Abuse of rights

0

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
My neighbor, Michelle accused me of stealing her necklace on the eve of her wedding day. She claimed that I was the only person who immediately entered the restroom after she used it. She further alleged that she placed her necklace on the lavatory; however, I did not see anything when I was inside the restroom. I was really embarrassed that night, because every visitor in her wedding was looking at me when her relatives were searching my bag and pockets while she kept on shouting that I was the only person who entered the restroom, thus, nobody would have taken the necklace except me. The search of my personal belongings yielded nothing. Is there any case which I can file against Michelle?
Werdina

Dear Werdina,
Based on the facts that you have provided, it appears that Michelle concluded that it was you who took her necklace without any proof. The law that may have been violated by Michelle is found under Article 19 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines which states that:

“Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due and observe honesty and good faith.”

Relative to the abovementioned provision of law are the following:


“Art. 20. Every person who, contrary to law, willfully or negligently causes damage to another, shall indemnify the latter for the same.

“Art. 21. Any person who willfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals or good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the damage” (Id.).

In a similar case entitled Carpio vs. Valmonte (G.R. No. 151866, September 9, 2004), the Supreme Court through Associate Justice Dante Tinga stated:

“In the case at bar, petitioner’s verbal reproach against respondent was certainly uncalled for considering that by her own account nobody knew that she brought such kind and amount of jewelry inside the paper bag. This being the case, she had no right to attack respondent with her innuendos which were not merely inquisitive but outrightly accusatory. By openly accusing respondent as the only person who went out of the room before the loss of the jewelry in the presence of all the guests therein, and ordering that she be immediately bodily searched, petitioner virtually branded respondent as the thief. True, petitioner had the right to ascertain the identity of the malefactor, but to malign respondent without an iota of proof that she was the one who actually stole the jewelry is an act which, by any standard or principle of law is impermissible. Petitioner had willfully caused injury to respondent in a manner which is contrary to morals and good customs. Her firmness and resolve to find her missing jewelry cannot justify her acts toward respondent. She did not act with justice and good faith for apparently, she had no other purpose in mind but to prejudice respondent. Certainly, petitioner transgressed the provisions of Article 19 in relation to Article 21 for which she should be held accountable.”

Applying the above cited decision in your situation, Michelle clearly abused your right when she accused you of taking her necklace without any proof. Worse, you were subjected to physical search in front of her visitors and she kept on claiming that you had taken the missing item. Her action is not clearly justified under the circumstances. This is one example of abuse of rights which can be a source for a civil action for damages against her.

We find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated. We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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