House eyes longer prescription period for graft cases

By Jess Diaz, The Philippine Star

Posted at Apr 05 2014 08:58 AM | Updated as of Apr 05 2014 04:58 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A bill is seeking to extend the prescription period for graft cases from 15 to 30 years.

The House of Representatives committee on revision of laws and codes has endorsed the bill for plenary consideration.

Authors led by Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao said violations of laws on graft and corruption and plunder could be filed within 30 years from the time they are committed.

Offenders must not be allowed to escape criminal liability just due to lack of time for authorities to file cases, they added.

Aggabao said doubling the prescription period is necessary in the wake of numerous lawmakers and private citizens involved in the multibillion-peso congressional pork barrel scam.

“In the Philippines, graft and corruption have become so pervasive that it developed into a total systemic affliction,” they said.

“Recently, we were dumbfounded by the grand larceny of public funds for private pecuniary gain and benefit. It is bleeding the government coffers and the innocent victim is no less than the Filipino people,” he said.

Aggabao said violations of laws against graft and corruption and plunder “are one of the most difficult crimes to prosecute and investigate.”

“Records show that the accused are often made liable for their crimes only upon its discovery after their term or tenure in public office or even after the change in government administration,” he said.

“By the time the information is filed in court, the crime has already prescribed or is about to prescribe.”

Aggabao said the extension of the prescription period for such case to at least 30 years is needed.

“This will prevent perpetrators from escaping criminal liability by the mere technicality of prescription,” he said.

The bill would amend Section 11 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

They hope the House would give priority to the bill’s approval, the authors said.