Qualified Piracy

ART. 123.

1. Seizure of the vessel by boarding or firing upon the same;
2. Abandonment of victims without means of saving themselves; or
3. Piracy was accompanied by murder, homicide, physical injuries, or rape.


If any of the circumstances in Article 123 is present, piracy is qualified.

Parricide/infanticide should be included (according to Judge Pimentel).

There is a conflict between this provision and the provision on rape.
Ex: If rape is committed on someone below 7 yrs. old – penalty is death under the new rape law. But if rape committed on someone below 7 during the time of piracy – reclusion perpetua to death.

The murder/rape/homicide/physical injuries must have been committed on the passengers or on the complement of the vessel.

Piracy is a crime not against any particular state but against all mankind. It may be punished in the competent tribunal of any country where the offender may be found or into which he may be carried.

QUALIFIED PIRACY –  a SPECIAL COMPLEX CRIME punishable by reclusión perpetua to death, regardless of the number of victims.

Murder, rape, homicide, physical injuries are mere circumstances qualifying piracy and cannot be punished as separate crimes, nor can they be complexed with piracy.

Although in Article 123 merely refers to qualified piracy, there is also the crime of qualified mutiny. Mutiny is qualified under the following circumstances:
(1)When the offenders abandoned the victims without means of saving themselves; or
(2)When the mutiny is accompanied by rape, murder, homicide, or physical injuries.

Note that the first circumstance which qualifies piracy does not apply to mutiny.

Example of Qualified Piracy (2006 Bar Exam)

While the S.S. Nagoya Maru was negotiating the sea route from Hongkong towards Manila, and while still 300 miles from Aparri, Cagayan, its engines malfunctioned. The Captain ordered the ship to stop for emergency repairs lasting for almost 15 hours. Due to exhaustion, the officers and crew fell asleep. While the ship was anchored, a motorboat manned by renegade Ybanags from Claveria, Cagayan, passed by and took advantage of the situation. They cut the ship's engines and took away several heavy crates of electrical equipment and loaded them in their motorboat. Then they left hurriedly towards Aparri. At daybreak, the crew found that a robbery took place. They radioed the Appari Port Authorities resulting in the apprehension of the culprits.

What crime was committed? Explain.

Piracy in the high seas was committed by the renegade Ybanags. The culprits who are neither members of the complement not passengers of the ship, seized part of the equipment of the vessel while it was three hundred miles away from Aparri, Cagayan.(Art.122, RPC)

Supposing that while the robbery was taking place, the culprits stabbed a member of the crew while sleeping. What crime was committed? Explain.

The crime committed is qualified piracy, because it was accompanied by physical injuries/homicide. The culprits stabbed a member of the crew while sleeping.(Art.123, RPC)