Hand tractor not used on public roads not a motor vehicle under the law

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
Nestor and Enteng allegedly poked a gun at my cousin Tony while the latter was plowing his rice field with a hand tractor. The two allegedly grabbed the tractor so that they can sell it in a nearby town and have some money to buy illegal drugs. According to my cousin, Nestor and Enteng were under the influence of liquor when the crime happened. Tony reported this to the police and the hand tractor was recovered. The matter was also referred for barangay (village) conciliation but nothing happened.
Tony now would like to pursue a case of car theft against Nestor and Enteng. Was there car theft in this case?   Tracy

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Dear Tracy,
In People of the Philippines vs. Lagat, et al.(G.R. No. 187044, September 14, 2011), the Supreme Court, through Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro said:

“Carnapping is the taking, with intent to gain, of a motor vehicle belonging to another without the latter’s consent, or by means of violence against or intimidation of persons, or by using force upon things.

“Motor vehicle is any vehicle propelled by any power other than muscular power using the public highways, but excepting road rollers, trolley cars, street-sweepers, sprinklers, lawn mowers, bulldozers, graders, fork-lifts, amphibian trucks and cranes if not used on public highways, vehicles, which run only on rails or tracks, and tractors, trailers and traction engines of all kinds used exclusively for agricultural purposes. Trailers having any number of wheels, when propelled or intended to be propelled by attachment to a motor vehicle, shall be classified as separate motor vehicle with no power rating.

“The elements of carnapping as defined and penalized under the Anti-Carnapping Act of 1972 are:

1. That there is an actual taking of the vehicle;

2. That the vehicle belongs to a person other than the offender himself;

3. That the taking is without the consent of the owner thereof; or that the taking was committed by means of violence against or intimidation of persons, or by using force upon things; and

4. That the offender intends to gain from the taking of the vehicle.”

Based on the above-mentioned jurisprudence and provision of law, it is clear that Nestor and Enteng cannot be made liable for car theft, considering that what they took from Tony was a hand tractor. Tractors or traction engines that are used exclusively for agricultural purposes and not used on public highways are not considered as motor vehicles within the contemplation of the Anti-Carnapping Act (Republic Act 6539). Nestor and Enteng can be made liable for the crime of robbery with intimidation or force upon things but not car theft.

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 dearpao@manilatimes.net

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