Codes, women spies, a disappearing act, this is the stuff movies are made of. Assuming that the recent alleged Russian spying in the
occurred in the country, it may be interesting to find out if we have any laws in the statute books against such an activity. It turns out that we do, as provided for in the Revised Penal Code: US
ARTICLE 117. Espionage. — The penalty of prision correccional shall be inflicted upon any person who:
1. Without authority therefor, enters a warship, fort, or naval or military establishment or reservation to obtain any information, plans, photographs, or other data of a confidential nature relative to the defense of the Philippine Archipelago; or
2. Being in possession, by reason of the public office he holds, of the articles, data, or information referred to in the preceding paragraph, discloses their contents to a representative of a foreign nation.
The penalty next higher in degree shall be imposed if the offender be a public officer or employee.
The law appears to be of limited application as it only pertains to data relative to the defenses of the country. Fortunately, Commonwealth Act No. 616 (AN ACT TO PUNISH ESPIONAGE AND OTHER OFFENSES AGAINST THE NATIONAL SECURITY) expands espionage to include certain other acts. And to show how long it has been since we’ve had espionage as a crime, the Revised Penal Code and C.A. No. 616 (the “Act”) were passed in 1930 and 1941, respectively. And the Act even makes mention of the
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SECTION 1. Unlawfully obtaining or permitting to be obtained information affecting national defense. — (a) Whoever, for the purposes of obtaining information respecting the national defense with intent or reason to believe that the information to be obtained is to be used to the injury of the Philippines [or of the United States], or to the advantage of any foreign nation, goes upon, enters, flies over, or otherwise obtains information concerning any vessel, aircraft, work of defense, navy yard, naval station, submarine base, coaling station, fort, battery, torpedo station, dockyard, canal, railroad, arsenal, camp, factory, mine, telegraph, telephone, wireless, or signal station, building, office, or other place connected with the national defense, owned or constructed, or in progress of construction by the Philippines or under the control of the Philippines, or any of its officers or agents, or within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Philippines, or any place in which any vessel, aircraft, arms, munitions, or other materials or instruments for the use in time of war are being made, prepared, repaired, or stored, under any contract or agreement with the Philippines, or with any person on behalf of the Philippines, or otherwise on behalf of the Philippines, or any prohibited place within the meaning of section six hereof; or
(b) Whoever, for the purpose aforesaid, and with like intent or reason to believe, copies, takes, makes, or obtains, or attempts, or induces or aids another to copy, take, make, or obtain, any sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blue print, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, document, writing, or note of anything connected with the national defense; or
(c) Whoever, for the purpose aforesaid, receives or obtains or agrees or attempts or induces or aids another to receive or obtain from any person, or from any source whatever, any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blue print, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note of anything connected with the national defense, knowing or having reason to believe, at the time he receives or obtains, or agrees or attempts or induces or aids another to receive or obtain it, that it has been or will be obtained, taken, made, or disposed of by any person contrary to the provisions of this Act; or
(d) Whoever, lawfully or unlawfully having possession of, access to, control over, or being entrusted with any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blue print, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, willfully communicates or transmits or attempts to communicate or transmit the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it on demand to the officer or employee of the Philippines entitled to receive it; or
e) Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blue print, plan, map, model, note or information, relating to the national defense, through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of this trust or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than ten years and may, in addition thereto, be fined not more than ten thousand pesos.
SECTION 2. Unlawful disclosing information affecting national defense. — (a) Whoever, with the intent or reason to believe that it is to be used to the injury of the Philippines or to the advantage of a foreign nation, communicates, delivers, or transmits, or attempts to, or aids or induces another to, communicate, deliver, or transmit to any foreign government, or any faction or party or military or naval force within a foreign country, whether recognized or unrecognized by the Philippines or by the United States, or to any representative, officer, agent, employee, subject, or citizen thereof, either directly or indirectly, any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blue print, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or information relating to the national defense, shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than twenty years, if the offense is committed in time of peace, or by death or imprisonment for not more than thirty years, if it is in time of war.
b) Whoever, in time of war with intent that the same shall be communicated to the enemy, shall collect, record, publish, or communicate, or attempt to elicit any information with respect to the movement, number, description, condition, or disposition of any of the armed forces, ships, aircraft, or war materials of the Philippines , or with respect to the plans or conduct, or supposed plans or conduct of any military, naval, or air operations, or with respect to any works or measures undertaken for or connected with, or intended for the fortification or defense of any place, or any other information relating to the public defense which might be useful to the enemy, shall be punished by death or by imprisonment for not more than thirty years.
Disloyal acts in times of war or peace are likewise penalized:
SECTION 3. Disloyal acts or works in time of peace. — It shall be unlawful for any person, with intent to interfere with, impair, or influence the loyalty, morale, or discipline of the military, naval, or air forces of the Philippines: (a) to advise, counsel, urge, or in any manner cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty by any member of the military, naval, or air forces of the Philippines; or (b) to distribute any written or printed matter which advises, counsels, or urges insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty by any member of the military, naval, or air forces of the Philippines . The violation of this section shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than ten years, or by fine not more than ten thousand pesos, or both.
SECTION 4. Disloyal acts or words in time of war. — Whoever, when the Philippines is at war, shall willfully make or convey false reports or false statements with the intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military, naval, or air forces of the Philippines or to promote the success of its enemies shall willfully cause or attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty, in the military, naval, or air forces of the Philippines, or shall willfully obstruct the recruiting or enlistment service of the Philippines, to the injury of the service of the Philippines, shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or by a fine of not more than twenty thousand pesos, or both.
There can be a conspiracy to violate all the preceding sections if one or more persons do any act to effect the foregoing offenses in Section 1 to 4 (Section 5). Those who harbor or conceal violators of the Act are likewise covered (Section 6). When at a military camp, put away that camera as taking pictures of defensive installations is unlawful without the permission of the commanding officer (Section 8). Taking such pictures from the air is also prohibited (Section 9). But what about satellite pictures?
Assuming you did not take the pictures yourself, reproducing, selling or distribution such photographs is punishable (Section 10). Destroying war material during wartime, making war material in a defective manner or injuring national defense material are all offenses (Sections 11- 13).
There appears to be a dearth of actual decided cases on espionage.
However, there is one case which mentions a Russian, Mr. Borovsky, who was made subject to deportation for espionage activities, among other things. The Court held that pending deportation, the Government can hold an undesirable alien for a reasonable length of time. The courts will step in only if the deportation being awaited is a pretense for imprisonment or if he has been held for too long (BOROVSKY vs. THE COMMISSIONER OF IMMIGRATION, et al., G.R. No. L-2852, June 30, 1949). The charge of espionage has been used before to justify detention during martial law (DUQUE vs. VINARAO, et al., G.R. No. L-40060. March 21, 1975). And the threat of espionage has been employed as basis to evacuate persons of Japanese ancestry and their internment until their loyalty was established (IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR HABEAS CORPUS OF BENIGNO S. AQUINO, JR., et al. vs. HON. JUAN PONCE ENRILE, et al., G.R. No. L-35538. September 17, 1974 and companion cases citing Korematsu v.
(323 U.S. 214 ). United States
We have had our share of double agents. In PEOPLE vs. DIMZON, [G.R. No. L-1565. January 9, 1951], the accused was found guilty with the Court opining that if “deeds speak louder than words, there is good ground to believe that the accused was a collaborator first and foremost and a guerrilla last. Whereas his alleged contribution to the guerrilla cause was practically nil, his aid to the enemy was long-continued, effective, valuable and actually harmful to hid people. With this contrast in mind, the People's Court was not far wrong, if it was not wholly right, in finding that the accused merely followed the familiar of collaboration' stratagem of burning candles for both sides; and such scheme was perhaps deemed all the more alluring at the time the defendant made the motions of catering to the good will of some guerrillas, because then the American forces were winging their way back to the Philippines and the approach of the day of reckoning was not hard to visualize.”
B.P. Blg. 39 provides for the registration of foreign agents or “any person who acts or agrees to act as political consultant, public relations counsel, publicity agent, information representative, or as agent, servant, representative, or attorney for a foreign principal or for any domestic organization subsidized directly or indirectly in whole or in part by a foreign principal. xxx.” It is not a license for agents to spy but it helps delineate the purpose of their business here. And those not registered are then made suspect.
 As cited in Padilla, Criminal Law, Revised Penal Code Annotated, Book II (1976), p. 70, all references to the
United States may be deemed repealed upon the inauguration of the Republic of the . This phrase was retained in this Section only for academic purposes. It has been deleted in the rest of the citation. Philippines
 This appears to be a typographical error. Under Section 7, the President can, by proclamation, designated certain places as prohibited.