On March 25, 1991, petitioner was charged with 19 counts of violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 before the Regional Trial Court. Upon arraignment, petitioner entered a plea of not guilty. After hearing, the trial court rendered a Decision finding her guilty of the charges and imposing upon her with fines and to suffer subsidiary imprisonment in case of non-payment of the fine and to pay the costs of suit. Accused appealed the decision in the Court of Appeals who affirmed in toto the trial court’s Decision. Hence this case.
Whether the accused found guilty of violations of Batas Pambansa Blg. 221 be made to suffer subsidiary imprisonment in case he fails to pay the fines imposed by the trial court for such violations?
Yes, The imposition of subsidiary imprisonment is expressly provided under Articles 38 and 39 of the Revised Penal Code. The SC also hold that the above provisions on subsidiary imprisonment can be applied suppletorily to Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 pursuant to Article 10 of the same Code.
Indeed, the absence of an express provision on subsidiary imprisonment in Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 does not and cannot preclude its imposition in cases involving its violations.
It bears stressing that on February 14, 2001, we issued Administrative Circular No. 13-2001 clarifying the imposition of imprisonment for violations of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 and subsidiary imprisonment upon the accused found guilty but is unable to pay the fine he is sentenced to pay. In clarifying the imposition of subsidiary imprisonment, the Circular states that if the accused is unable to pay the fine imposed by the trial court, “there is no legal obstacle to the application of the Revised Penal Code provisions on subsidiary imprisonment.”