Oct 23, 2020 @ 15:34

SC: Resisting arrest with light force is disobedience to authorities, not direct assault

The Supreme Court (SC) has clarified that when a person being apprehended by a police officer resists or uses force that is not dangerous, grave or severe, the offense is resistance and disobedience to an agent of a person in authority and not the more serious crime of direct assault.

In a recent 15-page decision, the SC 3rd Division reduced the sentence of Jonah Mallari to 1 to 6 months’ imprisonment plus a fine of P500, finding her guilty of violation of resistance or disobedience under Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).

The SC modified the verdict of the Olongapo City Municipal Trial Court (MTC), which meted out the sentence of 3 years, 6 months and 21 days to 4 years, 9 months and 10 days in prison and a fine of P1,000.

The heavier penalty was because she was previously found to have violated Article 148 of the RPC. The September 5, 2013 decision of the MTC had been upheld by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) and the Court of Appeals (CA) on July 30, 2014 and October 27, 2015, respectively.

Mallari was accused of drunkenly kicking the legs and slapping the face of Police Officer 2 (PO2) Richard Navarro while the latter pacified her during a squabble at a billiard hall on the morning of January 12, 2007.

In her defense, Mallari said the officer held her feet, pulled her to the ground, and caused her to hit her head, neck and buttocks. She complained of unlawful aggression against her honor and dignity.

The SC stressed that to be considered as direct assault, the laying of hands or the use of physical force against the authorities “must be serious.”

It noted that previous convictions for direct assault involved force more serve than slapping and punching (such as seizing the officer by the throat, throwing him to the ground, or hitting him with a club).

The SC pointed out that resistance would not really be possible without the use of some force. If legislators intended to treat every use of force as a direct assault, they would not have wasted words by coming up with a separate offense of disobedience or resistance.

“Although the charge is direct assault, the prosecution was able to prove resistance or disobedience. These offenses have similar elements, varying only as to the degree of seriousness of the offender’s resistance. Direct assault necessarily includes resistance or disobedience,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.

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