Driving on open roads provides a thrill like no other. It’s fun and exhilarating, but it is also brutal, with dangers lurking at every turn. There all kinds of traffic accidents and violations. It is for reasons like this that the Land Transportation Office (LTO) tries its best to regulate the drivers and vehicles by running strict tests and processes for driver’s license applications and vehicle registrations before they are allowed on the road. That being said, the risks do not always just involve the drivers and vehicles alone. Sometimes, external factors also threaten both drivers and vehicles on the road.
External threats on the road can be pretty dangerous to both drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. After all, the lawless mind knows no bounds when it comes to committing acts of depredations upon persons and properties of innocent and defenseless drivers, disturbing the peace, order, and tranquility, effectively stunting the economic and social progress of the country.
What is PD No. 532: Anti-Piracy and Anti-Highway Robbery Law of 1974
Presidential Decree No. (PD) 532, otherwise known as the Anti-Piracy and Anti-Highway Robbery Law of 1974, is a law signed into existence in August 1974, by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, in an attempt to discourage lawless piracy and highway robbery or brigandage. It also has provisions to punish piracy, but not mutiny, within the Philippine territorial waters. Unfortunately, the provisions of PD No. 532 does not extend to piracy in the high seas, which is instead covered by the Revised Penal Code.
Crimes Identified by PD 532 (Anti-Piracy and Anti-Highway Robbery Law of 1974)
Some of the crimes provisioned for by PD 532 or the Anti-Piracy and Anti-Highway Robbery Law of 1974 include:
Highway Robbery is defined by law as the seizure of any person for ransom, extortion, or other unlawful purposes. It also covers the act of taking away the property of another by means of violence against or intimidation of person or force upon things of other unlawful means, committed by any person on any Philippine Highway.
According to PD 532, it is considered Highway Robbery and is covered by the law if it satisfies the following:
- The indiscriminate robbery committed against persons who commute in public highways, regardless of the potentiality they offer.
- The robbery is committed by a brigand or one who roams in public highways and carries out his robbery in public highways as a venue, whenever the opportunity to do so arises.
- There is frequency in the commission of the robbery in public highways and against the persons traveling there.
Piracy in Philippine Territorial waters
Piracy is a crime against humanity (hostes humanes generis) that refers to any attack upon or seizure of any vessel, or the taking away of the whole or part of it or its cargo, equipment, or the personal belongings of its complement or passengers, irrespective of the value, by means of violence against or intimidation of persons or force upon things, committed by any person, including a passenger or member of the complement of said vessel, within Philippine waters. The offenders of piracy law are considered as pirates.
According to PD 532, it is considered piracy and is covered by the law if it has the following elements of piracy:
- The vessel is on Philippine territorial waters;
- Offenders may or may not be members of its complement, or passengers of the vessel;
- The offenders commit the following acts:
- Attack or seize a vessel on the high seas or in Philippine waters
- Seize in the vessel while on the high seas or in Philippine waters the whole or part of its cargo, its equipment or personal belongings of its complement or passengers;
- The act was committed under any of the following circumstances:
- Whenever they have seized a vessel by boarding or firing upon the same;
- Whenever the pirates have abandoned their victims without means of saving themselves; or
- Whenever the crime is accompanied by murder, homicide, physical injuries or rape.
- There is an intent to gain.
Aiding or abetting piracy
PD 532 also has provisions for punishments for people who aid or protect pirates while committing their heinous acts. According to the law, it is considered as aiding or abetting piracy if the person commits the following:
- Knowingly aids or protects pirates;
- Acquires, receives, or benefits, directly or indirectly, from properties taken by the pirates;
- Directly or indirectly abets the commission of piracy
Penalties for Crimes Covered by PD 532 (Anti-Piracy and Anti-Highway Robbery Law of 1974)
According to PD 532, any person who commits piracy or highway robbery and brigandage shall be punished as follows upon conviction by competent court:
The penalty for piracy are as follows:
- For regular piracy: The penalty to be imposed is Reclusion temporal (or twelve years and one day to twenty years of imprisonment) in its medium and maximum periods.
- If physical injuries or other crimes are committed: The penalty to be imposed is reclusion perpetua (twenty years and one day to forty years of imprisonment).
- If rape, murder, or homicide is committed as a result or on the occasion of piracy: The penalty to be imposed is the mandatory penalty of death or reclusion perpetua (twenty years and one day to forty years of imprisonment) since the death penalty has been abolished in the Philippines.
- When the offenders abandon the victims without means of saving themselves: The penalty to be imposed is the mandatory penalty of death or reclusion perpetua (twenty years and one day to forty years of imprisonment) since the death penalty has been abolished in the Philippines.
- When the seizure is accomplished by firing upon or boarding a vessel: The penalty to be imposed is the mandatory penalty of death or reclusion perpetua (twenty years and one day to forty years of imprisonment) since the death penalty has been abolished in the Philippines.
Highway Robbery or Brigandage
For highway robbery or brigandage defined under PD 532, the penalty to be imposed are as follows:
- The penalty of reclusion temporal (or twelve years and one day to twenty years of imprisonment) in its minimum period shall be imposed.
- If physical injuries or other crimes are committed during or on the occasion of the commission of robbery or brigandage, the penalty of reclusion temporal (or twelve years and one day to twenty years of imprisonment) in its medium and maximum periods shall be imposed.
- If kidnapping for ransom or extortion, or murder or homicide, or rape is committed as well: then the penalty of death or reclusion perpetua (twenty years and one day to forty years of imprisonment) since the death penalty has been abolished in the Philippines, shall be imposed.
Video: Anti-Piracy and Anti-Highway Robbery Law of 1974
Learn more about what PD 532 or the Anti-Piracy and Anti-Highway Robbery Law of 1974 says by watching this explainer video from Mister Criminology:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
For more information, here are some common questions and answers that you can check out.
1. When is a robbery considered as ordinary Robbery (covered under the Revised Penal Code)?
Ordinary Robbery refers to crimes committed as follows:
- Committed on a highway against predetermined victims;
- Committed on public highways occasionally against a predetermined victim, and without frequency in public highways;
- The crime committed on a public highway is only incidental and the offender is not a brigand.
2. What is a vessel?
According to PD 532 or the Anti-Piracy and Anti-Highway Robbery Law of 1974, a vessel refers to any kinds and types of watercraft, vessel, or boat used as follows:
- For the transport of passengers and cargo; or
- For fishing
3. Can a crime be considered both as piracy and robbery?
No. Piracy cannot co-exist with the crime of robbery. Robbery, therefore, cannot be committed on board a vessel. But if the taking is without violence or intimidation on persons of force upon things, the crime of piracy cannot be committed, but only theft.
4. What are the different kinds of piracy?
Because of the provisions of PD 532, there are now two kinds of piracy:
- that which is punished under the Revised Penal Code if committed in the high seas; and
- that which is punished under Presidential Decree No. 532 if committed in Philippine territorial waters
5. What is a Philippine Highway?
The Philippine Highway refers to any road, street, passage, highway and bridges or other parts thereof, or railway or railroad within the Philippines used by persons, or vehicles, or locomotives or trains for the movement or circulation of persons or transportation of goods, articles, or property or both.
6. What is considered as Philippine Waters?
According to the law, the Philippine territorial waters refer to all bodies of water, such as but not limited to, seas, gulfs, bays around, between and connecting each of the Islands of the Philippine Archipelago. This covers all bodies of water irrespective of its depth, breadth, length, or dimension, as long as it belongs to the Philippines by historic or legal title. It also covers all territorial sea, the sea-bed, the insular shelves, and other submarine areas over which the Philippines has sovereignty or jurisdiction.
Presidential Decree No. 532, otherwise known as the Anti-Piracy and Anti-Highway Robbery Law of 1974, is a law enacted in an attempt to protect drivers, car owners, and mariners from the lawless entities on Philippine highways and in the Philippine waters. Thanks to this law, many criminals who attempt crimes like piracy and highway robberies are deterred by the heavy penalties of the crime, giving the public some sense of safety.