What case can I file against my neighbor who always shouts at me and calls me names every time I pass by their house? I did not mind him at first, but now I am deeply offended and annoyed by his acts. I hope you can help me.
You may file a complaint for unjust vexation under paragraph 2 of Article 287 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), to wit:
Article 287. Light coercions. – Any person who, by means of violence, shall seize anything belonging to his debtor for the purpose of applying the same to the payment of the debt, shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor in its minimum period and a fine equivalent to the value of the thing, but in no case less than 75 pesos.
Any other coercion or unjust vexation shall be punished by arresto menor or a fine ranging from 5 to 200 pesos, or both.
The crime of unjust vexation was explained in the case of People of the Philippines vs. Salvino Sumingwa, (GR No. 183619, October 13, 2009), to wit:
“The second paragraph of this provision is broad enough to include any human conduct that, although not productive of some physical or material harm, could unjustifiably annoy or vex an innocent person. The paramount question to be considered is whether the offender’s act caused annoyance, irritation, torment, distress, or disturbance to the mind of the person to whom it was directed.”
The acts of your neighbor in shouting at you and calling you names fall squarely in the crime of unjust vexation. However, since the penalty for unjust vexation is imprisonment of one to 30 days only or payment of fine of five to 200 pesos and you are both living in the same barangay, you need to go to your barangay first for conciliation proceedings before you may be able to file a criminal complaint against him. If you and your neighbor failed to arrive at an amicable settlement during the conciliation, you will be issued a certificate to file action. Upon issuance of the same, you may go to the Prosecutor’s Office of your place to file the necessary complaint for unjust vexation against him.
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts that you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed 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 firstname.lastname@example.org