The Law and Storms like Odette

The law is designed to contemplate many different scenarios. The first one that a freshman law student is likely to encounter is the innocuous Art. 14, (par. 12) of the Revised Penal Code which reads:

Art. 14.The following are aggravating circumstances.

12. That the crime be committed by means of inundation, fire, poison, explosion, stranding of a vessel or international damage thereto, derailment of a locomotive, or by the use of any other artifice involving great waste and ruin.

Revised Penal Code

The above is a means of aggravating the punishment for crimes that are committed during times of misfortune. The logic in the law is that crimes committed during such moments in time are particularly evil because you take advantage of the unfortunate circumstances.

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

Another area where lawyers encounter storms are Fortuitous Events or as they are known by lay people, Acts of God. A storm can, when it directly affects the performance of an obligation, can annul or suspend the obligation in the proper cases. From the foregoing examples, you can get a sense that the law takes a largely passive role to these events seeing them as legal significant events that might affect obligations between private individuals.

Photo by Daniel Tausis on Unsplash

However, this does not need to be the case. There are more profound places where the omission of typhoons, or at least their consideration, has profound implications on how these storms affect society. My best example is powerlines.

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

The fact that power lines in the Philippines are suspended above major roads and can be taken down by a tree toppled by typhoon winds is such an omission. Ideally in dense urban centers where trees, traffic, people, and power lines are concentrated these power lines are required by law to be passed under ground. More ambitious examples could include the potential for a state run insurance specifically to indemnify people for damage to homes or property due to storms.

This is just a little food for thought in light of the recent calamity.

Atty. Hourani practices law in Cebu City, PhilippinesIf you would like to set an appointment with him, you may reach him here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *