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However, there are several important distinctions between the two terms:
- Reclusión perpetua is prescribed on crimes punishable by the Revised Penal Code, while life imprisonment is imposed on offenses punishable by Special Laws.
- Reclusión perpetua carries the accessory penalty in which, as defined by Philippine Law, the prisoner is barred for life from holding political office. Life imprisonment does not carry this penalty.
- Unlike life imprisonment, the length of a sentence for reclusión perpetua is fixed at 40 years and cannot be altered during sentencing.
- Reclusión perpetua does not allow pardon or parole until after the first 30 years of the sentence have been served, and after 40 years without pardon or parole, the sentence expires. Life imprisonment does not have any definite extent or duration of imprisonment, and prisoners serving life imprisonment can have parole at any time.