Press Release
October 8, 2006


Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, chair of the Senate subcommittee on billboards, warned policemen and other public officers that under the Penal Code, it is a crime to meddle in the dismantling of illegal billboards or to otherwise protect existing illegal billboards.

Santiago called on PNP Chief Oscar Calderon, MMDA chair Bayani Fernando, and all Metro Manila mayors to warn their subordinates that the Penal Code criminalizes negligence and tolerance in the commission of offenses, such as the erection of billboards constituting public nuisance.

Santiago, a former RTC judge, cited the Penal Code, Article 208, imposing a penalty of imprisonment and suspension upon any public officers or officer of the law who, in the dereliction of the duties of his office, shall maliciously refrain from instituting prosecution for the punishment of violators of the law, or shall tolerate the commission of offenses.

Santiago said that the penalty of imprisonment for this crime can be as long as two years and four months; and the penalty of suspension can be as long as six years.

Santiago said she was reacting to news received in her Senate office that DPWH personnel implementing Pres. Arroyos recent Administrative Order No. 160 ordering the dismantling or abatement of hazardous billboards, have been reportedly subjected to grave threats by people seeking to protect giant billboards which fell during the recent typhoon.

I understand that these self-appointed guardians of giant billboards are using the names of Metro Manila mayors, such as Mayor Binay, to claim that the mayors office has prohibited the abatement of illegal billboards. I prefer to think that is not true, Santiago said.

Santiago, a legal luminary, said that any policeman or public officer faces prosecution in the Ombudsman for the crime known as negligence and tolerance, if the offender acts with malicious and deliberate intent to favor the illegal billboard owner and its advertising agency.

If the policeman or public officer has the duty of prosecuting the billboard offender and instead assists in the maintenance of hazardous billboards, the policeman becomes liable as a principal in the criminal dereliction of duty in the prosecution of offenses. In that case, the public officer is not merely an accessory but a principal, Santiago said.

Santiago scoffed at arguments of certain advertisers that taking down the giant billboards will deprive some people of income and employment.

If that is the case, then we should not criminalize theft or robbery, because that also deprives thieves and robbers of employment and income, she said.

News Latest News Feed