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ENBANC

ARISTOTELVALENZUELAyG.R.No.160188
NATIVIDAD,
Petitioner,Present:

PUNO,C.J.,
QUISUMBING,
SANTIAGO,
versusGUTIERREZ,
CARPIO,
MARTINEZ,
CORONA,
CARPIOMORALES,
AZCUNA,
TINGA,
CHICONAZARIO,
GARCIA,
VELASCO,and
PEOPLEOFTHEPHILIPPINESNACHURA,JJ.
andHON.COURTOFAPPEALS,
Respondents.
Promulgated:

June21,2007

xx

DECISION

TINGA,J.:

This case aims for prime space in the firmament of our criminal law jurisprudence. Petitioner
effectivelyconcedeshavingperformedthefeloniousactsimputedagainsthim,butinsteadinsiststhat
asaresult,heshouldbeadjudgedguiltyoffrustratedtheftonly,notthefelonyinitsconsummated
stageofwhichhewasconvicted.Thepropositionrestsonacommontheoryexpoundedintwowell
[1]
known decisions rendered decades ago by the Court of Appeals, upholding the existence of

frustratedtheftofwhichtheaccusedinbothcaseswerefoundguilty.However,therationalebehind
therulingshasneverbeenaffirmedbythisCourt.

[2]
Asfarascanbetold, thelasttimethisCourtextensivelyconsideredwhetheranaccusedwas
[3]
guiltyoffrustratedorconsummatedtheftwasin1918,inPeoplev.Adiao. Amorecursory


[4]
treatmentofthequestionwasfollowedin1929,inPeoplev.Sobrevilla, andin1984,inEmpelisv.
[5]
IAC. Thispetitionnowgivesoccasionforustofinallyandfullymeasureiforhowfrustratedtheft
issusceptibletocommissionundertheRevisedPenalCode.

I.

[6]
The basic facts are no longer disputed before us. The case stems from an Information charging
petitionerAristotelValenzuela(petitioner)andJovyCalderon(Calderon)withthecrimeoftheft.On
19May1994,ataround4:30p.m.,petitionerandCalderonweresightedoutsidetheSuperSaleClub,
a supermarket within the ShoeMart (SM) complex along North EDSA, by Lorenzo Lago (Lago), a
securityguardwhowasthenmanninghispostattheopenparkingareaofthesupermarket.Lagosaw
petitioner,whowaswearinganidentificationcardwiththemarkReceivingDispatchingUnit(RDU),
haulingapushcartwithcasesofdetergentofthewellknownTidebrand.Petitionerunloadedthese
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
[7]
unloadedtheseboxestothesameareaintheopenparkingspace.



Thereafter,petitionerlefttheparkingareaandhaledataxi.Heboardedthecabanddirectedit
towards the parking space where Calderon was waiting. Calderon loaded the cartons of Tide
Ultramaticinsidethetaxi,thenboardedthevehicle.AlltheseactswereeyedbyLago,whoproceeded
tostopthetaxiasitwasleavingtheopenparkingarea.WhenLagoaskedpetitionerforareceiptof
themerchandise,petitionerandCalderonreactedbyfleeingonfoot,butLagofiredawarningshotto
alert his fellow security guards of the incident. Petitioner and Calderon were apprehended at the
[8]
scene,andthestolenmerchandiserecovered. Thefilcheditemsseizedfromtheduowerefour(4)

casesofTideUltramatic,one(1)caseofUltra25grams,andthree(3)additionalcasesofdetergent,
[9]
thegoodswithanaggregatevalueofP12,090.00.

PetitionerandCalderonwerefirstbroughttotheSMsecurityofficebeforetheyweretransferredon
PetitionerandCalderonwerefirstbroughttotheSMsecurityofficebeforetheyweretransferredon
thesamedaytotheBalerStationIIofthePhilippineNationalPolice,QuezonCity,forinvestigation.
ItappearsfromthepoliceinvestigationrecordsthatapartfrompetitionerandCalderon,four(4)other
personswereapprehendedbythesecurityguardsatthesceneanddeliveredtopolicecustodyatthe
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
[10]
AssistantCityProsecutor,inInformationspreparedon20May1994,thedayaftertheincident.

After pleading not guilty on arraignment, at the trial, petitioner and Calderon both claimed having
beeninnocentbystanderswithinthevicinityoftheSuperSaleClubontheafternoonof19May1994
whentheywerehaledbyLagoandhisfellowsecurityguardsafteracommotionandbroughttothe
BalerPNPStation.Calderonallegedthatontheafternoonoftheincident,hewasattheSuperSale
[11]
ClubtowithdrawfromhisATMaccount,accompaniedbyhisneighbor,LeoncioRosulada. Asthe
queuefortheATMwaslong,CalderonandRosuladadecidedtobuysnacksinsidethesupermarket.It
waswhiletheywereeatingthattheyheardthegunshotfiredbyLago,leadingthemtoheadoutofthe
buildingtocheckwhatwas

transpiring.Astheywereoutside,theyweresuddenlygrabbedbyasecurityguard,thuscommencing
[12]
their detention. Meanwhile, petitioner testified during trial that he and his cousin, a Gregorio
[13]
Valenzuela, hadbeenattheparkinglot,walkingbesidethenearbyBLISScomplexandheadedto
ride a tricycle going to Pagasa, when they saw the security guard Lago fire a shot. The gunshot
causedhimandtheotherpeopleatthescenetostartrunning,atwhichpointhewasapprehendedby
Lagoandbroughttothesecurityoffice.Petitionerclaimedhewasdetainedatthesecurityofficeuntil
around 9:00 p.m., at which time he and the others were brought to the Baler Police Station. At the
station,petitionerdeniedhavingstolenthecartonsofdetergent,buthewasdetainedovernight,and
[14]
eventuallybroughttotheprosecutorsofficewherehewaschargedwiththeft. Duringpetitioners
crossexamination,headmittedthathehadbeenemployedasabundlerofGMSMarketing,assigned
[15]
atthesupermarketthoughnotatSM.

[16]
InaDecision promulgatedon1February2000,theRegionalTrialCourt(RTC)ofQuezonCity,
Branch 90, convicted both petitioner and Calderon of the crime of consummated theft. They were
sentenced to an indeterminate prison term of two (2) years of prision correccional as minimum to
[17]
seven (7) years of prision mayor as maximum. The RTC found credible the testimonies of the
prosecutionwitnessesandestablishedtheconvictionsonthepositiveidentificationoftheaccusedas
prosecutionwitnessesandestablishedtheconvictionsonthepositiveidentificationoftheaccusedas
perpetratorsofthecrime.

[18] [19]
BothaccusedfiledtheirrespectiveNoticesofAppeal, butonlypetitionerfiledabrief
with the Court of Appeals, causing the appellate court to deem Calderons appeal as abandoned and
consequently dismissed. Before the Court of Appeals, petitioner argued that he should only be
convictedoffrustratedtheftsinceatthetimehewasapprehended,hewasneverplacedinaposition
[20] [21]
tofreelydisposeofthearticlesstolen. However,initsDecisiondated19June2003, theCourt
[22]
ofAppealsrejectedthiscontentionandaffirmedpetitionersconviction. HencethepresentPetition
[23]
for Review, which expressly seeks that petitioners conviction be modified to only of Frustrated
[24]
Theft.

Even in his appeal before the Court of Appeals, petitioner effectively conceded both his felonious
intent and his actual participation in the theft of several cases of detergent with a total value of
[25]
P12,090.00ofwhichhewascharged. Assuch,thereisnocausefortheCourttoconsiderafactual
scenario other than that presented by the prosecution, as affirmed by the RTC and the Court of
Appeals.Theonlyquestiontoconsideriswhetherunderthegivenfacts,thetheftshouldbedeemedas
consummatedormerelyfrustrated.

II.

[26]
In arguing that he should only be convicted of frustrated theft, petitioner cites two decisions
[27] [28]
renderedmanyyearsagobytheCourtofAppeals:Peoplev.Dio andPeoplev.Flores. Both
decisionselicittheinterestofthisCourt,astheymodifiedtrialcourtconvictionsfromconsummated
to frustrated theft and involve a factual milieu that bears similarity to the present case. Petitioner
invoked the same rulings in his appeal to the Court of Appeals, yet the appellate court did not
expresslyconsidertheimportoftherulingswhenitaffirmedtheconviction.

It is not necessary to fault the Court of Appeals for giving short shrift to the Dio and Flores
rulings since they have not yet been expressly adopted as precedents by this Court. For whatever
reasons,


the occasion to define or debunk the crime of frustrated theft has not come to pass before us. Yet
despitethesilenceonourpart,DioandFloreshaveattainedalevelofrenownreachedbyveryfew
otherappellatecourtrulings.Theyarecomprehensivelydiscussedinthemostpopularofourcriminal
otherappellatecourtrulings.Theyarecomprehensivelydiscussedinthemostpopularofourcriminal
[29]
lawannotations, andstudiedincriminallawclassesastextbookexamplesoffrustratedcrimesor
evenasdefinitiveoffrustratedtheft.

More critically, the factual milieu in those cases is hardly akin to the fanciful scenarios that
populatecriminallawexamsmorethantheyactuallyoccurinreallife.Indeed,ifwefinallysaythat
DioandFloresaredoctrinal,suchconclusioncouldprofoundlyinfluenceamultitudeofroutinetheft
prosecutions,includingcommonplaceshoplifting.Anyscenariothatinvolvesthethiefhavingtoexit
with the stolen property through a supervised egress, such as a supermarket checkout counter or a
parking area pay booth, may easily call for the application of Dio and Flores. The fact that lower
courts have not hesitated to lay down convictions for frustrated theft further validates that Dio and
Flores and the theories offered therein on frustrated theft have borne some weight in our
jurisprudentialsystem.Thetimeisthusripeforustoexaminewhetherthosetheoriesarecorrectand
shouldcontinuetoinfluenceprosecutorsandjudgesinthefuture.

III.

TodelveintoanyextendedanalysisofDioandFlores,aswellasthespecificissuesrelativeto
frustratedtheft,itisnecessarytofirstrefertothebasicrulesonthethreestagesofcrimesunderour
[30]
RevisedPenalCode.

Article 6 defines those three stages, namely the consummated, frustrated and attempted felonies. A
felony is consummated when all the elements necessary for its execution and accomplishment are
present.Itisfrustratedwhentheoffenderperformsalltheactsofexecutionwhichwouldproducethe
felonyasaconsequencebutwhich,nevertheless,donotproduceitbyreasonofcausesindependentof

thewilloftheperpetrator.Finally,itisattemptedwhentheoffendercommencesthecommissionofa
felonydirectlybyovertacts,anddoesnotperformalltheactsofexecutionwhichshouldproducethe
felonybyreasonofsomecauseoraccidentotherthanhisownspontaneousdesistance.

Each felony under the Revised Penal Code has a subjective phase, or that portion of the acts
constitutingthecrimeincludedbetweentheactwhichbeginsthecommissionofthecrimeandthelast
[31]
act performed by the offender which, with prior acts, should result in the consummated crime.
[32]
Afterthatpointhasbeenbreached,thesubjectivephaseendsandtheobjectivephasebegins. It
hasbeenheldthatiftheoffenderneverpassesthesubjectivephaseoftheoffense,thecrimeismerely
[33]
[33]
attempted. On the other hand, the subjective phase is completely passed in case of frustrated
[34]
crimes,forinsuchinstances,[s]ubjectivelythecrimeiscomplete.

Truly,aneasydistinctionliesbetweenconsummatedandfrustratedfeloniesononehand,and
attempted felonies on the other. So long as the offender fails to complete all the acts of execution
despite commencing the commission of a felony, the crime is undoubtedly in the attempted stage.
SincethespecificactsofexecutionthatdefineeachcrimeundertheRevisedPenalCodearegenerally
enumeratedinthecodeitself,thetaskofascertainingwhetheracrimeisattemptedonlywouldneedto
comparetheactsactuallyperformedbytheaccusedasagainsttheactsthatconstitutethefelonyunder
theRevisedPenalCode.

Incontrast,thedeterminationofwhetheracrimeisfrustratedorconsummatednecessitatesaninitial
concession that all of the acts of execution have been performed by the offender. The critical
distinction instead is whether the felony itself was actually produced by the acts of execution. The
determinationofwhetherthefelonywasproducedafteralltheactsofexecutionhadbeenperformed
hingesontheparticularstatutorydefinitionofthefelony.Itisthestatutorydefinitionthatgenerally
furnishes the elements of each crime under the Revised Penal Code, while the elements in turn
unraveltheparticularrequisiteactsofexecutionandaccompanyingcriminalintent.

The longstanding Latin maxim actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea supplies an important
characteristicofacrime,thatordinarily,evilintentmustunitewithanunlawfulactfortheretobea
[35]
crime,andaccordingly,therecanbenocrimewhenthecriminalmindiswanting. Acceptedinthis
[36]
jurisdictionasmaterialincrimesmalainse, mensreahasbeendefinedbeforeasaguiltymind,a
[37] [38]
guilty or wrongful purpose or criminal intent, and essential for criminal liability. It follows

thatthestatutorydefinitionofourmalainsecrimesmustbeabletosupplywhatthemensreaofthe
crimeis,andindeedtheU.S.SupremeCourthascomfortablyheldthatacriminallawthatcontainsno
[39]
mensrearequirementinfringesonconstitutionallyprotectedrights. Thecriminalstatutemustalso
provide for the overt acts that constitute the crime. For a crime to exist in our legal law, it is not
[40]
enoughthatmensreabeshowntheremustalsobeanactusreus.



Itisfromtheactusreusandthemensrea,astheyfindexpressioninthecriminalstatute,that
the felony is produced. As a postulate in the craftsmanship of constitutionally sound laws, it is
extremely preferable that the language of the law expressly provide when the felony is produced.
Withoutsuchprovision,disputeswouldinevitablyensueontheelementalquestionwhetherornota
Withoutsuchprovision,disputeswouldinevitablyensueontheelementalquestionwhetherornota
crimewascommitted,therebypresagingtheundesirableandlegallydubioussetupunderwhichthe
judiciaryisassignedthelegislativeroleofdefiningcrimes.Fortunately,ourRevisedPenalCodedoes
notsufferfromsuchinfirmity.Fromthestatutorydefinitionofanyfelony,adecisivepassageorterm
is embedded which attests when the felony is produced by the acts of execution. For example, the
statutorydefinitionofmurderorhomicideexpresslyusesthephraseshallkillanother,thusmakingit
clearthatthefelonyisproducedbythedeathofthevictim,andconversely,itisnotproducedifthe
victimsurvives.

We next turn to the statutory definition of theft. Under Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code, its
elementsarespelledoutasfollows:

Art.308.Whoareliablefortheft.Theftiscommittedbyanypersonwho,withintenttogainbut
withoutviolenceagainstorintimidationofpersonsnorforceuponthings,shalltakepersonalproperty
ofanotherwithoutthelattersconsent.
Theftislikewisecommittedby:
1. Any person who, having found lost property, shall fail to deliver the same to the local
authoritiesortoitsowner
2.Anypersonwho,afterhavingmaliciouslydamagedthepropertyofanother,shallremove
ormakeuseofthefruitsorobjectofthedamagecausedbyhimand
3.Any person who shall enter an inclosed estate or a field where trespass is forbidden or
whichbelongstoanotherandwithouttheconsentofitsowner,shallhuntorfishuponthe
sameorshallgathercereals,orotherforestorfarmproducts.

Article 308 provides for a general definition of theft, and three alternative and highly idiosyncratic
[41]
meansbywhichtheftmaybecommitted. Inthepresentdiscussion,weneedtoconcernourselves
only with the general definition since it was under it that the prosecution of the accused was

undertakenandsustained.Onthefaceofthedefinition,thereisonlyoneoperativeactofexecutionby
the actor involved in theft the taking of personal property of another. It is also clear from the
provision that in order that such taking may be qualified as theft, there must further be present the
descriptive circumstances that the taking was with intent to gain without force upon things or
violence against or intimidation of persons and it was without the consent of the owner of the
property.

Indeed,wehavelongrecognizedthefollowingelementsoftheftasprovidedforinArticle308
oftheRevisedPenalCode,namely:(1)thattherebetakingofpersonalproperty(2)thatsaidproperty
belongstoanother(3)thatthetakingbedonewithintenttogain(4)thatthetakingbedonewithout
theconsentoftheownerand(5)thatthetakingbeaccomplishedwithouttheuseofviolenceagainst
[42]
orintimidationofpersonsorforceuponthings.

Inhiscommentaries,JudgeGuevarratracesthehistoryofthedefinitionoftheft,whichunder
Inhiscommentaries,JudgeGuevarratracesthehistoryofthedefinitionoftheft,whichunder
early Roman law as defined by Gaius, was so broad enough as to encompass any kind of physical
[43]
handlingofpropertybelongingtoanotheragainstthewilloftheowner, adefinitionsimilartothat
[44]
by Paulus that a thief handles (touches, moves) the property of another. However, with the
Institutes of Justinian, the idea had taken hold that more than mere physical handling, there must
furtherbeanintentofacquiringgainfromtheobject,thus:[f]urtumestcontrectatioreifraudulosa,
[45]
lucrifaciendicausavelipsiusrei,veletiamususejuspossessinisve. Thisrequirement of animo
lucrandi,orintenttogain,wasmaintainedinboththeSpanishandFilipinopenallaws,evenasithas
[46]
sincebeenabandonedinGreatBritain.



InSpanishlaw,animo lucrandi was compounded with apoderamiento, or unlawful taking, to
characterizetheft.JusticeRegaladonotesthattheconceptofapoderamientooncehadacontroversial
interpretationandapplication.Spanishlawhadalreadydiscountedthebeliefthatmerephysicaltaking
wasconstitutiveofapoderamiento,findingthatithadtobecoupledwiththeintenttoappropriatethe
objectinordertoconstituteapoderamientoandtoappropriatemeanstodeprivethelawfulownerof
[47]
the thing. However, a conflicting line of cases decided by the Court of Appeals ruled,
[48]
alternatively,thattheremustbepermanencyinthetaking oranintenttopermanentlydeprivethe

[49]
owner of the stolen property or that there was no need for permanency in the taking or in its
intent,asthemeretemporarypossessionbytheoffenderordisturbanceoftheproprietaryrightsofthe
[50]
owner already constituted apoderamiento. Ultimately, as Justice Regalado notes, the Court
adoptedthelatterthoughtthattherewasnoneedofanintenttopermanentlydeprivetheownerofhis
[51]
propertytoconstituteanunlawfultaking.

Solongasthedescriptivecircumstancesthatqualifythetakingarepresent,includinganimolucrandi
and apoderamiento, the completion of the operative act that is the taking of personal property of
anotherestablishes,atleast,thatthetransgressionwentbeyondtheattemptedstage.Asappliedtothe
presentcase,themomentpetitionerobtainedphysicalpossessionofthecasesofdetergentandloaded
them in the pushcart, such seizure motivated by intent to gain, completed without need to inflict
violenceorintimidationagainstpersonsnorforceuponthings,andaccomplishedwithouttheconsent
violenceorintimidationagainstpersonsnorforceuponthings,andaccomplishedwithouttheconsent
of the SM Super Sales Club, petitioner forfeited the extenuating benefit a conviction for only
attemptedtheftwouldhaveaffordedhim.

Onthecriticalquestionofwhetheritwasconsummatedorfrustratedtheft,weareobligedtoapply
Article6oftheRevisedPenalCodetoascertaintheanswer.Followingthatprovision,thetheftwould
have been frustrated only, once the acts committed by petitioner, if ordinarily sufficient to produce
theftasaconsequence,donotproduce[suchtheft]byreasonofcausesindependentofthewillofthe
perpetrator.Thereareclearlytwodeterminativefactorstoconsider:thatthefelonyisnotproduced,
and that such failure is due to causes independent of the will of the perpetrator. The second factor
ultimatelydependsontheevidenceathandineachparticularcase.Thefirst,however,reliesprimarily
[52]
onadoctrinaldefinitionattachingtotheindividualfeloniesintheRevisedPenalCode astowhen
aparticularfelonyisnotproduced,despitethecommissionofalltheactsofexecution.

So,inordertoascertainwhetherthetheftisconsummatedorfrustrated,itisnecessarytoinquireasto
how exactly is the felony of theft produced. Parsing through the statutory definition of theft under
Article 308, there is one apparent answer provided in the language of the law that theft is already
produceduponthetak[ingof]personalpropertyofanotherwithoutthelattersconsent.

[53]
U.S.v.Adiao apparentlysupportsthatnotion.Therein,acustomsinspectorwaschargedwiththeft
afterheabstractedaleatherbeltfromthebaggageofaforeignnationalandsecretedtheiteminhis
deskattheCustomHouse.AtnotimewastheaccusedabletogetthemerchandiseoutoftheCustom
[54]
House, and it appears that he was under observation during the entire transaction. Based
apparently on those two circumstances, the trial court had found him guilty, instead, of frustrated
theft.TheCourtreversed,sayingthatneithercircumstancewasdecisive,andholdinginsteadthatthe
accusedwasguiltyofconsummatedtheft,findingthatalltheelementsofthecompletedcrimeoftheft
[55]
arepresent. Insupportofitsconclusionthatthetheftwasconsummated,theCourtcitedthree(3)
decisionsoftheSupremeCourtofSpain,thediscussionofwhichwereplicatebelow:


Thedefendantwaschargedwiththetheftofsomefruitfromthelandofanother.Ashewasintheactof
takingthefruit[,]hewasseenbyapoliceman,yetitdidnotappearthathewasatthatmomentcaught
by the policeman but sometime later. The court said: "[x x x] The trial court did not err [x x x ] in
considering the crime as that of consummated theft instead of frustrated theft inasmuch as nothing
appearsintherecordshowingthatthepolicemenwhosawtheaccusedtakethefruitfromtheadjoining
landarrestedhimintheactandthuspreventedhimfromtakingfullpossessionofthethingstolenand
evenitsutilizationbyhimforanintervaloftime."(DecisionoftheSupremeCourtofSpain,October
14,1898.)

Defendantpickedthepocketoftheoffendedpartywhilethelatterwashearingmassinachurch.
Defendantpickedthepocketoftheoffendedpartywhilethelatterwashearingmassinachurch.
The latter on account of the solemnity of the act, although noticing the theft, did not do anything to
prevent it. Subsequently, however, while the defendant was still inside the church, the offended party
gotbackthemoneyfromthedefendant.Thecourtsaidthatthedefendanthadperformedalltheactsof
execution and considered the theft as consummated. (Decision of the Supreme Court of Spain,
December1,1897.)

Thedefendantpenetratedintoaroomofacertainhouseandbymeansofakeyopenedupacase,
andfromthecasetookasmallbox,whichwasalsoopenedwithakey,fromwhichinturnhetooka
pursecontaining461realesand20centimos,andthenheplacedthemoneyoverthecoverofthecase
justatthismomenthewascaughtbytwoguardswhowerestationedinanotherroomnearby.Thecourt
consideredthisasconsummatedrobbery,andsaid:"[xxx]Theaccused[xxx]havingmateriallytaken
possessionofthemoneyfromthemomenthetookitfromtheplacewhereithadbeen,andhavingtaken
itwithhishandswithintenttoappropriatethesame,heexecutedalltheactsnecessarytoconstitutethe
crime which was thereby produced only the act of making use of the thing having been frustrated,
which, however, does not go to make the elements of the consummated crime." (Decision of the
[56]
SupremeCourtofSpain,June13,1882.)

It is clear from the facts of Adiao itself, and the three (3) Spanish decisions cited therein, that the
criminalactorsinallthesecaseshadbeenabletoobtainfullpossessionofthepersonalpropertyprior
totheirapprehension.Theintervalbetweenthecommissionoftheactsoftheftandtheapprehension
ofthethievesdidvary,fromsometimelaterinthe1898decisiontotheverymomentthethiefhad
justextractedthemoneyinapursewhichhadbeenstoredasitwasinthe1882decisionandbefore
thethiefhadbeenabletospirittheitemstolenfromthebuildingwherethethefttookplace,ashad

happened in Adiao and the 1897 decision. Still, such intervals proved of no consequence in those
cases,asitwasruledthatthetheftsineachofthosecaseswasconsummatedbytheactualpossession
ofthepropertybelongingtoanother.

In 1929, the Court was again confronted by a claim that an accused was guilty only of frustrated
[57]
ratherthanconsummatedtheft.ThecaseisPeoplev.Sobrevilla, wheretheaccused,whileinthe
midstofacrowdinapublicmarket,wasalreadyabletoabstractapocketbookfromthetrousersofthe
victimwhenthelatter,perceivingthetheft,caughtholdofthe[accused]sshirtfront,atthesametime
shoutingforapolicemanafterastruggle,herecoveredhispocketbookandletgoofthedefendant,
[58]
whowasafterwardscaughtbyapoliceman. Inrejectingthecontentionthatonlyfrustratedtheft
wasestablished,theCourtsimplysaid,withoutfurthercommentorelaboration:

Webelievethatsuchacontentionisgroundless.The[accused]succeededintakingthepocketbook,
andthatdeterminesthecrimeoftheft.Ifthepocketbookwasafterwardsrecovered,suchrecovery
doesnotaffectthe[accuseds]criminalliability,whicharosefromthe[accused]havingsucceededin
[59]
takingthepocketbook.
If anything, Sobrevilla is consistent with Adiao and the Spanish Supreme Court cases cited in the
latter, in that the fact that the offender was able to succeed in obtaining physical possession of the
stolenitem,nomatterhowmomentary,wasabletoconsummatethetheft.

Adiao,SobrevillaandtheSpanishSupremeCourtdecisionscitedthereincontradicttheposition
Adiao,SobrevillaandtheSpanishSupremeCourtdecisionscitedthereincontradicttheposition
of petitioner in this case. Yet to simply affirm without further comment would be disingenuous, as
thereisanotherschoolofthoughtonwhentheftisconsummated,asreflectedintheDioand Flores
decisions.

Dio was decided by the Court of Appeals in 1949, some 31 years after Adiao and 15 years
beforeFlores.Theaccusedtherein,adriveremployedbytheUnitedStatesArmy,haddrivenhistruck
into the port area of the South Harbor, to unload a truckload of materials to waiting U.S. Army
personnel.Afterhehadfinishedunloading,accuseddroveawayhistruckfromthePort,butashewas
approachingacheckpointoftheMilitaryPolice,hewasstoppedbyanM.P.whoinspectedthetruck
andfoundthereinthreeboxesofarmyrifles.Theaccusedlatercontendedthathehadbeenstoppedby
fourmenwhohadloadedtheboxeswiththeagreementthattheyweretomeethimandretrievethe
riflesafterhehadpassedthecheckpoint.Thetrialcourtconvictedaccusedofconsummatedtheft,but
the Court of Appeals modified the conviction, holding instead that only frustrated theft had been
committed.

Indoingso,theappellatecourtpointedoutthattheevidentintentoftheaccusedwastoletthe
boxes of rifles pass through the checkpoint, perhaps in the belief that as the truck had already
unloaded its cargo inside the depot, it would be allowed to pass through the check point without
[60]
furtherinvestigationorchecking. Thispointwasdeemedmaterialandindicativethatthethefthad
not been fully produced, for the Court of Appeals pronounced that the fact determinative of
consummationistheabilityofthethieftodisposefreelyofthearticlesstolen,evenifitweremoreor
[61]
lessmomentary. SupportforthispropositionwasdrawnfromadecisionoftheSupremeCourtof
Spaindated24January1888(1888decision),whichwasquotedasfollows:

Considerando que para que el apoderamiento de la cosa sustraida sea determinate de la
consumaciondeldelitodehurtoesprecisoquesohagaencircunstanciastalesquepermitanalsustractor
lalibredisposiciondeaquella,siquieraseamasomenosmomentaneamente,puesdeotrasuerte,dadoel
conceptodeldelitodehurto,nopuededecirseenrealidadquesehayaproducidoentodasuextension,sin
[62]
materializardemasiadoelactodetomarlacosaajena.

Integratingtheseconsiderations,theCourtofAppealsthenconcluded:




This court is of the opinion that in the case at bar, in order to make the booty subject to the
controlanddisposaloftheculprits,thearticlesstolenmustfirstbepassedthroughtheM.P.checkpoint,
butsincetheoffensewasopportunelydiscoveredandthearticlesseizedafteralltheactsofexecution
had been performed, but before the loot came under the final control and disposal of the looters, the
offensecannotbesaidtohavebeenfullyconsummated,asitwasfrustratedbythetimelyintervention
offensecannotbesaidtohavebeenfullyconsummated,asitwasfrustratedbythetimelyintervention
[63]
oftheguard.Theoffensecommitted,therefore,isthatoffrustratedtheft.

Diothuslaiddownthetheorythattheabilityoftheactortofreelydisposeoftheitemsstolenat
thetimeofapprehensionisdeterminativeastowhetherthetheftisconsummatedorfrustrated.This
theory was applied again by the Court of Appeals some 15 years later, in Flores, a case which
according to the division of the court that decided it, bore no substantial variance between the
[64]
circumstances [herein] and in [Dio]. Such conclusion is borne out by the facts in Flores. The
accusedtherein,acheckeremployedbytheLuzonStevedoringCompany,issuedadeliveryreceiptfor
oneemptyseavantothetruckdriverwhohadloadedthepurportedlyemptyseavanontohistruckat
theterminalofthestevedoringcompany.Thetruckdriverproceededtoshowthedeliveryreceiptto
theguardondutyatthegateoftheterminal.However,theguardsinsistedoninspectingthevan,and
[65]
discoveredthattheemptyseavanhadactuallycontainedothermerchandiseaswell. Theaccused

was prosecuted for theft qualified by abuse of confidence, and found himself convicted of the
consummatedcrime.BeforetheCourtofAppeals,accusedarguedinthealternativethathewasguilty
only of attempted theft, but the appellate court pointed out that there was no intervening act of
spontaneousdesistanceonthepartoftheaccusedthatliterallyfrustratedthetheft.However,theCourt
ofAppeals,explicitlyrelyingonDio,didfindthattheaccusedwasguiltyonlyoffrustrated,andnot
consummated,theft.

Asnotedearlier,theappellatecourtadmitteditfoundnosubstantialvariancebetweenDioand
Floresthenbeforeit.TheprosecutioninFloreshadsoughttodistinguishthatcasefromDio,citinga
traditionalrulingwhichunfortunatelywasnotidentifiedinthedecisionitself.However,theCourtof
Appealspointedoutthatthesaidtraditionalrulingwasqualifiedbythewordsisplacedinasituation
[66]
where [the actor] could dispose of its contents at once. Pouncing on this qualification, the
appellatecourtnotedthat[o]bviously,whilethetruckandthevanwerestillwithinthecompound,the
petitioner could not have disposed of the goods at once. At the same time, the Court of Appeals
conceded that [t]his is entirely different from the case where a much less bulk and more common
thingasmoneywastheobjectofthecrime,wherefreedomtodisposeoformakeuseofitispalpably
[67]
lessrestricted, thoughnofurtherqualificationwasofferedwhattheeffectwouldhavebeenhad
thatalternativecircumstancebeenpresentinstead.




Synthesis of the Dio and Flores rulings is in order. The determinative characteristic as to
whether the crime of theft was produced is the ability of the actor to freely dispose of the articles
whether the crime of theft was produced is the ability of the actor to freely dispose of the articles
stolen, even if it were only momentary. Such conclusion was drawn from an 1888 decision of the
Supreme Court of Spain which had pronounced that in determining whether theft had been
consummated,esprecisoquesohagaencircunstanciastalesquepermitanalsustractordeaquella,
siquiera sea mas o menos momentaneamente. The qualifier siquiera sea mas o menos
momentaneamente proves another important consideration, as it implies that if the actor was in a
capacity to freely dispose of the stolen items before apprehension, then the theft could be deemed
consummated.SuchcircumstancewasnotpresentineitherDioorFlores,asthestolenitemsinboth
cases were retrieved from the actor before they could be physically extracted from the guarded
compounds from which the items were filched. However, as implied in Flores, the character of the
itemstolencouldleadtoadifferentconclusionastowhethertherecouldhavebeenfreedisposition,

asinthecasewherethechattelinvolvedwasofmuchlessbulkandmore common x x x, [such] as


[68]
moneyxxx.

In his commentaries, Chief Justice Aquino makes the following pointed observation on the
importoftheDioruling:




There is a ruling of the Court of Appeals that theft is consummated when the thief is able to
freely dispose of the stolen articles even if it were more or less momentary. Or as stated in another
[69]
case[ ], theft is consummated upon the voluntary and malicious taking of property belonging to
anotherwhichisrealizedbythematerialoccupationofthethingwherebythethiefplacesitunderhis
controlandinsuchasituationthathecoulddisposeofitatonce.Thisrulingseemstohavebeenbased
on Viadas opinion that in order the theft may be consummated, es preciso que se haga en
[70] [71]
circumstanciasxxx[ ]

Inthesamecommentaries,ChiefJusticeAquino,concludingfromAdiaoandothercases,also
statesthat[i]ntheftorrobberythecrimeisconsummatedaftertheaccusedhadmaterialpossessionof
the thing with intent to appropriate the same, although his act of making use of the thing was
[72]
frustrated.

ThereareatleasttwootherCourtofAppealsrulingsthatareatseemingvariancewiththeDio
[73]
and Flores rulings. People v. Batoon involved an accused who filled a container with gasoline
from a petrol pump within view of a police detective, who followed the accused onto a passenger
truckwherethearrestwasmade.Whilethetrialcourtfoundtheaccusedguiltyoffrustratedqualified
theft,theCourtofAppealsheldthattheaccusedwasguiltyofconsummatedqualifiedtheft,finding
theft,theCourtofAppealsheldthattheaccusedwasguiltyofconsummatedqualifiedtheft,finding
that[t]hefactsofthecasesofU.S.[v.]AdiaoxxxandU.S.v.Sobrevillaxxxindicatethatactual
[74]
takingwithintenttogainisenoughtoconsummatethecrimeoftheft.

[75]
InPeoplev.Espiritu, theaccusedhadremovedninepiecesofhospitallinenfromasupply
depotandloadedthemontoatruck.However,asthetruckpassedthroughthecheckpoint,thestolen
itemswerediscoveredbytheMilitaryPolicerunningthecheckpoint.Eventhoughthosefactsclearly
admit to similarity with those in Dio, the Court of Appeals held that the accused were guilty of
consummatedtheft,astheaccusedwereabletotakeorgetholdofthehospitallinenandthattheonly

thingthatwasfrustrated,whichdoesnotconstituteanyelementoftheft,istheuseorbenefitthatthe
[76]
thievesexpectedfromthecommissionoftheoffense.

InpointingoutthedistinctionbetweenDioandEspiritu,Reyeswrylyobservesthat[w]henthe
meaningofanelementofafelonyiscontroversial,thereisboundtoarisedifferentrulingsastothe
[77]
stageofexecutionofthatfelony. Indeed,wecandiscernfromthissurveyofjurisprudencethatthe
state of the law insofar as frustrated theft is concerned is muddled. It fact, given the disputed
foundational basis of the concept of frustrated theft itself, the question can even be asked whether
thereisreallysuchacrimeinthefirstplace.


IV.

The Court in 1984 did finally rule directly that an accused was guilty of frustrated, and not
consummated,theft.Asweundertakethisinquiry,wehavetoreckonwiththeimportofthisCourts
[78]
1984decisioninEmpelisv.IAC.

As narrated in Empelis, the owner of a coconut plantation had espied four (4) persons in the
premises of his plantation, in the act of gathering and tying some coconuts. The accused were
surprisedbytheownerwithintheplantationastheywerecarryingwiththemthecoconutstheyhad
gathered.Theaccusedfledthescene,droppingthecoconutstheyhadseized,andweresubsequently
arrestedaftertheownerreportedtheincidenttothepolice.Aftertrial,theaccusedwereconvictedof
qualifiedtheft,andtheissuetheyraisedonappealwasthattheywereguiltyonlyofsimpletheft.The
[79]
Courtaffirmedthatthetheftwasqualified,followingArticle310oftheRevisedPenalCode, but
furtherheldthattheaccusedwereguiltyonlyoffrustratedqualifiedtheft.
It does not appear from the Empelis decision that the issue of whether the theft was
consummated or frustrated was raised by any of the parties. What does appear, though, is that the
consummated or frustrated was raised by any of the parties. What does appear, though, is that the
dispositionofthatissuewascontainedinonlytwosentences,whichwereproduceinfull:

However,thecrimecommittedisonlyfrustratedqualifiedtheftbecausepetitionerswerenotable
toperformalltheactsofexecutionwhichshouldhaveproducedthefelonyasaconsequence.Theywere
[80]
notabletocarrythecoconutsawayfromtheplantationduetothetimelyarrivaloftheowner.

No legal reference or citation was offered for this averment, whether Dio, Flores or the Spanish
authorities who may have bolstered the conclusion. There are indeed evident problems with this

formulationinEmpelis.

Empelisheldthatthecrimewasonlyfrustratedbecausetheactorswerenotabletoperformallthe
[81]
actsofexecutionwhichshouldhaveproducedthefelonasaconsequence. However,perArticle6
of the Revised Penal Code, the crime is frustrated when the offender performs all the acts of
execution,thoughnotproducingthefelonyasaresult.Iftheoffenderwasnotabletoperformallthe
actsofexecution,thecrimeisattempted,providedthatthenonperformancewasbyreason of some
causeoraccidentotherthanspontaneousdesistance.Empelisconcludesthatthecrimewas

frustrated because not all of the acts of execution were performed due to the timely arrival of the
owner. However, following Article 6 of the Revised Penal Code, these facts should elicit the
conclusion that the crime was only attempted, especially given that the acts were not performed
because of the timely arrival of the owner, and not because of spontaneous desistance by the
offenders.

Forthesereasons,wecannotattributeweighttoEmpelisasweconsiderthepresentpetition.Evenif
the two sentences we had cited actually aligned with the definitions provided in Article 6 of the
Revised Penal Code, such passage bears no reflection that it is the product of the considered
evaluationoftherelevantlegalorjurisprudentialthought.Instead,thepassageisofferedasifitwere
sourcedfromanindubitablelegalpremisesosettleditrequirednofurtherexplication.

Notably, Empelis has not since been reaffirmed by the Court, or even cited as authority on theft.
Indeed,wecannotseehowEmpeliscancontributetoourpresentdebate,exceptforthebarefactthat
it proves that the Court had once deliberately found an accused guilty of frustrated theft. Even if
Empelis were considered as a precedent for frustrated theft, its doctrinal value is extremely
compromisedbytheerroneouslegalpremisesthatinformit,andalsobythefactthatithasnotbeen
entrenchedbysubsequentreliance.

Thus,Empelisdoesnotcompelusthatitisaninsurmountablegiventhatfrustratedtheftisviablein
thisjurisdiction.Consideringtheflawedreasoningbehinditsconclusionoffrustratedtheft,itcannot
present any efficacious argument to persuade us in this case. Insofar as Empelis may imply that

convictions for frustrated theft are beyond cavil in this jurisdiction, that decision is subject to
reassessment.

V.

AtthetimeourRevisedPenalCodewasenactedin1930,the1870CodigoPenaldeEspaawasthen
inplace.Thedefinitionofthecrimeoftheft,asprovidedthen,readasfollows:

Sonreosdehurto:

1.Los que con nimo de lucrarse, y sin volencia o intimidacin en las personas ni fuerza en las cosas,
tomanlascosasmueblesajenassinlavoluntaddesudueo.

2.Losqueencontrndoseunacosaperdidaysabiendoquinessudueoselaapropriarencointencinde
lucro.

3. Los daadores que sustrajeren o utilizaren los frutos u objeto del dao causado, salvo los casos
previstosenlosartculos606,nm.1.0607,nms,1.0,2.0y3.0608,nm.1.0611613Segundo
prrafodel617y618.

It was under the ambit of the 1870 Codigo Penal that the aforecited Spanish Supreme Court
decisions were handed down. However, the said code would be revised again in 1932, and several
times thereafter. In fact, under the Codigo Penal Espaol de 1995, the crime of theft is now simply
definedas[e]lque,connimodelucro,


[82]
tomarelascosasmueblesajenassinlavoluntaddesudueosercastigado

Notice that in the 1870 and 1995 definition of theft in the penal code of Spain, la libre
disposicionofthepropertyisnotanelementorastatutorycharacteristicofthecrime.Itdoesappear
thattheprincipleoriginatedandperhapswasfosteredintherealmofSpanishjurisprudence.

TheoftcitedSalvadorViadaadoptedaquestionanswerforminhis1926commentariesonthe
1870 Codigo Penal de Espaa. Therein, he raised at least three questions for the reader whether the
crimeoffrustratedorconsummatedthefthadoccurred.ThepassagecitedinDiowasactuallyutilized
byViadatoanswerthequestionwhetherfrustratedorconsummatedtheftwascommitted[e]lqueen
[83]
elmomentomismodeapoderarsedelacosaajena,vindosesorprendido,laarrojaalsuelo. Even
[83]
elmomentomismodeapoderarsedelacosaajena,vindosesorprendido,laarrojaalsuelo. Even
astheanswerwasasstatedinDio,andwasindeedderivedfromthe1888decisionoftheSupreme
Court of Spain, that decisions factual predicate occasioning the statement was apparently very
differentfromDio,foritappearsthatthe1888decisioninvolvedanaccusedwhowassurprisedbythe

employeesofahaberdasheryashewasabstractingalayerofclothingoffamannequin,andwhothen
[84]
proceededtothrowawaythegarmentashefled.

Nonetheless, Viada does not contest the notion of frustrated theft, and willingly recites
[85]
decisions of the Supreme Court of Spain that have held to that effect. A few decades later, the
esteemedEugenioCuelloCalnpointedouttheinconsistentapplicationbytheSpanishSupremeCourt
withrespecttofrustratedtheft.

Hayfrustracincuandolosreosfueronsorprendidosporlasguardiascuandollevabanlossacos
deharinodelcarroquelosconduciaaotroquetenanpreparado,22febrero1913cuandoelresultado
no tuvo efecto por la intervencin de la policia situada en el local donde se realiz la sustraccin que
impidipudieranlosreosdisponerdelosustrado,30deoctubre1950.Hay"porlomenos"frustracin,si
existeapoderamiento,peroelculpalenollegaadisponerdelacosa,12abril1930hayfrustracin"muy
prxima"cuandoelculpableesdetenidoporelperjudicadoactoseguidodecometerlasustraccin,28
febrero1931.Algunosfalloshanconsideradolaexistenciadefrustracincuando,perseguidoelculpable
osorprendidoenelmomentodellevarlosefectoshurtados,losabandona,29mayo1889,22febrero
1913, 11 marzo 1921 esta doctrina no es admissible, stos, conforme a lo antes expuesto, son hurtos
[86]
consumados.

Ultimately,CuelloCalnattackedtheveryideathatfrustratedtheftisactuallypossible:

La doctrina hoy generalmente sustentada considera que el hurto se consuma cuando la cosa
quedadehechoaladisposicindel agente. Con este criterio coincide la doctrina sentada ltimamente
porlajurisprudenciaespaolaquegeneralmenteconsideraconsumadoelhurtocuandoelculpablecoge
oaprehendelacosaystaquedeportiempomsomenosduraderobajosupoder.Elhechodequeste
pueda aprovecharse o no de lo hurtado es indiferente. El delito no pierde su carcter de consumado
aunquelacosahurtadaseadevueltaporelculpableofuererecuperada.Noseconcibelafrustracin,
puesesmuydificilqueelquehacecuantoesnecesarioparalaconsumacindelhurtonoloconsume
efectivamente,losraroscasosquenuestrajurisprudencia,muyvacilante,declarahurtosfrustrados
[87]
sonverdaderosdelitosconsumados. (Emphasissupplied)


Cuello Calns submissions cannot be lightly ignored. Unlike Viada, who was content with
replicatingtheSpanishSupremeCourtdecisionsonthematter,CuelloCalnactuallysetforthhisown
thought that questioned whether theft could truly be frustrated, since puesesmuydificilqueelque
hacecuantoesnecesarioparalaconsumacindelhurtonoloconsumeefectivamente.Otherwiseput,
itwouldbedifficulttoforeseehowtheexecutionofalltheactsnecessaryforthecompletionofthe
crimewouldnotproducetheeffectoftheft.

Thisdivergenceofopinionconvincesus,atleast,thatthereisnoweightedforceinscholarly
thoughtthatobligesustoacceptfrustratedtheft,asproposedinDioandFlores.Afinalrulingbythe
thoughtthatobligesustoacceptfrustratedtheft,asproposedinDioandFlores.Afinalrulingbythe
Courtthatthereisnocrimeoffrustratedtheftinthisjurisdictionwillnotleadtoscholasticpariah,for
suchasubmissionishardlyhereticalinlightofCuelloCalnsposition.

Accordingly, it would not be intellectually disingenuous for the Court to look at the question
fromafreshperspective,aswearenotboundbytheopinionsoftherespectedSpanishcommentators,
conflictingastheyare,toacceptthattheftiscapableofcommissioninitsfrustratedstage.Further,if
weaskthequestionwhetherthereisamandateofstatuteorprecedentthatmustcompelustoadopt
theDioandFloresdoctrines,theanswerhastobeinthenegative.Ifwedidso,itwouldarisenotout
of obeisance to an inexorably higher command, but from the exercise of the function of statutory
interpretation that comes as part and parcel of judicial review, and a function that allows breathing
roomforavarietyoftheoremsincompetitionuntiloneisultimatelyadoptedbythisCourt.
V.

Theforemostpredicatethatguidesusasweexplorethematteristhatitliesintheprovinceof
thelegislature,throughstatute,todefinewhatconstitutesaparticularcrimeinthisjurisdiction.Itis
the legislature, as representatives of the sovereign people, which determines which acts or
combinationofactsarecriminalinnature.Judicialinterpretationofpenallawsshouldbealignedwith
whatwastheevidentlegislativeintent,asexpressedprimarilyinthelanguageofthelawasitdefines
[88]
the crime. It is Congress, not the courts, which is to define a crime, and ordain its punishment.
Thecourtscannotarrogatethepowertointroduceanewelementofacrimewhichwasunintendedby
the legislature, or redefine a crime in a manner that does not hew to the statutory language. Due
respectfortheprerogativeofCongressindefiningcrimes/feloniesconstrainstheCourttorefrainfrom
abroadinterpretationofpenallawswhereanarrowinterpretationisappropriate.TheCourtmusttake
heedoflanguage,legislativehistoryandpurpose,inordertostrictlydeterminethewrathandbreathof
[89]
theconductthelawforbids.

With that in mind, a problem clearly emerges with the Dio/Flores dictum. The ability of the
offendertofreelydisposeofthepropertystolenisnotaconstitutiveelementofthecrimeoftheft.It
findsnosupportorextensioninArticle308,whetherasadescriptiveoroperativeelementoftheftor
as the mens rea or actus reus of the felony. To restate what this Court has repeatedly held: the
elementsofthecrimeoftheftasprovidedforinArticle308oftheRevisedPenalCodeare:(1) that
therebetakingofpersonalproperty(2)thatsaidpropertybelongstoanother(3)thatthetakingbe
donewithintenttogain(4)thatthetakingbedonewithouttheconsentoftheownerand(5)thatthe
takingbeaccomplishedwithouttheuseofviolenceagainstorintimidationofpersonsorforceupon
[90]
things.

Suchfactorrunsimmaterialtothestatutorydefinitionoftheft,whichisthetaking,withintent
to gain, of personal property of another without the latters consent. While the Dio/Flores dictum is
considerate to the mindset of the offender, the statutory definition of theft considers only the
perspectiveofintenttogainonthepartoftheoffender,compoundedbythedeprivationofpropertyon
thepartofthevictim.

For the purpose of ascertaining whether theft is susceptible of commission in the frustrated
stage, the question is again, when is the crime of theft produced? There would be all but certain
unanimityinthepositionthattheftisproducedwhenthereisdeprivationofpersonalpropertydueto
itstakingbyonewithintenttogain.Viewedfromthatperspective,itisimmaterialtotheproductof
thefelonythattheoffender,oncehavingcommittedalltheactsofexecutionfortheft,isableorunable
tofreelydisposeofthepropertystolensincethedeprivationfromtheowneralonehasalreadyensued
fromsuchactsofexecution.ThisconclusionisreflectedinChiefJusticeAquinoscommentaries,as
earlier cited, that [i]n theft or robbery the crime is consummated after the accused had material
possessionofthethingwithintenttoappropriatethesame,althoughhisactofmakinguseofthething
[91]
wasfrustrated.

Itmightbeargued,thattheabilityoftheoffendertofreelydisposeofthepropertystolendelves
into the concept of taking itself, in that there could be no true taking until the actor obtains such
degreeofcontroloverthestolenitem.Butevenifthiswerecorrect,theeffectwouldbetodowngrade
thecrimetoitsattempted,andnotfrustratedstage,foritwouldmeanthatnotalltheactsofexecution
havenotbeencompleted,thetakingnothavingbeenaccomplished.Perhapsthispointcouldserveas
fertile ground for future discussion, but our concern now is whether there is indeed a crime of
frustratedtheft,andsuchconsiderationprovesultimatelyimmaterialtothatquestion.Moreover,such
issuewillnotapplytothefactsofthisparticularcase.Wearesatisfiedbeyondreasonabledoubtthat
the taking by the petitioner was completed in this case. With intent to gain, he acquired physical
possessionofthestolencasesofdetergentforaconsiderableperiodoftimethathewasabletodrop
theseoffataspotintheparkinglot,andlongenoughtoloadtheseontoataxicab.

Indeed, we have, after all, held that unlawful taking, or apoderamiento, is deemed complete
fromthemomenttheoffendergainspossessionofthething,evenifhehasnoopportunitytodispose
[92] [93]
ofthesame. Andlongago,weassertedinPeoplev.Avila:

xxx[T]hemostfundamentalnotioninthecrimeoftheftisthetakingofthethingtobeappropriated
intothephysicalpowerofthethief,whichideaisqualifiedbyotherconditions,suchasthatthetaking
mustbeeffectedanimolucrandiandwithouttheconsentoftheowneranditwillbeherenotedthatthe

definitiondoesnotrequirethatthetakingshouldbeeffectedagainstthewilloftheownerbutmerely
[94]
thatitshouldbewithouthisconsent,adistinctionofnoslightimportance.

Insofar as we consider the present question, unlawful taking is most material in this respect.
Unlawfultaking,whichisthedeprivationofonespersonalproperty,istheelementwhichproduces
thefelonyinitsconsummatedstage.Atthesametime,withoutunlawfultakingasanactofexecution,
theoffensecouldonlybeattemptedtheft,ifatall.

Withtheseconsiderations,wecanonlyconcludethatunderArticle308oftheRevisedPenal
Code,theftcannothaveafrustratedstage.Theftcanonlybeattemptedorconsummated.

NeitherDionorFlorescanconvinceusotherwise.Bothfailtoconsiderthatoncetheoffenders
thereinobtainedpossessionoverthestolenitems,theeffectofthefelonyhasbeenproducedasthere
has been deprivation of property. The presumed inability of the offenders to freely dispose of the
stolenpropertydoesnotnegatethefactthattheownershavealreadybeendeprivedoftheirrightto
possessionuponthecompletionofthetaking.

Moreover,asisevidentinthiscase,theadoptionoftherulethattheinabilityoftheoffenderto
freelydisposeofthestolenpropertyfrustratesthetheftwouldintroduceaconvenientdefenseforthe
[95]
accusedwhichdoesnotreflectanylegislatedintent, sincetheCourtwouldhavecarvedaviable
meansforoffenderstoseekamitigatedpenaltyunderappliedcircumstancesthatdonotadmitofeasy
classification.Itisdifficulttoformulatedefinitestandardsastowhenastolenitemissusceptibleto
freedisposalbythethief.Wouldthisdependonthepsychologicalbeliefoftheoffenderatthetimeof
thecommissionofthecrime,asimpliedinDio?




Or,morelikely,theappreciationofseveralclassesoffactualcircumstancessuchasthesizeand
weightoftheproperty,thelocationoftheproperty,thenumberandidentityofpeoplepresentatthe
scene of the crime, the number and identity of people whom the offender is expected to encounter
uponfleeingwiththestolenproperty,themannerinwhichthestolenitemhadbeenhousedorstored
andquitefrankly,awholelotmore.Eventhefungibilityoredibilityofthestolenitemwouldcome
into account, relevant as that would be on whether such property is capable of free disposal at any
stage,evenafterthetakinghasbeenconsummated.

Allthesecomplicationswillmakeuslosesightofthefactthatbeneathallthecolorfuldetail,
the owner was indeed deprived of property by one who intended to produce such deprivation for
reasonsofgain.Forsuchwillremainthepresumedfactiffrustratedtheftwererecognized,fortherein,
alloftheactsofexecution,includingthetaking,havebeencompleted.Ifthefactsestablishthenon
alloftheactsofexecution,includingthetaking,havebeencompleted.Ifthefactsestablishthenon
completion of the taking due to these peculiar circumstances, the effect could be to downgrade the
crime to the attempted stage, as not all of the acts of execution have been performed. But once all
these acts have been executed, the taking has been completed, causing the unlawful deprivation of
property,andultimatelytheconsummationofthetheft.

MaybetheDio/Floresrulingsare,insomedegree,groundedincommonsense.Yettheydonot
alignwiththelegislatedframeworkofthecrimeoftheft.TheRevisedPenalCodeprovisionsontheft
havenotbeendesignedinsuchfashionastoaccommodatesaidrulings.Again,thereisnolanguagein
Article 308 that expressly or impliedly allows that the free disposition of the items stolen is in any
way determinative of whether the crime of theft has been produced. Dio itself did not rely on
Philippinelawsorjurisprudencetobolsteritsconclusion,andthelaterFloreswasultimatelycontent
inrelyingonDioaloneforlegalsupport.These cases do not enjoy the weight of stare decisis, and
eveniftheydid,theirerroneousappreciationofourlawontheftleavethemsusceptibletoreversal.
ThesameholdstrueofEmpilis,aregrettablystraydecisionwhichhasnotsincefoundfavorfromthis
Court.

WethusconcludethatundertheRevisedPenalCode,thereisnocrimeoffrustratedtheft.As
petitionerhaslatchedthesuccessofhisappealonouracceptanceoftheDioandFlores rulings, his
petitionmustbedenied,forwedeclinetoadoptsaidrulingsinourjurisdiction.Thatithastakenall
theseyearsforustorecognizethattherecanbenofrustratedtheftundertheRevisedPenalCodedoes
not detract from the correctness of this conclusion. It will take considerable amendments to our
RevisedPenalCodeinorderthatfrustratedtheftmayberecognized.OurdeferencetoViadayieldsto
thehigherreverenceforlegislativeintent.

WHEREFORE,thepetitionisDENIED.Costsagainstpetitioner.

SOORDERED.



DANTEO.TINGA
AssociateJustice

WECONCUR:

REYNATOS.PUNO
ChiefJustice





LEONARDOA.QUISUMBING CONSUELOYNARESSANTIAGO
AssociateJustice AssociateJustice




NGELINASANDOVALGUTIERREZ ANTONIOT.CARPIO
AssociateJustice AssociateJustice




MA.ALICIAAUSTRIAMARTINEZ RENATOC.CORONA
AssociateJustice AssociateJustice


CONCHITACARPIOMORALES ADOLFOS.AZCUNA
AssociateJustice AssociateJustice




MINITAV.CHICONAZARIO CANCIOC.GARCIA
AssociateJustice AssociateJustice




PRESBITEROJ.VELASCO,JR. ANTONIOEDUARDOB.NACHURA
AssociateJustice AssociateJustice


CERTIFICATION


Pursuant to Article VIII, Section 13 of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the
conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was
assignedtothewriteroftheopinionoftheCourt.


REYNATOS.PUNO
ChiefJustice


[1]
Seeinfra,Peoplev.DioandPeoplev.Flores.

[2]
Notaccountingforthoseunpublishedorunreporteddecisions,intheonehundredyearhistoryofthisCourt,whichcouldnolonger
beretrievedfromthePhilippineReportsorothersecondarysources,duetotheirwholesaledestructionduringtheSecondWorldWarorfor
otherreasons.

[3]
SeePeoplev.Adiao,infra.TherehavebeenafewcaseswhereintheCourtletstandaconvictionforfrustratedtheft,yetinnoneof
thosecaseswastheissuesquarelypresentedthattheftcouldbecommittedatitsfrustratedstage.SeePeoplev.Abuyen,52Phil.722(1929)
Peoplev.Flores,63Phil.443(1936)andPeoplev.Tapang,88Phil.721(1951).InPeoplev.Argel G.R. No. L45975, 25 May 1981,192
SCRA21,theCourtdidtacitlyaccepttheviabilityofaconvictionforfrustratedtheft,thoughtheissueexpoundedonbytheCourtpertainedto
theproperappellatejurisdictionoversuchconviction.

Itwouldindeedbeerrortoperceivethatconvictionsforfrustratedtheftaretraditionallyunconventionalinthisjurisdiction,assuch
haveroutinelybeenhandeddownbylowercourts,asasurveyofjurisprudencewouldreveal.Still,theplainfactremainsthatthisCourt,since
Adiaoin1918,hasyettodirectlyruleonthelegalfoundationoffrustratedtheft,orevendiscusssuchscenariobywayofdicta.

Inpassing,wetakenoteofarecentdecisionoftheCourtofAppealsinPeoplev.Concepcion,C.A.G.R.CRNo.28280,11July2005
(Seeathttp://ca.supremecourt.gov.ph/cardis/CR28280.pdf),wheretheappellatecourtaffirmedaconvictionforfrustratedtheft,theaccused
thereinhavingbeencaughtinsideMeralcopropertybeforehecouldfleewithsomecopperelectricalwire.However,inthesaiddecision,the
accusedwaschargedattheonsetwithfrustratedtheft,andtheCourtofAppealsdidnotinquirewhythecrimecommittedwasonlyfrustrated
theft.Moreover,thechargefortheftwasnotundertheRevisedPenalCode,butunderRep.ActNo.7832,aspeciallaw.

[4]
53Phil.226(1929).

[5]
217Phil.377(1984).

[6]
Records,pp.12.

[7]
Rollo,pp.2122.

[8]
Id.at22.

[9]
Seeid.at472.

[10]
SeeRecords,pp.714.Abriefcommentiswarrantedregardingthesefour(4)otherapparentsuspects.Theaffidavitsandsworn
statementsthatwereexecutedduringthepoliceinvestigationbysecurityguardsLagoandVivencioYanson,bySMemployeeAdelioNakar,
and by the taxi driver whose cab had been hailed to transport the accused, commonly point to all six as coparticipants in the theft of the
detergents.Itisnotexplainedintherecordwhynochargeswerebroughtagainstthefour(4)othersuspects,andtheprosecutionscasebefore

thetrialcourtdidnotattempttodrawinanyothersuspectsotherthanpetitionerandCalderon.Ontheotherhand,bothpetitionerandCalderon
claimedduringtrialthattheywereinnocentbystanderswhohappenedtobeinthevicinityoftheSuperSaleClubatthetimeoftheincident
whentheywerehaledin,alongwiththefour(4)othersuspectsbythesecurityguardsintheresultingconfusion.Seeinfra. However, both
petitionerandCalderonmadenomovetodemonstratethatthenonfilingofthechargesagainstthefour(4)othersuspectssomehowbolstered
theirpleaofinnocence.

Inanyevent,fromthetimethiscasehadbeenelevatedonappealtotheCourtofAppeals,noquestionwasanymoreraisedonthe
version of facts presented by the prosecution. Thus, any issue relative to these four (4) other suspects should bear no effect in the present
considerationofthecase.

[11]
Also identified in the case record as Rosalada or Rosullado. He happened to be among the four (4) other suspects also
apprehendedatthesceneandbroughtforinvestigationtotheBalerPNPStation.Seeid.RosuladaalsotestifiedincourtinbehalfofCalderon.
SeeRecords,pp.357390.

[12]
Records,pp.330337.

[13]
Apersonwhowasneitheramongthefour(4)othersuspects(seenote6)norawitnessforthedefense.

[14]
Rollo,p.25.

[15]
Records,pp.424425.

[16]
Id.at472474PennedbyJudgeReynaldoB.Daway.

[17]
Id.at474.

[18]
Id.at484.

[19]
CArollo,pp.5462.

[20]
Rollo,p.25.

[21]
Id.at2027.PennedbyAssociateJusticeEuboloG.VerzolaoftheCourtofAppealsThirdDivision,concurredinbyAssociate
JusticesMartinS.Villarama,Jr.andMarioL.Guaria.

[22]
AmotionforreconsiderationfiledbypetitionerwasdeniedbytheCourtofAppealsinaResolutiondated1October2003.
[23]
Rollo,pp.815.
[24]
Id.at12.

[25]
Id.at9.

[26]
Id.atat1314.

[27]
No.924R,18February1948,45O.G.3446.

[28]
6C.A.Rep.2d835(1964).

[29]
Seee.g.,L.B.REYES,ITHEREVISEDPENALCODE:CRIMINALLAW(13thed.,2001),at112113andR.AQUINO,ITHE
REVISEDPENALCODE(1997ed.),at122.

[30]
ActNo.3185,asamended.

[31]
SeePeoplev.Caballero,448Phil.514,534(2003).Reyesdefinesthefinalpointofthesubjectivephaseasthatpointwhere[the
offender]stillhascontroloverhisacts,includingtheir(acts)naturalcourse.SeeL.B.REYES,ITHEREVISEDPENALCODE:CRIMINAL
LAW(13thEd.,2001),at101.

[32]
Peoplev.Caballero,448Phil.514,534(2003).

[33]
Seee.g.,U.S.v.Eduave,36Phil.209,212(1917)Peoplev.Caballero,id.

[34]
U.S.v.Eduave,36Phil.209,212(1917).

[35]
Peoplev.Pacana,47Phil.48(1925)citedinAQUINO,supranote29,at39.SeealsoLecarozv.Sandiganbayan,364Phil.890,
905(1999).

[36]
SeePadillav.Dizon,A.C.No.3086,23February1988,158SCRA127,135.

[37]
Peoplev.Moreno,356Phil.231,248(1998)citingBLACK'SLAWDICTIONARY,5thed.,p.889.


[38]
Jariol,Jr.v.Sandiganbayan,Nos.L5209552116,13August1990,188SCRA475,490.

[39]
City of Chicago v. Morales, 527 U.S. 41 (1999) cited in Separate Opinion, J.Tinga, Romualdez v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No.
152259,29July2004,435SCRA371,400.

[40]
J.Feliciano,ConcurringandDissenting,Umilv.Ramos,G.R.No.81567,3October1991,202SCRA251,288.

[41]
SeealsoREVISEDPENALCODE,Art.310,whichqualifiestheftwithapenaltytwodegreeshigherifcommittedbyadomestic
servant,orwithgraveabuseofconfidence,orifthepropertystolenismotorvehicle,mailmatterorlargecattleorconsistsofcoconutstaken
fromthepremisesoftheplantationorfishtakenfromafishpondorfishery,orifpropertyistakenontheoccasionoffire,earthquake,typhoon,
volcaniceruption,oranyothercalamity,vehicularaccidentorcivildisturbance.

[42]
SeePeoplev.Bustinera,G.R.No.148233,8June2004,431SCRA284,291,citingPeoplev.Sison, 322 SCRA 345, 363364
(2000).

[43]
S.GUEVARRA,COMMENTARIESONTHEREVISEDPENALCODE(4thed.,1946),at614.

[44]
Id.at615.

[45]
Id.citingInst.4,1,1.


[46]
Section1(2)oftheTheftActof1968states:Itisimmaterialwhethertheappropriationismadewithaviewtogain,orismadefor
thethiefsownbenefit.SirJohnSmithprovidesasensiblerationalizationforthisdoctrine:Thus,totakeexamplesfromtheoldlaw,ifDtakes
PslettersandputsthemdownonalavatoryorbacksPshorsedownamineshaft,heisguiltyoftheftnotwithstandingthefactthatheintends
onlylosstoPandnogaintohimselforanyoneelse.Itmightbethoughtthattheseinstancescouldsafelyandmoreappropriatelyhavebeenleft
tootherbranchesofthecriminallawthatofcriminaldamagetopropertyforinstance.Buttherearecaseswherethereisnosuchdamageor
destruction of the thing as would found a charge under another Act. For example, D takes Ps diamond and flings it into a deep pond. The
diamondliesunharmedinthepondandaprosecutionforcriminaldamagewouldfail.ItseemsclearlyrightthatDshouldbeguiltyoftheft.J.
SMITH,SMITH&HOGANCRIMINALLAW(9thed.,1999),at534.

[47]
F.REGALADO,CRIMINALLAWCONSPECTUS(1sted.,2000),at520.

[48]
Peoplev.KhoChoc,50O.G.1667,citedinREGALADO,id.at521.

[49]
People v. Galang,CA, 43 O.G. 577 People v. Rico, CA, 50 O.G. 3103 cf.People v. Roxas,CAG.R. No. 14953, 31 October
1956,allcitedinREGALADO,supranote47at521.

[50]
Peoplev.Fernandez,CA,38O.G.985Peoplev.Martisano,CA,48O.G.4417,citedinREGALADO,supranote47at521.

[51]
REGALADO,supranote47at521citingVillacortav.InsuranceCommission,G.R.No.54171,28October1980,100SCRA467
AssociationofBaptistsforWorldEvangelismv.FieldmensIns.Co.,No.L28772,21September1983,209Phil.505(1983).SeealsoPeoplev.
Bustinera,supranote42.

[52]
ThedistinctionbeinginconsequentialifthecriminalchargeisbasedonaspeciallawsuchastheDangerousDrugsLaw.Seee.g.,
Peoplev.Enriquez,G.R.No.99838,October231997,281SCRA103,120.

[53]
38Phil.754(1918).

[54]
Id.at755.

[55]
Id.

[56]
Id.at755756.


[57]
Supranote4.

[58]
Supranote4at227.

[59]
Id.

[60]
Peoplev.Dio,supranote27at3450.

[61]
Id.

[62]
Id.

[63]
Id.at3451.

[64]
Peoplev.Flores,supranote28at840.

[65]
Id.at836.TheCourtofAppealsinFloresdidnotidentifythecharacterofthesestolenmerchandise.

[66]
Id.at841.

[67]
Id.

[68]
Peoplev.Dio,supranote27at841.

[69]
Peoplev.NavalandBeltran,CA46O.G.2641.

[70]
Seenote62.

[71]
AQUINO,supranote29at122.

[72]
Id.at110.

[73]
C.A.G.R.No.20105R,4October1958,55O.G.1388.


[74]
Id.at1391.Citationsomitted.

[75]
CAG.R.No.2107R,31May1949.

[76]
NotethesimilaritybetweenthisholdingandtheobservationsofChiefJusticeAquinoinnote72.

[77]
REYES,supranote29at113.

[78]
Supranote5.

[79]
REVISEDPENALCODE,Art.310statesthatthecrimeoftheftshall"bepunishedbythepenaltiesnexthigherbytwodegrees
thanthoserespectivelyexpressedinthenextprecedingarticlexxxifthepropertystolenxxxconsistsofcoconutstakenfromthepremisesof
aplantation,xxx."Thus,thestealingofcoconutswhentheyarestillinthetreeordepositedonthegroundwithinthepremisesisqualified
theft.Whenthecoconutsarestoleninanyotherplace,itissimpletheft.Stateddifferently,ifthecoconutsweretakeninfrontofahousealong
thehighwayoutsidethecoconutplantation,itwouldbesimpletheftonly.

[Inthecaseatbar,petitionerswereseencarryingawayfiftycoconutswhiletheywerestillinthepremisesoftheplantation.They
would therefore come within the definition of qualified theft because the property stolen consists of coconuts taken from the premises of a
would therefore come within the definition of qualified theft because the property stolen consists of coconuts taken from the premises of a
plantation.]Empelisv.IAC,supranote5,at379,380.


[80]
Empelisv.IAC,supranote5,at380.

[81]
Id.

[82]
Art. 234, Cdigo Penal Espaol de 1995. See Ley Orgnica 10/1995, de 23 de noviembre, del Cdigo Penal,
http://noticias.juridicas.com/base_datos/Penal/lo101995.html (Last visited, 15 April 2007). The traditional qualifier but without violence
againstorintimidationofpersonsnorforceuponthings,isinsteadincorporatedinthedefinitionofrobbery(robos)underArticulo237ofthe
sameCode(Sonreosdeldelitoderobolosque,connimodelucro,seapoderarendelascosasmueblesajenasempleandofuerzaenlascosas
paraaccederallugardondestasseencuentranoviolenciaointimidacinenlaspersonas.)

By way of contrast, the Theft Act 1968 of Great Britain defines theft in the following manner: A person is guilty of theft if he
dishonestlyappropriatespropertybelongingtoanotherwiththeintentionofpermanentlydeprivingtheotherofitandthiefandstealshallbe
construedaccordingly.SeeSection1(1),TheftAct1968(GreatBritain).ThemostnotabledifferencebetweenthemodernBritishandSpanish
lawsontheftistheabsenceintheformeroftheelementofanimolucrandi.Seenote42.

[83]
1S.VIADA,CODIGOPENALREFORMADODE1870(1926ed)at103.

[84]
Considerando que segn se desprende de la sentencia recurrida, los dependientes de la sastrera de D. Joaquin Gabino
sorprendieronalpenadoJuanGomezLopezaltomarunacapaquehabaenunmaniqu,porloquehubodearrojarlaalsuelo,siendodetenido
despuesporagentesdelaAutoridadyqueestosupuestoesevidentequeeldelitonoaparecerealizadoentodalaextensinprecisaparapoderlo
calificarcomoconsumado,etc.Id.at103104.
[85]
TheotherexamplescitedbyViadaoffrustratedtheftareinthecasewheretheoffenderwascaughtstealingpotatoesoffafieldby
storingtheminhiscoat,beforehecouldleavethefieldwherethepotatoesweretaken,seeViada(supranote83,at103),wheretheoffender
wassurprisedatthemeadowfromwherehewasstealingfirewood,id.

[86]
E.CUELLOCALON,IIDERECHOPENAL(1955ed.),at799(Footnote1).

[87]
Id.at798799.

[88]
Laurel v. Abrogar, G.R. No. 155076, 27 February 2006, 483 SCRA 243, 266, citing United States v. Wiltberger, 18 U.S. 76
(1820).

[89]
Laurelv.Abrogar,G.R.No.155076,27February2006,483SCRA243.SeealsoDowlingv.UnitedStates,473U.S.207(1985).

[90]
Seee.g.,Peoplev.Bustinera,supranote42.


[91]
AQUINO,supranote29,at110.

[92]
Peoplev.Obillo,411Phil.139,150(2001)Peoplev.Bernabe,448Phil.269,280(2003)Peoplev.Bustinera,supranote42at
295.

[93]
44Phil.720(1923).

[94]
Id.at726.

[95]
JusticeRegaladocautionsagainstputtingapremiumuponthepretensionsofanaccusedgearedtowardsobtentionofareduced
penalty.REGALADO,supranote47,at27.