year imprisonment, a fine of P100,000 to P150,000 or both.
According to Abu, the penalties will be harsher against government employees found guilty of the offenses cited above, with a punishment of forfeiture of their retirement benefits and being barred being in government service.
The proposal also provides incentives to those who will give information leading to the apprehension of violators of this measure, and these motivations will be provided under the Implementing Rules and Regulations.
“Through the guidance and help of former Agham party-list congressman Angelo Palmones, who first filed this bill in the previous Congress, I earnestly request that this bill be enacted into law at the soonest time possible,” Abu said.
Data from the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) as of June 2016 indicate that from the 15,272 road crash incidents that resulted in 1,252 deaths in 2014, this figure surged to 24,565 road accidents that resulted in the deaths of 1,040 persons in 2015.
In the first four months of 2016, the HPG recorded 10,656 road crashes with 549 casualties all over the country.