The general rule is that killing or injuring a person is a crime and therefore punishable. The state must enforce its lethal power against those who disrupt the peace, tranquility, and safety in its territory. There are circumstances however, when the act even though criminal, does not make the doer liable or the penalty imposable is lesser. These circumstances are usually justified by reason of the the one who commits the act has done so in defence of himself or strangers. There is however, a provision in our Revised Penal Code that even though someone is injured or even killed, the perpetrator does not suffer any penalty. To some this provision is one of the remnants of our “macho” culture wherein the “honor” of a man is worth killing for. Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code states: “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.” Destierro is not a penalty, rather a measure to protect the killer from any act of revenge from the family of the deceased. Although not specifically mentioned in the article, some say that this only applies to a man who would surprise his wife in the “act” with another man because of the use of the word “he” in the article. The late Senator Santiago introduced a bill during her incumbency in the senate but there is not further update with regard to the same.
The circumstances described above do not fit in today’s modern society. While a person is justified to injure or even kill an assailant from inflicting harm upon him, there is no physical harm sought to be prevented in Article 247. It would appear that a husband’s rage upon discovering the infidelity of his spouse is sufficient justification to injure or even kill the latter and her lover. It also appears that the “dishonour” and “shame” brought about by the infidelity of the spouse is sufficient justification for the act. This provision of law is in fact “honor killing” to some which should be abandoned and should be repealed. Senator Poe again filed a bill in the senate seeking to repeal this provision. According to the senator, killing is killing and the article does not promote a progressive view on family life. Since actual cases of this “honor killing” are very rare or probably even absent it is most likely that the legislators will not pay much attention to this article. But repealing it will give a clear statement that our society will abandon this concept and that we give value to everyone’s life even those who causes dishonour or shame and that we do not put the law in our hands. There is that very popular concept: “We are a government of laws, and not of man”. Indeed, the state being the real offended party in criminal cases must uphold the rule of law if we desire to live in a society that “hears before it condemns” and promotes equality among its members.