Criminal Negligence

Manila Bulletin, November 15, 2008 | Go to article overview

Criminal Negligence


DEATH caused by reckless imprudence/negligence, say on any road or highway, carries a penalty amounting to a slap on the wrist, even if the wayward PU vehicle, car or freight truck travel at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second).

Death by the dozens

The driver either flees, is taken to the hospital or is detained to explain why his bus killed 15 passengers only, and not all 50 on board.

Then he is freed on bail to drive and drive, again and again.

Old doctrines

The driver in all cases of crimes through negligence is presumed to have acted without malice, according to our Spanish Penal Code of 1887 and revised on January 1, 1932.

Criminal Law professors tell their students that for lack of voluntariness/criminal intent the driver commits a minor crime, not murder or homicide on the freeway for killing scores of passengers or innocent pedestrians.

The Penal Code is influenced in part by Napoleon's jurists between 1801 and 1815, the latter date being his defeat on the plains of Waterloo. In turn the French jurists borrowed penal doctrines of Roman Law.

Need to update laws

All the doctrines on negligence/reckless imprudence were not revised by Filipino members of the Code Commission in 1931 before the Spanish version of the Penal Code was adopted in toto by the Philippine Legislature of two houses, Senate (with Quezon as president) and the House (with Roxas, 31, as speaker).

Guides for study

For the readers' reference, that may be shared with lawyers, especially judges and prosecutors, the following need to be studied carefully:

1. There were no PU vehicles/buses in Spain and France between 1804, when Napoleon was crowned emperor, and 1898 when Spain surrendered to Dewey.

2. Motor vehicles in PI were in limited use only about the early 1920s, when US auto makers started selling cars to the world. …

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