I am thinking of complaining against my neighbor here in Malabon City (Metro Manila) for grave threats because of the negative words he uttered to me during an event in our barangay. Where should I file a case against him?
Making grave threats is a crime punishable under our Revised Penal Code (RPC). Particularly, Article 282 of the RPC penalizes a person who threatens another with the infliction upon the person, honor or property of the latter or of his family of any wrong amounting to a crime.
You failed to mention in your letter the precise negative words that your neighbor hurled at you. If these words amounted to threats of inflicting harm upon your person, your honor or your property or that of your family amounting to a crime, he may be held criminally liable thereto.
We want to emphasize that the case should be initiated by the filing of an appropriate complaint before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Malabon City if your neighbor made the threats coupled with a demand for money or if he imposed any other condition, even though such condition is not unlawful. This is true whether he attained his purpose for such threats, only that the penalty to be imposed upon him, if he attained his purpose, shall be that which is next lower in degree than that prescribed by law for the crime he threatened to commit. If he did not attain his purpose, the penalty lower by two degrees shall be imposed upon him (Article 282 (1), RPC).
You and your neighbor, however, must undergo barangay conciliation if the threats uttered by him were not made subject to a condition. The reason behind this is that such kind of crime now comes within the jurisdiction of the barangay considering that the penalty imposed thereto by law is arresto mayor, that is, imprisonment from one month and one day to six months, and a fine not exceeding 500 pesos (Article 282 (2), RPC). Consistent with Section 412 in relation to Section 408 (c) of RA 7610, offenses which are punishable by imprisonment not exceeding one (1) year or a fine not exceeding Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) must first be acted upon before the barangay.
Accordingly, it would be essential for you to file your complaint against your neighbor before your barangay. Both of you will be summoned to appear before the lupon chairman or the pangkat to address your concerns. If after several hearings, no amicable settlement is reached between you and your neighbor, a Certificate to File Action will be issued in your favor so that you may properly bring your complaint before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Malabon City.
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.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to email@example.com