I was walking in the clubhouse of our village when I noticed a brown wallet inside a transparent plastic bag on the ground. When I opened the wallet, I found that it contains around P3,200 in cash. There were no identification cards inside the wallet. Until this day, the wallet is still in my possession. I am torn between keeping the cash until the owner claims it, or walk away and just spend the money. Please advise me on my concern.
To answer your question, we shall refer to Articles 719 and 720 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, which read as follows:
“Article 719. Whoever finds a movable, which is not treasure, must return it to its previous possessor. If the latter is unknown, the finder shall immediately deposit it with the mayor of the city or municipality where the finding has taken place.
“The finding shall be publicly announced by the mayor for two consecutive weeks in the way he deems best.
“Six months from the publication having elapsed without the owner having appeared, the thing found, or its value, shall be awarded to the finder. The finder and the owner shall be obliged, as the case may be, to reimburse the expenses.
“Article 720. If the owner should appear in time, he shall be obliged to pay, as a reward to the finder, one-tenth of the sum or of the price of the thing found.” (Emphases supplied)
Thus, applying the aforementioned provisions, it is clear that any lost personal property, which has been subsequently found, must be returned to its rightful owner if the owner is known. Consequently, the owner of the lost wallet is obliged to give you a finder’s reward, which is equivalent to one-tenth of the value of the thing you found.
But if the owner of the wallet that you found is unknown, you must deposit the same to the
mayor of the city or municipality where the property is found. The mayor shall then publicly announce for two consecutive weeks that a lost wallet has been found. After the lapse of six months and no one came forward to claim the wallet, the same shall be given to you as a reward.
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 further 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 [email protected]