Valenzuela vs People (GR No. 160188 June 21, 2007)

Valenzuela vs People
GR No. 160188 June 21, 2007

Facts: On 19 May 1994, at around 4:30 p.m., petitioner and Calderon were sighted outside the Super Sale Club, a supermarket within the ShoeMart (SM) complex along North EDSA, by Lorenzo Lago (Lago), a security guard who was then manning his post at the open parking area of the supermarket. Lago saw petitioner, who was wearing an identification card with the mark Receiving Dispatching Unit (RDU), hauling a push cart with cases of detergent of the well-known Tide brand. Petitioner unloaded these cases in an open parking space, where Calderon was waiting. Petitioner then returned inside the supermarket, and after five (5) minutes, emerged with more cartons of Tide Ultramatic and again unloaded these boxes to the same area in the open parking space. Thereafter, petitioner left the parking area and haled a taxi. He boarded the cab and directed it towards the parking space where Calderon was waiting. Calderon loaded the cartons of Tide Ultramatic inside the taxi, then boarded the vehicle. All these acts were eyed by Lago, who proceeded to stop the taxi as it was leaving the open parking area. When Lago asked petitioner for a receipt of the merchandise, petitioner and Calderon reacted by fleeing on foot, but Lago fired a warning shot to alert his fellow security guards of the incident. Petitioner and Calderon were apprehended at the scene, and the stolen merchandise recovered. The filched items seized from the duo were four (4) cases of Tide Ultramatic, one (1) case of Ultra 25 grams, and three (3) additional cases of detergent, the goods with an aggregate value of P12,090.00. Petitioner and Calderon were first brought to the SM security office before they were transferred on the same day to the Baler Station II of the Philippine National Police, Quezon City, for investigation. It appears from the police investigation records that apart from petitioner and Calderon, four (4) other persons were apprehended by the security guards at the scene and delivered to police custody at the Baler PNP Station in connection with the incident. However, after the matter was referred to the Office of the Quezon City Prosecutor, only petitioner and Calderon were charged with theft by the Assistant City Prosecutor, in Informations prepared on 20 May 1994, the day after the incident.

Issue: Whether or not petitioners are guilty of frustrated theft.

Held: No. under the Revised Penal Code, there is no crime of frustrated theft. As petitioner has latched the success of his appeal on our acceptance of the Dio and Flores rulings, his petition must be denied, for we decline to adopt said rulings in our jurisdiction. That it has taken all these years for us to recognize that there can be no frustrated theft under the Revised Penal Code does not detract from the correctness of this conclusion. It will take considerable amendments to our Revised Penal Code in order that frustrated theft may be recognized. Our deference to Viada yields to the higher reverence for legislative intent.

The elements of the crime of theft as provided for in Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code are: (1) that there be taking of personal property; (2) that said property belongs to another; (3) that the taking be done with intent to gain; (4) that the taking be done without the consent of the owner; and (5) that the taking be accomplished without the use of violence against or intimidation of persons or force upon things.

The statutory definition of theft considers only the perspective of intent to gain on the part of the offender, compounded by the deprivation of property on the part of the victim.

It might be argued, that the ability of the offender to freely dispose of the property stolen delves into the concept of taking itself, in that there could be no true taking until the actor obtains such degree of control over the stolen item. But even if this were correct, the effect would be to downgrade the crime to its attempted, and not frustrated stage, for it would mean that not all the acts of execution have not been completed, the taking not having been accomplished. Perhaps this point could serve as fertile ground for future discussion, but our concern now is whether there is indeed a crime of frustrated theft, and such consideration proves ultimately immaterial to that question. Moreover, such issue will not apply to the facts of this particular case. We are satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the taking by the petitioner was completed in this case. With intent to gain, he acquired physical possession of the stolen cases of detergent for a considerable period of time that he was able to drop these off at a spot in the parking lot, and long enough to load these onto a taxicab.

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