MANILA, Philippines --- Being detained in a hospital has not stopped Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from filing a bill seeking to punish with life imprisonment government officials and employees for stealing from and desecrating victims of natural and man-made calamities and accidents.
While detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center on charges of electoral sabotage, Arroyo has sought the filing of House Bill 6226 which also seeks to impose stiff penalties for crimes of looting, robbery and desecration against victims during and in the aftermath of natural or man-made disasters and accidents.
The bill is co-authored by her son, Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado Macapagal-Arroyo.
HB 6226 refers to desecrating of victims as any act of disrespect; outraging or scoffing at the corpse; taking away vital organs or the corpse itself for profit; illegal exhumation; burying the dead victims without official permit; dumping of dead persons, including infants and fetuses, in public places and conducting medical study without security approval of authorities.
Sexual intercourse or activity with the dead is also included as an act of desecration.
Macapagal-Arroyo said looting from the victim will refer to plunder of voluminous quantity which is not less than P20,000 but not exceeding P50 million.
On the other hand, stealing shall be the same act of robbery defined under the Revised Penal Code.
"There is no excuse in violating the sanctity of human dignity, living or deceased," the authors of the bill stated.
"It is the hope of the authors that this humble proposal will be able to stir the country's consciousness on the sanctity of the human body and that the State prioritize the preservation of the inviolable dignity of the human being," they said.
Under the bill, mere possession of property belonging to the victim or deceased at the vicinity of the accident or possession of organs will be deemed prima facie evidence for the commission of the crime.
Persons found guilty of committing any of the said crimes will be liable to six months to six years imprisonment and a fine ranging from P50,000 to P100,000.
The penalty of prision mayor or six to 12 years imprisonment will be imposed on persons found guilty of the crime of desecration fo the victim.
A government official, employee or a person in authority may be punished with life term in prison.
If the offence listed are already penalized by any other law, the higher penalty will be imposed on the guilty party.