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It is a precept of justice that punishment for crime should be graduated and proportioned to offense.
Petitioner Weems was convicted of falsifying a public and official document while he served as a disbursement officer in the Philippine Islands and sentenced to a term of 15 years imprisonment, civil interdiction under article 42 of the Spanish Penal Code, C.P. art. 42, life surveillance under C.P. art. 43, and perpetual absolute disqualification. When his conviction and sentence were affirmed, he filed an application for a writ of error, asserting that his sentence was cruel and unusual within the meaning of the Philippine Bill of Rights.
Was petitioner’s sentence cruel and unusual within the meaning of the Philippine Bill of Rights?
Because the provision prohibiting cruel and unusual punishments contained in the Philippine Bill of Rights was taken from the U.S. Const. amend. VIII, the Court gave it the same interpretation. The Court agreed that the petitioner's punishment was improper because it was not proportionate to his offense, and thus the petitioner's sentence violated the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments.