Blog Lecture No. 65: Death or Physical Injuries Under Exceptional Circumstances

What is the general rule when one kills or maims another?

Under ordinary circumstances, people who kill or inflict physical injuries upon another person get a prison term (and depending on other factors, even a life sentence).

But there is an exemption to this where a person merely gets destierro.

What the hell is destierro?

According to Article 114 of the Revised Penal Code:

Those sentence to destierro shall be precluded from entering the place or places designated in the sentence, or within the radius therein designated, which shall include a distance of 25 kilometers at least, and 250 kilometers at most, from the place designated.

It’s more a restraining order than anything else. The banishment is intended more for the protection of the offender rather than a penalty.

So what is this exceptional circumstance?

Under Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code:

“Any legally married person who having surprised his spouse in the act of committing sexual intercourse with another person, shall kill any of them or both of them in the act or immediately thereafter, or shall inflict upon them any serious physical injury, shall suffer the penalty of destierro.

If he shall inflict upon them physical injuries of any other kind, he shall be exempt from punishment.

These rules shall be applicable, under the same circumstances, to parents with respect to their daughters under eighteen years of age, and their seducer, while the daughters are living with their parents.

Any person who shall promote or facilitate the prostitution of his wife or daughter, or shall otherwise have consented to the infidelity of the other spouse shall not be entitled to the benefits of this article.”

So to whom does this apply?

This applies to:

1. A spouse who kills or injuries the other spouse and the paramour

2. A parent with respect to their daughters under eighteen years and her seducer.

So what are the requisites for this to apply?

1. The offender is any legally married person (or the parent while the daughter still lives with the parents);

2. The offender surprises his spouse (or the daughter under 18) in the act of committing sexual intercourse with another person (or the seducer in the case of the daughter);

3. The offender kills or seriously injures any or both of them;

4. The offender kills or seriously injures during the act of sexual intercourse or immediately thereafter.

What does “immediately thereafter” mean?

The term “immediately thereafter” means that from discovery to the escape and the killing, there must be no interruption or interval of time. The pursuit and the killing must form part of one continuous act.

However, it is not necessary that the victim is to be killed instantly by the accused after surprising his spouse in the act of intercourse with another person. This law only requires that the death caused must be the proximate result of the outrage overwhelming the accused after chancing upon his spouse in the act of infidelity, because the purpose of the law is to afford protection to a spouse (or the parent) who is considered to act in a justified outburst of passion or a state of mental instability.

“The vindication of a Man’s honor is justified because of the scandal an unfaithful wife creates; the law is strict on this, authorizing as it does, a man to chastise her, even with death. But killing the errant spouse as a purification is so severe as that it can only be justified when the unfaithful spouse is caught in flagrante delicto; and it must be resorted to only with great caution so much so that the law requires that it be inflicted only during the sexual intercourse or immediately thereafter.” (People vs. Wagas, 171 SCRA 69)

What does “caught in the act” mean?

Of course you know what “caught in the act” means… the carnal act is being committed by the victims at the time they are killed or injured by the offender.

Thus, it does not apply when a man kills his wife just because he saw another man jump out the window of his house upon his arrival or when his spouse and another man are merely sleeping on the same bed. It also does not include acts preparatory to sexual intercourse (such as… you know what means…).

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