The Department of Justice on Monday backed the enactment in Congress of a law seeking to increase the compensation for persons who have been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for crimes that they did not commit as well as for victims of heinous crimes.
“The DOJ will give its full support for the amendment of Republic Act No. 7309 to increase the amount of compensation for victims of heinous crimes and persons wrongfully convicted,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said, referring to five bills pending before Congress seeking to amend the measure that created the Board of Claims under the DOJ in 1992.
Last week, Deputy Speaker Michael Romero of 1PACMAN party-list said the old law “now finds itself outdated in terms of the amounts awarded to the victims.”
Once enacted into law by Congress, the measure will “breathe life to the noble intentions of RA 7309.”
Under RA 7309, those who may file claims before the BOC for compensation are as follows: any person who was unjustly accused, convicted and imprisoned but subsequently released by virtue of a judgment of acquittal; any person who was unjustly detained and released without being charged; any victim of arbitrary or illegal detention by the authorities as defined in the Revised Penal Code under a final judgment of the court; and any person who is a victim of violent crimes.
The proposed measure covers violent crimes such as rape as well as offenses committed with malice which resulted in death or serious physical and/or psychological injuries, permanent incapacity or disability, insanity, abortion, serious trauma, or committed with torture, cruelly or barbarity.
The law provides a compensation of not exceeding P1,000 a month, and “in all other cases, the maximum amount for which the Board may approve a claim shall not exceed P10,000 or the amount necessary to reimburse the claimant the expenses incurred for hospitalization, medical treatment, loss of wage, loss of support or other expenses directly related to injury, whichever is lower. This is without prejudice to the right of the claimant to seek other remedies under existing laws.”
Qualified persons may claim their compensation under the law “with six months after being released from imprisonment or detention, or from the date the victim suffered damage or injury.”
In case of death or incapacity of any person entitled to the award, “the claim may be filed by his heirs, in the following order: by his surviving spouse, children, natural parents, brother and/or sister,” the proposed law stated.