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Solons seek stiffer penalties for theft of gov’t risk reduction equipment

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With the Philippines being prone to typhoons and other natural disasters, lawmakers have sought stiffer penalties to those who would steal or tamper government equipment or devices used to collate and disseminate risk reduction warnings and advices on weather, earthquakes, volcanic or tsunami activities and other natural calamities.

Agham party-list Rep. Angelo Palmones, one of the authors of the bill, said stealing or tampering of government equipment is a crime against the people.
"What will happen during natural calamities if government services become ineffective," he said. Under the bill, the government risk reduction and preparedness equipment accessories include equipment or devices, or parts thereof that gather, store, archive or monitor meteorological and seismological date and information which are analyzed and used in warning the public regarding natural occurrences like calamities.

The proposed measure imposes 12 to 15 years imprisonment or fines ranging from P1 million to P3 million or both at the discretion of the court for unlawful taking or possession without authority of government disaster monitoring devices.

Tampering, dismantling, or disassembling any of the said devices shall also be meted six to 10 years imprisonment or a fine of P500,000 to P1 million or both, at the discretion of the court.

Attempting to commit any of the prohibited acts shall also have a penalty of six to eight years imprisonment or a fine of P500,000 to P1 million or both.

Benefiting from the proceeds of any of the prohibited acts also carries a penalty of two to seven years imprisonment or a fine of P200,000 to P500,000 or both at the discretion of the court.

Aside from criminal penalties, any person found guilty of violating the proposed Act shall pay the full cost of repair or replacement of said government equipment or other vital items which are objects of the crime.

The bill likewise provides for incentives to any person or persons who will give information leading to the apprehension and conviction of violators.

The incentive system shall incorporate a cash reward of P10,000 to P50,000, with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) having the authority to review and revise the ceiling of the cash rewards as appropriate.

The House committee on revision of laws has already endorsed the bill for plenary deliberation, which is a consolidation of measures declaring stealing or tampering with government equipment as a crime.

Co-authors of the bill are Reps. Erico Aumentado (Bohol), Romero Federico Quimbo (Marikina), Homer Mercado (1-UTAK party-list), Tomas Apacible (Batangas), and Rachel Del Mar (Cebu).

By PNA/PIA9-ZBST




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