MANILA – A lawmaker said Tuesday Congress should consider legislating a new Criminal Code of the Philippines to replace the "largely Spanish era" Revised Penal Code.

Bagong Henerasyon party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera said she is open to filing a bill that would institute a new Criminal Code of the Philippines drafted by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Herrera emphasized the need to modernize and update the country's "antiquated" criminal law to improve the administration of justice.

"Together with the proposals to improve forensic pathology in our country, I also argue it is time to bring forward into the 21st Century our antiquated Spanish-era criminal justice legal orientation. I am open to sponsoring the DOJ-proposed Philippine Code of Crimes if DOJ Secretary Crispin Remulla is amenable to it," she said.

Herrera made the remark after reports that the alleged gunman in the killing of veteran radio host Percival Mabasa, more popularly known as “Percy Lapid”, has surrendered to authorities.

She commended the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the "continuing forward progress" in the assassination of the broadcast journalist.

"It is good they have the alleged gunman in police custody and some of his cohorts have been identified," Herrera said.

She said all measures are necessary to make sure the criminal cases to be filed are solid and have higher chances of resulting in the conviction of all those responsible.

"We do not want cases dismissed just because the procedures were not followed or dismissed because of technicalities or because of the 'fruit from the poisonous tree'," she added.

She said the burden of proof is on the PNP and the prosecutors who will eventually handle the case, noting that it should be based on solid evidence, including testimony and forensic evidence, put together with honest-to-goodness investigative work.

Aside from drafting a new Criminal Code, Herrera said she would also support and co-author the proposed Criminal Investigation Act, which was filed by Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez in the 18th Congress.

The proposal seeks to streamline and rationalize the criminal investigation process, as well as harmonize and integrate the functions of the investigating law enforcer and the investigating prosecutor in criminal investigations.

"I am also open to co-authoring the proposed Criminal Investigation Act of the eminent Congressman Rufus Rodriguez," she said.

The self-confessed gunman – Joel Estorial – was presented by DILG Secretary Benhur Abalos and the PNP in a press conference Tuesday.

Lapid was gunned down at the gate of a subdivision on Aria Street, Barangay Talon Dos, in Las Piñas City on October 3.

After his death, the House of Representatives raised PHP5 million as reward for any information that would lead to the arrest of the perpetrators of the crime. The amount came from the personal money of several House members who were appalled by the incident.

Meanwhile, Speaker Martin Romualdez reiterated his call for the protection of journalists nationwide, citing their “critical role” in ensuring transparency in government.

He said protecting them is also very important in guaranteeing freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

“The protection of members of the Fourth Estate is of paramount importance as they play a vital role in nation-building,” Romualdez said. (PNA)