Lawmaker seeks stiffer penalties for theft of cellular phones and computers

Concerned about the alarming rise in crimes against property, a
lawmaker has filed a bill urging Congress to impose higher penalties
for theft or robbery of cellular phones and other portable
communication gadgets.

“Reports from law enforcement agencies show an alarming high incidence
of thievery of these gadgets, especially cellular phones.  We have to
arrest this trend,” said Rep. Maria Evita Arago (3rd District,
Laguna), author of House Bill 5403.

Portable communication gadgets include, among others, cellular phones,
computers, two-way very high frequency (VHF) of ultra high frequency
(UHF) radios and personal digital cameras and other communication
equipment.

Arago said the increase of these criminal activities involving this
array of modern equipment or gadgets which unfortunately have fatal
consequences means there is an urgent need to protect our people.

“Furthermore, these equipment are easy to sell and fencing of these
criminally acquired items is now commonplace,” Arago said.

At present, Arago said the existing penalties under the Revised Penal
Code are insufficient to deter criminal activities of this nature and
pose a threat to the personal security of our people.

Under the proposed “Anti-Theft and Robbery of Portable
Telecommunication Devices and Portable Computers Act of 2011,” the
penal provision states that “any person convicted of the crime of
theft and robbery as defined under Chapters One and Three of Title Ten
of the Revised Penal Code of a portable communication device or
portable computer shall be punished by the penalty next higher in
degree than those respectively specified in the aforementioned
articles.  Provided, that the additional penalty specified herein
shall no longer be made applicable if the imposable penalty is in its
maximum period.”

“I believe that stiffer penalties will serve as deterrence to the
commission of these offenses and will help promote justice and public
order and safety,” Arago said.

The bill is now pending with the House Committee on Revision of Laws
chaired by Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas.

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