Reclusion Perpetua vs. Life Imprisonment

Bar Exam Question (1994)

Differentiate reclusion perpetua from life imprisonment.

Suggested Answer:

Reclusion Perpetua is that penalty provided for in the Revised Penal Code for crimes defined in and penalized therein except for some crimes defined by special laws which impose reclusion perpetua, such as violations of Republic Act 6425, as amended by Republic Act 7659 or of PD 1860; while Life Imprisonment is a penalty usually provided for in special laws.

Reclusion Perpetua as a duration of 20 years and 1 day to 40 years under Republic Act 7659, while Life Imprisonment has no duration;

Reclusion Perpetua may be reduced by one or two degrees; reclusion perpetuates accessory penalties while life imprisonment does not have any accessory penalties.(People vs. Baguio, 196 SCRA 459, People vs. Panellos, 205 SCRA 546)

Bar Exam Question (2001)

Are reclusion perpetua and life imprisonment the same?

After trial, Judge Juan Laya of the Manila RTC found Benjamin Garcia Guilty of Murder, the
victim having sustained several bullet wounds in his body so that he died despite medical
assistance given in the Ospital ng Maynila. Because the weapon used by Benjamin was
unlicensed and the qualifying circumstance of treachery was found to be present. Judge Laya
rendered his decision convicting Benjamin and sentencing him to "reclusion perpetua or
life imprisonment".

Are 'reclusion perpetua" and life imprisonment the same and can be imposed interchangeably as in the foregoing sentence? Or are they totally different? State your reasons.

Suggested Answer:

The penalty of reclusion perpetua and the penalty of life imprisonment are totally different
from each other and therefore, should not be used interchangeably.

Reclusion Perpetua is penalty prescribed by the Revised Penal Code, with a fixed
duration of imprisonment from 20 years and 1 day to 40 years, and carries it with accessory

Life Imprisonment, on the other hand, is a penalty prescribed by special laws, with no fixed
duration of imprisonment and without accessory penalty.