Special penal laws in the Philipines


Apart from the crimes penalized in the Revised Penal Code, several other pieces of criminal legislation have been passed, penalizing acts such as illegal possession and trafficking of dangerous drugs, money laundering, and illegal possession of firearms. These laws are called “Special Penal Laws” and they form part of Philippine Criminal Laws. There are certain differences between crimes punished under the Revised Penal Code and Special Penal Laws.

Violations of the crimes listed in the Revised Penal Code are referred to as mala in se, which literally means, that the act is inherently evil or bad or wrongful in itself. On the other hand, violations of Special Penal Laws are generally referred to as malum prohibitum or an act that is wrong because it is prohibited. Thus, no criminal intent is needed in order to find a person liable for crimes punished under Special Penal Laws. As long as the act is committed, then it is punishable as a crime under law.

Note, however, that not all violations of Special Penal Laws are mala prohibita. While intentional felonies are always mala in se, it does not follow that prohibited acts done in violation of special laws are always mala prohibita.

There are some important distinctions between crimes punishable under the Revised Penal Code and Special Penal Laws. One of them is that in crimes punished under the Revised Penal Code, the moral trait of the offender is considered. This is why liability would only arise when there is criminal intent or negligence in the commission of the punishable act. In crimes punished under Special Penal Laws, the moral trait of the offender is not considered; it is enough that the prohibited act was voluntarily done.

SOURCE: Special Penal Laws. Philippine criminal law. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_criminal_law#Special_Penal_Laws.

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