Anti-Highway Robbery Law of 1974

1. Concept and legal basis

a. Legal basis

Presidential Decree No. 532 is known as the Anti-Piracy and Anti-Highway Robbery Law of 1974.

“Philippine Waters” – refer to all bodies of water, such as but not limited to, seas, gulfs, bays around, between and connecting each of the Islands of the Philippine Archipelago, irrespective of its depth, breadth, length or dimension, and all other waters belonging to the Philippines by historic or legal title, including territorial sea, the sea-bed, the insular shelves, and other submarine areas over which the Philippines has sovereignty or jurisdiction. (See Section 2[a], Presidential Decree No. 532)

“Vessel” – refers to any vessel or watercraft used for transport of passengers and cargo from one place to another through Philippine Waters. It shall include all kinds and types of vessels or boats used in fishing. (See Section 2[b], Ibid.)

“Philippine Highway” – refers to any road, street, passage, highway and bridges or other parts thereof, or railway or railroad within the Philippines used by persons, or vehicles, or locomotives or trains for the movement or circulation of persons or transportation of goods, articles, or property or both. (See Section 2[c], Ibid.)

“Piracy” – refers to attack upon or seizure of any vessel, or the taking away of the whole or part thereof or its cargo, equipment, or the personal belongings of its complement or passengers, irrespective of the value thereof, by means of violence against or intimidation of persons or force upon things, committed by any person, including a passenger or member of the complement of said vessel, in Philippine waters, shall be considered as piracy. The offenders shall be considered as pirates and punished as hereinafter provided. (See Section 2[d], Ibid.)

“Highway Robbery/Brigandage” – refers to the seizure of any person for ransom, extortion or other unlawful purposes, or the taking away of the property of another by means of violence against or intimidation of person or force upon things of other unlawful means, committed by any person on any Philippine Highway. (See Section 2[e], Ibid.)

2. Crimes

a. Piracy

The penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium and maximum periods shall be imposed. If physical injuries or other crimes are committed as a result or on the occasion thereof, the penalty of reclusion perpetua shall be imposed. If rape, murder or homicide is committed as a result or on the occasion of piracy, or when the offenders abandoned the victims without means of saving themselves, or when the seizure is accomplished by firing upon or boarding a vessel, the mandatory penalty of death shall be imposed. (Section 2[a], Ibid.)

b. Highway Robbery/Brigandage

The penalty of reclusion temporal in its minimum period shall be imposed. If physical injuries or other crimes are committed during or on the occasion of the commission of robbery or brigandage, the penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium and maximum periods shall be imposed. If kidnapping for ransom or extortion, or murder or homicide, or rape is committed as a result or on the occasion thereof, the penalty of death shall be imposed. (Section 2[b], Ibid.)

c. Aiding pirates or highway robbers/brigands or abetting piracy or highway robbery/brigandage

Any person who knowingly and in any manner aids or protects pirates or highway robbers/brigands, such as giving them information about the movement of police or other peace officers of the government, or acquires or receives property taken by such pirates or brigands or in any manner derives any benefit therefrom; or any person who directly or indirectly abets the commission of piracy or highway robbery or brigandage, shall be considered as an accomplice of the principal offenders and be punished in accordance with the Rules prescribed by the Revised Penal Code. (Section 4, Ibid.)


Title 10 – Crimes Against Property, Book 2, Revised Penal Code

/Updated: January 19, 2023

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