• Non-payment of cellphone bills not a criminal offense

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    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    I am fond of subscribing to postpaid plans on different telecommunications company. Just recently, I subscribed to a plan 2499 that came with an iPhone 5S. I paid the advance payment and signed the contract with a lock-in period of 24 months. However, I stopped paying for my bills after a month. I received a notice from a law firm asking me to settle my bills as soon as possible, otherwise they will file a formal case against me. I ignored the notice, and now the law firm started calling me day in and day out. Can I be imprisoned for this? Will this case appear on any of my public documents like police clearance or NBI?
    Micu

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    Dear Micu,
    By subscribing to a post paid plan with a telecommunications company, you literally entered into a contract with the said company. As such, you are bound by the terms and conditions that are stipulated therein. If you fail to pay your monthly bills and ignore their notices, the recourse of the company is to compel you to pay the said bill by filing an appropriate civil case in court. The company may likewise opt to cancel or rescind the contract. In both cases, you are liable for the payment of damages. This is in accordance with the provision of the New Civil Code of the Philippines, to wit:

    “Art. 1191. The power to rescind obligations is implied in reciprocal ones, in case one of the obligors should not comply with what is incumbent upon him. The injured party may choose between the fulfillment and the rescission of the obligation, with the payment of damages in either case. He may also seek rescission, even after he has chosen fulfillment, if the latter should become impossible.

    xxx”

    Your failure to settle your monthly bills will not make you criminally liable, for this is just a breach of what you and the telecommunications company have agreed upon. The said company has two options, which were already discussed above. This case is civil in nature, which will enable the said company to collect from you. In no way shall you be imprisoned because of your unpaid bills. Likewise, since this does not amount to a criminal offense, non-payment of these bills alone will not give rise to the filing of a criminal case against you, which, if filed in court, will definitely appear once you secure a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) or a Police Clearance.

    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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    5 Comments

    1. Dear PAO,
      In this case do i have the right to secure my NBI Clearance.? or do i have a chance to get a NBI clearance once it is filed in court meaning civil case against me for none payment of cell phone post bill. my fear is if i will get a clearance i might be detain by Police of NBI.

      Please enlighten me in this case

      Thank you and GOD BLESS

    2. Guys how do you send a letter or email to Persida Acosta. I have a very important case against me & i would love to get an answer from her. In advance, thank you very much.

    3. In Japan if you failed to pay your obligations in a month or two the company will just cancel your subscription and cut your communications and advise all other telecommunication company about your status so if you apply for the other companies they will just reject you. you have still an option to get a prepaid phone but they will still ask your ID so ask a friend to get one for you.

    4. how nice that PA0 Chief Persida Acosta is doing a public service column herself. It’s a great help for the people, specially those threatened by lawyers of all sorts.
      I do know, too, that PAO is lawyering for the PMA guy Aldrin Cudia. I hope PAO manages to win a reversal of the PMA decisions against Aldrin who seems to be a very fine young man.
      I trust Ms. Acosta’s column lasts for years.