Monday, May 25, 2009

Bill seeks life terms for street gangs, frats & BAN Them in the Philippines

House measure
fights street Gangs & Frats


BY WENDELL VIGILIA & Gil C. Cabacungan Jr

MANILA, Philippines -- A bill has been filed by two congressmen outlawing all street gangs and fraternities with their big bosses and members facing jail time between 15 and 30 years or life imprisonment.

THE House has approved on final reading a measure which seeks to deter the proliferation of street gangs through a set of stiff penalties against members, recruiters and anyone who commits gang-related crimes.

House Bill 5827 or the "Criminal Street Gang Deterrence and Punishment Act of 2009" authored by Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (PMP, Cagayan de Oro) & Rodolfo W. Antonino of Nueva Ecija define criminal gangs as a "formal or in formal group, club, organization or association of three or more members who, alone or any combination thereof, acts(s) or agree(s) to act in concert in order to commit two or more predicate gang crimes."

"Predicate gang crime," it said, is "any threat or act or attempted act or threat which is punishable under the revised Penal Code and other special penal laws and punishable by imprisonment of more than one year."

The bill said "predicate gang crimes" are murder, attempted murder, gambling, kidnapping, robbery, extortion, arson, obstruction of justice, burglary, sexual assault, and carjacking.

Also considered gang crimes are tampering with or retaliating against a witness, victim or informant, and manufacturing, importing, distributing and possessing with intent to distribute, or otherwise dealing in controlled substance(s) or chemicals; or other similar offenses."

The measure provides the penalty of imprisonment of not more than 10 years for people who will "recruit, solicit, induce, employ, command or cause another individual to gain entrance to, remain a member of or increase his/her position in a criminal street gang or conspire to do so with the intent that the said individual shall participate in any offense described by this Act."

It proposes a 15-year imprisonment for persons who will "employ, use, command, coerce, counsel, persuade, induce or entice any individual to commit, cause to commit or facilitate the commission of a 2 predicate gang crime in furtherance of or in aid of the activities of a criminal street gang."

In case the individual induced is a minor, the recruiter will face imprisonment of not less than 10 years but not more than 15 years and a fine set by the court.

The bill provides a stiffer 20-year imprisonment for any person who shall" commit, conspire or attempt to commit two or more predicate gang crimes in furtherance of or in aid of the activities of a criminal street gang."

However, a person who at the time of the offense occupied a position of organizer, leader, supervisor, manager or any other position of management or supervision in the criminal street gang involved in such violation shall be imprisoned for not less than 30 years or for life.

The bill also provides that any person who, in furtherance or in aid of a criminal street gang, commits a crime of violence against any individual, or conspires or attempts to do so, shall be punished in addition and consecutive to the punishment provided for any other violation as follows:

• Life imprisonment for murder, kidnapping for ransom.

• 10 years for sexual assault

• Five years for maiming; assault with a dangerous weapon or assault resulting in serious bodily injury; attempting or conspiring to commit murder, kidnapping; and, attempting or conspiring to commit a crime involving assault with a dangerous weapon or assault resulting in serious bodily injury,

Rodriguez, in the bill, said the crime situation "has reached an alarming level despite enforcement of supposedly stricter law enforcement measures."

He said the police have identified "hot spots" in Metro Manila, or places where gangs often carry out criminal activities.