• Properties of an orphan with mental problem may pay for damages he has caused

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    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    My fourteen-year-old son was mauled by Pete, who is known in our barangay as suffering from a mental problem. Pete is an immigrant in our barangay. He bought a house and lot prior to his mental ailment. Before scquiring poperty, he got hooked on illegal drugs. He was under the care of his father until the latter died last year.

    Of late, Pete has become violent. He attacks anyone who passes in front of his house. Although I would like to pursue a criminal case against him, I doubt if this remedy will succeed because I know that an insane person cannot be held criminally liable. At present, my son is still confined in the hospital and I cannot pay the hospital bills. Is there any way I can get compensation for the injuries sustained by my son?
    Bart

    Dear Bart,
    The general rule is that an imbecile or an insane person is exempt from criminal liability pursuant to Article 12 (1) of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines (RPC). However, there is an exemption to the said provision of law such as when the insane person is proven to have acted during a lucid interval. Thus, Pete can be held criminally liable if you can prove that he was sane when he mauled your son.

    Civil liability arises also if an insane person inflicted physical injury against another. Article 2180 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines, states: “The obligations imposed by Article 2176 is demandable not only for one’s own acts or omissions, but also for those of persons for whom one is responsible. “The father and, in case of his death or incapacity, the mother, are responsible for the damages caused by the minor children who live in their company. “Guardians are liable for damages caused by the minors or incapacitated persons who are under their authority and live in their company. Xxx xxx xxx.”

    In your case, you have to determine first if somebody is acting as Pete’s guardian, because the latter is liable for Pete’s act. However, if there is none, the appropriate legal remedy is to run after his property. This finds support under Article 2182 of the same code which explicitly provides that if the minor or insane person who has caused damage has no parents or guardians, the minor or insane person shall be answerable with his own property in an action against him where a guardian ad litem shall be appointed.

    We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated upon.

    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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