Blog Lecture No. 27: Conspiracies

Sorry class for not lecturing yesterday. I was busy with some things… like earning a living…

Ok class! Since this is the present catchword, let’s talk about conspiracies. This topic is very dear to me because this was the question in my midterm exams the spelled the turning point in my law career:

The second paragraph, Article 8 of the Revised Penal Code states:

Conspiracy exists when two or more persons come into an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it.

Is a conspiracy, in itself, punishable?

No. Only in cases where the provides a punishment does a consipiracy per se becomes punishable.

Can you give examples?

Sure. Conspiracy to commit treason under Article 115 of the Revise Penal Code, conspiracy to commit rebellion, coup d’etat and insurrection under Article 136 of the same code, conspiracy to commit sedition under Article 141, conspiracy to commit arson under Section 7 of Presidential Decree 1613.

Conspiracy to resign and make a dramatic media hype about it is not punishable under the law simply because there in no law punishing such an act. It’s like the case I heard over the radio the other day where in an extortion attempt, a traffic enforcer charged his motorist/victim with “stepping on the line.” That guy must have been an ameteur basketball referee. He deserved to be caught…

Although a good enough dog can turn this into a case of conspiracy to commit sedition… again if the dog is good enough.

But why is conspiracy given such a bad connotation?

Conspiracy in participation of any crime creates co-responsibility. There is a saying that in a conspiracy, “The act of one is the act of all.” (People vs. Masangkay, 155 SCRA 113 [1987]). Hence, once conspiracy in the commission of a crime is proven, all those in it are considered principals by direct participation, regardless of whether their actual participation is merely that of an accomplice or a accessory. See my related blog-lecture on this here.

But how do you prove conspiracy?

You have to prove that a conspirator performed an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy. It is not enough the you prove that the conspiracy exists.

Can you give an example of this?

Of course. Prove that there is a conspiracy first and then one of them lends his car or merely present at the scene of crime while it was being committed may be enough to impute liability on this conspirator… (People vs. Cortez, 57 SCRA 308, 316 [1974], cited in Criminal Law, by Kapunan (+) and Faylona, 1990 Edition)

Being present when the crime is being committed or lending one’s car to facilitate the commission of the crime, coupled with proof of existence of such conspiracy is enough to implicate everyone as co-principals by direct participation in any crime.

Rattling off timelines merely proves coincidence, not conspiracy, impressionable one…

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