Criminal Law

Qualified Theft

CANDELARIA vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

G.R. No. 209386    December 8, 2014

FACTS:

Viron Transit Corporation ordered 14,000 liters of diesel fuel  from Unioil, a company owned by private complainant Lao. Petitioner Mel Carpizo Candelaria, a truck driver employed by Lao, was dispatched to deliver the diesel fuel in Laon Laan, Manila.

However, in the afternoon of the same day, Viron informed Lao through a phone call that it had not yet received its order.

In the evening of the same day, Romano returned alone to Unioil’s office and reported that Candelaria poked a balisong at him, prompting Lao to report the incident to the police.

After a few days, the NBI agents found the abandoned lorry truck in Calamba, Laguna, emptied of the diesel fuel.

Lao filed a complaint for Qualified Theft against Candelaria.

In his defense, Candelaria demurred to the prosecution’s evidence, arguing that there was no direct evidence that linked him to the commission of the crime, as Lao had no personal knowledge as to what actually happened to the diesel fuel.

The RTC convicted Candelaria of Qualified Theft

The CA affirmed Candelaria’s conviction. Citing jurisprudence, it observed that theft by a truck driver who takes the load of his truck belonging to his employer is guilty of Qualified Theft.

 

ISSUE:

Whether or not the CA correctly found Candelaria guilty of the crime of Qualified Theft.

RULING:

The petition is bereft of merit.

The elements of Qualified Theft, punishable under Article 310 in relation to Article 309 of the RPC, as amended, are:

(a) the taking of personal property;

(b) the said property belongs to another;

(c) the said taking be done with intent to gain;

(d) it be done without the owner’s consent;

(e) it be accomplished without the use of violence or intimidation against persons, nor of force upon things; and

(f) it be done under any of the circumstances enumerated in Article 310 of the RPC, i.e., with grave abuse of confidence.

In this case, there is a confluence of all the foregoing elements. Through the testimony of the prosecution witnesses, it was sufficiently established that the 14,000 liters of diesel fuel loaded into the lorry truck driven by Candelaria for delivery to Viron was taken by him, without the authority and consent of Lao, the owner of the diesel fuel, and that Candelaria abused the confidence reposed upon him by Lao,as his employer.

The RTC, as correctly affirmed by the CA, found that the attendant circumstances in this case, as duly established by the prosecution’s evidence, amply justify the conviction of Candelaria under the evidentiary threshold of proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Candelaria did not proffer any persuasive reason to explain the loss of said goods and merely banked on a general denial, which, as case law holds, is an inherently weak defense due to the ease by which it can be concocted. Thus, all things considered, Candelaria’s conviction for the crime of Qualified Theft stands.

PEOPLE v. TANCHANCO

G.R. No. 177761 April 18, 2012

Theft becomes qualified when it is committed with grave abuse of confidence.

FACTS:

Remedios Tanchanco, being then employed as Legal Secretary and Liaison Officer of Complainant Atty. Rebecca Manuelwas charged for stealing cash money amounting to Four Hundred Seventeen Thousand Nine Hundred Twenty-two [Pesos] and ninety centavos (P417,922.90) from Manuel.

The appellant entered a plea of not guilty during her arraignment. Thereafter, trial ensued.

Appellant admitted that she used to be the legal secretary and liaison officer of Rebecca. In particular, as liaison officer, she attended to the transfer of titles of Rebeccas clients such as Gonzaga, Manongsong, Alviedo and others whose names she could no longer remember. She claimed that the processing of the title of the Manongsong property was her last transaction for Rebecca. She was given money to pay the capital gains tax at the BIR. When confronted with the charges filed against her, appellant merely denied the allegations.

Tanchanco was found guilty of the crime charged. The trial court found the existence of a high degree of confidence between Rebecca and appellant. It noted that the relationship between the two as employer-employee was not an ordinary one; appellant was being considered a part of Rebeccas family. Because of this trust and confidence, Rebecca entrusted to appellant cash in considerable sums which were liquidated through appellants own handwritten statements of expenses. However, appellant gravely abused the trust and confidence reposed upon her by Rebecca when she pocketed the money entrusted to her for processing the clients land titles. And as a cover up, she presented to Rebecca either fake or altered receipts which she did not even deny during trial.

 The CA affirmed the trial courts ruling but came up with a different figure as to the total amount taken by the appellant. The CA noted that there was no clear justification for the award of P407,711.68 as an examination of the records revealed that appellant failed to pay or padded her expenses only in the total amount of P248,447.45.

 

ISSUE:

Whether or not Tanchanco is guilty of Qualified theft.

 

RULING:

Courts below correctly held appellant liable for qualified theft

The elements of the crime of Theft as provided for in Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code [(RPC)] are:

(1) x x x there [was] taking of personal property;

(2) x x x [the] property belongs to another;

(3) x x x the taking [was] done with intent to gain;

(4) x x x the taking [was] without the consent of the owner; and

(5) x x x the taking was accomplished without the use of violence against or intimidation of persons or force upon things.

 

Under Article 310 of the [RPC], theft [becomes] qualified when it is, among others, committed with grave abuse of confidence. x x x

The grave abuse of confidence must be the result of the relation by reason of dependence, guardianship, or vigilance, between the appellant and the offended party that might create a high degree of confidence between them which the appellant abused.

As Rebecca trusted appellant completely, and by reason of her being the liaison officer, she handed the monies to appellant without requiring the latter to sign any paper to evidence her receipt thereof. She also allowed appellant to liquidate the expenses incurred through mere handwritten liquidation statements solely prepared by appellant and treated them, as well as the official receipts presented, as true and correct. It thus becomes clear that it is because of the trust and confidence reposed by Rebecca upon appellant that the latter was able to make it appear from her liquidation statements that she spent the sums she received from Rebecca for their intended purposes.

To conceal this, she presented to Rebecca fake or altered receipts for the supposed payment, all of which form part of the records as evidence.

The Court therefore concludes that appellant took undue advantage of Rebeccas confidence in her when she appropriated for herself sums of money that the latter entrusted to her for a different purpose. The theft in this case was thus committed with grave abuse of confidence. Hence, appellant was correctly held by the lower courts as liable for qualified theft.

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