When I was a freshman in law, I was made to understand that among the barangay officials, only the Punong Barangay (Barangay Captain or Chairman) was expressly considered a person in authority in Art. 152 of the Revised Penal Code, which reads in part :
Art. 152. Persons in authority and agents of persons in authority; Who shall be deemed as such. — In applying the provisions of the preceding and other articles of this Code, any person directly vested with jurisdiction, whether as an individual or as a member of some court or governmental corporation, board, or commission, shall be deemed a person in authority. A barrio captain and a barangay chairman shall also be deemed a person in authority.(underscoring mine)
In my second year, however, I came to realize that my understanding above was not entirely correct based on my reading of Sec. 388 of the Local Government Code of 1991(R.A. No. 7160), which provides :
Section 388. Persons in Authority. - For purposes of the Revised Penal Code, the punong barangay, sangguniang barangay members, and members of the lupong tagapamayapa in each barangay shall be deemed as persons in authority in their jurisdictions, while other barangay officials and members who may be designated by law or ordinance and charged with the maintenance of public order, protection and security of life and property, or the maintenance of a desirable and balanced environment, and any barangay member who comes to the aid of persons in authority, shall be deemed agents of persons in authority. (underscoring supplied)
Sec. 388 of R.A. 7610 expands the import of a person in authority under the Revised Penal Code. In addition to the Punong Barangay provided in Art. 152 of the RPC, the Sangguniang Barangay members (Kagawads) and members of the Lupong Tagapamayapa are now considered as persons in authority. (People v. Felipe Sion, G. R. No. 109617, 11 August 1997)
What are the legal implications of Sec. 388 of R. A. 7160 in relation to some provisions of the Revised Penal Code? Let me cite some of them.
1. An offender may voluntarily surrender himself to a Barangay Kagawad or a member of Lupong Tagapamayapa. Such voluntary surrender is valid in accordance with Art. 13 of the Revised Penal Code.
2. A felony committed with insult or in disregard of the respect due to a person in authority on account of his rank amounts to an aggravating circumstances pursuant to Art. 14 of the Revised Penal Code.
3. In the crimes of Illegal Assemblies and Direct Assaults under Art. 146 and Art. 148 of the Revised Penal Code, respectively, a member of Sangguniang Barangay or Lupong Tagapamayapa is within the contemplation of the phrase “person in authority”.
4. Any person who shall resist or seriously disobey a Sangguniang Barangay member or a member of Lupong Tagapamayapa while engaged in the performance of his official duties may be charged with violation of Art. 151 of the Revised Penal Code.
This is just an opinion of the author. Any views, concurring or dissenting, are most welcome here.