DOJ supports bill to increase payment for wrong conviction, heinous crimes victims

Published September 6, 2021, 1:16 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Department of Justice

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday, Sept. 6, expressed its support to the enactment of a law that would increase the compensation for persons who have been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for crimes that they did not commit, and for victims of heinous crimes.

At least five bills are pending in Congress that seek to amend Republic Act No. 7309 which created the Board of Claims (BOC) under the DOJ in 1992.

“The DOJ will give its full support for the amendment of RA 7309 to increase the amount of compensation for victims of heinous crimes and persons wrongfully convicted,” Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said.

Last week, Deputy Speaker Michael Romero (1PACMAN Partylist), a supporter of the bill to amend the law, said “RA 7309 is a very good law which now finds itself outdated in terms of the amounts awarded to the victims.”

If the amendment is enacted, Romero said the amendatory law will “breathe life to the noble intentions of RA 7309.”

Under RA 7309, those who may file claims before the BOC for compensation are:

  1. “Any person who was unjustly accused, convicted and imprisoned but subsequently released by virtue of a judgment of acquittal.

  1. “Any person who was unjustly detained and released without being charged.

  1. “Any victim of arbitrary or illegal detention by the authorities as defined in the Revised Penal Code under a final judgment of the court.

  1. “Any person who is a victim of violent crimes. For purposes of this Act, violent crimes shall include rape and shall likewise refer to 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.”