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Filipino Law Allows Murder for Spouses Caught in Adultery!

Filipino law allows murder for spouses caught in the act of adultery. It also allows parents to kill caught having sex!  I saw this amazing headline in the October 12, 2010 newspaper edition of the phil STAR.com. I assure you I am not making this up, and I am not writing this blog under the influence of too many San Miguels or bottles of Red Horse.

Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines allows husbands and parents to kill their wives and daughters caught having sex with another man. Doesn't say if there are any penalties if they are caught in the act with another woman.  Now Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares is trying to upset the applecart and wants the law repealed. Rep. Colmenares says the killer is merely penalized with destierro or prohibited from entering a place designated by the court, surely a ''non penalty" considering the seriousness of the crime, at least in his opinion.
 
Article 247 states the following: "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 of 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 18 years of age, and their seducer, while the daughters are living with their parents."
 
Here is an insightful commentary that one of  my faithful and scholarly readers of my blog  "Lizard Poop!", Kaltehitze, left as a remark to this article which I had originally published on my other blog.  It  had been  incorrectly inferred on a previous remark  that the law only applied to husbands and was sexist. Here is Kaltehitze's comment:

"The law applies also to wives who kill their husbands. The law uses the word spouse which is a gender neutral law. If the law does not distinguish then neither should we distinguish. It is therefore not a sexist law. In Criminal law,
 
if a married person, let's say a woman, catches her husband having sex with somebody else, and right there and then, she kills not only the husband, but also the other girl, the killer (the wife, in this example) is saved by the law.
 
Under Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code, it is provided that: "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."
 
In effect, the killer, be it the wife or the husband who was cheated on, is not to be punished. The killer does not commit murder or homicide or even manslaughter. The penalty which will be imposed is only destierro which, in the eyes of the law, is for the protection of the killer.
 
What is destierro? Destierro is the penalty where the convict is ordered not to be near within 25 meters of the scene of the crime. For example, if the crime scene was located at 127 jupiter st. makati city, the convict, if imposed the penalty of destierro must not be within 25 meters of 127 jupiter st. makati city.
 
Why the very light penalty? The reason is because the law protects the honor of the person who discovered the sexual act of her husband and another person. This applies too, to husbands who discover the sexcapades of their wives. In the words of the supreme court: "The law, when the circumstances provided in this article are present, considers the spouse as acting in a justified burst of passion (people v. Gonzales, 69 phil. 66).
 
Requisites for the application of Article 247, RPC: 1. That a legally married person surprises his spouse in the act of committing sexual intercourse with another person. 2. That he or she kills any or both of them or inflicts upon any or both of them any serious physical injury in the act or immediately thereafter. 3. That he has not promoted or facilitated the prostitution of his wife or that he has not consented to the infidelity of the other spouse. (Criminal Law II, Luis B. Reyes, 2001 ed.)
 
Also, see the case of People v. Abarca 153 SCRA 735 There requisites are strict: You must be surprised first at the sight you are seeing. The killing will then be considered a SPONTANEOUS REACTION TO WHAT YOU HAVE SEEN. IN THIS SITUATION, THE LAW ACKNOWLEDGES THE NORMAL HUMAN EXPERIENCE AND REACTION TO WHAT YOU HAVE SEEN." -Kaltehitze

Many thanks to Kaltehitze for his clarification on this law. Kaltehitze always makes some detailed and knowledgeable remarks on my posts, and his insight is always greatly and sincerely appreciated.
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12 Responses to “Filipino Law Allows Murder for Spouses Caught in Adultery!”

  1. rich pawly says:

    I guess adultery is considered serious business in the PI. All comes down to loosing face. Good to know the man has some recourse :) (pretty sexist lol)

  2. Dave says:

    Hi Rich! I guess the counterpart to that in the States would be "crimes of passion" , but I don't how much that defense is used  anymore. My first reading of the law was that it only applied to the man also, but if you check out law scholar Kaltehitze's remark, the law SHOULD apply equally to both genders.

  3. Kaltehitze says:

    Yup dave, it applies to both genders. However, while the law seems NOT to be sexist it seems to be biased. It does not mention sons. So, it seems that if a parent would kill a son caught in the act of having sex with another person (whether male or female), such killing would be deemed to be a crime.
    If the intent of the law is to allow crimes of passion, then I do not understand how sons seem to get a 'preferential' treatment.
    To this date though, there is no known case that dwells on such situations, so we do not have any guide on the matter of sons caught in the sexual act being killed by parents or siblings.
    Just my two cents.
    -kaltehitze

  4. Dave says:

    Thanks, Kaltehitze, for the clarification. It does seem to me that the sons are getting "preferential" treatment, also. Your legal insight is always welcome. By the way, sorry about the "profile picture", it's just something different that is set up on WordPress. I bet you are way better looking than the avatar depicted!

  5. Dan says:

    Since the Goverment there is pretty much control ed by the Catholic Church then that must be a law that is what? Supported by the Catholic Church?

    • Dave says:

      I don’t know the origins of the law, Dan, but no doubt the Church must have had some hand in it, as it does in most issues of the Philippines.

  6. Christine says:

    Hi Dave, adultery committed by a man fall under the Phil. laws that governed the Laws of Chastity. Hence only an unfaithful woman is charged with adultery, and if the man involved was aware she was married, then he too is punished. Charges of adultery may be laid if a married woman marries a second time without the first marriage having been judicially annulled or voided. Her liability is in addition to bigamy. This offence is punishable by imprisonment of no more than 2 years. Here are the Principles in the prosecution of Adultery:

    A. Direct evidence is not necessary as adultery may be implied from the circumstances of time, place and occasion

    B. There may be a separate trial for the man and the woman

    C. The man may be acquitted if he did not know the woman is married

    D. If the man is married, he may also be liable for concubinage and the married woman man may also be charged as a concubine.

    Many of you with separated girlfriends might not be aware of this.

    What about the man?
    If the husband is the unfaithful party he can be charged with concubinage ONLY if he commits the act in the family home, that is the mistress must live in the man’s home. Punishment for the woman involved is destierro (banishment). This may be committed when a married woman marries a second time without the first having been judicially annulled or voided. Her liability is in addition to bigamy.

    • Dave says:

      Thanks for all of that information, Christine. Sounds like the law is definitely slanted in favor of the male. I wonder how many cases of adultery are actively pursued in the Philippine court systems? Around our rural province, if someone leaves their spouse, they just go ahead and marry someone else since their is no divorce, only costly annulments allowed in the Philippines. Of course that’s bigamy, and officials here are aware of it. I had one PNP officer at a checkpoint tell me that our jeepney driver did not have a lawful marriage contract, but as long as the driver had a valid driver’s license he could care less about the marriage contract.

      • Christine says:

        OOpps! the last sentence does not belonged there Dave. Can you delete?

        And you’re welcome. Yes indeed, the laws are anti-females. Its as if they (Pinoys) don’t trust us Pinay! I don’t really know how many of these are pursued. I would say not many poor Pinoys pursue this, but if the Pinoy is rich and estranged wife has Kano BF, well the potential to make their lives hell is very real!

        • Dave says:

          Well, the Philippines is definitely a male-dominated society, Christine, much like the United States was back in the 50′s and more akin to many Middle Eastern countries which even stone women to death caught in the act of adultery. I have heard pf a few misguided kano boyfriends living in denial who think their Filipina girlfriend is no longer married. You’re right about the possible retaliation such a guy might face, have read some stories already since I’ve been here about such kanos being murdered.

  7. Moses says:

    Thanks sir for this very informative blog. I’m sure many of our married readers now will be finally informed and guided properly on what to do when they caught their partners having an extra-marital affairs. I wish our law makers will give their full support to endorse the bill on a renewal of marriage license.

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