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Luis Marcos Laurel v Hon.

Zeus Abrogar

Posted on June 29, 2013

Luis Marcos Laurel vs Hon. Zeus Abrogar

GR No. 155076

January 13, 2009


Laurel was charged with Theft under Art. 308 of the RPC for allegedly taking, stealing, and using PLDT's
international long distance calls by conducting International Simple Resale (ISR) a method of outing
and completing international long-distance calls using lines, cables, antennae, and/or air wave
frequency which connect directly to the local/domestic exchange facilities of the country where the call
is destined. PLDT alleged that this service was stolen from them using their own equipment and caused
damage to them amounting to P20,370,651.92.

PLDT alleges that the international calls and business of providing telecommunication or telephone
service are personal properties capable of appropriation and can be objects of theft.


WON Laurel's act constitutes Theft


Art.308, RPC: Theft is committed by any person who, with intent to gain but without violence against, or
intimidation of persons nor force upon things, shall take personal property of another without the
latters consent.

Elements of Theft under Art.308, RPC:

There be taking of Personal Property;

Said Personal Property belongs to another;

Taking be done with Intent to Gain;

Taking be done without the owners consent;

No violence against, or intimidation of, persons or force upon things

Personal Property anything susceptible of appropriation and not included in Real Property

Thus, the term personal property as used in Art.308, RPC should be interpreted in the context of the
Civil Code's definition of real and personal property. Consequently, any personal property, tangible or
intangible, corporeal or incorporeal, capable of appropriation may be the subject of theft (*US v Carlos;
US v Tambunting; US v Genato*), so long as the same is not included in the enumeration of Real
Properties under the Civil Code.

The only requirement for personal property to capable of theft, is that it be subject to appropriation.

Art. 416 (3) of the Civil Code deems Forces of Nature which are brought under the control of science,
as Personal Property.

The appropriation of forces of nature which are brought under control by science can be achieved by
tampering with any apparatus used for generating or measuring such forces of nature, wrongfully
redirecting such forces of nature from such apparatus, or using any device to fraudulently obtain such
forces of nature.

In the instant case, the act of conducting ISR operations by illegally connecting various equipment or
apparatus to PLDTs telephone system, through which petitioner is able to resell or re-route
international long distance calls using PLDTs facilities constitute Subtraction.

Moreover, interest in business should be classified as personal property since it is capable of

appropriation, and not included in the enumeration of real properties.

Therefore, the business of providing telecommunication or telephone service are personal property
which can be the object of theft under Art. 308 of the RPC. The act of engaging in ISR is an act of
subtraction penalized under the said article.
While international long-distance calls take the form of electrical energy and may be considered as
personal property, the said long-distance calls do not belong to PLDT since it could not have acquired
ownership over such calls. PLDT merely encodes, augments, enhances, decodes and transmits said calls
using its complex communications infrastructure and facilities.

Since PLDT does not own the said telephone calls, then it could not validly claim that such telephone
calls were taken without its consent.

What constitutes Theft is the use of the PLDT's communications facilities without PLDT's consent. The
theft lies in the unlawful taking of the telephone services & businesses.

The Amended Information should be amended to show that the property subject of the theft were
services and business of the offended party.