Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code

Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code involves death or physical injuries inflicted under exceptional circumstances. It states that:

“Any legally married person who having surprised his spouse in the act of committing sexual intercourse with another person, shall kill any of them or both of them in the act or immediately thereafter, or shall inflict upon them any serious physical injury, shall suffer the penalty of destierro. 

If he shall inflict upon them physical injuries of any other kind, he shall be exempt from punishment. 

These rules shall be applicable, under the same circumstances, to parents with respect to their daughters under eighteen years of age, and their seducer, while the daughters are living with their parents. 

Any person who shall promote or facilitate the prostitution of his wife or daughter, or shall otherwise have consented to the infidelity of the other spouse shall not be entitled to the benefits of this article.”

In the case of People vs. Araquel, the Supreme Court explained the rationale of Article 247, to wit:

“As may readily be seen from its provisions and its place in the Code, the above-quoted article, far from defining a felony, merely provides or grants a privilege or benefit _ amounting practically to an exemption from an adequate punishment _ to a legally married person or parent who shall surprise his spouse or daughter in the act of committing sexual intercourse with another, and shall kill any or both of them in the act or immediately thereafter, or shall inflict upon them any serious physical injury. Thus, in case of death or serious physical injuries, considering the enormous provocation and his righteous indignation, the accused – who would otherwise be criminally liable for the crime of homicide, parricide, murder, or serious physical injury, as the case may be – is punished only with destierro.  And where physical injuries other than serious are inflicted, the offender is exempted from punishment. In effect, therefore, Article 247, or the exceptional circumstances mentioned therein, amount to an exempting circumstance, for even where death or serious physical injuries is inflicted, the penalty is so greatly lowered as to result to no punishment at all.” 

For Article 247 to apply these elements must be present:

1. The offender is any legally married person;

2. The offender surprises his spouse in the act of committing sexual intercourse with another person;

3. The offender kills or seriously injures any or both of them;

4. The offender kills or seriously injures during the act of sexual intercourse or immediately thereafter.

The term “immediately thereafter” means that from discovery to the escape and the killing, there must be no interruption or interval of time. The pursuit and the killing must form part of one continuous act. However, it is not necessary that the victim is to be killed instantly by the accused after surprising his spouse in the act of intercourse with another person. What is required is that the death caused must be the proximate result of the outrage overwhelming the accused after chancing upon his spouse in the act of infidelity. This is because the purpose of the law is to afford protection to a spouse who is considered to act in a justified outburst of passion or a state of mental disequillibrium.

The act of commiting sexual intercourse means that a carnal act is being committed by the victims at the time they are killed or injured by the offender. Thus, it does not apply when a man kills his wife just because he saw another man jump out the window of his house upon his arrival or when his spouse and another man are merely sleeping on the same bed. It also does not include acts preparatory to sexual intercourse. 

If death or serious physical injuries occur, the punishment is destierro. However, the banishment is intended more for the protection of the offender rather than a penalty. 

This article cannot be availed by persons who have promoted or facilitated prostitution of their wife or daughter nor by those who have consented to the infidelity of the other spouse.