I am a retired Philippine veteran soldier having served the Philippine Air Force (PAF) for 36 straight years prior to my retirement in 2016. After my retirement, I lived in my son’s house together with his wife and three children named Raul, Diego and Carlito (ages 28, 25 and 22 years) as I lost my wife a few years ago. To ensure my financial security, I keep an open baul under my bed which contained P50,000.00 cash, and some prized possessions like a bullet, which was taken out of my shoulder after one dogfight during my service in the PAF.
One day, I discovered that my baul was moved out of place under my bed and my P49,000.00 cash, plus the bullet, was missing. I soon found out that my grandson Raul was the culprit because he lost in a game of sports gambling and owed money to some bad persons. I demanded from him to return my items but he does not want to pay me back. He also left the house already and never came back. Can I file a case against my grandson?
Lt. Col. Jaime
Dear Lt. Col. Jaime,
First, we would like to thank you for your invaluable service to the Filipino nation through the Philippine Air Force (PAF). We hope that through our legal advice, we can give you some recompense in return.
The crime committed by your grandson, Raul, is clearly the crime of theft. In the case of Kyle Anthony Zabala vs. People of the Philippines (G.R. No. 210760, January 26, 2015,) penned by Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr., it was held that “[t]he ‘essential elements’ of theft are (1) the taking of personal property; (2) the property belongs to another; (3) the taking away was done with intent of gain; (4) the taking away was done without the consent of the owner; and (5) the taking away is accomplished without violence or intimidation against persons or force upon things.”
Indeed, when Raul took your items, which rightfully belonged to you, without your consent, his intention was to gain from the items. Inevitably, the facts as you have narrated will indubitably show that Raul committed the criminal case of theft against you.
Considering, however, that Raul is your grandson, Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) provides that Raul would be exempted from criminal liability, but not necessarily from civil liability, to wit:
“Art. 332. Persons exempt from criminal liability. — No criminal, but only civil liability, shall result from the commission of the crime of theft, swindling or malicious mischief committed or caused mutually by the following persons:
Spouses, ascendants and descendants, or relatives by affinity in the same line;
The widowed spouse with respect to the property which belonged to the deceased spouse before the same shall have passed into the possession of another; and
Brothers and sisters and brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, if living together.
The exemption established by this article shall not be applicable to strangers participating in the commission of the crime.” (Emphasis supplied)
Following the foregoing, the fact that Raul is your grandson means that he is your descendant and may avail of this exemption provided under Article 332 of the RPC. This does not, however, mean that you no longer have any recourse to recover your property as you may still pursue the civil liability aspect of the crime against Raul, or to file an independent civil action to claim back your lost property.
Again, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.