• No crime committed by custodian’s sibling over ‘stolen’ certificate of title

    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    My parents are gone and being the oldest child, my siblings agreed that I will be the custodian of all certificates of title of their pieces of property. One of our siblings, however, who is so greedy, got one of the certificates without my permission during the celebration of the death anniversary of our father in my house and now he is refusing to return it. I want to pursue a case against him. What is the proper case to file? Is it theft or robbery?

    Dear Alex,
    The crimes of theft and robbery are both punishable under Crimes Against Property of Title XX of the Revised Penal Code (RPC). Both crimes pertain to the taking of personal property of another without the latter’s consent and with intent to gain. If the taking was committed without violence against, or intimidation of persons or force upon things, the crime committed is theft pursuant to Article 308 of the RPC. On the other hand, if the taking was committed with violence against, or intimidation of persons or force upon things, the proper crime to be charged is robbery pursuant to Article 293 of the same law.

    The crimes of theft and robbery, however, are not the proper cases that may be filed against your sibling who, according to you, had got one of the certificates of title pertaining to the pieces of property of your deceased parents without your permission. One of the elements of theft and robbery is the taking of personal property of another and this essential element for both crimes are lacking in your case. It is important to note that the pieces of property covered by the certificates of title in your possession belong to your deceased parents. As such, these are co-owned by you and your siblings. The co-ownership of these pieces of property is based on your right as successor or heir of your parents. Since these pieces of property have not yet been divided, you and your siblings have the equal right over each of the pieces of property. Thus, being a co-owner of what were left by your parents, you cannot file a case either for theft or robbery against the sibling who allegedly got one of the certificates of titles in your care.

    We suggest that you file a case for partition in court instead. This case for partition shall have the effect of dividing all the pieces of property of your parents to the latter’s heirs thereby preventing incidents like what happened during the commemoration of the death anniversary of your father. Nevertheless, you may try to have a settlement on your own, wherein you may agree by yourselves the division of these pieces of property through the execution of a deed of extra-judicial settlement.

    We hope that we have answered your query. Our legal opinion may vary if other facts are stated or elaborated.

    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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    1. I see going to court by filing complain is fairly costly. Going to court to begin settlement or to defend a case would command cost to among the parties. I would suggest to discuss with them armed with cool mind and emotion and discuss squarely partition settlement would be better than other options.

    2. What i would say to this family is if at all possible is get all the siblings together & decide together how to equally divide & share your properties. If you go through the law it will cost you an arm & a leg. Your lawyer will drag it out for as long as possible & all of you will be losers in this. If your sibling wont work with you then you have problems. Good luck.

    3. Atty. Roslee M. Formoso on

      Crime committed is Theft, your explanation is entirely wrong. Wrongdoing of theft is, “taking personal property of others for personal gains”. Meaning of “personal property of another,” the possessor is the legal owner with a title, or he is not the legal owner BUT the LAWFUL Possessor; in the law of “Property”, the possessor one in possession is by law regarded as the owner for purposes of defending the possession , lawsuit, thievery. Henceforth, the sibling is guilty of theft, the brother is a lawful possessor and exercises the right to defend the property in lawsuits.