Obstruction of Justice (PD 1829): Basic Discussion

What is “Obstruction of Justice”?

The term is used to refer to the acts punished under Presidential Decree No. 1829 (“Penalizing Obstruction of Apprehension and Prosecution of Criminal Offenders”). Full text here.

What is the stated purpose of PD 1829?

As stated in the law, its purpose is to discourage public indifference or apathy towards the apprehension and prosecution of criminal offenders, it is necessary to penalize acts which obstruct or frustrate or tend to obstruct or frustrate the successful apprehension and prosecution of criminal offenders.

What is the penalty for “Obstruction of Justice”?

The penalty is imprisonment, fine or both. Imprisonment ranges from 4 years, 2 months and 1 day to 6 years (prision correccional in its maximum period). The fine ranges from P1,000 – P6,000.

Who may be charged under PD 1829?

Any person — whether private or public — who commits the acts enumerated below may be charged with violating PD 1829. In case a public officer is found guilty, he shall also suffer perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

What are the acts punishable under this law?

The law covers the following acts of any person who knowingly or willfully obstructs, impedes, frustrates or delays the apprehension of suspects and the investigation and prosecution of criminal cases:

a. Preventing witnesses from testifying in any criminal proceeding or from reporting the commission of any offense or the identity of any offender/s by means of bribery, misrepresentation, deceit, intimidation, force or threats.

b. Altering, destroying, suppressing or concealing any paper, record, document, or object with intent to impair its verity, authenticity, legibility, availability, or admissibility as evidence in any investigation of or official proceedings in criminal cases, or to be used in the investigation of, or official proceedings in, criminal cases.

c. Harboring or concealing, or facilitating the escape of, any person he knows, or has reasonable ground to believe or suspect, has committed any offense under existing penal laws in order to prevent his arrest, prosecution and conviction.

d. Publicly using a fictitious name for the purpose of concealing a crime, evading prosecution or the execution of a judgment, or concealing his true name and other personal circumstances for the same purpose or purposes.

e. Delaying the prosecution of criminal cases by obstructing the service of process or court orders or disturbing proceedings in the fiscals’ offices, in Tanodbayan, or in the courts.

f. Making, presenting or using any record, document, paper or object with knowledge of its falsity and with intent to affect the course or outcome of the investigation of, or official proceedings in, criminal cases.

g. Soliciting, accepting, or agreeing to accept any benefit in consideration of abstaining from, discontinuing, or impeding the prosecution of a criminal offender.

h. Threatening directly or indirectly another with the infliction of any wrong upon his person, honor or property or that of any immediate member or members of his family in order to prevent a person from appearing in the investigation of, or official proceedings in, criminal cases, or imposing a condition, whether lawful or unlawful, in order to prevent a person from appearing in the investigation of or in official proceedings in criminal cases.

i. Giving of false or fabricated information to mislead or prevent the law enforcement agencies from apprehending the offender or from protecting the life or property of the victim; or fabricating information from the data gathered in confidence by investigating authorities for purposes of background information and not for publication and publishing or disseminating the same to mislead the investigator or the court.

What are some of the instances when questions against charges under PD 1829 reached the Supreme Court?

In Posadas vs. Ombudsman (G.R. No. 131492, 29 September 2000), certain officials of the University of the Philippines (UP) were charged for violating PD 1829 (paragraph c above). The UP officers objected to the warrantless arrest of certain students by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). According to the Supreme Court, the police had no ground for the warrantless arrest. The UP Officers, therefore, had a right to prevent the arrest of the students at the time because their attempted arrest was illegal. The “need to enforce the law cannot be justified by sacrificing constitutional rights.”

In another case, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile was charged under PD 1829, for allegedly accommodating Col. Gregorio Honasan by giving him food and comfort on 1 December 1989 in his house. “Knowing that Colonel Honasan is a fugitive from justice, Sen. Enrile allegedly did not do anything to have Honasan arrested or apprehended.” The Supreme Court ruled that Sen. Enrile could not be separately charged under PD 1829, as this is absorbed in the charge of rebellion already filed against Sen. Enrile.

9 thoughts on “Obstruction of Justice (PD 1829): Basic Discussion

  1. faith012

    I need to ask your permission and help regarding this matter: There was civil case which is Intra-corporate controversy, where there was a hearing held somewhere in the province,then, only the plaintiff’s attorney was present. Based on the defendants, there was a delay on the registered mail saying when would be the hearing date. For example, supposed the hearing was 10 July, the defendant received the mail on 14 July. After that, the court already ordered that the defendants lost the case. How can the defendants reacts on this situation? Thank you.

    1. maribel

      kung ang kapitan ng baranggay ay ayaw pirmahan at ipost s brngy.ang legal na dokumento ng pag aaply s isang ahensya ng gobyerno na kumpleto sa legal na papeles pede na ba sya makasuhan at anong legal na kaso ang isasampa?

  2. DennisA


    Can I file a case againts the home owner’s association as a whole and its members individually for not saying anything upon witnessing my brother being killed? How about officials not drafting any blotter report?


  3. Dan

    Can I invoke the provisions of this law against Senators Trillanes and De Lima for intentionally harboring a criminal despite of their knowledge that Mr. Matobato a self-confessed criminal has outstanding Warrant of Arrest issued by a Regional Trial Court.

  4. kashgats

    Please clarify the subject criminal in Sec 1 Par C of this Decree. Where it defines that, “(c) *Harboring or concealing, or facilitating the escape of, any person he knows, or has reasonable ground to believe or suspect, has committed any offense under existing penal laws ** in order to prevent his arrest, prosecution and conviction.”


    Clarify, it states that any person having “COMMITTED” any offense under existing penal laws (being in the PAST TENSE particularly) which undeniably refers to a judicially determined guilty sentence for a crime that was committed. If it covered the inclusion of criminal suspect, the words would be defined in a way such as “any person suspected to have committed”. Because common laws weren’t intended to be ambiguous to any man with a common sense to comprehend the English language by which these laws in question were intently written and not a translation from some ancient texts like Greek or Latin. That by Merriam Webster’s definition of the word COMMITTED it describes something illegally or harmfully done or accomplished – Past Tense.

    To make this argument much clearer, in (**) the last word CONVICTION, will conclusively corroborate that this Section 1 of Paragraph C of PD 1829 is not looking for a mere “CRIMINAL SUSPECT” but categorically a “CRIMINAL OFFENDER” when the last portion of this Decree defines that, “in order to prevent his arrest, prosecution and CONVICTION.” The fact that it only uses the word “conviction” and did not include the probability of an “ACQUITTAL”, then very clearly – A SUSPECT IS NO LONGER A POSSIBLE CONSIDERATION IN THIS DECREE WHEN THE ACT OF “CONVICTING” A CRIMINAL OFFENDER IS BEING OBSTRUCTED.

    1. Ricardo

      you did not clearly get the point. the law says reasonable ground to believe or suspect. it did not conclude or not yet proven, hence it will pass first to trial.

  5. Nick

    If the civilian person exercise his right and tried to arrest a suspect, offender however, the other person is try to stop him doing his effort is the last person may charge of PD 1829? Despite that a person who is tried tk arrest is a civilian?


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